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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, November 30, 2017

Wooden Pizza Party

Life-sized hand tools and all wooden pieces.

Work on visual discrimination, figure ground, spatial relations, visual memory, auditory memory, manual dexterity, eye-hand coordination, coordinated use of both hands, tool use, executive functioning skills, play and leisure exploration and participation, socialization skills 

In the box: Pizza pan, spatula, pizza cutter, 54 pizza toppings, 6 slices of pizza

Melissa & Doug have a lot of different wooden food sets that are great for creative play. They all include numerous pieces and most even include hand tools, making them also a favorite for working on hand skills. The pieces are all wood and typically well constructed. The wooden pieces stick together with velcro tabs. You can see a white, round tab on the side of the piece of pizza that is lifted up (image above). The pizza pieces stick together with round velcro tabs, and the pizza toppings stick on the pizza with velcro. The pizza cutter slips between the pieces and can be used to "cut" the pizza into sections. My biggest beef with Melissa & Doug is the packaging. Sets come in nice wooden boxes, but often without a lid, like this one. Nice if it will be sitting on a shelf, but less so if you carry your supplies from house to house.


Other wooden play sets in their line include fruit, salad, sandwiches, sushi, cookies and birthday cake. 

Here is an image of a girl playing with the set so you can get an idea of size.

Try this:
  • Top one piece of pizza with three different toppings. Then ask the individual to copy the same pattern on the rest of the pizza pieces.
  • Place the toppings in a pile on the table. Sort out all the mushrooms or all the peppers. Make sure some of the pieces you choose are partially hidden and positioned in different orientations.
  • Lift one piece of pizza with the spatula and carefully carry it to a plate in another location, such as on the counter. Place it on the plate without dropping it.
  • Order your pizza by the slice. Name three ingredients verbally and see if the individual can remember them and make your custom slice.
  • Show the individual one piece of pizza with three ingredients. Ask them to remember the ingredients. Then hide the slice and see if they can make one just like it from memory.

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