Why is learning categorization skills important? When we learn new words, we file them in our brain, according to characteristics. Then, when we need them, we know which file folder to retrieve them from. For example, if I give you the word ram, you will go to either the animal folder or the computer folder, but you will need a little more information to know exactly which folder to retrieve from. Many children have trouble setting up a filing system. By helping children to set up an accurate filing system we will be helping them to organize future language learning. Here are a few ideas:
- Use file folder games. There are some commercial books available or you can make your own. File folder games are easy to carry and colorful.
- Play a Jeopardy style game. Put the category label at the top of a column and 5 squares underneath. Put a point on each square and on the other side write a clue or question. For example, if the category is animals, the question for 10 points would be, it eats grass and makes a moo sound.
- If you are teaching the student to ask questions, play the real Jeopardy where you give the answer and they ask the question.
- Themes are great! If you are using theme based therapy, just make sure you point out the commonalities to your students and use at least one activity to emphasize the category.
- Use Lotto games. Make a lotto game with pictures from several categories. Instead of picking specific pictures, pick the category and the student chooses which picture to cover on the card. For example, you pick the card furniture and the student has to choose a picture of a chair, bed, etc. on the card to cover.
- Place a selected number of pictures (or Secret Square tiles) out on a table (random pattern) face up. The players should be seated in such a way that they can all reach the pictures or tiles. Have a stopwatch ready and a cup or other small receptacle in front of each child. Tell the players they will have ___ seconds (45 works well for elementary age kids) to pick up as many of a certain kind of picture/tile when you say go. Emphasize that they should wait for you to say go – this allows processing time for those who need it and time for players to ask for repetition or clarification. To level the playing field for kids with fine motor challenges have students pick one picture at a time and drop it into their cup before getting another.
You can download this e-book with category games ready to use!