April 15, 2021

Ashley D'Ippolito

How a speech-language pathologist uses Rush Hour to develop language and critical thinking skills

Topics: Learning Through Play

Rush Hour Image

If you are using logic games in the educational setting or to support virtual learning, way to go! They are a great way to engage students in a fun activity that has some tangible benefits.

Logic games are also versatile. They can be played and shared in person with tangible pieces if there are plastic pieces that can be washed or wiped down easily, or virtually if the child has their own version of the game at home. Additionally, actual game boards can be played and shared virtually using a document camera or using an online version and shared screen feature on the computer.

My favorite skill to target with logic games is directing with specificity. For this example, I used ThinkFun’s Rush Hour game.

Rush Hour Image

In Rush Hour, a sliding block logic game, players battle the gridlock as you slide the blocking vehicles out of the way for the red car to exit. With 40 challenges, ranging in difficulty, players can progress at their own speed.

When presenting a new task, remember to give your child or student the “just right” challenge. The challenge presented should not be too high resulting in your child feeling discouraged and not too easy so they will feel bored. Tangible games, especially, can be modified to allow for this.

Version 1: Play Rush Hour With Descriptive Language

To play, you will need two players. One player will be responsible for directing the movement of the pieces, and the other player will be responsible for moving the pieces. The “director” must use specific language, to help the “mover” know which pieces to move, and in which direction.

Use of specific attributes and concepts such as, up/down, right/left, big/small and colors can be taught and used.

By playing this way, players can pick up on the following skills, which can aid in language and development:

  • Cooperative play (working with a partner)
  • Turn-taking (taking turns being the director)
  • Inhibition (not moving a piece until directed)
  • Flexible problem solving (making small changes during problem solving process)
  • Communication (offering specific language, asking questions)
  • Perspective taking (what information the listener -- the “mover” -- has versus needs)

All of these skills can be practiced in an educational setting or while learning in a home environment. This is a great game for families to play as well!

Rush Hour

Version 2: Play Rush Hour During Cooperative Play

Grab a set of two of games and set up a barrier task, where one person is directing and both players are moving the exact same pieces on either side of a physical barrier. This version of the game would support working on all of the same targets mentioned above, as well as coordination with a partner. Of course, these are just two suggestions of many!

Other ideas to incorporate include working on:

  • Sequencing (first, next, then, last)
  • Requesting (Can you move? Can I have? I want)
  • Speech production (working on specific target sounds)
  • Teaching concepts (up, down, left, right, long, short, colors)
  • Visual scanning, planning (coming up with a plan of action prior to initiation)
  • Developing all those great fine motor skills (pincer grasp moving small pieces)

Whichever way you choose to play, remember to make it fun. Happy playing!

I received a game in exchange for this blog post. All opinions expressed belong to me.

Author’s Bio

Ashley DIppolitoAshley is a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist, who works with children and adolescents ages 1-21 years old. She is the owner of FUNctional Speech, Language & Pragmatics, PLLC, and proud mom. Ashley is passionate about supporting meaningful language acquisition and social development, for her clients, while promoting generalization and carry-over into a variety of settings. She believes in not only working with her clients, but also their family to give them the supports and strategies they need to help their child grow, in a fun and functional way. 

A note from ThinkFun

At ThinkFun, we love it when learning and fun collide. It’s why we do what we do. Every game, puzzle and brainteaser we create is aimed at igniting a spark in a young mind. Still curious? Check us out on the webFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTube or Instagram.

Are you a former or current educator who is interested in guest blogging for ThinkFun? Please contact us for more information! You could be featured in our next blog post and TeachFun e-newsletter!

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