One of my favorite parts of my job is supervising Clinical Fellows (CFs), first year SLPs. I love watching them work with their students and seeing so many creative ideas! At one of my schools, the CF (who used to be a middle school teacher, so she can handle ANYTHING) brought out a file folder to use in articulation therapy. She had fashioned a game board stapling two file folders back to back and adding a laminated paper grid template inside, just like the old Milton Bradley Battleship® game! Here is an instructional video on how to play the real game to help your kids understand the purpose and strategy. You can use graph paper or one of these great templates I found on TPT for a dollar. The larger boxes are perfect for your younger students or those who need less visual “noise” on a page.
Each of them used a highlighter to draw in the boxes that comprised their “ships” on the boards (you can’t see the other persons board). Each of the pages had sequential numbers across the top of the grid and letters down the side of the grid. The top page of the grid was to mark their own secret ship location and the bottom grid let’s them mark their guesses as a hit or a miss. The student would pick a combo (B-7) and if it was highlighted it was a hit, if not, a miss.
When the student found all the highlighted blocks, they sunk the SLP’s ship. You could mark out the highlighted boxes for a hit in red, or use an ink dauber or a chip to cover them. She had the students produce their target sounds ( the dreaded /r/of course) on each turn for data collection and then had incidental data in the questions they asked (Is your ship on…). Easy, fun and creative, right? This portable game can be generalized to virtually any speech and language target and that’s the beauty of it! Aren’t my CFs such smart cookies ?!
I started thinking about the social implications (shocker, right?) of how to use this game format too. You could do this with the actual noisy electronic board game (which many of my boys would LOVE) or with a portable version that you can make yourself. We set up the board after talking about the target social concept du jour, and the possibilities are endless!
- We can draw a topic card or picture, and take turns asking related questions or comments.
- We can give examples of the skill we are working on that week, such as expected/unexpected choices for a particular time, place or person.
- We can embed and demonstrate the skills of whole body listening throughout the game.
- The game can be student against therapist, or made for a whole group to use with individual folders. When it’s all the kids trying to sink the therapist’s SS Friendship, it’s amazing to see how well they can problem solve and work together in a group!
- Identifying and matching emotions and facial expressions on each turn.
- Identify the characteristics of what a good friend is and isn’t. The concept of “frenemies”, especially with my girls headed to middle school, is a really important topic to discuss. For my students on the spectrum, reading people’s intentions and understanding sarcasm are tough lessons that they need LOTS of instruction and opportunities to practice in a safe environment.
- I use card sets from other social games for prompts for my readers or you could use short movie, commercial clips or pictures for social scenario prompts. I use my Seasonal Social Skills card decks to target 6 areas of social concepts (and use the included data sheets aligned to each area).
Being a good friend may not be an academic core skill, but it is a critical life skill. Practicing all the embedded social concepts that help our kids successfully develop friendships might not ensure smooth sailing socially, but will definitely help them calm the waters ahead.
What other games or activities have you used or adapted to target social language in the school setting?