24 Jun Toy Tuesday: Fishing
This month, Sara shows us how to incorporate a fishing game when working on speech and language targets.
Fishing games are wonderfully useful and versatile for use in speech and language therapy. Children find them really fun and engaging and they can be used for one-to-one or group therapy sessions. There are many variations on fishing games, but many of them use a magnet to ‘catch’ the fish onto a fishing rod. Most amazingly, if you do not have a shop-bought fishing game, you can very easily make your own and this means that you can customise it to the speech and language targets of the child.
How to make your own fishing game
You will need:
- A wooden dowel, smooth stick or wooden spoon
- A small magnet
- Metal paper clips
- Therapy visuals
For the fishing rod, first measure out and cut a length of string (approximately 30 cm/12 inches), bearing in mind that the longer the string, the harder the fishing will be. Then attach one end to the wooden dowel, smooth stick, or wooden spoon, and the other end to the small magnet.
The metal paper clips can be placed on any printed visuals that you are planning to use for therapy that the child can magnetically ‘hook’, using the magnet at the end of the fishing rod.
For this activity, you can use a classic fishing game with fish. If you don’t have a shop-bought one, you can cut out some colourful fish and add paper clips to them. You can use this game with a small group of children. The higher number of children taking part will increase waiting time between each child’s turns. Take it in turns to magnetically hook a fish and encourage the children to say whose turn it is next and predict which fish they might choose.
If the child is developing their pretend play, set up a scenario in which you are going on a fishing trip and act it out together! Pack a picnic, set up a ‘lake’ (e.g. put a piece of blue cloth on the floor) on which you place the fish. How will you get there? What do you see in your surroundings? What will you catch? Use props but leave some things to the imagination, and use plenty of gesture and facial expressions.
- Put paper clips on the pictures of the child’s target sound. Every time the child ‘catches’ one, s/he makes the sound (e.g., ‘d’) or says the word (‘dog’). If they are putting two words together containing their target sound, they can pick to cards (e.g., ‘dog’ and duck’). For longer sentences, you can choose a carrier phrase and get them to complete it with the word on the picture they pick (e.g. ‘I drew a doll’, ‘I drew a deer’).
- If their target sound is ‘f’ and they are practising words, you can use a classic fishing game or the cut out pictures of fish with paper clips, and say ‘fish’ every time they catch one. To extend this to short phrases, they can say what colour it is first (e.g., ‘red fish’, ‘blue fish’).
- For the target sound ‘c/k’, you can use the carrier phrase ‘I caught a…’
- Following directions: put some metal paper clips onto cards with written instructions. Each time the child ‘fishes’ one, read the instruction out to them and get them to follow the direction using a variety of objects or pictures that you have prepared in advance, such as ‘pick up the big blue ball’.
- Understanding of prepositions: adapt the following directions activity to include positional language such as ‘put the ball under the chair’ or ‘put the dolly on the table’.
- Understanding of verbs: once the child has fished a card, read out instructions of actions, such as ‘run to the door’, ‘jump to the window’, or ‘roll the ball to me’.
- Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) sentences: Put paper clips on action pictures and ask the child to say what’s happening (e.g. the elephant – is washing – the car)
- Vocabulary: place pictures of nouns (things, people or places) from two or three different categories face down. The child can fish a card, name the noun and/or place it on a piece of paper with other pictures from the same category (e.g., all fruit on one piece of paper, and all vegetables on another).
- Wh questions: put some paper clips on pictures of people, places or objects and take it in turns to ask or answer questions about them (e.g., ‘who is this?’, ‘what is it?’, ‘what is the boy doing?’, ‘where are the children?’).
- Pronouns: have a couple of paper dolls ready for this activity and place paper clips on cut-out paper clothes. Once the child has fished an item of clothing, get them to dress the paper doll and say ‘he is wearing a jumper’ or ‘these are her trousers’.
These are only some of the examples of what you can do with a fishing game, as it truly is a versatile and customisable activity. The best part is that it’s enjoyable for everyone!