Sunday, November 25, 2012

Perfect Present!

Color Matching, Motor Planning, Turn Taking...The Perfect First Game for the youngest ones on your list!  Roll and Play is sort of like a 3-D Simon Says!

Roll the cube, name the color, find the matching card and then follow the directions on the card to perform the action! This is the perfect way to get them moving and thinking and they'll feel like big stuff, too!

I came across this at Learning Express and it is $19.99.  If you receive their catalogs in the mail, there is a coupon on the back!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pick Pix Mix!

I came across Pix Mix in a holiday catalog.  Now, I've never played it, but to me it looks like a great way to work on a visual perceptual skill that OTs call figure ground.

Figure ground is the ability to distinguish an object, picture or word from its background.  For instance, a good example of figure ground is opening the refrigerator and finding the white milk located in front of the white background.  Hidden picture activities are another great figure ground activity.  So, this is why Pix Mix seems like the ideal figure ground game!

Individual cards are stacked on top of each other to create a busy mixture of pictures. The player is given 30 seconds to differentiate and identify all six images within each mix.  Look closely, what pictures do you see hidden in the mix above?  I can't think of a better way to sharpen those figure ground skills!

Pix Mix can be found in the MindWare catalog or at

Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Friday, November 16, 2012

All I want for Christmas...

The holidays are right around the corner and the children have begun to make their lists!  Every year, we have parents ask us for suggestions for educational and developmentally appropriate toys for their children.  Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting our favorites.  

Our first game is Squiggly Worms!

I love it because it's simple, doesn't require batteries and it challenges our fine motor and visual motor skills.
The game consists of a bright red apple filled with little green worms that pop up and down!  It has a lever at the bottom of the apple that slides over and the 20 worms begin to squiggle and wiggle! Twenty matching worm cards are also included. The game is intended for children 4 years and older.

In therapy, we use this game several different ways!
To work on fine motor and visual motor skills, the children have to watch which worms pop up and quickly grab one. Then, they quickly look at the bottom of the worm and if the color matches their card, they place it on the card and continue to look for more matches. The first player to find matches to all of their cards wins! This is truly a game of speed and dexterity!

Sometimes we slow things down a bit and work on in-hand manipulation skills, specifically palm to finger translation.  This is a difficult skill for children, but it is important in daily tasks.  For instance, if a child is holding some coins for his penny bank, he has to move a coin from his palm to his fingertips so that he can place it into the bank, while holding onto the other coins.  You can work on that same skill by having your child hold two to three squiggly worms at a time.  Then, the child moves one worm at a time from her palm to her fingertips and then places it into one of the holes in the apple. The cute little worms make learning fun!

Stay tuned over the next few weeks and we'll help you and Santa stuff the stockings and wrap up the magic of Christmas!

Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dig into the sensory bin!

Sensory bins are fun for all ages!  I made this corn meal bin for a preschool as a safe option for tactile exploration since some of the children still enjoy exploring with their mouths! Other bins can be made of rice, beans, pasta, beads, balls or cotton balls.  Wet bins are a blast, too.  Use insta-snow, shaving cream or water beads.  Additional contents can be endless and will surely entice the senses!

  • Fill it with items for the holidays or seasons.  A bin full of feathers is great this time of year as we celebrate Thanksgiving!
  • Numbers or letters can foster learning.  Have her pull out a letter and match it to a card.  When she finds a number she can count out the same number of pasta pieces from the bin.
  • Different colored objects can facilitate color identification or matching!  She could find a red object inside the bin to place in the red colored bowl placed outside.
  • Last year I made a winter bin with all white items, which promoted a visual perceptual skill that we call figure ground.  The children used a white ice cream scoop to scoop out cotton balls into a white bowl.  Tongs were used to separate snow flakes by size into a sorting dish.
Watch as your child uses all of her senses to explore.  Ask her what it smells like, how it feels, what she hears.  Have her close her eyes and use only her sense of touch to find the items hidden within.

For some children tactile exploration can be very calming.  For other children, it provides just the right input to "rev" her up to improve her level of arousal. If your child is hesitant to touch the contents in your sensory bin, provide tools such as spoons, tongs, ice cream scoops, etc. to make her feel safe while she explores.  Before you know it, she'll be digging right in!

Digging deep with the tools promotes strength and fine motor coordination.

Blowing can help regulate our nervous systems and is a fun way to explore the corn meal.

The corn meal is silky and smooth. I filled the bin with different textured objects and added some visually stimulating items to please their young eyes!

Her smile says it all!
Share your favorite sensory bins with us!
Remember to provide supervision as sensory bins are very pleasing to all of our senses and may tempt our children to explore in ways that could be harmful to them.

Michelle Yoder, OTR/L