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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, January 2, 2018

Angling Fever

Catch the fish, stack the fish. Lots of ways to play.


Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, position in space, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, tool use, shoulder strength and stability, executive functioning skills, proprioceptive and vestibular perception, socialization skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation 

In the box: 4 fishing poles, 4 stands, 12 fish

A "simple" fishing game. Pieces are made of wood (except for fishing line) and come in four colors: red, green, blue, yellow. Each color has one fishing pole, one stand, and three fish. The fishing pole is approximately 36 inches long, including the line and the hook. The fishing line is a thin elastic cord that is just knotted at both ends. The fish are 4" long and 1.5" tall, including the ring on top. The stand is approximately 5" tall. The holes in the fish, for both the hook and the stand, are large enough so that it is not a tight fit.



At the end of each fishing pole is a hook, so this game is more challenging than the magnetic-type fishing poles where you just hover the piece over the magnet and they jump together. Because the hook and the circle at the top of the fish need to match up in a certain orientation, it may take a little time as you wait for the line and hook to quit moving and then turn it so that it can slip into the circle. You may lose some to frustration at this point. Once you hook the fish, then you can move it to the stand. Again you may need to wait for the fishing line to stop swaying so that you can line up the hole in the fish to the pole on the stand. A quick way to stop the swaying is to touch it to the ground and then lift it carefully. If you are playing a game with more than one person, the one who gets all three fish on their stand first would be the winner.   

Try this:
  • Scatter the fish on the floor and then call them by color, for order of catching.
  • Eliminate putting them on the stand and just put them back into the box after catching them if two activities per fish (catching, stacking) is too tedious.
  • Mix the fish on the floor and ask the player to catch all the red fish, then all the green, etc.
  • Try fishing on the tabletop instead of from the floor.
  • Place two stands on the playing surface. Then place one fish at a time in front of the player and ask him to catch and put on the correct stand. Or eliminate the fishing pole and just stack by hand.
  • Remove the elastic cord and replace it with something that is less flexible, if the player is having trouble. Maybe twist together some pipe cleaners. Then change the cord to something less static and more dynamic, until you work your way back to the elastic cord.
  • Untie the hooks from the lines and just hold the hook in hand and catch each fish and place it on its stand.

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