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.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Mental Blox


 Work on manual dexterity, coordinated use of two hands, visual discrimination, visual closure, figure ground, spatial relations, form constancy, hand-eye coordination, visual memory, body awareness, crossing midline, sequencing

In the box: 20 blocks, 20 double-sided patterns
Ages 5+
I love anything with pattern cards that requires building 3D models from 2D models, especially when they advance in difficulty. This game includes 40 puzzles that do just that.

The cards are printed on both sides, the pieces are hollow and made of sturdy, smooth plastic. The blocks have stripes that can run either vertical or horizontal, and the X can be placed in a variety of positions. The ball shape has a small flat spot on opposite ends so that it will sit flat and you can stack on it. I have used this game a lot over the years and kids have liked it. 

Try this:
  • Start slow by giving the child each piece in order and letting him arrange/stack it.
  • Place all the pieces needed for a puzzle and the puzzle card in front of the child and remove the rest if you think the child will be overwhelmed.  
  • Leave all the pieces in the box and ask the child to find each piece in the crowd as he needs it.
  • Use positional language consistently, such as on top of, next to, under.
  • Find all the pieces for the card ahead of time. Place only those pieces and the card in front of the child if you want to focus on a single goal, such as spatial orientation. This may decrease frustration that might be added by working on too many things at once.
For more information, click on the image below. 

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