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.

Friday, February 12, 2016

I SPY Private Eye

Work on visual discrimination, figure ground, visual scanning, visual memory, visual form constancy, in-hand manipulation, manual dexterity, bilateral integration, social skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: Picture cube jumbler with lid and 30 second timer, 9 picture cubes (dice), 30 I SPY cards, 1 magnifying glass token
Ages 5+, 2-4 players

Another great I SPY game by Scholastic designed to target visual perceptual skills. This one adds the fun of dice, and if you've read my blog at all, you know I like dice (called cubes in this game). To set up the game, place all the cubes in the shaker and put the lid on top. Shake several times, set the shaker on the table, and slide it back and forth a few times to make sure all the cubes are flat. Shuffle the cards and place them in a pile face-down in the playing area. There are two different sets of cards - 15 beginner cards and 15 advanced cards.

Beginner Game            Advanced Game

You can play with one set or the other, or for a longer game, use them all.
To play:
  • Press the blue button on top of the shaker to start the 30 second timer and take the lid off.
  • All players try to memorize all the pictures that they see on the cubes.
  • Put the lid back on the shaker when the timer goes off (to hide the cubes).
  • The first player turns over the top card. Scanning the card, he states which pictures he saw on the cubes. If another player thinks he is wrong or has left something out, he may grab the magnifying glass and state "I SPY more". The challenger will state what is missing or amiss.
  • Lift the lid and check. If the player was correct, he gets the card. If the challenger was correct, he gets the card. If both were wrong, the card stays where it is, starting a new face-up pile, and the challenger loses one of his cards and must place it on this new pile.
  • The shaker is pushed to the next player, who turns over the top card and guesses. If he is correct, he keeps that card as well as the card from the previous turn. If incorrect, he leaves the card on the face-up pile for the next player. One person may challenge each player.
Once the cards have all been collected from the face-down pile, the person with the most cards wins. The shaker comes with batteries and I have replaced mine. I don't remember what these are called and I looked all over the box and instructions and not a mention anywhere, so I took a picture of them. I get mine at the Dollar Store. 


Check out more fun figure ground games at I SPY Games.

Try this:
  • Play with fewer cubes if the player has trouble remembering nine and work your way back up to nine. Sometimes duplicate pictures will show up so you will not always need to remember nine.
  • Play with one person and use any number of cubes that is appropriate. Go through the pile and look at the cards one at a time and guess.
  • Skip the shaker bottom. Cup the hands and shake the dice in-hand. Throw on the table, study, and then move them together and place the lid over them to cover.
  • Line up multiple cards on the table. Set one cube on the table. Ask the individual to find all cards that have that picture. Play again and hide the cube before searching. If the individual cannot remember the item, reduce the number of cards and build your way back up over time. If it seems too easy, add more cards to look over.
  • Line up multiple cards on the table. Set two cubes on the table. Ask the individual to find all cards that have both pictures on it. Play again and hide the cubes before searching.
  • Place one four-picture card on the table. Ask the individual to pick up one cube and roll it in the fingertips, looking at all sides to find out how many of the pictures from the card are on the cube. Check several cubes before turning over a new card.
  • Place one four-picture card on the table. Ask the individual to throw all the dice and take out one to match each picture. If they do not all come up, push the ones aside that do and shake again. Keep shaking until you have found the four pictures.
  • Cup the two hands side-by-side and shake without dropping any. Then cup the hands, turn one 90 degrees and place over the top of the other hand to shake.
  • Place one four-picture card on the table. Choose one item from the card and look over every die and see how many have that item. Then choose another picture and do again. Ask the individual to roll and turn each die in the fingertips to check each of the six sides.
  • Show the individual one four-picture card and ask him to remember the objects. Turn the card over. Ask the individual to turn four dice to the four pictures on the cards. Turn the dice in the fingertips, not flip from side to side on the table top.
  • Hold the cards in the non-dominant hand and push the top card off the top with the thumb to separate when placing.
  • Name each object out loud when memorizing. Adding another sense may help the individual remember better. Say them in the same order three or four times.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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