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