Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Small Group Playing Card Activity: Slap Santa

Several years ago, I purchased Christmas playing cards after the season for $ .50.  I really didn’t have a plan for them, just thought they could come in handy.  Last year, I finally came up with a clever game, similar to Slapjack.  

In advance, I cover all the face cards with clipart Santas using packing tape.  

Then as a social small group activity, a teacher turns the cards over one at a time.  If she turns over a number card, the kids have to say the number and if she turns over a Santa they have to slap it and say “Santa!”.  The kids love this adaption of Slapjack.  

For our students with short attention spans, it really helps to add the Santa images to all face cards (instead of jack only), so the frequency of slapping increases. There is less anticipation, more activity.  

This activity works on the skill of watching and attending to task.  For my students who have a difficult time watching and attending, I often play the game one-on-one at direct instruction or play it with two children versus a large group of four or six.  

For my more advanced students, I add in a more challenging skill.  I created a deck of Slap Penguin where half of the face cards are Penguins and half are Polar Bears.  Then I took a pair of gloves and used puffy paint to make a Polar Bear on one and a Penguin on the other.  The kids wear them to play the game.  If they are wearing a Penguin glove, they only slap Penguin cards. If they are wearing a Polar Bear glove, they only slap PolarBear cards.  This adds a whole new element of waiting, watching and attending.  The kids really have to watch to slap the right card.  It is not about watching their peers and reacting when they do, but rather watching and responding independently. 

Supplies for the Slap Penguin game.
My boys playing Slap Penguin.

Instructor's Insight:  The great part about this game is it works on hand dominance for  those kids that still switch between using their left and right hand. I paint the object on the front and back of each glove so it can be used for a left-handed or right-handed student.  It also gives the student time to independently practice putting on his/her gloves.  So often before outdoor time and at dismissal, we are in a hurry to get outside and don't take the opportunity to have students practice putting on their gloves themselves.  This gives them a motivating time to practice the skill.

Teacher's Tip: For kids who are not yet ready for gloves, use mittens for less of a challenge. 

Extra Credit: For students who are ready to work in large groups, program each face card with a different Christmas object or character. This gives more kids the opportunity to play.
Money Saving Thought: Buy playing cards and gloves at the dollar store. Make up generic forms of this game to play all year long or other seasonal versions such as Halloween, Valentines, Fire Safety, and Dinosaurs.  


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