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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.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Dive into Shapes: A "Sea" & Build Geometry Set

A spatial skills work out.
Work on spatial relations, visualization, visual discrimination, visual closure, figure ground, manual dexterity, executive functioning skills, coordinated use of two hands, eye-hand coordination 
 
In the box: 60 sticks in three sizes, 20 curves, 34 connectors, 15 double-sided shape-building activity cards.
 
I'm sure many won't understand this, but I was really disappointed when I received this item because my game came in a different looking box than the one advertised. (I am after all writing this blog from an OTs point of view, so thanks for humoring me.)
 
My box.
Yes, I understand this is designed to be a geometry set that meets certain academic core requirements and to be used in a classroom. However, I am using it to work on visual perceptual skills in therapy where kids aren't expecting to work on math (yes, there is some overlap). I like the box in the image at the top of the page because 1) I love underwater themed activities and this has a whimsical underwater look, but more importantly 2) the picture on the front of the box will make it an easier "sell" than the box I got. It's kind of like eating - you decide if you're interested by looking first. And even though they refer to the sea and underwater shapes in several places on the cards, I don't really see any connection. With that said, on to the game.
 
The pieces are flexible plastic and brightly colored. There is an Activity Guide included but it doesn't include any activities, just a description of the pieces and a couple of notes which I will include below. The cards are divided into these four sections:
  • 2-D shapes
  • 3-D shapes
  • Combining Shapes
  • Equal Shares
The cards have a different activity on each side and show the pieces needed to build, the finished model, and written instructions. Each card also challenges the individual to go further and build an additional model, picture not included. Here is activity one and activity 30. There are more examples and a video on the Amazon site if you are interested.
 
 
Notes from the manufacturer:
  • "There are enough pieces in this set for 4 students to simultaneously build 2-dimensional shapes, and for 2-3 students to build 3-dimensional shapes."
  • "The holes around the circumferences of each connector are spaced differently. The red connectors have holes 60 degrees apart, and the orange connectors have holes 45 degrees apart."
 
Try this:
  • Allow the individual to play with the pieces before attempting the puzzles so that they can see how the pieces fit together.
  • Cover the picture of the finished model and let the individual use the written instructions and the picture of the number of pieces as the only guide. After building reveal the picture to see if correct.
  • Hold the card vertical while the individual is building if he has trouble "seeing" the 3-D object when the card is flat against the table.
  • Hand the individual one piece at a time if he cannot determine where to start or how to proceed in building.
  • Only have the necessary pieces on the table if looking at or through all the pieces in the box is too confusing. Add a few extra pieces back at a time to increase the figure ground challenge.
 
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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