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.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Gems in a Treasure Chest

Who doesn't want to look inside a treasure chest?

Work on visual discrimination, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, coordinated use of both hands, palmar arch development, fine motor precision, process skills, simple counting, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 4 wooden treasure chests, 40 plastic gems, 1 die

I have used this counting game more times than I can count, LOL. It seems like everyone is intrigued by a treasure chest. When kids look into my cart and see the little brown treasure chest box they always grab it and look inside. I basically use this activity to work on hand skills, including in-hand manipulation and palmar arch development. The die is a lightweight foam-type material and has the numbers 1, 2, and 3 printed on it. The gems are smooth, transparent, brightly-colored plastic. It also comes with instructions that include "extension ideas", but I no longer have that instruction sheet. The chest measures 2 3/8" x 3" and has held up well. There is no latch on the lid, so it does not stay shut on its own. I put a rubber band around it. I also own quite a few of the small gems, which are about the size of a piece of rice, but they don't come with this game. I scatter them on the table to work on a pincer grasp as well as focus.

Try this:
  • Sort out four different colored gems, such as all red, blue, green, and clear. Open and line up the four chests. Place 1, 2 or 3 gems into the player's palm. Ask him to bring them to the fingertips, one at a time, and sort them into the chests by color. Go through all the gems until they are all sorted.
  • Sort out four different colored gems. Scatter them on he table top and ask the player to grab several at once and then sort them one at a time into the treasure chests by color.
  • Scatter the gems on the table. Pick up all of one color, one at a time, squirrelling them into the palm. How many can you hold?
  • Throw the die. Pick up that number of gems, squirrelling them into the palm as you go. Drop them into the chest. First to collect 10 gems in their chest wins.
  • Pick up a fistful of gems with the dominant hand. Cup the non-dominant hand and drop the gems in one at a time as you count. How many did you pick up? Try again to beat that number.
  • Cup the non-dominant hand and hold a handful of gems. Pick them up with the dominant hand, one at a time, and count out 10 into each treasure chest. When one handful is gone, pick up another until all gems are sorted into the smaller chests.
  • Line up three empty boxes. Put a different color gem in each box and choose one color to watch. Tell the individual to keep his eyes on the box with the gem you have specified. Close the lids and move the three boxes around, changing positions. Ask him to point to the box with the color gem you specified and open the lid to see if he is correct. (The old shell game.)

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