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, March 3, 2015

Block Buddies

 Work on manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, motor planning, visual discrimination, visual closure, visual form constancy, spatial relations/position in space, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, executive functions, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 21 blocks, 25 pattern cards (pattern on each side - 50 altogether)
Similar to Imaginets but without the magnetic board. One of my most used and liked activities. Choose a 2D pattern card and make a 3D model out of the blocks. Blocks are wood, smooth and painted with bright colors. Cards are graded by difficulty into three levels, indicated by the color of border around the card. Solid quality, it has held up well.

If you have the Block Buddies in the rectangle box and are wondering if this is the same version, just different packaging, here is the breakdown:
  1. Both have the exact same pieces, colors, and they are the exact same size.
  2. The colors on the pieces in the square box are more vibrant.
  3. The square box has 25 pattern cards, 50 challenges total, including 12 beginner puzzles, 20 intermediate puzzles, and 18 expert puzzles. 
  4. The rectangle box has 38 pattern cards, 76 challenges total, including 16 level one puzzles, 20 level two puzzles, 20 level three puzzles, and 20 level four puzzles.
  5. There are seven images that are found in both boxes, the rest are unique.
  6. The pattern cards in the square box are much bigger, and the image is bigger, than the cards from the rectangle box. Small cards are 3 1/2 X 2 1/2 inches. Large cards are 4 1/2 X 3 1/2 inches.

Original rectangle box.

Left - Cards from square box. Right - Cards from rectangle box.

Try this:
  • Orient and place a piece for the individual as he watches, then pick it back up, flip or turn it, and give it back to him to try again.
  • Ask the individual "Is that correct" if a mistake has been made and allow him to spot the error and correct.
  • Hand the individual a piece he will need in the incorrect orientation and ask him to turn it in-hand to position it for placement.
  • Find all the pieces for the card ahead of time. Place only those pieces and the card in front of the child if you want to focus on a single goal, such as spatial orientation. This may decrease frustration that might be added by working on too many things at once.
  • Place the first piece or two on the table if the individual needs help in starting.
  • Cue the child to "look at only the yellow pieces" if he is looking for a yellow piece but is examining each and every piece.
  • Start with the necessary pieces lying on the table, already in the correct orientations, for beginners. As the individual improves, choose a puzzle and then quickly turn the necessary pieces lying on the table so that they will need to be flipped and oriented.

If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below to go to Amazon.com

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