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, June 26, 2016

Squint Jr.

Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, visualization, visual memory, visual scanning, visual form constancy, figure ground, spatial relations, creative thinking, planning, attention, manual dexterity, timed response, in-hand manipulation, social interaction skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 168 Squint cards, 42 transparent shape cards, card viewer, 40 scoring chips, timer

Squint Jr. is the prerequisite to Squint, and is a great place to start if you are working with someone who is struggling with visual closure, spatial relations, and/or visualization. Like the original version of Squint, your goal is to guess what the builder has created out of the shape cards. Unlike the original Squint, Squint Jr. actually gives you a picture of what you are going to create, showing the specific shape cards that you will need in their correct orientations. This one will not require the imagination on the builders part, but is a good work out for following a 2D representation and orienting the specific pieces correctly to complete the object. The Squint image cards are not in any particular order, but they do range in difficulty. I often stack a deck to go from easiest to hardest to keep upping the difficulty. A quick glance through the cards and I see some images have as few as three pieces and some have as many as 11. Pieces may also require overlapping to build, adding to the difficulty.
Shape cards are transparent.
To play, scatter the shape cards where all players can see and reach them. The builder removes the first card in the viewing box and puts it at the back of the box, exposing the new card. The viewing box is designed so that only the builder can see the card when it faces him. The person to the left of the builder is always the time keeper, and he now turns over the timer. The builder now chooses the pieces that he needs from the shape cards and starts to build the image as depicted on the Squint card. All players may guess as many times as they want as the builder is working. If someone guesses the object, the game stops and both he and the builder receivers one token. If the timer runs out and no one guesses correctly, the round ends. Play the specified number of rounds you set out to play and the player with the most tokens at the end wins. 

Try this:
  • Introduce the game and then just play with the shape cards before starting a game. Talk about the shapes, what they look like, how they can be oriented. Make a few simple images and urge the player(s) to do so also.
  • Forget the timer and the scoring chips. Just place the pictures, one at a time, in front of the player and ask him to create them.
  • Place the first piece down and let the player build from there if he is unsure where to start.
  • Separate out only the necessary shape cards needed for an image for beginners or for those who cannot find the correct shapes in a busy background. Add the other shape cards back in, one at a time, to increase the difficulty.
  • Give the builder time to study and memorize the picture and the pieces needed. Tell him he should remember what he sees. Turn the viewing box so that the image is no longer visible and ask the player to create the image. If he struggles with this, allow him to get the shape cards he will need before covering the image.
  • Work on visual closure by building an image but leaving out one or two shape cards. Can the individual correctly identify the image with the missing piece(s)? Can he find and add the missing pieces?
  • Ask the player to turn a shape card in-hand if he picks it up in the wrong orientation (instead of turning it on the tabletop before picking it up or using two hands).
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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