Adding silly rules to familiar games can be a fun way to entertain your kids and sneak in some goal areas without them knowing. Here are some of my favorite games and ways to mix them up!

Trouble [balance version]

Place your trouble board on a small stool on the ground and have your kid stand up and activate the popper by stepping on it gently, having to balance on the other foot- making sure they switch feet each round. You can increase the challenge by having them stand on a pillow or soft surface with the grounded foot so they have to work extra hard to keep their balance.

This can help strengthen core muscles as the child activates their muscles to maintain in an upright position as well as balance.

Sorry or Candyland [with toes!]

Games where you move a piece around the board can be really easily adapted to have the child use their toes instead of their hands. If they are sitting on the floor (in a v-sit or boat pose) lifting their legs up will make them activate their tummy muscles and serve as a nice core strengthening activity. They can either push the piece with their foot or if their toes are able, pinch the piece and actually pick it up off the board to move!

This can also be a good way to target frustration tolerance or self advocacy if it is very challenging for the child. You can add in reminders of the Size of the Problem (e.g., “how big of a problem is it that you didn’t get it on your first try?”) or seeing if they can appropriately advocate for a modification that might make it easier for them (e.g., sitting in a chair with the board of the floor will significantly decrease the core demands).

[Social Skills] Jenga

One Jenga set we have at CI has social questions written right on the individual blocks (e.g., “What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken?”) but you can also just have a list or if your child is able, make up a question each time you take a turn. When it is a child’s turn, they choose a block and get to ask the question that is written on it (or make one up if you don’t want to have your set written on) to anyone who is playing

[Animal Walks] Memory

Select an attainable number of pairs from your set of memory and separate the pairs into two piles so one of each pair is in each pile. Mix up the first pile and set them on one side of a room, face down. Do the same with the other pile, but set them on the opposite side of the room– the father apart the harder it will be. Take turns calling out different animal walks (e.g., frog, bear, crab) and have the child animal walk their way across the room so they can flip over one game piece. Then they do another animal walk to look at one on the other side of the room. They keep going back and forth until they get all the matches. It will be tiring so it’s nice if you play along too, to give them a break between turns.

This is a way to increase the challenge for their functional memory skills as well as gives some good gross motor strengthening with the animal walks.

[Fine Motor] Don’t Spill the Beans

If you have play dough or theraputty at your house, you can bury the bean pieces in the dough/putty and have the child dig out each piece before taking a turn– this can be a great way to strengthen fingers!
Another way I like to play is instead of burying the pieces, have the child pick them up using either a pinchers or adapted chopsticks so they have to work on grading their force to successfully pick up each piece

Comment below to let us know how it goes if you try any of these ideas or share your favorite way to mix up a classic game!

Written By: Megan Wisniewski, MS, OTR/L