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Greedy Gorilla

This is the food game where you collect the ‘healthy’ foods on your place ‘mat’ and you feed the ‘junk’ food to the gorilla. The naughty gorilla then makes a burping noise!

The children (and adults!) find the Gorilla hilarious. As well as having fun listening to the Gorilla, the game can also be used to develop lots of the childrens’ speech and language skills:

Attention and Listening

Sometimes, children really struggle to concentrate on an activity for any length of time and quickly flit from one thing to the next. This affects their language development in lots of different ways. For example, adults may be providing lots of excellent language models and talking about what is happening but the child has lost attention and is not listening to all the utterances being said around him/her.

At first, just play the game with your child and only use 10 of the food items. The game is then over when all 10 items have been posted into the gorilla’s mouth or put on yours/your child’s mat. Next time you play, use 15 food items and/or add an extra player. Your game will then last longer and your child will have to concentrate for an increasing amount of time. They will be motivated to do this as s/he will want to continue to hear the naughty gorilla!!


Food Words

‘Foods’ are an early category of words that children develop understanding of. This game gives you lots of different food pictures to label and talk about with your child e.g. ‘ice-cream’ ‘milk’ ‘bread.’

You can then lay out a selection of the different food pictures and ask your child for one to see if they have developed understanding of the food item e.g. “Give me the apple.”.

This learning can then be reinforced in your everyday activities when you talk about what you and your child are eating ie. “Mummy’s eating an apple”/”daddy’s eating a banana.”

Action Words

As you are labelling the different foods, you can introduce verbs/action words to your child e.g. “The gorilla’s eating a doughnut” or “I’m feeding the gorilla some chips.” When your child knows the basic action words, you can expand their knowledge by talking about “The Gorilla is …… ‘licking an ice-cream’/’biting an apple/sipping some pop/crunching on popcorn.’

As well as different types of foods and action words, you can also support the length of instructions which your child understands. ‘Key words’ are words which we have to know in order to follow a sentence e.g. if I put out a picture of a ‘banana’ and an ‘apple’, held my hand out and said “Give me the apple”, there would only be one key word (‘apple’) that the listener would have to understand, ‘give me the’ are irrelevant as they can be worked out by the hand gesture.

By giving your child a choice of ‘food’ and ‘people’, you can encourage them to understand sentences with two key words e.g. “Give the banana to mummy” “Give the sweetcorn to the gorilla.” The child has to make a choice with two words – the ‘food’ item and the ‘person’ to give the item to.

Talking Skills

Once a child understands the food and action words, they then need to be able to use the words in their talking: putting the words in the right order and moving their mouth into the right positions to articulate the words. The child can become the ‘director’ and can tell you what to do e.g. “Give the chips to the gorilla”.

Depending on your child’s level, you can make it easier for them by holding the ‘naughty gorilla’ up and asking “What should the gorilla eat?” They can then simply label the ‘food’ item.


You can make your Gorilla into a ‘female’ or ‘male’ and give them an appropriate name e.g. “Geoff the Gorilla”/”Holly the Gorilla”. You can then reinforce the pronouns, ‘he’ and ‘she’ throughout the game e.g. “She is eating an apple/He is eating some peas.”


Lots of children find it difficult to wait their turn. Playing Greedy Gorilla with a sibling/friend, gives the child lots of opportunities to practice waiting to have their turn. As they are excited to hear the naughty gorilla, not only are they motivated to wait their turn but they also want to carry on playing the game until it is completed.

So overall, Greedy Gorilla is a very simple and fun resource that can be used with a variety of age groups. It can be used to develop a range of speech and language skills as everyone enjoys playing it: who cannot help smiling when a naughty gorilla burps!