Board Game Play for Young Children with Disabilities

Research indicates that play is associated with improved social and communication skills and promotes improved physical and mental health.  In addition, play provides opportunities to foster relationships with caregivers and peers.  There are many benefits of board game play for young children with disabilities.Board Game Play for Young Children with Disabilities

Play skills are essential for young children with disabilities to practice during early development.  Research indicates that play is associated with improved social and communication skills and promotes improved physical and mental health.  In addition, play provides opportunities to foster relationships with caregivers and peers.  Obviously, there are many different types of play such as dramatic play, toy play, and board game play.  There are many benefits of board game play for young children with disabilities although direct instruction may be necessary to improve their play skills.

Benefits of Board Game Play for Young Children with Disabilities

One of the primary benefits of board game play for young children is that the games are readily available in early childhood settings, therefore, providing normal contextual play between children with and without disabilities.  Most preschool, daycare and home settings have a few simple board games available for play to encourage social interactions.  Board games can help to:

  • teach social communication among peers.
  • teach early academic concepts such as color, shape, letter and number recognition and simple counting skills.
  • provide fine motor skill practice when manipulating the game pieces.
  • offer a meaningful play activity among children.

How to Increase Independent Board Game Play for Young Children with Disabilities

The positive benefits of board game play for young children are clear.  Here are several evidence-based suggestions to increase independent board game play in young children with disabilities:

Once children learn basic board game play, additional skills can be encouraged for more advanced social skills and higher level academic concepts.

Read more on improving play skills for children with disabilities.

Reference: Barton, E. E., Pokorski, E. A., Sweeney, E. M., Velez, M., Gossett, S., Qiu, J., … & Domingo, M. (2018). An Empirical Examination of Effective Practices for Teaching Board Game Play to Young Children. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 1098300717753833.

Add in exercise and physical activity to board gameplay – Candy Game Exercises sneaks in some exercises and physical activity while practicing turn taking, color identification, and visual perceptual skills. This download includes 30 exercise cards, 30 regular color cards and the special cards (6 for the older version and 7 for the new version). Use these cards instead of the traditional color cards that come with the Candy Land® game.  If you don’t have Candy Land®, there is a Candy Trail game included that you can print and use with the cards.  Find out more information.

Candy Game Exercises

Research indicates that play is associated with improved social and communication skills and promotes improved physical and mental health.  In addition, play provides opportunities to foster relationships with caregivers and peers.  There are many benefits of board game play for young children with disabilities.