A humorous and educational look at speech pathology.

This week’s game is Scattergories: The Card Game by Winning Move Games.

Variants/Expansions: None.

General Overview: Scattergories: The Card Game is a word-based party game for two or more players of age 8+. The game presents the players with two decks of cards – a category deck and a letter deck – and the top card of each deck is revealed to all players. The first player to slap the “I KNOW” card and provides something that starts with the letter and fits in the category gets to take either the category card or the letter card. That card is replaced, and play starts again. Once one deck is depleted, the player with the greatest number of cards is the winner.

Skill Support:

  • Category Naming/Identification/Comparison – Generating items that fit into categories is the game’s core theme and skill.
  • Spelling is supported by the game in a minor fashion, as knowing what letter words start with is an integral part of the game.
  • Processing Speed – The first person to hit “I KNOW” gets the point, so processing quickly helps you win the game.


  • The game is simple: This game requires very little explanation, and modeling play is easy.
  • The game is fast: If the players are on target, this is a game that takes less than fifteen minutes to play, and setting a timer (for instance, if you want to use it as a five-minute end-of-session activity) doesn’t interfere with gameplay.
  • The game is active: Finding a language-based activity that keeps kids active is somewhat difficult, and this one has a small amount of physical activity built in.
  • All participants are constantly engaged: There is no “down time” in this game – every player participates in every turn.
  • Low literacy: While the game uses the first letter of each word, if you read the category when first playing it, students with reading difficulties can participate at the same level as readers.
  • Wide player range: This game can be used with as few as two or as many as six players with ease, and it can be applied to a variety of ages (don’t believe the box; with modifications, I’ve used this game with kindergarteners).


  • Speed/dexterity game: Some students, especially those that receive services from other providers (like OTs or PTs), may not be physically capable of hitting the “I KNOW” card as quickly as other students. Students with processing deficits and/or cognitive impairments may also have difficulty reacting as quickly as other students.
  • Runaway scoring: Given the number of cards in the game, it’s possible that one student may start to achieve a large scoring gap, and having a limited ability to catch up before the end of the game can prove discouraging.
  • Absent of visual reference: Visual references are not built into this game, and unlike many other games reviewed in this series, there isn’t an obvious fix for substituting in picture cards.


  • Get rid of the speed element: Replacing the “first in gets the point” system and replacing it with a turn-taking system gives the physically slower players equal opportunity to participate. This can be done in a couple ways. If you don’t have any other materials, have students take turns providing an answer until only one player can think of something. If you can get ahold of a timer (especially a variable-duration timer like the one in Last Word), giving the point to the last student who could think of an answer before the timer buzzed is also effective. Both of these, though, make the turns last longer and lead to lower scores, which also addressed the “runaway scoring” concern.
  • Visual references: You can add visual references to this game by replacing the category cards with a set of picture cards and having the students say something about the picture starting with the letter. This changes the skill focus somewhat (scene or item description is not quite the same as category identification), but it is a way to get more multisensory interaction.

Alternate Uses:

  • This is another game that’s usable with the Expanding Expression Tool. While the connection with the EET’s “group” designation is present, both decks of cards can be used to reinforce EET concepts. Use either the category or letter deck to narrow down an EET area (e.g. name something with a certain “where” that starts with a certain letter), or – for students approaching mastery – use both decks in concert with the EET – name something that fits in <category> that starts with <letter> that addresses <EET area>.

This was originally intended to be a limited-use game for my middle school students that were still working on organizing information, but with some of the adaptations listed above, I’ve been able to use it with all ages from kindergarten to 12th grade. It’s not a game that you can bring out with the same group week after week, but using it once in a while is a good way to change the therapy experience and provide some variety to sessions.

Has anyone else had experience using this game in therapy? How useful has it been? What other uses and modifications have you used?



Comments on: "Board Games and Speech Therapy: Scattergories: The Card Game" (3)

  1. A great way to help patients.

  2. […] 13. Scattergories: The Card Game […]

  3. My son’s speech therapist used it in therapy yesterday. She found it interesting that he plays well if he sees the letter first and then the category, but if he sees the category then the letter, he can’t come up with anything. I’m curious as to why it makes such a big difference for him.

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