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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Friday, December 16, 2016


Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, visual closure, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, fine motor precision, palmar arch development, in-hand manipulation, sequencing, attention, play and leisure exploration and participation
In the box: Wooden base, 81 colored marbles (9 different colors, 9 of each), answer sheet, 50 challenge cards (100 challenges)
This is a Sudoku-type game that uses colored marbles instead of numbers. It is not a game that I had considered using in therapy before, but as I was looking over the challenge (pattern) cards I wondered if kids would enjoy placing the marbles onto the board to match the patterns on the cards. The board is solid wood and measures about 13" x 13". As you can see from the picture above, it is divided into nine squares by grooves in the wood. Each square has nine marbles, one each of nine different colors. The challenge cards have about 35 marbles pictured on each card, so there are a lot of empty spaces to contend with too. If you were playing the game per the instructions (like a Sudoku puzzle), you would be filling in those empty spaces. I do not use the game that way in therapy. Each pattern card is divided up into nine squares. To play, place the marbles in a container of some sort so they won't roll away and place the board and a pattern card in front of the individual. Ask them to use the marbles to make the pattern on the board to match the pattern card. Some may have difficulty adjusting for the blank spaces. Not for young kids because of the size of the marbles. There is also 1 large sheet, printed front and back, with all the solutions on it. Kids could make the entire pattern for a puzzle but the pictures are small, only 2" x 2". I even thought I might cut apart each puzzle on the solution sheet, but still undecided about that. Colors: light blue, dark blue, light green, dark green, light purple, dark purple, orange, red, yellow. No extra marbles so don't lose any. There is a clear, molded plastic piece that goes over the board before you put it away to keep the marbles in place.
               Left - plastic marble size. Middle - Challenge card.  Right - Sheet with solutions.
Try this:
  • Ask the individual to place the marbles by row. Ask the individual to place the marbles by column.
  • Cover all but the row or column you are working on if the individual has difficulty keeping track of where he is.
  • Place the marbles by squares (9 total on the board). Cover all but one square at a time if the individual has difficulty separating it out.
  • Ask the individual to cup both hands together and hold that position as you drop marbles one at a time into the hands. How many can the individual hold?
  • Ask the individual to cup one hand and hold that position as you drop marbles one at a time into his hand.
  • Put two or three marbles in the individuals palm and ask him to bring them to the fingertips one at a time for placement without dropping the others.
  • Give the individual the pattern card and only one color at a time. For instance, place all the green on the board, then place all the blue. A more difficult task.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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