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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, November 13, 2016

Dino Meal


Work on visual discrimination, figure ground, visual memory, manual dexterity, tool use, in-hand manipulation, palmar arch development, pincer grasp, separating the two sides of the hand, shoulder stability, bilateral integration, eye-hand coordination, motor planning, executive function, modifying startle response, tolerating sensory stimuli, social participation and interaction, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: Dino, Dino nest, pair of tweezers, die, 20 small plastic dinosaur eggs (5 green, 5 red, 5 yellow, 5 blue)

I received a game referral from a reader and I would like to give credit where credit is due. Deann Moser-Jens, MS, OTR/L recently introduced me to Dino Meal. Deann stated in an email that she was "pleasantly surprised by the many things this game is good for". Of course I had to check it out! You can't tell from the picture (above), but this whole side of the box is a cool holographic image. As the story goes, Dino has stolen the eggs from another dinosaur and put them into his nest. The goal of Dino Meal is to rescue the dinosaur eggs without getting caught by Dino! If you are a fan of games with tweezers, you may like this one. To set up the game, add two AA batteries to the bottom of the nest and turn on. It plays jungle noises, and a loud roar when the dinosaur lurches forward. You can also play without the sound, just leave the batteries out or leave it turned off. Dino will still lurch forward for a surprise effect. Next, snap Dino onto his nest, facing the leaf, and push him back into a sitting position. Lift the green leaf and pour the small plastic dinosaur eggs into the nest. The leaf only lifts up about an inch to an inch and a half (see below). Now you are ready to play. One at a time, players will throw the die and then use the tweezers to lift a colored egg from the nest. The die has four single color sides (red, green, blue, yellow), one white side with an X over the dinosaur and one side with all four colors. Throw a single color and rescue that color egg from the nest. Throw the X and lose your turn. Throw the four-color side and rescue an egg of your color choice. The tweezers were not open wide enough to rescue an egg from any angle, but they are a softer plastic and I was able to just stretch them open. After a random number of lifts of the leaf, Dino will lurch forward, mouth open, teeth showing. You have been caught! From here you can go one of two ways:
  • The round ends and everyone records the number of eggs they have rescued. Play several rounds, add the scores together, and the person with the highest score wins the game.
  • You are out of the game. One at a time players will be eliminated and the last person in the game wins. 

Deann made a point that I had not thought of before. The anticipatory aspect (waiting for the dinosaur to attack) can help individuals work through surprise issues. Thank you for sharing your insights on Dino Meal Deann.

UPDATE: It can be difficult for some to grasp the hard plastic marble in the limited space you have to lift the leaf. Some kids have tried to just push them out the side if they can't get ahold of them.

Try this:
  • Introduce the game by lifting the green leaf until the dino lunges to give the player an idea of what to expect. Place the dino eggs randomly on the tabletop and pick up a few with the tweezers to give practice of what will be required.
  • Cup the non-dominant hand and pick up the dino eggs with the dominant hand and place them one at a time into the non-dominant hand. Place the eggs into the nest by handfuls to set up. 
  • Place a small ball into the palm and ask the individual to cup his hand around the ball if he has trouble cupping the hand. Ask him to hold his hand in that position as you remove the ball and add pieces.
  • Put away by cupping the dominant hand and picking up the dino eggs with the non-dominant hand and placing them one at a time into the dominant hand. Dump the dino eggs into the box by the handful.
  • Cup the hand to throw the die and ask the individual to make the die dance for a few seconds while keeping the hand in the cupped position. Or ask him to shake the die while singing a dinosaur song. If you are working with younger kids they often love singing and you don't have to have a great voice. KidSparkz.com has a lot of short dinosaur songs that are easy to sing because they have set them to the tunes of well known kids' songs. Click on this link to check them out. Dinosaur Songs
  • Place the dino eggs on the tabletop and pick up a big handful. Can they all fit into the hand?
  • Randomly scatter the dino eggs onto the tabletop. Call a color and ask the individual to pick up those five dinosaurs, squirreling them into the palm one at a time. Repeat for each color as you put the dino eggs away, or keep going if the individual can hold more than five.
  • Forget the die. Lift the leaf and see how long it takes you to remove all the dino eggs, one at a time. Play again and try to beat your score. 
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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