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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.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Design & Drill

Work on tool use, manual dexterity, coordinated use of both hands, grasp, screwing and unscrewing, visual discrimination, figure ground, visual closure, spatial relations, eye-hand coordination, sequencing, visual memory, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: Plastic base, power drill, 3 drill bits, wrench, 20 pattern activities (10 cards)
Ages 3+

One of my most used toys down through the years, but not for the reason you may think. This game comes with a power drill (requires 3 AA batteries), which most boys think is pretty cool right off the bat. The drill bit will rotate clockwise to drive bolts into the base, then flip the switch to reverse and it rotates counter-clockwise to remove the bolts from the base. In addition, there are three interchangeable drill bits (image left) which can go into either the power drill or a screwdriver handle for manual use. The bits are easy to put in and take out, but are snug enough not to fall out. The base is solid and has a 10 X 10 pattern of holes for the  bolts. All of the plastic pieces are solid and well constructed. The pattern cards are awesome. They are large and made from a cardstock with a plastic coating. They have held up well, especially since I haven't carried them in the box for a long time. Some of the designs form a symmetrical pattern and fill the entire card (see below), but the majority do not, giving the opportunity to count empty circles and get the positioning just right. May be a precursor to counted cross stitch. LOL. There is also a black & white pattern card so you can color in the circles and make your own pictures. I took it to Kinkos and made several copies and then used them to make seasonal and holiday pictures. 

To play, gather the base, bolts, and screwdriver. Choose a pattern card to copy onto the base. Place the bolts, one at a time, into the holes on the base. Drive each bolt in with the power screwdriver, manual screwdriver, or wrench. The options that are done by hand are very time consuming. This is where my alternate use comes in. Shortly after I started using this game I realized that the circles on the pattern cards are just about the size of a standard bingo chip. I went online to a bingo supply store and bought one container of chips to match each of the five colors on the cards. They cost $3 a container, but were one of the best investments I have ever made. I put the empty card, the bingo chips, and a pattern card in front of the child and ask him to make the same pattern on his empty card. One of the reasons that I use the cards much more this way is that takes much less time to finish a picture than using the drill. Also good for in-hand manipulation skills. 

UPDATE: I just noticed that Design & Drill now comes with a light-up base, kind of like Lite-Brite. The pegs are more neon colors and the patterns are much smaller and look like they are in a paper booklet. The grid base is also smaller, only 8 across, but it looks pretty cool otherwise. Deign & Drill Brightworks.

Try this:

  • Cover all lines on the pattern card except the one you are working on if the individual has trouble keeping track of where he is. Move to showing two lines at a time, then three, etc. Having to look back and find your place each time you look away can be quite difficult for some.
  • Start with the solid pattern cards and move to the more difficult cards where you have to count empty spaces between colored circles.
  • Ask the individual to hold several chips in the hand, moving them one at a time to the fingertips for placement (chips not included with the game).
  • Ask the individual to put down the chips or screw in the bolts one color at a time. For example, put in all green first, then all blue, etc. Harder still.
  • Work to correct mistakes as they are made since one wrong placement will throw off the rest of the pattern. Say something vague, like "check again", to prompt the child to identify and fix his own mistake before jumping in to correct it for him. 
  • Ask the individual to remember three or four colors in a line at a time. Then cover the pattern card. Can he remember them as he is putting the pieces in place? Rehearsing them out loud may help.
  • Prop the pattern card upright in front of the individual and move it out a little bit so the he will have to look up, look down, and remember what the color(s) was.
  • Switch out the tools as you work. Work with the wrench, then the manual screwdriver, then the power screwdriver, etc. Each one will require different skills.
  • Skip the pattern cards, sort and place bolts on the grid by color, making up your own pattern.
  • Skip the pattern cards, start your own pattern with two or three pegs of different colors and ask the individual to finish your sequence to the end of that line (10 across or 10 down).
  • Use the full pattern card (like the sample above) and complete the design from different orientations. Go left to right, line by line. Then right to left, line by line. Then top to bottom, then bottom to top.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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