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 22, 2015


Work on graded grasp and release, manual dexterity, understanding balance, pincer grasp, coordinated use of both hands, crossing midline, eye-hand coordination, visual discrimination, executive functions, values, social interaction and participation, play and leisure exploration and participation 
In the box: Long narrow wooden board and wooden block (perch), 6 purple chickens, 7 yellow pieces (hay bales), 7 orange pieces (wagon wheels) 
Ages 4+. 2-4 players
The challenge is to balance all the chickens, hay bales, and wagon wheels on the perch without anything falling off. To set up, make a perch by balancing the long plank on the wooden block. Now take turns balancing one piece at a time. If anything falls off on your turn, the other player wins. The pieces are solid wood and brightly painted. The purple chickens may be a little hard to pick up for some because of the shape and the smoothness. Picking them up by the orange felt piece sticking out the top is easiest, and is probably what it is meant for. Teach how to keep both sides balanced. If you have a child that is attracted to wooden toys over other types of toys, he may well like this one. ChickyBoom is the recipient of multiple toy awards.
Try this:
  • Put the long board flat on the table, not balanced on the block. Place the pieces on the board, one by one, to practice stacking and the graceful, graded release necessary so that nearby pieces don't fall off. Then add the challenge of balancing and stack again.
  • Pick up a piece with the left hand and cross over to place it on the right side. Then pick up a piece with the right hand and place it on the left side.
  •  Build one tall tower of hay bales and wagon wheels on the tabletop (orange and yellow pieces). Place a chicken on the very top.
  • Set up the perch and balance all the pieces on top. Now take them off one at a time without making anything fall.
  • Pick up two of the same pieces, one in each hand, and place them on the perch at opposite ends at the same time. How many times can you do this before something fall?
  • Set up the perch and balance all the pieces on top. Ask the player to take a piece off, one at a time without toppling, as you call the color.
  • Play with a friend. Challenge them by placing pieces precariously on your turns.
  • Give the player a verbal sequence of pieces to put up. Can he remember and place them in order? 
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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