What is a Barrier Game?

What is a Barrier Game?

Barrier games are a fun and interactive language activity that help children strengthen their listening, speaking and social communication skills.  They are incredibly versatile and, with a little know how, they can be used to help children practice a multitude of communication skills including:

  • Follow verbal directions
  • Give clear and accurate directions
  • Speak in well constructed sentences
  • Use age-appropriate grammar
  • Ask and answer WH questions
  • Learn new words vocabulary
  • Strengthen auditory memory skills
  • Speed up language processing time
  • Take conversational turns
  • Maintain attention to a speaker
  • Read facial expressions and other non-verbal cues
  • Ask for clarification and/or repetition
  • Become a more confident communicator
  • Improve articulation skills
  • Improve fluency
  • Learn English as an additional language
  • Enjoy language-based activities
  • And more!

How to play a barrier game:

Two players, with the exact same set of materials (pictures or objects), sit across from each other with a physical barrier placed between them. 

One person takes the role of the speaker and the other person becomes the listener.  The speaker arranges the objects/pictures on their side of the barrier and tells the listener how to do the same thing with their items.

The listener follows the speaker’s verbal directions and is encouraged to ask for clarification or repetition when needed - but not allowed to peek! 

When the players think that they have created matching arrangements, the barrier is removed and they check to see if their arrangements do indeed match.

If they do, horary!  The speaker did a great job using verbal language to direct and describe while the listener did a great job following along or asking for clarification.  They were able to successfully communicate with one another.

But, if the scenes have some glaring differences, it’s time for some detective work.  Try to figure out where things went wrong.  Was it on the part of the speaker or listener?  Was it the vocabulary, length of instruction, incorrect grammar, or something else that created a communication breakdown?  Identify what language skill was missing and find a way to teach it. 

That’s the beauty of this activity, you’re going to quickly find out what the child truly understands and can say because there are no environmental or contextual cues for them to lean on - it's nothing but pure language happening here and they either know it or they don't.

What you need to play a barrier game:

  • Two players, usually an adult and child (two children could also play together with or without adult guidance)
  • Two sets of identical materials (pictures, objects, or a combination of both)
  • One physical barrier to hide the player’s objects from each other but not their faces
  • An idea as to where the child’s speech or language skills are at
  • An idea as to what speech or language skill you’re going to help them practice

 There are only 2 barriers when it comes to setting up a great barrier game:

  1. Find the right physical barrier stand.
  2. Finding the perfect items that will capture children’s attention and allow you to target a multitude of speech-language skills.

The good news is…we have it!

Introducing our latest bundle of joy, The Barrier Bundle Game.

This sweet bundle comes with two of our best-selling language learning kits, People, Places & Things, and our custom-made barrier stand.  That’s right we’ve created The Perfect Barrier Stand!

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