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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.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mighty Mind Super Challenger



Work on manual dexterity, fine motor precision, in-hand manipulation, tactile discrimination, visual discrimination, visualization, visual closure, visual form constancy, spatial relations, figure ground, visual scanning, eye-hand coordination, executive function, planning/organizing, applying logic, creative thinking, recognition of shapes and shape names, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 64 geometric shaped design tiles, Sea Explorer Design cards, large Challenger design cards, Big Idea book
Ages 4-9, 1 player

Mighty Mind is a product that has been around for about 40 years. They have a whole line of products based on using geometric shapes (design tiles) to create patterns and pictures, with or without pattern cards. I have several of their products and the pieces are brightly colored, smooth plastic, and the pattern cards are stiff and have held up well. The claim they make on every product is "Makes Kids Smarter". You can be the judge of that. They have won many different awards and I regularly use this type of activity in many different forms. First let me say that this in not my box cover as I have the original version and the game pictured above is the revised version. The contents in my box are a little different so I am citing this information from the Mighty Mind site. Included in this box are:
  • 2 sets of tiles so 2 people can play
  • Sea Explorer design cards (13 cards, 26 patterns total)
  • Challenger design cards
  • Big Idea Book

There is a black and white outline puzzle to solve on each page. Place the plastic pieces on top of the puzzle outline so that they fit exactly, with no overlap. There are no lines on the puzzle pages to tell you which shape piece goes where, so you must be able to figure that out yourself. For kids who are just learning, I place the answer page next to the puzzle. It shows the shapes within the outline in black and white. The Big Idea Book contains colorful, extra large pages, 15 1/2" x 9 1/2". Here is an example of one of them.

The Big Idea Book is GBC spiral bound but I have taken mine apart because the pages lie flat, but not absolutely flat with the spiral. I also wanted the answer page separate so that we could use it side-by-side with the puzzle page if necessary. The plastic shapes from one Mighty Mind puzzle works with other Mighty Mind products. A lot of cognitive and visual perceptual skills can be addressed with this activity and it does make kids think.


Try this:
  • Play with the pieces before you start a picture and talk about their shapes. Show how two half-circles make a whole circle, two rectangles makes a square, four small squares makes one big square, etc.
  • Sort the pieces by shape, naming the shape of each.
  • After learning the shapes, put them in a bag so you can't see the shape and ask the individual to put their hand in the bag, feel a piece, and tell what it is without looking.
  • Give the player one piece at a time to place as he learns. Next separate out and give the player only the pieces that are necessary for his picture. Then place all the pieces on the table and let the player find the pieces he needs as he works.
  • Ask the individual to pick up each piece and then turn it in-hand, if needed, to the correct orientation for placement.
  • Use the pieces and make your own picture.
  • Make the first picture or two with the answer guide to give the individual an idea of what is expected.
  • Make a picture as the individual watches, thinking out loud as you decide why certain shapes will go in certain places, such as this must be a triangle or diamond because the edge is sloped.
  • Avoid frustration and keep the puzzle on track by gently nudging pieces back into place if the player is having trouble keeping them inside the outline.
  • Correct errors as soon as they are made with beginners. Continuing to build on an incorrect piece will just throw off the rest of the picture.
  • Teach the individual to recognize and correct errors on his own. If the individual places an incorrect pieces, try asking "Are you sure?" or "Try again" to prompt him to reconsider. If he cannot figure out the error, correct it while he is watching, then pick the piece up and hand it to him to place himself.
  • Give fading prompts as the individual learns to identify and correct errors on his own.
  • Ask the individual to cup his non-dominant hand to help strengthen palmar arches. If he has trouble doing this, place a small ball in his hand and ask him to curl and lightly squeeze his fingers around the ball. Then remove the ball and ask him to hold his hand in that position. Place several of the pieces he will need in the cupped hand and keep the hand cupped while he places the pieces on the card.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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