Games to Play When Practicing Sounds
Playing simple games makes it motivating for your child to practice sounds. It doesn’t matter what you play as long as you both are having fun.
An easy way to play is to have your child say a certain number of words, usually 5 to 10, before he gets a turn at a favourite game such as “Pop up Pirate”, “What’s in Ned’s Head”, “Hi Ho Cherry-O” or getting another piece of “Lego” or of a puzzle. Any simple game where you need to take turns works well. Make sure to take your turn at the game too. When it’s your turn you can practice saying the words or he can say your words for you.
Below are other game ideas to try. Just be careful that the game doesn’t take away too much from practicing the words. Games can make it more fun to practice but you are making a trade-off. Some games take time to play and make it harder to get the number of repetitions that are needed. Games can also become too much fun and a distraction that makes it harder for your child to remember to say the sounds correctly.
Fishing. Put a paper clip or a couple of heavy duty staples in each card. Make a fishing pole with a magnet on the end of the line. Turn the cards upside down and have him “fish” for the cards. Say the cards as you catch them.
Bowling. Put a card under each bowling pin. Throw the ball and then say the words under the pins that were knocked down.
Mailing. Cut a slit in the top of a box or other container to make a “mailbox”. Let him “mail” the cards after completing each one
Flashlight Hunt. Tape the cards on the wall and turn off the lights. Use a flashlight to find the cards.
Race. Set up a set of cards in a winding path. Put the words “Start” at one end and “Finish” at the other. Use pennies or pieces from a board game and a dice/spinner. Have a race to the end. Say each card as you land on them.
Target Practice. Lean the cards up against plastic cups or put a clothes pin on the bottom of each card so it stands up. Throw/roll a ball at the “targets” saying the ones that you knock over. Or set cards out on the floor or table and drop a bean bag on them. Say the cards as you land on them.
Cooking. Turn the cards face down and then use a spatula to flip them over.
Stamping. Using a bingo dabber or ink stamp, say the word each time you stamp it.
Cards in a Bag. Put the cards in a cloth or paper bag. Have him say the cards as he pulls them out.
Road. Build a road with the cards by laying them out on the floor or table. Have him say the words as he drives over them with a car.
Feed the _____. Find a picture of an animal or funny face – cookie monster is a favourite. Print it out in a large enough size so that you can glue it to a small box. Cut out a slit for the mouth. Have him say the cards as he feeds them to the ________. If you have a large hand puppet and don’t mind cutting out part of the mouth, try having your child feed the cards to the puppet.
Roll the Ball. Lay the cards out on the floor or table. Have him roll a ball over the cards and say the ones that the ball rolls over.
Matching. Make two copies of the cards. Turn a small set of cards upside down and then take turns looking for matches. An easier version of the game would be to only turn one half of the cards upside down or put them in a bag and pull them out. Match this card to one that is already face up.
Spin the Bottle. Put a plastic bottle on the table or floor. Put cards out around the bottle. Spin the bottle and say the one that the bottle points at.
Pirate Spy. Hide a few cards around the room and then search them out by looking though a paper towel tube. Tell him to find specific ones or describe the ones you want him to find.
Counter. Have your child use a handheld counter (one where you push a button and the counter moves) or an app to keep track of how many words they are saying. Keep track and see if he can say more the next day. You should be able to find a free app by searching “tally counter”.
Kapow. Put the cards in a cloth or paper bag along with one or two that says “Kapow” or another fun word. Take turns pulling out and saying the cards. When the “Kapow” card is pulled out all of the cards have to go back into the bag. See who can pull out 10 cards first.
Snap. You need at least two of each card. Deal out all the cards. Both players turn over their top card at the same time. If the cards match the first person to say “Snap” (or a different word – one that has the target sound would be ideal) gets the pile. Play until one person has all of the cards.
Guess what it is. Set out a number of cards. Pick a card in your head and describe it until your child can guess what it is. Say “I spy a something that is…(cold, green, is in the kitchen, is loud, has long tail, etc.)
What is Missing? Set out 3 to 5 cards. Take turns closing your eyes while the other person hides one of the cards under the table or behind their back. Have the person try to figure out what is missing.
War. Add numbers to the cards and play “war” with them. Say the cards as you turn them over.
Zap. Write 20-30 words on the ends of Popsicle sticks. Put “Zap” or another fun word on two other sticks. Put the sticks with the words pointing down into a container. Take turns pulling out a stick. If you pull out a “Zap” you have to put all of your sticks back in.
Making the Games More Challenging
As your child gets better at saying the sounds you can make it more challenging by playing games that naturally have your child say the sound you are working on in a short sentence or ones where he is saying more than one target sound for each turn. Here are some ideas.
Remember though it is often best to still repeat the target word(s) 5 times or so either before or after the sentence. Repetition is what makes it easier for him to say the sounds automatically.
Add a sentence to the games above: Find sentences or phrases that fit in with the above games. For example say “I caught a ___” when fishing or “I found a ___ “ when playing flashlight hunt or “___ is missing” when playing guess what is missing.
Go Fish. Make two sets of cards and play Go Fish. You might need to print the cards off on heavier paper to make them easier to handle.
Make a Story. Set out a few cards and start a funny story. Have him use the cards to fill in the blanks as they come up. For example, “Once upon a time a _________ ate a huge _________ for breakfast.” If able, have your child tell back the story. If this is too hard just have him say the words that have the target sound as you say the rest of the story.
I Will buy a… Go on a pretend shopping trip with your child. Using the cards have him make and add to the list of what he will buy. For example if you are working on Vs “I will buy a “Volcano, a Valentine and a Vet”. See how long he can make the list before he forgets.
Silly Sentences: Set out two cards and have your child make up a silly sentence that uses both of the words. If he can’t make a sentence you make one up and have him say it back.
Games you can buy: If you are looking for games that you can buy here is a list of the ones that I love to play.