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The Handy Dandy Adaptable Review Game, Cooperation Concentration: Parent Powerline insights
Monday, August 2, 2021 by Becky Cerling Powers

Cooperation Concentration is a simple game to make and use with children to teach, review, or reinforce many different learning skills, from recognizing the alphabet to reducing fractions. Parents can use it to help children review basic math or reading readiness and to learn new skills all year long.

Basic Cooperation Concentration

You can get the hang of Cooperation Concentration by playing it with a deck of Old Maid cards or regular playing cards. After that, you should be able to make up your own sets of cards to help your children review particular skills. If your Old Maid deck has shrunk, that’s OK. Just be sure you have 14 to 20 pairs, plus the Old Maid odd card. Use a Joker for the Old Maid if you are using regular playing cards. Any number can play this game, but you must have at least two players.

The object of the game is to see how many pairs the players can find together before someone turns up the Old Maid.

Shuffle the deck and lay the cards out in rows, face down.

Player 1 turns over two cards. If they are a pair, he lays them aside, face up. If they are not a pair, he replaces them face down again, and everyone tries to remember where those particular cards are located. Player 2 then turns up another two cards, trying to find and keep a pair. Since this is a cooperative effort, players keep the pairs in a common pile and help each other locate pairs.

When someone turns over the Old Maid, the game is over. Count the pairs you collected as a team and start over. Try to see if you can collect more pairs next game, before the Old Maid shows up.

Modify the game for review

Suppose you have a first grader who needs to review the alphabet. Make alphabet cards from pieces of cardstock cut into the same size or use a stack of 3-by-5 index cards. Make two A’s, two B’s, etc. Then make two Time cards: write the word Time or draw a picture of a clock on two cards.

Now play the game the same way you played it with Old Maid cards, using the Time cards to end the game like an Old Maid odd card. Since this game has more pairs, it has two odd cards instead of one. So this time when you turn up the first Time card you keep on playing, leaving the Time card face up. When you turn up the second Time card, the game ends.

One additional rule makes review and reinforcement possible

Every time someone turns up a card, he must say its letter name out loud. When he finds a pair, he must name it correctly or else he cannot keep it. And since this game is cooperative, whenever a child doesn’t know a letter, the other players tell him what it is.    

Making this game both good review and good fun requires parents to be flexible.

If your child forgot the whole alphabet over the summer and can’t remember any of it, for example, don’t waste time making him feel badly because he doesn’t know as much as you think he should. Just make the game simpler.

The more your child succeeds, the more he’ll want to play. And the more he plays, the more he’ll learn.

To teach the alphabet over from scratch, put most of the cards aside and start out with only five letter pairs and one Time card. Play until your child knows those letters, then add a few new ones. Keep adding new letters gradually, taking as many days or weeks as your child needs with the game to learn the letters. When you get up to 15 or 16 pairs, add a second Time card.

Modify the game to review math

To review math, you match cards instead of pairing them. One card will show a problem (3 + 7) and its matching card will show the answer (10). You can review addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts this way.  To review fraction reduction, match an unreduced fraction (6/8) with its equivalent (3/4).

For children who are not yet abstract thinkers, always match a picture card to a number card. So, for example, review numbers by matching a numeral to a picture showing that many; review fractions by matching a written fraction with a picture showing that fraction.

Other modifications

You can make matching cards for the alphabet, too, matching uppercase letters—A, B, C—with lowercase letter—a, b, c. Or you can teach children to recognize cursive writing by matching a printed word with its equivalent written in cursive. Players should say the word or letter out loud in order to keep each matching pair.

Just be sure to make a Time card for every 15 to 20 matching pairs in your game. The game ends when the final Time card is turned up.

© Becky Cerling Powers 1994

Use with attribution only   [email protected]

For more insights from Becky Cerling Powers see her book Sticky Fingers, Sticky Minds: quick reads for helping kids thrive in the Bookstore

 

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