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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.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Make 'N Break Family Game

Building from pattern cards. Can use without playing a game.
Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, spatial relations, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, coordinated use of both hands, executive functions, proximal stability, focus and attention, process skills, social interaction skills, play and leisure exploration and participation 

In the box: 10 wooden building blocks, timer, die, 60 counters (values 1 and 10), 80 building cards

This is my second Make 'N Break game and I like them for a couple of reasons - the building cards and the quality wooden pieces. The object is simple - set the timer and see how many structures you can build from the building cards before it goes off. Each card has a number, 1, 2, or 3, depending on the level of difficulty, and for each structure that you complete before the timer goes off you get that many points. Then at the end of the game players total all their points and the highest score wins. There are three settings on the timer. I timed them and there are approximately 40 seconds for 1, 45 seconds for 2, and 60 seconds for 3. The timer does make noise as the dial winds down. There is also a die that has 1, 2, and 3 that will tell you the timer setting you will get for your turn. The wooden pieces are all the same size and easy to handle. They are  3 1/8" tall, 1" wide and 1" deep. The building cards are numbered from 1-3 for difficulty, with 1 being the easiest and 3 the most difficult. If the blocks on the card are in color, follow their color pattern. If the blocks on the card are all white, you get to choose the colors. There are color block pattern cards for each number and white block pattern cards for each number.


To play, place the pieces on the table within reach of the players. Shuffle the cards and place them in a pile face down. Set the timer, the counters, and the die nearby. One person plays at a time. To start each turn, throw the die to see how long your time will be. When the timer is set, start building. You will have to knock down your structure after each build to start a new card. Working fast will get you the most points. Players who are not playing should be watching to make sure that the buildings are correct. When the timer goes off, add up the numbers on the cards of the buildings that you finished and take that value in counters. After each player gets to play four times, the game ends. Players add up all their counters and the one with the most, wins. No matter how good you are, the die will always throw an element of chance into the game. To even the playing field, play three rounds. Each person gets to build with the timer set on three, two, and one. If you want to level it even further, all players play with level three cards only when the timer is set for three, only level two cards when it is set for two, and only level one cards when the timer is set for one. In therapy I skip the die, timer and counters, and just place one card at a time in front of the individual and ask him to build the structure. Start with 1 and work your way through 3.

Try this:
  • Make a structure and line up two or three cards in front of the player. Ask him to choose the card that matches your structure.
  • Push one block at a time to the player to stack if he does not know how to proceed or how to start from the bottom.
  • Go through each level and grade the cards from least to most difficult within that level before playing.

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