Looking for a list of fun games and activities to try in speech and language therapy? In this blog post, I’m sharing my absolute favorite games that speech-language pathologists can use in speech therapy! These include board games, card games, and other hands-on activities to use across your caseload. Speech therapists know how important it is to make speech therapy sessions engaging for our students. Whether you’re a school SLP working with younger students or older students, you’ll find the perfect game or activity on this list to meet your needs. Keep reading for my favorite board games to try out in speech therapy, and make sure to bookmark this post!
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How To Use Board Games in Speech Therapy
SLPs can target speech or language goals with any game. Sometimes, it is as simple as saying a target articulation word, then taking a turn at the game! You might also pair a target articulation word with colors, symbols, or characters in the game. You can lay out these expectations easily using a visual schedule or by using visual direction cue cards.
Expressive and receptive language skills can also be addressed using a fun game! Board games provide an excellent tool for following directions, sequencing events, and answering wh questions. They are also a great way to work on team-work, following the rules, and playing fair in small groups.
Visuals for Following Board Game Directions
If your speech therapy students have trouble with following board game directions, you’ll want to try these visuals. Visuals can help students understand the expectations that are required of them while completing a task or activity. This set includes visual reminders for the various rules of board game play.
For example, there are visual pictures for moving forwards, backwards, skipping a turn, rolling a die, picking a card, or waiting for a turn. Try using these visual directions while playing a game with your student!
To assemble, simply print out the cards, then laminate them. After that, you will want to hole-punch the cards and attach them together using a binder ring. This ensures that you can quickly flip to the right visual direction cue when you need it. Grab your visual direction cue cards here.
The Benefits of Playing Board Games
Board games can encourage social skill development and flexible thinking. Students learn how to follow the rules while playing a game. They need to learn social skills such as turn-taking, sharing, and waiting for a turn. If your student is disappointed when they pick a card they don’t like, or if they lose the game, it’s the perfect opportunity to have a calm discussion about coping skills.
Plus, it’s not a bad idea to work on joint attention tasks that don’t involve technology. Screen-free time is a win-win in my book! Hands-on activities and games are very motivating and engaging for students of all ages. So the next time you’re looking for a simple idea for therapy- don’t feel bad pulling out a board game! So much learning can happen when students are having fun.
The 15 Best Speech Therapy Board Games for Younger Children
Looking for a great game to try out with your younger students? This list provides the 15 best board games and activities to try out with this crowd.
Often, I’ve found that simple open-ended games are best for this age group. You will be able to use these games to target both language and articulation goals.
They are really great for grab ‘n go therapy activities. It’s always great to have one game to use during the entire chaotic therapy day that will keep students engaged! Some games may have small pieces, and it is always best to make sure you are working with students who will not put these pieces in their mouths. Keep reading to find the best match for your students!
- Candy Land
- Crocodile Dentist
- Ned’s Head
- Shark Bite
- Pop Up Pirate
- Chutes and Ladders
- I Spy- Dig In
- Rattlesnake Jake
- Pancake Pileup
- Yeti in My Spaghetti
- Hungry, Hungry Hippos
- Pretty, Pretty Princess
- Don’t Break the Ice
- Greedy Granny
- Pop the Pig
The Best Ways to Play Board Games
Are you wondering how to play each board game? Read below for a basic summary of how to play the 15 recommended board games. This will help you to choose which board game or board games will best fit your caseload needs.
When I am working with younger students in speech therapy, I typically like to choose simple, fun, cause-and-effect games that have a small element of surprise. I also love that using board games in speech therapy allows my students to work on a ton of speech and language objectives, all while having a great time! Rapport is so important for successful therapy! And, as an added bonus, board games can provide that very much-needed brain break in between answering questions or practicing target articulation words.
Candy Land is a classic board game that is often played during family game nights. Work on language targets or different sounds while turn-taking with students in a small group while playing this classic game. One fun idea is to pair a target word with a color. If a student lands on a double color, then they can practice that word an extra time!
The Crocodile Dentist toy is a hit for working on speech sounds! Simply have your student say a target word, then push a down a tooth. The object of the game is to not let the crocodile chomp down on you if you push down the wrong tooth! You can pair this game with your own cards or speech therapy activities.
Ned’s Head is a great game to target receptive and expressive language skills, such as wh- questions, describing, sentence formulation, and inferencing. Ned’s Head does come with objects to place inside, but you can use your own items.
You could also easily target articulation skills. Simply hide objects, pictures, or articulation cards inside the giant head, and have a gross time pulling them out of Ned’s ears and nose!
Another fun idea would be to hide objects or pictured objects that are in two separate categories. After your student pulls the objects from Ned’s Head, they can sort the objects into piles based on category.
Shark Bite is a cute game where players take turns trying to pull sea creatures out of the shark’s mouth- without getting chomped! You never know when the shark will bite! Work on a different sound or language target with each turn.
Pop Up Pirate
Pop Up Pirate is a fantastic game for “drill-then-say” articulation game. You’ll push down and twist the pirate into the center, then take turns sliding swords into the barrel. You just don’t want to be the first player to make the pirate pop! A speech therapist could also easily use this game to work on language development and turn-taking skills.
Chutes and Ladders
Try using Chutes and Ladders in your speech room! Try to get to the top of the board game without sliding down any chutes! This game provides a fun way for a speech language pathologist to target basic concepts, such as up vs down, in front of vs behind, and top vs bottom.
I Spy- Dig In
I Spy- Dig In is a fun game that will have your student searching for the 6 game pieces to match the pictures on his card! It’s a great way to incorporate describing skills in speech-language pathology sessions- because your student will be looking for specific objects, such as a green car. If they pull the red car from the bowl, it isn’t a match!
Pancake Pile-Up is the ultimate great activity to work on sequencing skills. Try to stack your pancakes in the right order, and don’t forget- the butter needs to be placed on top!
Yeti in My Spaghetti
Yeti in My Spaghetti is a very popular game in my speech therapy room. Your students can work together to place the noodles across the bowl, then they set the Yeti on top of the noodles. I have my students practice a target articulation word before pulling a noodle strand from the top. Don’t let Yeti fall!
Rattlesnake Jake will be a hit with your preschoolers and younger elementary students! Try to grab a golden nugget from under the snake’s head using those fine motor skills- but be careful! You just never know when the snake will strike! This is a fast-paced game that provides a very fun way to target speech skills.
Hungry, Hungry Hippos
The game Hungry, Hungry Hippos is perfect for a small group game in speech therapy! See how many marbles your hippo can eat before time’s up! Oh, and you should also know there are some other versions of this game (check out the unicorn version or the dino version).
Pretty, Pretty Princess
Try to win the crown as you play the game- but make sure not to get the cursed ring! Your princess fans will have a blast playing Pretty, Pretty Princess in speech therapy. Sometimes, simple games are the key to an engaging session!
Don’t Break the Ice
Your students can work together to set up the game, then take turns tapping out the ice blocks! The object of the game is to not let the penguin fall through the ice! Don’t Break the Ice is a fun way to work on speech and language goals paired with any of your own materials.
Have you tried Greedy Granny in speech and language therapy? Your students will try to steal sweets from Granny’s tray while she sleeps. You just never know when she’ll wake up- and her teeth will come flying out! Get ready for lots of laughs!
Pop the Pig
Your student rolls the dice to choose a “hamburger”- which are different colors. Pick the hamburger that matches the color you rolled, and flip it over to see a number. You’ll feed the pig that hamburger, then push down on the pig’s hat the number of times that your hamburger indicated. If the pig’s stomach “pops”- you’re the winner! This is a simple, but engaging, game to play in speech therapy. You can watch this helpful tutorial about How to Play Pop the Pig on youtube. Check out Pop the Pig on Amazon.
The Board Games and Activities for Older Kids
Need a great way to motivate your older students? Looking for new games to try out with older kids? Keep in mind, I do have a very detailed blog post with suggestions on the best games for upper elementary school students. It contains a list that provides motivating games and activities to try out with older children in speech therapy. Make sure to check that out if you need some more ideas.
More Speech Therapy Activities
If you are a speech therapist looking for more ideas to use with preschool students and elementary students in speech therapy, make sure to check out these helpful blog posts: