At the New York Toy Fair 2011, I found many wonderful games for kids but two in particular stand out for speech therapy.

“Guess How I Feel?” by Fun and Function helps kids talk about their feelings and reactions to everyday situations. The picture cards evoke a response to situations such as looking down an escalator, waving goodbye to Dad in the schoolyard or sitting in the dentist chair. A player selects a card, and draws his reaction on the magnetic board. He also has magnetic eyes and mouths to enhance his picture. Other players guess what his reaction was but drawing their answer or writing a word–angry, worried, frustrated and so on. Guess correctly and you get a prize. Take the game a step further and talk about the situation and your response, “When I am in the dentist chair I am afraid because_____” or “Saying goodbye to Dad makes me feel lonely.” Talk about who matched the emotion and why others responded the way they did. Kids learn from each other’s feelings and begin to better name their emotions. Fun and Function president, Aviva Weiss, is a pediatric occupational therapist and a mom with five children. Visit her website for a wealth of information on products and issues related to children with special needs.

Suggested Age: 3 years to adult

“Funny Faces” by International Playthings challenges kids to be the best imitator of facial expressions matching cards on the game board. Draw a card, imitate the face and see if your opponents can match your face to a card on the game board. You’d better be quick and beat the other players. This game encourages looking at others to match expressions, as well as oral motor imitation with variations of tongue, lip and eye movements. It was interesting to see what kids had difficulty with this and which ones were a whiz. I played it with a child on the autism spectrum and he didn’t miss a match, probably because his visual skills are so strong. He was cute, using the little mirror to check his expressions so modify them if needed.

Suggested Age: 4 years and up

The opinions expressed are soley those of the author. The above games were provided for review by Fun and Function and International Playthings.