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.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Magnetic Mosaics - My First Picture Maker

Work on in-hand manipulation, manual dexterity, pincer grasp, fine motor precision, spatial relations, figure ground, visual closure, eye-hand coordination, visual discrimination, visual memory, coordinated use of both hands, play exploration and participation 
In the box: 300 5/8" magnetic foam blocks, 20 white, coded paper designs, magnetic board, easel stand
Ages 4+
Choose a picture on one of the design sheets. Lay it on the magnetic board.  If I am going to stand it up on the easel, I put the first few pieces on or else put one in each corner so the paper stays in place when I tip it up. Create a picture by placing matching colored magnetic pieces on the squares on the coded sheet. Pictures are simpler than the Magnetic Mosaics Kids version and take less time to complete.
What I like:
  • One picture can be done in 15-20 minutes on average (that time will vary depending on who you are working with).
  • Pictures expose kids to letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • You have the option to work on a slanted surface.
  • Almost all kids have loved this activity.
  • The board can be kind of tipsy, but that gives the opportunity to work on bilateral integration for kids who don't often use a stabilizer hand.
What I don't like:
  • The pieces have a sparkle effect sticker on the top and some of the stickers are starting to come off, although I have used it for several years without incident.
  • There are exactly enough colored pieces for some of the pictures so don't lose any!
  • Most of the sheets use colored symbols/letters/numbers, eliminating any need to check the key, just match the color. This eliminates the necessity to look down, find, and remember the needed color, therefore reducing the therapeutic value. Out of 20 possible pictures, only 4 are in black and white and require the child to actually use the key. 
Pictures include an octopus, rocket, truck, dragonfly, butterfly, rabbit, duck, snail and dog.

Try this:
  • Lay all the magnetic pieces upside down or in a jumbled pile.  Require the individual to pick up one piece at a time and use in-hand manipulation to get it into the right position for placement.
  • Ask the child to support the board with the non-dominant hand and pick up and manipulate in-hand each piece with the dominant hand.
  • Ask the child to pick one color and cover all of those symbols in the picture before moving on to another color.
  • Practice reading the color key by just pointing to numbers on a black and white design sheet and having the individual consult the key and tell you what color would be used for each one.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click the image below to go to Amazon.com.

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