How to Host a Virtual Game Night (From Your Speech Therapist)
2020 has challenged us to connect with others in ways we never have before. Virtual learning, meetings, holidays, family dinners and more have become an integral part of our new “normal.” We can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping in touch with loved ones and maintaining social relationships with others, near or far. What better way to safely do so while also targeting speech and language golals than through hosting a virtual game night! Here are our top 10 favorite games that you can use to have some fun.
TOP 10 FAVORTIES FOR YOUR VIRTUAL GAME NIGHT
1. Game Night Platforms
There are several different options for platforms to use when it comes to hosting a virtual game night. When we think about connecting virtually, the first platform that comes to mind is Zoom. The Zoom platform allows for you to create a free account, which has meeting limit of 42 minutes. This is great to use if you are looking to have a shorter game night. Zoom allows you to share your screen, and also has a whiteboard feature which can be used in several of the games mentioned below. Another platform that can be used is Google Meet. This is a free application that comes as a part of your Google email account (gmail). This platform does not have a time limit, so the fun can continue for as long as you wish!
2. Games You Can Play and Goals They Target
The following games can be used in a virtual game night to target your child’s speech and language goals while also having lots of fun.
- Charades can be used to identify nonverbal communication (body language, facial expressions, tone of voice), word retrieval, vocabulary and descriptive language. For example, if your child has to act like a firefighter during their turn, they have to first think about what a firefighter does prior to acting (e.g., climbs a ladder, rides in a truck, sprays water from a hose etc.). If the roles are reversed and your child has to guess firefighter, they have to piece together all of the different nonverbal clues and functions being acted out.
- Participating in a virtual scavenger hunt is an excellent game choice when looking to target executive function skills (initiation, working memory, planning/organizing etc.). Additionally, you can use a scavenger hunt for identifying semantic feautes (finding items from a certain category, that have a specific function, color, shape, size) or targeting specific sounds. For example, if your child is working on /s/ in the beginning of words, you can have your child find the following items in their scavenger hunt: soda, salt, sandals, socks, soap. When they return from racing to find the items, you can have them practice their sounds by sharing what they brought back.
- Bingo is a fun game that can be used to target articulation, vocabulary, and working memory. If someone calls out the combination B6, your child has to hold that letter and number combination in their working memory while searching for the corresponding picture, number, or word on their bingo board. Additionally, the items on your bingo board can be a specific theme or target a specific sound or category.
- Similar to the concept of hangman, snowman is a winter-themed game that can be played using the whiteboard feature of the platforms mentioned above. This targets literacy (e.g., phonological awareness, letter identification, spelling, decoding) and written expression. Instead of drawing parts of a stick figure each time a wrong letter is guessed, a part of a snowman is drawn instead! Once the whole word/phrase is complete, have your child use their decoding skills (knowledge of letter-sound relationships) to read the word aloud.
- Pictionary can be played virtually by dividing your group into teams. You can use this Pictionary word generator and choose a team to play first, and a designated artist. The artist picks a word from the word generator and has one minute to draw the word for their team to guess. If guessed correctly, the team earns a point. This game is a great way to target impulse control, time-management, sportsmanship and turn taking.
- Freeze Dance and Simon Says are creative games that can be used to target following directions and impulse control. When playing Simon Says, your child has to listen for the key details while also following single or multi-step directions. Feel free to get creative and incorporate temporal (first, then, before, after), location (under, next to, above, below), number and size concepts into your directions!
- Go Fish can be used if each person in the virtual game night has their own deck of cards on hand. This card game is great for asking questions, turn taking, and practicing good sportsmanship.
- Name, Place, Animal, Thing is similar to the idea of the game scattergories. You have to pick a letter, and then say a name, place, animal and thing all starting with the assigned letter. This targets working memory, vocabulary, categorization and association.
- Name That Tune is a great way to incorporate music into your virtual game night. This targets social skills (thinking about other people and the songs they want to hear) and working memory. Additionally, if it is not your child’s turn, this game also targets self-monitoring and impulse control, as they may want to blurt out the name of the song as soon as they hear it play.
These are just a few of our game-night favorites, but by no means are they the only games available to play virtually. We hope these game ideas are useful in hosting a fun-filled virtual game night with your family and friends.
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Hi, I am a Speech-Language Pathologist at South Shore Therapies. I am passionate about planning and delivering creative, individualized treatment designed to meet the unique needs of each of my clients. Our mission with SST’s social media platform is to empower, educate and inspire families to take on life’s challenges while promoting an optimistic outlook and a brighter future.
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