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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.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Squiggly Worms

Work on visual discrimination, visual memory, spatial relations, motor response speed, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, pincer grasp, developing web space, palmar arch development, social interaction skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 1 plastic electronic apple, 20 worms, 20 worm picture cards
Ages 4+, 2-4 players

I have owned this game for years and have only played it a couple of times. The two reasons for this are 1) the annoying loud noise it makes when the apple is turned on and 2) the fast speed at which the worms move up and down in the apple. As a general rule, I don't push people for speed. Many people are not wired that way and some even get so anxious that they do worse under time pressure. So unless someone goes so slow that it interferes with the performance of their daily activities, or I feel they can benefit from being pushed in that direction for some specific reason, we just go with their flow. And that often would not include playing this game. The object of this game is to be the first to match the color sequence on your worm cards to the color sequence on the worms. The game includes 20 worm picture cards, each with one two-color worm. Each of the worms are green on the top but a different color on the very bottom. This bottom color is hid while the worms are in the apple and the worms need to be caught and pulled out to check for this color. To set up, put the 20 worms into the 20 holes in the apple. Deal 5 cards face-up next to each player. Each player lines these cards up in front of him. The first player moves the lever over on the apple to start the timer. This also starts the worms moving up and down in the apple. When a worm moves up, grab it and check the bottom color. If the two colors match one of your cards, take the worm and your turn is over. If it doesn't match, put it back in the apple and keep trying until the timer goes off. My timer runs approximately 13 seconds. Each player will follow these steps until one player has found all five of his worms. The worms move up and down fast and you have to be near one to get to it in time when it pops up. Once it goes back down in the apple you can't pick it up. The top of the worms are round and smooth and they can be hard to grab. A person might try picking up several worms before he actually catches one, and that can quickly frustrate some. As different players return worms to the apple that don't match their cards, but they do match yours, remember where they are and you can hover over them and grab them when it's your turn. In conclusion, if you work with someone who does not like loud or obnoxious noise, who is easily frustrated, who does not move fast in a coordinated manner, or who does not work well under time pressure, you may want to skip over this one. Colors on the worms are purple, orange, green, blue.

Try this:
  • Skip the apple. Mix the cards and lay several face-up in front of the individual. Place the worms next to him and ask him to find a matching worm for each card.
  • Set the apple up for play by placing two or three worms in the players dominant hand and asking him to push them one at a time to his fingertips and place in the apple.
  • Play a simple matching game by sorting out two of each card with a matching color combination. It will be eight cards in all. Mix them and place them face-down on the table. Pick one worm out of the worm pile and turn over two cards, trying to make a match of the colors on the worm. Keep picking worms and trying to match until all the cards have been matched.
  • Put the game away by cupping one hand and placing the worms in that hand one at a time until the player is holding as many as they can without dropping any. Dump them back in the box by the handful.
  • Line up several different cards in front of the player and hand him a worm. Look for the card that matches the colors on the worm.
  • Place all the cards face up on the table. One by one, give the player a worm and ask him to find a matching card. Put the card and the worm in the box each time and when you are done matching all the game is back in the box for storage.
  • Scatter the worms on the table. One at a time give the player a card and ask them to find the matching card.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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