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, July 7, 2015

Thumb Deck

Work on in-hand manipulation, manual dexterity, visual discrimination, pronation, social interaction, play exploration and participation 

In the box: 52 cards in a small tin, card dealer

I used to buy these small decks at the dollar store, and they came without the deck dealer. Therefore, I can't tell you how that works. Even if I had it I wouldn't use it, because moving the cards, one at a time off the top of the deck, was a big part of the goal. We played war, a kids game where players all get an equal amount of cards and they are placed face down in from of them. All players then turn their top card over at the same time and the person who turned over the highest number gets the turned up cards. If the same high number was turned over by two or more people, say two people turned over a nine, each person would then lay down two cards, face down, and turn a third card up. The person with the highest number took an even bigger stack. You can play until everyone has played all the cards and the one with the most cards wins, or you can play until one person has all the cards. That game can take quite a bit longer. The cards are poker type playing cards, with aces, kings, queens, jacks, and jokers. I take those cards out to make the stack shorter and to make it just two through nine, numbers only. The cards are small and will fit in the palm of the hand. Hold the deck in the non-dominant hand and slide the top card off with the thumb. Either grab the card with the dominant hand and turn it face up on the table, or keep it in the non-dominant hand, turn the hand over, and drop the card on the table. A quick fun game to work on shifting, a skill that will speed things up when playing with bigger card games.

Try this:
  • Stack the cards before putting them away, holding them vertical on the table and using two hands to straighten.
  • Cut the individual's pile in half if it is difficult to hold all the cards in the palm while manipulating.
  • Try fanning and holding four or five cards in the hand.
  • Separate out a few cards, say all cards numbered 2-4. Have the individual hold the deck in the non-dominant hand face up, pushing the cards off one at a time with the thumb and sorting into stacks of all twos, all threes, and all fours.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, check your local Dollar Tree or click on the image below.

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