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.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Emotion Thumball

Work on visual perceptual skills, manual dexterity, social skills, reading facial expressions
Small, soft 4" ball that is easy to catch and has character traits and emotions printed on hexagons over all. Throw the ball to someone. After he catches it, ask him to lift his thumb and read what is on the hexagon where his thumb was. It is called an "emotion" thumb ball, but not everything on it is an emotion. Kind and thoughtful are more character traits than emotions. I have used this ball for a number of activities and the kids have been open to it. Words on the ball include disappointed, jealous, defeated, tired, worried, stressed, curious, thankful, hurt, relieved, silly, brave, generous, sorry, and lonely. There are also cartoonish figures on the white pentagons that include frustrated, surprised, unhappy, excited, tearful, angry, frightened, confused, and cheerful.
Try this:
  • Have the person act out the emotion and try to guess the emotion by reading his facial expression, coupled with context and body language.
  • Type a list of the emotions on paper to aid in helping the person interpret.
  • Ask "What might this person say?" or "How might this person act?"
  • Use the ball to model emotions and their associated facial expressions and body language.
  • Catch the ball and lift your thumb. Read the emotion and state "A person who is worried may look like this. He might say..."
  • Work on facial expressions and/or body language only, no speech. Talk about how the mouth, eyes, eyebrows, arms, posture and such would look.   
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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