Games to Help Communication*
By Kandie Demarest
(* this article originally published by Chart & Compass)
Language skills usually evolve naturally in a normal family environment. But what if your child isn’t taking to communication as readily as your other kids did? Maybe he isn’t talking as much or understanding what he hears. There are fun ways to help kids learn the language skills that come naturally to most people.
My son has a problem processing language. He can speak fine and understands single words perfectly but when you string the words into a sentence he starts to falter. Try a paragraph or an abstract question and you’ve lost him completely. (well, actually he’s lost you completely; he knows where he is but it is very hard to follow him and always a surprise if you do figure it out!)
Today I asked “What would you do if you found a kitty hurt in the street?”
He replied “squished by a car.” When I tell him “Go get the pen that is next
to the red hat.” He will return with the hat or sometimes whatever red thing
happens to be in the room. He has trouble understanding what his ears have
heard, there is no doubt he did hear it since he many times can repeat it
word for word. The problem is the processing of the words.
We play games every day that are helping him develop these much needed
language processing skills. I thought I’d share a few of them for other
parents of late language-learners. Many of these games are old classics like
“I spy with my little eye” and some are store-bought but all of them can be
altered to be just perfect for your own child’s level and interests.
Guess My Name – Ravensburger, for ages 6-10 (Alter directions for use with
younger ages) Board with many pictures of a variety of things, I pick one
thing to describe and start with one attribute. “I live in the waterâ€¦.what am
I?” As your child’s skill increases you can add attributes as in “I live in
the water, I don’t have gills, and I am brown.” For more advanced kids you
use dice and markers and everyone takes a turn describing the items.
What’s That Sound? – Discovery Toys, for ages 3 – 8
Play BINGO using an audio tape and bingo cards with pictures of corresponding
items such as: dog, clock, bird, whistle, frog, baby,pianoâ€¦.
Helps listening and following directions and leads into some great
conversations and silly play.
Tell-A-Story – Ravensburger, for ages 3-10
Picture tiles meant for sequencing to tell a story. Good for helping with
sequencing skills and talking about before and after also can be used as a
matching game. For more advanced kids it helps develop imagination and
“What would you do?” conversation game for all ages.
Start the game with a question “What would you do ifâ€¦.you found a puppy” or
“What would you do ifâ€¦you got lost?” This game is great for taking a peek
into your child’s thoughts as well as providing a chance to give ideas and
suggestions for safe responses. As your child’s skills grow so can the
difficulty in questions.
“I spy with my little eye” a good game similar to Guess My Name only you
have no cards for prompts. Instead you choose an item in site and say “I spy
with my little eye something GREEN” and they guess. With every incorrect
answer you get to add a clue. This game is helpful whether you are the spy
or the guesser. Your child can get a lot of practice putting words in order
slowly when he is the spy.
Touch and Tell
This is a good tactile experience as well as an opportunity for your child to
describe an item or guess what it is. Place in a box various items of
differing textures and shapes such as: smooth stone or mirror, rough
sandpaper, round marbles or pitted golf balls. Cover your child’s eyes with
a bandana or sleeping mask
and have her reach into the box and choose one item. Have her hold it in her
hand and encourage her to feel it and try to describe it. What does it feel
like? What might it be? What could you do with it?
Small Tape Recorder with microphone and blank tapes
One of the most useful tools I’ve discovered for language exploring is a
kid-friendly tape recorder. Show your child how to tape her voice and songs
or just funny noises. She may enjoy recording all the different noises in
her neighborhood and having you guess what they are. Or it may be enough to
encourage her own story-telling attempts. Another must is a good supply of
books on tape and a wide variety of music of her own.
Remember that these games should be FUN. For learning to happen your child
needs to be involved-the more fun it is the more they will learn and
remember. If he isn’t successful right away, make the game easier so he
feels success. You can always make it more difficult as his skills increase.