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, May 12, 2017

Sudoku for Kids

Teach logic to beginners using whimsical manipulatives.

Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, visualization, spatial relations, eye-hand coordination, logic, problem solving, in-hand manipulation, manual dexterity, executive function, play and leisure exploration and participation
In he tin: Game board, 36 plastic animals in six different colors, 25 puzzle cards (50 puzzles total)
A kid-sized, one-person logic game for beginners. Sudoku puzzles are typically played on a 9X9 grid that is made up of nine smaller 3X3 grids. The typical game is player with numbers (1-9). The goal is to number the boxes in each smaller grid, using the numbers 1-9 once each, so that each row of the 9X9 grid will also have the numbers 1-9 and each column of the 9X9 grid will have the numbers 1-9. No duplicates, no omissions in any of the grids, rows, or columns. Each challenge will start you with a few, or a lot of, numbers, depending on how difficult it is going to be to solve. Sudoku puzzles are common in newspapers and my mother-in-law works them in pen. I wouldn't dare. LOL. This beginner game uses a 6X6 grid. There are six 2X3 grids and each row and column of the 6X6 grid contains six boxes. This game is played with colored animals instead of numbers. There are six green rhinos, six orange lions, six purple turtles, six yellow elephants, six blue dogs, and six red fish. Each puzzle card will show anywhere between 10-14 pieces already in place. The easier the puzzle, the more of a single color there will be already shown. The 25 puzzle cards are two-sided with a puzzle printed on each side. There are three levels of difficulty, indicated by stars in the bottom right hand corner. One star is the easiest and three stars is the hardest. Most puzzles are two stars, somewhere in between in difficulty. Seems odd that the first puzzle isn't a level one.
First puzzle and last puzzle challenge cards.
The board is folded in half to fit in the tin and opens flat. You just lay the animals in the squares as you play. I see they have a new version of this game where there are short "walls" around each box on the board so pieces can't be bumped and move around on you as you play. All the animals but the fish and the turtle can stand. You can also lay them all flat on the grid.
A board set up for a game.
Try this:
  • Use the challenge cards and set up each game to work on VP skills if the individual would not be able to solve the puzzles.
  • Set up each puzzle by picking up several animals, one at a time, and squirreling them into the palm. Then move them to the fingertips one at a time and orient for placement on the board.
  • Start by looking to place a color that has the fewest number left to place. Then start looking where that color can't go and you will narrow it down to the available spaces.
  • Work a puzzle or more with the individual. Talk through each step of your strategy as you play.
  • Ask the individual to talk through his strategy as he plays so that you can follow his thinking and help him adjust when/if he is wrong.

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