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, February 15, 2016

Safetyville - Child Safety Game

Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, manual dexterity, finger isolation, safety awareness, safety rules, social participation and interaction
In the box: gameboard, spinner, 8 game pieces, 4 game piece stands, 52 safety question cards, 4 safety graduate badges, 1 card reader ribbon
Ages 3+, 2-4 players
I write a lot of safety goals, and there are a couple of games that I use in conjunction with that: Safetyville for younger kids and Play it Safe for older kids and adults. I also like to make comics using the super-easy Make Belief Comix free online comic generator, and I use the Nationwide Education website. But I digress. This post is about the game Safetyville. This is one of those games that I don't always use the board and play the actual game. If the individual is too old and thinks the board game is too "young" for him, I just use the cards to pose the questions. Often in the form of a comic strip, as I mentioned above. Each card has three questions: a beginner (for young kids), an intermediate, and an advanced question, so kids at different levels can play together. Or start with the beginning questions and work one individual up to the advanced level. To set up the game, put the board in the middle of the playing area, place the spinner nearby, choose a game piece for each player and place them in the top left hand corner at home (START).
The goal is to follow the path through Safetyville until you get to school (FINISH). Once everyone has arrived at school, ribbons are awarded for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place. To advance, each player, in turn,  will be asked a safety question. If he can answer it, he is allowed to spin the spinner and move forward. If not, he stays where he is. It is my thinking that if this is used as a learning tool, each child should ultimately arrive at the correct answer.
Questions are true/false, yes/no, fill in the blank, and multiple choice. Answers are written in red directly under the question. Questions fall into these categories:
  • Mall
  • Neighbor's House
  • Hospital
  • School
  • Fire Station
  • Fountain/Pond
  • Park/Playground, Police Station
  • Home
  • Safetyville
Here is an example of Neighbor's House Questions:
  • Beginner - New neighbors moved in next door and your parents met them once. Are they still strangers? Yes or no? (ANSWER: Yes)
  • Intermediate - While playing outdoors with your friends, your new neighbor invites all of you into his/her house for lemonade. What should you do? You should: (ANSWER: A)
    • Tell him/her "no thank you" and tell your parents as soon as possible.
    • Accept the lemonade because all of your other neighbors are nice people.
    • Accept the lemonade but tell your parents about it later
  • Advanced - Your new neighbor, who your parents have not met, asks you for your help. To be safe, tell the neighbor you ______ help. (ANSWER: cannot)
Try this:
  • Make it a win-win situation. Always help each child arrive at the correct answer, as you want him to understand the principle and remember what is correct.
  • Play a cooperative game. All players discuss the correct answer and the spinner chooses and gives the final answer. They all arrive at school together.
  • Let the individual read the multiple choice answers directly from the card, as they may be too long to remember. Cover up the answer.
  • Go to Make Belief Comix and make a comic strip or two or three out of each card. Kids have liked reading my comics. Go to the Special Needs - Autism Spectrum section and look for my name to read how I use the comic generator. I wrote the publisher an email once thanking him and telling him how I used his site and he asked if he could publish my email on his site.  
If you are interested, you can google this game and find it cheaper than you will on Amazon. At least as of this writing.

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