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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.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Be The Top Banana

Be quick to match and move or they may make a monkey out of you.
Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, motor planning, executive functioning, social interaction skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation.

In the box: 54 monkey and banana cards (half monkey, half banana).


Don't let them make a monkey out of you! This is a matching game with an added bit of strategy to it. To play you will need this deck of cards and real, edible bananas (not included:) - one less banana than the number of people playing. The object of the game is to be the first to collect a set of five matching cards and then grab a banana. To play, deal five cards to each player face down. The dealer, who does not play, places the rest of the deck face-down in front of him. The game starts by the dealer taking the first card off the deck and giving it to the person on his left. That person adds the card to his hand and passes a card from his hand to the person on his left. Go around the group, and each time a person passes a card to his left he receives a card from the person on his right. Each time the dealer is passed a card he discards it and passes the next card off the top of the deck. Players are trying to collect five of the same kind of cards, either monkeys or bananas. There are four different monkey pictures, four different banana pictures, and a wild card for banana and a wild card for monkey. Wild cards can be used for any of the sets. When someone gets a set of five and grabs a banana, all players rush to grab a banana also. The player who does not get a banana is given the letter M. Each time you loose you get another letter until someone finally gets all the letters M-O-N-K-E-Y. That signals the end of the game and the person with the fewest letters wins. Now take all those squished bananas and go make banana bread.

Try this:
  • Make a sorting game. Separate the monkey cards from the banana cards. Place one each of the four different monkey cards in a line on the table. Ask the player to hold the rest of the monkey deck in his non-dominant hand, push the top card off with the thumb, and place with the dominant hand on the correct pile.
  • Make another sorting game. Separate the monkey cards from the banana cards. Place one each of the four different banana cards in a line on the table. Place the rest of the banana cards face-up in a stack next to the player. Ask the player to pick up the cards, one at a time, and sort them to the correct piles without toppling the deck.
  • Practice fanning the cards in the non-dominant hand. If this is not possible, use a card holder.
  • Have a crunchy snack as you play to help players attend. Use banana chips instead of bananas. After each round, all players can eat the chip they picked up.
  • Skip the MONKEY letters and after each round the person who does not get a banana can act like a monkey - screech, scratch your head and stomach at the same time, make a monkey face, peel a banana, etc.
  • Play a simple memory game using two or four of each picture. (There are five of each picture.) 
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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