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 15, 2015


In the box: 60 symbol cards
Ages 7+, 2 players
Work on visual discrimination, visual form constancy, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, coordinated use of both hands, attention, mental flexibility, decision making, self control, processing speed, social interaction skills, processing skills, play and leisure exploration and participation
It's called Blink because the box says it's the world's fastest game.  It's also a great matching game that requires you to be able to look at multiple attributes at the same time.  There are six different shapes, six different colors, and each card can have from one to five shapes on it.  Start the game by putting 2 cards, face up, on the table. Deal the rest of the cards evenly between the players, face-down. Someone says go and the game starts. Each player picks up five cards from his pile and fans them in their hand. Each player can play on either (both) piles while making matches. The goal is to make matches as fast as you can so that you can use all your cards before your opponent. As soon as you run out of the five cards in your hand you can pick up another five cards for play. To make a match, you can either match the color, the shape, or the number of shapes on the card.  For instance, look at the example below.  The card on top of the pile is 3 blue raindrops.  You can either play 1) any blue card, no matter what the shape or number, 2) any raindrop card, no matter what the color or number, or 3) any card with three shapes, no matter what the color or number. Sometimes you get stuck and have to wait. Sometimes both players get stuck and they each pick up three new cards. Whoever plays all his cards first, wins.
Try this:
  • Sort cards in piles by one attribute at a time, such as sort by the six shapes, then sort by color, then sort by how many symbols are on the card (number). If you do this first, it might give the individual a better idea of hw the matching works.
  • Hold the deck in your non-dominant hand as you sort. Push the top card off with your thumb and place it on a pile with your dominant hand.
  • Work on processing speed by playing alone. Time yourself on your first game. Then play again and try to beat that speed. Each time you play, try to shave off a few seconds and play a little bit faster.
  • Skip the speed. Some people do worse under time pressure.
  • Practice fanning the cards by pushing each one away with the thumb.
  • Place the cards face up randomly on the table. Give the player one card and ask him to find three cards that would match: one for shape, one for color, one for number. Play until there are no more sets left.
  • Give the individual the opportunity to be the dealer to practice in-hand manipulation and two-handed coordination.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below to go to Amazon.com.

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