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, July 21, 2015

Melissa & Doug Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles

Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, spatial relations, manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, executive functioning skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation,

In the wooden tray: 12 wooden pieces
Ages 3-6

Melissa & Doug has an extensive line of educational toys, many of which I own because of their uniqueness and therapeutic value. However, these puzzles are very similar to other wooden puzzles that I own by other makers. Each of the two puzzles pictured above has 12 large, thick pieces and a base/tray to build on. Twelve is the least amount of pieces for wooden puzzles that Melissa & Doug carry. They also carry 24 and 48 piece wooden jigsaw puzzles. The pieces to these two puzzles have typical jigsaw puzzle shapes, with blanks and tabs. They are not shape puzzles. Because wooden puzzle pieces are thicker, they can be harder to push into place for some. The picture is paper glued onto wood and, like other similar puzzles, the picture can tear or wear over time, but they usually hold up quite well.  The picture is NOT printed on the background, and there is no picture guide to go by, so a person will need to be able to match colors, patterns, and complete partial pictures to assemble the puzzle.
The puzzle can be stored flat in the wooden tray/base it comes in. There is no box or lid.

Try this:
  • Take one or two pieces from the assembled puzzle and present to child that is just learning. Let him finish the puzzle. Then take out three or four pieces and let him complete the puzzle. Do this several times until all pieces are out and he can complete the puzzle.
  • Take the pieces out of the form and mix them on the table. Make sure some are upside-down, some sideways. Can the individual still spot them in different orientations?
  • Hand the individual one pieces at a time, in an incorrect orientation. Ask him to turn the piece, in-hand, until it is oriented correctly and then place  it in the puzzle tray.
  • Put the animals together one at a time. For instance, ask the individual "Can you find the dog's tail? Put it here. Can you find the dog's head? Put it here." Can the individual find the pieces you call for mixed in with all the other pieces? Change the orientation of the pieces and play again.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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