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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

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Dominoes


Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, figure ground, visual tracing, visual form constancy, in-hand manipulation, manual dexterity, attention, waiting and taking turns, being a good winner/loser, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 28 dominoes with pictures and numbers
Ages 8+, 2 or more players

Dominoes is an age-old, classic matching game played by young and old alike. This set is a whimsical holiday version based on a popular kid's TV show, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. A game the whole family can play together, pull this one out to spread a little Christmas cheer. The dominoes feature six different characters from the show including (and I had to look these up) Rudolph, Hermey, Sam the Snowman, Santa, Yukon Cornelius, and the Abominable Snow Monster. Each domino has two pictures on it. Sometimes the picture is the same (called a double), and sometimes the pictures are different. To play, all dominoes are placed face-down on the table and mixed. Then each player chooses seven dominoes and stands them up in front of himself so that only he can see what he has. The rest of the dominoes are left in the face-down position and create the draw pile. Push these to the side. One player places a double in the middle of the players in a vertical position and the game begins. On each turn, a player is allowed to place one domino. This domino must have a picture that matches a picture on the end of any domino already in play. If the domino is a double, it is placed vertically, and if it is not, the domino is placed horizontally (see image above). If the player does not have a match, he is required to pick from the drawing pile until he gets a match to play. Players are allowed to play off all four sides of the initial double domino that started the game. Each domino character is also assigned a small number (1-6) in the corners so that you can keep score if you want. When you keep score, players only get points if the total of all tiles on the ends total a number divisible by five. Keeping score makes this a much more complicated game than just a matching game, as you must determine all the possibilities for matches that your dominoes could create on each turn and look for the highest scoring option, the domino that will least likely set an opponent up for a big scoring play, and usually a combination of both. This requires mental math, logic, and decision making. For individuals who are not capable of keeping score, picture dominoes are a great alternative as a matching game. The standard version of dominoes has just dots instead of pictures. These tiles are smooth, solid plastic and have small blue snowflakes in the background, front and back. You can find kid's domino sets in many, many different themes. Some completely eliminate the numbers. 

Try this:
  • Work on matching by lining them up as far as you can, without playing a game.
  • Prop them up on their sides, sort and stack them by picture, or stand them up side by side and push the first one to knock them over.
  • Place a long line of dominoes on the table and make an error with one to two of them. Ask the individual to trace the line with his eyes and find the error(s).
  • Place all the tiles face up on the table. Give the individual a double, say Rudolph. Ask him to find all the tiles that have Rudolph on them. Turn some of the tiles upside down or sideways for a more difficult task.
  • Place all the tiles face up on the table. Give verbal instructions to find tiles, such as a tile with Rudolph and Hermey. Then one with the Snowman and Yukon, etc.
  • Turn a piece in-hand to the correct orientation before placing it in line (instead of spinning it on the table top).
  • Make a long line of dominoes. Place matching pieces in the players hand, one at a time, and ask him to turn it in-hand and place on the correct end.
  • Put the dominoes away by placing all of one character at a time. For instance, place all dominoes with a Rudolph back in the case. Then all dominoes with Hermey, etc. Ask the individual to stack them with one hand as he goes. How many can he fit in a stack in one hand without dropping?
If you are interested in purchasing this item or jus want more information, click on the image below.

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