Before your skip over this post because you think I’m going to give you ten extra apps to download on your overcrowded iPad, think again. (I’m a big fan of apps, by the way, but sometimes oldies can still be goodies.)
When it comes to games, some of my favorites involve cardboard, game pieces, and a timer. Actually, there are some fantastic, fairly inexpensive, family games you can purchase which will help your children increase various language-based skills while having lots of fun in the process.
I’m going to list these next four games in order of language demand and developmental level, then give a summary and way in which each can help in language growth for kids.
HeadBandz is a fantastic game for children above the age of 7. If they are struggling with word-finding, categorization, organization of thought, and part-to-whole understanding, then the child might need to wait until he is closer to 9 or 10 before he’s ready to play this game. It’s setup like the game 20 questions.
Each person is given a card to place on their headband. They do not know what is on the card, but all of the other players can see ‘who’ they are. The player must ask yes/no questions each turn to narrow down who (or what) their card is. My family has the Disney version as well. For children who have a more difficult time with this, it is suggested that you only choose cards in which the children will be most successful, until they become more comfortable with the structure and expectations of the game.
Some language skills addressed: word-finding, organization, categorization, problem-solving, vocabulary development, identifying important information, part-to-whole relationships, and so many more.
Learn more about: HeadBandz
Bubble Talk was one of the best, low-cost finds of last year. It’s a twist on the game Apple to Apples (if you are familiar with it). The idea is to find the best caption for a photograph. You are given a set number of captions and each player has to choose a caption from his/her hand that best describes the photo presented. The photos are colorful, unusual, and creative.
I’ve used the photographs in a separate activity as ‘story starters’ and ‘what’s wrong with this picture’.
Some language skills addressed: semantic language (flexible word understanding and use), reading context clues, and understanding and using humor (another flexible thinking skill).
Learn more about: Bubble Talk
Whoonu was developed by Cranium and is a fantastic game to encourage perspective taking skills. Basically, it’s a ‘guessing game’ of each player’s favorite things. Many times I use this as an ‘ice breaker’ games with my older students who are working on various cognitive and social language skills.
Some language skills addressed: perspective taking, problem solving, semantic language, and interpersonal interactions
Learn more about: Whoonu
Funglish is the most language advanced game of the list. If you want to challenge you and your child’s word-finding and language skills, this is the game for you. In this game you cannot talk or act. You can only choose from the descriptive words provided to help the other players guess the words on your card. Remember, as instructions go, it is for advanced language users, but it can be modified to allow for younger players. Some of your players may only be ready to be ‘clue guessers’ while others have the more complex cognitive language skills to be ‘clue givers’.
I’ve created my own cards when working with younger children so they would have more success in the game.
Some language skills addressed: word associations, semantic language, part-to whole relationships, categorization, and vocabulary development.
Learn more about: Funglish
These are just a few of the more advanced games you can purchase for older children and even adults. Most of the games listed are reasonably priced, easy to learn, and fun for the whole family. Happy Gaming!
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Gaming Your Way to Better Language Skills
Pepper Basham, MS, CCC-SLP
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