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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, June 9, 2015

Operation Minion

Work on visual discrimination, figure ground, position in space, body awareness, tool use, precise fine motor control, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, thumb opposition, rounded webspace, separation of the two sides of the hand, executive function skills, process skills, social interaction skills, play and leisure exploration and participation 

In the box: 1 board (operation table), 4 minion medics, 11 funatomy parts

There are numerous versions of the game Operation out there - Shrek, Star Wars, Toy Story - to name a few. Even the original version has gone through several updates over the years. The object of Operation is simple - using the tweezers provided, remove parts from the victims body without touching the side and setting off the buzzer. The pieces are small, anywhere from 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch tall, and must be removed with the metal tweezers that are included with the game. The tweezers are attached to the game board by a plastic coated wire. I will say right up front that this game is not for the easily frustrated, as removing a piece may take several attempts, or those who don't like loud or shrill sounds. To begin, drop each piece into its matching hole on the board. The holes are cut to the shape of the piece, so once the piece is dropped in it may move around and not be in the correct position to remove when it is time. Unlike other versions of Operation that I have, this version does not have cards that tell you what piece to extract, or money to reward you for a successful operation. The instructions say chose a piece you want to extract and go for it. The tweezers need to be angled and slid under the piece to grasp it. The ends of the tweezers are blunt and flat. If you get too close and touch the edge of the metal-rimmed hole with the tweezers while you are attempting to extract the piece, a buzzer will go off. It will stop as soon as you move the tweezers away. You do not get the piece and your turn is now over. Players play until all 11 pieces are removed.  Each player then counts the number of pieces he has, and that number equals his points. (Five pieces removed equals five points). The one with the most points, wins.

The instructions offer a second way to play for truly despicable players. Included in the game are four small minions - two nurses and two doctors. If you collect a minion's 2 favorite parts, you will collect that minion and an extra point. For instance, if you collect both Trigger Finger AND Unicorn Fluff, you will get Doctor Dave.

This game can easily be played alone. Other Operation versions have an on/off switch that eliminates the noise, but this one does not. Just remove the batteries.

Try this:
  • Take the batteries out so you don't set off the buzzer and take as many turns as necessary to remove a part. Try to improve with practice.
  • Demonstrate how to slide the tweezers under the piece to pick it up.
  • Demonstrate how to push the piece around to line it up with the shape of the hole before trying to remove it.
  • Quit if you sense frustration that is not eased with practice. This game is not for everybody.
For more information, click on the image below.

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