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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.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Horse Fair Card Game

Do you like games with small manipulatives?

Work on visual discrimination, figure ground, visual closure, in-hand manipulation, manual dexterity, coordinated use of both hands, palmar arch development, socialization skills, executive functioning skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 65 cards, 10 horses

Do you like games with small manipulatives? I didn't know that this one came with 10 miniature horses until I opened the box. For someone who does love small manipulatives in games, it was a serendipity. Be the first to collect four of these miniature cuties and win the game. Each card in the deck pictures one of seven horses and a number (1-7). There are multiple identical cards for each horse and each card for a single horse will all have the same number. For instance, looking at the cards below, you will see that the horse named Rascal has a number 3 printed in the corners. All Rascal cards look exactly the same - all have the number 3. For the purpose of explanation, I will call all cards for a single horse a "set". Each set of horse cards also has one "thumbs down" card and one "second look" card.



Set up: Mix the cards and deal six, face-down, to each player. Place the rest of the deck face-down in the middle of the players. Place the horses nearby.

Play: In turn, each player will take one card out of his hand and place it face-up on the table in front of him. He will end his turn by picking a new card off the pile and adding it to his hand. All cards played will be visible at all times to all players. The number for a horse equals the number of that card that must be face-up on the table to earn a horse. Be the person to lay the last card for the set on the table and earn a horse. For instance, player one has two face-up cards for Snowflake, player two has three face-up cards. That is a total of five face-up cards for Snowflake, who has a number 6 on her card. If you play a Snowflake card, making the 6th card face-up on the table, you have completed a set. Remove the six Snowflake cards off the table and take one horse. Rascal, number three, will take fewer cards to make a set and earn a horse. Sundown, number seven, will require the most cards to be face-up to earn a horse. On your turn you may also play one of these cards:
  • Thumbs Down - When this card is played, all horses that match the picture on this card are immediately removed from the table.
  • Second Look - When this card is played it counts as two cards toward the set.
First person to collect four horses is the winner.

Try this:
  • Stand all the horses nearby in the invisible corral instead of just piling them before starting the game. Place one at a time in the player's palm and ask him to move it to the fingertips, orienting it in-hand for placement. Or, ask him to pick up one or two horses and palm them himself before moving them one at a time to the fingertips for placement.
  • Put the horses away at the end by picking them up, one at a time, and squirreling them into the palm. Can all 10 be held without dropping?
  • Practice shuffling and fanning the cards in-hand.
  • Deal the cards by holding the deck in the non-dominant hand and pushing the cards off the top, one at a time, with the thumb.
  • Sort the cards into piles of matching horses. Place one of each horse face-up in front of the individual and practice shifting by holding the deck in the non-dominant hand and pushing the cards off the top with thumb.
  • Sort the cards into piles of matching horses. Choose two horses and take all of those matching cards out of the deck. Set the remaining cards off to the side. Shuffle the cards for the two horses and place the deck face-up on the table. Place one card of one horse to the left of the deck and one card of the other horse to the right. Pick the cards off the deck, one at a time, without toppling the deck or sliding unwanted cards off and sort them into the two piles.

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