Sunday, August 30, 2015

Can Your Students Give and Follow Directions? More Barrier Game Fun

Last week I talked about an app that provided lots of opportunities for building language in intervention or at home.  I also talked a bit about barrier games, and how they are used in speech-language therapy.
But how exactly do you "do" a barrier game?  It's really quite simple.

1. Create a background - either using a plain piece of paper, or a printed background scene.  In my barrier games resources I have used empty beaches, empty classrooms, secluded forest paths, and more.

2. Gather some pictures of things to put into the scenes - for example, in my beach scene resource, I have kids in bathing suits, beach umbrellas, towels, and other beach-y things.  But I also add fun elements.  A penguin at the beach?  Why not?  They like the water, too.  How about a lunchbox, a dog, an elephant?  Make it fun and generate some giggles.
Make some of the pictures similar enough that there is a bit of a challenge for both the student describing and the student listening.

3. Copy all your pictures so that you have 2 copies of each.  Save them as separate sets - I use either plastic baggies or envelopes, and attach them to find folders with the scenes inside.

4. Get a barrier.  Those cardboard science project ti-folds are great for this.  The point is that the students on either side of the barrier not be able to se each other.

You're ready!



Students take turns being the speaker and the listener.  The speaker chooses the elements to put into the scene and tells the other student where to put them.  When the elements are dissimilar enough there is less of a challenge than when there are pictures very similar to each other to discriminate.
For example, in my Build a Robot set, students are presented with body parts that have similar colors but in different patterns.  This might be better for some of the older or more capable students on your caseload.

Barrier games can be used to target spatial concepts, descriptive concepts, giving and following directions, using complete sentences, and more.

Have a whole class or a group too large to do it this way?  I had a class of middle schoolers who did an "Alien Sighting" activity.  I set the theme - in this case an alien landing, and observers who aided scientists by giving descriptions of him.  
One student left the room, and the rest of the class and I created an alien drawing.
The student came back to the room and stood at the board, following the class' directions to draw the alien.
My students enjoyed this game all the way through middle school, and it was a fun activity for this group of kids with language disorders.

Have fun.  And - keep talking!

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