Ten games to support communication in primary school aged children
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Ten games to support communication in primary school aged children

When parents visit me with their child, their stress is palpable. Often parents don’t relish or even expect to be asked to practise strategies at home with their child between sessions. Let alone to practise whilst on holiday. I understand that you don’t necessarily want anything extra added to your daily ‘to do’ lists. This is why we try our best to incorporate all speech and language therapy practice into children’s daily activities.

For example:

  1. during bath time;
  2. mealtimes;
  3. getting ready for bedtime;
  4. story time
  5. yes, playtime!

These are activities that all parents will engage with anyway, so it seems to make sense to incorporate both. This is to avoid adding extra pressure on parents’ already stressful and time-poor daily lives. I am hoping my blog will come in handy, especially for the summer holidays.

On holiday you are unlikely to have your usual games and toys with you – so here is a nice little list of things you can use instead of traditional games and toys:

If you can think of any other alternatives on holiday and would like to tell me about them, I would love to see your comments below. We can never have too many holiday games!!

If you are at home over the summer and you do have some games in the cupboard you might want to dust these ones down or buy one or two new ones (if you want to).

Most games have multiple uses, and it’s always best to adapt a game to match your child’s interests and what motivates them.

So let’s start…

  1. Pop up pirate: pop a sword into the barrel and watch the pirate pop up randomly. Practise social skills, speech sounds, expressive language (e.g., put a sword on a picture, say the word/sentence then pick up the sword and push it into the barrel).
  2. Word games such as ‘ISpy’, ‘I went to the shop and I bought…’, ‘describe a person and guess who they are’: perfect for when you’re on the move, whether travelling or walking. You can play this anywhere and still support speech, language and communication. You could play ISpy using your child’s special sound, or ‘I went to the shop and bought all things beginning with [insert special sound here]’.
  3. Shopping list: Orchard game is a game to practise categorising. We explain the analogy of the brain being like a filing cabinet. If information is all in the correct place, it’s easier to find, retrieve and use. You can also practise specific speech sounds in this activity. You could also put the words in a sentence to add more of an expressive language element.
  4. Wiggly worms: this Orchard game is all about phonological (awareness of sounds) awareness. Matching a letter with the word. You can also practise the sounds in the words (e.g, g-o-l-d = gold; m-a-ke = make). Talk about the elements, e.g., ‘g-o-l-d’ has 4 sounds, 1 syllable; ‘m-a-ke has 3 sounds, one syllable. You can talk about what words rhyme with the different words and what makes a rhyming word (i.e., the middle and end sounds remain the same).
  5. Sound detectives: this Orchard game allows children to identify sounds. It also has an app (if your child prefers a tech-way of learning). Children identify the sound then they can add the picture card to their path and become closer to being a successful detective. This game can also support memory skills.
  6. Conversation cubes: throw the dice and start building a story. You can also create and use ‘colourful semantics’ sentence strips to support expressive (spoken) language as support to build the narrative.
  7. Think words: ‘name it, press it, pass it’. A great game to expand word knowledge. You can talk about the words at the end of each round exploring semantic (meanings) and phonemic (sounds) links. Your child can also develop social skills (such as attention, listening and turn-taking).
  8. Poo bingo: this is perfectly disgusting but equally fun for kids of about 3.5 years plus – if your child’s target is to practise /p/ sound this is the one for you. You can also learn all about the different animal’s poo, which I am sure you have always wanted to do!! The more we know about a word, the easier it is to store, retrieve and use. Yes, even talking about poo can help!! Also, it’s great for our visual learners.
  9. Simon says: a game that can be played indoors or outdoors. Parents can take turns being “Simon” and give various commands that your child must follow. This means that your child can practise their receptive (understanding of) language as well as their expressive language, speech sounds and social skills (such as turn-taking and initiating).
  10. Ker-plunk: this is perfect for practising your child’s special sound. Repetition is very important, but also can be monotonous, so finding a game that they enjoy is vital. Take turns to pull out a stick. Next, your child can either say their special sound or word (depending on what stage they are at) or hear a good model from other players.

Do you still have questions? Contact Sonja for support.

Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

Some ideas to encourage communication

Some ideas to encourage communication

Coming up with ideas for supporting your child’s speech, language and communication can be difficult especially during the holidays. All these activities are easy to implement and can be adapted to your child’s age and stage of development.

Some activities to support your family through the summer:

1. Create a story book / photo book of what you’ve been up to over the holidays

Collect photos of everyday activities and stick them into a file. You can print them out or you could just look at them on your phone or tablet. Create good little sentences or words / phrases for each picture: yummy ice cream / eating pizza / digging the sand / a sandcastle with mum.

This enables your child to develop

  • their attention and listening
  • sequencing of events
  • expressive language (talking)
  • and conversational skills.

2. Explore the outside world (e.g., water the flowers, dig in the soil)

Depending on your child’s language level keep it very simple: single words or short phrases. Or you could practise concepts such as ‘pronouns’: he is eating an ice cream / we are splashing in the pool / she is riding a bike.

3. Splashing in a paddling pool

This is a great activity to build attention. You can call “splash, splash, splash”, “ready steady go splish splash splosh”, ”pour pour pour”, “stir stir you’re stirring”.

Offer different sized containers. This is often so powerful and keeps your child occupied for a nice long time. No need to buy anything special: just bring out your kitchen utensils and some Tupperware containers.

4. Blow bubbles

Bubbles are a fantastic way to engage children. You can play ‘stop and go’ games, take turns and practise key concepts such as ‘under – blow bubbles under my hand’. Your child can practise their expressive language, creating sentences such as ‘blowing bubbles in the pool’.

5. Draw with chalk on pavement slabs to encourage speech sound production or just general nice communication

Use chalk outside to draw a ladder. Your child can practise their speech sound production without even realising it! You can go first to model the sound if needed. Drawing anything onto the pathway with coloured chalk can be really fun.

Afterwards you can wash the pathway and again there is lots of vocabulary you could use there to help your little one practise speech sounds. For example, if your child is practising the word “YELLOW” (as many of my children do) you can draw lots of little yellow things and then name them together:

  • yellow banana
  • yellow flower
  • yellow submarine
  • yellow balloon

You get the idea!

6. Walk in nature. Comment on what you see, smell, hear and feel

Make the most of where you live. Go for a walk. You can sing songs along your walk or comment about what you see, smell, hear and feel. For example: I hear the birds, they are singing; I smell the sea and can hear the waves crashing against the rocks. Make sure your comments are appropriate for the age and stage of your child.

7. Sing songs

This is a lovely way to get your child hearing language, rhyme and rhythm. You can take turns, and fill in the missing words such as “heads, shoulders, knees and ______”.

8. Word games (such as ISpy)

The beauty of this game is that it can be played anywhere and everywhere! The importance is that these word games develop phonological awareness (the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words).

Contact me for speech, language and communication support.

Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

Explore seven activities to encourage speech development in school-aged children

Explore seven activities to encourage speech development in school-aged children

Explore seven activities to encourage speech and language development in school-aged children
Encourage speech and language development in school-aged children

We hear too often parents ask, “what do I need to buy so I can support speech skills at home?” The advice I give is to use what you have at home; you don’t need specific toys or equipment. I’ll give you some ideas so you can adapt them for your child or young person’s interests.

Ensure you know which level your child is working at (e.g., sound level, consonant + vowel, consonant vowel, word, sentence, or generalisation level). If you’re unsure ask your child’s Speech and Language Therapist. The more practice your child has, the better, so practise little and often.

1. Bubbles

Explain to your child that you will play a game. You’ll take it in turns to say their tricky sound and practise at whichever level they are working at/towards.

2. Pop up pirate or similar

Explain the rules of the game to your child (as above). You could stick a picture to each of the swords for variety or stick photos on different characters beginning with their tricky sound. This would be particularly helpful if they are struggling for motivation.

3. ISpy

This is a great game where you can involve the whole family and you can even play it to and from school. Choose their tricky sound and everyone takes it in turns to say “ISpy with my little eye something beginning with [insert tricky sound]”.

4. Hide and seek with words

Explain to your child that you will hide pictures around the room. They will cover their eyes and will be told when they can look. Then they become a word detector and search for the pictures. After they’ve found each one, they are to say the sound (at whichever level they are working at).

5. Name 10!

Your child will name 10 words beginning with their tricky sound. Your Speech and Language Therapist will be able to give you the words at the level they are working at.

6. Sound focused game – silly sentences!

Your child will make silly sentences beginning with their tricky sound. E.g., if your child’s tricky sound is /s/ a silly sentence might be ‘Simon sat on sizzling sausages this Saturday’. Take turns to create them. Allowing your child to hear the correct sound is important for their production skills.

7. Throwing a beanbag on the correct sound

Have their tricky sound and the sound they make placed on the floor. They can use a beanbag or a ball to throw or place on the sound which you produce. Explain what you expecte them to do. Use specific praise (e.g., you listened well).

You can adapt all the above activities to meet your child’s needs. Please feel free to contact me should you need any further advice. I’m here to provide support, reduce your overwhelm and empower you to support your child’s speech and improve their communication. This will in turn reduce their frustration.

Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

Target Activities and Games

Target Activities and Games

Target Activities and Games For Kids
Target Activities and Games For Kids

Target Activities and Games

AMAZINGLY EASY Activities that we can do at home and in the clinic to help our children practise those targets!

I bet you have wondered what amazing things are done by a therapist in the clinic that you could not possibly do at home…? Well, if so I am here to tell you that you will be absolutely fine with just a few select toys and games and you will be able to get those targets done in a jiffy!

What we clinicians do very well and what you probably can’t do yourself is formulate and design the targets that are important for your child to practice. Once we have assessed or reviewed your child’s progress and needs we can then design the perfect next step of targets for you.

So for example, we have decided your little one needs to be practicing their ‘r’ sounds at the beginning of short words. We decided that based on our clinical expertise and our assessment and we have already worked with your child and managed to get this tricky ‘r’ sound just about right on its own. Now we are ready for short word practice.

It has been researched that in order for the brain pathways to re-shape or reform we need to get about 100 words in per day of our target sound. That sounds like quite a lot, right? But actually….. it’s not that bad. After all you only need to say 5-7 words about 20 times and hey presto that’s about 80-100 words.

So here are some simple games I use in my clinic all the time and these games are easily available online or in your local toy shops and this is how to do them:

Pop the Pirate

Pop the Pirate, sooo good and popular:

Lay out your target words which you will have been given by your speech therapist and put a few swords on each word.

Each time your child picks up a sword they will need to say the target word 5 x, like:

rip rip rip rip rip or run run run run run just like that in a row, bish bash bosh.

Then they can stick the sword into the barrel. Onto the next sword which they can pick and then again

race race race race race and stick in another sword

So with this little lot I put out 5 target words and 3 swords on each.

You will therefore get…… 15 words per picture, and that makes….75 words , there that is nearly all you need to do.

If you then do another little game like this one:

Magnetic board game

This is a Magnetic Board game, and they are suddenly EVERYWHERE. But you could also just take a baking sheet and some fridge magnet you might have kicking about.

Same principle as before, but now since this is your SECOND game of the day and you have already got 75 targets under your belt you only need to do one more round of 5 target words each:

Each time your child picks up a magnet piece they will say the target word 5 more times:

Ray ray ray ray ray and DONE you will now at the end of this short round have 105!! target words done with just two little fun games.

How good is this? Your child won’t hardly notice that they are in fact doing their speech therapy homework.

You’re welcome 🙂

Get in touch if you would like me to help finding good targets for your child to work on. They can be speech and/or language targets with this game method.

Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.