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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.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Melissa & Doug Beginners Pattern Blocks



Work on manual dexterity, motor planning, body awareness, tactile perception, visual discrimination, visual closure, visual form constancy, spatial relations, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, attention, recognition of shapes and shape names, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 5 pattern boards (10 scenes), 30 shape pieces

This activity is simpler than many other pattern block activity kits and may be a good place to introduce pattern piece activities. This is why I say that:
  • The bigger pieces may be easier to handle than the smaller pieces. 
  • The pieces are laid directly onto a picture without having to follow a pattern card.
  • The pieces are laid into a slightly hollowed out hole the same shape as the piece, less chance of moving around.
  • There are very few pieces per picture.
Holes where pieces go.
Like most Melissa & Doug toys, the wooden pieces are well constructed, smooth, and brightly colored. There is one picture on each side of each board. The pictures are kid-oriented and include a ship, dog, bird, train, house, butterfly, kite, flowers, fire engine, fish. Pictures take from 3 to 6 pieces each. The piece shapes are circle, rectangle, triangle, oval, and square. Several pictures can be made at once because there are so many pieces. Boards are 9 1/2" x 7". Yippee, this one has a lid.

Try this:
  • Play with the different pieces before making the pictures and point out the similarities and differences. Call pieces by their geometric shape name.
  • Give the individual one piece at a time and name the parts of the picture, such as this is the tail, this is the wing, this is the window etc.
  • Use consistent directional language as you work, such as this fin is on top of the fish.
  • Hand the individual a piece that is not in the correct orientation so that he will have to adjust it.
  • Place only the pieces for the picture in front of the beginner. As skills improve, ask the individual to find all the needed pieces from a group of pieces.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.


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