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, October 23, 2016

Cats vs. Dogs

Work on visual discrimination, visual form constancy, manual dexterity, coordinated use of both hands, in-hand manipulation, sequencing, number recognition, executive functioning skills, process skills, socialization skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 52 cards

Whimsical dogs and cats of different sizes are pictured on the cards of this game that plays somewhat like the old card game WAR. There is a number in two corners of each card, ranging from 1-5. The cards are over-sized (3"W X 4.5"H) and will be difficult to impossible to hold in the palm and push off with the thumb for smaller hands. There is a colored border around the cards (dogs are blue, cats are red). Instead of comparing animals by size, if a child knows the sequence of the numbers 1-5, he will not have to make a judgment on animal size, he will just need to look for the highest number to find the winner. If sorting by animal, the child may more easily sort by  using the color border, if he notices it.

Have the most cards at the end of the game. 

Set up:
Shuffle and deal the cards face-down evenly between the players. Players stack their cards in a pile in front of them.

Simultaneously, all players turn the top card from their piles face-up. If two people are playing, the biggest dog or cat between the two cards wins the two cards. If there is a tie, each player turns another card face-up and the biggest pet of those two cards wins all the cards. If there is another tie, repeat the process until someone turns over a card with a bigger pet. 

The game gets a little more involved if there are three or more players. After all players turn over their top card, if one of the pets is in the majority, the biggest animal of those in the majority wins. For instance, three people are playing and one person turns over a cat and two people turn over dogs. The person with the biggest dog wins the cards. If it is a tie, all players turn over the top card from their pile and place it over their first card. The biggest animal in the majority wins. There are two special cards in the deck with special rules:
  • Dog Catcher card - This is the highest dog card and beats all other dogs. However, if cats are in the majority, it loses.
  • Cat Lady card - This is the highest cat card and beats all other cats. However, if dogs are in the majority, it loses.
When you run out of cards, turn over the pile of cards that you have won and keep going. Either play for a set time and the person with the most cards wins, or play until one person has collected all the cards. 

The cards are a hair thicker than average cards, therefore, as you are playing and you push the cards to your pile each time you win the cards just bump up against each other. You will have to pick them up and stack them.

Try this:
  • Give the individual all five sizes of one pet and ask him to put them in order according to size. Explain how the game works by comparing animal sizes.
  • Shuffle the cards and place the stack, face-up, in front of the individual. Ask the individual to sort the cards by animal, cats on one side, dogs on the other. Sort by separating one card at a time off the top and lifting without spilling the stack.
  • Lay the cards face down in a grid and play a simple memory matching game. Take out dog catcher and cat lady.
  • Play a memory matching game as above, but consider one dog and one cat of equal size as a match.
  • Ask the individual "which pet is bigger" each time you both play a card until he gets the knack of the game.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.


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