How to Play 52 Essential Conversations

 

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Get grade-by-grade 1st through 5th benchmark checklists for evaluating social and emotional skills (great for parents, teachers, and specialists):

HOW TO PLAY DIRECTIONS:

LEVEL 1 (BEGINNER):

Begin with the ace of hearts. Take turns answering the top question(s). As a team, answer the bottom question(s) together. Progress up the card numbers (i.e. 2, 3, 4...) within a suit. Or, move across all four suits by focusing on the same card number (i.e., ace of diamond, spade, club).

LEVEL 2 (INTERMEDIATE):

Select a suit and lay out its13 cards face down. Draw a card and take turns answering all the questions. Players take turns drawing a card and discussing how the new card topic connects with the previous card(s).

LEVEL 3 (MASTERY):

Each player draws 5 cards and, taking turns, shares a personal story inspired by their card prompts. The other players then guess the card topic based on the story.

Play-to-Win (Optional):

Collect the card when you:

  • guess the card topic correctly,
  • tell the most interesting story,
  • or show the best participation.
The player with the most cards at the end wins.

 

WELL-KNOWN CARD GAMES...WITH A TWIST!

War:

Player with the highest card 3X in a row picks the card for everyone to discuss.

Crazy Eights:

Answer a card when suit changes.

Go Fish, Memory, Pairs, Old Maid:

Whoever gets a match picks a card from the set for all to respond.

 

PLAYING IN THE FLOW OF LIFE

In the car or the waiting line:

Grab a card and start talking!

School advisory / Orientation / Restorative circle:

Pair up or as a group, take turns answering prompts to get to know each other.

Language Arts / Writing / Speech & Debate:

Use as brainstorming, writing, or speaking prompts. Math challenge: Players select cards and use order of operations to tally values up to a specified total, such as 10.

Speech, Language, and Behavioral Support:

Assess and investigate perspectives + pragmatics. Practice and build social skills + emotion regulation.

Family dinner / Sibling bonding:

Each family member selects 3 cards to share or ask about something that happened in the day.

Wholesome weekend:

Swap electronics for a card game or journaling.

On a walk or hike:

Grab a few cards for a campfire-style chat!