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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 23, 2015

Magnetic Mighty Mind

The magnetic version of a popular shape game.


Work on manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, palmar arch strength/stability, coordinated use of both hands, motor planning, body awareness, tactile perception, visual discrimination, visualization, visual closure, visual form constancy, spatial relations, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, attention, recognition of shapes and shape names, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 32 magnetic geometric shapes of 4 colors, 30 pattern cards, shape storage bag
Ages 3-8

If you are interested in using the Mighty Mind line in therapy, this is a good place to start because it introduces the shapes, then shows the shapes needed for a picture, before moving to pictures with no clues. The magnetic version of this popular shape game is beneficial for some individuals. If you work with anyone who has reduced precise fine motor control or even the slightest hand tremor, you know that working with shape activities can be frustrating for them. When placing a piece next to an existing piece, the existing piece inadvertently gets bumped. When trying to fix the first piece the second piece gets pushed out of place and so forth. Magnetic games can help reduce that problem by allowing the person to put down a piece without disturbing the neighboring pieces. Melissa & Doug sell the Magnetic Pattern Block Kit, similar to this, that I have used quite a bit. This particular Mighty Mind activity comes in a metal box. Take off the lid, put a card in the lid, and place your pieces on top. The magnetic pieces are strong enough to stick through the card to the lid. There are 30 pattern cards - 20 that show you the shapes and colors to use (see the train above) and 10 that are black and white and you get to figure it out (see bird above). The cards are numbered and increase in difficulty as the number increases. The lid could probably be propped up on a slant board or on an uneven surface of some kind because the pieces will not slide off. 

Try this:
  • Play with the pieces before using the cards and point out the differences in size, shape, color, etc.
  • Put the first piece in place in front of the individual if he cannot look at the picture and figure out where to start. Or say something like "Let's start with the ears".
  • Build on top of the card. Once this is mastered, build next to the card. Then prop the card up in front of the individual and ask him to build by looking up at it.
  • Orient and place a piece if the individual is having trouble with orientation. Then pick it up, hand it to the individual, and invite him to place it.
  • Hand the individual a piece he will need and ask him to turn it in-hand for the correct placement.
  • Use consistent directional and positional language such as above, to the left of, under, flush, etc.
  • Find all pieces for the picture ahead of time. Place only those pieces (or even fewer) next to the card if you want to focus on one specific skill at a time, such as spatial orientation. This may decrease frustration from working on too many things at once.
  • Practice recognizing shapes from different orientations. Ask the individual to search through all the available pieces to find the ones he needs. Make sure that the pieces are in various positions so that some are facing the wrong direction, some are overlapping, some are upside-down, some are on their sides, etc.
  • Correct errors as soon as they are made as continuing to build on incorrect placement may impact the rest of the model.
  • Teach the individual to recognize and correct errors. After the individual places a piece incorrectly, ask "Are you sure?" or say "Try again". If he cannot figure out the error, make the correction while he watches. Then pick up the piece and hand it to him to place.
  • Give fading prompts as the individual learns to identify errors and correct mistakes on his own.
  • Ask the individual to cup his non-dominant hand. If he has trouble doing this, place a small ball in his hand and ask him to curl and lightly squeeze his fingers around the ball. Then remove the ball and ask him to hold his hand in that position. Place several of the pieces he will need in the cupped hand and keep the hand cupped while he places the pieces on the board.
If you are interested in purchasing this item, or for more information, click on the image below.

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