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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Three Little Piggies

A great game designed to develop problem solving & visual perceptual skills.

Work on visual discrimination, visual closure, spatial relations, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, executive functioning skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: Grid base, three pigs, 1 wolf, 1 storybook, 1 48 challenge book, 3 house shapes
Ages 3-6, 1 player

Another great one-person puzzle from SmartGames designed to develop problem solving and visual perceptual skills. I worked with a young man recently who, upon seeing the outside of the box, said "I'm going to like this one!" And indeed he did. The animals are soft plastic (squeezable) and the rest of the grid and pieces are hard plastic. There are two ways to play: 1) Pigs only - place the three plastic shapes with houses on the blue grid around the pigs and 2) Pigs and wolf - place the three plastic shapes with houses over the pigs so that the wolf cannot get to them. 

There are 48 puzzles which are rated from starter to master and they increase in difficulty as they progress.  Twenty four of the puzzles are the pigs only version, 24 are the pigs and wolf version. To play, place the pigs (and wolf) on the squares indicated on the puzzle diagram. The board is not symmetrical, so make sure it is turned in the correct orientation before placing the animals. Once the puzzle is set up, place the plastic pieces with the houses on the board. No overlapping of pieces or parts of pieces hanging off the edge is allowed. In case you are looking at the picture in the image above, it is the companies advertising picture and it is not correct. If the wolf is on the board the houses must go over the pigs so the wolf can't get to them, and you cannot see the pigs at that point (unless you look through the windows).

A birds-eye-view of the three pieces.

Left: Solution to previous puzzle. Right: New puzzle.
The puzzles do not get as difficult as some of the others games, such as Smart Car, because this one is designed for 3-6 year olds. I have, however, used it with much older kids, depending on the cognitive level. The individual must be able to turn pieces and try them in different orientations as they problem solve. I usually cue kids "try something else" to let them know it is wrong. There is a story book that tells the story of the three little pigs, no words, just pictures. It is not necessary for the game.

Try this:
  • Place the first piece and let the individual place the other two for an easier game. Once the first piece is in place the other two are much easier to figure out.
  • Show the individual how to count the squares if he is having trouble setting up the game with the pigs and wolf.
  • Play a round or two as the individual watches and talk through the steps of problem solving so that he can learn how to play.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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