Playing board games is one of my favorite activities for teaching social skills. When I was teaching, I targeted two sets of skills: cooperative play skills and conversational skills.
Game playing requires the ability to follow rules, take turns, share and win or lose. I targeted conversation skills and game chat such as, “good job”, “your turn”, “thanks” and “good game”. To remind students (and adults) of the targeted skills, I used a 5X7 visual (shown right) and placed it in a plastic frame so it could be easily viewed.
Organization is a must in making game groups a success. I placed this visual, the game and a framed skill reminder in each game spot around the room. The name of the game and each student (including the peer model) was written on this visual.
I invited students in upper grades to join the groups so students in my class had a peer model. I spoke to the peers in advance so they understood what to expect and how to react if students said or did something unexpected.
A paraprofessional or I joined the game groups as well. As students became more proficient at playing games, we faded out our presence and allowed the peer model to guide students.
I took data during the game groups, but if I were still teaching, I would create a rubric in collaboration with the speech-language pathologist (SLP). Many times the language goals of the special education teacher and SLP are shared.
My favorite games to use during these groups were those with clear directions and a moderate length of play time. Connect Four, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Operation, Jenga, and Memory are a few favorites.