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.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Magnetic Mighty Mind Zoo Adventure

Work on manual dexterity, fine motor precision, in-hand manipulation, body awareness, tactile discrimination, visual discrimination, visualization, visual closure, visual form constancy, spatial relations, figure ground, visual scanning, eye-hand coordination, attention, problem solving, planning/organizing, applying logic, creative thinking, recognition of shapes and shape names, play and leisure exploration and participation
In the box: 32 plastic geometric shaped pieces, 26 pattern cards, metal box, answer guide
Once you go magnetic, you won't want to go back. I watched this for awhile on Amazon, hoping the price would drop. It didn't, so I finally splurged. I still think that $25 was a little steep, but I now wish I had taken the plunge months ago. Each puzzle card will have a black and white outline which you will fill in with the puzzle pieces to complete the picture. Pieces are placed side-by-side, with no overlap, and should fit exactly in the outlined area. If you are a fan of Mighty Mind products (which I have long used in therapy), you know how easy it is for the pieces to move around on the cards if they get bumped. Each time an individual tries a piece that is wrong and picks it back up, something else inevitably gets moved out of place a little. Do this enough, and you won't have a correct shape and it will be difficult to figure out what pieces you need. Not so with this game, because each piece is backed with a strong magnet and the picture is built on a metal tray (the box lid). Once laid, the piece is in place unless you want to move it. I admit, I was a little annoyed that the magnets came on a sheet and I had to punch each one out and stick it to the back of a matching magnet. For $25 I didn't feel I should be doing the prep work. LOL. But once it was ready to go and I tried them out, I was very pleased. 
The 26 pattern cards are lettered A-Z but the letters do not correspond to the animal name. They are not in any kind of order for difficulty. The easiest puzzle takes 17 pieces, the hardest takes 30. There is an answer guide that shows each puzzle with its individual shapes. Shapes are large square, small square, large circle, small circle, half circle, large diamond, small diamond, rectangle, and triangle. Colors are red, blue, yellow and green. Because the magnets stick so well, pictures could be built on an elevated surface if you have something to lean the lid against while you work. I have also blogged about Mighty Mind Super Challenger, which requires two sets of tiles because the pictures are twice as big, and Magnetic Mighty Mind, which is a simple version that introduces kids to the tile shapes and how to create images with shapes. If you have any of the other standard card sets, like the Aquarium Adventure, you will be able to use these pieces with it. I have that set and I have added it to the zoo cards in the box. There is a little cloth bag for the tiles, but the draw string does not have that bead that lets you close it. Unless you want to tie a knot in it each time, you can just put the pieces in a baggie. My habit is that when I am putting pieces away after therapy, I count to make sure they are all there. Lose one piece and it will reduce the number of pictures that you can complete.
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, including extras, on the table and let the player find the pieces he needs as he works.
  • Put the first piece in place if the individual can't figure out where to start, or say something like "let's start with the head".
  • Hand the individual each piece as he needs it while he is learning to visualize where pieces will go.
  • 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 visible to give the individual an idea of what is expected.
  • Make a picture as the individual watches. Think 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".
  • 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 piece, try asking "Are you sure?" or "Try something different" 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 errors and correct them 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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