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, October 8, 2015

K'Nex - Build A Bunch

Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, visual form constancy, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, coordinated use of both hands, in-hand manipulation, finger/hand strength, motor planning, executive function, sequencing, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 66 pieces
Ages 3+, 1 player

Another great construction toy from K'NEX. K'NEX pieces are made from brightly colored plastic and are well constructed. The pieces are more pliable than Lego pieces, which are hard plastic. Many pieces have to be pushed in from the front/back, or top/bottom and "pinched" together. Like most construction sets, it does take some strength to snap the pieces in and out of place. Sets often come with funny features such as big googly eyes, curly tails, and wings. This is a good value, as this 66 piece set comes with ideas for making 30 different models (below)! Some models may need to be disassembled before making other models as they may use some of the same pieces. The instruction sheet is not step-by-step and includes a single sheet with all 30 completed designs. It is harder to assemble this way than from a step-by-step guide, as you will have to determine where to start and how to proceed, and you may not be able to completely see all pieces or how they hook together.  They are not labeled or sequenced by difficulty.
This is not how all sets come, as my older sets do have pictures in booklets instead of on a single large sheet, but still no step-by-step guides. Be creative and let your imagination run wild!
Try this:

  • Give time for free play at the beginning so that the person can examine the different shaped pieces and how they snap together.
  • Ask the child to pick up the model when possible and hold it in one hand while adding pieces with the other hand so that both hands work together while adding pieces.
  • Hold the model in the non-dominant hand and pick up the correct piece in the dominant hand, setting up a natural opportunity to manipulate the piece in-hand for placement. 

  • Turn pieces on the table so they are not in the correct orientation. Ask the individual to pick up a piece and turn it in-hand to the correct orientation.
  • Set a piece, or only a few pieces, at a time in front of the individual to cue him which piece(s) he will be placing next. It can be difficult to look at a completed model and determine where to start and/or how to proceed. 
  • Give the beginner one piece at a time as he needs it and point to the piece on the picture to direct where he should place it.
  • Cover the part of the model that you are not working on to reduce confusion or to direct the building sequence. 
  • Keep the unused pieces in a pile so the child will have to search for each needed piece. Turn some of the pieces upside down or half bury them under other pieces so they will look different from the picture.
  • Advise the child to hold the model in the same orientation as the one in the picture to aid in orienting pieces.
 If you are interested in purchasing this set or just want more information, click on the image below.

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