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!

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015


This visual spatial challenge will require concentration.

Work on spatial relations, visual discrimination, thinking skills, problem solving, manual dexterity, concentration, figure ground, visual closure, eye-hand coordination
In the box: 60 cards, 1 game board, 8 wooden markers (2 blue, 2 yellow, 2 red, 2 green)
Tri-Spy is a challenging visual spatial game that requires concentration, pattern recognition, and problem solving. Set the board up as pictured above. Shuffle the deck of cards and place them randomly around the edge of the board as pictured. On your turn, move one marker on the board to any unoccupied space and create any pattern from any of the pattern cards. You do not need to match the pattern going in the direction it is pictured on the card. You can create each pattern in any orientation, as long as the pattern comes out exactly as the card. If you are thinking that is a lot to think about, you are right! This game is not for a beginner. Take the card that you matched and put a new card from the deck in that empty space. The games ends when all the cards have been taken or you reach a dead end, meaning no new patterns can be made with a single move. You must make a pattern on each turn. Who ever has the most cards at the end, wins.

Try this:
  • Shorten the game by playing with fewer cards.
  • Play alone.
  • Simplify the activity by giving the person one card and the three matching pegs. Ask him to reproduce that model anywhere on the board. Turn it a quarter turn and ask him to reproduce it again. Turn it another quarter turn, and repeat until he has reproduced it in four different orientations. This can show how the same pattern can look different, depending on how you are looking at it. 
  • As above, give the individual one card and three pegs. Ask him to reproduce the pattern on the board. Instead of reproducing it again, turn the game board and ask him to turn the card to match the pattern in that orientation. Do four times to show how turning something can make it look different but still be the same.

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