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Resource Spotlight: Connect 4

Connect 4, the very iconic strategy board game, can be a valuable tool in occupational therapy (OT) for addressing various cognitive, motor, and social skills.

Lets look at some skills that can be targeted with connect 4:

Cognitive Skills

  1. Problem Solving and Planning: Each player must think ahead to anticipate their opponent's moves and plan their own strategy to win.

  2. Attention and Focus: The game requires sustained attention to keep track of the game’s progress and focus on the board.

  3. Memory: Remembering the rules and the position of different pieces can help improve working memory.

Fine Motor Skills

  1. Hand-Eye Coordination: Placing the discs into the slots requires coordination between visual input and hand movement.

  2. Dexterity and Precision: The small size of the discs and the slots necessitates precise movements, helping improve fine motor control. There are different sized boards and various versions of Connect 4 that can make this easier or harder depending on the needs of the child.

Visual Perception Skills

  1. Visual Scanning: Players need to constantly scan the board to spot potential winning opportunities and block their opponent's moves.

  2. Visual Tracking: Players must track the right column to place their token in.

  3. Spatial Awareness: Understanding the spatial relationships between the discs to form a line of four in a row, column, or diagonal.

Social and Emotional Skills

  1. Turn-Taking: Playing Connect 4 traditionally encourages taking turns, which is crucial for social interactions.

  2. Patience and Impulse Control: Players learn to wait for their turn and control the impulse to place discs without strategic thinking.

  3. Sportsmanship: The game offers opportunities to practice winning gracefully and coping with loss, which are important social skills.

  4. Language Skills: There are many way that therapists may use connect 4 to may play with children that can work on language skills - positional language using visual or verbal cues, descriptive language where the listener must hear and follow the other player's guidance as to where to place the pieces - this can be graded up and down in level of challenge, or facilitating strategy discussions during group/team playing of the game. We hope this series helps you understand how the use of certain resources in occupational therapy!

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