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Guest Blogger Series:

Top 7 Games for Family Game Night

 

Working in a small, specialized private school, I am part of a team of amazing speech-language pathologists.  I'm excited to announce our first guest blogger and my wonderful colleague, Sara Sokolowski. Sara has BS and MA degrees in Speech-Language Pathology from the George Washington University and New York University.  She has been a school-based speech language pathologist in Manhattan and Riverdale, New York for the past eight years. 

 

 

Top 7 Games for Family Game Night

 

       I’m lucky enough to work in a school with parents who genuinely want to be involved in their children’s progress. As a result, many times throughout the year I am asked, “What can we be doing at home to help Johnny?” In my opinion, the best way for parents to help carryover language goals is in a way that consistently works for me as both a therapist and a parent…without your kids even knowing! Now, Family Game Night is not just about unplugging or family bonding, but it’s also about deceptively maintaining the language skills your children work so hard to develop in therapy or school. Below is a list of 7 games that your kids will never know are actually rooted in language skills!

 

TABOO

 

To me, this is the ultimate game in targeting description skills. Each player must describe a given word to his or her teammates without using the word itself.  In order to provide a sensible description to the other players, expressive language must be organized and concise, yet detailed. Taboo can be tailored to many ages by simply sorting through the cards. And of course, if your child can handle time restraints, there’s an hourglass timer included to add some extra tension to the game! 

 

Skills Addressed:

*  Description

*  Categorization

*  Word Associations

*  Use of Adjectives

 

 

HEADBANZ

 

Similar to Taboo, this is a game of description, albeit on a much simpler level (stimulus cards are pictures only; no words). It’s a win-win for all players. Everyone loves to see friends floundering to guess whatever object you’re describing and who doesn’t like wearing a goofy headband with a picture card attached?!

 

Skills Addressed:

*  Description

*  Categorization

*  Word Associations

*  Use of Adjectives

 

 

SCATTERGORIES

 

An oldie but a goodie! Perhaps the oldest game on my list, Scattergories is a favorite for many reasons. First, it can be tailored to many levels of complexity. Second, it takes virtually no time to set up and the timing of each round can be controlled. This game is played by listing as many items as possible in a given category. I personally use it without the 26-sided dice and pick and choose my categories carefully, but you don’t have to!

 

Skills Addressed:

*  Categories

*  Rapid Naming

*  Word Retrieval

 

 

 

 

 

BLURT

 

This great language game is the only one on this list disguised as a board game! As players make their way around the board, they are given the definition of a word and need to…you guessed it…blurt the word out loud! What’s nice about this game is that it requires very few modifications!

 

Skills Addressed:

*  Listening/Processing

*  Word Retrieval

*  Parts of Speech

 

 

30 SECOND MYSTERIES

 

What a fantastic game for older school age children! After reading a paragraph explaining a mystery and 4 accompanying clues, each player must solve the enigma! This game really targets two difficult tasks – listening to paragraphs of information without any visual support and making inferences based on all the information just processed. It’s really challenging! But don’t worry, the awesome magnifying glass that comes with the game can decode every single one of the mysterious solutions.

 

Skills Addressed:

*  Listening/Processing

*  Inferencing

*  Figurative Language

 

 

APPLES TO APPLES

 

My students, 10 years old and older LOVE this game! In true sneaky fashion, Apples to Apples targets several high-level language skills. Each player receives several “noun” cards and must choose which of their nouns is best described by the “adjective” card presented by the judge. However, it requires some modification; instead of the judge making the call solely based on the cards presented, each team (or player) must defend why their choice is the best. There are several versions of Apples to Apples – I tend to use the Junior version with my students, but the skills targeted are the same no matter the Apples variety you choose!

 

Skills Addressed:

*  Synonyms

*  Parts of Speech

*  Persuasive Language

 

 

YOU’VE BEEN SENTENCED

 

This sentence-building game uses unique 5-sided cards, each with several conjugations of the same root word. After receiving 10 cards, players must create the longest sentence using as many cards as possible. This game can be played timed or untimed. And because this is a game, each sentence can either be accepted or rejected by the other players based on grammatical grounds or “just because.” An ideal game for the budding lawyer in your family! 

 

Skills Addressed:

*  Parts of Speech

*  Sentence Formulation

*  Syntax/Word Order

 

 

Sara Sokolowski has BS and MA degrees in Speech-Language Pathology from the George Washington University and New York University.  She has been a school-based speech language pathologist in Manhattan and Riverdale, New York for the past eight years. 

 

 

 

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