We’re always looking for ways we can incorporate games into our speech and language skills development sessions. Whether you’re a speechie looking for inspiration or a parent looking for ways to support your child’s language development at home, we’d recommend giving Barrier Games a try.
Barrier Games are a great oral language activity that can support the development of speaking, listening, and comprehension skills! They’re very interactive and can engage kids right through to teenagers. Keep on reading to learn more about Barrier Games for speech and language skills development.
How Barrier Games Support Speech and Language Development
Barrier Games come in many forms and is based on their being a barrier between two people so neither of you can see what the other is doing – it means we have to rely on our expressive and receptive language skills to communicate rather than our eyes taking it in and doing the communication for us.
One of the most common (and loved!) Barrier Games is called ‘Battleship’. After putting up a barrier between two players sitting opposite one another, each player decides where they are going to place their ‘battleships’ on the board in front of them. Then, each player has a turn at guessing where the other person has placed their battleships on their board.
Barrier Games like ‘Battleship’ encourage us to use both our receptive and expressive language skills. As a strategy game, this Barrier Game is also great for supporting reasoning and other cognitive abilities.
In the photo below, one of our Speech Pathologists in our Townsville clinic is working with a child to expand their vocabulary and sentence length by including details. In this example, the child might say something like ‘The panda is on top of the rock”.
In this other example, one of our Mackay Speech Pathologists, Kelsey, incorporated the goals set by the client’s Occupational Therapist (pen grip + fine motor skills) into a Barrier Game activity. This time, both the Speech Pathologist and the client would take turns drawing different parts of the same drawing. Hopefully ending up with them both having drawn similar scenes.
TOYS TO USE IN BARRIER GAME ACTIVITIES:
As you can probably imagine, there are endless possibilities when it comes to Barrier Games! As long as you’ve got a barrier of some sort and instructions that involve two people taking turns, you’re going to be able to put together an engaging Barrier Game activity.
There’s a long list of toys and therapy materials that you can use to create an engaging Barrier Game activity in the clinic or even at home. You’ll just need to make sure you have two identical sets of whatever you’re using so you can create an effective Barrier Game.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Mr Potato Head
- Building Blocks
- Magnets + Magic Wand
- Sticker Sets
- Colouring Pages
- Drawing a Picture (Blank paper, 2x colouring sets)
- Miniature Objects
How Barrier Games Can Support Speech and Language Development
#1: Listening and Auditory Memory
Barrier Games involve a lot of back and forth between the two players. Whether it is one person giving the other a set of instructions to follow to draw a picture or someone taking guesses as to what the other person has done with their game pieces.
#2: Extending Sentence Length
As we mentioned earlier in this article, Barrier Games can be great for helping children to extend their sentence length. With the use of more descriptive language or even allowing the child to give instructions to you, you can support their speech and language development in this way.
#3: Developing Vocabulary
When working with children to grow their vocabulary, using Barrier Games with a variety of items from the same category can be a great place to start. Whether it’s food items or animals, you can incorporate a few known items for familiarity and then slowly introduce new animals or food items to support development of a greater vocabulary. It’s also a great way to teach prepositions with directions involving ‘above’, ‘next to’, ‘under’ and ‘beside’.
#4: Transferring New Speech Sounds to Conversation
If your child has a therapy goal around certain speech sounds you can incorporate this into barrier games with pictures that match the target sound.
#5: Developing Clearer Speech
Barrier Games provide lots of opportunities for the adult (Speech Pathologist or parent) to provide immediate feedback about the child’s communication skills and clarity of speech. For example, “When you speak so quickly, I am not sure what I need to do” or “When you said that slowly and clearly, I knew just what I needed to do”. This helps the child to recognise how well the listener has understood their message and supports them in developing clearer speech.
We hope you’ve found our article about Barrier Games for Speech and Language development helpful. There are so many ways to incorporate play and fun into language learning and speech skills development, all it takes is a little imagination!
If you’re a parent keen to learn more strategies to support your child with speech and language skills at home take a look at our list of the best toys for language development.