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, July 6, 2015


Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, visual closure, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, thinking skills, sequencing, social interaction, play exploration and participation 

In the box: 108 tiles (6 shapes, 6 colors), cloth drawstring bag
Ages 6+, 2-4 players

The object of the game is to match colors and shapes to build patterns, vertically and horizontally. Patterns can be all the same shape (see horizontal line of circles below) or all the same color (see vertical line of blue shapes below). Play the 6th shape in a row of different shapes and you score a Qwirkle! New blocks added, or new patterns started, must be connected to the existing puzzle. Think strategically to earn the most points. 

Each player starts with six tiles which they stand on end so that other players cannot see them.  In turn, each person plays and does one of three things:
  1. Add one tile to the grid and then draw a tile to bring your hand up to six.
  2. Add two or more tiles to the grid. All tiles played from your hand must share one attribute, either color or shape. Your tiles must be played in the same line, although they do not have to touch each other. Draw tiles to bring your hand up to six.
  3. Trade some or all of your tiles for different tiles.
Strategic thinking will help you play tiles on different lines that intersect to make more points. Points are added after each turn and when the tiles have all been played, the one with the most points wins.
Try this:
  • Use as a sorting activity. Sort by color and/or shape.
  • Play with the tiles face up and make a grid of six different Qwirkles (one for each color)
  •  Play with the tiles all face up and build a game grid. Explain as you go to teach the rules. Start a row or column with 2 or 3 tiles and take turns placing one tile at a time to make sure the individual understands.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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