Speaking and language learning is vital for children’s early development. By using speech, they are able to express their thoughts and feelings, and interact with people around them.
Between the ages of 18 months and 2 years, the typical child uses up to 50 words. At the same time, they start to string together words. By the age of 5, they will know all of the sounds for the different letters of the alphabet, and by 6 they will learn to read and appreciate the new world of books and written stories.
For children with speaking difficulties, speech therapy helps them to improve their communication skills and surmount any language or literacy challenges. While speech therapy usually involves speaking with a trained speech pathologist, there are many activities that can also be done at home. This includes board games, and not just the Monopoly or DnD kind. Some are designed to be educational and cater to different learning skills, including speech and vocabulary.
Here are five board games to encourage speech therapy for children, and make it a more fun learning experience!
For ages: 3+
This board game version of the classic Candy Land game from Hasbro is a great way to learn colors as well as speaking. You can pair specific sounds or words to colors to teach the child how to speak them. This is helped by the game’s colorful backstory, since he or she has to help find King Kandy, the Imperial Head Bonbon and Grand Jujube of Candy Land!
The game includes fun touches like using gingerbread men for covers, vibrant cards with illustrations, and exciting destinations like the sweet Cookie Commons and the chunky Chocolate Mountain. Just beware: players may develop a sweet tooth after the game!
For ages: 4+
Players: 1 and up
This game comes with 9 “story cubes”. Roll all 9 cubes to generate random images, which all players need to use to to invent a story.
Each cube has six images. Taken all together, the 9 cubes can generate over a million stories, limited only by the player’s imagination and storytelling. Each story should start with “Once upon a time,” and makes this simple game endlessly entertaining while encouraging speech therapy and imaginative constructs. The game also includes instructions for using the cubes in other ways, such as solving problems, creating themes, and even breaking up writer’s block!
For ages: 3+
This popular memory game revolves around the eponymous shopping list. Each player takes a shopping list and races to be the first to fill their shopping cart by matching all the items in their list.
The game includes 4 different shopping lists (in a nod to modern times, one is on a tablet!), as well as the options to use a shopping trolley or basket. It also has two types of play: the item cards can all be turned face up and used as a simple pair-matching game for young kids, or turned faced down for a more challenging memory game for older players.
It encourages speech therapy by using vocabulary for grocery items, sharing opinions on the “shopping” experience, and asking or answering questions.
For ages: 3+
Players: 2 to 7
This classic speech therapy game is basically Bingo for vocabulary! Slide the colorful Zinger box to deal 2 object cards. Players then race each other to match all the words or pictures on their own Zingo sheets. The first player to complete their sheet and shout “Zingo!” wins!
Each Zingo card has two levels of difficulty: green for beginner and red for advanced. They are an excellent way to build up object recognition, vocabulary, matching and speaking. Zingo has won many notable kids’ awards, including an Oppenheim Gold, Parents’ Choice Award, ASTRA Best Toys for Kids Award, as well as being a three-time Toy of the Year Nominee.
For ages: 2+
Players: 2 to 4
This silly yet creative game combines object recognition and speech learning with a side of gross fun! Players are given cards with a picture of an item inside Ned’s head. They then take turns reaching in the head and feeling around for the object. The first player to find their listed object wins.
Little ones will have a great time rooting around Ned’s mouth, ears, and even his nose as they pull out everything from a loose nut to a hairy rat and even Ned’s pet spider! This new version of the classic games comes with a larger head for hiding more objects, as well as new icky stuff to find like a squishy brain, a half-melted lollipop, and even a little alien body!
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