Newark ave seems to be buzzing with new restaurants! Has anyone been to Porta yet? I’ve been there for wine and music but haven’t had the food. I’ve heard the pizza and pasta are delicious! Some of you may be thinking, I would love to go but what am I going to do with the kids?! Waiting for a table, then waiting for a meal, is like asking, no begging, my kids to have a meltdown. No worries, I’ve got you covered. Below are 10 verbal games to play with your kids before and during the meal that make going out to eat with your family, even more enjoyable.
I'm Going on a Picnic
You remember this childhood game. The first player says, “ I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing _________.” The next player repeats what the first player said and adds an item beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. Players are out when they can’t name an item for the basket.
Language enhanced version: Each player must name an item to add to the picnic basket and explain what they would do with the item (I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing apples to eat, a basket to hold the food etc.)
Another classic childhood game. One player thinks of a person, place or thing and the remaining players have to ask questions to figure out what the first player is thinking. All questions should be yes or no questions (is it something that’s alive? Do I use it in the bathroom?)
Language enhanced version: Instead of yes or no questions, ask questions which require your child to describe the functions and appearance of the object (what do I use it for? What color is it? What sound does it make?) requiring more than a yes or no from your child will push them to search for and use more descriptive language.
Pits and Cherries
(adapted from morethanmommies.net)
Invite your kids to have a discussion with you by playing pits and cherries. Each person takes turns talking about the best (the cherries) part of their day and the worst (the pits). This game is perfect to fill the wait time before dinner and may even start a conversation that lasts through the meal! There is no language enhanced version of this game, it’s simply a fun way to get your children to communicate during the pre-meal downtime.
The opposite of 20 questions. Have your child use traits to describe someone in your family, or a character from a book or movie (this person is powerful and has long hair etc.). have fun figuring out who they’re describing, before you know it, your food will be at the table!
Language enhanced version: Once you figure out who the person is, discuss with your child why they chose that person.
Story Starter Hot Potato
Pick an item from the table to represent the hot potato (i.e. salt shaker, sugar packet). Someone at the table begins a story with one sentence and hands the “hot potato” to the person to their left, that person adds a sentence to the story and continues the passing of the hot potato to the left. The person who struggles to think of a sentence is out and the game then begins again with the remaining players, until one person wins. This game is pretty language intensive so there’s no enhanced version.
Would You Rather?
Take turns asking each other would you rather questions (would you rather pet a snake or a spider?). Don’t forget to ask your little one why they made their choice. It’s a great way to get a conversation going and see how your child thinks.
Language enhanced version: If your child has a specific articulation goal, try to make sure all questions include the target sound (for the ‘r’ sound, would you rather race a rabbit or race a reindeer?). You could also use this with older kids who may be struggling in a school subject (history: would you rather be friends with Paul Revere or Samuel Adams? Why?)
This classic communication game is great for restaurants because it’s quiet and entertaining. How often do those two attributes come together? Whisper a message to the person next to you and have that person pass the message along. The last person to hear the message announces it in its new funny form!
Language enhanced version: Amp up the language factor by asking your child to correct the silly message (that doesn’t make sense! How can we make that sentence make sense?)
I spy is a pretty common game, I love it because it’s fun and can be adapted to fit players of different ages. The classic version requires a player to describe something that they see in order for the other players to guess the item. Try playing this next time you’re waiting for dinner, or play my language enhanced version.
Language enhanced version: Have kids who are working on pre-literacy skills? Instead of describing what you spy, use the sounds in the object’s name as the hint (I spy something with the sounds h-a-t…..). This version helps kids learn to blend sounds, a skill that is vital for reading. It’s practice through play.
This is a quick little game that’s fun and helps start conversation. What’s better pancakes or waffles? What’s better milk or juice? Don’t forget to take turns and not just bombard your kids with questions. Taking turns is super important, it allows time for some of the pressure to be off of the child, and allows you to model correct language.
Language enhanced version: Add an opinion. After your child makes their choice and explains why they chose that item, agree or disagree with them and give them a reason. Require your child to do that same after you’ve answered your question. This will help your child learn to form and support their opinions, and also to agree or disagree with someone in a mature way.
What Would You Do If?
Get your kids talking by asking what they would do in outrageous situations and then let them take the lead and question you! ….What would you do if our server turned into a dragon and started spitting fire everywhere?! This game is based on listening and answering questions, skills that are the fundamentals of communication, therefore there is no language enhanced version.
What I’m into…
The Kitchen at Grove Station- I went here for New Year’s Eve and had a great time! They’re BYOB (however our meal came with a champagne toast at midnight) and the food is really good. I can’t wait to go back on a regular night. Based on my NYE experience, I’d highly recommend it!
Beauty- White nail polish. I know white nails are usually reserved for the summer, but they look sooooo good in the winter as well, especially against all of the darker winter fashion. The color I have on right now is called Blanc by Essie, It’s a bright white that’s bold and chic. If this color is too bright for you I’d suggest the color Amazing Grace by Deborah Lippmann. It’s still a pure white but not as bright as the Essie Blanc. Try this out and let me know what you think!
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Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at-school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life.