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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.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Pig Pile


Work on in-hand manipulation, manual dexterity, fine motor precision, palmar arches, coordinated use of both hands, social skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 80 cards, 40 pink pigs
Ages 7+, 3-6 players

I have trouble resisting games that have a lot of little pieces, or as I view it, many chances to manipulate. I looked at this game a long time on Amazon and finally found it second hand. And all the pieces are here. I love it when that happens. My box lid says Second Edition in the top left corner. I don't know what that means, just mentioning it in case you are looking for the same thing. Yes, as shown in the picture above, there are 40 piggies included! If you are a fan of Pass the Pigs, imagine what you could do with 40! In this game you will be competing over five rounds to corral the most pigs, which are used for scoring. The first person to play all his cards win the round. The cards are illustrated with pigs and are numbered 1-12. To set up the game, shuffle the deck of cards and deal three face-down to each player. This is the "slop" pile and will be used only at the end of the game. Each player sets these cards aside. Now deal seven cards face-down to each player to play the game. Place the remaining cards in a pile in the middle of the players. This is the draw pile. All the pigs are left in the box lid - the "pig pen" - until needed. Players take turns playing a card and picking a card. Play starts by turning one card face up on the table. The next player must play at least one card on this pile that is equal to the number on the card or greater than the number. If the card is equal, he can play up to three cards. If greater than, he plays one card. For instance, if a number 5 is showing, you may play any number between 5-12. After you play, pick a card and your turn is over. If you cannot play on your turn, meaning you do not have a card in your hand that has a number greater than the top card on the pile, you must pick up the entire pile and put it in your hand. There are four cards that will have special instructions tied to them. They are:
  • #4 - Hog Tied - Next player loses his turn
  • #8 - Hog Wash - Once played, all the cards on the pig pile are "washed away" and taken out of the game. Another way to wash away the cards if for someone to play the third of the same number.
  • # 11 - Ewe Turn - Direction of play reverses.
  • Hog Wild - The number is set to zero and any card can be played.
At the end of the game, players must play the three cards from their "slop" pile. These cards are face down and players have to control of the results as they pick one at random and play it. The winner of a round gets to take three pigs out of the pen. The round continues until another person goes out, and he gets two pigs. All other players get 1 pig except for the person with the most cards. He gets no pigs. Person with the most pigs after five rounds, wins. Unless you run out of pigs before that. 

Try this:
  • Stand all pigs on their feet (like image above) before the game starts instead of leaving them in the pig pen. Pick up several in the dominant hand and bring them, one at a time to the fingertips, rotate, and place on the table.
  • Put the pigs away by picking them up, one at a time, squirreling it in the palm, and picking up another. How many can be held in the palm before dropping?
  • Cup the non-dominant hand and drop the pigs in, one at a time, before putting away by the handful. How many can be held without dropping any?
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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