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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.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Cats vs. Dogs

Work on visual discrimination, visual form constancy, manual dexterity, coordinated use of both hands, in-hand manipulation, sequencing, number recognition, executive functions, social participation and interaction, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 52 cards

Whimsical dogs and cats of different sizes are pictured on the cards of this game that plays somewhat like the old card game WAR. The object of the game is to be the player with the most cards at the end. To play, shuffle and deal all the cards, face-down, between the players. Simultaneously, all players turn the top card from their piles face-up. If two people are playing, the biggest dog or cat between the two cards wins the two cards. If there is a tie, each player turns another card face-up and the biggest pet of those two cards wins all the cards. If there is another tie, repeat the process until someone turns over a card with a bigger pet. What I couldn't tell from the picture (above) before buying this game is that there is a number, from 1-5 in the top and bottom corners of each card, that the cards are oversized, and that there is a colored border around the cards (dogs are blue, cats are red). These lessened the therapeutic value of the game for me and I was disappointed when I opened the box. Instead of comparing animals by size, if a child knows the sequence of the numbers 1-5, he will not have to make a judgment on animal size, he will just need to look for the highest number to find the winner. If sorting by animal, the child can more easily sort by color border if he notices it. The game gets a little more involved if there are three or more players. After all players turn over their top card, if one of the pets is in the majority, the biggest animal of those in the majority wins. For instance, three people are playing and one person turns over a cat and two people turn over dogs. The person with the biggest dog wins the cards. If it is a tie, all players turn over the top card from their pile and place it over their first card. The biggest animal in the majority wins. There are two special cards in the deck with special rules:
  • Dog Catcher card - This is the highest dog card and beats all other dogs. However, if cats are in the majority, it loses.
  • Cat Lady card - This is the highest cat card and beats all other cats. However, if dogs are in the majority, it loses.
When you run out of cards, turn over the pile of cards that you have won and keep going. Either play for a set time and then count cards, the winner is the one with the most cards. Or, play until one person has collected all the cards. The cards are over-sized (3"W X 4.5"H) and will be difficult to impossible to hold in the palm and push off with the thumb for smaller hands. More fun for 3+ players than the two person therapy setting, so it's a great chance to bring one of the family members into the game. The cards are a hair thicker than average cards that you can push together to stack on the tabletop. Therefore, as you are playing and you push the cards to your pile each time you win, the cards do not pile up like typical playing cards. Because they are a tad thicker they just bump up against each other and you are continually picking them up and stacking them because they are big and take up too much room. Not a real big deal, just thought I would mention it. 

Try this:
  • Give the individual all five sizes of one pet and ask him to put them in order according to size. Explain how the game works by comparing animal sizes.
  • Shuffle the cards and place the stack, face-up, in front of the individual. Ask the individual to sort the cards by animal, cats on one side, dogs on the other. Sort by separating one card at a time off the top and lifting without spilling the stack.
  • Lay the cards face down in a grid and play a simple memory matching game. Take out dog catcher and cat lady.
  • Play a memory matching game as above, but consider one dog and one cat of equal size as a match.
  • Ask the individual "which pet is bigger" each time you both play a card until he gets the knack of the game.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

  

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