So it snowed. A lot! Which means your kids have a ton of time on their hands. Feel like you’ve run out of ways to entertain them? We’ve got some game ideas and iPad/tablet apps that your kids will love and will be great to foster their speech, language, and occupational therapy skills!
Preschool and kindergarten kids are at a great age to pick up everything around them. They really are sponges at this age and have a great chance to develop their skills. This is especially true of articulation skills. Typically, kids aged six-seven will have all of their speech sounds (which is also important for those literacy skills!). To be able to play a game that will work on important foundational skills is a win-win! Here are a few fun games and their suggestions for speech/language/OT development:
- Monkeying Around: this fun monkey game keeps the kids interested every time. They just love to drop those monkeys off the tree and into the water for the alligators to chomp on! Skills targeted: counting, direction following (“Put the blue monkey on before you put the yellow monkey on”), fine motor coordination and pincer grasp (grabbing the monkey and carefully placing it on the tree), turn-taking.
- Don’t Break the Ice: your kids will delight in this fun game where you take turns knocking down pieces of “ice” – but be careful not to knock over the polar bear! Skills targeted: articulation (print out some words and tape them on the ice cubes or just try to say a word on every turn), turn-taking, and target accuracy.
- Pictureka: this game is an object-finding game with a timer and some silly items. Older kids will love this game that has them searching for wacky pictures. Skills targeted: turn-taking, visual scanning, categories, decoding.
We get a lot of questions about apps that would be helpful for speech, language, and OT. Here are a few suggestions of some apps that our therapists love!
- Starfall ABC: lots of schools actually use this computer game to work on sound-letter correspondence. What’s good about this game is that it has all the letters of the alphabet, reinforces their sounds, has entertaining objects that start with those sounds/letters, and has engaging games at the end of some of the levels. It’s great to give your child some extra practice on their pre-reading skills. They’ll never know they’re learning!
- I Spy with Lola: A great app for visual-motor skills, such as visual scanning and eye-hand coordination needed to manipulate the visuals on the screen and search for hidden items in the game. It also targets the use of visual perceptual skills, particularly figure ground, visual discrimination and form constancy, needed to identify items within a child’s environment and complete writing/drawing tasks. It’s a fun, interactive and skill-driven app with which many children have a good time engaging.
- Toca Boca Tea Party: this app can be used to target a variety of speech and language goals. Most commonly: turn-taking and pretend play question formulation. For example, the child can ask: “What do you want?” “Do you want more?” or “How does it taste?” Kids who are working on using longer phrases will also benefit from use of this app: it allows modeling of phrases of varying lengths and repetition of those phrases on their next turn. *All the Toca Boca apps are a favorite around Skill Builders. They are also great reinforcer games. Check out: Toca House, Toca Doctor, and Toca Hair Salon.
- Charades Articulation: this app is great for sound practice. You can set it by sound/position (ie. initial, medial, final), which is great to practice one position at a time. Use this app to act out a word or describe the word for your child and have them guess. It’s good for competition as you can get many words (10+) each round, which lasts 60 seconds.
- My Play Home: this is an app that is good for following directions (Close the curtains and then turn on the radio), as well as vocabulary around the house. Kids love playing this game as they get to “pretend” they are mom or dad – great for imaginative play. This can also be used for narration and sequence – “What are you doing?” “First, I’m getting the cereal, next I’m pouring it into the bowl.” “What do you need next?” etc, etc. This app can also help with finger isolation, as you need to move objects across the screen to get them to where you want them.
We know buying a ton of apps can get expensive. That’s why we like “Free the Apps.” This app will list apps that have gone free for the day or week. It’s an informational app, but it’s a good one that helps out your wallet and can give you ideas. Who knows what you’ll stumble upon! If you’re interested in additional apps or games, consult with your therapist. In the meantime: enjoy the snow!