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, January 25, 2018


Sharpen your tactile perception.

Work on in-hand manipulation, manual dexterity, tactile perception, executive functioning skills, socialization skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 5 dragons, 1 dragon egg, 1 number/symbol die, 20 flints, cloth bag

As the story goes, there is huge excitement in Dragonland as the dragons wait for an egg to be hatched. To pass the time, they play a game. The first dragon to earn 5 fire stones (the red plastic pieces above), will win the game. 

The egg, die, and dragons are made of wood. The die is a little larger than your typical die, and has an egg painted on the side where the 6 should be. The five dragons each have spikes down the back of their necks. Each dragon has a different number of spikes, from 1 to 5. 

Set up: 
Place the egg in the middle of the players. Place the red fire stones around it (see image above). Let each player handle the dragons before placing them out of view in the blue bag. Feel down the back of the neck and count the spikes as your fingers run over them. Counting the spikes in this way, without vision, will be key to winning the game.

Throw the die. Whatever number comes up, put your hand in the bag and, without sight, feel for the dragon with that many spikes on his back. Pull it out. If you are correct, take one red flint and put the dragon back in the bag. If you are wrong, put the dragon back in the bag. If when you throw the die the egg comes up, everyone grabs for the wooden egg and the person who gets it takes a flint. Put the egg back in the middle of the playing area. First person to accumulate five flints is the winner.

Try this:
  • Practice feeling the spikes, with vision, before playing a game. Model how to purposefully run your finger down the back of the dragon, counting the bumps as you go. Feel and talk about the other parts of the dragon, the nose and tail etc., and how they feel different.
  • Cup the hand and roll the die in the hand before tossing. If the individual has difficulty cupping the hand, place a small ball in the hand and curl the fingers around it, then remove the ball and add the die.
  • Place the die in one cupped hand and cover with the other cupped hand. Ask the player to shake while you tell a dinosaur joke (to keep the cupped hands in that position a little longer). There are lots of them online. Here is one to get you started: What do you call a sleeping dinosaur? A dino-snore.
  • Skip the game, just place the five dragons in a line in number order of the spikes.
  • One at a time, stand a dragon on the table and place the number of red fire stones next to him that matches the number of spikes on his back.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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