Game-based therapy materials

March 2, 2011

I’ve been using Atlas Games’s Once Upon a Time in my speech-language therapy for years.

Once Upon a Time, the card game

Every player is dealt cards with story elements (see also, Burke’s Dramatistic Pentad for an arrangement of these cards by story function), as well as an ending card. Players narrate a story that is constrained by the cards that were randomly dealt to their hand, and win the game by playing their ending (which has to make sense in the context of what has come before).

It would be easy, except that players take turns constructing the story and everyone has different endings they are trying to achieve.

I love this game for a number of reasons. It’s great for teaching story grammar (obviously), but there is also a strong executive function element to it in that you have to plan your moves ahead if your ending is going to make sense. Lately, one of my students has been using it to elicit connected speech from a young client who is working on generalizing speech artic. therapy into conversation. You have to talk a lot to play this game.

Here are some other game-based therapy activities:

Rory’s Story Cubes

Rory’s Story Cubes is next-level Once Upon a Time. The meaning of the pictures on each die face is open to interpretation.

The ambiguity makes for more of a challenge, as is the lack of narrative theme (Once Upon a Time follows faerie tale tropes very heavily, helping to constrain and structure the story somewhat).

There is a “verbs” expansion pack available now.

These are distributed by Gamewright in the U.S.

Sounds Like a Plan

I haven’t tried this game yet, but I plan to.

The premise is that you have a hand of cards that have some sort of advice on them. Then, you draw a card that describes some sort of goal. Players then match the advice to the goal. (If you’ve played Apples-to-Apples, the rules sound similar)

And just as with Apples-to-Apples, the advice you have available might not be applicable or just barely relevant, so you’re sometimes forced to give bad advice, or to choose the least-worst option from a bunch of suboptimal choices. Hmmm. Who do we know who might find that challenging?

Pictionary Card Game

pictionary card game

No-draw Pictionary

The interesting thing about Pictionary is that most people tend to draw the same things over and over in difference combinations. This game is Pictionary… without drawing. They’ve provided the commonly-drawn images already and you combine them to form meanings.

The concept really reminded me of Minspeak. Combining higly iconic, semantically powerful components combined into other meaningful things. Very cool. Next time I teach an AAC course to college students, I’m using these.

I’m mulling over some ideas of how to use them with kids who use AAC. Although their best use might be to teach peers without disabilities how to communicate with symbols so they can better empathize with a classmate who uses Minspeak.

The sad thing is that this game is being pitched by Mattel as “You can’t draw? So play this.” I’m not a fan of that, since almost everyone without serious motor impairment can draw well enough to play Pictionary. This is a very different game, and shouldn’t really be compared to the drawing version of Pictionary.

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