Today’s post looks at how playing Operation is a great way to develop your child’s communication skills! Operation is a fun game and it’s great for playing with many people. Continue reading to find out how you can build on your child’s communication skills through playing Operation.


  • Say what part you or your child is taking (e.g. heart) and where it is found in the body (e.g. chest).
  • Discuss the part retrieved with your child. This can involve talking about colour, size, how it might feel and many other things! (e.g. this bone is long and white. The ends are wide and the middle is thin.)
  • Discuss where each item is located using position words (e.g. next to, left, right, above, below, in)

Expressive (use of) language

  • Encourage your child to explain the rules to you with the use of conjunctions (sentence connectors) (e.g. and, then, but, because, after) and conditional words (e.g. if). To help your child explain the rules more clearly, ask them to explain one step at a time (e.g. first step, next step, last step).
  • Play a different way and ask your child to describe a part for you to get without saying it’s name! Offer a forced choice if they are having trouble describing (e.g. is it long or short?).
  • Build the length of your child’s sentences by repeating their sentence and adding one extra word such as a describing word (e.g. big, small, long) or a verb (e.g. got, pulled).
  • Repeat back what your child has said in a grammatically correct way.

Understanding language

  • Your child will need to learn the rules of the game: break up parts of the game into manageable steps and explain rules one at a time.
  • Write down rules to help your child remember them (e.g. get a body part; don’t touch the outside).
  • Develop your child’s understanding of body parts as different parts are retrieved.
  • Play a different way and ask your child to follow instructions you give them. You can do this by giving them the word (e.g. the heart) or describing the object to them (e.g. something that is long and thin).


  • Encourage your child to read the name of the item they are getting. Help them by breaking the word into its syllables and asking them the sounds in each syllable.

Social skills

  • Model appropriate play skills such as winning and losing statements (e.g. well done!; good try!) and turn taking (e.g. my turn; whose turn is it?)
  • Remembering and following rules, such as prompting your child to finish their turn if they touch the outside. Refer to written instructions to reinforce this if needed. You can model how to follow the rules and make statements around this too (e.g. whoops, I touched the outside! Your turn now)
  • Discuss consequences of inappropriate play (e.g. how others may become upset and not want to play again if you scream).

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