If you are looking for a way to unplug with your kiddos and have fun while practicing important skills, then we have a game for you. "What's Missing?" is quick, easy, and targets a range of skills including: receptive language, memory, and vocabulary. Here is how you play:
1. Get a picnic blanket, towel, or just designate a special spot. This space is for placing items.
2. Next, choose some items with your child to place on the blanket. This is a great time to keep the items out of reach and allow for extra requesting. You can also teach the names of some items if they do not know. We chose to select our items today from a play food set since we had a picnic blanket and this particular game was food themed. (Sometimes we do it with cars, trucks, or dinosaurs. Playing with different themes is a great way to teach about categorizing items into different groups.)
3. Once you place the items on the blanket, call your child's attention to each individual object. Tell your child to look at the blanket for a bit so they can remember each piece there. Point to all the objects and verbally label them to ensure your child sees each one!
4. This game can be played with one child or a whole classroom full! During each round, all the players except one close their eyes. This person removes an item from the blanket, and hides it. Once everyone opens their eyes, they try to guess what item is missing. Once the item is identified, it is placed back on the blanket and a new round can begin. Then you take turns and switch roles. This may take some practice at first. You may have to give hints to help your child remember what item went missing. For example, if the answer was "grapes," some hints could be:
- It starts with the letter G.
- It is a fruit.
- It is green.
- They are round.
- Remember that this is supposed to be fun. We want to challenge, but not frustrate. So start with just three items until your child understands the game.
- Praise and encourage your child when they master the skill.
- If your child finds this difficult, pretend to have difficulty on your turn too, so that they understand it takes work to remember what item is missing.
- For nonverbal children, add pictures of each item on the blanket. Then they can select the picture of the item missing so that they can participate. The picture also provides a checklist and they can match the items on the blanket with the pictures to decide what is missing.
We hope you enjoy the game!