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.

Friday, January 30, 2015


Work on cutting skills, tool use, hand strength, visual discrimination, spatial relations, manual dexterity, separating the two side of the hand, fine motor precision, motor planning, following directions, finger isolation, leisure exploration and participation
In the box: 365 kirigami patterns

Kirigami is an art form similar to origami, except that after folding, it also requires cutting. It's a favorite activity of mine when I am working on fine motor and visual perceptual skills. Follow the directions for folding the paper, cut along the lines as indicated, unfold and view your masterpiece. When using this in therapy, kids are very excited when it comes time to unfold, and extremely pleased when they see their finished products. Even if a mistake is made cutting, it comes out symmetrical and often no one knows the difference. This is actually a calendar with one sheet (kirigami project) per day. There are 4 levels of difficulty in this box with several different types of folds including snowflake, spider, heart, and butterfly. Each different type of fold has a card stock instruction card to show how it is done, step-by-step. You will need a good pair of sharp scissors as you will be cutting through several layers after folding.  An Exacto or other type of sharp knife for cutting out small, detailed areas is necessary for the more difficult and intricate designs. I do this part for kids that are not ready to use an Exacto knife or when there is a safety issue. Even if the kids can't stay exactly on the lines, once they unfold and see the symmetrical pattern, the resulting creation is still beautiful to the kids. The box is sturdy, the lid is hinged, and it is holding up extremely well for me. So glad to have stumbled onto this product. A different version comes out each year.
Try this:
  • Use a straight edge, such as a thin ruler, to help kids fold if they cannot fold on the line.
  • Keep the folding instruction card in view for the person who needs additional help. 
  • Demonstrate each fold before the person does it and let him follow your moves.
  • I use the Exacto knife myself unless I am working with older kids who can safely handle this tool.  Before letting them use it, give instructions for safety, as the blades are very sharp. I then let them practice on scrap paper so they can get used to cutting with the knife before using it on their project.
  • Use something flat, like a popsicle stick, to drag across the fold for a crisp fold.
  • Sit side-by-side with the individual so he can exactly follow your moves as you model. When you sit across from someone, some of your moves will appear opposite as your right is their left and vice versa. 
If you are interested in purchasing this product or just want more information, click on the image below to go to Amazon.com 

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