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, March 20, 2015

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel

Work on manual dexterity, palmer arch development, fine motor precision, tool use, web space development, finger isolation, thumb opposition, hand separation, visual discrimination, figure ground, spatial relations/position in space, visual closure, eye-hand coordination, executive functioning, social interaction, values, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: Tree shaped game board (bottom of the box), 1 squirrel squeezer, 20 colored acorns (5 different colors), 1 game spinner, 4 logs
Ages 3+, 2-4 players
Spin the spinner, grab the matching colored acorn with your Squirrel Squeezer, and stash it in your log. Be the first to fill your log with delicious acorns and you win. I have read several good reviews of this game, but I am not crazy about it. Yes, the cute factor is off the chart, but in my opinion the squirrel squeezer is awkward to handle when picking up the acorns, and awkward to handle when placing the acorns in the holes. The acorns lie on their sides so you need to tip the squirrel way up to pick them up in the correct position for placing in the holes. Once you have an acorn, the squirrel hands are so wide they cover most of the acorn and make it difficult to put it in the log hole before letting go. I debated a long time before buying this game, and since I got it I have used it once or twice. The spinner is easy to use, and you will be directed to pick up acorns by color or number, or lose acorns.

Try this:
  • Try using a different kind of tweezers or tongs. You will still need to move your hand into different positions to turn the acorn upright and place in the hole.
  • Pick up the acorns with the fingers and place onto the logs, instead of using tweezers or tongs.
  • Hold the spinner in the non-dominant hand and use the thumb and index finger of the dominant hand to flick the arrow.
  • Turn the logs upside down and sort the acorns into them by color.
  • Place one or more acorns into the players palm and ask him to bring them to the fingertips, one at a time without dropping, and sort by color.
  • When putting the game away, pick up the acorns one at a time and squirrel them into the palm. How many can the individual hold without dropping?
  • When putting the game away, cup the non-dominant hand and hold it in that position as you place the acorns, one by one, into the cupped hand. Can all be held without dropping?
  • Use different fingers to flick the arrow on the spinner.
  • Start with a rounded web space before flicking instead of just pushing it with one finger.
 If you would like to purchase this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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