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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, 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, separation of the two sides of the hand, executive functioning skills, 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 but four compartments.
  • 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. 

Object:
Have the most cards at the end of the game.

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. 

Play:
Turn over the first challenge card so all can see it. Everyone works to solve the puzzle at the same time, as quickly as they can. The first one to correctly solve the puzzle wins and takes the card. Play until one player wins a certain number of cards settled on before the game begins, until a certain amount of time has elapsed (settled on before the game begins), or until all cards have been played and claimed.

Variation:
  • Place extra bugs into other player's dishes during the game. Players will have to keep picking these extra bugs out as they play. To me, this sounds like a fight waiting to happen. 
  • Pass the purple bead (virus) to the person on the left as you play. As it makes it way back to you keep passing it, hoping you 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 intellectual disabilities who sometimes can start a logic game but not get through very many of the challenges. 


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:
  • Place one of each shape to the side in the playing area. Ask the individual to refer to the bugs as you are teaching, checking their shapes against these four shapes. Or draw the four shapes in black on paper or on a whiteboard and place next to the playing area for reference 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 the individual to work from the card and dish in different orientations.
  • Take the bugs out of the large petri dish and scatter them only one layer deep on the table top if the player has difficulty locating what they need in the large petri dish.
  • Place only the 12 pieces necessary to play next to the player if looking over the 49 pieces is too confusing. There are multiples of each shape and color so several people can play at the same time.
 If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.


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