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 26, 2015

DUPLO Lego Snow White

A precursor to LEGOs, DUPLOs are a great toy to help develop many skills.

Work on spatial relations, manipulation, visual discrimination, figure ground, visual closure, visual motor integration, visual form constancy, bilateral integration, strength, manual dexterity, executive function, creative play, play and leisure exploration and participation 
In the box: 28 plastic pieces
Ages 2-5

A precursor to LEGOs, DUPLOs are a great activity to use to work on many skills. Designed for typical kids ages 1 1/2- 5, I often start kids on DUPLO activities and then move to LEGOS when they have the concept and can manipulate the smaller pieces. Duplo pieces are bigger and chunkier than LEGOs, too big to swallow and easier for younger ones to manipulate. They have a line of smaller sets (fewer pieces) of DUPLOs, like this Snow White set, that cost about $10-15, and then they have a line of bigger sets (more pieces) that are $25-30. I love these smaller sets to start with, but they do not include an assembly guide. The larger sets can include an assembly guide, you will need to read the box to know which ones do. If your goal is to follow a pattern, the individual will have to assemble from the finished pictures on the box. This is a more difficult task than using a step-by-step assembly guide, as sometimes a part of the model or piece may be obscured by something in front of it, and it can be very difficult to know where to start and how to proceed. There are additional pictures on the back of the box so there are usually several different models you can make.

More ideas on the back of the box.

Try this:
  • Start with a few minutes of free play so that the child can get the feel of the pieces and see how they snap together.
  • Start slow if the child is new to DUPLOS, choosing one thing to make at a time. For instance, start with the tree and put only the pieces needed for the tree in front of the child. This can reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by too many irrelevant pieces.
  • Keep the unused pieces in a pile so the child will have to search for each needed piece. Turn some of the pieces upside down or on their side so the child will have to recognize them from different perspectives.
  • Advise the child to hold the model in the same orientation as the one in the picture if they are having trouble orienting a piece.
  • Take time for free play at the end.
  • Give the beginner a piece at a time while building and point to the piece on the picture to show where it should go.

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