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, April 9, 2017

Dr. Microbe

Use the tweezers to move the bugs to your petri dish & solve the challenges.

Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, visualization, figure ground, spatial relations, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, fine motor precision, tripod grasp, using a tool, in-hand manipulation, focus and concentration, working memory, executive functions, socialization skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation
In the box: 49 microbes, 5 petri dishes, 4 lab tweezers, 54 challenge cards
Help Dr. Microbe finish her research by separating the microbes into your petri dish and identifying the superbug. When I saw the small pieces, tweezers, and pattern challenge cards I knew I would have to take a look. Let me say right off that I like the tweezers. They are similar to the tweezers that Perler beads sell. They are lightweight and narrow, but easy to grip and use because of raised ridges on the sides. In addition, they are open wide enough so that you can pick up a piece and then let it drop without interference from the tweezers. The game comes with four small petri dishes that are divided into four sections (three small, one large) and a superbug goes in the larger of the four sections. Also included is a large petri dish (with a loose fitting lid) to keep all the microbes in. The dishes are all clear plastic. The 49 microbes are made from a rubbery material and come in four shapes and three colors. To solve each challenge you must keep these rules in mind as you sort the microbes into your dish:
  • There must be one (and only one) of each shape.
  • There must be at least one of each color. There will be two of one color because there are only three colors.
  • The superbug must be a different color than any of the other microbes.
As you play and solve each puzzle you will have to keep in mind the four shapes and the three colors. The challenge cards show either three microbes in a dish, two microbes in a dish, or one microbe in a dish. The player must use the color and shape rules to figure out the missing microbes. To set up, give each player a set of tweezers and a petri dish, put the large petri dish with the small rubbery microbes in the middle of the playing area, and stack the challenge cards face down next to the large petri dish. To play, turn over the first challenge card so all can see it. Everyone works to solve the puzzle at the same time. The first one to correctly solve the puzzle wins and takes the card. There is also a variation where players can place extra bugs into other player's dishes during the game. Players will have to keep picking these extra bugs out as they play. This sounds like a fight waiting to happen to me. There is also a purple bead (virus) included that players can pass to the person on the left as they play, hoping they are not the one caught with it at the end of the game. This game is very easy to use in therapy with just one player, skipping the speed/virus/extra bugs factors and just playing to solve. I have to say that I was very disappointed that this game wasn't more difficult, since the age range on the box says 8+. I have used it multiple times in therapy and, as I suspected, it is no challenge for the higher functioning individuals. On the other hand, I have used it successfully (all challenge cards) with individuals with mild to moderate intellegtual disabilities who sometimes can start a logic game but not get through very many of the challenges. 
Try this:
  • Place one of each shape to the side in the playing area. Refer to the bugs as you are teaching, checking the shapes of their microbes against the four types. Draw the shapes in black and white instead if the colors interfere while teaching the shape rule.
  • Prompt the player to find his own error by asking "Did you follow the shape rule?" or "Did you follow the color rule?"
  • Use the tweezers to sort all the microbes into piles by color or by shape.
  • Ask the player to turn over each challenge card as you play, being careful to separate just one card at a time without toppling the pile.
  • Teach just the shape rule first and when the player has learned it, then add the color rule.
  • Place the challenge card in a different orientation than the player's petri dish is oriented. Ask him to work from the card and dish in different orientations.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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