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, June 11, 2017

Monster Pile-On

5 games in one including stacking, memory, and cooperative games.

Work on visual discrimination, visual memory, spatial relations, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, precise placement, graded release, executive functioning skills, social interaction skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 12 mini monster blocks, 12 plugs, 1 stacking frame, 4 monster tiles, 1 die

There are a couple of different types of stacking games in my mind. The first is more forgiving, and by that I mean that they do not require careful, precise and graded release of the pieces. Kids can usually get away with some slamming, plopping, banging, bumping, and maybe even a little overhang. The second type requires both precise placement and graded release, and there is very little leeway. This game is interesting because it kind of falls in between (requiring me to now think of stacking games on a continuum). It comes with a green stacking frame that has a slot to stand the bottom layer of pieces in (see image above). This keeps the pieces from sliding apart and gives the stack more stability than the second type of game, but still not near as much as the first type of game. 

The pieces in this game are all made of wood except for the tiles and stacking frame. HABA is one of my favorite brands because of the quality of the wood pieces - always smooth and brightly painted. I have never had any paint chip off their pieces and their games, including the boxes, hold up extremely well. A bonus of Monster Pile-On is that you don't have to try to think of different ways to play it because it comes with instructions for five games:
  • Collecting Mini Monsters - A memory game. Turn all 12 monsters face-down on the table. Give each player a different color monster tile. The object is to be the first to find three monsters the same color as your tile. Players take turns turning over one monster. If it matches your tile, take it. If it does not, turn it back over. Your turn is over. If other people turn over monsters that match your tile, memorize where they are so you can collect them on your turns. 
  • Mini Monster Guessing - A cooperative game. Each child receives one monster of each color and stands them up so that the other players can only see them from the back. Place one tile of each color monster (4 total) in the middle of the players. Players take turns pointing to another player's monster and guessing the color. If the color guessed is correct, the monster is placed on top of the matching color tile. If the answer is not correct, that turn is over. Try to remember what colors have been guessed. When all monsters have been correctly identified by color and have all been stacked on the tiles, the game is over. 
  • Mini Monster Plugging - A cooperative game. Place the stacking frame in front of the players and stack the monsters in a pyramid (see the image at the top of this page). Set the colored plugs and the die nearby. Players take turns throwing the die and placing one of the plugs into a hole in the pyramid, without toppling the pyramid. The die has five colors and a blue star and the throw of the die will tell each player what to do:
    • Blue star - Choose any color plug and slide it into a hole.
    • Gray - You lose a turn
    • Orange, green, blue or yellow - Slip a plug of a matching color into a hole in the pyramid. If there are none of that color left, your turn is over.
  • Mini Monster Shoving - A die game.
  • Mini Monster Stealing - A concentration game. Give each child a tile and all the plugs that match that color. Turn all monsters face-down on the table and each child chooses three monsters at random. Players stand the monsters up in front of them so that the other players cannot see them. Each player stands up one plug for each monster he has of his color. The object is to be the first player to stand all three pegs up by collecting all three matching monsters through trading monsters with the other players. 
HABA instructions always come in multiple languages.

If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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