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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, November 19, 2017

Pass the Bomb Junior

OT and speech come together to Pass the Bomb.

Work on spatial relations, manual dexterity, fine motor precision, tool use, executive functioning skills, process skills, socialization skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 55 cards and a bomb

Pass the Bomb is a fast paced game that may qualify as a speech game also. The game is quite simple. Each of the cards has a location and an associated picture. Some of the locations are at a birthday party, in the forest, in a magazine, in a swimming pool, at Christmas, in the sky and in the attic. 


Players take turns naming one item that would be found in that location. As soon each player is finished, they pass the bomb to the next player who looks at the next card and names an item found in that location. The bomb keeps getting passed around until it goes off. The person who has it when it goes off is the loser. Keep playing until all players are eliminated except one, the winner. I'm not real crazy about timed games, but the timer runs randomly, anywhere between 10 seconds and 1 minute. Therefore, those who take a little longer to process and answer will not be automatically overrun by the fast thinkers. It's all about the timer. The bomb is lightweight, hard plastic. It has a red on/off button on the bottom. It ticks audibly about once per second, and when it goes off it makes a lower sound for about one second. Easy enough for everyone to hear. May be annoying to some with noise sensitivities. There is a small door on the bottom of the bomb that you will need to take off to insert the 2 AAA batteries into the bomb. It has a tiny Phillips head screw and needs one of those small screwdrivers (I usually buy my sets at the $1 store.) Batteries not included.

To set up: Mix the cards and set them face down in the middle of the players. Give the bomb to the first player.

To play: Turn on the bomb and flip the deck. After the first person plays he takes the top card off the deck and passes the bomb to the next player. This continues until the bomb goes off. That person is now out of the game and the rest of the players repeat the process until only one person is left in the game, the winner.

Try this:
  • Use only one card per round. Players come up with different words for the same location. Last person to play before the bomb goes off gets the card. Play several rounds and see who collects the most cards.
  • Separate and take each card off the pile while leaving the remaining cards in a stack.
If you would like to purchase this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Colorations Wet & Stick Fuse Beads

Perler-type beads that fuse with water.  Not impressed.

Work on visual discrimination, figure ground, spatial relations, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, fine motor precision, pincer grasp, web space development, palmar arch development, thumb opposition, in-hand manipulation, separation of two sides of hand, shoulder stability, executive functioning skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the jar: 3,200 wet & stick fuse beads

I like fuse beads but have never used them in home therapy, in large part due to the ironing. So when I saw these fuse beads that stick together with water, I was excited. Before I bought them, I went looking for reviews and could find none. That worried me, but I was so excited to try them that I went ahead and bought them anyway. After trying them out, all I can say now is that I'm not impressed. First I hated them, then I thought they might be OK, then I thought they might not. I'll give you the facts as I see them and you can decide. 

If you don't use fuse beads much and have no idea how many 3200 beads is, here is a little perspective.


These beads can be used on the standard perler bead pegboards (image above right) if you already have them. Otherwise you will have to buy a pegboard(s) because they do not come with these beads. These wet and stick beads are not flat cut on the top and bottom like the original perler beads, they are a little rounded. And, a few of them have a little extra plastic on the top or bottom that didn't get trimmed off so the bead will not stand exactly straight. There are 7 bead colors in this jar: red, black, white, yellow, green, blue, and a very few orange.

To use the beads, put them one at a time on a pattern board to make your design. 


The instructions say to spray thoroughly with water, then come back in 30 minutes and it will be done. I followed the directions and thirty minutes later, I was back. The beads were stuck together, but my bead design wasn't anywhere near dry. I picked up the design from the pegboard (they held together well enough for me to lift them) and there was a puddle of goo on the bottom of the pegboard. The puddle looked like glue, so I would recommend washing it off right away. I set my bead design on a paper towel, wet side down, and when I picked it up there was a colorful pattern on the paper towel - the colors bleed. As I gingerly handled the design, since it wasn't dry, all I could think of was maple syrup. This is the place where I hated it and decided I was going to send them back. However... a couple of hours later I walked by and decided to pick it up. It was very dry and not sticky in the least. This is where I thought "hey maybe this will work after all". Much later in the day I picked it up again. I had just washed my hands and they were still a little damp and the bead pattern I had made got instantly sticky when it came into contact with the water. This is where I am thinking they will probably not work for me. Kids and water, it's just gonna happen. Then once the beads get wet the colors may bleed onto their clothes and the design will fall apart. I'm think I'm going to send them back.