Learning and Sharing

It’s All in the Game. Really!

on September 22, 2013


The Fun Theory is based on the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change behavior for the better.  I love that!  A game of “Simon Says” is fun to play and develops Executive Function.   A simple memory/concentration game can promote vocabulary, concentration/focus, concept of same/different, phonological processing of multi-syllabic words and memory.   Any board game can be turned into a language and social learning time.  Board games are rule bound and require various degrees of planning and flexibility.  Therapy does not have to look like work.  It’s all in the game.   I try to make it so much fun that the students don’t even know they are learning!

Amanda Morgon, creator of Not Just Cute, Intentional Whole Child Development, writes in her post Want to Give Your Kids an Advantage? Build Executive Functions that “Some go to tutors, buy complicated programs, or drill through flash cards, but one of the best predictors of success is one that can be regularly built through play”.  Read more of Amanda’s posts at

I follow blog where Jennifer Hatfield gives excellent information.  In her post-Games: A Great Way to Strengthen Executive Functioning Skills at ANY age, Jennifer writes, “When scientists and therapists try to relate the research to more “user friendly” ways to improve Executive Function skills, they continue to come back to one area: play”.    Sign up for her EF newsletter to receive “Game Guides for Executive Function Development”.

Here are a few of my recommendations to develop speech/language, social, and executive function skills in a therapeutic setting and at home:


A game of Zingo! promotes vocabulary development, CVC word production, turn-taking, showing interest in others, “Who questions,  and yes/no questions.  Visit where SLP Kelly Rholes shares creative ways to use Zingo! to target a range of different learning needs.


Hedbanz is a fun way to promote development of impulse control.  The players must keep a secret and not reveal the name of the picture until a player guesses.  It is so hard not to blurt out!  Hedbanz also helps development of conceptual skills such as categories/classification, could/would questions, is/are questions, academic vocabulary, and articulation skills.  In our social skills groups we use the game to play “Unthinkables Hedbanz.


Cariboo promotes turn-taking, requesting, and conceptual skills.  Personal pronouns can be targeted as well.


S’Match encourages turn-taking skills and development of conceptual skills, such as same/different, colors, and numbers.

“Simon Says” seems easy enough, right?  You have to focus and pay attention to detail.  You have to listen for that key phrase, “Simon Says”.  You have to self-regulate by responding only if you here “Simon Says”.   “Red Light Green Light” also addresses impulse control, self-regulation, sustained attention, and cognitive flexibility.


Speech bubbles and thought bubbles have become my new favorite visual support!!  With Red Light Green Light you could tape red/green circles on a paint stir to use as visual supports while the students are learning.


Playing Chinese Checkers promotes sustained attention, planning, emotional regulation and working memory.

Cars Uno is a Lunch Buddies favorite.


Uno requires cognitive flexibility, emotional regulation, sustained attention, planning and impulse control.  It also helps to develop showing interest in others and sportsmanship.  It is helpful if the adults in the game do some cognitive modeling and self-talk about how they plan their next move or how the moves they make will help them to get rid of more cards so they might win.

One last thing- Tae-Kwon-Do and mindfulness training are certainly not games, but they can be fun.


Traditional martial arts emphasizes self-control, respect, responsibility, and focus.

Yoga and Mindfulness training that promotes sensory awareness, attention regulation and awareness of others supports development of executive function.

Hope this wasn’t too much!

Enjoy this lovely first day of fall, everyone.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: