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!

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

FlashPad 1


Flash Pad 1, my favorite version. Here's why.

Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, motor planning, finger dexterity, fine motor speed, processing speed, eye-hand coordination, visual tracking, finger isolation, crossing midline, visual form constancy, impulse control, bilateral integration

In the box: 1 unit
Ages 6+

I have used FlashPad versions 1-3 and prefer 1 by far. This is an electronic device that requires batteries. It is hard plastic and measures about 9 1/2' X 10 1/4. Press the on button and the four bottom (horizontal) pictures are encircled in red lights, waiting for you to choose the game you want to play. There is annoying music (to me!) that can be turned way down in volume. I thought the music could be turned off on all the units, but when I pulled it out this AM it would not turn off completely. You could check that out before you buy, it may just be my unit. The four game choices are:
  • Multiple Me - The game starts with 5 random circles lighting up. The object is to touch and hold a finger on each circle to turn the light from red to green. Once they are all covered you will hear a sound to indicate you got it correct and you can lift your fingers off. A new set of red lights appear. This is great for motor planning. Some of the groupings are easy, some are a real stretch. As you advance, the game will add 1 light at a time so that you have to touch more and more to clear it.
  • Follow Me - This is a matching game. It starts by lighting up only one circle in yellow and then you find and touch the match. After you clear a few it starts lighting up two, then three, etc. If a green circle is lit you have to ignore it. I like this one because the matches are all in different orientations (see the image above).
  • Catch Me - This is a straight up speed game. A circle will light up with red and you have to touch it to clear it. More circles are added quickly and you are not given much time to respond. Using two hands will become necessary to keep going at some point. Oh yes, now I remember. The sound did used to completely turn off on this device. Maybe I do need new batteries now. Some kids listen to the sound as you clear each one and wait for it to finish before touching another. This slows them down so I would turn the sound off for them. As you are quickly touching everything that lights up, green lights will start showing and you cannot touch any of those or you will end the game.
  • Free Me - This is a totally random game. All the circles light up. You have to touch them one at a time and see if you can clear all but the "bomb". Pure guess, no way to problem solve. Sometimes I use it when working on finger isolation and sometimes I use it for practice spreading the fingers. For instance, on the motor planning game some kids need guidance on how to place the fingers, such as use the little finger and thumb to get the longest stretch, or use index finger to little finger if there are four in a row horizontally. 
A downside of this unit is that all games but Free Me are timed. If you are working on speed, with kids that can work up to speed, or kids that can still perform when pushed for speed, this will probably work for you. If you have kids that take time to process and become easily frustrated when pushed for speed, this is probably not the game for you. Another downside is there is no way to keep score (to see if the person can beat his last score) except to count or use a count-up timer and track for time. One more thing worth mentioning is that on Multiple Me and Catch Me a person touches everything that comes up, except the wrong color. On Follow Me, you cannot touch the circles that light up, only their matches. Some kids have trouble transitioning from one type of game to another. This game has been popular with almost everyone. The motor planning game and the matching game are the two I use the most.

Try this:
  • If the games start out too intense for some kids, we engage in "teamwork". For Catch Me I will divide the board in half and he will touch all on one side and I will touch all on the other side. For Multiple Me I will reach in and touch a circle that he can't figure out how to get to so that he does not lose, causing the game to start over from square one.

If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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