Speech Pathology News: Play – Games with Rules

Benefits of Play

Children learn and develop more effectively through activities that involve play. Play facilitates learning as it provides a safe and stimulating environment for children to learn about the world around them, discover their interests, and acquire speech, language, and social-emotional skills.

Games with Rules

Children are motivated to make sense of the world, and therefore they are interested in rules. When children grow older, they enjoy playing games with rules and sometimes invent their own games. In games with rules, children follow or create rules to reach a shared objective. Language skills are a key element of this type of play, as children needs to understand and communicate the rules to each other during the game. Games with rules can include physical games such as hide and seek and hopscotch, as well as more intellectual games such as board and card games. By engaging in games with rules, children learn to follow instructions, take turns and play fair. They also learn how to control their impulses, cooperate with others and problem solve during these games.

Five Tips to Use Games with Rules to Develop Language

  • As turn taking is an important skill for cooperative game play, teach the language needed for turn-taking such as “My turn/Your turn” or “I go/You go”.
  • Ask the players to take turns to give instructions such as “Spin It/Roll It/Put it On”. They get to build more complex language by explaining the instructions to others.
  • If your child doesn’t typically make comments during the game, teach your child to make comments such as “She’s got three!” when a player spins or rolls the dice is a great, real-life way for him/her to get involved in conversation during the game.
  • Get your child to practice answering questions during game play. You can ask questions such as “Whose turn is it?” “How many did you get?” “If you need to give your child extra support, give them the answer before you ask the question: “Look, you rolled two. How many did you get?”
  • Practice making supportive comments such as “Good game!” “You did awesome!”. Empathy and social skills are important in helping children to build and maintain relationships.

Simple Games with Rules to Develop Language

Game 1: Three Word Story Pass

Skills It Develops: Listening, Sentence Construction and Topic Maintenance

Props:   A squishy ball for the children to pass to one another

How to Play:  Everyone sits in a circle.  Each person will add 3 words to a story before passing the ball to the next person. If the person with the ball takes more than 5 seconds to think of the words, the turn goes to the next person.

Example:  Last Monday morning…a little monkey…ran into the….Year One classroom….and the children… were very excited.

Game 2: The Big Wind Blows

Skills It Develops: Listening, Vocabulary, Following and Giving Directions

Props:  Chairs

How to Play: Arrange chairs in a circle, but ensure that there is one less chair than the number of people. The person in the centre of the circle begins by saying, “The Big Wind Blows for anyone who…” and adds something that is true about them. Examples could include “…is wearing glasses” “likes pink” and so on. Anyone who shares that trait must then move from their chair to another chair in the circle. This will leave one person without a spot in the circle, who then repeats the process: “The Big Wind blows for anyone who…”.

The FLDC Speech Pathology Team



Speech Pathology News: Play

Learning Through Play

Play is important for children as it helps them to make sense of the world, learn social skills and communicate effectively with others. As children learn best through play, play can be used to enhance the learning of speech and language skills in fun and supportive contexts.

5 Strategies to Develop Language Through Play

Here are five strategies to help your child develop language skills through play:

  • Let your child take the lead — You can let your child choose an activity that he/she is interested in. There will be more opportunities for language learning when your child is engaged in the activity.
  • Model language — Speak clearly and use the correct grammar when speaking with your child. If your child pronounces a word incorrectly, you do not have to correct them, just say the word back correctly to show that you have understood him/her.
  • Observe and comment — When playing with your child, do not feel that you have to fill the silences. Just take a step back, observe and comment about what you or your child is doing so that they can learn new vocabulary.
  • Take Turns — Turn-taking can help your child to develop social and communication skills. Activities such as board games can provide opportunities for your child use language to initiate turn-taking. You can use body language (eye contact, gestures) and ask questions to prompt for turn-taking.
  • Allow for repetition— Repetition of the same activity can help to build mastery and refine the skills that the child has developed. As children learn language through repetition, it is useful to use the same games, songs and books repeatedly, particularly those that they enjoy.

Play Activity: Small World Play

Small world play enables your child to act out stories using small objects as play props to represent real-life objects. You can ask your child to design their small world. Water, sand, leaves, flowers can be included to make the play more sensory and interesting.  Here’s what you need to do to get started:

  • Decide on your theme — the theme should be familiar to your child and something that he/she is interested in. You can build a farm, school or city or even a fairy land or dinosaur world.
  • Collect your materials— Children love to be involved in looking for items to create the small world. You can house the small world in a box and build the small world with things you already have at home such as plants, pebbles and toys. Encourage your child to talk about what they are including in the small world, why they have chosen these items and where these items are going to be placed.
  • Acting out stories — Acting out stories in the small world is a good way for your child to develop language skills in a meaningful context. If you build a farm, potential story ideas can be about the feeding of animals in the farm or cleaning the barns. You can facilitate language learning for your child by introducing new words and expanding on his/her sentences during play.

Speech Pathology News: Comprehension

What is Comprehension and why is it important?

Comprehension refers to your child’s ability to understand language. Comprehension skills are important in the classroom for following instructions and for learning new information.

Following Instructions:

Some instructions require children to understand spatial words or prepositions. These tell your child where something needs to go. These words include on, under, over, in, in front, behind and next to.

Ideas for teaching spatial prepositions:

  • Start with two prepositions to practice with your child e.g. on and under
  • Pick a motivating activity for your child e.g. use their favourite toy, make an obstacle course, go to a playground
  • Model the prepositions for your child using the activity e.g. go on the slide and say we are on the slide, go under the slide and say we are under the slide.
  • Give your child some directions using the spatial prepositions you showed them.

Activity: Spatial prepositions colouring activity

  • Colour the bird in the bird bath yellow
  • Colour the bird on the bird bath blue
  • Colour the bird above the bird bath green
  • Colour the bird in front of the bird bath pink
  • Colour the bird behind the bird bath purple
  • Colour the bird next to the bird bath orange

How to make it easier:

Break the instructions into two parts. For example, ask your child to point to the bird in the birdbath and once they’ve pointed to the correct bird, ask them to colour the bird yellow.