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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.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Picture Dominoes


Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, figure ground, visual tracing, visual form constancy, in-hand manipulation, manual dexterity, attention, waiting and taking turns, being a good winner/loser, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the tin: 28 domino tiles

Dominoes is a classic matching game that typically uses rectangle-shaped plastic or wood tiles that are lined up end-to-end during play. The original game of dominoes includes pieces with two sets of spots (one on each end with a line down the middle), and requires mental math, strategy, and decision making to win. Picture dominoes do not come with numbers and therefore is a much more straight-forward game of matching. There are six different characters featured in each game. Some of the tiles have two of the same characters (a double), and most have two different characters pictured. This kid-version of dominoes comes in many different character themes, typically based on Disney characters, movies or cartoons.

To play, all dominoes are placed face-down on the table and mixed. Then each player chooses seven dominoes and stands them up in front of himself so that only he can see what he has. The rest of the dominoes are left in the face-down position and create the draw pile. Push these to the side. One player places a double in the middle of the players in a vertical position and the game begins. On each turn, a player is allowed to place one domino. This domino must have a picture that matches a picture on the end of any domino already in play. If the domino is a double, it is placed vertically, and if it is not, the domino is placed horizontally. As the game progresses, a long line of tiles is created.

If the player does not have a match, he is required to pick from the drawing pile until he gets a match to play. Players are allowed to play off all four sides of the initial double domino that started the game. The player who plays all of his tiles first, wins.

Try this:
  • Work on matching by lining them up as far as you can, without playing a game.
  • Prop them up on their sides, sort and stack them by picture, or stand them up side by side and push the first one to knock them over.
  • Place a long line of dominoes on the table and make an error with one to two of them. Ask the individual to trace the line with his eyes and find the error(s).
  • Place all the tiles face up on the table. Give the individual a double, say Dora. Ask him to find all the tiles that have Dora on them. Turn some of the tiles upside down or sideways for a more difficult task. Start with fewer tiles to choose from for an easier task.
  • Place all the tiles face up on the table. Give verbal instructions to find tiles, such as a tile with Snow White and Cinderella. Then find a tile with Ariel and Belle, etc.
  • Turn a piece in-hand to the correct orientation before placing it in line (instead of spinning it on the table top).
  • Make a long line of dominoes. Place matching pieces in the players hand, one at a time, and ask him to turn it in-hand and place on the correct end.
  • Put the dominoes away by placing all of one character at a time. For instance, place all dominoes with a Lightening Mcqueen picture back in the case. Then all dominoes with Sally, etc. Ask the individual to stack them with one hand as he goes. How many can he fit in a stack in one hand without dropping?

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