Thursday, April 13, 2017

More on "board" games!

In my last post I discussed resources on YouTube that can be used as video models for taking on roles and social behaviors when playing games. Games certainly have a place in social learning situations, and can easily be aligned with particular concepts that kids are working to apply in their interactions. Having "attended" ASHA's online conference on interventions for adolescents and adults with ASD, I was particularly struck by Jed Baker's description on how he gets kids to work on "winning the invisible game" (e.g. following the hidden rules of games that make everyone feel positive about the activity).

For years I have loved the Family Pastimes games for their ability to provide varied cooperative game experiences. The games all have a narrative spin and specific character roles so I often introduce them using Story Grammar Marker® so my students "get the story" of the game, for example, being waiters at a diner needing to serve all the customers before the bus leaves (that one is Bus Depot Diner). I recently discovered quite accidentally that FP had put one of their simpler dice games in app format. Max the Cat ($1.99) ports the board game of the same name perfectly into an iPad version. As they describe it:

"We must help get the little Creatures safely home before Max, the Tomcat, catches them. In an exciting way, children learn logic, consultation and decision making. An important issue to discuss is also raised: we don’t like Max catching those Little Ones, yet we recognize that he is a natural hunter. How do we resolve this in our minds and hearts? Let’s talk it over." 

Indeed, sometimes the Family Pastimes games have a bit of a grim outcome, but all the kids I've worked with can deal. My students loved this app and I was happy to see that if a creature is caught (it's quite easy to avoid this by using the creatures' shortcuts and calling Max back to the porch for a treat) it's represented with a gentle whooshy effect. So help your students follow "invisible" rules like avoiding touching the iPad while someone else is taking his turn, consulting others before using any treats, and gently making suggestions. Notice how many opportunities there will be for them to use if/then conditional thinking and language. Gameplay does take about 20 minutes or so, and my only regrets are that there is no game-saving feature, and that the creatures' shortcuts are sometimes hard to use (make sure you play a practice game to figure out how this works). So check it out- it's great when an app is actually cheaper than the analog version of something!


Thursday, April 6, 2017

YouTube clips about board/card games can serve as video models.

Hands-on games, i.e. board or card games, can be used in helpful social contexts and align with specific skills one is trying to teach. Realizing this week that my group could benefit from a solid model of how to play a particular game, I thought of shooting one with video, but realized that YouTube might be a resource. Though YouTube is not a great source of video modeling in general, it has specific material such as all kinds of brief "how to play"and review videos about commonly used games. We know what it looks like when we have to explain a game; it can be a lot of words. I sometimes go in that route when it's clear my students need to grapple with processing more language. In this case, I wanted them to work on some of the pieces that could be demonstrated more clearly in a video: contingency, prompt responses, moderating humor, and the situational awareness of the game. As it is a silly group, I wanted them to deal with a silly game.

We used this video about Bubble Talk, a simple family demonstration:



As a pre-lesson in a portable strategy, we talked about the Space, Time, Objects, and People aspects of the game. Having seen "a round," as opposed to my giving directions, we also made a goal for how many rounds we should play in our time period for the activity to feel complete and fun. Ward/Jacobson's 360 Thinking Time Tracker came in handy here to self-monitor our progress toward our goal. Finally, we talked about the expected behaviors (see Social Thinking® and particularly the Unthinkable Wasfunnyonce) that would help us meet our goal. All went great and the video, also an engaging way to bounce into other concepts, helped facilitate that.

Check out YouTube for models of many other games.
 
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