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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.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Rivers, Roads & Railroads

An updated version of a classic.

Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, figure ground, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, spatial relations

In the box: 140 tiles
AGes 5+, 2+ players

An updated version of a classic that can be played three ways. The game consists of tiles only, as you see in the picture above. The goal is to make the longest connected path of highway, railroad track, and waterway that you can. To start the game, each player takes 10 tiles and places them face up at his spot. Then each time it is your turn, draw one tile and play one tile, until someone is stumped and cannot add any more, which ends the game. This could easily be a one player activity. You will need a sizable surface as the cards are approximately 2" X 2" and the tiles can take off in any direction when you add curves. Each new piece that is laid must have a connection to each pathway that is already in play. Some tiles will continues paths, some will end a path, others will start a new so. And so the game goes on. Instructions are given for three different games:
  • Original - Be the first to use up all your cards while building a continuous network of rivers, roads, and rails.
  • Roadblock - Try to play as many cards as you can, while at the same time creating roadblocks to make it difficult for the other players to match their cards.
  • Foursies - Who can collect the most cards and win the game?
Try this:
  • Spin the card in-hand while trying to decide which direction it goes.
  • Place a few tiles in the drawing pile at a time so that each piece can be flat on the table (would take up too much room to put them all out at once). Have the individual pick up the piece from the flat surface where it is, not pull it to the edge of the table to pick up.
  • Start by building a pathway to teach the rules. "Yes, this piece would work here because..."   "No, this piece will not work here because..." Then move to "Could this piece go here?" "Why?" "Why not?"
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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