Mixing Work and Play

By: Jillian Klatt
Mrs. O playing Candy Land ® with a group of children after a speech therapy session.

Sometimes the best way to keep students excited about learning is to incorporate lessons right into the familiar activities that they already love. With a little bit of creative thinking, speech therapy can be hidden in almost every existing game! One of the ways Mrs. O mixes learning and play is with board games. Candy Land® is a popular choice among Mrs. O’s students. However, any quick game holds an opportunity for Mrs. O to squeeze in some extra practice at the end of a session.

In one session, Mrs. O used Candy Land® for extra speech sound discrimination practice. As the students took their turns in the game, Mrs. O was in charge of handing out the playing cards. She used a magnet board to write out nonsense words which the students were to “sound-out” out loud. Each time it was a student’s turn, she wrote out a word for them to read aloud, and only after the correct pronunciation of the word did Mrs. O give them their turn card so they could move their character across the board. For the next student’s turn, she would alter the word only by a few sounds, and the game would continue like this until someone reached the end. During group therapy it can be extra helpful to use a game that all of the students know how to play, creating a level field. These games also give students an opportunity to apply the lessons they are learning in front of a controlled group where they can learn from each other’s turns as well as their own. This is a convenient way to help children become comfortable utilizing their new skills, and it takes much less effort than designing and teaching a whole new game to the students!

With the help of a speech-language pathologist, parents can use their own board games to practice speech lessons at home too. Since the games still feel like play, siblings and friends can get involved and everyone can have a blast!

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