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.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

What's in Your Therapy Box? Pattern Blocks Edition

Pattern block sets have long been a favorite tool of OTs. They are great for working on spatial relations, in-hand manipulation, and a host of other skills. Plus kids usually like them. These blocks come in different shapes, are usually made of hard plastic or wood, may be magnetic, and are used to make designs, objects and pictures. The activities typically come with multiple pattern cards that gradually increase in difficulty, and they can be used over and over without repeating, so are also a good value.  Click on any of the names below to go to my post about that item.

Block Buddies - One of my first sets and still a go-to for me. Build flat on a table top. 21 wooden blocks, 50 patterns.
Excellerations Engineered to Build - Eighteen wooden blocks, 25 pattern cards, many designs involve stacking.

Equilibrio - 7 shapes, 18 pieces, and 60 puzzles that progress in difficulty. Build models upright, some with challenging balance aspects. Build puzzles from different perspectives (up to three views per model).

Perspecto - 7 shapes, 18 pieces, 60 puzzles that progress in difficulty.

Tangramino - 7 shapes, 18 pieces, 64 challenges, models built flat on the table.

Imagination Magnets Expansion Pack - 37 magnet-backed wooden blocks, 20 patterns. Designs are created flat. Does not come with the magnetic surface to create on, use with the Imaginets set (below).

Imagination Patterns - 43 magnet-backed pieces, 50 patterns, comes with its own carrying case. Create flat on the magnetic surface. From the makers of Imaginets, this set includes some pieces that are patterned instead of all solid colors. 

Imagination Patterns Deluxe - 60 magnets, 60 designs, comes in its own carrying case Pieces are magnets and stay put.

Imaginets - Another of the kids' favorites, 42 wooden magnet-backed pieces and 50 patterns come in a wooden carrying case. Create flat on magnetic surface.

Who's Got the Button? -  Pattern cards uses large plastic buttons instead of blocks. 32 patterns, 48 buttons, 4 levels of play. 

Keva Brain Builders - 20 pine planks, 30 3D puzzle cards which show each image in three planes (front, side, top).

Magnetic Mighty Mind - 32 magnetic shapes, 30 pattern cards, storage tin. This beginners' set introduces individual to the shapes in the mighty mind sets.  Place the cards on the metal lid and place pieces on top of the card.

Mighty Mind Aquarium Adventure  - 32 shapes, 24 pattern cards, underwater theme. I just put the cards in the same box with the Magnetic Mighty Mind (above) and use those magnetic tiles. Kids have loved these.

Magnetic Playboard - Work on an elevated surface with the magnetic plastic easel. You can buy multiple expansion packs (plastic pieces and pattern cards) with different themes.

Melissa & Doug Beginner Pattern Blocks - 30 big shape pieces, 3-6 pieces per scene, 10 different scenes, and slightly cut-out spaces to place pieces into so they won't slide around. 

Melissa & Doug Magnetic Pattern Block Kit - I like the magnetic sets and I have used this one a lot. 120 magnetic pieces, magnetic board, 12 pictures, plastic carrying bag. Can build right on top of the cards and the pieces will stick.

Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards - 120 wood pieces, 5 wooden pattern cards (10 designs), wooden box with no lid.

Mental Blox - Another favorite, 20 hollow plastic 3D pieces, 40 patterns (many involving stacking).

Mental Blox 360 - 15 pieces, 40 challenges, build in 3D

Mighty Mind Super Challenger - Images show no lines to indicate what pieces to use or where pieces go. Set includes standard sized cards as well as super sized cards that will required 2 sets of tiles (included).

Magnetic Mighty Mind Zoo Adventure - Each colorful pattern card includes a black and white outline where you will build your own zoo animal with the design tiles. 13 cards, 26 patterns. Magnetic - I love this version. Tiles don't shift as your play.

Tangoes Jr. - Start here for beginners. 7 pieces, 12 puzzle cards, show puzzle with outlines and without. Magnetic, sticks to carrying case.

Pattern Play - Another go-to for me. Two shapes but many different lengths. 40 wooden blocks and 40 patterns.

Pattern Play 3D - Make horizontal as well as vertical objects. 22 wooden blocks, 40 patterns. 

My First Activity Wood Block Set - A starter set for young kids, 27 blocks and nine pattern cards. Simple pictures of animals and flowers.

Lewo Magnetic Puzzle and Drawing Board - An activity kit with 93 magnetic pieces, a white/chalk board, dry erase marker and chalk, and 21 patterns.

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