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.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


Work on visual discrimination, figure ground, spatial relations, eye-hand coordination, turn taking, following directions, motor planning, gross motor, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, palmar arches, grasp, reach, bilateral integration, crossing midline, play and leisure exploration and participation, creative play, social interaction, cognitive functioning, attention, decision making, simple addition and subtraction

In the box: Board, money (treats), plastic bone markers (4 colors), die, board markers, obedience school (chance) cards
Ages 5-8, 2-4 Players

If you are looking for a fairly simple introductory version of Monopoly that doesn't take too long to play and does not require large number mental math, this is the game for you. The puppy themed board is fun for animal lovers and pieces include plastic bones to mark your properties, puppy deed cards, and puppy game markers. Collect puppies as you make your way around the board, or pass out deeds to each player before the game starts. Identify the squares you own on the board by putting a plastic bone on each square. If someone lands on one of your puppy squares, collect the number of treats as shown on the board. The deed cards each depict one breed of dog on the front and some fun facts about that breed with training tips on the back. This version doesn't take too long to play (maybe 30-45 minutes) and money (treats) come in denominations of 1 - 5. Set a time limit to play, or move around the board until someone runs out of money. The chance cards may require physical movement, such take a walk around the board on all fours, do your best dog trick, and sit up and beg. Fun spaces on the board carry on the theme and include the doghouse, free treats, and obedience school. The die is made like the typical white dice but is extra large, about 1" X 1".

Try this:
  • Assign the person who is working on counting or making change to be the banker.
  • Gather a small stack of mixed bills and ask the individual to separate them and sort them into the correct denominational piles. Hold the pile of bills in the non-dominant hand and push the top bill off with the thumb to separate.
  • Hold the deck of property cards in the non-dominant hand and use the thumb to push each card off, one at a time, to deal.
  • Stand up all of the bones that will be used for the game by holding 2 or 3 in the palm and moving them, one at a time, to the fingertips to rotate and place. 
  • Make a bone yard next to the board by standing up all the bones that won't be used in the game. Pick them up one at a time and rotate in the fingers to orient them upright and place. Make sure the bones are laying down to start to require manipulation.
  • Cup the hand, squeeze the fingers together, and hold for several seconds while shaking the die. If the individual has difficulty cupping the hands, first shape the player's palm by putting a small ball or round object in the hand and forming the hand around it. Remove the ball while keeping the hand in the shape.
  • Sort the bones by color. 
  • Put the bones away after the game by. Ask the individual to cup one (or two) hands and hold tight. Slowly drop the bones into the individual's palm, one at a time. How many can he hold?
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below to go to Amazon.com.

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