Pragmatic Language Games

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson to help guide your students in developing and practicing appropriate pragmatic skills. Fun and engaging games and activities are suggested for you to use in your classroom in small and whole-group settings.

What Are Pragmatic Skills?

Pragmatic skills are vital to appropriate and effective communication, but many educators are unaware of them. These language skills are used in social situations to communicate and cover a wide range, such as nodding, giving verbal cues, and even tone of voice. While direct instruction is effective, many students benefit from additional activities to apply learning and practice in real-life situations.

Guess Who?


  • Whole group/small group


  • Small object, such as a ball or trinket


  • Have all students sit in a circle and close their eyes.
  • Direct students to hold their hands behind their backs, palms up.
  • Tell them you will be placing an object in one person's hands but NOT to tell who.
  • Once the item is placed, have all students close their hands and place back in their laps.
  • When all hands are hidden in laps, tell students to open their eyes.
  • Begin the game by asking 'Who has the ball? Does (add a name) have the ball?' Choose a student who doesn't have the ball.
  • This student answers by saying 'I do NOT have the ball,' then continues the game by asking 'Who has the ball? Does Bobby have the ball?'
  • Play in this way, guiding students to ask and answer questions appropriately, until the ball has been discovered.
  • Allow the person who has the ball to become the next hider.

Extensions and Adaptations

  • Encourage students to make eye contact and change their voices when asking a question.

Service with a Smile


  • Small group


  • Collection of objects from around the room
  • Basket


  • With students, walk around the room and gather objects, putting in the basket as you go. Aim for one item for each student with a few extra.
  • Come back to the table and lay the objects out.
  • Identify one person as the server and the others to be customers.
  • Next choose one student to go first by ordering an item. For example, they may say 'Terry, can I please have the green block?'
  • Terry then answers appropriately, such as 'Sure Beth, you can have the block.'
  • Now it's Beth's turn to be the server and a different student orders an item.
  • When all objects are served, ask each student to return the items to their original spot.

Extensions and Adaptations

  • Play with real menus and make the food with clay, or use plastic food as props.

Talking Blocks


  • Small groups


  • Differing color blocks
  • Bag

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