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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 6, 2018

Progressive Puzzles Discovery Toys

Quality board puzzle set. Includes 4, 6, and 9 piece puzzles.

Work on spatial relations, visual closure, visual discrimination, visual form constancy, figure ground, visual scanning, executive functioning skills, manual dexterity, eye-hand coordination, in-hand manipulation, crossing midline, process skills, leisure and play exploration and participation

In the box: 9 puzzles

Discovery Toys have been around for 40 years. They sell their toys through consultants, not in stores or on sites like Amazon. Their mission is to sell toys that inspire kids to engage and learn through play. My goal is to use toys that inspire kids to engage and learn through play. So, not surprisingly, I own a number of Discovery Toys. 

I have used these board puzzles for years. Each puzzle measures the same - 8" x 8". Each puzzle features one simple, colorful and whimsical animal design. 


The boards are 1/8" thick and the pieces are approximately 1/16" thick. I have never had one bend or break on me. The board beneath the puzzle pieces is blank (no image to help guide placement). There are three 4-piece puzzles (dog, cat, parrot), three 6-piece puzzles (monkey, tiger, elephant) three 9-piece puzzles (fish, octopus, seahorse). Start with the dog and work your way to the seahorse. Nice quality, they have held up well. Big bonus - all 9 puzzles store in the box you see in the image at the top of this page.

On a past post, I blogged about common problems that kids have when learning to assemble puzzles and my ideas for correcting them.  Click Here to read that post.

Try this:
  • Start slow with a beginner by leaving the assembled puzzle in the board and then removing one piece and giving it to the individual. Let him complete the puzzle. When they have learned to orient and place one piece, then take out two pieces from the puzzle and teach them how to determine where each piece goes. Work backwards until all the pieces are out of the board to begin with.
  • Take the pieces out of the board and mix them on the table. Make sure some are upside-down, some sideways, some partially covered. Can the individual still spot them in different orientations? Ask them to find a piece with the head or tail or leg, etc.
  • Hand the individual one piece at a time, in an incorrect orientation. Ask him to turn the piece, in-hand, until it is oriented correctly and then place it in the board.
  • Allow the individual to choose the order for putting together the puzzles within each category. Line up the three puzzles and ask "Which one would you like to do first?" After that is complete, ask which one second, or next. Work on sequence language.
  • Model how to hold the piece while placing so that the fingers do not block the placement.

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