This is a guest blog post by Holly, a school-based SLP, she compiled a list of free online, print-and-go, and material-free games below.
How to Include Play Based Therapy into Your Speech Plans!
Embedding play into therapy can support engagement, make sessions more memorable, and provide opportunities to generalize communication skills to everyday contexts.
It’s not hard to believe why games are such a hit with many of our students — in the age of virtual, in-person, and hybrid therapy sessions, we have some ideas to keep the fun going — all for free. Check out our round-up of online, printable, and material-free games below.
Free Online Speech Therapy Games
There is emerging research to show that “serious games” (digital games intended to target skills) can improve communication skills in some student populations (Tsikinas & Xinogalos, 2019).
Luckily, there are a TON of educational sites that offer free games! We’re expanding on this list a previous post (Best FREE Reinforcers for Teletherapy).
Computer-based games can be used whether you’re sharing your screen in teletherapy, using a device with a student, or projecting for a group. Since there is no set-up or clean-up needed, this option is a breeze to add into sessions for some play-based reinforcement.
ABCYa – This site features educationally relevant games from Pre-K to 6th+ grade. Many of the games involve spatial concepts, customizing items, and curriculum-based learning. Some of my students’ favorites include Make a Skateboard, Pancake Panic, and Later Gator (full-access to all games without ads requires a subscription).
Backyard – This is an interactive game site that can be a lifesaver for teletherapy! Most of the games are recommended for ages 12 and up, so these can be a hit with older students. This platform is still in beta testing but my students have enjoyed it so far!
Brain POP – There are a ton of games on this site, many of which naturally tie into the curriculum. The Meaning of Beep is a fun game to work on vocabulary strategies (e.g., using synonyms and making inferences with context clues). For older students, Sortify takes a deep dive into category knowledge.
Disney LOL – This site features Coloring Pages, Arcade Games, Sticker Books, and more. Many of my students have a TV character or superhero, so these activities can be great reinforcers for participation.
Fun Brain – These games are quick and pretty intuitive for kids to pick up on. There’s a mix of educational activities and fun rewards — my students love When Pigs Fly and Penguin Drop as a brain break!
Go Noodle – This site is filled with movement breaks, dance choreography, and mindfulness exercises. Check out these Call & Response dances or the Blazer Fresh channel for language-related videos.
Guinness World Records | Kids – Not only is this site wonderful for working on superlatives — students can also enjoy the memory games and puzzles.
Highlights Kids – The Hidden Picture scenes on this site are a language gold mine. The Jokes section is also filled with multiple-meaning words!
I’m a Puzzle – Create a digital puzzle with pictures! This can come in handy if you’re looking to customize games to students’ favorite interests or curriculum-based topics.
Language Playroom – This site has 20 free games to target articulation, and they’re building their inventory of fluency, language, and social communication activities.
National Geographic Kids – Check out the Funny Fill-In stories, Just Joking’s laugh-o-meter, and Crack the Code activity. This site is also packed with photos, videos, and passages about animals.
PBS KIDS – These games focus on educational skills and social-emotional awareness, all while incorporating favorite PBS characters.
Picture Reveal – Upload your own image, set how many tiles you’d like to cover it with, and then get clicking!
Pink Cat Games – Build a monster, run a race, or spin a wheel while targeting speech and language goals. (Full access to all games requires a subscription.)
Poki & Poki Kids – This site includes digital versions of classic games like four in a row, yahtzee, and air hockey. Since there are countless other options, definitely preview games ahead of time!
Quia – This is a database of games, filled with content created by fellow educators. Students can play Jeopardy, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Battleship, and more! Just filter the activities by the type of skill you’d like to target.
SLP Video Games – There’s a free “Get Rid of Red” game on Erik X. Raj’s site, which allows you to target speech/language skills within the game. (Full access to all games requires a subscription.
Toy Theater – This site is filled with classic games (such as tic-tac-toe and pinball), plus language-related activities. The teacher tools also include dice, spinners, timers, an abacus, and more!
Next up, we have printable games and reinforcing activities that you and your students can try out. This ties into a previous post (A Year of Free Open-Ended Reinforcers), so check that out for even more options.
100 Trial Challenges – These sheets by Peachie Speechie cover themes and holidays, making it easy to tie into your sessions.
Coloring Pages – Crayola has sheets sorted by seasons, characters, places, and more!
Crafts – There are countless options here, whether you’re looking for kid-friendly tutorials for Origami, Paper Airplanes, or SLP Now Crafts that tie into our themed materials.
Free Printable Board Games – This site has a list of board games, bingo boards, and other entertaining activities.
Reinforcer Sheets – SLP Now members can check out the dozens of printable bingo boards, dice games, spinners, and coloring pages on our site!
This last list of games will just need you and your students — these remind me of activities played at camp or on a road trip.
While the setup is simple, there may be some extra cognitive demands to follow directions and attend to these tasks! Feel free to augment with written/picture-based instructions and visual aids.
Name Game – Work on alliteration and adjectives all in one while helping students remember each others’ names!
Jedi Numbers – In this game, students try to count up to a number without interrupting one another. It’s great for reading nonverbal cues and sharing talk time with the rest of the group.
Tall Tales – This activity is all about generating stories filled with plot twists.
Fortunately, Unfortunately – This is another storytelling game that allows students to explore the benefits/consequences of situations with humor.
Word Chains / I’m Going on a Picnic – This game can be a fun challenge for students working on auditory memory skills.
Last Letter – Participants name items within a category that starts with the last letter of the previous word. Lots of language demands here!
Silent Interviews – Using nonverbal communication, pairs of students try to learn something about one another without talking.
Super Smile – Pass around contagious smiles as quickly as possible. (This may not be possible with masks, but seems really energizing!)
Zip Zap Zop – This is a version of hot potato, but using words instead of a ball. Great for any students working on /z/!
Freeze Dance and Secret Dancer – These are great ways to get students moving!
Telephone – Of course, it’s a classic game built on communication skills!
Did we miss any of your go-to games? What’s your style — adding play throughout the session or as a break at the end of therapy? We’d love to hear from you below.
How to Incorporate Games and Actives into Therapy
Join our Free Literacy-Based Therapy Challenge and learn how to incorporate these wonderful online games and in-person actives into this evidence based framework!
This 5 day Challenge will provide you with:
-Daily, 5-minute tutorials to introduce you to the core steps in making literacy-based therapy a success with your caseload (no matter its size or diversity!)
-A robust workbook and templates to streamline your planning
-Free, tried-and-tested therapy materials that will make lesson prep a breeze
PLUS you’ll walk away with a month-long therapy plan, created in less than 10 minutes per day.
Click here to join today!
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (n.d.). Telepractice. (Practice Portal). Retrieved April 15th, 2021, from www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Professional-Issues/Telepractice/
Tsikinas, S., & Xinogalos, S. (2019). Studying the effects of computer serious games on people with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder: A systematic literature review. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 35(1), 61-73.
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