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 4, 2016

Avalanche Fruit Stand

Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations/position in space, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, pincer grasp, palmar arch development, thumb opposition, coordinated use of both hands, web space development, shoulder stability, executive functions, social participation and interaction, play and leisure exploration and participation
In the box: 2 jumbo tweezers, 40 pieces of fruit, fruit stand game board, spinner, activity guide
A fruity tweezer game from Learning Resources. I like this brand because the games are well constructed and made to last. With that being said, I had trouble with one of the sets of tweezers. They would not open wide enough to pick up the fruit and they are made of such hard plastic that I could not pull them apart. It's good to always check that tweezers open wider than the pieces that they are meant to pick up. These tweezers have two depressions for finger placement on one side and one depression on the other side for the thumb placement. FYI - the instructions are on the back of the fruit stand game board. You might want to read them before loading up the stand with fruit. To win the game, be the first to remove one piece of each different kind of fruit - apple, orange, grapes, banana, and strawberry. There are eight pieces of each kind of fruit.
To set up the game, stand the game board as shown above. There are two small Velcro dots on the back of the board that allows you to adjust the angle of the board for three levels of difficulty. Stack all the fruit in a single layer on the fruit stand. Players take turns spinning the spinner and following the directions:
  • Color - Pick one piece of fruit of that color and put it in your pile.
  • 2 - Pick any two pieces of fruit and put them in your pile.
  • 3 - Pick any three pieces of fruit and put them in your pile.
  • Star - Take a piece of fruit from another player.
If there is an avalanche (fruit pieces fall off the fruit stand) while you are playing, you must put any and all fruit pieces you have collected back onto the fruit stand. That is according to the instructions. I often do not follow the "penalty" portion of the instructions. It depends on the person playing, the frustration level, the cognitive level, the skills being practiced, etc. Apply clinical reasoning. Depending on what the goal is, I may just grab the fruit and put it back on the stand. Or if it seems too difficult, I might grab it and place it in the box. The fruit stand is made of heavy cardboard material, not plastic. The fruit is a rubbery-type material and will not slip in the tweezers. The box says there is an activity guide included. I did not get one unless they just meant the directions.

UPDATE: I told Amazon about the trouble with the tweezers and they promptly replaced it. However, I have the same trouble with the new game. One pair of tweezers isn't opened quite wide enough. You can push it down on top of the fruit and it will wedge in the tweezers, but you need to be able to release pressure on the tweezers for the item to drop out. With these tweezers, the fruit will not drop out. I move my middle finger to the inside of the tweezers and push the sides apart and the fruit falls out. Not a perfect solution.

Try this:
  • Choose a piece of fruit for the player to remove and then give the individual directions to finding that piece. Use terms such as up, down, left, right or up three, to the left two, etc.
  • Practice opposing thumb to index finger and creating a nice rounded web space before flicking the arrow on the spinner.
  • Ask the individual to cup the non-dominant hand and then place the fruit, one piece at a time, with the dominant hand into the cupped palm. How many pieces can the individual hold before dropping any?
  • Set up the game board by picking up two pieces of fruit in the dominant hand. Bring them to the fingertips, one at a time, and place on the fruit stand.
  • Use the tweezers to set up the board and pick the fruit off with the fingers.
  • Hold the spinner in the non-dominant hand and spin with the dominant.
  • Play until all the pieces are removed. Winner has the most fruit.
  • Stack fruit only two or three high until the player gets used to taking the fruit off without making others fall. Add more fruit gradually.
  • Sort all the fruit by color.
  • Put fruit away by spinning the spinner. If it lands on a number, try to pick up that many pieces, one at a time, and squirreling them into the palm without dropping. Dump them into the box.
  • Stack the fruit in the stand. Try to take out all of one type of fruit without causing an avalanche.
  • Lay the fruit stand flat on the table for set up. Put all the fruit in and then stand it up.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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