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

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. Many people pick up the meaning of these sayings from context, without ever being outright taught. For those who don't, there is Figurative Language In A Jar. 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.

Cyber Dilemmas In A Jar
Bully Free Zone In A Jar
Kids' Daily Dilemmas In A Jar
Temper Tamers In A Jar
Try this:
  • Pick out a few to focus on at the beginning of the session and then use them in context during the session to help reinforce the meaning.
  • Turn it into a true/false exercise instead of multiple choice if reading out loud, since some will need to remember all three answers to ponder if they are not sure of the answer. Instead, ask the individual to say true or false after you read each answer.
  • Ask the person to say stop when you read the answer that he thinks is correct.
  • Give only the correct answer to avoid confusion on what to remember. Follow up by comparing the saying to the meaning and pointing out the similarities.
  • Draw a picture comparison to help those who have a visual learning style remember. Make the drawings whimsical and fun. I use a dry erase board and markers and let the kids draw too.  
For more information, click on the image below. 

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