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, April 16, 2016

Pancake Pile-Up!

Work on manual dexterity, tool use, timed motor response, sequencing, visual discrimination, visual memory, visual closure, building a 3D model from a 2D model, spatial relations, proximal stability, balance, eye-hand coordination, social participation and interaction, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 10 plastic pancakes, 2 cardboard plates, 2 plastic spatulas, 10 order (pattern) cards, 2 small pats of butter

Pancakes are not just for breakfast any more. Using a spatula, stack a pile of pancakes that are decorated with a variety of toppings to match your pattern card. There are five different pancakes - plain, strawberry, blueberry, banana, and chocolate chip. Each pattern card has five different layers, one of each, so they do not increase in difficulty. There are two of each pancake and two spatulas so two people can race using the same pattern card or one person can model as both stack. The bottom of the box (inside) is decorated like a grill for making pancakes. You can place the pancake flat in the box bottom but only eight of them will fit in the box side-by-side. Keeping the pancakes in the box will help players pick them up with the spatula, as the pancakes can be pushed up against the side walls of the box to steady them. Putting the pancakes on the table top and picking them up from there will make a slightly more difficult game. The instructions suggest making the game into a relay race with team members running to the box and stacking one pancake and then running back to another team member to pass off the spatula for their turn. First player or team to finish the stack and place a pat of butter on the top wins. A good precursor activity if you are going to be working with craft kits where you will have to start building from the bottom up and won't be able to see entire pieces. 

Try this:
  • Choose two pattern cards and see if the player can stack all ten in one stack. Tipsy, but doable if you are real careful.
  • Model how to tilt the spatula so the pancakes will slide off easier, the same technique you use when taking cookies off a cookie sheet.
  • Follow this game with baking cookies or making pancakes for real. Or before you go to the stove, buy a box of frozen pancakes from the dollar store, put them in a pan, and practice flipping and then taking them out.
  • Ask a player to race against himself to see how many stacks he can make from pattern cards in one minute. Then go again and try to beat that score.
  • Look at a pattern card and memorize the sequence. Rehearse it several times verbally to help you remember. Turn the card over and stack the pancakes. Check the card to see if you are correct.
  • Start by covering all the pancakes but the bottom one if the player does not know how to start or proceed. After each layer is added, pull the card up so that the next pancake shows.
  • Stack the pancakes to match a pattern card. Place that card plus two or more additional cards in front of the player. Ask him to find the card that matches the pancake stack.
  • Skip the spatula if the player cannot use it. Just stack the pancakes by hand to match the pattern cards.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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