Actively engaging kids to practice skills and work on goals can be tricky as the academic year progresses. Sometimes it’s nice to take something familiar and give it a little twist. Kids of all ages like to play Simon Says, so why not change it up a bit? The beauty of this approach is you can use modeling in a fun way to work on a wide variety of skills in different types of sessions.
Simon Says to Focus on Student Goals
Unlike some other traditional games, Simon Says is extremely flexible. You can play inside or outside, and in small or big spaces It is easy to mix things up to work on speech and language, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social skill, or other therapy goals that kids may have. No matter what you are working on, Simon Says will help children to work in a group. They have to pay attention to others and do what is done if Simon says to do it.
For speech and language goals, simply letting kids lead others will help them to work on skills being focused on. Give kids a sound that they must use in a round of Simon Says. In case they may get stuck, make some cards ahead of time with ideas for them to use. While up and playing the game, many will forget that they are working on sounds, speech, and other pragmatics.
If working on fine or gross motor skills, Simon may want to get kids moving a bit more. Perhaps they will skip, hop on one foot, snap their fingers, or draw a circle using a dry erase board while walking across the room. Think outside of the box and give kids some ideas on how to lead the group if they are given the opportunity.
A Small Space Twist with Simon Says
If space is limited, it may not be practical to have kids up and moving. That doesn’t mean that you can’t play Simon Says. Therapists can give kids crayons, paper, and a space to draw. Perhaps allow everyone to move around the room with a clipboard so they are not able to see other drawings until the end. Make some cards with different items to have kids draw. Some ideas are funny faces, trees, flowers, cartoon characters, or anything else you can think of.
Next, begin with a set of directions. Sometimes you say Simon Says and other times you don’t. Only those following the directions will have the right parts in their drawings. Keep going until the end and then let everyone share their creations.
Clinicians can send home some Simon Says ideas to families to keep the skill building outside of school. Be sure to give multilingual families clear instructions and translations so they will be able to participate.