Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Banana-Grams! For Kids Review

I see why Banana-Grams! For Kids, a book of word games for kids, won a Parents' Choice Award. This brilliant book of fun challenges, stretches, and grows thinking skills and uses memory and recall in a fun way.

I knew the game with little letter squares exists, but I didn't know the idea had been turned into a Banana-Grams! puzzle book. I thought the book would be like a book of crossword puzzles; all crossword puzzles with different questions and answers. Boy, I was wrong!

Each page is a new game. Each page uses thinking skills in a fresh way. Reading and following directions. Vocab. Spelling. Creative problem solving. Visual processing. Word associations. Definitions. Using clues combined with letters and blanks to solve a puzzle. There are no picture clues; she has to create the pictures and make associations in her mind. This is really excellent practice. I am so tickled to have been given this book to use and review. We needed it. I want more.

My NT kids would have no problems with the games in this book. It would make a great travel book for them.

My homeschooler with autism needs assistance with a lot of the pages in the book. She snuck off with it (something she likes to do that I don't like for her to do) and tried to do a couple of items, and actually did them correctly, and then, used her pencil to write random letters into blank squares. *sigh* I spent a good deal of time erasing her "work" and sat her down with me to re-do those pages.

The banana-grams vary in difficulty. I found myself scaffolding, supporting, different aspects of the task on different pages, according to difficulty, and, from a Relationship Development Intervention perspective, marvelled at how far my daughter and I have come, together.

I like to describe how I use a resource like this with a learner w/ special needs:

We are able to work on quite a few skills and functions together with just one fun book. For the most part, I do the writing. Expecting her to hold the book open, hold the pencil, pencil, form letters, and spell words were too many "extras" that created anxiety. When I played "secretary", and had the job of filling in the blanks, she had more room for the thinking and creative problem solving for each page. Sometimes I let her read the clue and look at the puzzle; sometimes I read the clue aloud to her, showed her the puzzle, and read aloud the letters and blanks in the puzzle. When she showed proficiency with the thinking part of a puzzle, I handed her the pencil to let her do her own writing. When she became anxious, I did the writing.

I got the chance to see things I haven't seen before. My girl can unscramble a row of mixed-up letters into words. She had a much bigger vocabulary than I thought, coming up with words I did not realize that she knows. She surprised me quite a few times. She knows more than either of us realize, I think.

Because the puzzle types are repeated, I anticipate seeing her anxiety decrease when she recognizes a familiar puzzle type as we continue to work through the book.

Being there with her to read directions, to work the first line of a puzzle for her, to answer for her when I thought she didn't know that particular vocabulary word is a good thing for both of us. She and I get to make some discoveries about what she knows. She knows more than SHE thinks she knows. She needs to slow down and understand directions before beginning, and Banana-Grams! For Kids gives us the background activity to practice that.

Banana-Grams! For Kids provides 18 different puzzle types totaling 130 all-new puzzles with four levels of difficulty. Workman Publishing's price for this 158 page paperback is $9.95.
Workman Publishing sent me a copy of Banana-Grams! For Kids for review purposes. I am not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

1 comment:

Brasil said...

This is a really fun game. Each game is quick and requires you to think but not too hard. You can still talk while you play. If you have more than 4 people, we just use the tiles from 2 games. This works for lots of ages, from teens to grandparents. It's a good game to bring on vacation since it does not take up too much space in the luggage. This is a great gift.

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