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, August 11, 2015

Poppin' Puzzlers

Work on visual discrimination, visual form constancy, figure ground, manual dexterity, pincer grasp, in-hand manipulation, eye-hand coordination, social interaction, play exploration and participation
In the box: Game board with storage area for 40 small pieces.
Ages 5+, 2 players
Another version of Perfection (by another manufacturer) that is smaller while still allowing you to compete. The goal is to place all of your pieces into the form before the timer goes off and the bases pop up and throw all the pieces. The two greens circle in the image below are for the timer. One turns and starts the timer, and pressing the other one will stop the timer. Each person will be fitting in the same identical 20 pieces, on his own side and in his own color. The first player to put all of his pieces in and push the button to stop the timer, wins.  
The pieces are quite small, and each has a stem on the top (see top image) large enough to use to pick up the piece. The timer is noisy and there is no way to turn off the noise except don't use the timer. The timer ticks the whole time you are playing. Most kids like this game but some are anxious about using the timer, so we don't turn it on.
Try this:
  • Set all pieces upright next to the game board before the game starts so that the individual will pick them up using the stems on top.
  • Put all pieces in a jumbled pile and instruct the individual to use only one hand to pick up each piece and orient it in-hand for placement.
  • Urge the individual to turn the piece and try again if he tried a piece in the correct spot but in the incorrect orientation, and starts to set it down. Show him how one piece can look and fit differently based on how you turn it.
  • Use a sand timer or other noiseless timer if you are working for speed but the timer in the base is too loud or jarring for the individual.
  • Put two or three pieces in the individual's palm and ask him to bring them to the fingertips, one at a time, and orient for placement.
  • Forget about the timer if you are working on hand skills that slows the process way down.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below. 

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