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 22, 2016

What Should You Do?

Work on understanding that actions have consequences, making socially appropriate decisions, visual discrimination, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, spatial relations, manual dexterity, executive functions, social participation and interaction

In the box: Game board, 4 plastic pawns, die (1-6), 25 question cards, 15 behavior cards, answer key.

What Should You Do? is a game that was designed to teach that actions have consequences. The path on the board has 48 spaces, starts at home and ends at school, and winds through a busy neighborhood with residential and commercial buildings. As you travel along the path, there will be many opportunities to teach socially appropriate behavior.

To play, each player chooses a marker and places it on home. Then players take turns throwing the die and moving that many spaces forward. There are three types of spaces on the board you may land on:
  • Blank - Do nothing.
  • Star - You have made a decision, good or bad. Read a star card and follow the directions.
    • You lost your temper and pushed your sister. Move back 1 space.
    • You shared your toy with a friend. Move ahead 1 space.
    • You took something from your brother's room without asking. Move back 2 spaces.
  • Question mark - Answer a question from a deck of cards. Each card gives three possible answers and consequences if you get the answer incorrect (ex. move back three spaces)
    • Someone gives you a birthday present that you don't like. What should you do?
      • Throw it to the side and say that you don't want it.
      • Ask if someone else would like to have it.
      • Say "thank you".
    • You open a bag of chips and spill them all over the floor. What should you do?
      • Pretend you didn't drop the chips and eat something else.
      • Tell your parent or teacher and help clean up the chips.
      • Put the chips back in the bag and then put the bag back where you found it.
    • One of your friends is bullying a classmate. What should you do?
      • Join in, because being a bully is fun.
      • Tell an adult, because bullying is wrong.
      • Stay out of it because you don't want to take sides.
  • Instruction - You have made a decision, good or bad, and need to follow the directions on the space.
    • Rode a bike without a helmet. Move back one space.
    • Took turns on the swings. Move ahead two spaces.
    • Cleaned up the yard. Move ahead two spaces. 
There is an answer card included for the question mark space questions with one answer for each question. The instructions state that there may be two possible answers for a question, but they feel that there is always one best answer and explain why on the answer card.

Try this:
  • Eliminate the board, just use the stack of question mark cards to stimulate discussion.
  • Eliminate the penalty on the question mark cards. If using as a learning tool, use these cards as an opportunity to discuss correct answers and the reasons why. There are already two other possible negative spaces (instruction and star spaces) so might as well turn this into a positive.
  • Lay the question mark card on the table so the other player can read it with you if he wants and is able. Some may have trouble retaining three different answers in their memory all at once.
  • Choose one of the incorrect answers on the question mark card and ask why it is the wrong answer. Make sure the player understands the principles behind it so they will be able to reason a correct answer in different contexts.
  • Set all missed question mark cards in a separate pile. After the game is over tell the player you are going to review and then ask the questions again to see if they have retained the correct answers.
  • Make the question cards into a true/false game. Ask the question and then list the answers, one at a time, as the player says whether the answer is true or false. This eliminates the need to remember a lot of information.
If you would like to purchase this game or just want more information, go to the Lakeshore Learning website.

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