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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 15, 2018

Build A Robot

A robot-themed puzzle and spinner game.
Work on visual discrimination, visual form constancy, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, spatial relations, manual dexterity, web space formation, coordinated use of both hands, finger isolation, counting 1-5, body awareness, process skills, socialization skills, executive functioning skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 4 6-piece robot puzzle boards, 1 spinner

Build A Robot is a puzzle and spinner game. There are four board puzzles, each with six pieces and picturing a robot standing on the moon. One of the puzzle pieces shows a tool, such as a wrench or screwdriver, and will be placed in the upper left-hand corner of each puzzle (see image above). The other five pieces are each numbered and include head (#1), arms and chest (#2), torso (#3), legs to the knees (#4), legs below the knees and feet (#5). Each section is numbered the same on each puzzle. The pieces are not specific to any one board, so they can be mixed each time you play and robots will then look different each time you play. Each puzzle board is 9" x 6.5" and 1/8" thick. There are three finger holes on the back of each board that you can use to help push the pieces out of the board from the back. The spinner is the same thickness as the puzzle boards and has 7 spaces, one each for numbers 1-5, one for the word TOOL, and one for LOSE A TURN (see image above). The arrow spins freely.

Object:
Be the first to collect a tool and complete your robot puzzle.

Set up:
Each player chooses one robot puzzle board and takes out all the pieces. The pieces are all placed in the playing area. Place the spinner next to the players.

Play:
Players will take turns spinning the spinner. Before you can begin building, you must spin the word TOOL. Once you can build, you will do what the spinner tells you on each turn.
  • Tool: Choose one of the tools from the available pieces. You are now ready to build a robot. Exchange a tool if you already have one and you want to. Otherwise, no nothing. 
  • Number 1-5: Choose one of the pieces on the table with that number. If you already have a piece of that number on your puzzle, you can exchange it for another one of that number if you want to. If you don't want to, do nothing.
  • Lose a Turn: Do nothing
Winner will be based on the luck of the spin. 

Try this:


  • Start building right away. Choose a tool whenever it happens to come up.
  • Forget the game, just use the puzzle boards to make puzzles. Place only the pieces needed for one puzzle to the side of the board or, for a more challenging game, add additional pieces so that the individual will need to look through more pieces to find what he needs. 
  • Make sure the pieces are all upright so the number can be read. Or, for a more challenging game, turn the pieces at different angles so that the player must recognize the numbers in different orientations. After the game has been played a few times, and the player has learned to associate #1 with the head, and #5 with the feet, etc. the player may no longer look for a number. At that point you may not be practicing what you think you are practicing;)
  • Forget the game, just assemble the four puzzles. Assemble them in order, counting from 1-5. Assemble them in reverse order counting from 5 to 1. Assemble them by calling out a number in random order.
  • Practice forming a nice rounded web space before flicking the arrow on the spinner.
  • Practice spinning the arrow by isolating and flicking with different fingers to thumb.
  • Practice body awareness by assembling the puzzles by body part(s).
  • Increase the fun by making up stories about why the robots are on the moon. how they got there or what their individual jobs will be while there.
  • Start with a completed puzzle and remove the pieces one by one. Hold the puzzle board in two hands and feel for the holes on the back under piece #2, #4, and the tool to help push those pieces out.

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