Children learn through play. As an occupational therapist who works with children and youth, I use games and toys almost every day to help develop important cognitive, visual perceptual, motor, sensory, social, play and leisure skills. While many different types of activities can be used in therapy, this blog focuses on off-the-shelf games and toys that are accessible to most. Whether you are a therapist, parent, teacher, or a game lover like me, I hope you discover something useful while you are here. Learn a different way to play a game you already own or discover a new game for your next family game night. Either way, just go play. It's good for you!

The OT Magazine named The Playful Otter one of the Top 5 Pediatric OT Blogs.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Curious George Take it Away

Work on visual scanning, visual memory, figure ground, manual dexterity, executive functioning skills, process skills, socialization skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 40 pictures of Curious George, 30 plastic chips

This is a pretty straight-forward game. There are 10 different pictures of Curious George. Each shaped picture is on card stock, about 1/16" thick. One side of the picture is George doing something, and the other side has the brand name Ravensburger repeatedly printed in a small, blue font. There are 10 different activities and four duplicates of each activity.

The activities George is engaged in are looking at himself in a mirror, holding a kite, holding a bunny, riding a bike to deliver newspapers, balancing a ball on his head, reading a book, writing, painting a sign, looking at a jigsaw puzzle box, and looking at medical supplies. Plastic chips are small, red, and for keeping score.

Before the game starts, determine how long you will play, such as for 15 minutes, for 10 rounds, or until all the chips are taken. Then the person with the most chips at the end of the game is the winner.

Set up:
Divide the pictures into 4 sets of 10. Each set will have the same 10 pictures. Give one set to each player.

Players will take turns being the take-away person. This person makes sure his set of ten pictures are in a position to be viewed by all. Then all players turn around or close their eyes. The take-away person takes one of the pictures from the set and holds it so that the others can't see it. The other players then open their eyes and look at the remaining nine pictures. Using their set of pictures to help them, they work to discover which picture has been taken away. The first person to call out the activity correctly earns one plastic chip.

Try this:
  • Start with fewer total pictures than 10 for an easier game. Work your way up to 10.
  • Instead of taking the picture away, turn it over. See if the player(s) can tell what it is from the shape only, with or without the aid of another set of pictures.
  • Study the pictures before the game to memorize what is there, then don't allow the player(s) to have another set of pictures to refer to. Start with fewer pictures and work your way up to 10.
  • Recite out loud what George is doing in each picture to help the activities stick in the memory.
  • Sort all the pictures into 10 sets of 4.
  • Place all the pictures face-up on the table. Describe an activity and have the player take off all 4 of that activity. Or work with fewer sets and fewer pictures.

Monopoly Junior Party

Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, figure ground, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, hand arch strength and stability, executive functioning skills, process skills, socialization skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: Gameboard, 32 Present tokens, 16 Chance cards, 16 Party Cards, 70 1 notes, 4 Cupcake movers, 1 Party box, 1 die

Monopoly Junior Party is a party-themed, simplified version of the original Monopoly game. The board is square and much smaller than the original game, with only 16 properties (called parties in this game) instead of 24. 

Each property is bought once and no further building is done on it, and ownership is recognized by the color of present sitting on the property. Money only comes in denominations of 1 and all money transactions are between 1 and 5 dollars. These differences will allow kids as young as 5 to enjoy the game and may aid in learning colors (green, blue, red, yellow) and counting (1-5). Five squares share the same images as the original game: Go, Chance, Just visiting, Free parking, and Go to jail.

Be the player with the most money and/or properties when the first player runs out of money.

Set up:
Involve the player in this part as a lot of skills will be used. Separate the plastic presents (property markers) and cupcakes (pawns) into piles by color. Each player chooses one pile and places his cupcake on the Go square. Separate the chance cards from the property cards. Place the chance cards in a face-down pile on the question mark space on the board. Count out and give each player money (18 bills for 2 players, 14 bills for 3-4 players). Assemble the 3-D Party Box and place it on the board. 

In turn, each player with throw the die and move his pawn (cupcake) that many squares forward. Check out which space you landed on and then follow these instructions:
  • A party (property) with no present on it - Take the property card and pay the bank the amount of money written on the card. Place one of your presents on the space so that all players know you own it.
  • A party (property) with a present on it - If it is your property, do nothing. If it is someone else's property, pay them the amount of money that is shown on the property as a gift.
  • Go - Any time you land on or pass Go, collect $2 from the bank.
  • Chance - Read the card and follow the directions. If you are asked to pay money, place it in the party box. Examples of Chance instructions are:
    • The party police think your party's too fun! Pay $3 into the Party box.
    • Go to any gree party space. If no one owns it, get it for free! Otherwise, the owner keeps it. Pay them the price on the space.
    • You buy silly hats for your party. Pay $1 into the Party box.
  • Party box - Congratulations! You get to open the Party box and keep any money that is inside. Return the box to the board when you are done.
  • Just visiting - Do nothing, you're just visiting anyone who is in jail.
  • Free parking - Do nothing.
  • Go to jail - Move your pawn to the jail space. Do not collect money if you pass Go on your way to jail. On you next turn, pay $1, throw the die, and move.
Play continues around the board until someone wins.

Try this:
  • Assign the person who is working on counting to be the banker.
  • Say the name of each color out loud as you sort them into different piles by color.
  • Stand up all of the presents and cupcake markers that will be used for the game by holding 2 or 3 in the palm and moving them, one at a time, to the fingertips to rotate and place on the table. 
  • Cup the hand, curl the fingers together, and hold for several seconds while shaking the die without dropping. If you are playing on someone's birthday, sing Happy Birthday each turn as they shake to keep the hand in that position a little longer.
  • Put the markers away after the game by asking the player to cup the hand, hold the fingers in that position, and then slowly drop the presents and cupcakes into the palm one at a time while counting. If he has trouble cupping the hand, first shape the player's palm by putting a small ball or round object in the hand and forming the hand around it. Then remove the ball. Drop the pieces into the box by handfuls.
  • Put the markers away after the game by picking them up one at a time and squirreling them into the palm. How many can the player hold without dropping? Get another handful, can he hold one more?