Simple Ways to Play Barrier Games

A barrier game is a simple yet effective way of targeting many language goals at home.  You will need two pieces of paper, some sort of barrier (a book or folder work well), and something to draw with.

How to set up a barrier game

You and your child each take a piece of paper and set the barrier between you both. Take turns giving each other directions of things to draw on your paper. After a few turns remove the barrier and see if the pictures match. Examples of some simple directions you can give your child include: draw a circle or draw a sun.

Language skills to address

  • Following directions- Give your child 1 step directions to follow while playing the game, such as draw a circle or write your name. If your child is able to easily follow 1-step directions, given him more complex directions, such as draw a red circle or draw a sun at the bottom of the paper. You can also give your child 2-step directions, such as write your name and then draw a sun.  
  • Spatial concepts- When providing the directions for your child, you can target specific spatial concepts. Spatial concepts include words such as; under, next to,  above, and in.  A direction with a spatial concept could be “Draw a circle next to the triangle” or “Draw a star under the heart”.
  • Expanding sentences- When it’s your child’s turn to tell you what to draw, help them to formulate a complete sentence. Expand on their words. If your child says “Draw a circle”, ask him “Where?”. If your child responds at the bottom, then model for them “Draw a circle at the bottom“. Have your child repeat this sentence.


You can get as creative as you want with this activity.  You can use stickers or small decorations and glue (ex. pom poms or shapes).
To purchase a ready-made barrier game set with magnets click here.

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