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!

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

UNO - Who knew?

Work on visual discrimination, in-hand manipulation, manual dexterity, fanning/shuffling/dealing cards, coordinated use of both hands, focus and attention, executive function, number and color recognition, social interaction skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the boxes: Cards

Who knew there were so many different versions of UNO? Who knew that it's a simple card game that is loved by old and young alike? Who knew many school aged kids are already familiar with it? Who knew you could address so many skills at once? Once I started listing UNO games I was surprised at the variety of themes and versions that this classic card game now comes in. Some are old versions, some are new, and they just keep coming. Some of the games have cards only, and some, like UNO Flash and UNO Spin (two of my favorites), have additional equipment that comes with the traditional cards. This blog will focus on the UNO card-only games. There are many different themes and each one that I have seen uses the traditional 1-9 number cards plus the Wild, Draw 4, Draw 2, Reverse, and Skip cards. The different themed games also have at least one special instruction card. I am listing them separately so that you can see what the special instructions are for each game. As I acquire different versions, I will keep adding them to this list. MY First UNO is also a card-only version that is for beginners and also comes in many different themes, but has fewer cards, so I will blog about that one separately.

If you work with someone who has trouble fanning and holding a handful of cards, you might want to check out this card holder. It's the one I like and use.

Basic UNO instructions:
The object is to be the first person to play all your cards. Begin by dealing seven cards to each player. Set the rest of the deck face-down in the middle, this is the drawing pile. Turn the top card face-up and set it next to the deck. The top card on this stack is the card in play. Each time you play you will place your card face-up on top of this pile, making it the new card in play. On each turn, you have several options for play:
  • Play any card that matches the color of the card in play.
  • Play any card that matches the number of the card in play.
  • Play any Wild card and choose the color for the next person to play. 
  • Play any Draw 4 card, which is also a Wild card. The next player must pick 4 cards and his turn is over. The person who played the Draw 4 card also chooses the color for the next player to play.
  • Play a Draw 2 card that is the same color as the card in play. The next person must draw two cards and his turn is over.
  • Play a Reverse card that is the same color as the card in play or play on an existing Reverse card. This reverses the direction of play.
  • Play a Skip card that is the same color as the card in play or play on an existing Skip card. The next person to play loses his turn.
  • Draw a card if you can't play.
If after you play you are left with only one card, call UNO (meaning one), to warn the others that you will be going out. If you fail to call UNO and another player points it out, you must immediately draw two additional cards and add them to your hand. Try to become the first person to run out of cards by using the special cards to your advantage and to block other players from going out.

As mentioned, in addition to these traditional cards, themed games have their own special instruction card(s). Here is a list of some of them:
  • Frozen - Olaf's Summertime Card. The player of this card can either discard up to three pink cards or three yellow cards from his hand. It is also a Wild card, so the player can choose the next color to be played.
  • Charlie Brown Movie - Man's Best Friend Card. The player of this card may discard up to three Snoopy and Charlie Brown cards, any combination. It is also a Wild card.
  • Disney Princess - Curse Card. The player calls a color. Every other player must draw cards until they get a card of that color. All drawn cards are placed in the players' hands. This is also a Wild card. I have 2 different Disney Princess games and this one has only girls on the box.
  • Spiderman Spider-Man - Spider sense card. When this card is played, each player must show a card from his hand that has Spiderman on it. If a player does not have one, he must draw 2 cards. This is also a Wild card.
  • CARS - Victory Lap Card. When this card is played all players must place their card hand face-down on the table and pass it to the left. The person who played the Victory Lap Card can look at the hand he is passed. If he wants it, he keeps it and everyone else picks up the hand they received. If he doesn't, the hands keep getting passed to the left until the player finds the hand he wants to keep.
  • Barbie - Friendship Card. The player may trade hands with any other player. 
  • It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown - Trick or Treat card. The player of this card calls a color. Every other player must pick one card off the draw pile. If the color of his card matches the color called, he can discard it immediately. If not, he must hold it.
  • Sophia the First - Cute and Cuddly card. If the player before you plays a draw four card, you can play the Cute and Cuddly card and you will not have to draw four and you will get to then take your normal turn.
  • The Muppet Show - Mayhem card. The player causes all players to exchange hands. The player determines if it will be by passing hands to the left, to the right, or across. This is also a wild card and the player determines the next color played. 
  • Sponge Bob Lost in Time - Daredevil card. This card can be used to cancel a Draw 2 or Draw 4 that has been played on you. It is also a wild card.
  • Sponge Bob Squarepants Special Edition - Super absorbency card. When this card is played, the player with the fewest cards must "absorb" one card from the player on his right, one from the player on his left, and one from the deck. 
  • Sponge Bob Squarepants All New Special Edition - Special recipe card. The player of this card can look at the hand of the player of his choice. It is also a wild card.
  • Nascar Special Edition - Drafting card. Used as a wild card, the player announces a color. THEN he may discard up to 2 more cards.
  • UNO H2O - Transparent and waterproof, the plastic cards can be used by the lake, in the boat, even in the water. 
  • Holiday - This set does not have any special cards but there are Christmas decorations on the number side of the cards in the background. Yellow has bells, green has Christmas trees, red has candy canes and blue has snowflakes.
If you know a player that has trouble holding the cards in-hand, check out this card holder that has worked great for my kids and adults. Card holder

  • Deal fewer cards. The game typically goes faster but it is less to watch and hold for beginners.
  • Take out all cards except the number cards for beginners. Teach one rule at a time (draw 4, skip, etc.) and add those cards back in. When the player has that rule, add another.
  • Hold the deck in the non-dominant hand and push each card off with the thumb to deal. Take it with the dominant hand and pass it.
  • Practice drawing cards off the deck by separating them one at a time and not toppling the deck.
  • Practice shuffling.
  • Separate any two colors from the deck. Shuffle them. Place the deck face-up on the table and put one card of a color on the left of the deck and one card of the other color on the right of the deck. Separate and pick up one card at a time from the deck and place it on the card with the matching color. Play through the whole deck, being careful not to topple the draw deck or slide cards off as you lift.
  • Sort cards into piles by number or color.
  • Play a game and turn each card in-hand so it is right-side-up before placing it on the pile in play.

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