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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.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Imagination Patterns Deluxe


Work on manual dexterity, in-hand manipulation, proprioceptive perception, tactile perception, visual discrimination, visual closure, visual form constancy, spatial relations, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, executive functions, recognition of colors, shapes and shape names, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the case: 60 magnets, 60 designs, 5 dry erase markers

I already had a full day planned a couple of mornings ago when the new, 2016 Imagination Patterns Deluxe hit my front doorstep. Nevertheless, I couldn't resist the temptation to take a break and check out the contents. After all, Mindware's site said that this new version had 60 ALL NEW designs. Yes, even after my disappointment with the Imagination Patterns I did go ahead and purchase this new Deluxe version because Imagination Patterns, Imaginets and Block Buddies have been a hit with my kids right along. And it's always nice to have new patterns. Fool me once Mindware, shame on you. Fool me twice... well you know the rest of it. What a way to start a day... feeling duped. Again. But, if I had paid closer attention to the designs on the cover and that they gave as examples, I would have realized they were not all new. I just took them at their word. This new version has 60 patterns while the past version had 50, but never mind that because many of them are duplicates anyway. I have not had time to match each and every card, maybe I'll do that later, but as I scanned through the cards I saw pattern after pattern that I was already familiar with. I picked out nine and did a quick comparison to Imagination Patterns cards. Mindware, IMHO you cannot change one color or one shape piece on a pattern and call it an ALL NEW design. Here are a few examples of pattern cards from this new Deluxe version and the Imagination Patterns version. The right on the flowers is the newest version card and the bottom on the train and truck are the newest version cards.


As annoyed as I am about this, it is still a product that I have used a lot and so I do have good things to say about it. Since there is not much different about this set from the last set, I am going to copy and paste some of that information below.

With this set you can create models from 2D picture cards using a variety of wooden, brightly colored pieces of a variety of shapes. Models are build flat and the wooden pieces have a magnetic layer on the back that stick to the white board quite securely. You can set the board up on its side and the pieces will not slip or fall off. You can use dry erase markers to draw on the white board, and 5 dry erase markers are included, but I have not tried it. Therefore, I don't know if it leaves a shadow once erased or not, but I have found Bic erasable markers do on other white boards so I steer clear of them. The challenge cards are numbered 1-60 (small numbers in the bottom corner) and the models increase in difficulty and use anywhere from 5 to 29 pieces. HOWEVER, they are NOT numbered from easy to more difficult like the other collections are. This is a big drawback for me as I have to spend so much time shuffling through the cards looking for appropriate designs. I also like to jot down the number the individual ended with so we can pick up there the next time and can't do that with this set. I often use the magnetic pattern sets with individuals who have slight hand tremors or other conditions that impact their fine motor precision because magnetic pieces, once laid, are harder to disturb if bumped than non-magnetic pieces.

The pieces are blue, dark orange, lighter orange, purple, violet, lime green, yellow. Twelve pieces are patterned, the rest are solid colors. The case is 11.5" tall x 17" wide x 1" deep. The case opens flat. To get it to stand up like in the picture above you would have to hold it or prop something behind it.   

Try this:

  • Play with the pieces before using the cards and point out the differences in size, shape, color, etc.
  • Put the first piece in place in front of the individual if he cannot look at the picture and figure out where to start. Or say something like "Let's start with the ears".
  • Put the first piece down if the individual cannot judge where to start to fit the design on the board.
  • Orient and place a piece if the individual is having trouble with orientation. Then pick it up, hand it to the individual, and invite him to place it.
  • Hand the individual a piece he will need and ask him to turn it in-hand for the correct placement.
  • Use consistent directional and positional language such as above, to the left of, under, flush, etc.
  • Find all pieces for the picture ahead of time. Place only those pieces (or even fewer) next to the board if you want to focus on one specific skill at a time, such as spatial orientation. This may decrease frustration from working on too many things at once.
  • Practice recognizing shapes from different orientations. Ask the individual to search through all the available pieces to find the ones he needs. Make sure that the pieces are in various positions so that some are facing the wrong direction, some are overlapping, some are upside-down, some are on their sides, etc.
  • Correct errors as soon as they are made as continuing to build on incorrect placement may impact the rest of the model.
  • Teach the individual to recognize and correct errors. After the individual places a piece incorrectly, ask "Are you sure?" or say "Try again". If he cannot figure out the error, make the correction while he watches. Then pick up the piece and hand it to him to place.
  • Give fading prompts as the individual learns to identify errors and correct mistakes on his own.
  • Ask the individual to cup his non-dominant hand. 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 board.
  • Put the pieces in a bag so they can't be seen and ask the individual to put a hand in and find a particular shape, such as a small square, triangle, circle, L shape.

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