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

Tumblin' Monkeys

Work on manual dexterity, pincer grasp, palmar arch development, in-hand manipulation, coordinated use of both hands, fine motor precision, eye-hand coordination, visual discrimination, spatial relations, executive functions, process skills, social interaction skills, play and leisure exploration and participation 
In the box: 4-piece plastic tree, 30 monkeys, 30 sticks in three colors (pink, yellow, green), color die
Ages 5+, 2-4 players 
Pull the branches out of the tree without letting the monkeys fall! Before playing you will need to assemble the tree by simply snapping together the tree, the base, and the leaves topper (4 pieces total). All pieces are lightweight plastic and it is an easy set up. One at a time, push a plastic stick (branch) through a hole on one side and guide it until it comes out a hole on the opposite side. As you insert the sticks, you will make a criss-crossed barrier inside the tree that will keep the monkeys from falling through to the bottom. Once all the sticks are in, drop all the monkeys in through the hole at the top. Taking turns, each player will throw the color die and will pull out one stick of that color, trying not to open up any space for monkeys to fall through. The more sticks that are pulled out, the bigger the gaps and the more chance monkeys will fall. Each player removes any monkeys that fall on his turn and keeps them in a pile next to him. When all monkeys have fallen out, each player counts his monkeys. The player with the least amount of monkeys wins. This game is similar to Honey Bee Tree and ToyStory Alien Freefall.

Try this:
  • To add the monkeys to the tree, pick them up one at a time and squirrel them in the palm. How many can you hold without dropping. Drop them by handfuls into the top of the tree.
  • Cup the hand to throw the die. Watch it "dance" for a few seconds before throwing to keep the hand in that position a little longer. If the player has difficulty cupping the hand, place a small ball in the hand and ask him to curl the fingers around the ball and hold his hand in that position as you remove the ball.
  • Place all the sticks and try to hang in monkeys on the branches that stick outside of the tree.
  • Skip the die and name the color your opponent should pull.
  • Put the monkeys away by handfuls. Ask the individual to cup a hand and drop the monkeys in one at a time. Will they all fit? If not, go again cupping the opposite hand.
  • Set the tree up by throwing the die to determine the color order for inserting the branches.
  • Put the monkeys in a pile on the table. Use a branch and see how many you can pick up by the tail. Use this method to put the monkeys back in the box after play.
  • Play a reverse and see who can get the most monkeys. This game can end quite fast.
  • Hold a stick diagonally and see how many monkeys you can hang on it. Allow the elbow to be supported on a solid surface. Then try without the support.
  • Set up by cupping the non-dominant hand and filling it with monkeys. Then keep the hand cupped as you drop the monkeys in through the top, one at a time, using the dominant hand.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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