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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.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Spot It! FAO Schwartz




Work on figure ground, visual discrimination, in-hand manipulation, coordinated use of both hands, shuffling and dealing cards, manual dexterity, spatial relations, visual form constancy, visual scanning, figure ground, focus, concentration, social interaction, play exploration and participation
In the tin: 55 cards
Ages 7+, 2-8 players
Toy Land, my type of game! LOL Spot It!, my favorite card game, features toys from the famous FAO Schwartz toy store. As an OT, I love Spot It! games for several reasons: the rules are simple, a game only takes 5-10 minutes to play, there are five different ways to play, it comes in a variety of themes, it's easy to transport, and you can work on several skills at the same time. Whew! This version features a total of 57 different toy images throughout the 55 cards. There are eight images on each card. Between any two cards there is one, and only one, match. The items are in different orientations and may be different sizes, but never differ in colors. Your job is simple - find your match before your opponent(s) finds his.

The baseball is the one and only match between these two cards.

Here are the original five games:


  • The Tower - To win, collect the most cards by the end of the game. One card is dealt face down to each player. The rest of the cards are put in a face-up deck within everyone's reach. Everyone plays at the same time to see who can be the first to find a match between his card and the card on the top of the deck. The first person to call out his match takes the top card and adds it to the top of his personal pile. All players immediately start looking for the match between their card and the new top card on the deck in the middle. Play continues until all cards from the deck on the table have been collected.
  • The Well - Be the first to get rid of all your cards to win. Put one card face up within reach of all players. Deal the rest of the deck evenly and face-down to all players. At the same time, all players flip their card pile face-up and quickly look for the match between their top card and the card on the table. The first to call out his match gets to lay his card on the pile on the table. Everyone immediately starts looking for the match between their top card and the new top card on the table. Play continues in this manner until someone runs out of cards and wins the game. 
  • Hot Potato - Have the least amount of cards after all the rounds have been played to win. Evenly deal all cards between players, face-down in their palms. To start, all players turn their cards face up at the same time and look for a match between their card and anyone else's top card. Once you find a match, add your card, face-up, to the pile in their palm. This is their new top card. The game continues until only one person has cards in his palm. He counts his cards and that is his score. Play several rounds and the winner is the person who has the lowest score.
  • The Poisoned Gift - Have the least number of cards at the end of the game to win. Deal one card to each player, face down. Put the remainder of the deck in the middle, face-up. All players turn their card face-up at the same time and start looking for a match between the card in the middle and any other player. Once you see a match, call it out and put the card from the middle onto that player's pile. That now becomes his top card. Keep playing until the stack of cards from the middle is gone.
  • Triplet - Collect the most cards by the end of the game to win. Lay nine cards (3 X 3) face-up on the table. Everyone looks for three of one item within those nine cards. First to find a match calls out the item and takes the three cards. Three new cards are added in those spots. Keep playing until there are less than nine cards left or no more sets of three.  
Some of the toy pictures are stacking rings, jack-in-the-box, dump truck, rubber duck, paint set, yo-yo, and rocking horse.

Try this:
  • Start by showing the players each image in the instruction guide and make sure that they recognize of learn what to call each item. It would be an unfair disadvantage if he found the match but didn't know what it was so couldn't call it.
  • Play with non-verbal individuals and point to the match on one of the cards instead of calling it out.
  • Start by making it a simpler matching game to teach the object to beginners. Put two cards side by side on the table and find the match. If the person has difficulty, turn the cards so that the matching items are close to each other.
  • Ask the player to hold the stack in the non-dominant hand throughout the game. Push each card off the top with the thumb.
  • Lay several cards in front of you on the table and call out an object on the cards. Count how many times that object appears on those cards.
  • Lay two cards side by side on the table. Every looks. The first to find the match gets the cards. Play till all the cards are gone.
  • Take turns finding matches if playing for speed is not desired.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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