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, January 18, 2015

Smart Car

Work on spatial relations, visual motor integration, visualization, visual discrimination, visual closure, visual form constancy, coordinated use of both hands, manual dexterity, motor planning, executive functions, play and leisure exploration and participation
In the box:  A wooden car, 4 wooden puzzle pieces, a puzzle book with 48 puzzles.
This is a puzzle game I have used a lot and love.  Build the car in the picture using the four blocks. The finished model will always look the same, with two pieces sitting higher in the middle (see image above). The four pieces are all the same shape and made of solid wood, it has held up well.  The wheels work and the car rolls.

It comes with a booklet with 48 puzzles. The puzzles advance in difficulty from starter to master, and are versatile enough to use across multiple ages and skill levels. The puzzle book starts out with step by step instructions for building the car, and then gradually moves to more difficult puzzles, showing just the completed car, a portion of a completed car, or a bird's eye view of the car. There must always be two eyes looking forward when the puzzles are complete. This game is great for working on visual perceptual skills. Often the individual does not think to turn the piece to see it at different angles and must be cued, but with only four pieces it can be a good workout without having time to get frustrated before you are done!  Below are images of puzzle number one, number 13 and number 48. A nice spiral bound book.

Try this:
  • Turn to the answer page, which shows how to build one block at a time, if the puzzle is difficult (this view only for the first few puzzles). Then take the pieces out, turn back to the puzzle page, and have the individual try again.
  • Turn a block to the correct orientation and place in the car if the individual gets stuck. Then take the piece out, turn it so it is not in the correct orientation, and give to the individual to place.
  • Talk through the reasoning process if the individual gets stuck. Such as "the yellow block is taking up two spaces, so it must be lying on its side".
  • Turn the block in two hands instead of flipping it around on the tabletop.
  • Put the first block in the puzzle if the player can't figure out where to start.
  • Give the individual one piece at a time, in the correct orientation, if they are having difficulty learning. After they improve, push one piece at a time toward the individual but not in the correct orientation. Finally let them choose their own piece and orient it.
  • When placing the pieces on the table, make sure that none of them are in the correct orientation for a challenge.
  • Work from the finished view.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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