September 29, 2016

Game Review: Race to the Treasure!

 As evidenced from my many posts containing game reviews, I love to let students play board games during their Speech sessions! They are so great to work on social skills, especially turn-taking, sportsmanship, and coping with losing. In recent years, a trend of cooperative games has emerged in the board game industry. Cooperative board games basically require players to work together towards a common goal, rather than against each other. They foster teamwork and eliminate bragging (when a student wins) or temper tantrums (when a student loses). In a cooperative game everyone in the group either wins or loses.

One of my favorite cooperative games to play during sessions is Race to the Treasure! by Peaceable Kingdom. Quick and easy to learn, it is appropriate for ages 5 and up and takes about 15 minutes to play. In addition, turns are quick, which makes it perfect for Speech sessions.

The premise of the game is to build pathways in order to find three keys and “unlock” a treasure chest before the ogre reaches the treasure. 

Set-up: The game board consists of a grid, on which four key cards and an “ogre snack” card are randomly distributed.
Game Play

Game Play: On their turn, players pick a card from a pile. The card will have either an ogre picture or a piece of a road. If a player gets an ogre, he places it in the far right column of the board. If a player gets a piece of a road, he gets to place it on the grid. Players work together to build pathways leading to the keys on the game board. Once three keys have been reached, players win the game. However, if eight ogres are uncovered before the keys have been found, players lose. The “ogre snack”, a special tile, can be used to remove an ogre from the board.

I have played this game with all grade levels (K-5), and they all thoroughly enjoyed this game. This game is great especially for younger players to work together when they can’t figure out how to best place a road tile to reach a key. I highly recommend this game!

I found this game at my local Target, but of course it is also available on Amazon.

September 27, 2016

Game Review: uKloo Riddle Edition

I usually have a ton of students working on either inferencing or listening comprehension (or both), so I am always on the lookout for great materials to use with this population. Since it is always more motivating for students when an activity looks like an actual game, I was fortunate to stumble across uKloo Riddle Edition and be provided with the opportunity to review it.

uKloo essentially consists of 75 cards, each of which contains clues about a secret item. Players have to listen carefully and use their critical thinking and inferencing skills to figure out the mystery item. This is very similar to speech therapy activities where you give three clues and have students figure out what object is being described. However, uKloo takes it a step further by only providing only a simple sentence, thereby making this activity more challenging. The game box also contains a little paper pad for you to create your own riddles, which would be an excellent extension activity once students have mastered the clue cards.

Another great aspect of this game is that there are three difficulty levels (25 cards each). That way, you can tailor this activity to different students' needs. Here are some sample riddles:

Level 1: Always white, sometimes brown, builds your bones when it goes down.
Level 2: Isn't it a curious thing, to fight cavities with a string?
Level 3: Poke your fingers through my eyes, while I cut things down to size.

Were you able to figure out the mystery items? The respective answers were milk, dental floss, and scissors. I played this game with my 4th and 5th grade language students and most of them were challenged enough with level 1 or 2.

Obviously you don't need to be a speech therapist to enjoy this game at home -- this game can also serve as a treasure hunt where players find the mystery item in their home. The next clue card is then hidden with the item. 

For more information, you can also check out this video on YouTube:

uKloo Riddle Edition reminds me of that chapter in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit", where Gollum challenges Bilbo with riddles. All in all, it's an awesome game that you can use to target multiple skills.

Also make sure to check out uKloo Early Reader Edition (which is also available as an App for your iPad).

September 7, 2016

Organizing Therapy Materials Using Hardware Cabinets

Please note: This post contains affiliate links.

Ever since I've started my SLP career, I've struggled with the organization of my materials. Things always kind of ended up in a messy pile. This problem got even worse when I started accumulating materials from TPT, especially smaller products such as card decks. This year, I finally seem to have found the solution to my problem: Hardware cabinets by Akro-Mils! I currently own two different sizes: 
1. 24 Drawer Size (each drawer measuring 4-3/8-Inch x 2-Inch x 5-1/4-Inch)
2. 64 Drawer Size (each drawer measuring 2-1/8-inch by 1-1/2-inch by 5-1/4-inch drawers)

These cabinets are an absolute life saver! Made of sturdy plastic, they hold up to daily use. Each drawer also has a slot to insert dividers, so you can create even more space. I am currently using the larger cabinet for my articulation decks (the Webber cards fit perfectly), as well as all of the other card decks I have accumulated on TPT. The smaller cabinet houses my Brag Tags (more to come on these soon!). Before discovering these gems I just stuffed everything willy-nilly into my shelf or a photo box -- you can see how messy that looked.

And remember my Articulation Sticks? They also fit perfectly into one of the larger drawers!

I used the Webber card inserts and file labels to label each drawer. Now I can easily find materials and things look much neater. 

Bonus: These cabinets have holes in the back so that they can be hung on a wall if you lack counter space! You can also stack them.

These are definitely worth the investment - I'm sure I'll be using these drawers for the remainder of my SLP career!