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.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Discovery Garden

Work on figure ground, visual discrimination, visual memory, visual scanning, manual dexterity, deductive reasoning, play exploration and participation, social interaction
In the box: Shake-and-look game box with 21 plastic items to find, spinner, 29 cards
Ages 3+, 2 or more players
This is similar to the Find It! tubes in that small objects are hidden in pellet-type material and you must find and identify them. Unlike the Find It! tubes, Discovery Garden comes in a shake-and-look box (with pellet-type "soil") and includes a spinner. The object of the game is to be the first person to collect six cards (triangle shaped, above). To set up the game, take off the lid and make sure the five removable puzzle-piece doors are in place. Shake the box. Shuffle the cards and put them in a pile, face down, next to the spinner. The first player chooses a card, which will tell him what he is looking for, and spins the spinner, which will tell him where he can look. He will then lift one of the puzzle pieces and look into the box.
If he finds what he is looking for, he keeps the card. If not, he leaves the card face-up on the table. A player can take any and all face-up cards that he can match on his turn. When the player is done looking and collecting cards, he replaces the puzzle piece and the next player plays. Once a player collects six cards, the game is over.
Try this:
  • Tell the player to remember what he sees and where he sees it as other players lift puzzle pieces. It may help him find his piece when it is his turn.
  • Play alone, without the spinner. Pick a card and lift any puzzle piece. If you miss it, put it on the bottom of the deck. Go through the deck until you can remember where each item is and you collect all the cards.
  • Place all the object cards on the table (there are also color cards). Open one door and look inside, memorizing what you see. Close the door and look at the cards. Choose the one(s) that you saw. Open the door again and see if you are correct.
This game also comes in Curious George and The Little Mermaid versions.

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