Use These Games to Work on Pragmatic Language, Executive Functioning, and Much More!
As SLPs, we’ve all got our favorite toys and games to use during our speech therapy sessions with kids. Personally, I’ve got a closet filled with quick, turn-taking games for articulation therapy sessions, loads of pretend play toys, arts and crafts materials, card games, as well as board games. It boggles my mind to think of how many rounds of Candy Land I must have played over the years – ten thousand? At least?!
And while playing these games, I’m sure we’ve all had experiences with kids on our caseloads who cannot stand to lose at games. You know the ones who are eager to play games, but are extremely vigilant about monitoring if they are winning and will get upset as soon as they think they might lose? This dynamic is a normal part of development, and it can also persist for many kids who have difficulties with language, social communication, executive functioning and emotional regulation… essentially, many of the kids we work with!
Several years ago, I discovered collaborative board games and it was a... ahem... game changer. These games preserve all the things we like about using board games, such as providing opportunities to work on executive functioning and pragmatic language skills like negotiating, strategizing, comprehending and explaining rules, and sharing fun with others. But they also eliminate that winning and losing dynamic by creating a situation where we all win or lose together. This can really help our students who can feel like there is so much at stake in a game where they’re playing alone against others.
Interested in giving these collaborative games a try in your own speech therapy sessions? Here is a list of my five favorites, along with a brief description.
1. The Fairy Game by Peaceable Kingdom
The game is recommended for ages 5 and over, and is for 2-4 players. The object of the game is to save flowers from the frost of Mr. Winter by strategically using fairies, unicorns, and magic wands. This game is decidedly a little girly, but I’ve had many boys who are also happy to play! Players have to work together and can strategize by combining their cards to save flowers.
2. Cauldron Quest by Peaceable Kingdom
The game is recommended for ages 6 and over, and is for 2-4 players. The object of the game is to get the ingredients to make a potion to break the spell of the evil wizard. This game offers many opportunities to strategize together about the next move, and it captures imaginations with gross potion ingredients like rotten eggs and newt’s eyeballs.
The game is recommended for ages 5 and over, and is for 2-4 players. The object of the game is to gather clues to solve the mystery of which fox stole Mrs. Plumpert’s pot pie. It offers opportunities for all sorts of skills, such as reasoning, strategizing, and discussing what’s best to do next. I don’t think I’ve ever met a kid who doesn’t enjoy this game!
4. Race to the Treasure by Peaceable Kingdom
The game is recommended for ages 5 and over, and is for 2-4 players. The object of the game is to beat the ogre to the treasure by piecing together a path to collect keys and arrive at the treasure. This game offers lots of great opportunities to discuss and negotiate ideas about how to create the path. Many of my students ask for this game again and again.
5. Space Escape by Peaceable Kingdom
The game is recommended for ages 7 and over, and is for 2-4 players. The object of the game is to work together to collect equipment and make it to the escape pod before time runs out. This game is especially good for working on exploring different options before deciding on which way to move, and players can even strategize and discuss based on upcoming moves for other players.
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