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 6, 2016

Roll & Read

Work on developing arches, tripod grasp, manual dexterity, precision tool use, visual discrimination, spatial relations, visual memory, visual closure, writing, reading, spelling, cognitive functioning

In the box: 8 plastic cubes, 4 write and wipe scorecards, word list, 4 erasable markers, cup, 1 minute sand timer
Ages 6+, 1-4 players

Rolling learning and fun into one. Dice games offer an opportunity to work on developing palmar arches, so I generally don't even bring dice cups out when they are included with games. The game includes four beginning sound cubes (red letters) and four word endings cubes (blue letters). Cubes are about the size of typical dice found in games such as Monopoly. There are 2 Word List cards, each printed on both sides. If an individual is not sure about a word, he can check for the word on the word list card. To set up the game, give each player an erasable marker and a score card to write words on. There are four different variations for playing the game:
  1. Original - Shake all eight cubes and throw them on the table. Start the timer. Each player writes as many words as he can find. Play three times and see who has the most words.
  2. Word Bandits - Play the original game and then at the end each player reads his word list. If another player found a word that you did not, write it on your list too.
  3. Roll 5 - Roll only five cubes - either one red and all the blue, or one blue and all the red. How many words can you find?
  4. The Last Word - Play the original game. After the game is over, each player reads his word list. If another player got the same word as you did, each player must cross that word off his list. The winner is the one with the most words on his list at the end of the comparisons.
Try this:
  • Start by cupping one hand and placing the cubes in that hand. Then cup the other hand and place it at a 90 degree angle over the first hand. Shake. If the palms remained arched, you should be able to hear the cubes "dancing". Ask the child to hold that position and shake for 10+ shakes.
  • Place a tennis ball in the palm if the individual has difficulty positioning the hand in the cupped position. Remove the ball and add the dice. Cover and shake.
  • Ask two players to each shake four cubes and throw if eight are too many for smaller hands.
  • Start with fewer dice (2 of each color) for an easier game with less options.
  • Demonstrate how to systematically use one beginning sound at a time and add it to each ending sound, without moving any cubes. Once all of those words are made, move onto the second beginning sound cube.
  • Move one beginning sound cube and place it next to each ending sound cube, one at a time. If it makes a word, write it down. When done, remove that cube and pick up another beginning sound cube and repeat until all beginning sound cubes have been removed.
  • Focus on one goal at a time. If your main goal for playing the game is reading, don't stress over the handwriting.
  • Write the words for the individual if the handwriting is too large for the boxes on the scorecard.
  • Erase the cards right after the game is over. It can be difficult to clean even erasable markers if left to dry for too long.  
  • Choose one red cube (beginning cube) and one blue cube (ending cube). Use the beginning letter, rotate the ending cube in the fingertips and read all the words that you find. Be careful not to drop the cube as you rotate it. Turn the hand to see it from all sides.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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