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!

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Sunday, December 4, 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 arch development, grasp, reach, bilateral integration, crossing midline, play and leisure exploration and participation, creative play, social interaction, executive functions, strategy, decision making, simple addition and subtraction
In the box: Board, money, plastic smiley face space markers, die, board markers, deed cards
Ages 5-8, 2-4 players
A beginners game of Monopoly with a fun pet theme. This game is easier than the original Monopoly games in several ways:
  • A game only takes 30-45 minutes to complete.
  • The bills come in denominations of 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Easier counting.
  • There are no equivalents of houses or hotels to buy.
  • There are only 16 spaces for sale instead of 28.
  • The card pile that you draw from on the board also includes some gross motor activities, such as jump up and swim like a goldfish around the table and give everyone a high paw.
Themed pieces include pet markers, smiley face space markers and pet deed cards. The back side of each deed card also includes two fun tips for taking care of that particular pet. To play, each player chooses a marker and places it on the square that is marked PLAY. Taking turns, players throw the die and advance around the board, buying pet spaces that they land on and then earning money by collecting fees when other players land on those spaces. Placing a smiley face marker on each square that you own shows everyone who that square/pet belongs to. The game ends when one player owes more money than he can pay. The player with the most money at this point, wins.
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 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 smiley face markers 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 on the table. 
  • Cup the hand, curl the fingers together, and hold for several seconds while shaking the die without dropping. 
  • Sort the smiley faces by color.
  • Put the smiley faces away after the game by asking the player to cup the hand, hold the fingers in that position, and then slowly drop the horseshoes into the palm one at a time while counting. If he has trouble cupping the hand, first shape the player's palm by putting a small ball or round object in the hand and forming the hand around it. Then remove the ball.
  • Put the smiley faces away after the game by picking them up one at a time and squirreling them into the palm. How many can the player hold without dropping? 
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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