Teaching Educational and Hand Skills with Everyday Games

When working with kids, I use games not only as a social or recreational tool but also to develop specific skills.

I use Boggle Jr to develop Matching,  Memory and Hand Skills.                   images1


  1. Parent places the correct matching die with the correct letter face up in its corresponding hole under the picture.  Parent takes one die out, rotates it in front of the child and then gives it to the child.  The child rotates the one die to the correct letter and place it back in the correct slot.
  2. Parent matches the correct letters to the card but place the correct dice letters in the wrong slots.  The child then has to take out and replace the die to  match the letters above the corresponding hole.
  3. Parent matches the correct dice letter to the card letter and then removes all dice.  Give child only the needed dice and have the child search the dice for the correct letter and place in the correct hole.
  4. Parent matches the correct dice letter to the card letter and then removes all dice.  Give child the needed dice plus 2 or 3 extra as distracters.  Have the child search the dice for the correct letter and place in the correct hole.
  5. Complete steps 1 thru 4 above but use the shield and see if the child can remember the hidden letters. Start by covering and uncovering one letter at a time as needed for success. Continue with goal of having the child remember first the three-letter words and then the four letter words.
  6. Complete step 3 and 4.  However; this time, place the dice 3 to 4 yards away from the card holder.  Child indicates what letter they need, moves to dice area, locates the dice and returns.  Can they remember what die is needed?

You can add hand skill development into the mix by

  1. Have the child cup their hand together forming a bowl.  Parent places one die in the cupped hands.  The child shakes the hands,not letting the die fall out,  until the child can see the desired letter.
  2. Have the child use only one hand to rotate the die to the correct side. The child will have to rotate the die using finger tips and tilting the hand to keep control of the die while searching for the correct letter.  Remember have the child only use one hand and not touch the shirt to table to move the die around with the fingers.
  3. Use tongs to stack the dice. Once the dice are stacked, knock over the tower and see how quickly the child can find the correct letters to spell with words.
  4. Place the dice on the table with the correct letters facing up.  Have the child use tongs to place the letters in the correct slot.

I use Angry Birds to develop Verbal Skills, Spatial Concepts and Soft Touch.  I have yet to play the game as a game.

Suggestions                                                                                                images3

  1. Take turns building towers.  Start simple using only 4 or 5 blocks or characters.  One block per age is my goal when I work on imitation of designs.  I build a structure and then child imitates. Then child builds a structure and I imitate it. This teaches skills needed for letter formations and  turn taking.  Use age as a guide. A four-year old will need a little help imitating a three to four block design.  Try having them build one block at a time; at the same time you are building the simple structure.  A 6-year-old should be able to copy a structure with 6 blocks
  2. Have the child imitate the design on the card with the blocks provided.  This is a great pre-letter task.
  3. Teach positional concepts.  Have the child tell you how to build the design on the card.  Exactly what block did they want you to get ie the short one, the long one, the square one?  Do I set this block to the right or left of the structure.  Which pig do I get?  Does it go on top or under the block I am pointing to?
  4. Teach patterns.  Tall stick, short stick, green pig.  Tall Stick, short stick _______ (what comes next?)
  5. Teach spacing. Have the child make a simple path with the rectangular pieces.  They pieces lay long ways on the ground.  The goal is to keep the pieces close enough that the black bird can follow the path with wings almost touching the two rectangular pieces (on the path) as the bird is pushed along the path.  Then move the two edges of the path closer so the black bird can not get through but the pigs can.

To work on hand skills

  1. See if child can set all the blocks on end vertically like dominoes right next to each other but not touching.
  2. See how tall a tower one can build.  Building structures teaches soft touch or the tower will fall over
  3. Shooting the birds takes two hands as one hand holds the sling shot and one pulls back the lever.
  4. Its takes a lot of control to pull the bird back just far enough to knock down the tower.

Scatterpiller Scramble is one of my favorites. I use it to teach hand skills.   I have yet to put in the batteries and play it as a game.

Suggestions                                                 images

To develop hand skills

  1. Placing the marbles on the scatterpiller hands requires a nice pincer grasp.  Have the child hold a cotton ball under their pinky finger while they place all the marbles in the scatterpiller hands using their index and thumb.
  2. Have the child remove the marbles with one hand keeping as many marbles in one hand as the child can.  The child gets a marble from the scatterpiller hand, uses the fingers to move the marble into their palm and then use the thumb and index to get a different marble. I want my 5 and 6 year olds to be able to hold 5 to 6 marbles at one time in a single hand.  My goal is one marble held in the hand per age without dropping any.
  3. Put one marble in the child’s palm and a different marble in between the child’s index and thumb so he is grasping it with his thumb and index.  The child places one marble on the scatterpiller and then uses hand motions and fingers to place the second marble without touching their shirt or the table.  One hand should be able to maneuver the marbles to get the two marbles on the scatterpiller one marble at a time.  I start this around  4 years of age.  I again use age as a guide.  A 5-year-old might be able to remove and put 4 to 5 marbles using only one hand.
  4. Use a variety of tongs to place the marbles.  Tongs are the best tool ever invented.  From squeeze tongs to tweezers type tongs.  Then move to scissor type tongs.  The best Occupational Therapists I know have taught me so much about the benefits of tongs. I start using the larger easy to squeeze tongs around age 3 and the tweezer tongs by age 5.
  5. Grasp a marble with each hand at the same time.  Then, place the marbles on the scatterpiller hands at the same time using both right and left hand simultaneously
  6. Grasp a marble with each hand at the same time.  Then, place the marbles on the scatterpiller hands at the same time. Use a metronome and see if the child and get the marbles and place the marbles to a beat.
  7. Have the child sit on the ground, roll a marble to the child.  Have the child stop and marble and place it on the scatterpiller hands.
  8. Have the child sit on the ground, roll two  marbles to the child.  Have the child stop the marbles one with each hand. This works best if you roll one marble toward the side of the child about where the knees are if the child is sitting with legs crossed.  The child then can place the marble on the scatterpiller hands.

Doggie Doo can be used to target specific skills but I use it just for fun.  Nothing lightens up a class like a good laugh

Suggestions                          300

  1. The game can help develop fine motor skills by having the child roll the ball of putty using only one hand.  Can the child keep the putty at the ends of the fingers while they roll the ball.  A 5 to 6-year-old should be able to do this.  You can also have the child roll the putty into a log and work on cutting with a plastic knife.
  2. It takes good hand skills to push the bone in the dogs throat.
  3. Scooping is a good skill that works on the hand and wrist motions
  4. The game teaches numbers as you can have the child count how many times it takes to squeeze the trigger prior to the putty coming out
  5. Staying in control of ones self is a good social skill, especially when silly things are happening

Hope you guys have fun with these suggestions.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s