Ready, Set, Go!

Let’s Play a Game!

Teaching Play Skills (Part 1)

Learning Goals

  • Increasing social play and leisure skills.
  • Increasing social engagement and attention.
  • Investigating sensory preferences.
Two adults and three children seated in a circle on a floor that is lit up with various colours.

Learning Connection

Play skills are linked to the development of a variety of other abilities, including social skills, vocabulary, language skills, and even how to solve problems. When you help your child learn to play, you increase his opportunities to learn about himself and the world around him, and you help him discover how much fun it is to play and interact with other people.

The Hanen Centre –
Make Play R.O.C.K: Plan for People Play


  • Blanket


Consider modelling how to request the blanket swing game by teaching the learner how to say, sign, or ask for the game with his or her communication device or by bringing the blanket to you.
The same procedure can be used for any other “People Games”, such as: tag, Peek-a-Boo, Ring Around the Rosie.


  1. First, observe the learner and note how they explore the world and what type of sensory experiences they enjoy (ex. do they like bouncing, rocking, clapping, watching things spin etc?).
  2. Next, join in on what the learner is doing.
  3. Next, make the activity into a game. For example, if the learner enjoys jumping or rocking, try wrapping him or her into a blanket swing.
  4. Next, name the game and call it the same thing every time you play. For this game, tell the learner you are going to play “Blanket Swing”.
  5. Next, encourage the learner to climb into the open blanket. Gather the blanket up and begin to swing.
  1. Next, pause the game. Wait. Encourage the learner to indicate if they like the game, and want to keep going.
  2. If the learner does not respond, ask if they want “more”. Model how to ask for more with signs, pictures, and/or words.
  3. Next, continue swinging. Be consistent with how you play the game.
  4. Then, follow the learner’s lead. When the learner indicates that they are finished with the game, model how to say “finished” or “all done” using signs, pictures, and/or words.
  5. After, support the learner to check the schedule to see what is next.