Written by Tammy Wong, Speech-Language Therapist

iPhone! iPad! Youtube! are popular amongst children today. While they are convenient entertainment, one major drawback is the lack of face-to-face interaction that technology cannot provide. Many parents recognize the drawbacks, but also struggle with having to constantly think of ways to keep their child engaged. In this article, I will share 5 simple games that parents can play with their child while having dinner, riding in the MRT, waiting in line at the supermarket or doctor’s... absolutely anywhere, anytime! All you need is each other’s presence

1. I SPY
Spot an object in the vicinity and provide 2 clues about it using the phrase “I spy, with my little eyes, something that...”

Example
Listening and understanding what is said to them

What it works on
Observation, listening, describing, vocabulary, deductive reasoning

To make it more challenging
• 
As the ‘spy’, you can provide more abstract clues (e.g., “… something that has handles and shelving.”)
• To encourage your child to be more precise in his/ her description, the ‘spy’ has to do a forfeit if the ‘guesser’ cannot guess the correct object on the first try with the 2 clues given

 

2. 20 Questions Game
Think of anything (e.g., person, place, object, animal) and have the other person ask up to 20 questions to try to figure out what you are thinking of. You can only reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’

Example
“Is it a living thing?” “No”, “Can it be found in the kitchen?” “Yes”, “Is it edible?” “No”, etc.

What it works on
Listening, vocabulary, categorization, deductive reasoning, memory

To make it easier
• 
Narrow down the choices by setting a category (e.g., fruit, furniture)
• Allow any type of questions, not just yes/ no questions (e.g., “What colour is it?” “Where can you find it?”)
• Write down each clue to reduce memory load

To make it challenging
• 
Limit the number of questions to 10

 

3. I Went To..
Decide on a location, then take turns to say an item found at the location. Each player has to recite the list of the existing items, in the correct order, then add a new item.

Example
“I went to school and I saw a teacher.” “I went to school and I saw a teacher and… a desk.” “I went to school and I saw a teacher, a desk and… the canteen.” etc.

What it works on
Listening, vocabulary, categorization, memory (and possibly phonological awareness!)

To make it easier
• 
Allow any item (i.e., items do not necessarily have to be found at the given location)
• Use items that are within sight

To make it challenging
• 
To incorporate phonological awareness, choose a sound that all items have to begin with (e.g., “I went to the zoo and I saw a cat, a kangaroo, a cap and a cage.”)

 

4. Would You Rather
Ask questions that require the other person to choose between 2 given choices and provide a reason for their choice? Questions can be realistic or hypothetical.

Example
“Would you rather learn piano or dance?” “Would you rather be able to fly or be able to read minds?”

What it works on
Thinking ability, reasoning

To make it easier
• For younger children, use contexts that are more relevant to them (e.g., superhero, food)
• Guide their reasoning by asking questions (e.g., “Why did you choose to fly? Where could you fly to? Why do you not want to read minds?”)

To make it challenging

• For older children, you can choose questions that are more thought-provoking (e.g., moral dilemma questions) and require deeper analysis and reasoning (e.g., “Would you rather never get angry or never get jealous?” “Would you rather save a drowning baby or your drowning dog?”)

 

5. Charades
Think of a word (e.g., action, object) and act or mime it for the other person to guess. (You may be surprised that this silent acting game can also help with speech and language development! That is because charades allow children to think about words in a fun way, and thinking precedes speaking!)

Example
If the word is ‘lemon’, you can act like you are cutting fruit and make a cringing expression when eating it.

What it works on
Conceptualising, vocabulary (e.g., synonyms), confidence

To make it easier
Narrow down the choices by setting a category (e.g., actions)
Allow props

To make it challenging

• Set a time limit for the acting
• To work on synonyms, choose higher-level words (e.g., choose ‘sprint’ instead of ‘run’, ‘bench’ instead of ‘chair’)