How to Use Bingo in Speech Therapy
You’re searching for an activity to target multiple articulation and language goals for your speech therapy groups throughout the day. You need something that takes little to no time to prep... because #SLPLife. Better yet, something that can also be used digitally in order to avoid that finicky printer altogether. You’re frantically clicking through your computer files for a game (since that’s what you promised your students for today's session) when– bingo!
No, literally. Bingo! I’m not talking about the traditional "B-11" and "G-52" kind of bingo. As we often do, SLPs have taken this game of luck and figured out ways to morph it into a therapy activity that's way more than calling out random letters and numbers. With a little "outside the box" thinking, bingo is the ultimate group activity for speech therapy.
Targeting VOCABULARY Goals Using Bingo
Bingo games with themed targets are a beautiful thing. These versions lend themselves to teaching relevant vocabulary words, their meanings, and how the words relate to each other.
If you and your students love themed activities, bingo games will fit right in because you're able to use familiar and relevant vocabulary for natural language-learning opportunities. In this fall-themed bingo game, students can not only label the vocabulary words, but also compare and contrast items such as pumpkins and apples or acorns and pinecones.
Targeting DESCRIPTION Goals Using Bingo
Bingo is perfect for targeting description, too! These bingo games include calling cards that give clues to describe each object, but your students could also come up with their own list of features for each word. There's also the option to have students identify each object after listening to (or reading) a description.
Need another reason to use bingo games with themed vocabulary? Students have to be very specific when identifying ways to describe each item since there are likely overlapping features. As examples, there are multiple items of clothing that you wear in the winter to keep warm and many springtime insects.
Targeting SYNTAX Goals using Bingo
Bingo is an interactive game that, when used strategically, can provide many opportunities for students to formulate a variety of sentence types.
Students can practice working on verb tenses while playing bingo. With each object, students may produce a simple present tense sentence such as "My dad pushes the snowblower." Past tense verbs can be worked on with sentences such as "I made hot chocolate last night."
Formulating questions (and answers to questions) can also be practiced very organically in a game of bingo. Students can ask and answer questions such as "Where can you swim in the summer?" or "How do you tell the temperature outside?" for the objects on the bingo boards and calling cards.
You may also work on more advanced grammar goals like formulating complex and compound sentences using conjunctions. Using pictures on the bingo board (and maybe a list of conjunction words and phrases) students can formulate sentences such as "Pumpkins grow on a vine but apples grow on a tree," or "Leaves fall off the trees, so we rake them up."
Targeting ARTICULATION Goals Using Bingo
Bingo may seem like a language-rich game, but students with articulation goals can still get in their practice too! Prior to playing the game, help students identify which words on their bingo board have the target speech sound(s). Make a list of those words on a sheet of paper or whiteboard (or in the chat box in teletherapy!) so students can keep those target words top of mind throughout the game. Remember to also identify words that aren’t necessarily on the board, but relate to the game, such as row, line, or free space.
For students with speech goals at the phrase or sentence level, you can also write out carrier phrases. Your student can use those to plug in the target words. For example, “I have a..." or “You described a..."
Targeting articulation in conversation obviously happens even more naturally throughout the bingo game. You can ask questions such as, “What words make up your bingo?” to elicit student productions.
Targeting VOICE & FLUENCY Goals Using Bingo
Other speech production goals can also be addressed within a game of bingo as students communicate about their progress in the game or use clues to describe the words, for example.
The game provides tons of opportunities to practice using fluency strategies, appropriate speaking rate, or any other strategies your students are working on generalizing. Providing a list of strategies (printed or digitally) alongside the game helps isolate the goals you want the student to work on.
Targeting PRAGMATIC LANGUAGE Using Bingo
Bingo is a great game for students to practice goals related to the understanding and use of social language. Showing sportsmanship, taking turns, and maintaining topic are all goals that can be addressed with a simple game of bingo.
The best part about targeting social language goals using bingo is that it naturally facilitates practice! You can put away the drill cards, and maybe even your students won’t realize they’re practicing within the context of the game.
If there’s an easy way to satisfy your students’ requests to play a game in speech therapy while secretly targeting their goals, it’s bingo! Whether you use it digitally or in-person, bingo is not only a game that everyone can agree on and benefit from, but one that requires minimal planning and prep!
If you have your own pictures, you can use this free bingo creator or this bingo card clip art to make the game boards.
Want to skip the hassle and make a beeline for this versatile activity you can use all year? Check out this year-round bundle of themed bingo games. Printable and digital versions make it easy to adapt to whatever your setting or style!