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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, April 19, 2015

Feel & Find


Versatile - match with or without sight.


Work on tactile discrimination, stereognosis, manual dexterity, visual discrimination, sensory processing, in-hand manipulation, spatial relations, figure ground, executive function, visual form constancy, eye hand coordination, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 20 wood pieces, 20 tiles with matching shapes cut out, carrying bag
Ages 3+

Each of the 20 wooden pieces has a wooden tile with a matching shape cut out. Put your hand into the bag. Without sight, can you name what you are feeling? Can you spot the matching tile? About half of the wooden shapes are simpler geometric shapes and half are more detailed shapes such as animals, trees, and people. Pieces are solid wood and brightly painted. Bag is made of a non-see-through cloth and should last a long time. It has a draw string that can be tied so all pieces can be stored and carried inside.

Try this:
  • Start with deep pressure to the hands. Chair push ups would be great.
  • Spend time concentrating on how to feel, practice carefully feeling the item for clues. Ask the individual to close his eyes and put one piece in his hand. Ask him to use two hands and tell you about the piece. Cue him to use words to describe characteristics of the pieces such as bumpy, pointed, round, corner, square, legs, head.
  • Repeat the step above and use only the dominant hand to feel the item.
  • Close your eyes as above and let the individual put a piece in your palm. Model what you want him to do.
  • As you put the pieces in the bag, allow the individual to feel each one. Talk about the shape and describe how it feels.
  • If you want a more challenging activity, don't allow the person to see or feel the pieces beforehand. Lay the cut-out tiles on the table in plain view. Have him put his hand in the bag, pick up a piece, and without seeing the piece, find the matching tile on the table.
  • Use as a simple matching game. Put out several or all of the tiles and give the individual the wood pieces to match to the tiles.
  • Put one tile on the table. Give the individual 2, 3, or 4 pieces and ask him to find the piece that matches the tile.
  • Place only a few pieces in the bag and lay the matching tiles on the table.
  • Scatter all the wooden pieces on the table. Place one tile in front of the individual and tell him the color that the piece will be. Ask him to scan the pieces to find the matching object, only stopping to look at the pieces that are the color you indicated.
  • Line up several tiles. Ask the individual to line up the blocks that match the line of tiles.
  • Scatter the blocks on the table when setting up the games, but make sure that some of them are upside-down, sideways, laying on their side, or in other incorrect orientations to work on visual perceptual skills.
  • Scatter the wooden pieces on the table top. Bring one wooden piece and its matching wooden tile together. Then place and wooden piece in the pile of pieces and scan the pieces to find it again.
  • Scatter the wooden shapes on the table top. One at a time, show the player a wooden tile. Ask him to scan the shapes and tell you the color of the piece that would fit in the tile.
  • Place a wooden tile in front of the player. Place the matching shaped piece in the player's palm. Ask him to bring it to his fingertips and rotate it in-hand to orient it correctly for placement. Make sure you turn some of the pieces into incorrect orientations before placing them into the palm.
For more information, click on the image below.

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