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 30, 2017

Kid K'Nex Cookie Monster Building Set

Cookie Monster construction set.
Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, visual form constancy, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, coordinated use of both hands, in-hand manipulation, finger/hand strength, motor planning, executive function, sequencing, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation
In the container: 15 pieces, building guide
The cookie monster, a favorite Sesame Street character, is the star of this K'Nex construction set. Fifteen heavy-duty, smooth, brightly-colored plastic pieces and a guide for building five models come stored in a plastic blue container (see image above). The lid fits on the top, but does not snap on securely. K'Nex is one of my favorite brands and they have many different sets, some based on well-known characters, but many with more common themes such as animals and vehicles. Most sets are a mix of generic models and have more pieces than this set. Some of the K'Nex pieces are jointed, as you can see (left) at the elbows and knees, allowing for more dynamic play once the building is complete. Four of the models in this building guide, as in many of their guides, are shown already assembled. This is a more difficult build than if you are shown a piece or two at a time, such as with LEGO building guides. The individual will have to be able to look at a finished model and assess where to start building and how to proceed. Some kids have trouble with the idea that building starts at the bottom, not at the top. I find that when I use the work "stack" it helps describe what they will be doing and helps shift their thinking. Models range from five pieces to all 15 pieces. Here is a picture of the guide.

Try this:
  • Play with the pieces before constructing so the individual can see how they fit together.
  • Use a white piece of paper to cover pieces (on the building guide) that you have not gotten to yet to reduce confusion and direct the building sequence.
  • Encourage the use of two hands in building whenever possible.
  • Set a piece at a time in front of the individual to cue him which piece to add next.
  • Place pieces in a pile on the table before construction. Turn pieces upside-down, sideways, etc., burying parts of some, so that the individual will have to recognize the correct pieces in different orientations.
  • Enjoy a real cookie with the cookie monster as you admire your handiwork.

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