At Home Speech and Language Games

Who says that practicing speech and language skills can’t be fun? While most games were not created Blog-Speech-and-Language-Games-Main-Portrait (1)with the intent to work on speech and language skills, there are many games that can actually be used for this reason. In fact, you may be targeting these skills at home without even knowing!

The following is a list of games that can be used and various skills that can be targeted for at home speech and language development:

  1. Go Fish
    • F or SH sound – Your child will get a lot of practice when saying “go fish!”
    • Asking questions – Your child will need to think of what card he needs and request the card by asking an appropriate question (e.g. “Do you have a four?”).
  2. Twister
    • Following directions – Your child will need to follow directions that contain three components (right vs. left, body part, color). If three components is too complex, the directions can be modified to have two components by eliminating right vs. left and only using the body part and color. An example containing three components would be “put your right foot on blue” and two components would be “put your foot on blue.”
  3. Hedbanz
    • Asking questions – Your child will work on asking yes/no questions to figure out what picture is on his or her head.
    • Word finding – The game can be altered where one person is describing the picture for someone else to name. When your child describes pictures and names, he or she can work on various word finding techniques such as identifying categories and attributes.
  4. Jenga
    • Jenga can be used to work on numerous speech and language skills by writing target skills on the Jenga blocks.
      • Speech – Any speech sound can be targeted by writing words, phrases, or sentences containing the specific sound(s) on the blocks. When your child removes a Jenga block from the stack, he will practice his sounds by reading what is written on the block.
      • Language – Many language skills can be targeted in the same way by writing various targets on the blocks. For instance, wh- questions (e.g. who, what, where) can be targeted by writing one wh- question on each block. Another language skill that can be targeted is categories. This can be done by writing a category name (e.g. animals) for your child to name or write items that are associated or writing items in the category (e.g. dog, cat, elephant) and having your child name the category.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!


Providing Communicative Temptations in the Home for Late Talkers

Is your toddler not talking as much as he or she should be? Don’t panic! Below are some strategies for creating opportunities for patty cakevocalizations. Remember, ALWAYS reward your child with the toy immediately after they attempt to say the target!

5 Strategies To Get Your Late Talker To Communicate:

  1. Leave a desired food item that is just out of reach of the child, but within their eyesight. Food is one of the BEST motivators for communication. If you’re just starting out with therapy, try to make mealtimes as the time you look for opportunities to encourage communication with your child.
  2. Engage in a favorite social game (i.e. tickle time, peek-a-boo or patty-cake) with your child for one or two turns then stop and look expectantly at the child. If they need a prompt to ask you to continue, go ahead and give it! Try to stop a few times and see if your child is able to request to continue the game spontaneously.
  3. Bubbles are your new best friend! Open a jar, blow some and then close the jar. Hand the jar to the child and wait.
  4. Place a toy in a clear plastic container with a lid and give it to your child. Allow them to be curious for a minute, then ask “Do you need help?” If they respond with yes, model “Help me”. Repeat until they can request help on their own! This also works well with closed doors that toddlers are not able to open without an adult!
  5. Use a slinky or toy microphone for fun vocal play. Take a turn and model either a silly, extended sound or an appropriate language model, then offer the child a turn. You can play with volume, pitch or rate of speech!

Happy Talking!


5 Board Games That Promote Speech-Language Skills

 Any board game can be turned into a language and social learning time, but here are a few NSPT favorites:

5 Board Games To Promote Speech In Children:

  1. Cariboo, a creative game made by Cranium, promotes turn-taking, requesting, and conceptual skills. Personal pronouns can be targeted by asking, “Whose turn is it?” while requesting skills can be targeted by having your child ask for game materials such as a card or key. After requesting a playing card, you and the child can discuss colors, shapes, letters, and numbers (for example, “Wow, this door has 4 yellow butterflies on it!”). Cariboo can be played individually, but it is highly recommended to play it with friends!Board games
  2. S’Matchencourages the development of conceptual skills, such as similarity, colors, and numbers.  When your child flips over two cards, phrase your questions so that you provide choices.  For example, “Are blue and green the same or different colors?” or, “Do cows belong with animals or transportation?” Like Cariboo, S’Match also practices requesting and turn-taking skills by encouraging your child to ask for game pieces and declare each partner’s turn.
  3. Guess Whois a classic game that promotes grammar (e.g., do/does, has/have) and syntax (word order) skills by asking questions.  If your child has a difficult time phrasing a question, you can model the question first and have him/her repeat it (e.g., Does your person have facial hair?). While Guess Who is designed for ages 6+, younger children can play this game too. Guess Who is fun to play with teams of partners!
  4. Zingo brings a new spin to BINGO.  While you and your child take turns matching tiles to the board, encourage your child to name distinctive features of the pictures (for example, “Look, you matched a sun.  Where do you find the sun? What color is the sun?  How is the sun different from the moon?”).  Zingo can be played independently, but it is more fun when you and your child play together.
  5. Scattergoriesis designed for adolescents and adults, and promotes vocabulary, word retrieval, and organizational skills. For example, name something you can find at a beach that starts with the letter /s/, such as “swimming suit.”  If your child is having word retrieval difficulties, use strategies such as identifying the category/function, describing what it looks like, or drawing a picture.

All these games can be found at:

  1. Target

These games are so fun that your child will not even be aware that they are learning!  The list of language learning games is endless, so if  you have any games that you would like to share with our North Shore Pediatric Therapy families, please share and comment below.

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Moving the Fun Indoors: Encouraging Your Child’s Speech & Language Skills During Winter Weather

Along with this new year came a fresh coat of snow, marking the start of another Chicago winter. It’s official: the time has come to move play indoors (except for an occasional snowman!) and find creative ways to keep our kids entertained and busy inside the house. But don’t stress, the fun is certainly not over! Enjoy these 10 activities to encourage your child’s speech and language development while playing indoors.

10 indoor activities to encourage speech and language skills:

1. Play a board game. Board games are loaded with language-rich opportunities, from learning to take-turns, to matching, counting, listening, labeling, describing, and family playing board gameanswering questions. For specific game ideas, visit retail or manufacturer websites which often list games by age level.

2. Make an obstacle course. Turn your couch cushions into a tunnel, and pillows into a bridge to create various obstacles for your child to pass through. Give your child verbal directions to complete the obstacle course (e.g. first crawl under the table like a crab, then slither through the tunnel like a snake, and last hop onto the pillow like a rabbit!).

3. Read a book. Encourage your child’s interest in reading, by planning a weekly trip to the library. Let your child participate in choosing new books to read each week. For more information about reading to your child, visit this previous blog: Encouraging Language Development While Reading To Your Child.

4. Make an edible craft. Crafts are filled with opportunities to listen to and use language, from following directions, to describing each step, to sharing the finished product with loved ones. For edible craft ideas, visit this post: 5 Favorite Edible Crafts for Kids and How to Encourage Language During Snack Time.

5. Plan a play-date. Peer-interactions provide countless opportunities for your child to develop social skills such as turn-taking, sharing, pretend play, negotiating, and problem solving. For more ideas about planning a play-date, visit the blog: Building Social Skills Through Play Dates.

6. Choose a new craft. Crafts are a fun and motivating context to practice language skills, from learning new vocabulary, to following directions, sequencing steps, and using language to describe. The internet has many creative and free craft ideas that can easily be made at home! A few favorites include: and

7. Create a scavenger hunt. Scavenger hunts are filled with both learning opportunities and fun. Give your child clues about objects to hunt for and where they might be hidden (e.g. it’s something cold and sweet, it lives in a room where we eat food). You might even let your child be “the teacher” and give you clues.

8. Play Simon Says. There’s good reason this game has been around for so long: it’s simple, silly, and fun. Simon says provides opportunities to listen to spoken language and follow directions.

9. Make believe. Don’t underestimate the value in simply engaging your child in pretend-play activities. Pull a few toys off the shelves, and have fun pretending. Whether pretend foods, dress up clothes, or a doll house, make-believe play encourages the development of symbolism, representational thought, ideation, creativity, language use, and cooperation.

10. Build a fort. Brainstorm together things you might need (e.g. a chair, blankets, a jump rope, pillow, etc.) to make a fort. Problem-solve how you will build it, and where it should go. This activity is not only fun, but it provides opportunities to follow directions, problem solve, sequence, and describe.

Input from our readers:

Last but not least, what are your favorite winter activities? Please leave a comment below with your family’s favorite ways to enjoy time indoors during the winter months… we’d love to hear from you!


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