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, July 24, 2017

Mystery-Dish Diner

Solve by color, shape and temperature.

Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, visual form constancy, figure ground, manual dexterity, motor planning, executive functioning skills, process skills, socialization skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 24 menu food clue cards, 24 food tiles, 15 play dollars, menu with stand, serving tray, place mat, timer, bell

A game of delicious deduction where the goal is to guess the secret menu order before time runs out. A two-player game with two roles - customer and server. Each turn, a customer places an order, showing only clues for the food items, and the server must figure out the order from the clues. Some of the food pieces are strawberries, salad, ice cream, a sandwich, an ice cream bar, carrots, an apple, green beans, mac & cheese, lemonade, cheese, pizza, an apple, steak and alphabet soup. The food pieces are fairly large, you can see three food cards on the plate the boy is holding in the image below. Each one of the food cards has a smaller matching food tile that can be slipped into the menu. These small tiles each have one attribute below the food picture, either of color, shape or temperature. Each of these food tiles has two different attributes, one on the front and one on the back. Here is a picture of the pizza food tile, front and back, showing the attributes of temperature (hot) and shape.

Pizza food tile, from and back.
Here (below) is a look at the menu. The customer chooses three food tiles from the 24 available and also chooses which attribute for each food item he wants the server to see. He then slips the three food tiles into the menu so the game can begin. Below left is the menu from the customer's point of view. She has already placed in the pizza tile. Below right is the same menu from the server's point of view. The customer has chosen to show the temperature (hot) attribute for the pizza, so that is what the server will see.

Looking at the three attributes the server must guess what the three items are. He places his three guesses on the plate and presents it to the customer. If one or more are correct, she takes them off the plate. If one or more are incorrect he must guess again and place the food(s) for his second guess on the plate. By looking at the attributes the girl has placed in the holes, and the items of food she has removed from the plate or rejected, he can make his best guess about which items have already been filled. The server can guess as many times as he wants as long as the timer has not run out. When the timer runs out, the server receives $1 for each item guessed correctly. Server and customer switch roles and play again. Repeat until one person has earned $8 and wins the game. Pieces are thick and should hold up well. The game also comes with a rectangular place setting card that is not shown.

Place setting card.

Try this:
  • Ask the player to place three food tiles in the menu. You be the server and think out loud as you decide what to guess and why, teaching them the process.
  • Play with the large food pieces. Sort into piles by color, shape, temperature. Pile before sorting or scatter the cards in a large area ad ask the individual to locate and remove the cards you are looking for.
  • Take one attribute at a time and go through the food cards. Pull out only items that fall into that category. Do this several times and make up your own categories such as foods I like, foods you might find in a refrigerator, foods you can make in a microwave, soft foods, crunchy foods, healthy foods, food groups, foods I don't like, etc.
  • Pretend to play restaurant. Motor plan and execute actions for stirring, cutting, washing, chopping veggies, rolling meatballs, scooping ice cream, serving food, eating, etc.
  • Use the place setting card as a guide to teach setting a table.
  • Place three items on the place setting card that would constitute a healthy meal. Play multiple times. How many combinations can you make?
  • Skip the timer and the money. Play until the server has guessed all correctly and then switch roles.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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