A few months ago we presented an article about popular games that can double as Speech-Language Pathology learning tools. We not only had a lot of fun writing it, but it got our minds thinking about many other games, and how easily they, too, can be integrated into your SLP program.
Patients respond best to activities that engage them, and games do that. Games are particularly appealing to younger patients, who might not be fully aware of the value of their lessons. By using popular games in your routines – games with which your patients are already familiar and fond of – you can keep them focused, keep their attention, and keep them excited. So here are five more games you can utilize in your SLP program!
There is perhaps no better game suited to personal interpretation than Monopoly! How many times have you found yourself arguing with friends over the rules, even though you both “know how to play?” It is because of this flexibility, though, that the game lends itself so well to SLP programs. From the simplest possible uses (have your patients read the names of the properties on the cards, and then place them with the matching space on the board) to more free-form creative exercises (ask them to come up with a story for what a dog or a top hat is doing buying real estate in the first place!), Monopoly’s therapeutic possibilities are limited only by your own creativity. The fact that its stacks of money can be used as rewards for completing various exercises and assignments, redeemable later for prizes or treats, is just icing on the cake!
2) GUESS WHO
The structure of Guess Who makes it quite a bit more rigid than Monopoly, but it’s still a great tool. The game consists of two racks of faces, each of which is distinct in its own way. Two players ask questions about what the correct face looks like, until only one possibility remains and the identity is revealed. By simply playing the game SLP patients will be learning (and using) various important descriptive words. “Hats,” “glasses,” “mustaches” and related terms will be in use, and you can even integrate emotional terms as well, such as “happy,” “sad” and “shy.” Try requiring patients to use at least two words to describe somebody’s features, such as “red hat,” “dark glasses” or “curly hair.” The best thing about this game is that you can play it without needing the game at all. By using pictures of friends, family members, or even celebrities or past presidents the game can be played just as well, and it might turn out to be even more engrossing that way!
3) OLD MAID
If you purchase an Old Maid deck, the odds are good that you will find that the cards feature exaggerated, cartoony characters, often with humorous names or accessories. I’m sure you can see where we’re going with this! Rather than just using the cards to play Old Maid, you can use them as sort of conversational flash cards. Shuffle the deck and pick out a character at random. Have your patient describe that character to the best of his or her abilities, and then ask followup questions that require a little creativity in how they’re answered. Try questions like, “What do you think this person does for a living?” “What would you ask this person if you could ask any question?” “Do you think this person would make a good friend?” By following up each of these questions by asking why they answered the way they did, you will help them learn to communicate more effectively, and you will also help them to build conversational confidence as they do so.
4) ANGRY BIRDS
Yes, you read that right! According to Geek SLP, everybody’s favorite timewaster Angry Birds can be utilized in your SLP program more easily than you might think! She recommends using the game as a springboard to writing assignments (“Do all birds work the same way?” “Why do you like Angry Birds?”), playing the levels together and requiring the student to describe what he or she is going to do before they do it (“You could even have a list of vocabulary words you would like the student to use when describing their strategies”), and explaining the result of their actions (“You first did this…then that…”). Of course, with a framework this loose almost any computer game would work, but this should at least get you thinking about interesting ways to use them!
Does this one surprise you? After all, there are no words or pictures in checkers at all. It’s a game with only two colors, two shapes, and a single grid. And yet it’s a classic that has kept generations and generations intrigued by its simple but strategic fun. So how can you use it in your SLP program? Well, the rules of the game are clearly enough known, so play a game with your patient and pause periodically to ask him or her about different moves. Point to a piece and have your patient explain the moves it could make, and also which of those moves would be bad, which would be good, and why. Discuss strategy with them, and also cause and effect. A good move now may turn into a bad move later, so explain why that happens. You can even make deliberately poor moves and allow your pieces to be taken, requiring them to explain why that was a bad move and how they will capture your piece before they do so.
Just as before, these constitute only a small sampling of popular games you can use in your SLP program. When it comes to your patients, your formal training and a medical assistant degree will help you a great deal. But also very helpful is a good deal of resourcefulness and creativity!