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!

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Cheese Dip

Use the mice tails to pick up the letters you need.
Work on visual discrimination, visual form constancy, visual closure, figure ground, visual scanning, position in space, manual dexterity, shoulder stability, palmar arches, eye-hand coordination, executive functioning skills, social interaction skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 37 letters (26 consonants, 11 vowels), 20 2-sided cards (8 sets of 5 words), 4 mice, bowl, die

A spelling game with whimsical manipulatives that an OT can appreciate. Your job is to pick up the cheesy looking letters that you need to spell your word. The fun part is that you will be picking them up out of a bowl of letters using only a mouse tail. To determine what word you will be spelling, you will draw a card. The words come in 8 sets of 5 words. Some of the words are shorter and have pictures, some are longer. The longest words I see are 5 letters. Here are some of the words: light, hay, car, rain, zoom, prune, smile, cat, away, sweet, pool and tree. The mice are a softer, flexible plastic. The yellow and orange letters are a hard plastic and have many holes all over them. The die is oversized and will determine what you will do on your turn. Here are the options:
  • Throw a solid color and use that color mouse to try and hook a letter that you need.
  • Throw the side with all four colors and each player will get a change to hook a letter.
  • Throw the side with the picture of the cheese wedge and you will have to put one the letters you have already collected back in the bowl.
Set up:
  • Put the bowl in the middle of the players and place all the letters inside the bowl.
  • Choose one color set of word cards and stack them by the bowl.
  • Each player takes one of the word cards and chooses one mouse.
  • Place the die near the bowl.
The first player throws the die and proceeds according to the directions I gave above. To hook a letter, hold the mouse and turn it so that you can put his tail into one of the holes. Lift the letter (on the tail) and carry it to your word card. Then take it off. You don't have to pick up the letters in order of the word. If a letter you need is not on the top, push the letters around in the bowl with the mouse tail. You may not use your hands to pick up or move the letters. Players take turns until someone spells their word, winning the game. 

Try this:
  • Practice picking up the letters with the mice tails before playing a game. Start with them flat on the table top if this is easier. 
  • Turn the hand to pick up the letter at different angles, don't turn the whole body.
  • Start by playing with the letters flat and separated on the table top if the individual has trouble with figure ground, visual form constancy, or visual closure. Then move to putting only the necessary letters in the bowl, or just the necessary letters plus one or two.
  • Put only the necessary letters in the bowl and take them out in the order needed to spell the word.
  • Give instructions how to pick up each letter by saying things like pick up the letter by the hole in the middle or by a hole in the corner.
  • Leave the bowl in one position, do not allow the player to turn it so that he does not have to adjust the position of his hand/arm.
  • Cup the hand and roll the die in it before throwing. Since it is oversized, it is easier to roll than shake. If the individual has difficulty cupping the hand, place a small ball in the palm and cup the fingers around it, then remove the ball.
  • Play alone. Use spelling words instead of word cards.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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