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!

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Thursday, September 21, 2017


Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, visualization, 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: 72 shape cards, 168 squint cards, 80 scoring chips, squint die (1-3), timer, card tray
Ages 12+, 2-8 players

Squint will require you to use visualization as well as your imagination to see the parts of the whole, and the whole from the parts. And sometimes, if you squint and the object becomes a little fuzzy, it may actually come into focus sharp enough for you to see it. That sounds like a puzzle, but it's really not. The object of the game is to build an object so that someone else can guess what it is. The problem is that you can only use the pre-printed shape cards (white cards pictured at the top), and often you just can't find exactly what you need. Use the closest pieces you can find and when you are done building... squint. Squinting can soften images, actually pulling everything together in a way that makes it clearer. The game is designed so that you will need three people, but this can easily be played 1:1 in a therapy situation. To set up for play per the game instructions, scatter the shape cards so that they are all flat and visible by all players. This is not the time to overlap them (something I often do with other game pieces to work on visual closure). One person is chosen as the builder for the round and he picks a squint card. Each squint card has three items on the front and three on the back. The items on each side are numbered 1-3. Example:
  • Side one
    • 1 apple, 2 paintbrush, 3 umbrella
  • Side two
    • 1 hand, 2 cup, 3 turkey
Decide which side you will use and then the builder throws the die. The number that comes up will be the number of the item that the builder will build. Turn over the timer and the game begins. As the builder builds, all players guess out loud what the item is. The builder can use as many cards as he wants and can move or animate shape cards, but cannot give any verbal clues. Once someone correctly guesses or the timer runs out, the round is over.  If no one guesses correctly, no scoring chips are given. If someone does guess correctly, that person and the builder each receive one token. Play the number of rounds that you have set out to play. When the game is over, the person with the most scoring chips is the winner. BTW - there are 168 cards and each one has 6 items on it with a total of over 1,000 objects to build. Lots of replay value. The vast majority of the items are nouns (computer mouse), but there are a few verbs (cry) and some words that could be played either way (smile). Squint also comes in a Squint Jr. version. This version shows you an image and the cards you will need to build it on each Squint card.

Here are a few tips from the game maker:
  • It's OK to overlap shape cards when building.
  • Use the back (blank) side of a shape card to provide white space, or to hide unwanted lines.
  • Create related items to help players guess. For instance, identifying just a nose may be harder than identifying a nose on a face.
Try this:
  • Allow the player to choose what he wants to create. Putting people on the spot to create something they are not familiar with or don't know how to approach will often just create frustration.
  • Work on visual closure by making an image and leaving out one or two shape cards. Can the player identify the object with the missing pieces?
  • Play with the pieces before starting a game. Allow the player to move them around and experiment with them, coming up with his own creations spontaneously.
  • Ask the individual to shift a shape card in-hand if he picks it up in the wrong orientation for his image.
  • Start slow by choosing in a few simple objects beforehand and having two to four pieces for each one already sorted out. Suggest making one of the objects and then give the person only those few pieces needed to complete it. For instance suggest making a house and give the individual the square and the triangle. As he is successful and becomes more confident, add more shape pieces and then allow him to choose his own object to build.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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