Recently, during a class meeting with second grade students, we introduced a spin-off game of What’s Yours Like?.
We played a child friendly version available here on TpT (shameless plug). We played with a second grade class, who was able to play successfully but I wouldn’t recommend playing with students any younger. During the game, there is a “Guess Word” which can be anything from a backpack, to a bike to hair. One student asks the others students “what’s yours like?” in an effort to try to guess the “Guess Word”. Students are to answer truthfully but cleverly. The object of the game is to try to guess the “Guess Word” with the fewest clues possible. For example, if the “Guess Word” was closet, students might describe their closet as “messy”, “cluttered”, “organized”, “empty”, etc. If one were to answer “where I hang my clothes”, the clue would be too obvious and the guesser would be able to easily guess the guess word. The game seems simple enough, but it was definitely a shift for some of the students. Students were used to giving clues so others could make a guess, not offer clues so others wouldn’t be able to guess.
You might think it would be the children with the language difficulties who had the most trouble with this game, but not so. It really was the children with social language challenges. We had been playing several games such as reverse charades and spring taboo (shameless plug number 2), where the students were to give clues so that others could make a guess as to what they were describing. This game requires students give truthful clues while hoping the guesser doesn’t guess correctly. Students with social language difficulties had a hard time demonstrating this flexibility in thinking.
To give an example, one of the target words was shoes. Several of the students described theirs as “worn out”, “broken”, “glittery”, etc. One very bright boy, with social language challenges, described his as “white on the bottom”. He then sat with his feet sticking out (children were in a circle on the carpet) towards the guesser waving his feet at her, hoping that he would provide the clue that elicited the correct answer. Why is this important?
This is important for several reasons. One for those students, who are perceived as bright and achieving well academically, performing in such a manner during this game can look like behavior. It may look a little like a student trying to be the class clown, when in fact, he/she doesn’t understand the game expectations. Two, the other students can become frustrated. As a whole, the class doesn’t want the “guesser” to guess the “guess word” so when it appears that someone is trying to give it away or deliberately provide a clue, the others in the group become annoyed with that student. This can result in the student who is giving the deliberate clue to be hurt and confused. So, what can you do?
For those students who have social language difficulties and may have trouble understanding the concept of giving clues but not wanting someone to guess correctly, you can pre-teach the game and practice in a smaller group setting, time permitting. You may also want to provide a sheet of descriptive words for students to use (included in my What’s Yours Like? game -shameless plug number 3) to help students make accurate yet not obvious descriptions.
So much emphasis is placed on academics and number of instructional minutes in the classroom these days. There seems to be less and less time to “play games” and “have fun” when in fact these types of games (Taboo and What’s Yours LIke? – last shameless plug) promote problem solving, inferencing, descriptive language, social language, team building and a sense of class community. I think it is important to try and build time into the day, even if only for a few minutes per week to target some of these important skills.