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How to Use Barrier Games to Teach Social Skills and Improve Communication

Barrier games are a fun and interactive way to practice speech, receptive and expressive communication skills, and social skills.

They require a minimum of two players.

Each player must have the same set of materials in front of them, and a barrier in-between them so they cannot see one another.

Improve Your Child’s Social & Language Skills with Barrier Games

Barrier games are used in therapy and you can also play a variety of barrier games at home with your child by setting up a file folder or binder as the barrier.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

How Do You Play Barrier Games?

Two or more players sit around a table with a barrier set up so they cannot see each other’s materials. Every player will have the exact same materials in front of them.

A binder, book, or bristol board makes a quick and easy barrier.

Each player takes turn giving a specific direction on how to arrange the materials in front of them. This is done based on the child’s ability level, so depending on the child’s individual skill, instructions may be simple or complex.

Absolutely no visual cues are given.

At the end of the game, the goal is for everyone’s materials to be set up the same way.

barrier games

Targeting Skills with Barrier Games

You can use barrier games to teach many skills including expressive and receptive language, and social skills.

You can manipulate the game to work on your own specific goals.

Some examples of things you can work on include:
  • Listening skills (receptive language understanding)
  • Following directions
  • Turn-taking
  • Understanding propositions (in, out, under, over, next to, etc.)
  • Expressive use of adjectives such as size, color, shape, etc.
  • Expressive use of nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc.
  • Ability to follow multi-step directives, and to give multi-step directives
  • Ability to ask questions/clarification of directions

Barrier Game Printables

I’ve created several printables that you can use to play barrier games with your child. You can download the barrier game bundle here.

What You Will Need:

More Barrier Game Ideas

You can use different items and toys to make up your own barrier games. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Use a Mr. Potato Head and describe to your child which body parts to place and where.
  • Use Lego to describe and build – great for teaching color, size, distance, and propositions
  • Use these blank faces from dabbles and babbles and give directives on what to draw
  • Make designs with geometric shapes 
  • Playing a game of guess who is similar to a barrier game and helps children learn wh-questions and work on problem-solving and using logic.
  • Print coloring pages and take turns directing each other which colors to use and where.
  • Magnetalk games from super duper publications.
children playing barrier games

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