Bring Back Playtime: 3 Games for Speech Therapy Reinforcement


Much of the most effective learning children do is through play and building speech and language development skills are no exceptions. Parents and SLPs can work together use these 3 easy and creative games for speech therapy reinforcement that get kids moving, imagining, and developing those communication skills.

1. Mystery Shopper for Speech Therapy Reinforcement

Especially great for kids with sensory and tactile needs, you can adapt this game to work with various speech therapy goals. Take a brown paper shopping bag and place 5-10 items inside of it that deal with your specific language goals. For example, if you are working on /s/ sounds, place the following in the bag:

  • Sock
  • Sticker
  • Sucker (in the wrapper)
  • String
  • Sandal
  • Spoon

Fold the bag closed and tell your child that she is going to be a mystery shopper. You can give her an “Official Mystery Shopper” badge, too, and if you have a nighttime eye mask to wear it only adds to the effect. Shake up the contents of the bag and have your child either wear the eye mask or close her eyes. Then she gets to reach inside the bag and describe which items she feels inside. You can time the activity, have her use one hand or two, or have her pull the item out of the bag. The rules are flexible, as are the ways you can adapt this for your learning goals. If she correctly identifies the items you could even pay her in play money to spend on prizes at the end of the week.

2. Costume Box of Fun for Speech Therapy Reinforcement

Fall is the perfect time to gather second-hand costume items at thrift stores, or just sift through your own closet for things like hats, scarves, jewelry, and other fun items that can bring characters to life. Use this costume box for a variety of fun and easy language building games.

Guess Who? –  If your kids like to play the traditional board game of Guess Who?, take it to a new level by bringing the game to life. This is a great group game to use in group therapy or at home with siblings. Take turns dressing up as a character and having your child ask questions about your character to find out who he is – and then you do the same.

Charades – Language can be developed without speaking because your child learns to look for visual clues to the story and interact with others using nonverbal communication. Use the items in the costume box to play a round of charades that uses characters from your child’s favorite stories or television shows.

3. Beach Ball Fun for Speech Therapy Reinforcement

Have you ever seen those conversation starter beach balls that are used in classrooms and boardrooms alike? You can make your own for speech therapy reinforcement. Take an inflatable beach ball and permanent marker to create your own vocabulary game that gets kinesthetic learners moving and speaking. Once you have inflated the beach ball, write words, phrases, or questions all over it that target your child’s communication goals.

  • Vocabulary words
  • Questions that ask them to describe things
  • Words for which your child has to produce rhyming words

The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Next, stand with your child (great for a group activity, too) and either toss or bounce off your forearms like a volleyball and have your child catch the ball. On whichever word or phrase his right thumb lands (or choose another marker), he has to complete that exercise. For example, if his right thumb lands on the word “bag” and you are playing a rhyming game, he has to come up with a word that rhymes with bag. Take turns and make sure you participate, too.

Albert Einstein once said that, “Play is the highest form of research.” So pull out those board games, overfill the costume box, and let your imagination take over. Let’s encourage kids to be the most diligent researchers and learners through games like these for speech therapy reinforcement.

Parents' Guide to Reinforcing Speech Therapy at Home
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