TOPPLE – That Game is the Tops!

If you are familiar with occupational therapy, it should come as no surprise that we like to play games! Let’s talk about TOPPLE!

You can purchase this game at many different stores, online providers, or by using this Amazon link. This is a game that I really like to play in therapy and there are many ways to make it therapeutic. 

How to play

After setting up the game, each player gets one color set of discs. You take turns rolling the die to get a number and then you place your color disc on the associated number spot located on the top of the game. You earn points by getting your color discs in rows and stacks. The goal is to keep the board balanced and not “topple” over… or, if you want to get real strategic, if your opponent has one side of the board covered, try to topple it so that their pieces fall off. You can read the game instructional card for more details about playing and scoring, but that is the gist of it. 

How to make it therapeutic

There are several ways that this game can be used for therapeutic and developmental purposes for different age ranges. Here are some suggestions, but I am sure there are others that I did not think of:

  • Color identification – there are typically four different color disc sets. Mix them up, have the child pick one color and then they must find all of those colored discs
  • Visual discrimination – similar to color identification – if all the discs are mixed up, can the child discriminate one color from the other
  • Eye hand coordination – just the simple act of placing the disc on top of the wobbling board game requires a good amount of eye hand coordination
  • Multi-step direction following – first the child must roll the die, then find the associated number spot to place the disc
  • Counting – the die has dots to represent the numbers and the child must count those dots 
  • Number identification – once the child determines the number of dots on the die, they must find that number printed on the board 
  • Impulse control – if all of the discs are placed on one side of the board and it becomes unbalanced, then the board will topple over spilling some or all of the discs. Players must stop and think about where to strategically place the disc to keep the board balanced (or like I mentioned before, how to purposely topple it to knock some of their opponents discs off). Although I will admit, most kids really want it to topple over and love when the discs come crashing off the board! 
  • Strengthening – by adding wrist weights, the child is participating in strengthening activities in a fun way
  • Midline crossing and range of motion – place the discs in various positions (across midline, into shoulder extension, abduction, increased flexion) for the child to reach for before placing it on the board 

Above, I provided nine therapeutic and developmental purposes for playing the game TOPPLE, but I am a big fan of symmetry and evenness. I was going to put a 10th purpose down, and then I decided I wanted to hear from you. Can you give us one more example of how the game TOPPLE can be used for development and therapy? 

Written by Madonna Smith, MOT, OTR/L

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