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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Laser Maze

Work on logic, problem solving, planning, spatial relations, visual discrimination, visual tracing, visual closure, manual dexterity, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 1 game grid, 60 challenge cards with solutions, 11 game tokens (1 laser, 5 target/mirrors, 2 beam splitters, 1 double-mirror, 1 checkpoint, 1 cell blocker
Ages 8+

This is a one-player logic game by one of my favorite game makers, ThinkFun. An exciting and unusual feature of this game is the laser beam. The object of the game is to set up the tokens (beam splitters, double-mirror, targets, mirrors, etc.) on the game grid in such a way as to manipulate the laser beam so that it ends up hitting the end target. The 60 challenges cover four levels of play: Beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert. To play the game, choose a challenge. I have found that it is usually a good idea to start at the beginning of these types of games, even if you feel they will be too easy, as they will teach you about the pieces and strategy needed for the game. The card will show you all the pieces you will need to place for the challenge. Some of them will be on the grid in their correct locations but maybe or maybe not in their correct orientations, and some of the pieces will be pictured at the top of the card. You will have to figure out where on the grid these latter pieces go. The card also tells you whether you have one, two, or three ending targets, but not which pieces they are. Once you have the game set up correctly, and have solved the challenge, you will be able to push down the top of the red laser token and the laser beam should hit each piece and end up at the target. As I observe kids solving these puzzles I have noted that they frequently push the laser and see where the beam ends (on the wall, on their shirt, etc.) and then move pieces around accordingly. This game is going to take some thought and the ability, or at least the desire, to orient pieces spatially in a trial-and-error fashion. Here is an image of the front of #37 challenge card and the back of the same card with the solution.

Try this:
  • Play with the pieces on the grid before trying to solve a challenge. Let the individual put one piece down and move it around until he can make the laser hit it. Then have him add a second piece and move it around until he can make the laser hit both of them. Add a piece at a time to understand how it works.
  • Examine each token before starting and understand its purpose before starting any challenges.
  • Play a game while the individual looks on. Think aloud to teach the reasoning process. Once successful, take he puzzle apart and let the individual do it.
If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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