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.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

First Hand

Work on in-hand manipulation, manual dexterity, finger isolation, spatial relations, visual discrimination, visualization, visual memory, body awareness, motor planning, pronation, supination, crossing midline, proprioception, symmetrical bilateral integration, asymmetrical bilateral integration, attention, problem solving, decision making, applying logic, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box:   60 cards (some possible, some impossible)

One of my Top Ten favorites, I have used this game a lot.  It's great for those with difficulty motor planning.  Pictures on cards grade in difficulty from one hand, to two hands doing the same thing, to two hands doing different things, to arms crossed and hands doing the same thing, to arms crossed and hands doing different things, to hands in positions that are not possible (see below). The last card is an example of a position that is impossible.

There is nothing on the cards that indicate order of difficulty, so I just sort them. All four versions on each single card are the same, as the game is meant for more than one player. I do not play this as a game, I simply lay one card (or the pile) in front of the person and ask him to put his hand(s) in that position.   If the person you are working with is distracted by the other 3 sets of hands, cut a square the same size as the card from white paper, cut out a small square that will let only one hand view show, and lay it on top of the card to block the other three. 

If the individual is able to work his way up to identifying the impossible cards, I ask him to model each card (if he can) and then put the card into one of two piles - possible or impossible. If kids can't read, I put two signs on the table for sorting - a smiley face for possible and a frowning face for impossible. Kids have liked this game, always a big plus!

Try this:
  • Sort the cards before you start to focus on what you are working on and to avoid flipping cards that the individual will not be able to complete. I usually keep the impossible cards separated, as not all can understand them.
  • Model for those who have difficulty, let them follow your actions.
  • Sit side-by-side with the individual so that what you do will be the same direction for them to repeat. Sitting across from them will result in them seeing the movements opposite from what they should do. 
  • Start with the same hand each time on two-handed cards to make it easier for those who have difficulty motor planning.
  • Determine if the position is possible or impossible by visualizing your hands in that position. Keep hands below the table and just think about it. Good for kids who have already mastered the game using their hands.
  • Show the individual a possible card and ask him to look and remember it. Turn it over and put hands in the same position from memory.
  • Pick cards up. one at a time, from a flat surface, or lift one at a time off a pile without knocking over the pile.

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