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, March 13, 2015

Jawbones Train & Railroad

In the box: 160 construction pieces, 8 curved track sections, model book
Ages 6+

Work on thinking skills, problem solving, following directions, sequencing, visual discrimination, visual closure, visual form constancy, spatial relations, visual memory, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, in-hand manipulation, manual dexterity, precise fine motor control, hand arch strength and support, separation of sides of hand, using two hands together, finger strength, play and leisure exploration and participation

Jawbones construction toys have won many awards including Top Toy of the Year from Creative Child Magazine.  Unlike LEGOS, which build on top of each other, Jawbones connect by pushing pieces into each other. They take a push to snap together, but nothing like the strength required for ZOOB. Pieces are colorful, bright, and fairly easy to push together and pull apart. The important thing to know about these sets is that the model book does not picture step-by-step instructions, like LEGOs. It shows you the completed picture only, and part of it may be obscured.  However, the book shows 2 images for each car - one that says "Build This Part First", and then a second image at a different angle of the completed piece. There are 4 images of the locomotive - side view, front view, back & top view, side & back view.


The booklet also shows 5 smaller images that take 50 pieces each and are sold separately - hot rod, fork lift, carousel, Mars rover, and dinosaur. However, this is a 160 piece set and there may be enough pieces to make these images, I haven't tried. If anyone is interested, I will count the pieces and let you know.

Try this:
  • Spend several minutes in free play at the beginning so that the individual can examine the parts and how they snap together.
  • Make a simpler model beforehand so the individual can work from a 3D model instead of a flat 2D model.
  • Find all the pieces needed for your model beforehand if you want to focus on one area, such as hand skills, and it would be too frustrating or time consuming to add additional tasks.
  • Use directional and positional language as you help the individual interpret the image and build, such as above, to the right of, in front of.
  • Hand the individual one piece at a time and point to where it goes on the diagram.
  • Start with all pieces in a large pile. Ask the individual to find his pieces as he goes. Put some pieces upside down or on their sides so that the individual will have to recognize them from different perspectives.
  • Put a piece at a time in the builder's hand and ask him to turn the pieces, in-hand and ask him to orient it for placement.
  • Take time for creative play once the model is assembled.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below to go to Amazon.com.

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