When it comes to kiddos, games are the magic key. Many SLPs like to integrate games into practice, use games as rewards, or adjust traditional board games to fit the needs of their child. Do I like games? Of course! However, I’ve realized as we get older our innate love for play and fun starts to hide away. As adults we’ve learned to tuck that child-like side of us away. Luckily for me, I work with kids every day. And if you are a parent, so do you. It’s impossible to not to incorporate fun into our day to day routines whether its getting our hands dirty painting or throwing the ball around the back yard. This is the beauty of children. They remind us of the child we once used to be. Now, as an SLP, I’ve learned there is a whole other side of ‘trends” for kids these days. And let me tell you, it’s real! I know what brand of shoes are in style, type of backpack that is popular, what the best shows are on TV, and even the preferred type of water bottle. Not only that, games are trendy too. As a parent, you may also know what all the kids are talking about these days.
In fact, many SLPs tend to use the same games across practices. If you have ever had to change therapy clinics, I’m sure a lot of the games used by clinicians are pretty familiar. Its because we like games that can be fun but also can encourage speech and language development. These games also can teach children turn taking and social skills that are important part of development. Below you can find some recommendations of games to learn and play at home to reinforce lessons and help facilitate language.
POP UP PIRATE!
This game puts an emphasis on turn-taking as children take turns pushing a sword into the barrel until the pirate pops out of the barrel. Since many younger children see the pirate popping out as “winning,” one technique is to give sword pushes as a reward when words or sounds are articulated correctly.
Another favorite of SLPs who serve school-age children, Guess Who? helps children build descriptive skills and improves grammar. It also helps children learn how to form statements as questions as they work to figure out which character their opponent has chosen.
RORY’S STORY CUBES
Combining nine cubes with varying images on each side results in 10 million possible combinations. You can practice expressive language skills, image interpretation, and use of proper syntax. Or, you can use the game to for develop vocabulary, listening skills, articulation skills, and storytelling skills.
Many SLPs use use this game to integrate articulation goals. Say a word right? Pull a block from a tower. Write words on the blocks and have children pull off the word that is being described. Make a tower of antonyms and a tower of synonyms
ON THE FARM – WHO’S IN THE BARNYARD
A puzzle, pretend-play set, and game all in one. Who’s in the Barnyard works to help build cognitive association by matching animals with the sounds that they make. For those with articulation issues, the /p/ and /h/ sounds are plentiful. Teaching the proper use of verbs and prepositions is possible, and the set is geared towards the toddler crowd
It’s bingo with a twist in this game. The goal is to match all the pictures on the card with the cards that come out of the zinger. The game is fast paced, great for those with limited attention spans, and teaches recognition, vocabulary, and matching skills
This old school game is still a hit for most kids of all ages from preschool- early intervention. You can target turn taking, color recognition, articulation goals between turns, and overall social skills.
Reinforcing the work completed in school-based or private-practice therapy at home can help your child’s speech and articulation improve by leaps and bounds. Not only that, but many of these games are adaptable, with increasing difficulties as the child progresses.
While games can be a fun way to reinforce or to teach new words, sounds, ideas, and communication, sometimes the simplest things are the most effective: reading to your child, having your child read to you, as well as singing and repeating nursery rhymes make for great activities that can help a child in speech therapy. Ask your child’s SLP for particular things your child needs to work on between visits, then see how you can incorporate those practice drills into some of these games. Your child will have more fun doing speech training and you should see some good progress between visits. Before you know it, your child will be speaking clearly and will have learned a number of other important skills along the way.