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.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Figurative Language


A ready-to-go activity to teach hidden meanings.

Work on understanding figurative speech, social skills, communication
In the jar: 101 printed cards with metaphors, similes, and idioms
Ages 8+
Individuals on the spectrum, and those who interpret things very literally, may struggle with understanding and using figurative language because it is part of the hidden curriculum - social skills that everyone is supposed to know but many are not outright taught. This activity is designed to teach the meaning of figures of speech so that individuals are prepared to respond appropriately when they pop up in social situations. Each of the cards in the jar gives an example of either a metaphor, a simile, or an idiom, and offers three choices as to the meaning. The answer is written on the same side of the card as the question, at the bottom, so you will have to hide that part if the individual is reading for himself. Here are three examples from the cards:
  • Metaphor - Maria is a walking dictionary means
    • a) The library is Maria's favorite place.
    • b) Maria is a book.
    • c) Maria knows a lot of words.
  • Idiom - Children have a big appetite for learning means
    • a) Children get hungry in school.
    • b) Children want snacks when they are learning.
    • c) Children want to learn many things.
  • Simile - The worker was as busy as a beaver means
    • a) The worker was working hard at many tasks.
    • b) The worker sort of looked like a beaver.
    • c) The worker was building a dam.
Before a session, I will sift through the pile and take out the cards that I think are appropriate and relevant for that particular individual. Also, for higher functioning individuals, I don't offer the three answers unless they get stumped and need clues. I started to assemble a list of these going from site to site on the internet, then decided it would be easier and quicker to just buy this tool. I still think the "In the Jar" items are a little pricey, but I have three of them now and they have turned out to be a good investment for me. 
For more information, click on the image below. 

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