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!

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Sep 23, 2020

T-Rex Rocks

T-Rex Rocks


For all you junior paleontologists out there, T-Rex Rocks certainly falls into the category of one-of-a-kind games. You goal is to place the bones, one at a time, on the frame. But be careful! If you wake him and he shakes, the bones will go flying and you will lose the game.

This is a battery operated toy that takes 3 AA batteries, not included. Each time you bring the game out there will be a 5 step assembly process. Four steps to assemble the frame of the T-Rex, and the fifth step is to stand him on the red base. All dinosaur pieces are made from a slightly pliable, white, lightweight plastic.


Also included are 20 white dinosaur bones that will be hung on the dinosaur frame once the game starts. The bones come in five sizes: Large, medium, small, double connected and triple connected. 

To determine which bone you will be hanging, there is a colorful spinner with five spaces, one space for each of the five different bone shapes/sizes. Below is an image of kids playing the game.


During play the dinosaur will suddenly come to life, swiveling back and forth and throwing bones within 2-3 feet in every direction. It does make a racket when it goes off and you will need to switch the base off manually to stop it (white switch in corner of base, image above).

To determine the winner, play until the dinosaur shakes and whoever placed the last bone is out. Reset the dinosaur and go again. Keep playing in this manner until there is only one person left, the winner.


Be the only person who does not set off the dinosaur.

Set up:

Insert the batteries into the red base. Assemble the frame and stand it on the base. Place the spinner and the pile of bones nearby. Turn the base on.


Players take turns. Spin the spinner and add the piece that the spinner points to anywhere along the dinosaur's backbone. If the pile of bones is already out of that piece, remove one of them from the dinosaur and place it back in the draw pile. Play until someone sets him shaking and loses the game. Turn the base off, reset the empty dinosaur frame, and start over with the remaining players. Play until there is only one person left, the winner. Turn the game off and remove the batteries at the end of play.

Try this:

  • Leave the game turned off and play until the individual gets used to hanging the bones. Then turn the base on to play a game.
  • Place the bones on the frame yourself until the dinosaur shakes to show the individual what to expect when the action starts.
  • Hold the spinner in the non-dominant hand and flick the arrow with the dominant hand. Then reverse hands.
  • Practice flicking the arrow with each finger. Before flicking, make sure there is a nice O with fingertip meeting the thumb.
  • Separate the bones into different piles by shape/size before the game begins.
  • Store the bones in plastic bags before putting them away. Then if the lid accidentally pops open you will not lose any of the pieces. Use a Ziplock type bag so you can practice sealing them. Hold the bag with both thumbs in the middle. Feel the snap as you squeeze and then more both hands to opposite sides of the bag as you seal it.
  • Avoid the downtime of waiting while several games are played. Play one game and the person who sets it into motion loses. Or don't declare a winner or loser, just play for fun.
  • Let the player assemble the T-Rex before each game, following the 5-step instruction sheet.
  • Work on visual discrimination, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, graded release, finger opposition, executive functioning skills, process skills, socialization skills, play and leisure exploration and participation.  

In the box: Base, 4-pieces dinosaur frame, 20 addition bones to hand

If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.


Sep 17, 2020

Monkey Balance Tower


Monkey Balance Tower - A new twist on a balance game

If you have read my blog much, you know that if I stumble across something that is either monkeys or Charlie Brown I have to stop and take a look. I ended up buying Monkey Balance Tower because it is not like any other balancing game that I have, believe it or not! And being monkeys, well that's just a bonus!

This game comes in a fun monkey tin. That's actually a label that you are looking at in the image above, the rectangle with the name and picture of the game. This game is different from my other balance games because you may have to build on an unstable base of support, anywhere along the way.

The game consists of 18 cardboard (sturdy) circles that are 4 1/8" in diameter, 3 small wooden dice and 57 wooden monkeys that are 1 3/8" tall. The monkeys are short,  tall. There is a monkey printed on one side only. The only thing different in the different monkeys is the color of their stomachs. There are six different colors: red, orange, blue, green, yellow, and purple. There are three dice and each die has six sides. Each side of each die has one of the different colors. The circles each have 12 colored small circles on them, two of each color. The small colored circles are printed in different place on each cardboard circle.


Back of the tin                                                          Image for size


  • Game 1 - The loser is the person who makes the tower fall. Everyone else is declared winner. 
  • Game 2 - Build the highest tower.

Set up:

Place the stack of circles on the table. Place the monkeys and the dice nearby.


Game 1 - Players take turns. The first player takes the top circle and places it in the middle of the players. Throw the three dice. Get three monkeys that match those three colors and stack them on the circle. If during your turn you don't have an available colored circle that you need, take the next large circle and stock it on top of the tower. Place your piece(s). As long as the tower does not fall, your turn is over. Players take turns, stacking monkeys and circles on the tower until it falls and a loser and winners are declared. 

Game 2 - Each player will build and play on his own tower, trying to be the player to construct the tallest tower without it falling. Players take turns as in game 1, but each player will stack a tower in front of himself. Are you willing to take a chance to build a taller tower? Even if you can play on your current level, you may add another circle to your tower and keep building. Will your risk pay off, or result in a faulty foundation that crumbles before its time? When a player's tower tumbles, he is out of the game and his supplies go back into the game for other players to use. Keep playing until all players but one are eliminated and a winner is declared.

Try this:

  • Start with just one or two dice until you have learned the game, or if three dice will be too difficult.
  • Sort the monkeys into different piles by color before putting away, or before play. Pick up 2 or 3 in the palm and bring them to the fingertips, one at a time, to drop into the appropriate pile.
  • Follow the directions in the suggestion above, but instead of dropping them into piles, stand them on their feet. This will also require distal rotation for most monkeys to orient them into a standing position. Of course you can make that happen by putting them into the palm in the direction you want.
  • Pick up several monkeys, one at a time, squirreling them into the palm as you go. Throw them into the box by handfuls when putting the game away.
  • Cup the hand and shake the dice for a few seconds before throwing, to keep the hand in that position longer. Say one line of the Five Little Monkeys poem each time you shake or tell a monkey joke while you shake. This will take a little surfing beforehand to collect several monkey jokes, but they're out there.

In the tin: 20 Circles, 1 storage bag, 3 dice, 57 monkeys