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, April 19, 2015

Connect 4 - Five Ways

Play 5 ways!

Work on visual closure, visual discrimination, figure ground, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, spatial relations, eye hand coordination

In the box: Plastic grid, 2 cardboard side pieces, 21 red and 21 yellow checkers
Ages 6+, 2 players

This Connect 4 version has an extra column down each side and boasts 5 ways to play. I was excited to see this game, because I thought with the extra grid column down each side there would be more places to play. Nope. The extra columns that attach to each side are printed cardboard. Yes, it will give you an extra piece in each direction so that you can get 5 in a row, but you have to plan around their images. Cardboard side columns are removable.

5 ways to play:
  • Original
  • Pop Out
  • Pop 10
  • Pop Up
  • 5-in-a-row
Try this:
  • Ask the individual to hold two or three checkers in-hand at once. Each turn, have him move one checker to the fingertips to play.
  • Make a paper pattern of the grid. Color in the circles with red and yellow. Place the pattern next to, or in front of the grid and ask the person to make the colored pattern on the grid instead of playing a game.
  • Fill the grid with the checkers, in several lines of four going in different directions. Ask the individual to find and point out all the Connect 4's that he can see on the grid. To start easier, look for all of one direction at a time, such as all horizontal, then all vertical, etc.
  • Practice just dropping the checkers in the slot at the top. Make a random pattern or just free play.
For more information, click on the image below.

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