I forgot how powerful a visual perceptual/processing activity the game “Rush Hour” is until doing some consulting work recently prompted me to revisit it. The game itself is available through Think Fun, and is one of its many excellent suite of logic games. At a mere $19.99 list price it is an incredible bargain for the skills that it helps to build.
There are cards that come with the “board” version of the game that serve to set up the cars initially. In that sense they are very much like the skills involved in a Geoboard or similar grids, where the child is matching a pattern and learning the essence of coordinates.
There are multiple levels, from beginner to advanced, and an excellent online video from West Coast Toy Reviews provides a nice overview of the activities. As you’ll see, beyond grid pattern matching to set up each game, executing the moves involves considerable motor planning, visualization, and sequencing abilities. But as the game becomes more challenging you can see that visual crowding is a huge factor. Therefore begin to thing of any patient who has difficulty with crowding as in amblyopia, or reading difficulties that increased as the page becomes busier.
The company considers that the age level most suitable for the game is age 8 and up. For ages 5 to 8 there is a Rush Hour Jr. version which has cuter vehicles and less complicated patterns.
As the Rush Hour Jr. instructions note, the learning benefits of the activity include the application of sequential reasoning, building of focus, attention and, perseverance, and instilling confidence. There is a two player more advanced version of the game, Rush Hour Shift. Watching the video may trigger the thought for you that this would be an excellent visualization and motor planning tool (no pun intended) for teenagers learning to drive or brain injury patients who need to restore their driving readiness skills.
Lastly, there is a free online version of Rush Hour for those patients who are bored by board games or only responsive to electronic media. I won’t editorialize further about that here, other than to say that there is virtue in a healthy balance between online and offline activities.