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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.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Ravensburger Puzzleball 72 piece Unicorn


Work on spatial relations, visual closure, visual discrimination, visual form constancy, figure ground, visual scanning, sustained attention, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, coordinated use of both hands, separation of sides of hand, fine motor precision, sequencing, crossing midline, body awareness, leisure and play exploration and participation

In the box: 72 plastic puzzle pieces, a puzzle stand.
Ages 6+

This puzzleball is not near as complicated as you may think. I wish I had taken notice of the time before I started assembling, because I couldn't believe how fast this went together. Literally minutes. I have used puzzleballs in therapy before, but they have had fewer pieces, snapped onto a half dome, and required matching patterns and colors to create the picture. I never used a larger puzzleball in therapy because I thought it would take too much time and be too difficult. As it turns out, neither was true. As strange as it sounds, this puzzle seldom requires you to look at the picture as you assemble.  Each piece is curved and has a number and an arrow printed on the back. The numbers tell you the order to add the pieces and the arrow tells you where to snap the next piece in the sequence. For instance, if the arrow is pointing to the right, add the next puzzle piece to the right of that piece. If the arrow is pointing down, add the next puzzle piece under that piece.
Because the pieces are numbered, I decided to sort them into piles, 1-9, 10-19, 20-29, 30-39, etc. Then I took one pile at a time and sequenced those pieces in number order in a line in front of me. Next it was the simple matter of picking up each piece in turn and snapping it on. Then lay out the next pile in number order and snap them into place. The box recommended always starting with piece number one, and that is sound advice. The pieces are curved and you will have to hold the ball for awhile in your hand. Later you can transfer it to the rounded base, but I found it much easier to just hold it in one hand and snap the pieces on with the other. You will have to use a light touch, while still giving each piece you add a solid pinch to make it click into place. The ball is not so fragile that pieces just start falling off, but it is a hollow ball and will have to be handled carefully.  You will be looking at the back white side of the puzzle pieces for the arrow direction, and thus your attention will be focused on the inside of the ball, not the pattern on the outside. Two or three times I came onto a piece that could be snapped on in a couple different orientations, so I had to look at the picture on the front, but not often. When I got to the last five pieces or so I had to set the ball on the stand because the hole was getting small and I had to take a different approach to snapping on the pieces. The last two pieces I had to carefully tap into place from the outside.

If you are interested in purchasing a 72 piece puzzleball or just want more information, click on the image below.

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