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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.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Tip the Cows

Work on palmar arch development and stability in a fun game.

Work on palmar arch development, precise fine motor control, in-hand manipulation, coordinated use of both hands, manual dexterity, visual discrimination, spatial relations, social skills, process skills, play exploration and participation

In the box: 2 small cows, rules with pictures of cow positions and points, score pad and pencil

Similar to Pass the Pigs, Tip the Cows is a simple game played with 2 very small rubbery animals. The game is played in 10 rounds and the person with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. There is no strategy or skill that can help you gain a higher score. I like it because it requires you to cup the hand and hold it in that position while shaking the cows, over and over and over again to work on palmar arch development and stability. It is also a fun alternative to dice games as the kids like the miniature animals. The box also has an insert that you can see above, decorated like a farm. We usually throw on a table top but you can throw in the box instead.

To Play:
Pick up the two cows and cup the hand while shaking. Throw the animals on a flat surface. Look at the position of the cows and then check the rule booklet to determine how many points you get. The less often a position is apt to come up, the more points it is worth. For example, cows often just land on their sides and siders are worth 1 point. Cows that land udder up are worth 5 points and hoofers, those that land on their feet, are worth 10 points. Write your score on the score pad. I like the pad because it is small and gives big writers practice writing within the confines of the small boxes. I look for ways to keep the individual shaking the cows in the cupped hand for longer periods of time. 

Miniature cows.

Try this:
  • Cup both hands and place them together on top of each other, then shake the cows.
  • Keep the hand in a cupped shape longer by counting to 10 while shaking before the cows can be thrown or listening/watching a few seconds as the cows "dance".
  • Cup the hand by placing a small ball into the palm, then remove the ball and add the cows.
  • Ask the individual to position the two cows in each scenario on the score card. Put both cows into the palm of the dominant hand and ask the player to bring the cows, one at a time, to the fingertips and orient before placing on the table top.
  • Use the opportunity to practice small writing and mental math. Use a large sheet of paper if the score sheet is just too small.

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