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, August 28, 2015

Alphabet Squiggle

Work on visual motor integration, visual discrimination, figure ground, visual form constancy, visual closure, visualization, spatial relations/position in space, visual memory, tripod grasp, precise fine motor control, web space development, separation of two sides of hand, bilateral integration, executive functions, values, creative thinking, social interaction skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and interaction

In the box: 2-sided game board, 4 pawns, die, blank paper squares, small pencils
Ages 4-7, 2-4 players

If you have kids that like to doodle and are working on letter formation and/or pencil control, this is a fun game. The rules are fairly simple:
  1. Roll the die (1-6) and move that many spaces along the curvy yellow pencil in the middle of the board.
  2. Note the letter you land on, find that letter on the border of the game, and lay a piece of paper on top of the letter and trace it. If you already know how to write that letter, just write it on your blank paper.
  3. Using the letter you wrote you can either write a word that starts with that letter, draw a picture using the lines from the letter, or draw a picture of something that starts with that letter.


The games ends when someone makes it to the eraser (the end of the path). The board is two-sided, one side is upper case alphabet and the other side is lowercase alphabet. Make a rule that all players play on each turn so that there is no down time waiting for others to finish drawing.

Try this:
  • Rotate the letter to one orientation and have everyone work from that if the choices are too overwhelming.
  • Brainstorm to give people ideas before drawing. Write the letter on a paper and then turn it in different orientations. Every makes suggestions for what they see as possible drawings.
  • Have all draw from the same letter, each choosing a different orientation. Use two colors only, as in the pictures above, so that the letter will stand out.
  • Use tracing paper if the individual cannot draw well enough to play. Come prepared with a simple picture for each letter to trace.
  • Use colored pencils or fine tip markers to add life to the pictures.
  • Draw a simple picture, one step at a time, and ask the individual to copy you as you go. For ideas on simple drawings to use when learning pencil control and precision, check out Ed Emberley's drawing books (my favorites). Drawing Book of Faces, Goody Gumdrops, Fingerprint and Thumbprint Drawing Books 
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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