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Icebreakers! Speech and Language Style

31 August 2013

The school year is upon us, and that brings in some novel faces. It's always good to get to know these newcomers and get reacquainted with the ones you already know. Of course, it's not always easy, and the typical "say your name, age and favorite X" tends to bring on the simultaneous 'ugh'. So, what are we supposed to do? We want to get everyone excited to begin the year and to trust you, but you don't want it to get monotonous. That's where some hands-on, interactive icebreakers come in! Here are some that can help raise the energy level and induce some laughter while promoting speech and language:

-Never Have I Ever- A classic game that can help make inferences and work on receptive and expressive langauge. One person begins saying "Never have I ever...X" (ex. 'Never have I ever gone to the pool'), and whoever in the circle has done this will have to put one finger up. You keep going around the circle until someone has 5 fingers up (one hand). It's a fun way to get to know each other by learning some silly or interesting facts about them. Make the facts as fun as you want (like never kissing a pig or wearing a tutu)! Great for all ages.

-Two Truths and a Lie- Another circle game where you say two truths and one lie about yourself. Everyone else then guesses which statement is a lie. Once all the participants have said their guess, the speaker reveals the lie. Sometimes they can be tricky or silly, so it keeps everyone entertained. Sometimes it's surprising what is the lie vs truth! This game is great for expressive learning, creativity and making guesses.

-Name Game- This is a slight twist on a classic game. Each participant chooses his/her favorite character or well-known person. Then, each person is partnered up (or can be small groups) and they take turns asking each other questions about their fellow partner(s) person. Once the identity is found out they ask each other why it was that they chose this person. What makes that person their favorite? You can then have them all come together and present their partner (or themselves) and why the character/famous person was chosen. If you want, you can even have them draw a picture of the person chosen to show to others when playing the game. These questions, introduction and possible picture are great ways to build questions, receptive/expressive language, memory and descriptive skills.

-My Animal- This game lets the creativity spill out and allows the participant to use expressive language. Each person gets a sheet of paper and draws an animal that describes him/her. It can be a made up creature or a hybrid of real ones and can be as colorful as they please. Whatever the person comes up with can be drawn. Want a cotton candy tail? Sure! A panda-otter hybrid? Yeah! Anything goes, as long as it describes the person. Once complete, each person must describe their animal and why it describes them. "It has a cotton candy tail, because I love cotton candy" or "Blue is my favorite color so I gave it blue hair" are examples. It's a fun way to get to know each other and work on expression!

What games or icebreakers do you use in your therapy for introductions? Please share! :)