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, October 1, 2017

Adapting Off-the-Shelf Games and Toys for Therapy - Fall

I look forward to the changing seasons and the holidays as they roll around each year so that I can pull out some of my special favorites. Kids love them, and it adds festive fun to the therapy sessions. Here are a few of my fall favorites. Click on the game name to go to my post about that game, including ways to use in therapy. Happy fall!

Go Nuts! - Squirrels and acorns, a game made for fall. A quick playing dice game.

LEGO Thanksgiving Turkey - LEGO puts out limited edition sets for different seasons and holidays. They go fast.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving app - Another charming Charlie Brown android app from Loud Crow. Based on the TV special, Charlie Brown and Snoopy whip up a last minute meal of jelly beans, popcorn, and toast. See how his guests react. Lots of chances to interact with the app. Features the original music and character voices.

The Orchard - Harvest the fruit before the raven has a chance to help himself. Lots of small pieces to manipulate.

Fall Lacing Cards - A great way to work on the coordinated use of both hands. Includes scarecrow, fall leaves, straw bale, pumpkin, wheat stalks, and more.

The Thanksgiving Box of Questions - Serve up before or after the big meal. Thought provoking questions based on Thanksgiving themes. 

Holiday Fluxx Card Game - This edition covers Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. Looking for a game to work on executive functioning? This might be it.

Granny Apples - What says fall like apples? Help Granny pick the apples for her famous apple pie, but watch out for the worms.

Fall Sticker Scenes - I have used them a lot over the years. Oriental Trading changes their pictures from one year to the next, but I have always found Halloween, fall, and Thanksgiving themes.

HiHo Cherry Oh! - The updated version has four kinds of fruit, including 'fall-friendly' apples.

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel - It's time for squirrels to start collecting acorns and time for your to bring out your Sneaky Snacky Squirrel.

Thanksgiving J-I-N-G-O  - A Thanksgiving themed BINGO.

Acrobats - Bats aren't technically Halloween, but somehow I always put them together.

Squirrel Popper - Use the squirrel popper to launch the acorns at your targets.

Candy Memory - Halloween and candy, a perfect match. This game has all kinds of candy, including seasonal, like candy corn, caramels, wax lips, and smarties.

String Along Lacing Kit - Even though only one of the patterns in this game is Halloween related (Jack-o-Lantern), if you happen to already have the game, now is a good time to pull it out.

Monster Match - A matching game that relies heavily on spatial skills.

Scaventure Kids - Flip through the cards and find things that seem Halloweenish, then add your own to the list. Here are some examples I found:

  • Make a mask with paper.
  • Find something gooey (make everyone stick their hand in it without looking).
  • Make a mermaid with whatever materials you like.
  • Make one of your teammates look like a hula dancer.
  • Draw a holiday symbol.
  • At Halloween these seeds are roasted, salted and eaten as a snack. Find some.
It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown UNO - Another kid pleaser. A regular UNO game that features pictures from It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. There is even an unique Trick or Treat card, with special rules.

Ned's Head - Already loaded with gross stuff that you can use for tricks, like fake vomit, a dirty Q tip, a worm in bird poop, and a dirty diaper, this one can be as open as your imagination. Add your own fall or Halloweenish items.

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown Look and Find Book - Another figure ground gem, this book features pictures from the actual It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown cartoon.

It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown app - Kids still watch! This is an awesome android app that features the original music and character voices and is narrated by the original voice of Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins). Many interactive features.

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