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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.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Bill Ding


Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, eye-hand coordination, visual closure, manual dexterity, using both hands together in a coordinated manner, fine motor precision, balancing, shoulder stability, executive functions, play and leisure exploration and participation, social participation and interaction

In the box: 15 wooden clowns, 2 wooden dowels, 6 rings, 1 instruction booklet

An oldie but goodie, Bill Ding is a game that is all about stacking clowns in a 3D structure from a 2D model. Your job is to stack the clowns carefully so that you don't topple the structure before it is completed. The clowns are solid wood and are 4 1/2" tall and 1 7/8" at the widest.  The enclosed booklet says there are 1,001 balancing stunts that can be done. They give you diagrams for 25, you and your imagination will need to come up with the remaining 976. The patterns in the book are black and white (see below). There is an example of one of these completed structures on the left. Each clown is designed exactly the same, and they each have tabs or grooves (indents) on the top of the head, on each shoulder, on each hand, and on each foot. This will help them stay connected to each other. Often you will need to place two clowns at once, one in each hand, to keep the structure balanced. Easier said than done. There are also two wooden dowels and six very lightweight plastic rings included to use with the 20 game suggestions in the booklet. Here are a few of the games they suggest:
  • Ring Ding - Line up the clowns in a 10-pin formation (bowling). Scoot back several feet and throw the rings, aiming to ring the clowns.
  • Marble Tunnel - Line up 7 clowns, one directly behind the other, making a tunnel between their legs. Shoot a marble and try to ass it all the way through.
  • Hi Man - See who can stack the most clowns in three tries.
  • Three High Race - Stack three clowns (standing on the shoulders of the clown below). Try and carry the stack to a line and back without dropping.
  • Chop Sticks - Stack three clowns. use the dowels (at pencils), one under each under a hand of the top clown and remove it from the stack. Pick up the next clown likewise and stack it on top of the first clown. Move the last clown to the top of the new stack.

Try this:
  • Examine and play with the clowns before playing a game. Feel the weight, see how they hook together and then practice stacking a few.
  • Copy the puzzle page and color in the clowns to build by color.
  • Assign one person to be the builder and one to look at the diagram and give directions. Do they end up with the correct structure?
  • Build with the individual. You place one clown as they watch, then they place a clown in that position on their structure. Only 15 clowns, so only models up to 7 pieces can be used.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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