If you ask most kids, they will probably tell you (whether verbally or through their AAC) that summer is all about FUN!
School is out, no more homework, days should be spent having a good time and NOT building language skills and vocabulary!
But who says we can’t add a dose of hidden learning to children's entertainment and glibly smile when they like it (score one for the grown ups!). After all, there’s a lot to learn from play.
Games are wonderful learning opportunities for augmentative communication users (as well as any other kiddos you might have hanging around). No matter the communication level of your learner, most games can be maneuvered to encourage language thinking and push players to share ideas verbally.
Growing a child’s vocabulary even in the summer months is a beautiful thing.
So when your kiddo is bored, turn to your game closet for a solution that will engage and entertain (and maybe secretly educate).
Here are just a few examples:
This game pits players against each other asking yes or no questions to narrow down a board of characters. Whether your communicator can craft their own questions using CoughDrop or needs a little more guidance (“shall we ask if her person has facial hair or ask if he has a hat?”) the exposure to vocabulary -- not to mention notice of visual details, cause and effect, and creative thinking -- is huge.
While this game doesn’t require kids to speak, it does require a great deal of listening and interpreting language. A set of 16 play pads are strewn on the floor and an announcer give silly commands to the players (“crawl to a green pad,” “sit down on a musical instrument”). The game provides exposure to core vocabulary as well as color, shape, animal, food, and instrument ideas. As an added bonus, it gets kids up and moving.
are good chances to reinforce colors and numbers. Children can verbalize the number on a die or card and can call out color choices throughout the game. These games also teach turn taking and reinforce fine motor skills.
Not Just Board Games
Some of the best learning games are the most simple. A vigorous session of “I spy” can be a good chance to engage words just about anywhere while filling in a simple Mad Libs story (or their free printable cousins found online) is the perfect way to learn parts of speech and get a child laughing.
But don’t stop there -- Operation, Clue, Memory, Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Twister -- the list goes on and on!
And while you’re at it, remember that language is the foundation for communication, and communication is all about people.
While it might be fun to allow your youngster to download games on a tablet or computer, keep in mind that YOU are something they cannot find online. Engaging with other people is a powerful motivator when it comes to language, so don’t take yourself out of the equation.
With a little bit of planning, an otherwise ordinary afternoon can magically transform into an opportunity to grow wrapped around a game and cleverly disguised as innocent summer fun.