Saturday, June 28, 2014

How to Choose the Best Games for Your Speech Therapy Sessions

What are some of the best games for speech therapy?

Children love playing games in therapy. I really do too, it keeps my students enthusiastic, engaged and it's so much fun to see their excitement. I believe that play is a really valuable tool in creating speech and language learning that lasts. We get asked, "You play games all day in therapy, don't you?"  Yes ma'am, sometimes we do!

Sometimes the cutest, snazziest looking games just aren't right for therapy. 

I admit it, I have purchased a few games that were used once or twice, then just sat on the shelf gathering dust, because they are really not working for me. Maybe it took too much time away from getting responses or was only useful for a single goal. There was even that one that made that annoying noise that I couldn't stand by the end of the session. (Ugh, I disabled that critter!)

So I learned that you want to be really purposeful in choosing games to take up that uber-valuable real estate on your therapy shelf. Because there is never enough of that.


5 tips for choosing games that you will pull out and play in your sessions again and again, guaranteed:

1.      Kid-Appeal: Is it colorful, does it have manipulatives, a theme that kids will like? Does it appeal to a range of ages?

2.      Quick turns: I want to focus on my speech and language targets, get as many responses in a session as I can, and keep interest high. To do this, I need a game that takes very little time to actually play each turn.  The game is just for fun and motivation, not the real focus of the session (although my kids may think so!)

3.      No Batteries: Face it, replacing batteries is expensive. My favorite go-to games are played with kid-power.

4.      Simple: Can even young children play the game? Those with motor issues?  Make mine easy to play, please.  No worries, I can differentiate and add the proper amount of challenge for each student with the therapy tasks we are working on.

5.      Versatile: I love a game that can be used year round and with various students. Have mixed groups? Me too, so I want games that everyone can play together, even when working on diverse targets.

Here are some of my favorite games from my therapy room. What’s yours?

Go Fish! From Fisher Price

Kids "fish" with the suction cup fishing pole. Find your color or play for the most points.
The one pictured is an older version, Yea, garage sales, my FAVORITE place to shop! Here is a newer version on Amazon:

The “Peg”gy Back Game from Lauri

Be the first to reach the castle. Hitch a "peggy-back"with another player if you land on them!
"Peg"gy Back Game

Pop-Up Pirate Game by Tomy

Put a sword in the slot after each response. Find the right spot, and the pirate catapults into the air.   (It makes me jump EVERY time, which delights my kids!)

Pop-Up Pirate 

Disclaimer! I am not affiliated with the above companies and do not receive compensation in any form from them. These are simply games that I own, and I love using in my speech therapy room.

Next time: Thrifty Speech Finds!

Credits: Dice Clipart by Alimath


  1. I love Pop Up Pirates. We call the swords, "sticks". They aren't allowed weapons so it feels better to change the name because they absolutely love this game too. I can get so many drill sets from them using this game. We've placed value on the color of the stick (blue = 5 words to produce correctly...). They love this too.

  2. Sue, I love the idea of switching it up to have each sword (ahem, "stick") be a different number of repetitions. Pop-up pirates is definitely one of my go-to games!

  3. Could you please give example how you'd use it with AAC/LAMP?

  4. Hi Victoriya, Thanks for your question! If working with a child using AAC, I would focus on having the child use the game-playing vocabulary. For instance with the Go Fish game, having choices in their communication book, board or device for the colors red, blue, green and yellow as well as the words boat and fish would allow the child to comment in phrases: red fish! blue boat! Adding "oh no!', and "go fishing" would be great too.Game playing vocabulary such as "my turn", "your turn" "I won!" "what do you have"and maybe yay! would allow the child to comment. I am sure you could think of many more ways to incorporate AAC in game playing.

  5. I love using the Go Fish game with my Pk & K kids. It came back out a few years ago & I was able to pick up another set b/c sometimes my groups get really big. I put Velcro On the back & put pictures there with the target sound. So, they have to say "I caught a green car", Me: Do that match your boat? yes, then go again or no then back into the pond & next player.

    Another old toy that I really love is Tic Tac Tony - a connect four game in the shape of a dog. I can usually get a shy kid to open up & talk to me with it.

    thanks for all your great ideas & tips

    1. Thank you Stephanie! Oh my gosh, now I need Tic Tac Tony! I just looked it up and it looks adorable. I also love your idea of "catching" items other than fish. Brilliant!

    2. Thank you for all the great ideas:)