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.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

LEGO Juniors Princess Play Castle

Are you familiar with the LEGO Juniors line?

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
In the tub: 150 pieces, 2 assembly guides
Ages 4-7
The LEGO Juniors line is advertised as "Easy to Build", and is designed to be an introduction to the original LEGO line as well as provide kits that a typical 4-7 year old can do with little to no assist. The Junior kits differ from the original in a couple of ways. Firstly, some of the pieces are already connected and molded as one piece, so there is less to build. 
In this kit of 150 pieces, there are four larger pieces that are a composition of several LEGO pieces. The rest look like your standard LEGO pieces. Secondly, the assembly guides are similar to original LEGOs, but are designed to require less adult supervision for younger kids. The pieces came in three numbered, cellophane bags. The assembly guides show you the items that are built from the pieces in each bag. Of course that will only help you the first time you build unless you disassemble them and return them to their original bags.  The assembly guides also have large arrows pointing out where to place new pieces on some of the pages.
There is also one addition to this kit that I didn't have before - a brick separator! One of the hardest things for kids who don't have very long fingernails to do is separate the bricks. Their first impulse is almost always to bite them. Hopefully this will be a helpful tool.
Try this with any LEGO set:
  • Give a few minutes to examine the pieces at the beginning so that the person can examine the different shapes and how they snap together.
  • Set the piece(s) for each step in front of the beginner until he has gotten used to identifying pieces. 
  • Turn pieces on the table so that they can't be picked up by the child in the correct orientation. Ask him to turn each piece in-hand after picking it up.
  • Place a piece in the individual's palm, or at the base of the fingers, in the incorrect orientation and ask him to bring it to the fingertips and turn it in-hand for placement.
  • Give the beginner one piece at a time while building and point to the piece on the guide to show where it should go.
  • Ask the child to pick up the model and hold it in one hand while adding pieces with the other hand so that both hands works together while adding pieces (instead of adding pieces while the model is on the table).
  • Show the child how to hold the model with the non-dominant hand while "pinching" the new part on with the dominant hand.
  • Place the pieces for each step on the non-dominant side so that the individual will have to cross midline to pick them up. Instruct him not to lean to the side as he reaches across.
  • Ask "what is different" at each new step in the instruction guide to focus on where the new parts will go.
  • Keep the unused pieces in a pile so that the child will have to search for each needed piece. Turn some of the pieces upside down or half cover them so they will look different from the picture.
  • Advise the child to hold the model in the same orientation as the one in the picture to aid in orienting pieces.
  • Catch mistakes as they happen, as an incorrectly placed piece may throw off the rest of the project. Tell the individual that his model does not look exactly like the picture and see if he can identify the mistake and correct it on his own before jumping in to help.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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