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

Barrier Games
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.

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.

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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 make 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 per 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

What Skills Can Be Targeted

There are so many skills you can work on with your child by playing barrier games together. You can manipulate the game to work on your own specific goals.

Some examples of things you can work in 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 various printables that you can use to play barrier games with your kiddo. Click on any of the thumbnails below to download the printable PDF so you can create your game.

What You Will Need:


At The Farm: Themed Barrier Game - Practice communication, turn taking, active listening, prepositions, and more

More Barrier Game Ideas

You can use so many different objects 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 
  • Print coloring pages and take turns directing each other which colors to use and where.

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