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, September 6, 2015



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 butterfly markers, die, board markers, fairy dust (chance) cards
Ages 5-8, 2-4 Players

If you are looking for a fairly simple introductory version of Monopoly that doesn't take too long to play and does not require large number mental math, this is the game for you.  Fairy themed board and pieces include plastic butterflies to mark your properties, fairy deed cards, and fairy markers. This version doesn't take too long to play (maybe 30-45 minutes) and doesn't require large number math, as money (acorns) only comes in denominations of 1 - 5. Set a time limit to play, or move around the board until someone runs out of money. The chance cards may require physical movement, such as do your favorite fairy dance and all players stand and flutter your imaginary fairy wings.

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 butterflies 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. 
  • Make a butterfly garden next to the board by standing up all the butterflies that won't be used in the game. Pick them up one at a time and rotate in the fingers to orient them upright and place. Make sure the butterflies are laying down to start.
  • Cup the hand, squeeze the fingers together, and hold for several seconds while shaking the die. 
  • Sort the butterflies by color. 
  • Put the butterflies away after the game by asking the player to cup the hand, hold the fingers tight in that position, and then slowly drop the butterflies 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 to go to Amazon.com.

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