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.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Number Construction

Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, visual form constancy, visual closure, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, coordinate use of both hands, Touch Math, numbers 0-9, executive functioning skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation 

In the box: 50 number pieces, 5 cards

This set reminded me of the Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) program, but it is NOT a HWT product. I am a huge fan of HWT and used it exclusively when I was a school OT. It's a great program, especially for kids who have trouble with visual perceptual skills. One year I even did a whole-class session in a self-contained room and by the end of the year, everyone was writing legibly. The teacher later told me that there were several older kids in the class that she didn't think would ever learn to write. I have several HWT products but have not blogged about them yet, but will. So much for my plug for HWT. This activity is not a HWT product and does not match the HWT numbers for shapes. 

This activity includes four different hard plastic pieces that will be used to build the numbers. Each of the four pieces are a different color (blue, purple, green,  orange). The yellow bolts are used for counting, not constructing, and are made from a rubbery plastic material. You could also place them on the numbers in the positions that you would use to teach Touch Math, another program that I like. There are not enough pieces to make all the numbers at the same time. The five double-sided cards show numbers from 0 - 9. Each side shows one number. The top of the card shows the pieces you will need to construct the number and the bottom shows the finished number. The yellow bolts can then be used as manipulatives to count out the number. Personally I don't think that there is enough to this activity to make it worth the money, unless you were going to use it in conjunction with Touch Math. JMHO.

Back of the box.

Construction cards.

Don't Scramble the Egg

Work on eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, social interaction skills, coordinated use of both hands, balance, motor planning, spatial relations/position in space, visual tracking, sustained attention, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: Hard plastic egg (requires 2 AAA batteries), 50 category cards

When I picked up the box I thought it was empty, so first off, few contents for your money. However, I like the game Hot Potato, so when I saw this I decided to purchase it, even though a little voice said that throwing something made of hard plastic probably wouldn't end well. Isn't it interesting how often that little voice is correct. The hard plastic egg is a timer, about 4" tall and requires two batteries. The 50 category cards each have one category printed on them, such as things to play with in the water, types of storms, little kids' shows, ways to get injured, and ways to move fast. 

Be the person with the most cards at the end of the game.

Set up:
Unscrew the door to the battery compartment, insert 2 AAA batteries, replace the door. Shuffle and place the category cards in a pile next to the players.

Choose a category card, push the button on the side of the egg to start the timer, name one item from the category, and throw the egg to someone else. The person who caught the egg must name one item from the category and throw the egg to someone else. Keep this up until the timer goes off, i.e. makes the sound of a cracking egg. Timer speeds are short and random, you don't know if the timer will go off in 15 seconds or 30 seconds, etc. If you are holding the egg when the timer goes off, the egg makes the sound of cracking, you get the card. The person with the most cards at the end is the winner. It won't take kids long to figure out if they "pause to think" they have a better chance of holding it until it cracks. We started playing the game by rolling the egg across the table. The individual I rolled it to missed it and it fell about three feet to the tiled floor. Upon impact the door to the batteries, that I had carefully screwed back into place after inserting the batteries, flew off. Both batteries flew out and the egg rolled in the opposite direction. Pieces scattered everywhere. That is after hitting the floor for the first time. I wonder what would have happened to it if it had been thrown, with a little force behind it. I wouldn't recommend. Stick with Hot Potato, or toss an item of your own choosing, and make your own category cards if you like that feature.