Do you remember playing the game “Go Fish” as a child? Maybe you have already introduced your child to this wonderfully simple game. Are you wondering how this game is for language development? Well, there are some easy ways to alter the game to help increase your child’s language skills.
A quick reminder on how this game is played in it’s original format:
- Each player gets 5 cards. The rest of the cards go face down in the middle.
- Each player looks at their cards to see if they have any that are a pair (ex. two 4’s or two kings). If they have any pairs, they take them out of their hand and lay them on the table.
- The chosen player to go first asks an opponent for a card (a card that they already have in their hand). For example; “Bobby, do you have a 6?”. If Bobby has the 6, he gives it to the first player. The first player goes again. If Bobby doesn’t have the card, he says “Go Fish!”. The first player picks the top card from the pile in the middle. If he gets a 6 and now has a pair, he gets to go again. If he gets any card besides the 6, the next player gets to take his turn.
- The game ends once one of the player no longer has any cards in his hand. The player with the most matches is the winner.
How to alter the game for your child based on his/her needs:
1. Increase vocabulary
Use cards others than the regular 52-playing cards. You can use cards from a memory game or make your own cards with targeted vocabulary (ex. animals, colors, letters, household items). Tip: Print out pictures from the internet and tape them onto playing cards. Review the cards with your child before playing to familiarize them with the vocabulary. Now instead of asking for the “two”, your child can ask “Do you have a horse?”.
2. Practice turn-taking
Between each players’ turn, ask your child “Whose turn is it?”. Model for your child if necessary, “It’s your turn” or “It’s my turn”.
3. Eye contact
When your child is asking another player for a card, remind him/her to look at that player. Let your child know that it’s important to look at the other person when asking them a question.
4. Expanding utterances
Once your child gets a match, model for them “I got a match”. You can also ask them to give you a sentence about the cards. If you are playing with a regular deck of cards, your child can say “I got two 4’s”. If you are playing with vocabulary cards, your child can create a sentence about the object. For example “The lions are yellow”.
If your child is having difficulty with a certain speech sound and working on it in therapy, then you can practice their sound during the game. Use cards that have their sound in it. For example, if your child is working on the “K” sound, use cards with that sound (ex. King, Crown, Kangaroo). Print pictures from the internet and tape them over real playing cards. Remind your child to use their good “K” sound when playing the game.
Tip: “Go Fish” is appropriate for all ages (3+). However, if your child has difficulty understanding the game, then keep all the players’ cards face-up on the table. Now you will be able to help your child formulate appropriate questions to ask other players.