May Game of the Month Spotlight: The Therapeutic Benefits of Playing Simon Says
Looking for a simple and fun activity that requires no materials? “Simon Says” is the perfect game to address a variety of skills to help with your child’s development!
- Body Awareness and Motor Development: This game is an excellent way for a child to practice improving his or her body awareness. Your child will have the opportunity to see a demonstrated body movement or sustained position, then he or she can replicate this action. Children with poor proprioceptive processing may struggle with imitating body movements.This game is a fun way to practice improving body awareness, while also incorporating other motor skills, including: balance (e.g. “Simon says stand on one foot” or “Simon says do 10 jumping jacks”), bilateral coordination, and other gross motor tasks. This game is also a simple way to practice learning and labeling body parts (e.g. “Simon Says touch your toes/ears/shoulders/nose”).
- Sportsmanship: Losing can be a difficult concept for children to understand and is a great skills to practice within the comforts and safety of home. Good sportsmanship takes time for children to develop and utilize when playing with peers. Instead of reinforcing a winner or loser, taking turns playing “Simon” is an easy way to re-direct the child back to the game, even if it did not work in their favor.
- Following and Giving Directions: Simon Says is a great way to practice giving and following directions, as that is the basis of the game. Visual modeling (i.e. having the person who is “Simon” act out the directions as they say them) is a great way to support children in understanding the directions.
- Sequencing: Increase the level of difficulty and work on sequencing while playing by adding in multi-step directions. Here are some examples:
“Simon Says do jumping jacks then sit down”
“Simon Says touch your nose before touching your belly”
“Simon Says look up, then run in place and finally do a silly dance.”
- Past Tense Verbs: Simon Says is also a great way to work on both regular and irregular past tense verbs. After each round talk about the actions you just completed. It might sound something like this:
“First I did jumping jacks. Then I sat down.”
“I touched my nose and then touched my belly.”
“I looked up, ran in place, and then did a silly dance.”
Ways to Modify:
● If sequencing is not a goal your child is working on right now consider giving simple commands. Sometimes verbal directions can seem complex to a child. Consider giving a simple, 1 step command. For example: Instead of saying “Simon Says touch your nose and clap twice”, break these directions up. Say “Simon Says touch your nose.” “Simon Says clap twice.” This will give the child time to process one step at a time and follow directions successfully.
● For children who are struggle with verbal communication, have trouble with word recall, tend to freeze up when being put on the spot, or who benefit from visual supports, a visual choice board is a great way to modify the game. Below are two examples of visual boards:
This game board can be found at : http://www.speakingofspeech.com/Therapy_Games.html
This white board was modified with laminated pictures and velcro strips. On the back of the board all the options are stored. This board could be used as a visual support for sequencing or as a choice board.
Blog Post by Katie Woolard, MS, OTR/L and Anna Housman, MS, CCC-SLP