How to Adapt Games For Special Needs
Finding appropriate games that match their child’s maturity AND meets them where they are at developmentally is just one of the issues parents have when looking for games for their special needs child. This post discusses one game and one goal, but hopefully it will provide some insight as to how to adapt other games to meet your child’s specific needs and goals.
Gameschooling : Adapting Enchanted Forest
Enchanted Forest is one of my favorite games for family game night for many reasons. First, you don’t need any reading skills. Second, it’s fun for both the younger kids and me. Third, it’s made by Ravensburger so you know the quality is such that the game will last for decades. Fourth, this may be a fairy tale game, but it’s a far cry from the damsel in distress trope. Enchanted Forest isn’t a difficult game to learn and kids love that it involves some strategy, and as it is is already of high interest to kids, it is a great choice to adapt for a differently-abled audience.
Enchanted Forest does a really great job of being appropriate for a myriad of abilities, but I needed to find a way to make it appropriate for a developmentally-delayed child who is just at the cusp of the developmental stage where they understand taking turns and fair play. Why couldn’t I make the game work for us? My child needs extra help with functioning memory and doesn’t quite understand the purpose of counting yet, and a game is an excellent way to reinforce those skills, so why not convert Enchanted Forest into a game she can play?
Converting Enchanted Forest – Games for Special Needs
For this adaptation I wanted a game that the very youngest preschooler could play but that would still be of interest to an 11 year old who needs to practice the same skills as the preschooler. It had to involve turn taking, but with very short periods between turns. It had to stay true to the counting game and memory game play of the original game, but it had to reinforce hearing & repeating the numbers. Our version of the game also had to have game play short enough that a child with ADHD can play it, but without sacrificing the educational value.
This adaptation uses the treasure cards (tiles), the trees, the dice, and the game board.
New game play:
-Set up the board according to directions. I opted not to place the tiles in the castle when we played, but do what works for you. I chose to line the cards on the table so I could point to them as we counted them.
-Players take turns rolling the dice. Count the tiles individually until you get to your rolled number, reveal that tile. You can count or you can have your player count. Player has to guess which tree is hiding the item on the tile. If you rolled doubles you get to look under two trees! If you guess correctly you keep the tile and the tree, if you guess incorrectly the next player takes their turn.
-The game ends when all trees and tiles are taken. The player with the most sets of trees & tiles wins!
That’s it! The game play is still similar to the original, but we’ve removed some of the more advanced steps to accommodate a different audience. Enchanted Forest is now a preschool-friendly counting game and memory game that also gently reinforces turn taking.
You can take steps like this with almost any game! If you don’t know where to start you can always hop on over to our Gameschooling Group and ask for advice! We’re a super nice group of people and someone always knows the answer or has a great idea!
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Meg Grooms is a decades-long secular homeschooling mother of 6 children, ranging in age from preschool to married with kids of their own. Always a vagabond at heart, Meg and her family have embraced a slow travel lifestyle, currently calling Southern California home. Your guess is as good as hers as to where they’ll end up next.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool.