A humorous and educational look at speech pathology.

Posts tagged ‘dixit’

Board Games and Speech Therapy: Origins 2012 Round-up

The games added to our collection last weekend (mouseover for list). No, we did not pay for all the games. Yes, we paid for all the ones I’m going to talk about.

As I mentioned in my previous post, my wife and I attended the Origins Game Fair last weekend. We had a lot of fun, played a lot of board games, and lamented that we could not come for the entire convention due to its overlap with the school year. While most of the games we played didn’t relate to speech pathology or the use of board games therein, I did find some gems I wanted to share:

Dixit: Journey – I mentioned this expansion for Dixit when I discussed the game itself, but I finally got my hands on a copy. The artwork is of very high quality and less “cartoony” than previous Dixit games, and it comes with updated 3-6 player rules (although I haven’t had a chance to review those yet). Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with storage for the previous expansions, so I’ll have to see if all the cards fit into my Dixit: Odyssey box.

Get Bit! – I discussed this game in an earlier blog post, but I wanted to bring it up again because it won this year’s Origins Award for Best Family, Party, or Children’s Game. So, if your administrator questions using a game about sharks eating robots in therapy, you can respond by saying that you’re using an *award-winning* therapy tool – and then deflect the follow-up question about which award.

Hike – A small-press casual card game I had never heard of before this convention. It’s similar to Uno in that your goal is to get rid of the cards in your hand by matching, but differs in that all the matches are nature-themed (tree, water, bug, bird) rather than just color and number. There’s some literacy, too, but I’m considering it as an option for lower elementary students who are working on ecology units in class (gotta address that NCLB-mandated curriculum relevancy, after all).

Say Anything – Say Anything is a game I didn’t buy at the convention, but will be ordering soon based on a demo in the dealer’s hall. The best way to describe it is free-answer Apples to Apples – instead of picking a card, each player writes a response on a markerboard.

Telestrations – Telestrations is my big find of the convention, and the subject of my next full post. It’s Telephone plus sketching. Each player in the group has a markerboard pad with multiple pages. The players get a prompt (usually a one-word or two-word phrase) and one minute to draw it. The pads are passed to the player next to them, who has to guess what the picture is. The pads are passed, and the players then have to draw the previous player’s guess. Continue until the pad reaches its original owner. In one game, we got to see, through a variety of miscues, “wig” become “belly button”. The educational aspect of the game is learning about where the communication breakdowns occur and how they can be prevented. I’m very excited to try this one out.

Timeline: Inventions – Timeline is a sequencing game in which players need to put a series of cards in chronological order. The first version of the game, Inventions, features various innovations throughout history including writing, the corkscrew, and the compact disc. It’s a good sequencing game for older students, especially if you can get them to talk out their reasoning behind where a certain invention should go.

Wits and Wagers – Wits and Wagers is a spin on trivia games in which you don’t necessarily have to know the correct answer – you can guess what the correct answer is. Each player is asked a question with a number for an answer (for example, “How many people signed the Declaration of Independence?”) and writes down their answer on a markerboard. Then, the answers are arranged from lowest to highest, and the players place a bet on which answer they think is correct. The answers nearest the middle get the lowest payout and the answers at the extremes get a higher payout. Because the scoring is based on the wager and not having the correct answer, even students who don’t know the facts can still try to guess what the correct answer is. This is another game that’s on order after a demo, but I’m very excited to take an in depth look at it afterward.

I’m sure there were many other good therapy games there that I didn’t see, but we were only two people, and it was a pretty large convention. If there’s something you think I might have missed, let me know and I’ll look into it next time…

-John

Board Games and Speech Therapy: Dixit

The previous posts in this series have focused on games that were originally produced in English-speaking countries and that are likely to be found on a department store shelf. Today, I’m taking a departure from that, and focusing on a French (I think) import by Asmodee: Dixit.

Box for the original Dixit.

Action shot of Dixit: Odyssey, the third expansion

Variants/Expansions: Dixit has a pile of expansions to add more cards, but the most notable is Dixit: Odyssey, which includes rules for twelve players if you combine more than one set and comes with improved rules and a better scoring track; it’s my recommended edition if the game if you’re only going to buy one, especially since its box can hold more cards than the original game’s box.

There is an iOS app called iDixit. You may notice that I didn’t link to it. That’s because it’s not very applicable to therapy (or very well programmed). I do not recommend it.

General Overview: Dixit is a picture-describing party game 3-6 players (or, with the Odyssey expansion plus one other version of the game, 3-12 players). Players take turns acting as the “Storyteller”, who selects one of the six cards in his or her hand and gives a word or sentence to describe the picture in vague terms. The other players then select a card in their own hands to give to the Storyteller. The Storyteller shuffles these cards with his or her card and lays them out randomly, and the other players have to secretly guess which card they think belonged to the Storyteller. Each player who guessed correctly gains a point, and each player whose card is guessed gains a point – except if either no players or all players guess the correct card, all players except the Storyteller gain three points. So the challenge for the Storyteller is to pick a card and word/sentence that some other players (but not all other players) will guess.

Skill Support:

  • Picture Description – This is the base skill of the game and essential to the game role of Storyteller.
  • Abstract Reasoning – Thinking of a sentence for a picture that some players, but not all players, will be able to guess requires some out of the box thinking, making this an excellent game for students with Asperger’s Syndrome or more complex language goals.
  • Concrete Reasoning – Trying to determine which picture goes with the Storyteller’s sentence requires attention to the details of the pictures.
  • Figurative Language – When dealing with pictures with abstract concepts and trying to be evasive with phrasing, the use of figurative language can be a great skill when thinking of sentences as the Storyteller.
  • Comparison – This skill comes into play when trying to determine which of the six cards in your hand you are selecting to fit the Storyteller’s sentence. Abstaining isn’t an option, so a student is always best off trying to determine which card best fits the word or sentence.

 Strengths:

  • Replayable: Even in comparison to the other party games reviewed here, Dixit has exceptional replayability because each student is interacting with all the other student’s cards based on a student-generated prompt.
  • The game encourages abstract thinking: Where many games dealing with pictures or storytelling have, at best, a fairy tale or fantasy theme to get students away from the concrete, some of the cards in Dixit look like they were drawn by the previously unknown lovechild of Timothy Leary and Rory O’Connor of Rory’s Story Cubes (yes, that top right picture in the action shot is of an arm reaching out of the ocean to grab a rocket made out of a lighthouse, why?). These pictures can get outright bizarre, and trying to think of any sentence, much less one that only some of the other players will guess, requires some degree of abstraction.
  • Complexity Without Overwhelming: The pictures in Dixit have a lot of complexity that will encourage complex sentences or multiple-sentence utterances, but the light-hearted nature of most of the pictures ensure that it’s not overwhelming for most students.
  • Literacy free: The base game is 84 pictures. With no words except the rules and on the back of the cards. Yay for literacy-free speech games!
  • Kid-Accessible, But Not a Baby Game: Many of the games and activities we deal with in speech therapy start to sour with students around the 6th grade. Dixit, as a game designed to be accessible to kids but enjoyable by adults, doesn’t have this risk. The rules are designed for 8-year-olds to understand, but the game remains engaging for older students as well.

Challenges:

  • Requires Non-Concrete Output: This game, by the rules, simply doesn’t work with students that only work with concrete ideas. The cards have some similar themes, but those themes are not going to be similar enough for a student who just describes the picture itself to be successful.
  • Pull-Ahead Scoring: A student who gets lucky in one round by guessing the Storyteller’s card and having a few other kids guess his answer is going to get a pretty significant lead, which may discourage the other students.
  • Analysis Paralysis: This concept’s probably going to come up in other posts, so I’m going to explain it in depth here. Analysis paralysis is a gaming term for having so many seemingly equal choices that you’re unable to decide on a play. Dixit has a number of opportunities for this: when the Storyteller selects a card, when the Storyteller says a word or sentence about the card, when the players pick their cards, and when the players guess which card belongs to the Storyteller. That’s a pretty significant number of opportunities compared to most games – by comparison, Apples to Apples has two: when the players pick the red apple card to fit the green apple card and when the judge picks the wining answer.

Accommodations/Modifications:

  • Words Only: Especially with groups that have a hard time with abstract language or understanding the bluffing concept, I tend to limit younger Storytellers to single-word prompts, ideally an adjective. This provides an improved opportunity for the other players to select cards that still fit that word.
  • Modified Scoring: Scoring the game becomes less of a runaway if you only get points when someone picks your answer. It gives the Storyteller a decent-sized jump on their turn, but since everyone gets a turn to be the Storyteller, it balances out.
  • Therapist as Storyteller: This is becoming a common modification for me, and it’s a little weaker in this context, but having the therapist serve as the Storyteller takes away some of the analysis paralysis and helps the therapist keep an eye on which student actually submitted which card (did I mention that one of my groups has a problem with lying? If I didn’t, I have this third grade group that thinks lying is the funniest thing ever…).

Alternate Uses:

  • These cards work really well with the story description and scene description models for the Expanding Expression Tool. This is really useful for older students who are beyond the expressive vocabulary level but still have a hard time with expressive language skills.
  • Sentence prompts. If you and your fluency kids are bored while practicing their “smooth speech”, pull out a box of Dixit cards. Tons of prompts, and having the student tell a story based on the card or describe everything in the picture can generate spontaneous paragraphs where the student is thinking of what to say instead of focusing on their speech (really good for informal assessment and/or advanced practice).
  • The scoring track is really nice-looking, and the kids love playing with the rabbit-shaped Meeples. I’ve pulled out this game just to use the scoring track with a different activity.

The second I saw this game at Origins, I knew it belonged in my speech bag. My wife knew I was excited about it because I actually called her from the convention to tell her about it (she’s also an SLP, and I’m usually really bad about calling her from conventions). I consider it to be an indispensable therapy tool because it’s my best way to elicit abstract language and paragraphs from students, and it’s one of two games my middle school kids actually enjoy.

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

-John