Our therapists often adapt commonly used games as tools for building speech, language, and social communication skills. We wanted to share some of these activities that teachers and caregivers may find fun and useful and that can be easily tailored for specific children’s needs. The first is Jenga, recommended by CW therapist Theresa Christiansen.
Jenga is a block-building game that is well suited for all ages. The blocks are stacked tall in a solid formation and each player pulls a block out during their turn with the goal of making the tower taller and not letting it fall. The person who pulls out a block and knocks the tower down loses the game.
The rules can be modified to promote language development and social-emotional learning. For example, in a group session, the blocks can be divided up evenly and then used to build the tower by placing blocks on top of each other one by one as group members practice their speech sounds. Or, the children can add blocks to build the tower to show that they have added a comment, question, or connection to a conversation during check-in time. The goal is for all of the kids to take turns and add blocks to the tower and conversation. Another spin is to make it a game that focuses on listening comprehension and following directions. Each child has to tell another player which block to pull out for their turn (e.g., “next, pull out the block in the fifth row in the middle” or “pull the block in the third row from the top on the right side”).
Try it! Jenga is an engaging and lively game to play in the classroom or at home. A Jenga set costs $9.99 and can be purchased at local game stores, Target, or online.