Barrier games are simple interactive speaking and listening activities where children are not allowed to see what other players are doing and have to speak and listen clearly to complete a task. The games help children learn how to give clear instructions and descriptions, listen well and ask good questions for clarification. They can be used to teach vocabulary, concepts and information.
Groupings can be varied with one person giving instructions to a group or whole class, or two teams, pairs or individuals positioned across a barrier from each other. The barrier can be a large piece of card, an A3 landscape ringbinder file, etc. Rather than use a barrier, children can sit back to back with a partner. There are endless possibilities for barrier game activities and resources. Below are instructions for a game using 2D coloured shapes, followed by notes on resources, vocabulary and other ideas for barrier games.
Instructions for Barrier Game with 2D coloured shapes
1. Discuss key vocabulary referring to the resources.
2. An adult can model the game with an adult or child first.
3. Show the identical grids, where they are placed in front of the players and how one can be turned around at the end of the game to see if objects have been placed correctly.
4. Put the barrier up between two players or two teams and explain that no one should look at the other side of the barrier.
5. One player places a shape on a square on the grid and then gives instructions to the other person or team to duplicate the action on the other side of the barrier. e.g. Put the red circle in the middle square on the top row.
6. The listener asks questions for clarification, if necessary, then follows the instruction.
7. Continue with the same player/team giving instructions and the second checking and following the instructions.
8. When all or as many squares as desired are covered, remove the barrier. One grid may need to be turned around correctly so that they are viewed from the same direction
9. Check work and discuss.
· Two identical sets of coloured shapes
· Two identical grids with blank or coloured squares. The number of squares used depends on the children’s ability. Two rows of 3 squares (6 in total) is good to begin with. With uncoloured blank grids more vocabulary of direction is needed e.g. left, centre, right, top, middle, bottom, above, under, next to, etc.
Shapes used e.g. circle, square, triangle, rectangle, hexagon
Colours e.g. red, blue, yellow, purple, orange, green, pink, black, white, grey, brown
Size e.g. large, small, middle-sized Position e.g. left, right, middle, top, bottom, above, below, next to
Different Barrier Games
Alternatives to 2D coloured shapes are: 3D shapes, identical sets of models or pictures from a topic studied e.g. animals, plants, food, body part; beads to thread on a string and no grid, identical sets of pictures of two teddies, or two children with identical sets of various clothes to dress in and no grid.