By Ryan Knoblauch, CCC-SLP
I’m on the verge of being old. My kids, however, are not and keep me informed about what’s current. The other day I saw all three of my kids huddled around one Kindle. That was definitely a red flag that they were up to something no good. Wait. They were all chatting, smiling, and getting along? I knew that it was either going to be something great or something naughty. I have faith. It was something great. They introduced me to the game Scribblenauts Remix.
Wait a minute! Speech Therapy brain, turn on. Here’s an activity that They are ,. They are They are to each other. And best of all, they are and –together. This is exactly the kind of age appropriate activity that kids of all abilities could do together.
My mind tends to go into augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) core vocabulary mode, but this activity could go a far way with verbal kids too. What I’d like to suggest, however, is to take a cooperative play approach. What if we took a verbal peer and paired them up with an AAC user? The two friends could take turns manipulating the game by naming objects to use and actions to take. What if the communication partner had to follow the directions of what the AAC user wanted? It appears that you could also do this on a SMARTBoard if you download the game. You could play this game with a group of people. It is quite fun when you get creative with the game.
“Cooperative play is concerned with solving a problem by working together to achieve a common goal. In cooperative play, everybody wins. Play is how young children learn. Through play, children develop the skills they need to expand their physical, emotional, social, and cognitive abilities.” - from Early Childhood NEWS
Here’s how Scribblenauts Remix works:
- You begin on an adventure with your character, Maxwell. Your mission is to acquire the Starite by creating any object, bringing it to life, and using it to solve each challenge.
- At anytime you can change an item/animal/person. You can add in attributes too. If you need a chainsaw, type it in. Now you have a chainsaw. If you want to be a polar bear, you can be one. Need a helicopter? Now you’ve got one. Really, the sky’s the limit with this game. Get creative. Think of anything. Think of everything. My favorite so far might be Giant Hungry Rainbow Beaver.
Think about what vocabulary you might need for this game. You need nouns (people, objects, animals), verbs, and adjectives. Make a list beforehand or figure them out as you go. At least know where the words are located in the AAC device.
Each level presents a problem or puzzle to be solved. For example, we played one level that required us to knock down a tree. We did a quick brainstorm of how trees get knocked over: cut, sawed, bulldozed, pushed by a rhinoceros, pulled with a rope, axed, punched with a giant fist, and burned down with fire.
Once you determine an item or character to use, the game prompts you to pick an action, usually from 2-3 actions.
After solving the puzzle, you collect the star and win the level. That’s it. They’re fairly simple puzzles, but offer so many options to win.
Take a look at a few scenarios that we played together (with my eight year old son). As we played, I jotted down words, phrases, and sentences that were expressed (in italics). See if you can spot any core vocabulary words.
Scenario #1 You are on a street standing by a policeman, a fireman, a doctor, and a chef.
Hint #1 Give two of them what they would use in their hands!
Who do we have? Chef, policeman, fireman, and doctor. What do they need? Get a pan. Where should I put it? In his hand. Try a gun. That’s it. It worked.
Scenario #2 You are in an empty schoolhouse.
Hint #1 Prepare the school house for a new year!
What do we need? What are some things you find in a school? How about a chalkboard? Cake, we need cake. I know–a pencil. How about desks? What about a computer?
Scenario #3 You are standing next to a race track with a car that won’t go.
Hint #1 Pit stop! The car needs replacement parts to get back on track.
What do you think? What do we need? A wheel. That didn’t work. How about a big racing wheel? Let’s do a rocket. Not that. I know. How about an air pump? Try a tow truck. I know. I got this. Hook this chain to the car. (The game prompts you to Attach or Pick Up). You have to get to the truck. Move it weirdo. That was funny. Okay. Is that it?
Scenario #4 You are standing on the beach by a couple of palm trees.
Hint #1 Kick off the beach party.
We need fire. Burn it down. Boom! What would you need? Hint: Every party needs friends, food, and fun. We need a hot dog. Do you think we will win? Yea, I got the star. Let’s do the next one.
Scenario #5 You are on a farm.
Hint #1 Give the farmer the farm animals.
Godzilla, the Kracken, the squid, and the poop monster. It doesn’t work. Big pig. Now I need wings. Now I need big big big big (wings). It looks the same. That’s the weirdest looking hog. Now we’re going to do tiny duck. That’s so funny. It worked. Tell me where it is? He’s on the barn. Tiny calf. I won.
Did you spot the core vocabulary words? How about the fringe words? Here are the that I spotted: who, do, we, have, need, what, are, you, in, a, how, about, I, know, think, that, didn’t, work, big, not, an, try, got, this, the, move, it, was, is, down, would, every, food, fun, will, let, next, one, looks, same, now, so, tell, me, where, on
I probably missed some. Really, though, you can get a lot done with this game using just the core words added with a few (chef, policeman, fireman, doctor, pan, hand, gun, school, chalkboard, cake, pencil, desks, computer, wheel, rocket, truck, chain, car, weirdo, funny, fire, burn, hot dog, win, star, Godzilla, Kracken, squid, poop, monster, pig, wings, weirdest, hog, tiny, duck, barn, tiny, calf, won). The idea is to explore the vocabulary, learn the locations, and repeat many times.
My advice to you is to play the game a few times. Jot down a few key phrases, nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Post the list and practice the phrases and some of the fringe words. You’ll notice a few of the phrases that you use repeat themselves as you play from level to level. Try it, share it, and let us know your successes.
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