If you’re wishing you had a list of fun category games for speech therapy, then you’ve come to the right place!
Below I’ve outlined a fun game or two for speech-language pathologists to use during their therapy sessions.
As well as for family members of younger students or older students looking for a great way to work on their child’s language skills.
Language Development of Categories
As speech therapists working with children with language disorders, it can be helpful to teach categories as a foundational skill from more concrete concepts and work towards more abstract concepts of learning thereby increasing the difficulty levels as you go.
When children learn new information or new vocabulary words they categorize that information into a type of filling system in their brains.
However, our special education students who struggle with language processing often struggle to categorize what they are learning which in turn makes word retrieval hard for them and difficult for them to then demonstrate their academic performance.
Receptive Naming vs Expressive Naming – Receptive language is when the student is given visual cues or images and then asked to identify/point to all of the items in a category. For example, if you give a student a page of images and ask them to point to the 3 animals that would be receptive naming. This will be easier than to expressively name 3 animals.
You can do all of the following categorization activities either with receptive naming or expressive naming.
Convergent Naming – This is when you have the student identify the category by giving them a list of items in a category. For example, “a dog, a cat, and a horse are all…)
Divergent Naming – This is when you give the student the category and have them list items in that category. For example, “Name 3 different shapes.”
What Goes Together – This is when the student is instructed to find 2 or more items that would go together and explain why. Using a matching activity would be perfect practice for working on why two similar items would go together. For example, you could give the child or student an image of a fork and a spoon. They could then match those 2 pictures together and explain why they would go together well.
What Does Not Belong – This is when you give your child or student a list of items or images and ask them which item doesn’t belong and have them explain why that item doesn’t belong. For example, you could have different forms of transportation and then have an image of a toaster and have the student identify that the toaster is the item that doesn’t belong and that is because it is not a form of transportation like all of the other images.
Compare and Contrast – You could also take a couple of items and complete a compare and contrast Venn Diagram to have your child or student explain which items are similar and which items are different and then have them explain why while using a good sentence structure.
Sorting Activity – Another fun way to practice categorization is to take a couple of objects or pictures and then have your child or student sort the items in ways in which they are similar. For example, if you give them a car, fox, airplane, train, and polar bear they could sort the car, airplane, and train together and categorize them as forms of transportation and then place the fox and polar bear together and categorize them as animals.
Favorite Games – Category Games Speech Therapy
Here is a list of over 63 of my favorite speech therapy activities for teaching categories and vocabulary development or vocabulary instruction.
This list of category activities includes online games, interactive lessons, board games, boom cards, as well as worksheet category games.
Board Games – Category Games Speech Therapy
Here are some speech therapy games that you can use to work on categorization while having some fun at the same time.
1. Candyland – A Perfect Classic Game
Candyland is personally one of my favorite games to use during speech therapy. It is also a very popular game with my students.
Not only is it a classic board game (don’t worry I have new games listed below as well), but you can target so many different skills all in one game. The possibilities are simply endless making it one of the best board games to play. Also, when you use it as a form of reinforcement it allows each student to work on their own targets while all playing one game.
Plus did I mention it’s just a fun game in general to play?
- Categories + Colors – Have your student identify the color they picked and then provide them with a category (animals, fruit, things that move, etc.) and have them identify something in that category that is that color. For example, if your student gets the color green and is given the animal category maybe they would say “a lizard”.
2. What’s in Ned’s Head?
During my first year as an SLP in the elementary setting, I inherited some games that had been left in my speech room from the previous SLP and this happened to be one of those games.
I remember the first time I looked through it to see how I could use it in therapy and thinking, “This game is gross!”, but I quickly came to love it for all of the language targets you could incorporate into it.
It’s one of those super simple games, but a highly engaging game due to the silliness of the game itself.
- Categories – You could have the student identify what category the item they pulled out belongs to. For a fun adaptation you could grab items from 1-3 categories you have from your speech room and put those in Ned’s head instead and then have your students practice categorizing the items as they come out. For example, you could put a plastic elephant, zebra, and lion inside that all go in the animal category along with a plastic apple, pear, and strawberry that all go in the fruit category, etc.
I would consider Headbanz to be similar to the game Guess Who, however, there are more questions you can ask and more options for the correct answer making it more fun for older kids.
- Categories – This game is also great for categories because you can use categories to help narrow down what card is on your head. For example, “Am I a piece of furniture?”, “Am I alive?”, “Am I an animal?” “Do I have 4 legs?”, etc.
4. Pickles to Penguins
Pickles to Penguins is one of my favorite card games for speech therapy when working on language goals. Each player is dealt a set of double-sided vocabulary cards. Then two cards from the draw pile are turned over and the object of the game is to make a connection between two of the cards.
The actual game is done as a race with everyone going at once, but I typically do it with one student at a time and give each student the processing time that they need.
- Categories – Have your students identify the category of the two words and then add more words to that same category. For example, if they have the words beach ball and tire and say, “they are similar because “they are both in the shape of a circle” they could then identify other objects that would fit into the circle category like a “doughnut, baseball, or a button.”
5. Spot It
The Spot It game was definitely one of my students’ favorites and I’m not going to lie it was one of mine too.
The object of the game is simple. Simply flip over two cards that both contain multiple object pictures then try to spot the two identical objects from each card. When you flip over any two cards there will always be only two images that match. The first to spot it wins that card.
This game is great if you need something fast pace or to get you multiple practice opportunities in one session.
- Categories – Have your student identify which category the matched word goes in. For example, if the matched word is an elephant they could say, “zoo animal”. For an added challenge you could then have them name 3 more items that would fall into that same category. So sticking with the zoo animal category they might say, “penguin, giraffe, and lion.”
6. Apples to Apples Junior
Apples to Apples is a classic game for working on vocabulary skills. One student is the judge and picks a green card from the pile. The green cards are adjectives, such as “chewy”, “chilly”, or “round”. The other students then pick a red noun vocabulary word from their pile of red cards.
For example, if a student who is the judge picks the green adjective card “chilly” and then the other students hand over their perfect red noun vocabulary cards the judge then picks their favorite red card. The judge will then rotate giving each student a chance to be the judge. The winner of each round gets to keep their green card and whoever has the most green cards at the end wins!
- Categories – Another fun adaptation I’ve done is to give each student their own green card and then pick 2 correct nouns and 1 incorrect noun for that green adjective (I typically give my students more red cards for this adapted version to work better). The other students in the group then try to guess the 2 correct nouns and the 1 incorrect noun for that green card category. For example, if the green card is “gooey” they might put down “candy”, “slime”, and “rock”. The other students would then categorize the two gooey items could be candy and slime while the rock doesn’t fit that category. For another extension activity, you could have each student then add an additional item to that category “gooey”. One might say “play-doh”, and another might say “cookie batter”.
7. Jeepers Peepers
The Jeepers Peepers game is similar to Headbanz in that each student is given glasses with a picture attached. The students then take turns asking questions to find out what they might be.
- Categorizing – Once the student guesses their card have them decide which category their card goes in. You could even extend this a little bit farther and have your students name additional things in that category. For example, if they were a train. They would say that goes in the “transportation” category and then they could name 3 other types of transportation, such as “car”, “bus”, and “plane”.
This game is a fan favorite! Sadly, this board game is no longer being made and sold, however, it can be frequently found at Goodwill. The game is played by finding all the hidden balls. To find the balls the student gets to use the key to open the doors. Keep all the balls on the right-hand side of the game and once you collect all the balls the treasure box opens.
What’s great about this game is that you can even create your own cards making the game target exactly what your students are working on.
- Categorization – Have your students identify which category the word goes in. For example, if they wanted to open a picture of a school bus they could put it in the transportation category.
Zingo is a fun and fast pace game. The dealer operates the Zingo by sliding it forward and then back to reveal two tile cards. Each student has a Zingo board (just like a bingo card). If you have one of the tiles on your Zingo board you simply call out your tile. You then get to place the tile onto your Zingo board. The first player to cover all 9 of their spaces shouts, “ZINGO” and they win.
- Categorization – Have your students identify which category the word goes in. For example, if they got a picture of a shoe they could put it in the clothing category. You could even have them go another step further and have them name 3 other items in that category. For example, with the clothing category, they could add pants, shirts, and sweaters.
10. Granny’s Candies
Granny’s Candies is a perfect game for working on vocabulary! This game comes with 672 word meaning cards to work on multiple semantic goals.
- Category – Have your students name the category of the words given.
11. Go for the Dough
Do your students love pizza? Enjoy this fun game Go for the Dough of delivering pizzas while increasing your child’s vocabulary skills. Children drive their cars around the game board while delivering pizzas. As they go around the board they choose a Super Dough Dollar. Each Super Dough Dollar has a skill to practice on it. You can choose one category/skill to work on or you can mix and match different categories to work on. For example, there are synonyms, rhyming words, opposites, categories, multiple meaning, and definitions.
- Categories – The card names a category and then have your student identify different words within that category.
SEE ALSO: List of IEP Language Goals (Receptive & Expressive Language Goals)
Body Parts – Category Games Speech Therapy
Using body parts is a fun way to work on your child or student’s category therapy. All you need are some manipulatives that can you can then categorize the different body parts.
12. Mr. Potato Head – is a fun game to play when working on body parts categorization.
13. ESL Game!! ☀ Draw My Monster ☀ – Amazing English Game (Body Parts & Shapes) by The Laughing Linguist is a fun and interactive activity that is hilarious and good for all ages! The matching worksheets help build vocabulary skills and pair well with the monster building activity!
14. FREE Body Parts Read and Write Worksheets Sample by KM Classroom is a free worksheet that is clear and neat, and is great for helping with basic body part vocabulary.
Use the following word relationship activities to work on categorization.
15. FREE SAMPLE Category Sorting Task a Worksheet to target relational vocabulary by Speech Zebra is an engaging activity to help students practice sorting into categories. These worksheets have a focus on vocabulary growth and semantic development.
16. FREEBIE: Categories Word Retrieval/Vocabulary Activity | Distance Learning by Happy Learner is great for generating and identifying different categories. This includes multiple different worksheets, such as choosing the right answer, fill in the blank, and comparing and contrasting.
Time of Year
Throughout the school year, there are different category themes you could focus on such as back to school supplies, Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving foods, etc.
17. Sorting Mat Seasons of the Year Activity by Speech Therapy Now is a sorting mat with 4 squares to practice categorizing the different seasons!
18. Thanksgiving Word Art Poster and Activities by Ruth S is a fun poster activity to categorize Thanksgiving/Fall related vocabulary and pictures. This makes a great decoration for your classroom when it is completed.
19. Our Environment Earth Day Activities FREE by Ruth S has multiple activities centered around Earth Day. Have students sort trash into categories such as recycling, compost and trash or sort foods into vegetables, fruits, dairy, meats and grains.
20. Halloween Speech Therapy Game Activity | FREE by SParklle SLP Speech Therapy is a great reinforcement game for students with a halloween/fall theme! Have students sort out fall/Halloween themed vocabulary as they work through this activity.
Boom Cards – Category Games Speech Therapy
Boom cards are definitely a hit among the younger kids.
21. Tic-Tac-Toe-Categorize! BOOM! Cards by SpeechMama Therapy Resources is a great game that prompts students to label the item pictured and categorize it correctly as they play tic tac toe!
22. What Doesn’t Belong? By It’s FUNctional to Me is a boom deck that helps students practice language skills through categorization. These are digital and self-correcting so data is taken for you as the student plays!
23. Compare and Contrast Sorts Boom Cards™️ Freebie for Speech Therapy & Teletherapy by Speechy Musings is a great set of free and interactive boom cards that focus on comparing and contrasting. This set has 15 cards in 2 different sets and has no prep!
24. Halloween Boom Cards Speech Therapy Expanding Sentences Photos WH Questions by Language Speech and Literacy is great and interactive! These cards have real photos with WH questions. Have students find and categorize different parts of speech such as pronouns, verbs, adjectives etc.
25. Toy Theater – is a great reinforcement game that can be used with any skill, such as categorizing. Simply use my category lists and have your students name items in each category while they play toy theater in between naming different category items.
A word search is a great way to introduce a new category or do a review of a past category. They can also be a fun filler as you’re waiting for all your speech students to arrive or they can be a great activity to send home for additional category practice.
26. Food Group Word Search by Garden Pea Designs has students categorize foods into the appropriate food group and then find the appropriate word within the word search! There is also a template for students to write their own examples of food groups and create a word search.
27. Free Back to School Word Search Puzzle Types of Classifying Triangles Worksheet by Ready Lessons is a versatile product that prompts students to practice multiple geometry terms and has them sort different types of triangles and angles into the appropriate category.
28. Free Animal Kingdom Vocabulary Word Search No Prep by The Tools to Teach LLC is a great activity to help students learn the different animal kingdom categories. Students find the animals in the word search and then sort them into the appropriate animal kingdom.
SEE ALSO: 430+ Free Multisyllabic Words List Activity Bundle
Tasks cards are a great grab and go activity with little to no prep work.
29. Identifying Items in a Category Task Cards Level 2 by AUtogether is a great resource to help students practice identifying categories from a field of 4 objects. There are a total of 72 cards.
30. Speech Therapy: Categories Flash Cards & Worksheets, Photographs for ALL ages! By The Spotted Speechie is a set of 52 flashcards, the associated category naming cards and 15 worksheets for additional category practice.
31. Expected and Unexpected Behavior Boom Cards – 15 Task Cards for Speech Therapy by Language Playroom is great for students working on social skills, turn taking and perspective. Have your students categorize and sort through different behaviors and label them as “unexpected” and “expected”.
Educational Game – Category Games Speech Therapy
Using educational games are perfect because they combine both the game and the skill all into one activity.
32. Name the Category! By Tracy Boyd prompts students to decide which category word belongs in.
33. Food Categories – Food Pyramid by Ms. Weaver has students sort different foods into the appropriate part of the food pyramid.
34. Animal Categories (Farm/Zoo) by Ms. Weaver has students sort different animals into the appropriate category! This game has a focus on farm and zoo animals.
35. Categories by Mrs. Butler is a challenge board style game that has students practice categories such as holidays, colors, shapes, clothing, and animals.
Some of our speech therapy students might also be receiving occupational therapy. Here are some activities that could work for both therapies.
36. Artic and Motor Kit for Occupational Therapy and Speech-Apples Themed by Elite Tots Shop is a great activity for younger elementary to practice both motor skills and articulation! Have your students cut and paste open ended pages. Have students sort the appropriate target sound onto the corresponding apple as they practice their articulation.
Digital Game – Category Games Speech Therapy
A lot of students enjoy using computer games to practice their category skills. Here are a few fan favorites.
37. Category Battleship by Gina Meyer prompts students to pick the correct categories as they play an interactive game of battleship.
38. Category Challenge by Jamiee is a favorite! Students pick the right categories and try to get the best score.
39. Category Matchup by Amy Abdai has students match items that go in the same category.
Here are some fun language category games to try.
40. Parts of Speech by Mrs. D is a fun game that has students find the parts of speech in simple sentences. Students can then sort into the appropriate category of nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, etc.
41. Language Jeopardy by Mrs. Braaten is a fun jeopardy game that reviews different parts of speech. This challenge style game has different themes to choose from such as category practice and words with multiple meanings.
42. Categories by Lonn Swanson is a game that gives students three members of a group and has them label the group appropriately. There are 4 possible categories each member belongs in.
Picture Card – Category Games Speech Therapy
Vocabulary cards that include a picture are great for those that do best with visual cues.
43. Nouns Sorting – Pictures and Word Cards – Nouns Printable by Tres Arbolitos is a great activity with 90 noun pictures cards to sort as a person, place, or object.
44. A-Z Picture Vocabulary Cards That Goes With Large A-Z Flashcards by Fun 4 Kids is a great set of large A-Z flashcards for early elementary! Have students match the word to the corresponding sound. Another fun way to use this is to use 3-4 picture cards and have students categorize each picture to the appropriate sound.
45. Categories: Clothing – Freebie! By ClaudiaCF Bilingual SLP LLC is a great picture card activity that has students sort and categorize different types of clothing.
Another fun activity is to answer questions to work on categories.
46. No Prep Spring Language Freebie for Speech Therapy Categories and Wh Questions by SLP Madness is a set of spring themed worksheets that have students color by code to practice categories. This freebie has 15 worksheets that involve category themes such as furniture, insects, jobs, tools, vegetables, fruit, clothing, and transportation.
47. Winter Speech and Language Mini Bundle by Short and Sweet Speech is 25 pages of winter-themed activities to practice WH questions, articulation, categorization, and expressive language!
Here is a free download or two that are perfect for you to send home for additional practice at home.
48. FREEBIE Football Naming and Category Worksheets No Prep! Print and Go! By Sparkly Speech Girl helps students practicing naming skills and category skills while at home! This is a no-prep, print-and-go activity for your students!
Nursery rhymes can be a great way to help students process the information that they are learning. Here are a few that you might find helpful!
49. This Little Piggy Adapted Book Special Education Nursery Rhyme Freebie by Adapted by Kimmie D is a fun book that engages students in rhyme.
50. Jack and Jill Adapted Book Special Education Nursery Rhyme Adaptive Book Freebie by Adapted by Kimmie D is another great adapted nursery rhyme book that helps engage students!
Do you also have students working on their articulation communication skills? Try these category games that also focus on a specific speech sound.
51. FREE SAMPLE No Prep Themed Worksheets for Speech Therapy by The Type B SLP is a set of themed worksheets to practice articulation and sorting into categories. This freebie has many samples from a whole set of themed activities for speech therapy.
52.Boom Cards FREEBIE Speech Therapy Sound Sort TH & F | Phonology by BG SLP is a great activity that has students practice articulation of TH and F and also prompts them to sort the sound into the category.
53. Thanksgiving Speech Therapy and Language Build a Turkey Activities for Any Goal by Speech Sounds is a set of no prep Thanksgiving-themed speech activities that focus on categories and articulation of the R sound.
Have a student roll a die to find out which category they land on. Then have them practice their oral language category skills by following the dice game directions.
54. Place Value Yahtzy Math Dice Game Grades 3 – 4 by Amy Mazni – Teaching Ideas 4U is a simple but fun game that has students roll dice and practice putting the numbers into the correct place value category.
55. “I have…Who Has” (Thanksgiving Edition) by The Speech Path for Kids explores descriptive vocabulary for your students. The Game Board has students practice categories and descriptive vocabulary.
56. FREE Fall Themed Roll That Die Open Ended Game for Speech Therapy or Centers by LindaSLP123 is great for keeping little hands busy while practicing many speech therapy objectives.
File Folder Activities
Do you love a quick grab-and-go file folder activity? If you answered yes then these are perfect for you!
57. Color Category File Folder Game by Speech017 is a great game that teaches basic color categories, but also can be used for other topics. This is great for elementary-aged students!
58. Free Alphabet Game Letter Matching Uppercase and Lowercase File Folder Game by Promoting Success is a great free printable for lower elementary to practice matching lower and uppercase letters! Use this game to help students practice categorizing upper and lowercase letters.
59. Category Sorting Rooms in a House | File Folder Activity FREE by PlayLearnSpeech is a great activity that has students categorize objects in a house into the appropriate room/location. There are 24 target cards and 4 mats!
SEE ALSO: 179+ Free Speech Therapy Wh Questions Printable
PBS Kids – Category Games Speech Therapy
60. PBS Kids – is similar to toy theater in that you can use these games as reinforcement games that can be used with any skill, such as categorizing. Simply use my category lists above and have your students name items in each category while they play a PBS Kids game in between naming different category items.
If you’re looking for a categories game with great visual cues here is a fun printable that you can use to write, draw, or use with small manipulative items.
61. Category Sorting Mats for Speech Therapy | Color PDF by Sharon Burgess Ortho – Use these different mats to practice listing different category items that would go inside each category.
Miniature Animal Category Pieces – great for sorting into the following categories (sea animals, insects, dinosaurs, zoo animals, dogs, and farm animals).
Pink Cat Games
Using Pink Cat Games are perfect because they combine both the game and the skill all into one activity.
62. Build a Monster by Pink Cat Games is a really fun game that has students pick the right category from 3 choices. As they make the correct answer, they get to build a monster!
63. Smarty Pants Animal Race by Pink Cat Games has students work on categories as their animal’s race forward.
64. Feed the Shark by Pink Cat Games has students practice vocabulary and categorization as they feed a hungry shark!
65. The Name Game – Simply name a category such as farm animals and then tell your child or student that the game is to see how many farm animals they can name. This is a perfect activity for parents on the go. You can do this during everyday tasks, such as while driving your kids in the car, while waiting at the doctor’s office, while in line at the post office, etc.
In Conclusion – Category Games Speech Therapy
Speech pathology categories therapy doesn’t have to be a boring drill. Instead, use any of the ideas above to bring more fun to your language therapy. Your language kids will surely thank you for using more category games in speech therapy. Good luck!
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