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Recommendations and Resources

Games that Facilitate Verbal Expression

In general, games are a great way for families and children to interact with one another. The following list includes games that are helpful for practicing verbal expression, vocabulary, and word retrieval abilities.  Online descriptions are included for each game, as well as appropriate modifications.

Randemonium (Wiggle 3D)
Description:  A Game of Random Thinking and word association. b Think fast. Make a link. Laugh a lot.  A  fun, quick-paced word association game that works on word retrieval and vocabulary by thinking about how things go together.
Modifications:  Ditch the timer.  The words are presented in a written format, so if you are not playing with strong readers, the facilitator can be the designated reader.  Can also give points for creativity and humor.  The point is expressive language after all!

Scattergories Junior (Milton Bradley)
Description:  Players are given a master list of topics and then a twenty-sided die with letters on each side is rolled to determine the “key” letter. Players have a limited time to think of unique words that start with the letter and have to do with the topic. Players can still earn some points for on-topic words that don’t start with the letter. The box advertises this game for Ages 8 – 11.

Modifications:You may choose to play without using the letter die altogether as some children will spend so long trying to think of answers that use this letter, that they will not respond to all of the questions.

  • You may wish to play the game without the timer and just play until everyone has answered each question.
  • For children with reading, spelling, or handwriting difficulties, you may wish to play this game orally rather than by writing answers.
  • Have one person be the moderator and read the questions and the other two players answer orally (take turns answering first).
  • Work with your child to make cards about new topics.

Apples to Apples Kids (Out of the Box)

Description:  Apples to Apples consists of two decks of cards: Things and Descriptions. Each turn, the current judge selects a Description and players try to pick, from the cards in their hands, the Things that best match that Description. The judge then chooses the Thing that appeals most and awards the card to the player who played it. The unusual combinations of Things and Descriptions are humorous to the extreme, and will quickly have the entire room in an uproar. Once a player has won a pre-determined number of cards, that player wins.

Modifications:

  • For children with reading difficulties, you will want to play in teams so that cards can be read aloud to them.
  • You can also consider making your own version. Hand-write the description cards, which can be read aloud to all players. Use clipart or magazine cutouts to make your “Things” deck.

Charades for Kids (Pressman Toy Corp.)
Description:  A player draws a card with a list of charades, then rolls a die to see which one to act out. There is also a deck of picture cards for players too young to read. The active player acts out the charade for the player on the left. This player gets only one chance to guess. If incorrect, the next player gets one chance, and so on. The first player to guess correctly moves two spaces along the game board.

Kids on Stage (University Games)
Description:  Kids love to get into the act, and this charades game is made especially to put your youngster in the spotlight.  In this game, every player gets in the act on every turn, so it’s ideal for home or school play. And there is no reading required, so little ones can play without help an adult. Encourage creativity and communication skills while having active fun.

I Spy – In Common (Briarpatch)
Description:  All players fill in their game board using tiles that have something in common–across, down, or diagonally– within the three-minute time limit. Jot down each common idea on the note sheets provided, then “sell” other players on your ideas.

Modifications:

  • Eliminate use of timer or extend time allowed per turn.
  • Eliminate the writing component by playing orally.

Wiz Kidz (Discovery Toys)
Description:  Pick a card from the letter stack..”P”. Then pick a card from the answer stack…”Something Cold.” Think quickly – what comes to your mind? Reinforces vocabulary, phonics, word categorizations and reading for meaning.

Modifications:

  • Play without the letter stack and just use the descriptions. Take turns until you run out of ideas for words that belong in the given category.

Blurt (Mattel)
Description:  Players take turns reading a simple definition aloud, while others Blurt out guesses in a hilarious race for the right word.

Modifications:

  • The instructions contain directions for a “junior” version of the game, which makes appropriate modifications for younger children.

Headbanz (Pressman Toy Corp.)
Description:  Each player wears a headband that holds a card so that everyone else, but not the wearer, can see the card – which has a picture of an animal, food, or some other item. On the player’s turn, he or she asks the other players questions about the item on the card. These questions can be answered with a “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.”  A player can ask as many questions, and make as many guesses, as possible during a timed period.

Guess Who (Milton Bradley)
Description:  The mystery face game where you flip over a collection of faces with different color hair, eye color, hair, hats, glasses etc. to deduce who the secret person is that your opponent has chosen. You flip over the hooked tiles as you narrow your choices by asking characteristic questions.

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game (Educational Insights)

Description: Use the squirrel tongs to grab the acorns. First player to get all the acorns wins! This preschool game develops matching and sorting skills, strategic thinking, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and pre-handwriting skills.

Don’t Break the Ice (Hasbro)

Description: Two to four players take turns wielding plastic mallets and tapping out ice blocks. The goal is to keep the polar bear skating for as long as possible. But as the game progresses, ice blocks start falling faster and faster. And then, there goes the bear!

Lucky Ducks (Hasbro)

Description: This game is sure to make a splash as kids try to match the duckies for colors and shapes as they “swim” around the motorized pond. Kids will learn color and shape recognition as they play along to the duck sounds.

Honey Bee Tree (International Playthings)

Description: This award-winning game delights children as they try to carefully remove leaves without dislodging the resting bees. If you pull out the wrong leaf, bees will come tumbling out of the tree onto your tray. The players with the least amount of bees in their flower tray is the winner.

HiHo! Cherry-O (Hasbro)

Description: Take turns picking pretend cherries, blueberries and apples from your tree and put them in your basket. Be the first to pick all the fruit from your tree and win!

Super Pop Up Pirate (Tomy Toys)

Description: Super Pop-Up Pirate is loaded with fun! Push the pirate into the barrel and take turns sliding your swords into the slots. Use caution or you may end up walking the plank if your sword pops the pirate out of the barrel!

Cootie (Hasbro)

Description: Mix and match to create crazy critters; children may play solo or in groups. Each of four cooties assembles with 6 legs, mouth part, ears/hat, and eyes.

UNO Moo Preschool Game (Mattel)

Description: Gotta get the critters back in the barn! Round ’em up by matching colors or animals. Is there a blue pig on the roof? Pair it with any blue animal or any color pig. Or use a farmer figure — he’s wild and matches anything. The first player to get all their figures back in the barn wins the game.

Zingo (ThinkFun)

Description: Zingo! brings fast-paced excitement and learning to the classic game of Bingo. Slide the Zinger to reveal picture tiles, make a match and fill your card to win. Images with printed words and two levels of play make this the perfect game to grow with.

Hello Sunshine Game (ThinkFun)

Description: Hello Sunshine is a charmingly simple game that will have you and your child laughing and playing together! Play hide and seek with Sunshine – an adorable plush toy – while teaching your child positional words such as: In, On Top, Below, Next To, and more.

 

Cat in the Hat I Can Do That! (Wonder Forge)

Description: A player picks one of each of the three color cards. Taken together, the cards create a fun and funny activity the player is challenged to do. If the player wants to take the challenge, he says “I can do that!” and proceeds. If he succeeds, he keeps the cards in his own scoring pile. The player with the most stars in the scoring pile wins the game!

Dr. Seuss What’s in the Cat’s Hat (Wonder Forge)

Description: In this dynamic game, one player, the Hat Master, hides a household object—an orange, a sock, a small toy, it could be anything—inside the hat. The other players use questions, clues, and the hat’s fun interactive exploratory features to discover what’s inside!

What’s in Ned’s Head (Ideal)

Description: Each player is dealt a card with a picture of an object that is in Ned’s Head. All players then reach into Ned’s Head to feel around for the object pictured on their card. When a player thinks that they have found the silly thing on their card, they may pull it out to look and see. If it’s a match to the picture on the card, they win the game.

 

Richard Scarry’s BusyTown: Eye Found It! (Wonder Forge)

Description: Using the illustrated, over six-foot long game board, you’ll work as a team to make it to Picnic Island before they eat the food! Work together with other players to find hidden objects like buckets, traffic lights, flags, or ladders! Everyone gets a chance to say, “I Found It!”—the faster you find the hidden objects the faster you’ll move!

Hullaballoo  (Cranium)

Description: Hullabaloo will get the whole family moving. As kids bounce, spin, and jump between the colorful pads, they’ll learn new shapes, colors, and words. They’ll also hone their listening skills –especially when they “freeze” and wait to see if they’re a winner at the end.

TABLETOPICS Happiness: Questions to Start Great Conversations (Table Topics)

Description: These conversation starters will have your child talking, laughing and having fun! Based on the burgeoning field of happiness studies, each card in this cube features a factual tidbit, tip, or quotation, along with a corresponding question to prompt thoughtful discussion.

Development: Steve Lienhard & Melody Sharp