Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Name of the Game is Fun!

My final sneak peak to this year's Holiday Gift Guide before I publish it in its entirety features some
of my favorite games that can be used both during therapy and at home.  One of the most important things to me is that the kids I work with have opportunities to play games that their peers and/or siblings are playing with.  Well made games can be adapted to meet the needs of all kinds of children.  Each of the games that are in this section of my gift guide are ones that can be found in local toy stores and ones that can be adapted to meet the needs of each child.

Games and playing games with family and friends can be a seriously beneficial tool.  Not only does it help to develop socialization skills, it encourages executive function skills such as organization, sequencing, focus/attentional and time management skills.  Additionally, game playing can help in developing fine motor, grasping and visual motor/perceptual skills.  I love games that can be adapted up and down to different skill sets and especially love games that are fun and can be played at home to work on various occupational therapy goals.  Parents are always asking for things they can do at home that will work on some of their children's occupational therapy goals.  The nice thing about games is that they are fun and kids don't feel like they are doing "work".  Below, you will find the ones that my kids love to play with.

Wok and Roll-this is one of my all time favorite games to play with the kids at work.  It can be played individually or with up to 4 kids and can easily be adapted to meet the needs of each child.  For younger children, I let them play without turning it on and having it shake all around.  The older kids love when it shakes making it much more challenging for them.  The game comes with a bunch of different colored pieces of food in 4 different colors.  Using a pair of chopsticks, kids have to find their color food in the wok and place it in the same color bowl.  Great for working on developing fine motor skills such as improving grasp strength and manipulation skills.  Also great for working on eye-hand coordination, visual motor, perceptual and scanning skills.  For the younger kids, you can work on identifying and matching colors.
Whac-A-Mole-who doesn't love the arcade game Whac-A-Mole??  I've been using this game for several years and while there have been a lot of changes (I personally love this version that is no longer made but still sold on some websites), the game is still super motivating for so many kids!  This game is great for working on improving eye-hand coordination, visual motor/visual perceptual and focus and attentional skills. The most current version of the game is made for 1 or 2 players and when the moles light up or make sounds, you have to hit them.
Scatterpillar Scramble-I love this game for a million reasons.  First of all, I love games that can be adapted to work for different skill levels for the children I work with.  While I don't love battery-operated games, they tend to be better for adapting to different skill sets.  Scatterpillar Scramble is one of those games that you can use while turned on or off and the kids have fun either way.  Each player gets a set of marbles and a pair of tongs.  Using the tongs, they have to pick up their marble and put it on the caterpillars hands.  For beginners, I keep the game turned off so they don't get frustrated and give up.  As they get used to the game, I turn the game on and they have to try and put the marbles in while the caterpillar is dancing.  I can't tell you how funny the kids think this is and how proud they are when they finally get all those marbles on those moving arms!  Great for working on improving eye-hand coordination, focus and attention, visual motor and fine motor skills.  Play individually or with up to 4 kids.  
Obstacles- I have used Obstacles in both small groups and in my 1:1 sessions.  There are a bunch of cards that have barriers/hazards and a bunch of cards that have tools that can be used to overcome those barriers in order to get yourself home.  When used individually, I may have my kids who need to work on handwriting write out their thoughts and ideas.  When used in a group setting, you can pair kids up to work as a team to come up with the best way to overcome the obstacle with the tool they have.  I love games that can be adapted to meet the needs of a particular child and his/her goals and this is definitely one of them.  This game will provide hours and hours of entertainment to your child and encourage creativity and problem solving at the same time.  Also great for working on collaborative play and compromising with a friend.  
Doodle Quest-another great game by Blue Orange Games.  There are 36 different cards/challenges to complete.  Each player gets a dry erase marker and a transparent sheet to draw on.  A quest card is picked and put in the middle of the table so everyone can see it and each player must complete the drawing challenge making smart visual guesses.  After everyone has drawn their picture, they take their transparent sheet and place it on top of the challenge card to see how well they did.  This game is great for older children and works on improving visual spatial skills, problem solving and focus/attentional skills.  Doodle Quest is also great for working on fine motor and graphomotor skills.  If you are working in a small group, you could pair kids up with each other and have them work together in completing the quest.
Tenzi-this quick moving dice game is one of my favorite games.  The object of the game is very simple:  each player gets 10 dice and keeps rolling until they have 10 matching dice.  If you check out the this part of the Tenzi website, you will see that there are a bunch of other ways to play this game. Great for working on developing fine motor and strengthening skills, improves eye hand coordination and visual motor, perceptual and tracking skills.  It can be played with 2-4 players (or more if you buy more than one set).
Tumblin' Monkeys- This is by far one of my most favorite games...EVER!  It's fun for both my preschoolers and my school age kids.  It's similar to the game Kerplunk, but instead of a tower filled with marbles, you have a tree filled with monkeys.  The "real" rules of the game are that the person with the least number of monkeys at the end is the winner but I rarely play that way, especially with the younger kids.  For some kids, I will have them pull the branches out using a pair of Zoo Stix to work on increasing grasp strength and manipulation skills.  Tumblin' Monkeys can also work on developing grasping skills, eye-hand coordination and visual perceptual skills.

I hope that you all find some games for your little ones.  Keep in mind, these have been kid tested by hundreds of the kids I have worked with over the years.  If you have any questions or any suggestions for other great games that should be included on this list, please share them with me!  I am just a click away and love hearing from everyone.  

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