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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, December 21, 2015

Cover Your Tracks


Work on manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, visual discrimination, spatial relations, visual form constancy, visual closure, critical and analytical thinking, leisure exploration and participation 

In the box: Board with storage space for 20 challenge puzzle cards, 4 plastic pieces, answer book, and drawstring carrying bag

You are walking through the woods and identifying animals tracks when suddenly you realize that you're leaving your own set of tracks behind! Not wanting to attract unwanted attention, you decide to cover your tracks. The object is to use the four pieces and place them on the board so that they completely cover your tracks. The pieces will also cover most of the board but that is OK, as long as you have covered your shoe tracks. It does not matter whatever else ends up getting covered. The 20 challenge cards are numbered 1-20 and the puzzles get more challenging as you go.  A one person puzzle, this game is similar to Angry Birds Under Construction, Three Little PiggiesBunny Peek-A-Boo, and Smart Car, which each also use only a few pieces to solve challenges. I love these types of games because they take trial and error to figure out, but there are so few pieces that it does not look overwhelming. Many of the individuals that I work with have had so much of what they consider failure in the past, that if they cannot figure something out right away, they want to quit. After all, who wants more failure? They often say "I can't" or "It's too hard." I work to teach these individuals that getting it wrong is not "bad" or considered a "failure". So true is the old adage "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!" Life will offer many opportunities for problem solving and what better place to start to learn to try again, look for other options, and not give up, than playing games.

Try this:
  • Give the location of one piece and let the individual find the rest.  FYI: Once one piece is given, the other three pieces often fall right into place.
  • Help the individual solve the puzzle by verbally talking through the spatial reasoning process. 
  • Explain that these types of puzzles often take a certain amount of trial and error and that getting it wrong is not failure.
  • Demonstrate how turning a piece in different directions can make it look different and cover a different area.
  • Turn a piece to the correct orientation and place in the grid if the individual gets stuck. Then take the piece out, turn it so it is not in the correct orientation, and give to the individual to place.
  • Turn a piece in-hand to orient instead of using the body or table top for assist.
  • Use the answer book for an easy visual perceptual activity. Show the individual one puzzle solution at a time, and ask him to build the puzzle on the board.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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