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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.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Square Up

Work on manual dexterity, spatial relations, visual discrimination, figure ground, visual closure, eye hand coordination, visual memory, coordinated use of both hands, finger isolation, executive functioning skills, processing speed, attention, socialization skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation 

In the box: 2 game boards, 2 shaker cubes, 48 colorful plastic tiles

Shaker cube.
You'll need to move fast to win this one. Sort the 48 tiles between the two players so that they each player has the exact same number and color of each tile. Each player lifts the lid on his black game board and places his 24 plastic tiles flat inside, in any order (see image above, right, of open game board). There will be one empty space in the board when you are done. This empty space will allow you to slide the tiles around the game board. Like the old fashioned slide puzzles but not near as difficult, in my opinion, because of the greater number of pieces. There is a slight dip in the middle of each tile, a place for your finger to rest as you move the tiles around. Each game board is about 8" square and the plastic is pretty lightweight, although the shaker is a nice weight and you cannot open it. Each player now shakes his shaker cube until all pieces are flat in the bottom.

This is the pattern you will be creating in the middle nine tiles on your game board. Each player will quickly slide their tiles around, one by one, to change their positions and form the nine-tile pattern that is showing on their shaker. When the pattern is complete, close the lid. The outer border of the lid is a frosted, opaque plastic. The middle of the lid is a clear plastic, and when the lid is closed, your middle nine tiles will show here. Do they match the shaker cube? If they do, and you were the first one done, you win.

Game board with pattern that matches shaker cube.
Try this:
  •  Demonstrate how to move the tiles around, and then practice before competing.
  • Take away the time factor and/or don’t compete if the pressure interferes with performance.
  • Shake the shaker cube and just place the tiles in the game board in that order for a simpler game.
  • Play a new-fangled game of tic-tac-toe. Each player shakes his cube over and over until someone gets three squares of the same color in a winning position – either horizontal, vertical or diagonal.
  • Skip the playing board. Shake the cube and use the tiles to form the same pattern on the table top.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.



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