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8 Communication Games ~ Practice Listening Skills

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1. Mad Gab: This game is not only hilarious, but really tests your listening skills! This is an easy game to keep in the car, and can be played while you are driving (you do the listening part of the game of course, safety first).


2. Hide the object:  Play this game with your client, or include family members.  Provide an object to hide from the other players, then without using the words of the place it is hidden, help them find the object.  Hot or cold is a good cue, or giving clues to follow directions!


blindfold-table-find-game3. Obstacle course: Make it fun with a Blindfold Theme but First make sure this is not going to be a source of anxiety for your child.  Take turns being blindfolded, helping each get through an obstacle course using objects to go around, hop in, crawl under, etc. SAFELY! While playing help your child process how important listening, using appropriate language, details and descriptions can help someone understand. Click Here for another post with some more ideas on Obstacle Course Fun (see Activity # 38).

Here is more fun to incorporate into an Obstacle Course:

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Crab Walk: Put a beanbag or soft toy on their tummy – they will have to keep her bottom up to stop the toy from falling off. This is also a great outdoor activity to do as part of follow-my-leader or Simon Says.
As this activity is quite demanding, set a short distance (2-3metres) for your child’s first attempt, and include it as a small part of an obstacle course. As your child’s endurance increases, you can increase the distance set.

Here are a few recommendations on using obstacle courses to target listening skills:

  • Start SIMPLE. Set up maybe only a 3-5 part course at first and then increase it as your child’s skills develop.
  • To target listening, you can do two things. First, you can give him directions on exactly how to go through the obstacle course. This works best if at least a couple different steps can be manipulated differently. For example, one step could be a small table. But does he go under, over, or around the table? He will have to listen to find out! You could set up a station with blocks and tell him he needs to build a 5 block tower. Maybe a step with a hoola hoop that he could either jump in or actually try to hoola. Make sense?
  • Another way to incorporate listening is to have one step of the course be just that: following directions before he can go on. It can be like a “simon says” step where he has to follow whatever directions you give, and then he can keep going.

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Go skiing.  Use empty tissue boxes as skis and long sticks as poles.  Child slides feet along floor pretending to ski.

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Balance Challenge: He carefully bends over to touch a plastic bottle while keeping the beanbag on his head. And walking along the rope line.

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Pull a sled.  Help some imaginary friends get across the snow in their sled.  Use a laundry basket with a rope for child to pull the sled.

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Climb a snowy mountain.  Pile tons of pillows on top of each other and cover with a sheet.  Allow child to climb over the pillow mound.

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Cardboard Box Slide ~ Indoor Fun for Kids! Tape the top of the cardboard down with some duct tape, the slide should stay put for quite a while. Let your kids slide cars, balls & themselves down the slide! *This could be part of an indoor obstacle course…


September 26,2012 0014. Back to back drawing game:  You and your child sit back to back.  One of you draws a picture, then help the other person draw the picture without telling you what it is.  Among the obvious communication skills you are practicing, this is also a great self-awareness activity as your client has to be aware of what they draw to be able to explain their drawing to the other person, knowing their and your limitations.


5. Simon says: Someone is “Simon” and he tells everyone what to do by saying “Simon says….” However if he tells you what to do without saying “Simon says” prior to the directions but you do it anyway…you’re out !A great listening and following directions game, and you can also turn this into a coping skills or emotions practice game. “Simon says, practice square breathing!”

Here are a few recommendations to make this game fun and motivating for your child:

  • Rather than “Simon says”  change it up to a more motivating character. Does your child love superheroes? Play “Spiderman Says!” Does your child love princesses? Play “Cinderella Says!” If it around the holidays, you can do “The Scarecrow Says,” “The Mummy Says,” “The Turkey Says,” “The Snowman Says,” “Santa Says” etc. Be creative! You could even have the person who is “it” dress up like the character! This will not only give your child the opportunity to listen and follow directions but this will also give him the opportunity to give directions to others! (Practicing leadership skills!)
  • Only give directions your child can understand. Start simple. Jump. Turn around. Blink your eyes. Once he can follow simple one step directions, start to make them a little harder with two items of information like jump two times or turn around three times. You can then add three part steps like Jump three times then turn around. And so on. If your child is struggling, step back a step.
  • When starting out you may want to give the directions and then show him what you want him to do. For example, tell him “Jump” and then physically jump. This will give him a visual. This is helpful as you start to increase the complexity of the directions.

Click Here for yet another version of Simon Says (free printable instructions) and a Wonderfully Engaging Simon Says Script.


RedLightGreenLight56. Red light, green light:  Helps with self-awareness and listening skills, can also work for frustration tolerance, and patience practice if really challenged! Here are some tips to practicing listening skills with your child:

  • Once your child gets the hang of the concepts of green-means-go and red-means-stop, add in another color! For example: Purple Light means you jump like a bunny! Yellow Light for crawling, Orange light for skipping, Blue light for Running…Walking in Slow Motion, Walking Backwards, Walking sideways, Hopping on One Foot, Hopping like a Frog, Eyes Closed etc.
  • A tip to help him understand the directions at first: Make signs with the colors you will use in the game with pictures of the motor movements on them. So if you did purple-is-hop-like-a-bunny you can make a round purple “light” and put a picture of a bunny on it as a visual reminder. Then slowly take the signs away and have your child play JUST by listening.

Click Here for more ideas on adding challenging twists to this game on my other post.


7. I Spy: This is a GREAT game to play in the car. One person finds an object within view and begins to describe it one attribute at a time. “I spy something blue. I spy something with four wheels. I spy something that goes Broom Broom!” The other players must listen to all the attributes and figure out what the item is. This game can even be done on items not in view but I would not recommend this with young children or any child that has difficulties with listening comprehension. Here are some tips:

  • Start SIMPLE. To teach the  game, you may want to take 3 items and place them in front of you and your child to play the first few times, to help your child grasp the game and give him a smaller playing field, if you will. In fact you may need to play this way for a while depending on your child’s age and ability level. Eventually you can play in a small room, outside, in the car, etc.
  • To help your little one stay organized and remember the information he is being given, write down each attribute after you say it (even when it is HIS turn, write it down also). Then go back and review the attributes each time with him (do the same when it is your turn to guess so he is continually hearing the attributes over and over).

8. Follow The Leader: This is more of a visual following-directions-game. However for little ones who are really struggling with listening this kind of game might be where you want to start. Even though we often talk about areas of development separately…speech development, gross motor development, cognitive development…they are all intertwined and work together. For example, with little ones on the autism spectrum one of the first things we might target is actually gross motor imitation.  Because this is an important cognitive skill that helps to lay the foundation for communication. Children learn to imitate motor movements before they learn to talk and they need to be able to imitate to learn.

If your little one is having a hard time listening and following directions, you may want to actually back up and just work on gross motor imitation like in Follow the Leader. You also can play follow the leader but incorporate verbalizations that need to be imitated…like saying words, phrases or singing songs.


These games help your child learn to communicate creatively, understand there are different forms of communicating, and helps them recognize how to use different forms of language, ask questions and help others understand- finding ways to be heard and get their point across effectively!


  • Related Links on My Blog: 
    • Click Here for a List of 40 Ways to Keep Children Occupied (especially toddlers) with activities that promote learning and attachment. (sewing basket for kids, pool noodles, pipe cleaners, sensory bins, water tables, etc)
    • Click Here for Activities that Promote Learning & Attachment – link to website with activities listed by age (up to age 5 years but you can adapt for older kids)
    • Click Here for 4 Fun Games that Promote Self-Regulation and practice listening & following directions skills
    • Click Here for Relaxing Road Trip Activities for Kids (most can be fun to play inside at home too! like play dough mats, coloring sheets etc)
    • Click Here for 5 Attachment-Based Activities, 15 Attachment Promoting Activities and MANY more Attachment & Connection Promoting Play.
    • Click Here to see 100 ways to show LOVE to your child (includes free printable list)
    • Click Here for 20 Activities and Games to press the “reset” button when kids are getting silly or tough! (whisper game, kitchen stations, color their name, move slowly, read a book, take a bath etc.)
    • Click Here for 4 Family Fun Activities using Balloons!
    • Click Here for 6 Self-Regulation Activities & Games for Kids (free printable explaining the importance of self-regulation)
    • Click Here for 24 Gross Motor Activities that promote Parent-Child Connection
    • Click Here for 31 SideWalk Chalk Activities for Kids
    • Click Here for Parenting Tips on how to Improve & Grow Your Attachment & Connection with Your Child
    • Click Here for FREE printable on 25 Alternatives to “Good job” for parents to say to their kids!

Original Sources

Author:

Mother, Pediatric Nurse and a Trail Blazer for Positive Change.

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