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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.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pattern Play 3D


Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, spatial relations, eye-hand coordination, visual form constancy, figure ground, proprioception, manual dexterity, coordinated use of both hands, analytical and critical thinking skills, balance, sequencing, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 22 wooden blocks, 20 pattern cards (40 designs total)
Ages 5+

Another winner from MindWare, this game has something to challenge most. The pattern cards are numbered 1-40 and increase in difficulty as you go. This is my favorite kind of activity because it will help the player grow in skill as each new challenge is conquered. The model above is number 40 of 40 designs. As the puzzles get more difficult you may not be able to see all the pieces, as above, and you may need to figure out how to balance pieces as you work. Like the original Pattern Play by MindWare, the pieces are solid wood, durable, and brightly painted.
The pieces all fit into a wooden tray, but the tray is not used for any of the patterns. One of the features about games that I do not like, is when the pieces have to fit back into the box in a certain way or you can't close the lid. During therapy, I often don't have the time or interest to mess with that. Within the 40 puzzles of this activity, there are two that are assembled single layer, square and flat against the table, not standing up from the table like the rest. My husband was quick to observe that either one of those pattern cards could be used to put the pieces away. So that quickly settled that issue. Or, you could just leave the wooden box out of the game box and use it for something else, like putting your lego pieces into while you are building a model (my first solution). The wooden box is smaller than the game box, so the pieces can loosely fit in the game box if the wooden box is removed. Enough said about the box. LOL. This has many of the qualities I like in a therapy tool - pieces to manipulate, challenges that increase in difficulty, opportunities to sequence, plan, problem solve - and I feel it was a good investment for me. I would highly recommend.

First few patterns.
Try this:
  • Build images flat against the table if the individual cannot balance the pieces without tumbling them. Not all models can be built flat, but many can.
  • Put only the pieces needed in front of the individual if he cannot separate them from the background of all the pieces. Or add just a few unnecessary pieces at a time to simplify the task.
  • Give the individual one piece at a time to direct the building sequence if he cannot plan how to build the structure.
  • Build the structure first as the individual watches. Talk out loud as you problem solve and build the structure to teach the individual how you go about the process. Take the structure apart and let the individual build it.
  • Catch mistakes as they happen as they will impact everything that happens next. I give a vague comment such as "Are you sure" or "Check again" and let the individual figure out what he did wrong and correct it on his own if he can.
  • Keep the encouragement going as the puzzle gets more difficult, especially if the individual is prone to frustration. Some structures may topple and the individual may need to start over.
  • Lay the pieces in different orientations on the table top so the person has to pick each one up and turn it to find the correct fit.
  • Use consistent language while building when working on spatial orientation, such as rotate, flip, turn, above, right, left, under, etc. 
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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