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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.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Happy Farm


Work on visual discrimination, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, palmar arch development, process skills, simple counting, socialization skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 1 game board, 4 pawns, 1 die, 5 cows, 15 sheep, 20 roosters, 3 animal sign boards and 3 stands

Patrick and his family raise roosters and sheep on Happy Farm. Patrick's father has wanted a tractor for a long time. The neighbor is willing to part with his, but he wants two cows in exchange. To get the two cows, you must advance around the board collecting roosters and sheep and then trade them for two cows. The first person to collect enough animals to trade for two cows and then buys the tractor is the winner. 


Set up the game: Place the game board in the middle of the players. Place the animals in their appropriate fields (see image below). The animals are all wood and all stand upright. Setting up the game offers a good chance to practice in-hand manipulation skills. Stand the three exchange signs in the appropriate pastures. Each player chooses a pawn and places it on a bale of hay. Place the tractor on the game board and the die nearby.

Play the game: Players take turns throwing the die and advancing around the game board. The die show numbers 1-5 and a barn. Throw a barn and  .  Throw a number and advance that many spaces forward. The player will follow one of these instructions depending on which space he lands on:
  • One rooster - Take one rooster from the field and put it with your animals.
  • One sheep - Take one sheep from the field and put it with your animals.
  • Two roosters - Take two roosters from the field and put them with your animals.
  • Bale of hay - Make a trade if you have enough animals. If not, your turn is over.
    • Trade three roosters for one sheep
    • Trade three sheep for one cow
    • Trade two cows for one tractor - win the game!

Try this:
  • Skip using the game board. Just mix the animals all together and play a sorting game.
  • Practice in-hand manipulation as you set up the game. Place one or two animals in the players palm and ask him to bring them to his fingertips one at a time to orient and place. Or allow him to pick them up himself and do the same. Make sure the animals are lying on their sides, upside down, etc. so some manipulation will be required after it is picked up.
  • Cup the hand before shaking the die. Keep the hand in that position longer by singing a verse of Old McDonald while shaking (or substitute "Patrick's father" for the words Old McDonald).
  • Put the game away by cupping the hand(s) and dropping the animals in one at a time. Count them and see how many can be held without dropping. Put them back into the box by the handfuls.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.


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