Wednesday, March 14, 2012

You've got to know when to hold 'em...know when to fold 'em...

(I sincerely apologize if you've now got Kenny Rogers in your head!)

We play a group game almost every day in our class - sometimes as a center activity, and others as a whole-group activity to end up our day. Games are, of course, learning disguised as fun...even the most basic of games that cover content my kids already know (ie, colors) are valuable to us. We work on social skills, communication skills, turn taking, appropriate voice volume, listening skills, polite talk, gentle hands (holding onto game pieces/cards appropriately), fine motor (rolling a dice, drawing a card, spinning a spinner)...We even cover a bit of democracy, since I always choose two or three games and the kids vote on which one to play that day.

We play a lot of card games, since they require the least amount of very precise fine motor skills, which my kids do not have (most of my kids cannot, for example, control their movements and/or hand strength well enough to play games like "Ants in my Pants" or others that require delicate pincer grasp or balancing any game pieces on top of others!). And I really can't believe I hadn't thought of this great idea to hold cards...I saw it on Pinterest, of course. It's really helped my kids be able to hold their own cards without assistance, and it also cuts down on confusion - it's now obvious which cards are their playing hand and which they have already won, during games where you can win hands or matches.

I found jumbo chip clips at the Dollar Tree (2 for $1) and they work great! Why did I not think of this years ago?!

Here are some of our favorite games, which all work well for kids who have limited motor (especially fine motor) abilities, as mentioned above, as well as little to no reading/verbal language skills needed:

-Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed Card Game (pictured above - matching by color and emotion, visual discrimination)
-Hisss (matching by color, making choices, counting)
-Silly Animals 4 Up! (matching by number and/or animal)
-Uno Attack! (crazy twist on the classic Uno that my kids love)
-Count Your Chickens (counting, one-to-one correspondence, concept of one less)
-Candyland (who doesn't love this one - or hate it from overuse?!)
-Lucky Ducks (sorting by color and shape - really quick game we use for those 5-10 minutes in between specials, etc.)

Of course we also have versions of "standards" like Go Fish, Memory, etc., as well as games I've made myself or found online. And Bingo. We play a lot of Bingo!

What am I missing?

I get most of our commercial games at garage sales or Goodwill. Often pieces are missing, but they're usually easy enough to duplicate on a good color printer. I print on cardstock and laminate all cards!

**Disclaimer: Neither Amazon nor game companies have paid me to recommend their games ;)

PS - This weather in Michigan right now is AWESOME! We broke a record-high temperature record today - it was 78 while I was driving home from work! It still feels like summer even now, at almost 8pm! Happy Pi Day to me!


  1. This is awesome! I have a few card holders very similar to this but have no idea where they came from - good to know an easy way to get more! :)

    Brie @ BreezyPinkDaisies

  2. The chip holders are a great idea! I once read to use clothes pins, but when I tried them with the preschoolers I worked with at the time, they were even worse than trying to hold them in their hands! This seems so much better.

    1. Clothespins would definitely be harder for my kids, too! I like the big chip clips because you can spread out the cards for easy identification :)


  3. Kara, we play LOTS of games in my classroom too. I love the chip clip idea. Another great idea, which I found on pinterest, and now use in my classroom, is to make card holders out of pool noodles. You cut the pool noodle in half and then put a slit in the top. Works great! :)

    1. Great idea with the pool noodles! I have some in my room and I just might have to try that out :)



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