Not Your Typical ‘Connect Four’: Adapting Games to Meet Therapeutic Goals

Kids love board games. “Can’t we just play a game?” I can’t even count the amount of times I have heard that complaint before a therapy session even begins. And can you blame a kid for wanting to play one?

1. They’re fun.

2. There are concrete rules to follow, leading to the end result (whether it is a cooperative or winning-based game).

3. There is usually a component of strategy, especially for higher level board games. For others, the factor of luck can be just plain exciting!

4. Certain games, especially those with a fantasy component, really allow the players to almost tempraily get lost in the world of the game itself, offering a nice break from reality.

Therapists like board games for many of the same reasons! Depending on the chosen game, it may hone  in on one or many of the following areas:

– Visual motor/perceptual skills

– Fine motor coordination/strength

-Cognitive perceptual skills

-Daily living skills

-Social-emotional skills

– Motor planning skills

Now, back to taking the idea of a board game and adding a new twist.

This week, we set up groups of two kids laying on their bellies on scooters.

Utilizing only their hands, they had to get to one end of the hallway to pick up their specified color game pieces taped to the wall (I.e-yellow or purple, in this case).

They then had to scooter back to place it on the board.

The first child to get four pieces in a row won the game.

A few basic ground rules were as follows:

1. You may only take one piece at a time.

2. Feel free to block your opponent’s pieces on the board in any direction.

3. When reaching for a game piece, you may not get up from the scooter.

Now, this could easily be adapted to play without scooters/across different environments:

1. Kids could army crawl, bear walk, etc to get back and forth.

2. You could do this outside with different material (I.e-chalk).

3. Substitute paper pieces for textured pieces of different materials.

4. Switch up the game being played.

5. You cou do this outside with different riding equipment (I.e- bikes).

6. You could utilize this idea in the classroom with an academic-based game, where kids could do different types of movements to get from the game pieces to the board (this would probably have to be done in a small group).

I love finding fun and therapeutic activities that are simple to set up and flow across a variety of settings. Have a great weekend!

10 thoughts on “Not Your Typical ‘Connect Four’: Adapting Games to Meet Therapeutic Goals

  1. Thanks for sharing these clever reminders for simple activity modifications – SO appropriate to OT goals, AND MOTIVATING for participants!!!…. 🙂


  2. What a great idea! I’ve built my recognition of cursive letters into Go Fish and Memory so I appreciate the value that game playing brings to the table for kids with struggles.


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