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, May 15, 2015


A finger and manual dexterity work out.

Work on finger isolation, manual dexterity, eye-hand coordination, bilateral integration, logic, executive functioning, visual discrimination, visual memory, visual motor integration, spatial relations/position in space, motor planning, tactile perception, forearm supination/pronation, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 1 plastic piece as shown above.

The object of BackSpin is to move all the colored balls into their matching color slots. As you can see on the image above, the player still has a little work to do on the red and yellow sections. This is a two-sided toy. The back looks just like the image above, having six sections in the same layout. The two sides are connected only in the middle so the two sides are able to turn and spin independently of each other and you will often be moving marbles vertically as well as horizontally. There are nine different colors altogether, just three appear on both sides (yellow, orange, red). There are 36 spaces for balls and 35 balls. This empty space is where you will pass balls from front to back, and up, down and around. Spin the front and back discs so that you can line up the slots for passing balls from top to bottom. When I play, I use the index finger, middle finger, and thumb of both hands, which ever finger is closest to push balls into the slots. It is often my thumbs on the top as that is how I am holding it. It does require an isolated finger to push a ball through as it will not just fall through once it is lined up with the empty space. You will be constantly flipping it from front to back to see what is going on with the other side.  

Try this:
  • Demonstrate how to play first, since it is a rather unique toy.
  • Start by mixing up only a few of the balls so that the individual can get used to the toy and how it works and still achieve success.
  • Start by mixing only the three colors that are on both sides for a little easier version.
If you are interested in purchasing this toy or just want more information, click on the image below.

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