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, May 28, 2017

Coconut & Monkey King

Monkey launchers and coconuts challenge eye-hand coordination skills.
Work on eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, visual discrimination, in-hand manipulation, fine-motor precision, coordinated use of both hands, graded pressure and release, process skills, social interaction skills, play and leisure exploration and participation. 
In the box: 4 monkey launchers, 4 player boards, 14 cups (4 red, 10 yellow), 36 coconuts, 12 special cards
If you've read my blog at all, you can guess I was hooked after seeing the monkey launchers. Place a coconut in the monkey's hand, aim for a cup, pull down on his arms and launch. Each time you land a coconut into a cup, you get to take the cup. Use the cups to build a pyramid on your individual game board. Be the first to finish a pyramid created with six cups and win the game. There are six types of special cards that may also be played throughout the game to make your life easier or more difficult as you play.
To set up the game, give each player a game board, 8 coconuts, and 2 special cards. Set the cups up between the players. In turn, each player will shoot one coconut, attempting to get it into a cup. If he succeeds (and it doesn't jump back out), the player takes the cup and places it on his game board. If the cup is red, he will get to play again. If it is yellow, his turn is over. The monkey legs will need to be held down with one hand while pulling down on the arms with the other hand.
Here are the special cards that are always played right before another player launches a coconut:
  • Guess Who? - Player must close eyes and make a blind shot.
  • Aimed Order - Player must shoot coconut into one specific cup chose before launching.
  • Freeze! - Player loses his turn. 
  • Far Shot - Player must make a shot from at least and arm's length.
  • Call the Wind - Player launches as another player blows on the coconut.
  • Reduplicate the Coconut - Player may launch twice in one turn.
IMPORTANT - The coconuts feel kind of rubbery and look like Milk Duds (candy). Be very careful around children and those needing supervision for safety.
I have actually used pom poms instead of the coconuts with one individual and today was thinking why not use playDoh. Get all the fun and benefit of practicing distal rotation while forming the balls before the game. The downside - they may flatten or pick up dirt or lint if they hit the floor.
Try this:
  • Skip the game, just have fun with the monkey launchers and the cups. The coconuts are rubbery and tend to bounce. Collecting the missed ones can be a chore. I like to use medium sized pom poms instead. There also is much less safety risk of someone eating a bright pink pom pom than a coconut that looks like a chocolate Milk Dud.
  • Place the cards face-down in a pile and draw one card per turn instead of other's playing them on you.
  • Put the coconuts away by picking them up, one at a time, and squirreling them into the palm. Drop them into the box by handfuls.
  • Stack the cups and see how high you can go with all 14 cups.
  • Line the cups up randomly and shoot the coconuts until they are all in a cup.
  • Place two or three cups on the table top. Shoot all the coconuts. How many attempts does it take you to get them all into the cups? (There are too many coconuts for just one cup.) Play again and try to make it in fewer attempts.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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