Barrier games are activities that require players to give and receive instructions whilst being separated by some kind of barrier. A common example many of us will have played is Battleships.
Barrier Games are ideal for developing language skills as they provide an opportunity to enhance skills for both speaking and listening. With the barrier in place the speaker has to give clear information and explicit instructions to the listener and the listener has to ask questions to clarify the information given and gain more information, while keeping track of what has been said. Different types of games can be played where the speaker gives instructions to the listener so that they both achieve the same end result.
WHY PLAY BARRIER GAMES?
Speakers learn to give explicit and complete information to listeners (e.g. it’s not sufficient to say “Put it there”).
Listeners learn to monitor information and use questions to clarify or gain further information. These are important skills for independent learning.
Children are encouraged to work in pairs and develop negotiating skills or with parents who can model and reinforce the descriptive language required.
Vocabulary related to the task is reinforced (e.g. children begin to use a variety of nouns, attributes or location words).
Barrier games provide opportunities to teach skills to repair conversations when they break down (e.g. “Can you say that again, please?” & “Which one is the stripy hat?”)
What skills can you target using barrier games? This is the BEST part of barrier games: you can target SO MUCH and these work really well for groups of children who are working on different goals. Here are some examples of what you can target:
Expressive use of and receptive understanding of basic concepts such as colours, shapes, sizes, quantity, spacial, temporal, etc.
Expressive use of and receptive understanding of basically any vocabulary (nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc) you can think of.
Expressive ability to give one, two, three or more step directives
Receptive ability to follow one, two, three or more step directives
Expressive ability to ask “wh” questions
Receptive ability to answer “wh” questions
For children working on articulation, barrier games can be used to target his/her sounds in structured or spontaneous speech
For children working on fluency, barrier games can be used to target the use of smooth speech tools in structured or spontaneous speech.
For children working on social/pragmatic skills or problem solving, you can pair up children in teams and have them work together in teams.
The possibilities are endless!
EXAMPLES OF BARRIER GAMES There are 8 types of basic games 1) Simple Sequencing or Pattern Making 2) Matching Pairs 3) Assembly 4) Construction 5) Location 6) Grids 7) Route Finding 8) Spotting Differences
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