Category Archives: Language Therapy

When Kids [with Speech and Language Delays] Start Playing to Win

NPR recently examined the development of competitiveness in children with When Kids Start Playing to Win. The story examines Vince Lombardi’s famous quote through the eyes of children,

“Winning isn’t everything, but it’s the only thing. In our business, there is no second place.”

According to the story, children have the desire to “win” when they gain the ability to categorize (for example, small/big, many/few). This develops in typical children around age four or five. This is the child who wants to be the fastest one or to get the most.

Winning with Speech and Language Delays

Children with Speech and Language delays often have difficulty with comparing and categorizing vocabulary around them. At age four or five, they may not be motivated by competitive games like their peers are. You can help support play and categorization skills at home with preschool games like Don’t Spill the Beans (empty/full, top/bottom).

spill beans

Competition and Self Esteem

Competition becomes different around seven and eight years of age when children begin to use social comparison. This when children realize there are “smart kids… fast kids and cute kids.” As you can imagine, self esteem has a big role here. This can be a devastating time for children with Speech and Language delays because they don’t often have the words to express their frustration with being “on the bottom.”

Play to Win

Supporting Social Thinking Development

The story recommends that at this fragile age, children should be compared to themselves and not to “Scotty Superstar.” This is excellent advice. Talk about what your child was able to do last week, last month, last year. This doesn’t just have to be about sports skills either. You can play up your child’s growth in reading, math facts or even their Speech and Language Goals. Your child’s Speech Language Pathologist can provide data evidence.

Need another push to change you and your child’s competitive habits? Take it from Vince Lombardi,

“If every single man on our team knows, when the game’s over, that he played the best ballgame he was capable of, I can’t fault him.”

Speech, Language and the Fourth of July

4th july 1This Independence Day, encourage talking beyond “Ooo” and “Ahh” at the firework display.  Here are some (sneaky) ways to stimulate speech and language with your child on this special day.

At the Cookout

If your family is attending a cookout or party, have your child go around and practice good social and speech production skills by introducing themselves.

“Hello my name is…”
“Nice to me you Mr./Mrs…”

To challenge your child further, make it a competition!  See who can recall the most names of the people at the party.

While you’re waiting for the firework display to start

Work on narrative language skills by having your whole family tell a silly story together.  Start with one person who sets up the story, “Once upon a time…”, then have other family members contribute one by one.  Be sure to hit on story grammar elements:  setting, characters, problem, and resolution.

4th july 2

During the Show

During or after the fireworks display ask your child to describe what they saw.  Work on attribute vocabulary such as colors, sounds, shapes, and figurative language.

“It was gold and shimmery and it sounds like popcorn cooking!”
“It was red with a big boom!”


I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend!  What are some ways your family celebrates the Fourth of July?

Rainy Summer Days?  Speech & Language Games for Home

Summer can be a great time to get out and enjoy the outdoors, but rainy days happen!  Here is a list of my Top 8 Rainy Day Speech and Language games for carryover at home.  Many of these games can be found for under $10.  If you are on a budget, don’t forget to check thrift shops and rummage sales for gently used games.


8.  Uno

Uno is great for the upper elementary, middle and high school crowd.  This game just stimulates conversation while it’s played, like magic!  Use it to target turn taking, sportsmanship/social skills, your child’s speech sound, and logic/problem solving.


7.  Blurt!

This is a board game for kids in middle and high school.  It is a game of naming words based on definitions.  It targets reading, listening, vocabulary, naming skills, sportsmanship/social skills, and your child’s speech sound.


6. Memory Game

These sturdy cardboard tiles can feature anything from Toy Story to Dr. Seuss.  This is a great game for adjusting difficulty; just make a bigger grid of cards.  For young children, start with a 2×3 grid to teach them the concept of memory.  Older children can be challenged with a grid of the entire deck!  This game targets vocabulary, turn taking, problem solving, sportsmanship/social skills and your child’s speech sound.


5. Uno Moo

Uno Moo is great for children in preschool and early elementary.  This game follows many of the rules of classic Uno, but features farm animals instead of numbers.  This game can target expanding length of utterance, color and animal vocabulary, turn taking and your child’s speech sound.


4.  Scattergories Junior

Scattergories Junior is great for upper elementary, middle and high school.  It targets categorization, naming skills, vocabulary, and phonics skills.


3.  Go Fish

You play it with your basic deck of cards or get a set that feature’s your favorite character or animals.  Go Fish can target asking wh- questions, perspective taking, turn taking, sportsmanship/social skills, and your child’s speech sound.


2.  Guess Who?

Guess Who? is a classic game for a reason!  Guess Who? requires children to use logic and language to figure out who is on the other player’s card.  This game targets asking and answering questions, perspective taking, vocabulary development and your child’s speech sound.


1.  Hedbanz

This game requires children to wear a card on their forehead that everyone can see but them!  Not only does this make kids laugh, it targets many speech and language concepts.  This game is great for upper elementary and middle school.  Hedbanz can target vocabulary skills, describing, asking questions, perspective taking, logic/problem solving and your child’s speech sound.


What is your family’s favorite board game for a rainy day?