Game Review: Rush Hour Jr.

Thinkfun’s Rush Hour is a fun game in which children navigate through a number of parked vehicles to help the ice cream exit the parking lot. Although the rules seem quite simple, finding a way out is not that easy and requires strong logic and problem-solving skills. The game comes in a range of difficulties (beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert).  There is also an app version of Rush Hour.  

While this product is geared toward younger kids, I have also used it with older students and adults with TBI when working on executive functions. 

How to use Rush Hour to work on SPEECH PRODUCTION GOALS

Working on the dreaded /R/? Rush Hour is an entertaining activity for children learning to produce this sound as many of the words within it contain /R/s. Playing a game is way more enjoyable than using flash cards! Another benefit of using games in articulation therapy is that we hear kids using natural speech (as opposed to the drill-like production in flash cards practice). 

Some ideas for words you can use to practice: 

Initial /R/ words: "red", "rush", "right"       

/R/ blends:  "green",  "brown",  "firetruck", "ice cream", "traffic" 

/AR/ words: "car"

/ER/ words: "purple"

/OR/: "orange"

Keep all cars in a bag and hold them away from you child. Have him or her ask for each one or practice talking about where each car goes. Depending on the stage they are at in therapy, kids are to use a single word, a phrase, or to use the/R/ sound in natural speech.  

Check out my blog post for more tips and strategies on establishing the /R/ sound.

How to use Rush Hour to work on REQUESTING

- for children with special needs

In speech therapy sessions, we often change and adapt games to address different treatment goals. I use a modified version of Rush Hour when working with children with communicative impairments such as ASD or developmental delays. Figuring out how to "rescue" the ice cream truck might be too challenging for children with significant communicative impairments, so instead we practice matching the cars on their parking lot to the one in the picture. Matching games are quite fun for kids with ASD, as they are visual learners. Manipulating all the cars on the parking lots requires fine motor skills, so here we go - we have now integrated the occupational therapist's goals in our activity! 

- for minimally verbal and nonverbal children

 Kids who are not able to speak can play Rush Hour, too! I have used it with students working on phase 3 of PECS to construct their first  "I want + phrases". Children using electronic devices can use the game as well. Make sure you spend a lot of time modelling words and navigating between categories hen working with students recently introduced to electronic devices (e.g., home page - transportation folder) to help them learn where words are located. 

In addition, while playing the game the child is going to receive many opportunities to familiarize himself/ herself with the vocabulary within the folder “transportation”, and learn that a “bus”, a “fire truck”, and a “car” are all “vehicles”. 

- to practice requesting using complete sentences

Yet another application of  the Rush Hour game is when working on expanding the number of words used in phrases. For instance, a child who only says a word or two is encouraged to use complete phrases to request the different vehicles in the game (e.g., "I want the school bus"). Whether or not you choose to proceed with the modified version of the game would depend on the cognitive level of each child. 

How to use Rush Hour to work on LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION GOALS

The therapist holds the card while the student completes different instructions (e.g., “Put the firetruck in the top right corner of the parking lot.”, “After you put the firetruck down, take the school bus and ”, etc).  Similarly, use “Rush Hour” to teach spatial terms such as “beside”, “under”, and “over”. Since spatial organizational  is especially challenging for individuals  with TBI this game can be used to work on these goals too. 

Finally, Rush Hour is an excellent reinforcer! Oftentimes, children receive the game at the end of our session. It is their award for their hard work. 

Happy playing!

Denitsa Getsova

Denitsa graduated from the Master’s program in Speech-Language Pathology at Sofia University, Bulgaria. In her practice, she has worked with preschool and school-aged children with a wide range of communication difficulties – speech (articulation, phonology, motor speech), fluency (stuttering), language, preliteracy and literacy skills, cognitive-communication (social communication, executive functions). Denitsa has completed the It Takes Two to Talk®and More Than Words®family-focused intervention programs designed for parents of children with language delays and social communication difficulties/Autism Spectrum Disoders (ASD). Additionally, Denitsa has received training in the PROMPT system(for motor speech disorders), DIR®Floortime Model (child-centered approach for children with ASD) and PECS (augmentative/alternative communication program for nonverbal or minimally verbal children). Denitsa incorporates new technology and uses an iPad in her sessions both as a way to support her clients’ communication needs and a tool for language learning. She provides assistance to parents in the process of selection of educational iPad applications for home practice.