Connect Four is a great game for anyone to play. It’s a great way to start working on strategy with kids. Being a PT, while we may play the game with our kids, it’s usually part of another task that we are working on. Here are a few of the ways that we have used this game with our kids. And, as a side benefit, it can work on their fine motor skills as well!
- Squats and Tip Toes – As you can see in the photos, you can use the pieces to encourage kids to work on squatting, and then depending on where the board is placed, they then go up on their toes to put the pieces in. This works on the developmental skills of squatting and tip toes, it also helps to strengthen the muscles needed for those skills.
- Cross Body Reaching – You can have kids sit on whatever surface you think is appropriate and then have them reach across their body for the checker so they can put it in the board. Or you could have them reach to the same side and then reach across the body to put the checker in the board. This can work on bilateral coordination, hand-eye coordination, trunk control, and balance.
- Weight Bearing – Have the child sit so that they are straddling a peanut ball and both feet are resting on the ground. Have them reach off to one side causing them to shift their weight so that they are increasing the weight they are putting through that leg. You can do this to both sides. This will also work on balance and trunk control, especially if they don’t use their other hand to help themselves get back to the middle.
- Trunk Extension – Have the child sit down. Have them reach up into the air for a checker piece (you can have them reach with one hand overhead or two to work on symmetry of trunk extension). Then they can put the checker into the board. You can vary where you place the board depending on if you want to get some trunk rotation or flexion in as well.
- Walking/Stairs/etc – Connect Four has lots of pieces so it works great for when you need to do multiple repetitions of an activity. For walking you can put the pieces on one side (I recommend one or two at a time) and the board on the other side (wherever you want them to go to) and have them go between the surfaces. With stairs you can have the board at the top of the stairs and the pieces at the bottom so that they have to climb up and down to get them all. You could use it the same way for obstacle courses or riding a tricycle, etc.
What ways have you used Connect Four?