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.

Monday, March 30, 2015


A variety of shapes fit snugly into the pattern board.

Work on manual dexterity, precise fine motor control, in-hand manipulation, spatial relations, visual discrimination, eye-hand coordination, figure ground, play and leisure exploration and participation
In the box: Plastic board/carry case, timer (count up and count down), pouch, 61 plastic pieces
Ages 3+
Sixty pieces fit precisely on a pattern board. Can you complete it without making a pajiggle (putting a piece in the wrong hole)? Place each piece in its matching hole on the board. Some of the designs are 2-piece, a smaller piece inside a larger pieces, but most are a single piece. Pieces are shaped roughly like gears, sunbursts, stars, and flowers. Some of the pieces look very similar, but vary slightly in size. Others are distinct and easy to find, such as the large flower with five petals. A timer is included so that you can time yourself and then try to beat your time. There is also a stick type piece that is used to push through the hole from the bottom if you get a wrong piece wedged in and can't pull it out. The board slides off and the pieces can be stored below in the plastic tray. The pieces may take a little shifting to fit them in the holes, but as far as spatial orientation goes, most of the pieces are symmetrical.

Try this:
  • Give only a few pieces at a time so as not to overwhelm.
  • Give the pieces in order of difficulty in finding them on the board. There are a couple of very obvious large flowers and gears you could start with.
  • Set the timer to count down for just a few minutes and see how many can be placed. Try to beat that score.
  • Shift the piece in-hand to position it for placement. 
For more information, click on the image below.


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