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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.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

LEGO Santa's Visit



Work on executive functions, sequencing, visual discrimination, visual closure, visual form constancy, spatial relations, visual memory, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, in-hand manipulation, manual dexterity, precise fine motor control, hand arch strength and support, separation of sides of hand, using two hands together, finger strength, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 167 pieces
Ages 7+

I blogged on this for the Thanksgiving turkey, but thought it was worth mentioning that they also carry Christmas themed products. All the goodness of LEGOs in holiday themes. Santa's Visit is the $9.99 version for 2015, available on the official LEGO site. If you have not read my opinion of one of my favorite toys on the market, go here - Building Skills With Construction Toys. If you have, just read on. Each year LEGO puts out a limited number of seasonal and/or holiday small sets. Some of them come in bags, some come in boxes. There are only three places I have ever found them: The official LEGO site, Target stores in the holiday candy section, and Amazon. The sets are limited and sell out fast at the LEGO site and Target. You can often find some of the retired sets at Amazon at greatly inflated prices. They are fun, small enough to be completed in less than a therapy session (by many), inexpensive, and can be used year after year for a fun holiday or seasonal activity
 
 Try this with any LEGO set:
  • Give a few minutes to examine the pieces at the beginning so that the person can examine the different shapes and how they snap together.
  • Set the piece(s) for each step in front of the beginner until he has gotten used to identifying pieces. 
  • Turn pieces on the table so that they can't be picked up by the child in the correct orientation. Ask him to turn each piece in-hand after picking it up.
  • Place a piece in the individual's palm, or at the base of the fingers, in the incorrect orientation and ask him to bring it to the fingertips and turn it in-hand for placement.
  • Give the beginner one piece at a time while building and point to the piece on the guide to show where it should go.
  • Ask the child to pick up the model and hold it in one hand while adding pieces with the other hand so that both hands works together while adding pieces (instead of adding pieces while the model is on the table).
  • Show the child how to hold the model with the non-dominant hand while "pinching" the new part on with the dominant hand.
  • Place the pieces for each step on the non-dominant side so that the individual will have to cross midline to pick them up. Instruct him not to lean to the side as he reaches across.
  • Ask "what is different" at each new step in the instruction guide to focus on where the new parts will go.
  • Keep the unused pieces in a pile so that the child will have to search for each needed piece. Turn some of the pieces upside down or half cover them 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.
  • Catch mistakes as they happen, as an incorrectly placed piece may throw off the rest of the project. Tell the individual that his model does not look exactly like the picture and see if he can identify the mistake and correct it on his own before jumping in to help.

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