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.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


An animal-themed, one-person logic game that features 60 challenges.
Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, visualization, visual memory, auditory memory, planning, logic, manual dexterity, executive functioning skills, social interaction skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: Game board, 16 wooden animals, spiral bound book with 60 challenges

An animal-themed, one-person logic game with 60 challenges that increase in difficulty as you go. The water is rising and the animals must all cross over the river to safety before it is too late. The game board (image above) shows the river running north-south along the left edge and all the animals facing the river. The goal is to take all the animals off the board (to safety) and they must cross this river one at a time. There are two rules that must be followed in order for the animals to exit: 1) Each animal that crosses the river (exits the board) must match the animal that just crossed by either color or breed, and 2) Only the animals at the front of each line are eligible to cross (no crossing out of order). Make sure that you have a way of lining up the animals when you take them off the board so that you remember which was the last off. Playing successfully takes forethought and planning and as you are considering your options you may forget which was the last one off if you are just throwing them in a pile. The four different animals (camels, rhinos, lions, giraffes) are made of wood and brightly colored. 

This game has been somewhat difficult even for those who enjoy these types of puzzles and have the skills to figure things out. 

Left - First puzzle. Middle - Last puzzle. Right - A solution page showing removal order.
If you are interested in reading more about logic puzzles, check out my post on What's in Your Therapy Box? Logic Puzzles Edition

Try this:
  • Teach from the solution page. Give the order and as the player takes off the animals he will learn how to play. Stop where you think the player can finish successfully without your help. Try to stop earlier and earlier on succeeding puzzles.
  • Teach from the solution page and instead of giving the piece by breed and color, just give one attribute.
  • Solve a puzzle or two with the player. Talk your strategy out loud so he can learn how to solve. Complete a puzzle, then set it back up and let him work the same puzzle alone.
  • Encourage the player to talk out his strategy as he works through the puzzle.
  • Place each piece in the players palm as he sets up the board so that he can practice in-hand manipulation to orient the pieces for placement.
  • Place the pieces flat on the table in incorrect orientations for placement. Ask the player to pick up each piece as is (no turning on the tabletop to orient) and orient in-hand for placement on the board.
  • Follow along on the solution page as the player solves the puzzle. If he is making an incorrect move, tell him to look for another option and try something else. It can be difficult to backtrack once you are several animals in and hit a wall. Help him see his options and look ahead to see which one would be more likely to be correct.
  • Practice setting up the puzzles even if the player cannot solve them. The animals are cute and you can set up each puzzle even if you don't play to practice form recognition, color matching, and in-hand skills.
  • Ask the player to set up each game without looking at the book, just by following your directions. Call each square (out of order) and the player will have to remember three pieces of information to complete. For instance - square 14, red rhino.
  • Show the challenge book and ask the player to remember 2, 3, or 4 animals in a row or column. Then close the book and see if he can remember and line up each colored animal correctly.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information about it, click on the image below.

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