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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, February 1, 2016

Take the Cake


Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, visual form constancy, figure ground, spatial relations, visual scanning, manual dexterity, distal rotation, palmar arching, fine motor precision, pincer grasp, attention, sequencing, pronation and supination, proprioception, crossing midline, social skills, play and leisure exploration and participation 

In the box: Cupcake shaker, 1 die, 16 cupcake pattern cards, 32 wooden shapes
Ages 4+, 2-4 players

I can almost smell them baking. Small manipulatives, a die, pattern cards, and a yummy theme. Would more could you ask for? This is a simple matching and counting game for young players. The pattern cards show either one, two, or three shapes on the icing. The wooden pieces are the exact same shapes and colors as the shapes on the cupcakes. The cupcake container and the lid are both hard plastic. The cupcake lid is round and sits on top of the cupcake bottom, but there is no way to secure it onto the cupcake. Therefore, as you turn the cake upside-down and shake, you will have to hold the lid on with your thumb or else curl all fingers around the top as you hold it in your palm from the bottom. There are 2 versions for playing this game. Per the instructions for both games, you will be putting the small decoration pieces into the cupcake, turning it over, and shaking it so that pieces drop out.  With that said, here are the two versions of play:

Version 1
Set up the game by stacking all the pattern cards face-down on the table and putting all the small pieces into the cupcake. Turn the top four cupcake cards face-up. Each player will start his turn by throwing the 1-2-3 die. That number will be the number of times the player gets to shake the cupcake. All pieces that drop out as the player shakes can be played onto any/all of the four face-up cards. If the player fills one or more cards with these pieces, he takes that card and the pieces and places it by him. Any unused pieces go back into the cupcake and a new card(s) replace the card(s) that were taken. His turn is over. Each player, in turn, will repeat these steps until all the cards have been claimed. Person with the most cards wins.

Version 2
Same as version 1 with the exception that instead of all players playing on four shared cards, each player is given two cards. Once the player fills a card(s), he may replace them with new cards and his turn is over. Once the last card is taken, the game is almost over. After the next person fills a card, the game ends. Person who has filled the most cards wins.

Try this:
  • Play alone, matching the shapes to the cards.
  • Place the pieces on the table. Give the individual one card that will require either two or three pieces. Ask him to find the pieces for that card and, picking them up one at a time, squirrel them into the palm. Then move them one at a time from the palm to the fingertips to place on the card.
  • Ask the individual to cup the non-dominant hand, squeezing the fingers together so pieces cannot fall out. Place numerous pieces into the cupped hand. Ask the individual to pick up those pieces, one at a time with the dominant hand, as he fills the cards.
  • Make a nice cup in the hand with a hollow in the palm while shaking the die. Ask the individual to roll it in the hand for a few seconds, without dropping, before throwing.
  • Place all the pieces in a pile and let the individual match them to the cards. Places pieces in different orientations than they appear on the card, such as on the side or upside-down.
  • Pick up the small pieces and turn them in the fingertips to get the correct orientation, as opposed to turning it on the table top or against the body.
  • Drop all the necessary pieces for a pattern card into the palm of the dominant hand. Ask the individual to move the pieces, one at a time, to the fingertips and rotate for placement.
  • Look at a two or three shape card with the individual. Name the pieces in the order you would like him to place the pieces, such as "green star, pink circle". Can he remember the sequence and place them correctly?
  • Put the pieces away at the end by picking them up as you count them one at a time. Squirrel them into the palm, or turn hand and drop into the palm as you count. How many can the individual hold without dropping?
  • Play alone by matching all the pieces to the cards. Place the pieces on the non-dominant side for practice crossing midline. Watch that the individual does not lean to the side while reaching across, thus avoiding crossing midline.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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