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.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The New Touch Game

Feel your way to success. A game of sensory perception and memory.
Work on tactile discrimination, manual dexterity, fine motor precision, in-hand manipulation, visual discrimination, visual form constancy, visual memory, figure ground, visual scanning, tactile perception, process skills, social interaction skills, executive functions, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: Plastic dome, 49 plastic miniature items, 20 cards

This game was a staple in many therapy catalogs several years ago. It won multiple awards and then it just disappeared. I'm not sure why, but you can still find it on ebay, and for less than it sold for originally in the therapy catalogs ($50). The dome is plastic and the bottom is about the diameter of a dinner plate. The top of the dome opens and is hinged, but does not stay open on its own. The front of the dome has an opening covered by flexible material so that the player can insert his hand into the dome and feel for a piece without being able to see what he is doing. The back of the dome has a clear plastic window in it so that you can watch what the player is doing or he can look in and find the item with vision. 

LEFT - The front with hole for the hand.  RIGHT - The back with window.
The 49 assorted plastic pieces are pictured on the cards. Each card has between two and four items on it that exactly match the pieces. The cards are categorized by a variety of themes and include sea creatures, African wildlife, baseball, fashion, football, camping, New York statues, space exploration, and vegetables. Below are the cards and pieces for racing, fast food, and Arctic/Antarctic wildlife.

Cards with matching items.
 The object of the game is to put your hand into the dome and, without sight, 1) feel an item and identify it verbally before pulling it out to see if you're correct or 2) pick an item from one of the cards and then put your hand in the dome and feel around until you find it. Number 2 is much more time consuming and can take awhile if all the items are in the dome at the same time. Make game 1 easier by placing the cards face-up around the dome for reference, and harder by not showing the cards for reference and going by memory.

Inside the dome. The lid is being held up.
If you are playing with the cards, you can line them up around the dome because they are tapered and then spin the blue plastic rim with the yellow lines. There is one red line and whatever card it stops on is the card you will play for.

I have to apologize at this point because there is also a timer on the top of the game but mine is broken and I don't have details about it. I see the number 1 at one end and the number 30 at the other, with 30 tick marks in between. I imagine you can set it anywhere in between, but that is just a guess. There is also a small light bulb in the roof of the lid that you can use to help illuminate the pieces but I never have. BTW - you can still buy expansion packs for this game but I think they are a little pricey.

Try this:
  • Allow the individual to examine each item before putting it into the dome. Look at them, feel them one by one. Talk about the characteristics and the overall feeling of each item and how the different parts feel and how it helps you identify the item.
  • Ask the individual to think about what they are feeling, not just passively finger the item. Verbalize it.
  • Start with fewer items in the dome. Sometimes I have started with two items. Add the items back in gradually for the just-right challenge.
  • Sort the items with sight and place each one on its matching picture.
  • Search by category without a picture. For instance, put your hand in and find an animal or a piece of sports equipment.
  • Pile the items on the table so that parts of some of them are hidden or so that some are upside down or backwards, etc. Can the individual find and sort them onto the matching pictures on the cards. If the individual has difficulty, separate and/or reduce the number of items to where he is successful and then start adding in a few at a time for a greater challenge.
  • Place the pieces on the table if you are working with sight. The lid does not stay open and otherwise you will have to hold it open for the whole activity.
  • Watch the player through the window as he moves his hand around. Give him instructions for finding each piece such as move to the left, feel along the right edge, or it's in the middle. Can he follow your directions?
  • Ask the individual to place his hand in the dome to search and watch his hand through the window. Can he use his sight in this position to help him?
  • Show the individual a card. Ask him to place his hand in the dome and using the window pick up the pieces, squirreling them in his palm and not pulling his hand out until he is holding all the pieces from the card.
  • Place one card in front of the individual and then put one of the pieces at a time in the players palm and ask him to bring it to his fingertips and orient it in the same direction as the picture on the card before putting it down. Place the pieces upside-down, backwards, etc. so the individual will have a chance to practice in-hand manipulation.
  • Ask the individual to put his hand in the dome and pick up one piece at a time and describe it.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, you might try ebay.

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