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.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, figure ground, visual form constancy, visual closure, manual dexterity, separation of two sides of hand, in-hand manipulation, critical and analytical thinking, social skills   

In the box: 2 plastic trays, 2 sets of 24 plastic marbles, one marble shaker

This game will require strategy, but is also based on a certain amount of luck. Each player gets one tray and 24 marbles (eight different colors, 3 of each color). The goal is to be the person who can place all of your marbles on your tray, or if no one does, to use more marbles than your opponent. Each tray has a 5 X 5 grid of holes to hold the marbles. The marble shaker has a 3 X 3 grid on the bottom and there are three marbles in it. It is closed and there is no way to open it. To play, the first player shakes the marble shaker. Both players observe the pattern that the three marbles have landed in on the 3 X 3 grid.  Each player picks up three of the same color marbles, it doesn't matter which color, and places them in that exact pattern anywhere on his tray. Players use three of the same color so that they can keep track of where they have put marbles and to make sure they get the pattern correct. If you used three different colors, you could easily lose track of where you laid what. The next player shakes the marble shaker and the steps are repeated. The more marbles you have on your tray, the harder it will be to fit specific new marble patterns onto it. Try to fit the marbles in such a way that you are not left with spaces that require more than a 3 X 3 grid to fill. The game ends when someone uses all their marbles or when each player takes one turn shaking the shaker and no one has the specific patterns left on their grid to add new marbles. Whoever has the most marbles on the grid when the game ends wins. Players will need to be able to visualize the 3 X 3 grid in different orientations to place their marbles.

Try this:
  • If a player cannot visualize the 3X3 patterns in different orientations, allow him to turn the shaker in different directions (without disturbing the marbles).
  • Throw the shaker once. Using the same sets of three marbles, see how many sets of marbles you can place in that one orientation on your tray.
  • Ask the individual to pick up all three marbles before placing. Push one to the fingertips for placement while holding the other two in the palm without dropping. Use this method to place each marble.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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