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.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


In the box: 80 pattern cards, 4 wooden trays, 4 sets of 16 cubes

Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, figure ground, visual closure, visual memory, in-hand manipulation, distal rotation, separation of two sides of hand, palmar arch development, manual dexterity, executive functions, social participation and interaction, play and leisure exploration and participation

The goal is to use the 16 cubes to recreate the pattern on the card.  I love this activity and have used it a lot. I especially like it for practicing distal rotation and working on diagonal orientation. The 80 cards are numbered and get more difficult as you go. Patterns start out quite simple, such as all circles, and I have used this game with many skill levels. To play, each person chooses a tray of colored cubes and removes the cubes. Turn over a card and place it where all players can see it. All players work independently to recreate the pattern from the card on their tray with their cubes. First one to correctly complete the design wins the card. When playing in therapy I typically do not race, we just duplicate the pattern. The player will have to be able to understand that the black on the card will be replaced with the color he is using. The white part will remain white. I ask the individual to turn each cube in the fingertips as he looks for the correct side, instead of using two hands or turning it on the table top. There is not a grid printed on the pattern cards. Cards are printed in black and white, and the individual must be able to pick out each square from the background and substitute his color in place of the black. Some players will not be able to separate out each cube from the design or keep track of where they are placing cubes. For those individuals I use a white piece of paper to cover all but the cube or line that we are working on. When done with this version, advance to the more challenging Q-Bitz Extreme. There is also an expansion pack to add more cards to your collection.   

Try this:
  • Let the individual copy what you do as you place each cube in your tray if he is not able to read the card and separate the four cubes.
  • Make a design on one tray and let the individual use it as a pattern to make the same design (3D pattern to 3D pattern).
  • Cup the hand(s), shake, and throw the cubes on the table. Once all available for the design are used, pick up the remaining cubes and shake again. Keep going until you use all the cubes.
  • If the player has made an error, ask him to compare his pattern, cube by cube, with the pattern card and see if he can identify and correct it independently before assisting.
  • If placing a cube in the puzzle for the individual, show him how to orient it and then take it out and turn it. Give it back to him to place.
  • Use the cubes without the trays and make a pattern with all the cubes such as AB or ABB. Start the pattern and let the individual finish it.
  • Demonstrate and then ask the individual to turn each cube in-hand if he is using the tabletop, his body, or two hands to do it. 
  • Place one cube at a time in the individual's palm and ask him to bring it to the fingertips and then orient it for placement.
  • Use the back side of unused cards or a white paper to cover all the black and white squares except for the one you are working on if the individual has difficulty mentally separating it. Once he improves, move to covering all but one line, then two lines, etc.
  • Focus on the white if the player has trouble translating the black to his color. For instance I will say the cube has a white circle, or it is white across the top and down the right side.
If you are interested in buying this game or just want more information, click on the image below to go to Amazon.com.

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