Thursday, October 27, 2011

NorthStar Games: Say AnythingFamily Edition

Say Anything from NorthStar Games is a game of perspective taking for 3-6 players ages 8+, retail priced at $19.99. If you're looking for a fun family game that works for a family that includes an individual on the autism spectrum, this is it.

The set up and rules are pretty simple. One player each round is the judge. The judge draws a card from the stack of Question Cards and chooses a question to read aloud. All of the players write an answer on a mini dry-erase board and each player places the dry erase board face up on the table (or floor - we like to play games on the floor) in front of them as quickly as possible. The judge chooses his/her favorite answer by marking it on the game piece called the SELECT-O-MATIC 6000 (which looks like a teeny spinner from a game, except it doesn't spin - the judge dials the arrow to the color of the player whose answer he likes the best).

The players guess which answer the judge chose - and that is how points are earned.

The player who wrote the answer that the judge chose earns a bonus point, so there is an additional level of perspective taking and strategy here if you know the judge well and know what answer he or she might choose.

Here's an example of some questions:

What would be the worst place to talk on a cell phone?
Who is the greatest musician or band ever?
What animal would it be the most fun to be?

The game is over once everyone has asked two questions. The winner is the player w/ the most points.

This is my kind of game. It's short and sweet. Say Anything is the type of game that autism moms, professionals who work with kids with developmental delays and with individuals w/ autism like. We rarely play any game out of the box by the rules, and Say Anything has outside-the-box value. The little question cards are little gems in terms of practicing shared attention and perspective taking.

And yes, of course I used the question cards outside of the game. ;) They're great dinner questions or riding in the car questions that can be used to grow perspective taking for actually playing the game.

One aspect that I really like in terms of playing w/ a child who has autism is the context of question-asking in the game is a context that does. not. require. the one-right-answer. (So much of our early autism intervention involved bombarding my kid with questions to which there is only one right answer, something that doesn't happen to the rest of the world in real life.)
In order to play the game w/ my homeschooler, I must preview the cards and questions. There are vocabulary words she doesn't know (yes, this is a great way to learn new vocab in context). For example, there is a question about the strangest aquatic animal in the deck of question cards. We got an opportunity to talk about the word "aquatic".

The game is really easy to set up and to play - and it is super easy to customize, as well, to grow perspective taking skills when you create your own questions to which there are really obvious answers. In fact, if you have a child who needs practice and experience in this area, I suggest your creating your own sets of questions as a first step. Here are questions from our house: "What is the best instrument in the marching band?" (I have a really good guess what my marching band student will say or what she would vote for if she were the judge of the round and I can spotlight that for my child w/ autism.) "What is the best sport in the world?" I know what my baseball player would say. "If you could move to any state in the United States, which would it be?" (I'm pretty sure my kids would want to return to Michigan.)

I'm not sure why, exactly, but my child w/ autism tends to like games that come with little dry erase boards and markers. And Say Anything does.

The downsides of the game are the fact that some of the vocabulary is difficult for my child w/ autism - I think the 8+ age recommendation is spot-on - and I have another wrinkle in that getting the other players to slow down and interact at a pace where my homeschooler can keep up can be a challenge.

This is fun family game; a fun game for groups of teens and preteens, may be a good travel game (I wouldn't use the tokens to show player guesses of what answer the judge best likes - the tokens will be lost, I'm sure), and I think speech therapists and special ed professionals will like it a lot, too.

To read my Crewmates' reviews of Say Anything, please go here.

NorthStar Games sent me Say Anything to review as part of my participation with The Old Schoolhouse Crew of reviewers. (I get to keep the game.) I was not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

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