Speech Therapy Activities for Traveling

12 Speech Therapy Activities for Traveling

My dad and I were talking on the phone once and he told me how much fun he and my niece and nephew had playing games on their car trip.

I was surprised to hear that because usually you don’t hear “fun”, “kids”, and “car trip” in the same sentence. He told me about a game they made up where they tell stories using billboards they see on the side of the road.

He said they can either be make-believe or real memories and they limit it to a few sentences so that everyone gets a turn.

You should have seen me!

It was just like when your mouth starts to water over a rich piece of chocolate cake, except my excited smile totally overtakes my face, my eyes get big, and I totally interrupt to exclaim, “That is the best speech and language therapy idea ever!”

He continued to tell me how to play the game, but I can only remember one example because my mind was off on overdrive thinking of how to use all the traditional travel games for building speech and language.

I also remembered a few of the games Luke and I made-up to make some of our L-O-N-G road trips go by faster. So here they are - speech therapy activities while traveling (some can obviously be used when you’re not traveling!).

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1. Billboard Stories Game

Watch the billboards and take turns picking one to tell a story about. The story can be make-believe or a real memory. Limit the stories to a few sentences so that everyone can have multiple turns.

Example: Billboard reads “Kia Murdock” – There is a mom and dad out there that loved their daughter so much that they decided to buy a billboard and put her name on it in huge letters way up in the sky for everyone to see. And her name was “Kia Murdock.”

Targets: narrative skills, language skills, listening skills, reading, vocabulary, articulation, turn taking

Variation: each person adds on to the ongoing story using the next billboard they choose

2. Alphabet Game

Watch for letters and numbers on signs, license plates, buildings, etc outside of the car and call them out as you see them to claim them as yours. Everyone plays individually, starting with A going all the way to Z, and then finds the numbers 1 through 10.

Once a letter/number has been called out, no one else can use that same one. The first person to find all the letters and numbers in order wins.

Example: A on Advanced Auto parts on the right, B on that green car, C on the top of that sign, and so on. Anyone can question where someone finds a letter and he/she has to be able to describe where it was.

Targets: phonological awareness and grapheme recognition, reading, prepositions, direction words, adjectives, articulation

Variations: do it backwards, or have each person say the sound the letter makes when it is found

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3. I Spy

Take turns spying and guessing things outside the car. When it is your turn, select something and say, “I spy something… (and say the color) red.” The others in the car guess what it might be until someone guesses correctly. Then it’s that person’s turn to spy and give a clue.

Targets: pronouns, carrier phrase level articulation, vocabulary, turn taking, colors, adjectives

Variation: use adjectives to describe words and no colors are allowed, example – “I spy something sharp.” “I spy something healthy.” “I spy something scary.”

4. 3-in-Common Riddles:*

Take turns creating riddles for the others to guess. If you don’t have a riddle when it’s time, you can pass and take the pressure off of you because creating good ones is harder than it sounds.

Each riddle must have at least 3 items that have something in common and the others must guess. Sometimes working backwards from the answer you want helps you choose the 3 items that go best.

Difficulty levels can vary too.

Example: What do the words soccer, basket, tennis have in common? They are all types of balls. What do the words pie, line, bar have in common? They are all types of graphs.

Targets: categorization, vocabulary, abstract thinking, adjectives, turn taking, team work

Variations: When it is difficult, try making riddles together. Talk out loud and let others suggest items that could go in your riddle. You could also make other types of riddles too, such as “What has 4 legs but cannot walk? A table.”

*I made this game up so of course I like it, but I also like it because it makes your brain think in a way it’s not used to. It’s challenging for everyone! If you have fun just guessing riddles, checkout Tri-Bond.

5. 20 Questions

Take turns thinking of something – it can be anything. The others try to guess what it is by asking up to 20 yes/no questions. Whoever guesses what it is before 20 questions is the winner and they get to choose something next.

If no one guesses it in time, that player stumped everyone! They choose someone else to go next.

Targets: vocabulary, asking/answering questions and question format, articulation, turn taking, categorization, descriptions

Variations: use “wh” questions (who, where, what, when, why, how) instead of yes/no questions, choose the secret word from a given category to make it easier; example, types of candy, things you wear, etc.

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SEE ALSO: The Best Free App for Speech Therapy

6. Boom Chicka Boom:*

Sing the song (more like a chant) “Boom Chicka Boom” the regular way first followed by a few different verses or “styles” to get the hang of it. Then have everyone start making up their own “styles.”

Be creative and nothing is off limits.

You will find yourself laughing in no time!

I have explained how to some of my favorite styles below and here are some more to get you started: opera, cowboy, Elvis, Michael Jackson, backwards, Barney, doctor, baby, sneezy, grumpy, sleepy, dopey, scared, romantic, dog, cat, alligator, lion, airplane, train, mad, ouchy, freezing, etc.

UNDER-WATER STYLE: Say the whole song while rubbing your finger over your lips and it sounds like you are under water. Kids love this one!

BARBIE STYLE: Say the whole song with a high voice and add the word “like” in at different places so you sound like a valley girl from California – “I said, like, a boom chick a boom yeah!”

ARMY STYLE: I said a boom chicka boom (say the booms so they sound like bombs). I said a boom chicka boom. I said a boom, chicka rocka, chicka rocka, chicka… (throw a grenade and wait for it to explode) BOOM! Oh yeah. So strong (show your muscles). One more time.

JANITOR STYLE: I said a broom sweepa moppa (pretend to sweep and mop). I said a broom sweepa moppa. I said so broom sweepa moppa sweepa broom. Oh yeah. So clean. One more time.

PREACHER STYLE: I sayeth unto thou a boometh chica boometh (raising your finger solemnly). I sayeth unto thou a boometh chicka boometh. I sayeth unto thou a boometh chicka rocketh chicka rocketh chicka let my people go. Oh yeah. So preachy. One more time.

Targets: language, articulation, vocabulary, occupations, adjectives, pragmatics, turn-taking

*One time Luke and I played this with our girls, non-stop, for the last 2 hours of a car ride. We were all laughing the whole time at what styles my girls asked for.

They were so creative that they had me stumped a few times on how to do that style. Try doing it in “itchy style or hungry style.” Then try doing it over and over again because they think it’s so funny!

7. Going on a trip

Take turns taking a letter from the alphabet in order, starting with A, and saying, “(blank) my name is (blank) and I’m going on a trip to (blank) and I’m taking (blank) (blanks).

Fill in each of the blanks with an appropriate word starting with the letter you are on.

Example: “A my name is Alana and I’m going on a trip to Aruba and I’m taking angry alligators.” “B my name is Bob and I’m going on a trip to Bulgaria and I’m taking black beans for my baby baboons.”

Have fun embellishing it as long as you only use words that begin with your letter.

Targets: vocabulary, adjectives, grammar, alliteration, articulation, turn taking, short-term memory

Variations: I prefer to keep it light and fun, but if you want to make it hard, have each person remember and say what everyone else said before them, i.e. everything from A-J if you are on J. It’s a good way to test your short-term memory.

8. Knock Knock Jokes

Take turns creating knock-knock jokes using what you see outside the car for inspiration.

Example: You see trees. “Knock knock. Who’s there? Trees. Trees who? Teresa’s not my name. My name’s Hollie!” You see a car. “Knock knock. Who’s there? Cargo. Cargo who? Car go beep beep and run over you!”

Targets: social skills, turn taking, figurative language, vocabulary, articulation

Variation: try making other jokes too; example – What is green and goes on for miles? Trees. Ha ha. You are on a car trip remember?

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9. Travel Bingo Cards*

At the beginning of your trip, have everyone make a Bingo card by drawing a grid on a piece of paper that is 5 by 5 squares and writing Bingo across the top.

Then have each person write or draw in things they think they might see on the car trip; example – stop sign, cow, mail box, stop light, speed limit sign, exit sign, police car, semi-truck, license plate, etc.

When everyone’s card is ready then you can start playing. If a person sees an item from their card, they must say it out loud and then mark it off or color the space in. When five in a row are completed, they win a bingo.

Targets: social skills, prediction, short-term memory, articulation

*We had cute wipe-off travel bingo cards when I was little that my mom had purchased similar to these. They were so fun, but as a speech therapist I say, “Why not predict and discuss what you might see and make your own?”

10. If and Then*

Have each person write 5 “What if…” statements and 5 “Then…” statements on a piece of paper and cut/tear them apart into 10 separate strips.

Collect everyone’s “What if…” papers into a pile and “Then” papers into another pile. Take turns pulling out one paper from each pile and reading the “If/Then” statement aloud. The combinations that result will be hilarious.

Example: “What if it snowed on my birthday?” “Then I would take my shirt off and run around yelling, “I love it! I love it!” Funny because that is not the “Then” statement that went with it, but it turned out to be funny.

Targets: if/then concept, vocabulary, turn taking, social skills, articulation

*I haven’t played this in the car yet because my girls are too young, but I have played it at many parties and it is fun depending on the people you are with. Laugh out loud.

SEE ALSO: The Best Books for Speech Therapy Practice

Speech therapy books for targeting multiple goals

11. Fold Over Stories*

Have everyone take a piece of paper and write “WHO?” the make-believe story is about on the first line (a hippo, superman, my sister).

Then have them fold it and pass the paper to the person next to them who does not peak at the folded part. Now that person writes the answer to “DID WHAT?” on the next line and folds it over so the next person cannot see (jumped off a 2-story building, went fishing, kissed a frog).

When everyone is finished writing that section, pass it on and that person now answers “WHERE?” the story happened (in my bedroom, at Disney World, in grandpa’s barn).

Fold it over and pass it again so the next person can write “WHEN?” the story happened (after dinner, at midnight, after eating a big pot of spaghetti).

And after folding and passing it one more time, the last person writes an answer to “WHY?” (because he was so lonely, because he ate too much sugar that day).

After all sections have been completed, everyone can open the papers all the way up and give it to the first owner of the paper. Have fun and take turns reading the nonsense, crazy stories out loud and don’t die laughing.

Targets: “wh” questions, story grammar components, narrative skills, writing, turn taking, vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar, articulation

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12. Truth or Dare

Play the classic “Truth or Dare” game by taking turns choosing to answer a truth question or complete a dare. (Now you are in the car so the dares can’t really be that scary!)

If the person chooses a truth, then they must answer any question that the person on their right wants to ask. If the person chooses a dare, then they must do whatever the person on their right dares them to do. (The dares must always keep car safety and not distracting the driver in mind.)

Play advances to the next player.

Examples of Truth questions: Have you ever kissed a boy? What is your least favorite food?

Examples of Dares in the car: Snort the ABC’s. Kiss the person on your left. Sing your favorite song.

Targets: asking questions, social skills, turn taking, eye contact, language skills, articulation skills

Variation: just take turns asking questions to get to know each other better with no dares - there are several games out there that have good thought provoking questions you never thought of asking.

A favorite one of mine I grew up on is the “Ungame” and two new ones I bought are “The Box Girls Truth or Dare Box of Questions” and “The Box Girls Slumber Party Box of Questions.”

I hope these help you while on the go improve someone’s speech and language skills, if not your own! Remember most of them can be modified for use at home or in the classroom. Let me know how you like them.

On the road again!

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