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.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Banana Slap

Work on motor planning, visual discrimination, visual motor integration, bilateral coordination, spatial relations/position in space, crossing midline, manual dexterity, proprioceptive perception, executive functioning, social interaction, values, play exploration and participation  

In the box: 72 playing cards, 1 wooden banana
Ages 5+, 2-6 players

A fun monkey see, monkey do, motor planning game that will make a monkey out of every player. There are 72 cards total: 48 "monkey do" cards, 16 "slap the banana" cards, and 8 "banana" cards.

           "Monkey do" cards.              "Banana" card.                       "Slap the banana" card.

To start, place the wooden banana in the middle of the players, then mix and deal all the cards equally to the players. Players stack their cards face down in a pile in front of them. Each player then take turns flipping his top card face up to form his own discard pile. As soon as there are two identical cards face up on the discard piles, it's time to go into action. If they are identical monkey do cards, the first player to do exactly what the monkeys are doing while grunting, screeching, and howling like a monkey, gets all the discards piles. If two matching bananas show up, all the discard piles are placed on the wooden banana. If two slap the banana cards appear, the first one to slap the banana wins any cards that may be on it. Play can end in one of two ways: 1) When the cards from the initial pile have all been played and the one with the most cards wins, or 2) Play until any one person runs out of cards. He is out of the game and either the other person wins in a two-person game, or the rest keep playing until all have dropped out but one - the winner. Note that since you are facing the monkey when you look at the card, everything the monkey is doing will have to be reversed on you when you act it out.

Try this:
  • Look through the cards and practice some of the different monkey positions to get familiar with the game before playing.
  • Use it as a motor planning activity, not a game. Take out one of each different monkey position and then present only those cards. One at a time, ask the individual to imitate each position.
  • Teach the individual how to peel a banana like a monkey - holding the long hard end in your hand and peeling down from the other end. No strings attached!
  • Remove the banana cards and the banana. All players flip their top card simultaneously until a match is made and the action starts. Play out the cards until someone runs out of cards.
  • Serve crunchy banana chips as an calming, organizing snack while playing.
  • Practice shuffling.
  • Ask the individual dealing the cards to hold the pile in his non-dominant hand while pushing the top card off with the thumb. Pick it up with the dominant hand to deal.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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