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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Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Work on visual discrimination, in-hand manipulation, spatial relations, figure ground, following directions, turn taking, eye-hand coordination, visual tracking, social interaction, taking turns, play exploration and participation

In the box: Game board, 72 playing cards, 4 animal markers
Ages 3-8, 2 to 4 players

What do you get when you cross a trip to the zoo with a safari? Why a Zoofari of course! This is a fun, colorful game that is a lot like Candy Land, but with an animal theme. The goal is to be the first person to arrive at the Flamingo Oasis at the top of the board. To start the game, place the board on the table and place the cards, face-down in a stack by the board. Next, everyone places their markers around the word START at the bottom of the board. Taking turns, each player will pick one card from the pile and move as indicated along the colorful path. The image below (the back of the box) will show you the cards and the three options for moving:
  1. One colored square - Advance forward to the first square of that color.
  2. Two colored squares - Advance forward to the second square of that color.
  3. Animal picture - Move your marker to the space on the board that has the same picture. It may be backward, or it may be forward.
The game also has a number of pitfalls or lucky moves, such as the swingin' monkey vine, the log bridge, and the snake pit. Games like this and Candyland are good games to work on turn taking since it moves along so quickly. The board is quite busy and has lots of colors and graphics.
Try this:
  • Take out the animal picture cards for a shorter game.
  • Start with cards with only one colored square if the individual gets confused with so many options.
  • Ask the individual to pick the top card off the stack on each turn without sliding any other cards off the deck. Sometimes I only use half a deck if the individual has trouble with this.
  • Track the path with your finger before starting so the individual can see the curves and direction of play. If they lose track during the game, do it again. The board is very busy.
  • Use another marker with a distinct front and back. I use little character figures that I have from other games. I make sure the character is always pointing forward after a turn for kids that can't remember which direction to travel.
  • Forget the game, just sort the cards. Take the animal pictures out of the deck. Then put the rest of the cards in a pile, face up, in front of the individual. Place a card with one square to the left of the stack and a card with two squares to the right of the stack. Separate and lift one card at a time from the stack and place it on the matching side.  
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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