I once heard that you are either a “book” speech therapist or a “game” speech therapist. While I love books. . . I am definitely a game therapist. So I wanted to share some of my favorite board games for speech therapy with you!
I actually kind of fought being a “game” therapist for a while. I LOVE books in real life. (And I do use them in therapy sometimes) But it turns out that I love using games in therapy even more.
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My Favorite Board Games for Speech Therapy:
My students tend to be very motivated by Pop the Pig! There are hamburgers in four colors. You roll the dice to see what color hamburger to get (or just have students request the color they want) and then flip it over to see how many times you push on the pig’s hat. Each push puts air in his belly (like he’s getting sooo full of hamburgers) until he “pops.”
How I Adapted the Game:
When I used this with students with moderate autism, I incorporated a visual to help them tell me what color hamburger they wanted and then how many times to push the pig’s head. (I just made these quickly with Boardmaker.)
Skills to Target with Pop the Pig:
- number 1-4
- following directions
- some fine motor
RELATED POST: Using Visuals to Teach WH- Questions
In the Shopping List game, everyone gets a shopping list that has written words and pictures of each item needed. They also get an empty basket card. Each turn players select a game piece from the pile of face-down pieces. If it matches their list, they keep it. You try to get everything on your list first!
How I Adapted the Game:
I usually have students select a game piece from a bag or box to prevent “swiping” or stimming with the pieces. I also have turned it into an opinion game rather than a matching game by having players take a piece and tell whether they like the food or not. They can even take turns asking the therapist/other students if they like the food.
Skills to Target with Shopping List:
- food vocabulary
- sharing opinions (like or dislike the food)
- answering/asking questions
This is a silly one! Players take a card that has a picture of one of the items in Ned’s Head (they are all “gross”) and try to find it by sticking a hand in the head via Ned’s nose or earhole!
How I Adapted the Game:
I took a few items and cards out to make it less overwhelming. Depending on the student’s abilities, I often let them peek inside while trying to find the item. I also used a visual to help students make a simple sentence “I/you have ____” and then to tell me if it is the “same” as their card or “different.” You could also use match/no match.
Here is a picture of the visual I used (disclaimer: it was for a knock-off version of the game so the items are different. They are “grosser” in the real version.)
Skills to Target with Ned’s Head:
- expanding utterances
RELATED POST: Best Toys for Language Development
Zingo is a speech therapy classic – let’s be serious, you probably already own this one! (And if you don’t just get it) It’s basically Bingo with words and it has a fun “slider” that releases the plastic pieces.
Skills to Target with Zingo:
- make a sentence with the word/expanding utterances
RELATED POST: Spring Speech Therapy Activities
If you like the idea of Zingo above, but want something a bit more challenging, I made this series of language BINGO games. They include seasonal vocabulary, Wh- questions, inferences/riddles, and 2-step directions. These are a digital download, so you can print these boards yourself and be ready to play!
This one is so fun! It is more advanced than the ones above, so it is perfect for students working on reasoning, sharing opinions, and social skills.
Lion in My Way is a cooperative game. Each player is given several unusual “tools” like a catapult, balloon, cookies, etc. Then as a team, you come across many obstacles like a cliff, an ogre, or a river that you have to overcome using your tools and imagination. It is a great way to get kids thinking creatively, expressing themselves, and working together to pick a solution.
Disney’s Apples to Apples is another one for more advanced verbal students. Each player gets dealt a hand of cards that have a word and a picture that is Disney-themed. Then a green card is selected that has a describing word on it. Each player secretly puts down the card they think is the best match for the describing word. You take turns deciding which card is best. That person gets a point!
Skills to Target with Disney Apples to Apples:
- describing vocabulary
- sharing opinions
- social skills
Okay – I think this one is not technically a board game, but I figured I’d include it anyway! I ended up making this activity because I kept coming across Roll-a-____ games (where you roll a dice to see what comes next) that required drawing. Since some of my students have limited fine motor skills, gluing on pieces works better for me! (Click here to see more versions of this craft: apple, pumpkin, crab, penguin, and reindeer )
On each turn, a student rolls the dice and states the number rolled (verbally or with AAC). S/he then tells the group or clinician what piece to glue on OR the student might identify it from a field of choices depending on the student’s communication level. If the piece is already glued on, then roll again! Once the turn is finished, have the next student request a turn and then pass the dice.
Skills Targeted in Roll-a-Chick:
- Social skills
- Requesting (needed pieces, glue, etc.)
- Matching skills
- Number skills
- Fine motor skills
Speech Therapy resources you might like: