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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.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Holiday Charades


Work on motor planning, balance, core strengthening, thinking skills, following directions, problem solving, taking turns, social interaction, play exploration and participation, manual dexterity, body awareness, visualization, spatial relations

In the box: 60 cards

A game we love to play at Christmas, the object of charades is to act out a word, phrase, song title, etc., without speaking, so that others can guess it. To set-up the game, shuffle the cards and put them where all can reach them. Across the 60 cards, there are five categories: song, television, book, movie, character. Each card has one charade written on it from one of these categories. Examples are Rudolph, White Christmas, and Jingle Bells, characters, songs, and movies that are familiar to many, making this a great family game. To play, one person at a time picks a card and acts out what is written on it while the others guess. Either the person who guesses correctly goes next, or just continue in a clockwise manner. There is really no reason to buy a game when all you would have to do is write ideas on slips of paper, fold them, and let players take turns drawing. Make your rules as strict or as lenient as you want. Sort through the cards ahead of time and only put out the ones that are particular to your audience, for instance if you are having a party just for kids. Charades can be played every year and is different each time, as different people will act out the same things differently.

Try this:
  • Work as a team. Act out a supporting role, model an action, or offer suggestions if the individual has trouble coming up with an idea and/or executing the action.
  • Allow sound or the use of props for additional clues.
  • Be ready with encouragement and keep the atmosphere light and fun.
  • If the individual chooses a card he does not want to act out, let him choose another. It is not meant to put anyone on the spot.
  • If the players are guessing fast, make a house rule that no one can guess for one minute so that the individual has a chance to actually motor plan and perform the movements. 

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