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.

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Work on executive functions, spatial relations/positions in space, visual discrimination, figure ground, visual closure, visualization, visual scanning, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, bilateral integration, crossing midline, social interaction skills, process skills, values, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 70 tiles
Ages 6+, 1+ players

Work to develop multiple visual perceptual skills in a single game. Acuity consists of 70 tiles, each with four symbols, as shown above. To set up the game, build a grid with any 36 tiles (it will be different every game), six across and six down. Place the rest of the tiles face down on the table. Take one tile off the pile and lay it face up on the table. See who can be the first player to find that pattern on the grid. Rotate the tile in your mind and look at if from every angle. If you cannot find an identical tile on the grid, you may need to overlap the tile over two or four tiles on the grid. Above left is the tile I am looking for. I have put a black rectangle around this pattern on the grid. It overlaps 2 different tiles. The first person to spot the pattern gets the card. One by one, search for matches to the remaining 34 tiles. The one with the most cards at the end, wins. 
Acuity tiles - 1/8 inch thick makes for easier manipulation.

Try this:
  • Play with only one person. Allow them to hold the card and turn it in-hand as they looks for the match if they cannot do it without manipulating the card.
  • Build the grid by holding four or six cards in the non-dominant hand, pushing the top card off the top with the thumb and taking with the dominant hand to place.
  • Put the game away by picking the cards up one at a time and stacking them. Move the whole stack each time to the next tile. How high can the stack get before the individual can not hold any more cards?
  • Start with a smaller grid for an easier game. You may have to stack the deck before the game starts to make sure the cards on the pile will have matches on the grid.
  • Coach the individual to pick two shapes that are adjacent on the card they are trying to match. Scan the board and look for those two shapes together. As you find matches, stop and look at the pattern on the whole card and see if it matches the pattern on the board.
  • Place numerous cards on the table face-up. Play I SPY and give instructions to find a specific card. There may be more than one match. For instance, "I spy a card with two squares on the left side" or "I spy a card with a star in the top left corner and a star in the bottom right corner".
  • Line cards up in one long horizontal line, matching the pattern down the left side of the new card with the pattern down the right side of the card already in play (kind of like dominoes). How many can you lay before you run out of matches? 
If you would like to purchase this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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