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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, January 12, 2017

Three Little Pigs Pop N' Match



Work on visual discrimination, figure ground, visual form constancy, spatial relations, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, social interaction skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the plastic carrying case: 4 scene cards, 20 pieces (four of each straw house, wood house, brick house, pig, wolf), the die in the popper which is connected to the case.

Similar to the games Old MacDonald and Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, Three Little Pigs is a Pop N' Match game. The plastic box that each game comes in not only stores the pieces but is a part of the game, as it houses the popper. The game is simple: Take turns popping the popper to collect the five pieces necessary to win. To set up, each player gets a playing board. Scatter the 20 pieces in the box or on the playing surface. Now the players take turns popping the popper and following the directions (pictures). The options on the dice are:
  • Take a straw house
  • Take a wood house
  • Take a brick house
  • Take a wolf's head
  • Take a pig's head
  • Put one piece back
If you pop something you already have, do nothing, your turn is over. The first person to collect all five pieces wins the game. Simple and straightforward, kids enjoy popping the popper. The popper is attached to the plastic carrying case and cannot be taken out. It is not very stiff to push down.


Try this:

  • Place a card in front of the person. Stack 2 or 3 pieces at a time and put them into their hand. Using that hand only, have them push each piece to their finger tips, one at a time, and place them on the picture without dropping any. Once that card is filled, fill another card.
  • Look at the five pieces needed for one card from the front and talk about the shape. Turn them over so the white side is showing. Ask the individual to match each shape to its spot on the card. After they are all placed, turn them over and see if they are correct.
  • Put the game away by popping the die and putting the matching pieces into the container until they are all put away.
  • Pick each piece up where it lies, don't pull it to the edge of the table to grasp.
  • Put the game away by picking up one piece at a time and squirreling it into the palm. How many can be held?
  • Ask the player to cup their hand and hold it in that position while you drop the pieces in one at a time. Put the pieces away by the handfuls. How many can be held. Alternate hands for cupping.
  • Set up by scattering the pieces face-up on the table and place them in different orientations, not all right-side-up. Individuals must recognize the pieces from different angles.
  • Start easy by putting out only the piece the individual needs each turn. Then place all five needed for the scene. Then add additional pieces to the grouping as they get better at figure ground skills.
  • Mix the pieces and place them on the table, face-down, so only the white side shows. Put them in varying orientations. Pick them up two-by-two, matching them by shape only. Turn them over and see if they match.
  • Place all the pieces randomly and in different orientations on the table. Ask the individual to scan the pieces and pick up all of one kind, such as all brick houses. Put them way by categories.

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