Summer is in full swing and I love it! It’s the season to take a little time off and enjoy yourself with family and friends. To take a break from the every day and make some special memories with the ones you love the most.
Personally, I remember heading to the cottage and spending lazy afternoons playing board games and cards with my friends and family. For me, these memories bring back wonderful feelings of togetherness and the pleasure of simplicity. In addition, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, playing these games also had the amazing side benefit of helping boost my language skills!
Did you know board games help build:
- Expressive language skills
- New vocabulary
- Social language skills such as turn taking, eye contact and following rules
- Critical thinking and problem solving skills
- Pre-literacy and literacy skills
- Attention, memory and cognitive skills
- And much more!!!
Whether you are heading out of town or enjoying a stay-cation, consider picking up some of my favourite games for speech and language development (listed below) to bring with you. Not only will you be creating special memories for your child to cherish, but you will be helping to boost their language skills without them even realizing! Remember, the more fun you have, the more fun your child will have! Enjoy!
Age: 3+ (but I do this with many 2 year olds with parent support and modify the rules)
Game: Take turns opening the doors to look for the hidden balls. Fill up the entire row and watch the magic treasure box open.
Language Tip: The game comes with cards to put on top of each door. Have the child say what the picture is before opening the door. I also write letters or numbers onto construction paper and use them on top of the doors instead to work on literacy and numeracy!
WHAT’S IN NED’S HEAD
Age: 4+ (I have found 3 year olds can use this game easily and I work in parent/child teams to include 2 year olds)
Game: Stick your hand into Ned’s ears, mouth and nose to find objects inside that match with your cards.
Language Tip: Have the child use descriptive words to explain what the item feels like before they pull it out of Ned’s head.
Age: 18 mths+ (I have played this with 5 year olds who still love it if you put the pictures in places that are fun to find – like spread out, and a bit hidden, around the outdoors.)
Game: Spread the cards face down and take turns trying to find the one that matches your card.
Language Tip: After your child finds their picture try and have them use as big a sentence as possible for their age/level to tell you what they found (e.g., “yellow banana”, or “I see a yellow banana”, or “I found a yellow banana hiding underneath the couch”). For older children see if they can find another word that starts with the same letter as what they found (e.g., banana – boot).
Age: 4+ (Work in parent/child teams to include younger players)
Game: Spin the wheel, pick a card for that category and then act it out so your teammate can guess what it is.
Language Tip: Have your child describe verbally what they were doing to try and act out the image when their team is done guessing.
Game: Ask yes/no questions to your opponent and try and guess their mystery person before they guess yours.
Language Tip: Go to Hasbro.com to print off more character cards and expand the types of questions children ask.
Age: 4+ (Although I have done many of these with my 3 year old daughter with support)
Game: Read the story and build the accompanying equipment that goes with it. Use characters and tools provided to continue with pretend play after your construction is complete.
Language Tip: Each Goldiblox game focuses on a specific engineering principle (e.g., wheel and axel, hinges, levers, etc.). Discuss other items your child is familiar with that also have these features (e.g., wheel and axel – bike, hinge – door, etc.).
CHUGGINGTON’S TRAINTASTIC CARGO GAME
Game: Spin the spinner to pick a box car to open and select a cargo piece for your train. Fill up your train with all your cargo in the correct sequence to win.
Language Tip: Pair older children with younger ones and have them work together to fill up their train, encouraging social language and collaborative problem solving.
Age: 7+ (Although I find many 5 year olds can do this independently if you take away the timer portion of the game)
Game: Ask questions to find out what picture you are wearing in your head band. Answer others’ questions without giving away what they are!
Language Tip: Sort the cards out by different categories before you start the game. The more abstract the categories the more challenging it is (e.g., things you throw, things that roll, things that are soft, etc.).
Age: 4+ (I find kids as young as 2 years old can do this game with parent support)
Game: Take a block from the bottom portion of the tower and move it to the top without the tower falling over.
Language Tip: I love this game for literacy. Use sidewalk chalk to write letters or words on the blocks. Before the child pulls out a block have them say the letter, letter sound or read the word.
Game: Collect all 5 story cards about a single character. When you have all 5 cards arrange them however you want to tell your own unique story about that character.
Language Tip: When your child is done telling their story draw their attention to the specific parts of their story you thought were particularly good (e.g., “I love how you gave each of your characters different personality traits” or “That story plot was creative because I’ve never heard a story about a scarecrow and a scaredog!”).
- The Learning Key, Inc. (2011). Learning with board games: Tools for learning and retention. Retrieved online on July 12, 2016 at http://www.thelearningkey.com/pdf/Board_Games_TLKWhitePaper_May16_2011.pdf
- Mateos Rodilla, R. (2012). Playful learning in the EFL class: The beneficial use of board games and the LEGO serious play method. Retrieved online on July 12, 2016 at http://www3.uah.es/master_tefl_alcala/pdf/tfm/regina_mateos_rodillo.pdf