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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Thursday, September 17, 2015


Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations/position in space, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, stability, balance, executive functions, manual dexterity, precise fine motor control, grading movements, palmar arch development, values, social interaction skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 3-piece Belfry, 16 bats, 1 die, sticker sheet for die, small bat tokens 

This one appeals to the kid in me. Hang the bats in the belfry, but don't be the one that hangs the bat that brings them all tumbling down. The bats come in three sizes - small, medium, large - and therefore also three different weights. The die has a sticker on each side instead of being imprinted, but I have never had a problem with the stickers coming off. To start, set up the plastic belfry. The pieces easily slide together and the legs are angled on one side so will only fit together in one way. Underneath the top-middle of the arch there is a magnet. One of the bats in the box also has a magnet above his head. Attach him to the magnet on the arch. You will hang all bats from him and when the weight becomes too much, or you bump it or tug on it while hanging, they will all fall. To play, place all of the bats on the table within reach of all players. In turn, each player will throw the die to find out which color bat he will be hanging. Hang that bat from a bat that is already hanging on the arch. Each bat has four hooks and two holes to hang more bats from. You will need to hang bats from both the right and left sides of the magnetic bat to balance the weight on both sides so as not to bring the bats down prematurely. Players will have to be able to determine how to angle the hand to hang the bat and must move carefully and use a light touch. The hanging bats will also sway when touched - another reason to move carefully. The holes are harder to hang from than the hooks as the wrist must be extended back much further to get the hand in the correct position.

Try this:
  • Practice hanging a string of bats in-hand (image above left) instead of on the arch to avoid the disappointment of repeatedly knocking them down while learning. Hold a bat in your hand and see how many bats the individual can hang from it. Practice moving the hand while alternating the bats on the hooks. You will need to raise the arm higher as the string gets longer.
  • Talk about adding weight alternately on both sides to keep both sides balanced. As the string of bats grows, talk about the consequences of hanging a heavy bat vs. a light bat. If the individual does not understand or use the principle, I keep things balanced on my turns to keep the game going.
  • See how many bats you can hang in one game. Play again and try for more.
  • Hold the bat still if the individual has trouble hanging without moving the bat that is already there. This will take a very gentle touch so as not to bring down the works.
  • Practice cupping the hand and rolling the die around in-hand for several seconds before throwing.
  • Sort the bats by color.
  • Skip the die and verbally name the bat color to hang each turn.
If you are interested in this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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