Let’s talk about the classic game, Hi-Ho Cherry-O. From the SLP point of view, it is a fantastic product because you can address many different areas with one board game. Today we’ll briefly discuss all the skills you can target during play. Warning: While one game will not run more than fifteen minutes, we cannot promise that your kiddo will not want to play multiple rounds. So prepare to slot extra time!
Here are the rules in a nutshell: The players select a fruit for game play. The options are cherries, blueberries, oranges, and apples (red, blue, orange, and green). They position their fruits in the tree/bush slots designated on the board. Each player spins when it is their turn. Landing on a number decides how many fruits are picked and placed in your basket. The first player with a full basket wins and yells, “Hi-Ho Cherry-O!” During game play, obstacles may occur. Landing on a
spilled basket means the player must return all their fruits to their slots and start over. After landing on the dog or bird, the player is required to remove two fruits from their basket.
Now let’s get to the important part! We want to highlight all the skills we can target during play:
By keeping the spinner slightly out of reach, you provide your child with a natural opportunity to ask for it. You can model simple phrases or sentences based on your child’s language skills (i.e. “my turn” or “Pass the spinner please!”) Since the game requires manipulating small pieces, your child may also need to request help if they have difficulty with the fine motor aspect of game play.
If your child struggles with this, control the position of the spinner so you can cue them naturally, with fewer verbal reminders. Remember to provide positive reinforcement for appropriate turn taking skills (I.e. “I love how patiently you waited for your turn!”).
If it is their first time playing, after each spin you may need to provide a verbal direction to your child so they know what to do when it is their turn. (i.e. You got a spilled basket. Put all your fruit back in the tree.") Provide positive reinforcement for correctly following directions.
This is best worked on in the beginning of the game when players are selecting their fruit. You can assess your child’s knowledge of colors by providing questions within the conversation (i.e. “I like cherries! So what color fruit should I play with?”).
Fine Motor Skills
Between placing the fruits in the designated slots and removing them from the basket, there are many opportunities for practicing fine motor skills during game play! Encourage your kiddo to ask for help if they are frustrated. They can also watch how you position your hands to manipulate the pieces.
This skill can be repeatedly practiced with each spin! If your child does not know their numbers, point to the spinner and label the value they landed on to reinforce this skill!
Modeling comments during game play is the best way to provide appropriate examples that your child can imitate over time. You can say things like:
Wow! Lucky spin!
Oh no! A spilled basket!
Yay! I’m winning!
Ugh! I have to put some fruit back.
This is fun!
I like this game.
If your kiddo gets particularly frustrated whenever they have an unfavorable spin, model some appropriate coping skills. After you demonstrate some useful phrases, you can ask them to try. Some examples are:
Oh no! A spilled basket is so frustrating!
I thought I was going to win! Oh well, I can take a deep breath!
I have to remember it’s just a game!
Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.