Friday, May 11, 2012

Lids 'n Lizards game from Super Duper, Inc.

Super Duper, Inc. has a new game, Lids 'n Lizards,  that is marketed to speech therapists and teachers to help students work on a long list of verbal skills.
"Watch your students flip over Lids 'n Lizards! Practice articulation, categorizing, describing, and auditory and visual memory skills with these nesting lids. Place a magnet under each lid and let the flipping begin! Students name the photo object on the magnet and identify the category for each one. Plus hide the colorful lizards under the lids to surprise your students! The first student to uncover the most lizards is the winner."
I watched the video  about the game produced by Super Duper, Inc, to describe the game and to demonstrate uses for it. I was pretty excited when I saw the pieces of the game. My mind was racing as I recognized the possibilities of all things non-verbal - but none of those ideas were mentioned in the video.

So I requested a review copy.  I wanted to see this one up close.

Children on the autism spectrum often lack non-verbal foundations of communication. There are lists of non-verbal goals and objectives that developmental interventions address - and in my experience, our behavioral intervention and speech intervention missed these critically important non-verbal foundations of interaction and reciprocity.

I wish I'd had this game at home a long time ago. My mind is still considering all of the possibilities for this cute game.  Allow me to share a few ideas with you.

The first use I thought of when I saw the Lids 'n Lizards game is "follow my eyes to the prize" from one of Gutstein and Sheeley's early RDI books, a referencing activity, a gaze-following activity, and a theory-of-mind activity. With Lids 'n Lizards, I'd begin with two or three lids, put a lizard or a magnet under just one of them, and have the child follow my eyes to the lid with the surprise underneath.  For a child who is very developmentally delayed or who displays some visual challenges following my gaze, I'd separate the lids in a big way, so that I could turn my whole body in the direction of the lid with the surprise underneath.  You can use a flashlight to point to the lid to further spotlight what is in your mind.

Now, turn the tables on the child and have the child hide a lizard or magnet under one (as you cover your eyes) and show you with his/her eyes where the surprise is hidden.

Giving children the experience that an the eyes of another person contain important information is really necessary for a lot of children with developmental delays, and with 20 lids in the game, setting up a row of lids (the actual number would depend upon the competency of the child, start small, work up) with just one surprise, and have them guess.  Touch one lid, look to you for your reaction. The adult (teacher, parent, speech path, etc) can use a variety of responses - eyebrows up with a smile for yes, eyebrows down with a frown for no.  Big nod for yes; big head-shake for no.   I think the difficult part for me is remembering where I hid the lizard if I used all 20 lids!

Again, switch roles. Allow the child to hide something under a lid while you cover your eyes.  You point to each lid, look at him with your non-verbal question, "Is it under this one?" and allow him the opportunity to respond.  When the child has enough shared attention experience, the adult may 'zone out' momentarily to create a breakdown that the child has an opportunity to repair, to grab the attention of the adult back into the game.

Children on the autism spectrum sometimes are challenged to coordinate and co-regulate with others.  Lids 'n Lizards provides some neat opportunities to practice.  Load each lid with a magnet and divide the lids equally among game players.  With the adult in the lead, the adult slowly reaches to pick up a lid with the object being for the student(s) to coordinate actions with the adult, to mirror, and pick up lids together, turn them over together.  Then each student may identify the picture underneath, or tell you the sound of the first letter of the object, or whatever verbal goal you're working on.

Another non-verbal foundation involves perspective taking (more theory-of-mind).  Load the lids, put them face down, mix 'em up, and pick one, hold it up so everyone in the group can see it.   Each student gets a turn to pick a lid, show each member of the group what is inside.  A lot of kids have no idea that when you are sitting across from them, you can't see what they see in front of them. We can overcompensate for children with developmental delays in perspective taking in a way that gives them the experience that we know what they know, we see what they see. (How do I know this? We made that mistake!) An activity that is very simple, "LOOK what I picked!" as you show the object to the others in your game will give children important experience in perspective taking. You could set this one up to go one at a time, or to coordinate actions and go all at the same time, depending on the goals of your group.  Once you set up a game to spotlight an objective such as perspective taking, you, the adult, gets practice in offering opportunities, and you become more aware of opportunities during the day.  The game is a teaching tool for the adult as well.

The lids stack nicely.  A simple turn-taking game between an adult and child gives wonderful non-verbal conversation experience. You put one on the stack, I put one on the stack. Nice pattern, two roles, two active participants. There are many kids, a lot of them verbal, who are not interactive, and simple turn-taking is the foundation for verbal interaction.  

Several years ago, I had an opportunity to hear inclusion expert Richard Villa speak. He passionately described how successful they've been using students with developmental delays and learning disabilities to teach other students and how it grew both the 'student-teacher' and the 'student' in big ways.  While we, at my house, are using the game  more for the verbal ideas described in the video now, (my child is referencing and attention sharing and attention shifting at higher levels, now), I cannot wait for my younger nieces and nephews to visit, because that will give my homeschooler, the child on the autism spectrum, new opportunities to be the 'teacher' using Lids 'n Lizards and experience in new ways all of the non-verbal foundations we continue to grow.

If you have toddlers at home, please know that there are small pieces in this game, possibly choking hazards.

The lids are sturdy.  I was concerned that we could bend them and break them, which is one reason I wanted to see the game in person.  My kid could rip a board book in two when she was a toddler. I wanted sturdy. These are sturdy.  The magnets are colorful. I was concerned that we'd be able to peel the picture off. I have a kid that might do that, too.  They seem to be well attached.

Lids 'n Lizards is priced at $39.95. A set of 20 additional lids may be purchased for $19.95. I give it a whole bunch of thumbs up - Lids 'n Lizards is a versatile game that offers lots of opportunities to practice a wide variety of non-verbal and verbal objectives.

Disclaimer:  Super Duper, Inc. sent me a Lids 'n Lizards game to review for you at no charge to me. I was not paid for this review. I am not obligated to provide a positive review.

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