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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Monday, January 2, 2017


Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, visual form constancy, visual motor integration, spatial relations, figure ground, visual memory, manual dexterity, fine motor precision, graded grasp and release, motor planning, in-hand manipulation, bilateral integration, shoulder stability, sequencing, play and leisure exploration and participation, social participation and interaction, values
In the box: 16 wooden tower tokens (building blocks), 4 catapults, 9 ammunition dice, 25 small tower tiles, I mega tower tile, 1 30 second sand timer, 1 sticker sheet
If you like building from pattern cards, this is another goodie from Blue Orange. And then if you're anything like most of the kids I work with, you will appreciate the catapults and dice that are used to knock the structures down. The pieces are wood, brightly colored, and vary in size. The square tower tiles (pattern cards to me) are sturdy and measure 2 1/4" x 2 1/4". 
I will mention up front that if you are looking at this from a VP perspective, the models, or towers as they call them, are only from three to six pieces each. The picture below gives you an idea of one of the most difficult towers to build. This set is perfect for many of my kids and I couldn't wait to use it. I listed ideas of how I use in therapy below. 

To play this per the instructions:
Place the small tower tiles on the table so they are all centrally located to the players and touching. Each turn, one player is the Master Builder and the rest of the players are the Saboteurs. The Master Builder chooses a tower to build on one of the cards and turns over the 30 second timer. He builds that tower on the matching card. He can choose and build several towers as long as time does not run out and he has the correct blocks. He should build fast as he will score points for any tower left standing at the end of the round. The Saboteurs simultaneously use the catapults to hurl dice at the towers the Master Builder is building. The Saboteurs must place their catapults one foot from the tower and they have a limited number of dice, so precision is a must. If a tower is knocked down, the Master Builder can use the blocks to create more towers. FYI - There are eight different blocks and just two sets of eight. You will have to look over the cards quickly and choose towers that match the blocks you have left. After 30 seconds, if the Master Builder has any towers left he receives the tower tiles and scores the number of points on those cards. The Saboteurs do not score, only the Master Builder. After everyone goes three rounds as the Master Builder, the player with the most points wins. However, if you are able to build the Mega Tower, middle above, and it s still standing at the end of the round, you win instantly.

Try this:
  • Skip playing the game, just present one pattern card at a time and ask the individual to build it.
  • Present the individual with one piece of the model at a time if he does not know where to start or how to proceed.
  • Cover all but the bottom block with a piece of blank paper, then move the paper up one more block, revealing only the next level at each step.
  • Ask the player to cup his hand(s). Place each piece in the hand as he holds it in this cupped position in preparation to return the pieces to the box after play.
  • Put the pieces away by asking for one color at a time to be returned to the box.
  • Put the pieces away by asking for one shape at a time to be returned to the box.
  • Start by building each three piece model, then each four piece, then five, etc.
  • Choose a pattern card but don't show it to the other player. Give instructions for building the model, then show the card and see if it looks like the picture on the card.
  • Build a model and then place several cards, or several rows of cards, in front of the individual. Ask him to visually scan the rows and pick the card that matches the model you built.
  • Build a your own tower using all the pieces.
  • Show the player a pattern card. Ask him to look at it to remember it. Rehearse the colored pieces in order verbally if this would help. Turn the card over and see if the player can build the tower from memory.
  • Choose a model card and place it in front of the individual. Place one block at a time in the player's palm as he needs it, asking him to turn the block in-hand to orient it for placement.
  • Build the towers flat on the table if this is an easier place to start.
  • Hold the card upright to give the idea of building up if the individual tries to build the towers flat on the table.
  • Place the elbow on the table for added stability if the individual is having difficulty holding and controlling the arm in space.
  • Build a tower and then take it apart, piece by piece, without toppling it.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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