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, April 10, 2015

I SPY Treasure Hunt

An I SPY version of a Memory game.

Work on visual discrimination, manual dexterity, visual constancy, figure ground, visual memory

In the box: 48 tiles, game board, magnetic shovel
Ages 5+, 1-4 players

I was very excited to open this new game from a well known name - I SPY. When it comes to figure ground games, they're as good as any. However, as a therapeutic tool, this one was quite disappointing for me. And it had so much potential! It's a modified version of the old stand by - Memory. Have the most tiles at the end of the game to win. The game includes 48 tiles that are stacked 4 high on each square on the board (see above). There are four different colors of "sand" pictured on the I SPY side of these tiles and they are stacked in a particular order, from darkest (bottom) to lightest (top). Once the board is set up, use the magnetic shovel to pick up two tiles to see if you have a match. The trouble started right away, as I tried to figure out how to use the hard plastic shovel. As it turns out, the shovel is sloped on the end that you would "dig" with, and this sloped area is the only magnetic part of the shovel. Touch the shovel, at an angle, to the top of any pile to pick up the top card. The card will attach to the shovel and it you are careful, very careful, you can pick the shovel straight up and look at the piece. I say straight up because any tipping to one side or the other to see the piece and it slides right off. The magnetic attraction is not strong enough to hold it in place when tipping. So you will end up lifting the shovel quite high in the air so that you can see the bottom of it where the piece is attached. I quickly tired of using the shovel and set it aside. Now let's say you pick two cards and get a match. You set the match on your side, picture side up, and from now on anything you pick that matches that category can be kept by you and added to your pile, even if you don't make a match on your turn. There are several categories such as coins, jewels, shells and gems. The pictures on the cards are not identical, as in a typical matching game, so working on visual constancy is a possibility. However, I quickly realized that I was not even looking at the pictures. Each category has its own colored background and I found that as I picked tiles I was just checking the color of the background for a match. Once you have several piles going, which isn't difficult, almost everything you pick up will be a match, so there is not even a need to try and remember where anything is. At this point it is just a color matching game. For a brand as well know as I SPY, I was also surprised at the lack of imagination with the graphics.  For me, this will probably be most usable as a straight-up memory game. Mix the pieces up, spread them on the table, turn over and match two. The pieces are thick and may be easier for some to pick up and turn.

For more information, click on the image below.

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