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, February 1, 2015

20 Games to Play With Your Kids Before Christmas


What a great time of year to spend time with the family playing holiday games. Below are some of my favorites that I have blogged about. Just add hot cocoa and candy canes. Click on any title to go to that game and get more information. 

Memory Challenge Holiday Edition - One of the first I pull out each year. Includes a few Haunaka (dreidle, candles) and sets that could just be considered winter. Includes extra challenges cards for a fun holiday twist (optional, don't have to use them). Inexpensive, family fun. 

Reindeer, Santa, Elf, Snowman Poppers - Hog Wild sells poppers in lots of different seasonal shapes, including Santa Claus, snowman, and elf.

Indoor Snowballs - A kid pleaser. Lightweight, but not flimsy, these snowballs are for indoor play. I get a lot of mileage out of this one from December through February. Would probably be longer if I lived in the Midwest.

Scrabble Holiday Edition (Christmas) - Time for a party! Bring together your Scrabble friends for holiday treats and a Christmas themed Scrabble game. This one is for me!

Holiday Fluxx Card Game - Covers holidays from Halloween to New Year's. If you are working on following directions, you may like this one. 

Spot it Holiday - My favorite card game goes Christmas.

Jesus is Born Nativity Wooden Puzzle - 30 piece wooden puzzle depicting Jesus' birth.

Holiday Charades - Another of my favorites for motor planning fun. Can just turn into role playing also if it is just another person and me in a therapy session.

LEGO Decorating the Tree - LEGO offers small holiday and seasonal sets. They sell out fast.

Christmas Bingo - Most kids like Bingo. Grab a few inexpensive prizes and bring on the fun.

It's a Charlie Brown Christmas Android app - My favorite cartoon kids explain the true meaning of Christmas.

It's a Charlie Brown Christmas Look and Find - Find the pictures hidden in the backgrounds from this Christmas classic. Figure ground fun.

Charlie Brown Christmas Board Game - Spend time with the Peanuts gang while they get ready for Christmas.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Game - Recover the Christmas presents from the Grinch to help save Christmas for the Whos in Who-ville.

Angry Bird Christmas Dice Game - A holiday-decorated, card/dice game based on the popular app.

Find It - Elf on the Shelf - Twist and turn the tube to find the 40 Christmas/winter related items hidden inside. Search-and-find cards add extra fun.

Scaventure Kids - Sort through the cards and pick out a few Christmas themed activities such as:
  • Locate three different types of Christmas tree ornaments.
  • Find a cone from a coniferous tree.
  • Recite the items that someone's true love gave for every day of Christmas.
  • Draw a holiday symbol.
  • Track down a candy cane.
  • Make up your own!
Candy Memory by eeBoo - This memory game is all about candy and has several holiday matches I associate with Christmas including candy canes and ribbon candy. 

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Dominoes - Traditional domino game with Rudolph themed characters. Each tile has a picture to match as well as a number for keeping score.

Christmas Sticker Scenes - I have used sticker scenes from Oriental Trading for years. They come in everyday scenes as well as holiday and seasonal.


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