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.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Excellerations 3D Spatial Relations Activity Set

Work on spatial relations, visual closure, figure ground, thinking skills, crossing midline, manual dexterity, visual discrimination, visual memory, in-hand manipulation, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: A green wooden base, 8 wooden pieces, 24 pattern cards

This is a fun activity to teach spatial relations.  The kids like the theme, the pieces are solid wood, and the pattern cards are easy to read. The pattern cards increase in difficulty, adding pieces and stacking as you go. The piece with the tractor has a fence painted on the other side. Sometimes a piece will take up 2 spaces or a portion of it will be hidden when an animal is entering or leaving the barn.  Good for teaching multiple visual perceptual skills.

Pattern cards for 3D Spatial Relations Activity Set.

Try this:
  • Use positional language such as front, middle, back, in front of, behind, next to, under, on top of.
  • Let the child make up his own picture and describe it to you in positional terms.
  • Ask questions such as 1) who is on top of the barn?; 2) Who is behind the cow?; 3) Where is the tractor?
  • Prop the pattern card at a distance and see if the individual can look up and then remember the piece needed, orientation, and placement when he looks down to create the model.
  • Establish terms for the three green strips to make sure you are both on the same page when talking about positioning pieces. Such as dark green stripe, middle or medium green stripe, light green stripe. Or front, middle back. Or dark green, light green, and yellow.
  • Practice turning the animal in-hand for correct orientation. 
  • Give the child only the pieces needed for one stripe at a time if he is struggling. Work consistently from the back to the front, one level at a time. It's harder to place pieces behind pieces that are already on the base.

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