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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.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Excellerations Engineered to Build Blocks

Another go-to activity from Excellerations.




Work on spatial relations, visual discrimination, visual closure, manual dexterity, visual form constancy, thinking skills, eye-hand coordination, crossing midline

In the bag: 18 wooden blocks, 25 pattern cards,1 storage bag.
Ages 4+

Another great go-to activity from Excellerations to help develop visual perceptual skills. Solid wood pieces and increasingly difficult pattern cards make this an activity that your child can progress with. Models have from four to thirteen pieces. The canvas bag is just big enough and has a Velcro strip across the top, middle. The pieces won't stay in the bag if it is tipped, a zipper would have been nice. The balls are flat on the top and bottom for easy stacking. The pattern cards are printed on only one side and are very thick card stock.

Try this:
  • Start by playing with the blocks and building with them randomly if the child is new to this type of activity so that he can familiarize himself with the pieces and how they look from different views and how they stack.
  • Give a beginner each piece in order and let him arrange/stack it to build the model.
  • Place all the pieces needed for a puzzle and the puzzle card in front of the child and remove the rest if you think the child will be overwhelmed or won't be able to find them in the group.  
  • Leave all the pieces in a pile and ask the child to find each piece in the group as he needs it.
  • Put only the needed pieces in the bag and Velcro it shut. One by one, as each new piece is needed, have the child insert his hand through the opening in the top and find, by feel, each correct piece.
  • Use positional language such as on top of, next to, under as you work.
  • 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.
  • Ask the individual to find the mistake if one is made. Can he compare the 3D model with the 2D picture and find the error?

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