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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.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pass the Pigs

The tiny pigs are engaging and fun for kids.

Work on palmar arch development, precise fine motor control, in-hand manipulation, coordinated use of both hands, manual dexterity, visual discrimination, spatial relations, executive functioning skills, socialization skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation


In the box: 2 small pigs, a small score pad, 2 small pencils, scoring guide, carrying case

A fun way to get kids to repeatedly cup the hand, as most kids are quickly engaged by the tiny pigs in this fast-moving game. The goal is to have the highest score after 10 rounds. After each person playing gets one throw, that is a round.

Object:
Score the highest poinst

Set up:
Choose someone to keep score or give each person a score sheet. Place the pigs in the playing area.

Play:
Cup your hand(s), shake the two pigs, and throw them onto the table. Compare your pig's landing positions to the green score card to determine your score. For instance, if one lands on his side, a sider, it's worth 1 point. Two siders, the most common position, will score you two points. If a pig lands on his feet, a trotter, it's worth 5 points. If both pigs land on their feet you get a double bonus, 20 points total. A double snouter, a pig balanced on his nose, is worth 40 points, but hard to get! Some of the positions will also result in lost points. Add your score as you go, and after ten throws the highest scorer wins. Keeping score on the score pad will require very small writing.

I have also blogged about Pass the Pigs Party Edition, which has pattern cards and multiple sets of colored pigs and Snout, a Pass the Pigs card game. If you like this game, there is also a cow version called Tip the Cows.

If you would like to read more about games that require writing or drawing in some form, check out my post Games That Require a Writing Tool.  

Try this:
  • Model the cupped position and how to shake the pigs before starting to play - fingers together, making a rounded cup in the palm. Sometimes a child will just squeeze the pigs tight in the hand and shake the hand, thinking the pigs are moving around when they are not. 
  • Shape the palm before shaking the pigs by putting a small ball or round object in the individual's hand and forming the hand around it.
  • Cup both hands and place them together on top of each other, then shake.
  • Keep the hand in a cupped shape just a little longer by counting to 10 before the pigs can be thrown or listening/watching a few seconds as the pigs "dance".
  • Keep throwing the pigs as long as you dare, adding or subtracting from your score with each throw.  Throw a "Pig Out" or "Oinker" and you will wish you had quit sooner.
  • Ask the individual to position the two pigs in each scenario on the score card before you begin to give a visual for the scoring. Put both pigs into the palm of the dominant hand and ask the player to bring the pigs, one at a time, to the fingertips and orient before placing on the table top.
  • Use the opportunity to practice small writing and mental math. Use a large sheet of paper if the score sheet is too small.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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