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.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Bingo Bunch

Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, spatial relations, figure ground, visual scanning, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, precise fine motor control, executive functioning skills, process skills, socialization skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 75 character cards, 2 custom dice, bag to carry game

A unique bingo game that includes custom dice and no bingo cards, at least not the kind we are accustomed to playing with. Instead of one large bingo card per person, this game includes 75 character cards (see image above). Cards are square and small, measuring 2" X 2".  Each player will use these character cards to form their own grid for play. You can customize the grids so that you are playing with 3X3, 4X4, 5X5 cards, etc. The game also includes two custom dice, one that pictures the character heads and one that pictures the character bodies. The dice do not have rounded corners and are made of a plastic material, so it's a little harder to hold in one hand and shake them both together. The characters on the cards represent every different combination that can come up on the two dice. The five characters that appear on the dice are astronaut, alien, unicycle rider, ballet dancer and snorkeler. The sixth side of each die has an image of a star. When you throw the two dice you will come up with lots of different combinations. You may throw both the top and the bottom of the alien, or you may throw the top of the alien and the bottom of the ballet dancer. There will be a card to match each possibility. There are three complete sets of cards, so three of each possibility.

Be the first to turn over all your cards in a particular orientation, making a bingo.

Set up:
Shuffle the cards face-down. Decide what size you want to make your grid. Each player takes the appropriate number of cards and builds a grid in front of him on the table. Set the remaining cards aside. Place the two dice in the playing area. 

The first player throws the dice. All player that have a picture matching the combination that came up on the dice turns that card over, leaving it in the grid (the backs of the cards are purple with the name of the game on them). If a star is thrown, each player turns any one card that has the picture of the head or body on the other die. If two stars are thrown, each player turns any card. The first person to get a bingo is the winner.

The cards are flat and small and may be hard for some to turn in-place without disturbing surrounding cards, so when building your grid, leave a little space between the cards. Play games and look for different patterns such as a border, four corners, the letter L, the letter H, the letter X, a +, etc.

Try this:
  • Start with a 3 X 3 grid, then move to a 4 X 4 and 5 X 5 as the individual learns to watch for and recognize bingos.
  • Start by looking for a win in only one orientation, such as horizontal. Once the player is able to do this, then look for a vertical win only. Once he can do both, add them together and look for either win. Then look for diagonal wins only. Finally, add all three together.
  • Draw a picture of a grid of blank boxes, the same number you are using, with the orientation colored in. Place it in the playing area for reference while they are learning.
  • Place one set of cards, face-up, in a large grid on the table. Throw the dice and then find the matching card. Play over and over.
  • Place one card in front of the individual. Ask him to turn the two dice, one at a time, in-hand, to find the matching sides. Place on the table next to the card in the correct orientation.
  • Place one die at a time in the player's palm. Ask him to bring it to his fingertips and turn in-hand to find the side he is looking for.

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