There is no question as to why board games have withstood the test of time, remaining a favorite family past time activity. As the world becomes more and more electronic, board games provide a sense of fun that is refreshing and simple. Not only do board games provide traditional fun for families, they are also great therapy activities.
Board games often act dual purposely during a therapy session – as they can be used as either a motivator or an educational tool. First and foremost, board games provide the perfect environment to practice social skills, such as turn taking and requesting. Basic concepts, such as colors and counting, are often the foundation of many games, providing children with language disorders repeated exposure to and practice with these concepts. Due to a board game’s predictable nature it is an excellent way to target expanding utterance length; moving a child from a one word phrase to a 3 – 4 word sentence (e.g., “I got 2”, “I want the red apple”). Lastly, board games are an excellent way to target improving a child’s attention, due to the fact that the child needs to attend to and follow the sequence of the game in order to participate.
Board games can be introduced into play as early as two with appropriate support from an adult model. Here are some of my favorite board games for toddlers (2 – 4 years).
Best Board Games for Toddlers:
- Diggity Dog-Diggity Dog is a unique game in that it requires two senses, hearing and seeing.
Rather than rolling dice, you listen for the number of barks the dog says, providing a perfect opportunity to target a child’s attending abilities. Children love this unique twist on a game. Other main concepts that can be targeted is the meaning of “same” versus “different”, as well as labeling colors.
- Hi Ho Cherry-O!-This traditional game will always remain a favorite of children and speech-language pathologists. This game challenges a child’s counting and number skills and always acts as a great motivator during therapy. Children will practice their social skills as they take turns, as well as exercise their frustration tolerance if all their picked cherries are taken back!
- The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game-The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel game provides a perfect mix between speech-language pathology and occupational therapy as this game relies greatly on fine
motor skills. Like Hi-Ho Cherry-O, this game will target counting and number skills, but also has an added color component. Additionally, it will challenge a child’s frustration tolerance as it has higher fine motor expectations.
- First Orchard-First Orchard is an excellent choice for a toddler’s first board game. The game features easy rules and a simple game sequence – first roll the die, identify the color and then “harvest” the appropriate fruit. This game also features a group mentality, as players work against the raven, who wants to eat the fruit. Colors, fruit vocabulary, longer utterance length (e.g., I want the red apple) and appropriate requesting (e.g., “Can I have a pear please?”) are all possible language targets within the game.