September 26, 2013

What's in Ned's Head? -- Game Review

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One of the newest additions to my Speech Room is the game What's In Ned's Head. I had stumbled across this game several times before during my online shopping sprees, but hesitated to buy it for several reasons: (1) I wasn’t sure what was so special about this game – I figured that I could just make it myself with a box / opaque container and random objects, (2) it looked like a pain to store in my already too small speech room. Well, it turns out I was wrong on both counts. I was fortunate enough to receive a generous game donation and Ned’s Head was among them. Now that I actually have it, I wish I had gotten it sooner! So for all of you who are on the fence about this game, I wanted to review it.

The game box contains the following items: Ned’s head, 15 silly objects, game cards, instructions. The premise is simple: All of the silly objects are placed in Ned’s head. Each player then receives a game card, which depicts one of the objects inside his head. When ready, everyone simultaneously yells, “What’s in Ned’s Head?” and sticks their hands through one of the four holes in his ears or nostrils (ewww!) to feel around for an item. Whoever finds their matching item first is the winner for that round. If a player pulls out the wrong item, their turn ends. If no one finds their item, Ned is the winner. You can also alter the rules to play the game by taking turns.

The silly items include gross things like a sticky sucker, a worm, an icky tooth, etc. The game also contains blank game cards, so you can add your very own yucky things.

The great thing about this game is that the rules are easily modifiable. I have already used Ned in several different ways to work on speech and language skills. Here are some ideas:

Group activity - my students loved this game!
Group Activity --- The very first time I used Ned, I pushed into our self contained 2nd/3rd grade classroom to do a group lesson targeting vocabulary. While all of the students in our SDC are verbal, their language skills are very low (average standard scores usually range in the 60s). I had students sit in a circle and explained that Ned was very silly and liked to put things in his nose and ear (we also addressed the danger of this sort of behavior). Because of his unsafe demeanor, I told the kids we had to help him get these items out of his head. We then took turns pulling items out. Before each turn, a student was required to request, “I want to put my hand in Ned’s ear/nose.” After pulling out an item, we targeted descriptive vocabulary, “That’s gross! That’s nasty! That’s disgusting!” The repetitive nature of this task was perfect for drilling in these vocabulary concepts. And the kids had a blast! Their anticipation ran high, as everyone wanted to put their hands in Ned’s head to see what weirdness might come out next.

Describing/Vocabulary --- Ned is also a great tool for working on describing skills. Without using the cards, you can have students take turns sticking their hands in Ned’s head and touching an item. They then need to describe how it feels (long, squishy, rough, smooth, etc.) and try to guess what it is. You can also put your own items in Ned’s head to work on this. 

Guessing a mystery item from clues --- You can hide an item in Ned’s head and then give clues about the item. Students will have to use the clues to guess what is inside. When they guess it, they can pull it out.

Articulation --- You can put your articulation cards inside Ned’s head (he is very roomy). On their turn, players get to pull out a card and practice their word.
You can play the game by the original rules and in the end determine which items contain the student’s target sound.

Memory --- Take turns pulling out the items. After a player pulls out an item, immediately hide it from view. When all of the items have been removed, see how many items your students can recall. For those that they cannot name, you could give clues (e.g., it is something black, it rhymes with ‘mat’) to see if they remember.

Special Surprise! --- You can use Ned’s head to hide special presents and treats for your students (might be a nice activity to do around the holidays) and have them pull them out. Not educational in nature, but fun.
My students thought Ned was so goofy-looking and silly, and they got a kick out of sticking their hands in his ears and nose (especially after I warned them not to get earwax/boogers on their fingers). It definitely beats a plain-looking container!! Ned is perfectly foldable and can be easily stored in the original box, so my original belief that he was going to be difficult to store was completely unfounded. I put the little items and cards in a Ziploc baggy for easy retrieval.  

I have a feeling that I will be using Ned a lot this year…he is a great addition to any Speech Room!

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