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.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Kerplunk! Toy Story Alien Freefall

Work on manual dexterity, pincer grasp, palmar arch support, in-hand manipulation, coordinated use of both hands, eye-hand coordination, visual discrimination, problem solving, social skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation 
In the box: Plastic spaceship with removable red top, 30 aliens, 30 sticks, one die
Ages 5+, 2-4 players
Don't let the aliens fall out of the spaceship! The original Kerplunk game came with marbles. This version comes with small green aliens (more fun than marbles any day). The game takes as much time to set up as it does to play. Both tasks have therapeutic value. Start by snapping together the rocket (two clear body pieces, one red base). Leave the lid off for now. The rocket has holes all the way around it. Stand the rocket on the table and push the sticks in one at a time. Sticks will be pushed in one hole and pushed out a hole across from it, so that they end up as pictured. Place them anywhere you want them. Once all the sticks are in place, drop all the green aliens into the top and put the red cap on. They will fall onto the sticks, but at this point none of them will probably fall all the way down because of the crisscrossed sticks. The sticks come in three colors, blue, purple, and green, and the die has the same color aliens on it. In turn, each player will throw the die. The color that comes up is the color stick that he must remove from the spaceship. The goal is to remove sticks that will not let any, or at least lets the least amount of aliens fall. Eventually you will end up pulling sticks that will release aliens, but go for the sticks that will dislodge the fewest amount of aliens. Once all aliens have fallen out of the spaceship, the game is over. The person with the fewest aliens wins.
Try this:.
  • After your aliens fall, pick them up one at a time, turn it in-hand into a standing position, and stand your aliens on the table top.
  • Place two or three aliens in the players hand and ask him to bring them to the fingertips, one at a time, and rotate to stand upright on the table. Make an army of aliens.
  • Hold the rocket with a stabilizing hand while placing the sticks.
  • Cup the hand and throw the die to determine what color stick to place while setting up the game.
  • Cup the hand and watch the die "dance" for a few seconds before throwing. If the player has trouble cupping the hand, place a small ball in the hand and ask the player cup his hand around the ball and hold his hand in that position as you remove the ball.
  • Put the game away by picking up one alien at a time and squirreling it into the palm. How many can you hold without dropping any? Put them into the box by handfuls.
  • Set up by placing several aliens into the player's hand. Ask him to bring them to the fingertips and drop them one at a time into the top of the spaceship.
  • Skip the die and each player tells an opponent which color stick to pull.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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