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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.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

My First Activity Wood Block Set



Work on visual discrimination, figure ground, spatial relations, visual closure, manual dexterity,

In the box: 27 solid wooden blocks, 9 pattern cards.
Ages 2+

A quality wooden block set from Fisher Price.  There are eight large squares, eight large rectangles, and 11 small squares. Each block has a nature picture (animal or flower(s)) on one side, and the same picture on the opposite side. A block might show one, two, or three of the same objects. The other four sides are colored but have no pictures. The nine pattern cards are thick cardboard and have one pattern each. There are three 2-block patterns, three 3-block patterns, and three 4-bock patterns.

Since I am all about the pattern cards, my first thought is that it is a shame that there are so many blocks and only nine cards. You can always stack the blocks yourself, take pictures, and print them out to make your own cards. They look durable and should last a good long time.


Try this:

  • Start slow by giving the child each piece in order and letting him arrange/stack it.
  • Place only the pieces needed for a puzzle and the puzzle card in front of the child to avoid confusion from too many pieces.  
  • Put all the pieces on the table and ask the child to find each piece in the group as he needs it.
  • Use positional language consistently, such as on top of, next to, under.
  • Find all the pieces for the card ahead of time. Place only those pieces and the card in front of the child if you want to focus on a single goal, such as spatial orientation. This may decrease frustration that might be added by working on too many things at once.
  • Stand the card upright so that the child understands that the model will be built up.
  • Cover all pieces on the card except for the row you are working on if the child does not know where to start, how to proceed, or the need to start from the bottom. 
  • Place the blocks in different orientations, such as upside down and on their sides. Ask the individual to find them and orient them correctly before stacking.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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