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Seven fun and easy games to help children with language difficulties

Games are often an easy way to support a child who is experiencing speech or language difficulties as a result of a brain tumour.

We know that children can experience a range of speech and language difficulties when affected by a brain tumour and sometimes it can be difficult knowing how best to help. Games are an easy way to work on some of these difficulties and, best of all, they can be really good fun!

1. Guess Who?

How to play

Each player has a board with pictures of all the characters, both players select a character card for the other one to guess. You take it in turns to ask each other a question that can only be answered by yes/no, e.g. “Does your character have glasses?”

What it’s good for

This game is brilliant for primary school aged children. It’s a fun way of developing vocabulary (especially descriptive words) and concepts (e.g. same/different), asking and answering questions and turn-taking. The game can be easily adjusted to make easier or a bit more of a challenge.

2. What am I?

How to play

Each player has to choose an item (e.g. animal pictures, familiar objects) and give the other player clues to help them guess it. You can adapt to whatever level you’re at, e.g. have a set of pictures or a word.

What it’s good for

This is a great way to develop your child’s vocabulary skills by getting them to focus on description rather than naming. This is a really great strategy for children who might have difficulties finding the correct word when speaking. Get your child to think about category, where you find it, what it does and what it looks like!

3. Simon says!

How to play

Choose a Simon who will give out the instructions. Listeners should only follow the instructions which start with ‘Simon says….’ If Simon says an instruction without starting with ‘Simon says’, the listeners must make sure they don’t follow his command.

What it’s good for

Simon says is a simple way to encourage your child to listen to instructions before carrying out actions. It works on attention and listening, vocabulary and following directions. You can make the instructions longer and more complicated for older children. Not only is it simple to play, but it needs nothing but yourselves and can easily involve the whole family!

4. Hunter

How to play

There are two ways to play this game. Either give your child a list of things to find from around the garden or in the house and then increase the number of things you want your child to find. Alternatively, you could describe what you want them to find (e.g. “find something round”, “find something green”). You can then switch roles so they have a go at describing themselves!

What it’s good for

This is an active game, good for working on a child’s memory and developing their vocabulary. It can be easily adapted to work on specific areas, e.g. things you find in the garden or particular concepts, such as colours, shapes.

5. I went to the shops and I bought…

How to play

A classic memory game where each person adds a new item to the list! Make it more challenging by giving the child more items to remember.

What it’s good for

This is an excellent way to work on a child’s vocabulary and memory in an enjoyable and relaxed way

6. I Spy

How to play

Select the spy, who then picks an object that they can see. The spy then has to give features or characteristics of the object for others to guess!

What it’s good for

I Spy is an easy way to target many areas, including a child’s use of descriptive words, answering and asking questions, understanding categories and expanding sentences. It works for children of all ages and can be done anytime, anywhere!

7. Categories game

How to play

Choose a general vocabulary category, e.g. food or animals and try and come up with as many items as you possibly can!

What it’s good for

This game is useful for working on vocabulary and word-finding difficulties. If your child gets stuck, give him or her clues, e.g. ‘can you think of an animal you’d find on a farm?’ or ‘can you think of an animal that has got a trunk?’

This is by no means an exhaustive list of games. Think creatively about the games you play at home, whether it be a classic game of snap, or a more active session of hide and seek – they can be all be great tools for helping you to support your child with their speech & language difficulties.

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