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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.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Super Stretchy

Stretch, move, and balance to cover Disney characters, colors and/or shapes.

Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations/position in space, visual motor integration, figure ground, balance, bilateral integration, vestibular perception, proprioceptive perception, motor planning, core strengthening, wrist extension, shoulder stability, sensory input, coordination, process skills, executive functioning, social interaction skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 1 play mat, 44 cards, 1 card holder 

If you are familiar with twister, then you will be semi-familiar with the mat - a thin but durable, plastic-type material with colored shapes printed on it. The play mat is roughly 3' 3" x 3' 3". Like Twister, you also coordinate movements/balance/stretch to cover certain areas on the mat at the same time. Unlike Twister, Super Stretchy also has a Disney character printed on each shape (24 in all including Donald Duck, Clover, Amber, Mr. Smee, Sofia, and Fiagro) and includes a variety of different shapes. The shapes are triangles, squares, circles, ovals, stars, and hexagons. Colors are red, green, purple, and blue. To play the game, unfold the mat and place it flat on the floor (see image above). Shuffle the round cards and put them in a face-down pile. Each card pictures one attribute - either a color, a shape, or a Disney character. Place the card holder by the stack of cards. The card holder has five body parts pictured on it - head, hand, knee, foot, and elbow. Place five cards, face-up in the card holder. This is what it should look like:
Left - Card holder.  Right Card holder with five cards.

A caller now tells the player where each body part should touch. For example, according to the cards above the player would have the head on blue, the hand on square, the knee on Hallie, the foot on red, and the elbow on Minnie Mouse. The player should end up with all five body parts touching their targets at the same time. The head can be almost an impossibility once the other four targets are touched. Now his turn is over and he gets every card that he was able to touch. Players take turns and when all cards have been claimed the one with the most is the winner.

Try this:
  • Start with only one attribute at a time if three are too many to watch. Then move to two, then to three with practice.
  • Use the mat as a target, tossing bean bags or other small items to hit specific targets. Objects may slide some. The mat is not slippery, but is smooth.
  • Touch the body parts to the targets but don't worry if all five don't touch at the same time. Start with one at a time for a simple game, then move to two at a time, then three, etc.
  • Ensure that the player can recognize all the Disney characters/shapes/colors before starting the game. Otherwise help them identify each space as it is called.
  • Use the mat as a target game, throwing the chips onto matching targets onto the mat.
  • Eliminate the head as one of the body parts.
  • Support physically and/or cue verbally as necessary for the child to accomplish the task.
  • Skip the cards. Make up your own directions for what you know the child can do and then work at their pace to push them to more challenging positions.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.


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