PROVE READING ABILITY WITHOUT SPEECH! Here’s a FREE lotto game to get you started


Alessandra and Mom play my “My Face” lotto game

We can do this

We CAN prove our children can read even when they’re non-verbal. I know I’ve talked about this before in past posts, but it bears repeating!  Let’s take a fresh look at this.

What we’re dealing with is a frustrated child, and – typically – an educator who can’t perceive either the child’s intelligence or reading ability because there is no verbal evidence of either. Add frustrated parents into the mix, and what you get does not resemble chocolate chip cookies. It’s a half-baked mishmash, and everyone’s frustrated.

If we need to back up the train because you’re asking, “How do I teach my child to read in the first place when he’s non-verbal?” the bottom line is this: we teach reading in the same way; we test differently when the child is nonverbal. I give detailed teaching instructions in all of my Reading Bundles. But testing? See the links below (end of article) which connect you to other articles I’ve written on proving that kids without speech can prove their ability! The rewards of being able to “prove” are enormous.

Easy Lotto Games to both teach and prove reading

The easiest, most straightforward, and delightful tools I use are lotto/matching games. Delightful because I haven’t had a student yet who doesn’t like them; children who are non-verbal in particular love using them to prove their knowledge. I’m including my Taco Lotto game in this blog to get you started. If your learner doesn’t like tacos, chips, or salsa, you can make your own game – you’ll want to do that anyway, using family names and pictures, etc. Follow the example below and DON’T put the words in the same position as the pictures. Mix it up so the child can’t memorize the positions (which they easily do, and you will be bamboozled into thinking they’ve learned the word.)

Chips & Salsa jpgChips & Salsa Words jpg

Taco Lotto Pic PDF     Taco Lotto Word PDF

Make 2 copies of each of these lotto pages; keep one word page as your board; cut the other along the black lines. Do the same with the picture page. Laminate all sheets before you do any cutting; your game will last (nearly) forever.

Playing the game: no speech required for learning or proving ability

There are basically 6 steps of difficulty in using lottos; here they are in the order of simple to difficult:

FIRST: “Fast Flash” the word cards (see my “Fast Flash” post for how to)

1. Have the child match picture to picture (this is simple but it gives them confidence)

2. Match word to word with prompts if needed (verbal prompts, pointing to the correct answer, etc.)

3. Match word to picture with prompts

4. Match word to picture, no prompts

5. Match picture to word with prompts

6. Match picture to word, no prompts (this is the most difficult)

LAST: “Fast Flash” the word cards (see my “Fast Flash” post for “how to”)

More “proving” strategies

If you want to dive deeper into helping a child without speech to prove reading ability, follow these links to some of my previous blog posts on the topic:

Non-verbal: conquering low expectations for your child

More on how to prove kids who are non-verbal can read

Lotto games: awesome non-verbal reading tools

In the meantime, you might plan a meal that looks pretty much like the Taco Lotto and segue right into the lotto game!

Pass me the salsa, por favor…

nat's signature



P.S. If anyone wants a “My Face” laminated lotto set (the one Alessandra is playing with in the picture), I have just a few left for sale. Email me privately at I have both a boy set and a girl set.

Recent Posts