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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, August 12, 2018

Stranger Awareness and Safety Powerpoint

I recently completed a 50 slide PowerPoint on stranger awareness and safety to use with my kids. I'm always looking for different and kid-friendly ways to present this material and I got to thinking who doesn't like a comic? So, each slide in this PowerPoint was created to be a standalone comic, meant to spark conversation and teach safety principles. Sometimes kids will learn what to do in one specific situation, but won't generalize it, so I have included a variety of different situations to cover some of the same principles. For instance, don't get into a car with a stranger also translates to don't get onto a motorcycle, a snowmobile, a boat, or a truck with a stranger either. I have added this PowerPoint to my TPT store, but this is your lucky day. Since you have been kind enough to stop by my blog and read this post, for a limited time you can pick it up here, free. Go to the link (on the blue bar above) that says OT Facebook Freebies. Above the first image you will see the words Stranger Danger PowerPoint. Click on the words to download the file. My kids have enjoyed it, I hope you find it helpful.

Gravity Maze

Spatial logic game with 60 challenges.

Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, visualization, visual closure, process skills, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, executive functioning skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: Game grid, 9 building towers, red target tower, 3 metal marbles, 60 challenge cards with solutions

This is a falling marble logic game. Build gravity powered mazes that will carry a marble on a path through the towers. The pieces (towers) are either one, two, three or four cubes tall. The cubes are molded together and do not separate (see the image above). The cubes that look like they are full of color are the cubes with the built in slopes. These slopes will allow the marble to exit out one side only. Place a slope next to the opening of another tower to allow the marble to travel from one tower to the next. Some of the cubes have a smaller amount of colored plastic that is blocking one end and that will stop the marble from passing through. Other cubes are empty and the marble will drop right through them. The goal is to build a maze for each challenge so that when a marble is dropped into the top of the first tower, it will flow through the maze uninterrupted until it finally lands in the red target tower. The marbles are metal and smaller than your typical glass marble. This game will require applying visual perceptual and reasoning skills to be successful. Gravity Maze has won several prestigious awards.

There are 60 challenges that increase in difficulty as you go (beginner to expert). The front of each card will show a bird's-eye view of the game grid and a part of the maze with the location and specific orientation for 2-4 towers. It also shows the number of additional towers you will need to add to complete the maze. These additional towers are shown by color and vertical/horizontal orientation only. The solution is pictured on the back of each card.

One challenge card from each level, fronts.
Solutions for the four challenge cards above, backs.

If you like logic games, click HERE for a long list of logic games I have blogged about.

Try this:
  • Build the towers from the solutions on the backs if the puzzles are too challenging from the front.
  • Start by building a puzzle from the back, then disassemble and turn the card over. Now build it from the front.
  • Build a maze, all but the last piece. Allow the individual to place the last piece. Then build a maze all but the last two pieces. Allow the individual to finish the puzzle. Proceed in this manner until the individual is doing the puzzles alone.
  • Build the maze first as the individual watches. Do your reasoning verbally as you work to teach the individual how to think through the process. When the maze is complete, disassemble it and let the individual build it. 
  •  Know when to stop. Some individuals will be able to complete mazes for awhile, but the cognitive demands will become too great to go all the way to the last puzzle.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.