Playing Go Fish IS effective in Speech Therapy after all!

If you happen to walk into my speech room and find me playing go fish with two or three students, please know that we ARE doing something related to their IEP, not just playing games.

Today I played go fish for the first time in a LOOOOOONG time. I mean, like years. When I worked in a school servicing older elementary kids, they always wanted to play go fish. I would comply about once every couple of weeks and think to myself…is this really good therapy?
Then I came to the Prek and Kinder campus.

I remember my first week here. Terrified is the best way to describe it! I couldn’t understand a word they said! I couldn’t get them to sit in a chair, much less scoot up to the table and sit for 30 minutes. They kicked me under the table because their feet didn’t touch the floor. They fell out of their chairs for no reason at all. There was always some sort of liquid coming out of their noses, mouths, eyes, or other places… Some of them didn’t even talk to me! I questioned every one of my (at that time) 10 years experience and wondered if I was even a qualified professional.

My therapy ideas for my 4th-12th graders were NOT going to work and I had to figure out what in the world I was going to do.

That was three years ago. I’m happy to say that I have found my place professionally. I am again reassured that every graduate course and continuing ed class I have attended DID have some impact on me.  I’m sure it helps out tremendously that I work at a FABULOUS campus with AMAZING teachers.
I absolutely LOVE 3-6 year olds now and am getting better at translating their speech every day! 
So, back to the GO FISH game that I didn’t think was doing anything for my kids in 6th grade…
When I broke out the cards today, my little kindergartners were thrilled. I had one little guy who couldn’t believe I pulled him from “building center” in his classroom. He was asking over and over what we were going to do and how soon he could get back to his room to get his building on!

I quickly had to explain the game. Of course I dealt myself a hand of cards so they could watch what I was doing first…a perk to go first…my 6th graders would have NEVER let me go first…
As I was dealing out the cards….it happened! My kid who has a language IEP for ASKING WH QUESTIONS said, “Why can’t we have seven cards?” After I grabbed my documentation folder and gave him a big ‘ol plus sign under that column, and after he asked me yet again because I was unintentionally ignoring him, I answered “because the rule is every player starts with 5 cards.” Just like that, we had a social skill lesson as well: There are rules and we have to follow them!
We progressed on into a heated game of Go Fish using our /p/ deck of cards for the little guy working on devoicing his /b/ into a /p/. This friend has language goals as well, so we also worked on formulating questions and vocabulary. Expressive vocabulary was addressed through the simple naming of the card when they wanted to ask if someone had it. Receptive vocabulary was targeted when they were looking through their cards to see if they had the item named. If they didn’t know what it was after going through their cards once, I would let the other player show them the picture. 
Here are the cards I use in speech: (Affiliate link)

Here is how they are organized behind my table so I can grab the sounds I need quickly:

(Affiliate link)

As we play, I require these questions/statements in this grammatical form:
1. WHO has a ________?
—-when playing with students who need to work more heavily on social skills, I make them ask an individual while making eye contact, “Jenny, do you have a _____?”
—-If the student has a pronoun goal, let them ask, “Does HE/SHE have a_______?” 
2. After that question is asked, if you have the card, you must say (before play continues) “I have a _____.” If you do not have one, you have to say…or try to say… “I do not have a _____. You can GO FISH!”

Of course this does take some time to get going, and they do get excited and forget but we stop play until we use good speech and grammar. 
So as for today…the things I worked on in Speech…..while playing go fish… Articulation, Expressive and Receptive Vocabulary, WH Questions, MEMORY/retrieval of vocabulary and rules of play, SOCIAL SKILLS (waiting, turn taking, following rules, eye contact), grammar/syntax, Sequencing, FINE MOTOR (they can’t hold those cards or flip through them in no way, shape or form!…and HAVING FUN!
PLEASE tell me any ideas you have or skills you target while playing Go Fish…I’m afraid now that I have introduced them to it, I might be in trouble!

One comment

  1. Well Darla, now that I KNOW you've got LessonPix, I guess I'd suggest you make Minimal Pairs Go Fish cards that target their errors (p/b is just the beginning, you can do deletions, etc. as well 🙂

    Also, take their pictures & email them into your account and make "My Friends Go Fish" 🙂

    Sorry to spam your post, but I know you're enjoying your account and I thought I'd show we were listening!

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