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, December 23, 2016

Penguins on Ice

Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, visualization, visual closure, visual form constancy, manual dexterity, coordinated use of both hands, visual motor integration, executive functions, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 1 game board, 60 puzzle booklet with solutions, 5 plastic ice floes

Five penguins, each on his own ice floe. Can you pack the ice floes onto the game board so that they all fit and the penguins are in the correct places per each puzzle? This game has a double challenge as each ice floe can also be shape-shifted, creating more possibilities (and from my view, more impossibilities HA!). I like these kinds of puzzles, but I haven't tried this one myself. I guess I am intimidated by the fact that I not only have to solve the puzzle by getting the penguins in the right places, but I have to determine the shape of the pieces to do so. I work with one young man that, after playing a few puzzles, liked it so much that his mother got it for him for Christmas. So don't go by me. Everything is a nice quality plastic. The floes cannot be taken apart, but they divide into two sections which can be slid back and forth. The result is that each floe can have either three or four shapes. There are 60 puzzles and four levels of difficulty ranging from starter to master. Puzzles 1-15 show you each shape and anywhere from 0 - 3 penguins. You figure out which piece will turn into each shape. Then puzzles 16-27 show you where one shape is and from three to five penguins. You figure out the rest. Then you are on your own from puzzle 29-60. All solutions are in the back of the book. It's a chill game to pull out in the winter or in July in Phoenix.

 Left - Puzzles 1 - 4 (easiest).  Right - Puzzles 58 - 60 (hardest).

SmartGames is a brand that makes a lot of one-person logic games that also help build visual perceptual skills over multiple challenges that increase in difficulty as you go. If you would like to read more about these kid-friendly fun games, check out my post called One-Player SmartGames

If you are interested in reading more about logic puzzles, check out my post on What's in Your Therapy Box? Logic Puzzles Edition

Try this:
  • Start by just playing with the pieces. Show the individual how they change shape and let him experiment before starting a puzzle.
  • Start backwards if working with a beginner - Solve the puzzle all but the last piece and let him place that.  Solve the puzzle all but the last 2 pieces and let him place them. Solve the puzzle all but the last 3 pieces, etc.
  • Work the puzzle yourself and talk out loud to model how to problem solve. Then take the pieces out and ask the person to complete the challenge.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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