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!

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Friday, May 8, 2015


An easy Monopoly version for beginners.

Work on visual discrimination, figure ground, spatial relations, eye-hand coordination, turn taking, following directions, motor planning, gross motor, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, palmar arches, grasp, reach, bilateral integration, crossing midline, play and leisure exploration and participation, creative play, social interaction, cognitive functioning, attention, decision making, simple addition and subtraction
In the box: Board, money, plastic horseshoes, die, board markers, deed cards
Ages 5-8, 2-4 players
A beginners game of Monopoly for those Juniors in your life who love ponies. Themed pieces include plastic horseshoes, pony deed cards (each with a fun name) and pony markers. This version doesn't take too long to play (maybe 30-45 minutes) and doesn't require large number math, as money (treats) only comes in denominations of 1 - 5. The deed cards each picture a different breed of pony and even have a description on the back. The instruction (Horse Play!) cards may require physical movement, such as stand and perform your best bucking bronco, stand and trot around the board two times, take a walk like a pony around the board on all fours. Throw the die and advance around the board. Buy pony spaces that you land on and then earn money by collecting fees when other players land on those spaces. Placing a horseshoe marker on each square that you own shows everyone who that square belongs to. The game ends when one player owes more money than he can pay. The player with the most money at this point, wins.
Try this:
  • Assign the person who is working on counting or making change to be the banker.
  • Gather a small stack of mixed bills and ask the individual to separate them and sort them into the correct denominational piles.
  • Hold the deck of property cards in the non-dominant hand and use the thumb to push each card off, one at a time, to deal.
  • Stand up all of the horseshoe markers that will be used for the game by holding 2 or 3 in the palm and moving them, one at a time, to the fingertips to rotate and place on the table. 
  • Cup the hand, squeeze the fingers together, and hold for several seconds while shaking the die without dropping. 
  • Sort the horseshoes by color.
  • Put the horseshoes away after the game by asking the player to cup the hand, hold the fingers tight in that position, and then slowly drop the horseshoes into the palm one at a time. If he has trouble cupping the hand, first shape the player's palm by putting a small ball or round object in the hand and forming the hand around it. Then remove the ball. 
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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