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Language Games/Activities/Ideas

Stories and Sequencing

  • STORY TELLING: Line up 3 or 4 cards and tell a story. Mix them up and have the client put them back in order and re-tell the story.

Following Directions

  • SIMON SAYS: Place artic or picture cards (transportation cards for example) on a table and use directions such as "Touch the helicopter after you touch the sailboat."
  • STAND BY: Place cards on the floor, direct the client to stand by, in front of, behind or over a card. Then you ask the client to follow directions such as "Stand by the helicopter."
  • FD STRIPS: Cut poster board in about 10 inch wide strips. Using construction paper cut out varies shapes. Di-cuts make for a more interesting strip. Glue the shapes in a row on the strips. The shapes should vary in color and size but the shapes should repeat somewhat. On 10-15 index cards write a set of directions for each strip. "Point to all but one of the triangles and both squares," for example.
  • USING A ROAD MAP: I find large plastic floor maps in discount and toy stores. They usually do not cost very much. These maps are intended for children to drive their toy cars around the town map for fun. You can address tons of goals with these maps. You can have the child follow directions such as "Go up the street and take the first left." You should make the directions short at first and then gradually expect him/her to follow longer and more complex directions. You can also switch with the child and have him/her tell you how to get to a certain place on the map. You can address a describing goal by having the child follow directions such as "Turn left and stop in front of the building that is blue and red." The possibilities with this one are endless!

Rob's Steps for Describing Therapy

  • Step 1: Introduce describing categories or terms, such as "label, parts, size, function, composition, category, color, shape." Take 1 or 2 terms per therapy session and make posters for each term. For example, when the students and I make a poster for "parts" I write "parts" in big bold letters on a large piece of construction paper and then we cut out pictures from old magazines. We cut out "parts" of things, like a bird's wing, a car's wheel, the window from a house, the petal from a flower, etc. We glue our pictures around the bold print. Of course, the whole time students look for pictures, we discuss parts and name parts.
  • Step 2: Get any simple turn taking game and a stack of pictures you want your students to describe. Display only 3 of your terms/posters and have your students take turns giving 3 attributes of a picture you present. For every attribute they give correctly, they may move ahead on the game. For example, display only "label, parts, color." Show student #1 a picture of a cow and ask for attributes. (I hang my posters directly above me) Perhaps student #1 says "cow, brown." You can ask student #1 if they can think of a part and if not, have the group name parts. The student moves 2 spaces. (If this is too competitive for your students, have them roll a dice and regardless of their answer, move that many spaces.)
  • Step 3: Gradually increase the number of posters displayed and attributes that you expect your students to give you. Be sure to talk about what are important parts or attributes to name. For example, whenever I present an animal picture to my language disordered kiddos they name parts like "nose, eyes, ears," etc. Encourage them to give more important parts such as "long tail, hooves, whiskers, snout," etc.
  • Step 4: Gradually take away the visual aids--the posters. For example, expect them to give you 6 attributes but display only 3 posters. When they are just whippin' those attributes out, take all the posters down.
  • Step 5: Once you have all the posters down, expect them to name a few less attributes without the aid of the posters, but gradually try to increase your expectation of them. To add another demention to your game, start hiding the picture cards from all group members except the student who is giving attributes to see if the other group members can guess what it is.
  • Step 6: Start generalization. Play this game outside with real objects. Play it in the classroom. This is the fun part! You get to see your kids in a real setting, with real people! (:
  • This works best in 45 minute sessions if you have a group of 3 or more.

Figurative Language

  • Idioms Bingo: I use this in inclusion high school classrooms. I group the students in groups of 2 or 3 and pass out idioms or figures of speech on index cards, 1 idiom/card, to each group. I give each group about 5 cards. Then I give the definition for one of them and each group goes through their cards to see if they have the right idiom. The group that has the correct idiom gives me their card. The first to rid themselves of all their idiom cards, gets the "Bingo."

Describing & Categorizing
  • CLUE: Place several cards in a row. Give one clue at a time about a card. The client that guesses it with the fewest clues wins.
  • CIRCLE GAME: Place cards in a circle and have clients sit at a card. A bean bag is tossed to a player who says the word or a description of the card in front of him/her and then tosses the bag to someone else.
  • LOW LEVEL CATEGORIZING: Display cards of a category, clothing for example. Then say a sentence that the client has to finish by selecting the correct card. For example, the client should pick the hat picture if you say "I am looking for a piece of clothing you can wear on your head!"
  • CROSSWORD PUZZLES: Use the following link to make a crossword puzzle using descriptions for clues. Click here!
  • SPIN AND DESCRIBE: To make the spinnner: Cut a large circle from cardboard. Use a marker to divide the circle into 8 triangular parts like a pie. Repeat this process on a white piece of paper. Cut out one triangle from the paper to use as a pattern. Use the pattern to make triangular "pie pieces" from different colored construction paper. Glue the colored pie pieces onto the cardboard circle. Use pointed scissors to poke a hole through the middle. You can then make a pointer out of lamenated construction paper or cardboard. In the office supplies department of your grocery store you will find metal (usually gold) tabs with bendable "legs." Use one of these to attach your pointer to the spinner. Now label each triangular pie piece with the following: use, category, color, smell, taste, size, etc. Or any type of descriptor you want your students to learn. Have your students select a picture card and then take turns using the spinner and giving the appropriate answer.
  • HIDE-N-SEEK: Place a number of picture cards in front of the student. Show them a sticker and instruct the student to close his/her eyes while you hide it. Give the student clues (descriptions) one at a time until s/he selects the correct picture. For a group of students simply have them take turns. Once the correct picture is selected the student wins the sticker underneath.
Semantics & Word Relationships
  • OPPOSITES & SYNONYMS: Using a puppet, tell the student that you have a grouchy puppet and whatever you say he says the opposite. "If I say it's big, he'll say it's little!" Let the student be the puppet and then say "If I say it's good, what does the puppet say?". (Rhea Paul, Language Disorders, 2001)

Language Games for Teens

  • Who Am I?: Each person has a piece of paper pinned to her back or taped to her forehead which contains the name of a famous person or character. By asking questions which can only be answered "yes" or "no," such as "Am I alive?" or "Am I fictional?" each person has to guess his or her name.
  • Guest of the Party: Three people are taken out of the room and each is given a card describing a person (personality, characteristic). A fourth person is nominated host and must guess the personality or characteristic as each person enters the "party" within a certain time frame.
  • I Have Never...: Each person receives several counters (pennies) and sits in a circle. Each takes turns around the circle, telling of something he has never done. For example, "I have never broken a bone," or "I have never traveled out of the country." Anyone who has done this must give the speaker 1 of the tokens. After going around the circle several times, the person with the most tokens wins.
  • Scavenger Hunt: Split a group into 2 and give each a list of language items to complete, find or define, etc. For example, the list may include "List 2 nouns." and "Define in everyday words the word _________." or "Write a complete sentence using the word until." Kids can use the library, internet, teachers, etc.
  • Memory Game: Place target vocabulary words or pictures on a table and cover them with a cloth. Remove the cloth for 60 seconds and let the students study them and then replace the cloth. Then have each try to draw or write each picture or word in 30 seconds.
  • Grapevine: Whisper a target sentence in one person's ear, each person must whisper it exactly as they heard it, to the next person. No repetitions are aloud. The last person to hear it, says it out loud to see if it matches the original.

Publish a Teen Magazine

  • Use the following ideas to publish a teen magazine. Teen magazine sites can be found online and some I use can be accessed by clicking on this link.... Teen Mag Links
  • Write a Why-Me Story: Have your students write a story about their most mortifying moment.
  • Write a So-bad story: Have your students write a story about something "so bad" that they have done.
  • Teen Quiz: Your students can answer a teen quiz from a magazine or an online magazine. This is a motivating activity for students that need experience answering questions.
  • Write a Poem: Students can read poetry written by other teens and then write their own. They may even submit their poems to online teen magazines.
  • Movie Star Interview: Have a student or group of students write questions they'd like to ask their favorite movie star. Have them then assume that stars character and answer the questions.
  • Preparing for the Real World: Have students write an article detailing the steps in sequence for such events as preparing for the prom, job searching, studying for finals, etc.
  • Teen Fiction: Also available in teen magazines are works of fiction written by teenagers. Have students read these stories to meet goals such as paraphrasing, re-telling events, detailing characters, etc. The material should be more motivating and usually easier to read. Also, after reading a short story by a teen, have them write their own short stories.
  • 10 Tips Article: Have your teens read an article typically found in teen magazines, such as "Ten Types of Guys to Avoid" and then have them write their own. Some ideas may include: dealing with his phone dysfunction, handling a flirtatous boyfriend or girlfriend, dating disasters, get him/her to notice you, finding the right guy/girl for you, ways to blow a date, things guys/girls don't want to hear.
  • Song Spot Light: Have students bring the lyrics to a song and use these to define unknown vocabulary, explain figurative language, paraphrase or summarize the meaning of the song. Students can write a critique of the song for the magazine. Students can also play a guessing game with several songs they've worked on. Give each student a card with the song title written on the card and each takes turns summarizing and describing the song without giving the title away. Other students have to guess which song is beig described.
  • Mom Disasters: Help your students write a story about how Mom totally embarrassed them, spoiled thier fun, etc.
  • Horror-scope: Students can write tongue-in-cheek horoscopes for their friends or a teacher.
  • Pro-Con Column: Select a topic for a pair of students to write opposing columns for. Keep topics concrete for students with learning and language disorders. Topics, such as the death penalty, may be too abstract and too far removed from their lives. Use topics such as the dress code, lunch menu, jocks-- good or evil?, best superhero, prom royalty, summer vs winter break, etc.
  • Recipes: If you're as lucky as I am to live in such a culture rich state such as New Mexico, have your students bring their favorite recipes for publication in their teen magazine. They have to write a short paragraph explaining the significance of their recipe, such as, "My mom, my tia and I always make this recipe for tamales every Christmas. It takes a lot of practice to make tamales right, but it's a labor of love and a family tradition."
  • After your articles are written and typed up, have students then make up a table of contents and lay-out the magazine. Artistic students can illustrate for stories and articles and design the cover.

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