The more I play games with kids, the more I am a fan for using them to teach so many aspects of communication and language. I just started working with a 4 year-old on the autism spectrum and we have had such fun playing games to teach concepts (colors, shapes, matching, counting, one left, one more, etc) and social language of taking turns, commenting and giving directions. Attention is required to stay with the game and make the best move. I have started my list with simple games for 3 years and up. This will be a series of blogs on games and simple books to begin therapy with kids on the autism spectrum. Here are some of my favorites that I have revived and new games to add to the list:
Barnyard Bingo by Fisher Price. This game has been around a long time but is great because it has a fun “barn” that is set up and kids pull down the lever to “boing” as a chip slides down a chute and appears illustrated with a sheep, cow or hen. Kids learn colors, animal names, animal sounds, beginning, middle end, next to and so on as they match their chip to their fence card. It has 3 levels of play but certainly has a beginner, easy first level for kids playing a game for the first time.
Candy Land Castle Game by Hasbro. This is a similarly simple game for first time players as the castle holds all the colored shapes to match to your gingerbread boy or girl. This time you pull down the candy cane lever to release a shape through the chute and down through the castle entrance. The lever in both games provides enough interest for kids and the disks give therapists or parents the opportunity to build vocabulary within categories of shapes and colors.
Today we moved on to a little higher level of difficulty, playing Feed the Woozle, by Peaceable Kingdom. This is a favorite with kids and so wacky that it feeds right into a child’s sense of humor. Drop the die, read the number and gather that many zany snacks onto your oversized spoon. Then spin to see if you have to carry your treats the Woozle’s mouth while marching, going crazy, doing the hula, spinning or hopping like a bunny. Kids catch on really fast that my least favorite is spinning. After we invited a mom to join our play, she spun the hula option and declared, “I haven’t done the hula for years!” Counting, recognizing numbers, following directions, and processing silly food combinations (fuzzy donuts etc.) are some of the concepts learned.