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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.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Dinosaurs: Mystic Islands

Keep the plant-eaters separate from the meat-eaters in this fun logic game.

Work on spatial relations, visual closure, figure ground, visualization, visual discrimination, manual dexterity, process skills, executive functioning skills, social interaction skills, play and leisure exploration and participation,

In the box: Plastic game board base, 6 plastic puzzle pieces, challenge book with 80 challenges

A dinosaur themed one-person logic puzzle from SmartGames. Using the six puzzle pieces, build islands in the plastic base by following the patterns in the challenge book. The one rule is to make sure that the herbivores (green dinosaurs) do not end up on the same islands as the carnivores (red dinosaurs). The base and pieces are all a hard plastic and the dinos are made from a softer plastic. The challenge book is divided into four sections - starter, junior, master, expert. Clues are given for the first 32 puzzles. Initial clues are given in the form of showing the color and location of three dinosaurs as well as the orientation of each of the six pieces. Clues are gradually reduced to show only one dinosaur per puzzle, then no dinosaurs are pictured and the number of piece orientations are reduced. All solutions are given in the back of the book and there is only one way to solve each puzzle. Here are images from the challenge book:

#1 - 3 dinos, all orientations. #2 - 1 dino, all orientations. #3 - No dinos, fewer orientations. #4 - No clues.
Try this:

  • Start backwards if working with a beginner - Solve the puzzle all but the last piece and let him place that.  Solve the puzzle all but the last 2 pieces and let him place them. Solve the puzzle all but the last 3 pieces, etc.
  • Work the puzzle yourself and talk out loud to model how to problem solve and eliminate pieces. Start sentences with "This can't go here because..." and then explain the logic. Then take the pieces out and ask the person to complete the same challenge.
  • Start with the first puzzles and work in the order in the booklet. It is a good way of giving fading cues and teaching what is expected. 

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