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.

Dec 16, 2016


Colorku - Sudoku with colored marbles instead of numbers
Colorku is a Sudoku-type game that uses colored marbles instead of numbers. It is not a game that I had considered using in therapy before, but as I was looking over the challenge (pattern) cards I wondered if kids who couldn't solve the puzzles would enjoy placing the marbles onto the board to match the patterns on the cards.

There are 81 marbles, nine each of nine different colors. The colors are light blue, dark blue, light green, dark green, light purple, dark purple, orange, red, and yellow. No extra marbles are included so don't lose any. When you store it, you will put one marble in each hole and then place a molded plastic piece over it that will keep everything in place. Monitor for safety as the marbles may look like candy or gum to some.  

The board is solid wood and measures about 13" x 13". As you can see from the picture above, it is divided into nine squares by grooves in the wood. Each square has nine holes to hold nine marbles. 

Each pattern card is divided up into nine squares. The challenge cards have about 35 marbles pictured on each card (see image below), so there are a lot of empty spaces to contend with. To solve the puzzles, you will be filling in those empty spaces. There is one large sheet, printed front and back, with all the solutions on it. Kids could make the entire pattern for a puzzle but the pictures are small, only 2" x 2".

To play, place the marbles in a container of some sort so they won't roll away. Place the board in front of you and choose a pattern card. Use the marbles to make the pattern on the board to match the pattern card. Now fill in each of the empty spaces, making sure there is only one of each color marble by square, and one of each color horizontally and vertically in each row and column. Once you have accomplished that, you have solved the puzzle.

Left: Plastic marble size.          Middle: Challenge card.                  Right: Solution sheet.

Try this:
  • Skip the game and just use the patterns cards as a spatial activity, placing the marbles on the board but not playing the game. Make sure to skip spaces that are empty.
  • Skip the game. Show the individual one of the finished boxes on the solution sheet and ask them to place the marbles by row. Ask the individual to place the marbles by column. Cover all but the row or column you are working on if the individual has difficulty keeping track of where he is.
  • Skip the game. Using the solution sheet, place the marbles by squares. Cover all but one square at a time if the individual has difficulty separating it out.
  • Prepare the board to put away after playing by picking up a small handful of marbles at a time and bringing them to the fingertips, one at a time, for random placement on the board.
  • Skip the game. Place the marbles in a large container. Pick up all of one color, squirreling them in the palm without dropping. Pick up as many as you can without dropping and then move them to the fingertips one at a time to place them on the board. Fill the board with the marbles, make each square a different color (all red in one square, all yellows in another, etc.)
  • Work on visual discrimination, spatial relations, visual closure, figure ground, eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, fine motor precision, palmar arch development, in-hand manipulation, sequencing, attention, play and leisure exploration and participation
In the box: Wooden base, 81 colored marbles (9 different colors, 9 of each), answer sheet, 50 challenge cards (100 challenges)

If you are interested in purchasing this game or just want more information, click on the image below.

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