The parents I work with always ask me for a list of suggested toys for Hanukah or Christmas so this year I put together a little list for different age groups:
3 to 5 Years Old:
1- Dino Popper is a great way to strengthen little hands. I like the Dino more than the other animals because it fits better in small children’s’ hands.
2- Snap and Learn Lady Bugs: This toy works on so many wonderful skills. Not only can you build number concepts and color concepts but the resistance allows to strengthen little hands and also works on constructional skills like a puzzle.
3- Alex Toys ABC Beading: This is a versatile toy that not only helps children work on bilateral coordination skills through beading but it can be used to create words and learn letters.
4-Mr Potato Head: The classic Mr Potato Head is a great toy for little ones. They work on body part identification as well as strengthen little hands.
5- Smart Snack Cupcakes: Kids love this toy! They match the top and bottom of the cupcakes depending on the shape. I like to have older children try to put these together by placing the cupcake behind their backs so as to occlude vision.
5 to 7 Years Old:
1- Magneatos: Get ready for your child to be busy for hours! These balls and sticks are large magnets that can be used to create really cool structures.
2- Magnetiles: This is also a great toy! These magnetic shapes are flat and are used to create wonderful structures.
3- Design and Drill: This is another fabulous toy! Children can copy designs by screwing colored screws with an electric drill! Kids really love this! They can also create their own design. This is great for hand strength and to shape the arches of the hand.
4- Suigz: Love this toy for strengthening little fingers. By squeezing the squigz, children build structures that attach to one another with suction. Don’t forget to have children break apart the structures; another opportunity to strengthen hands/fingers.
5- Edu-shape Magic Symmetry: Here is a fun way for children to create mirror images. This is a wonderful visual perceptual activity that requires problem solving and visual motor skills.
7 Years and Up:
1- Spot it: Excellent visual perceptual game. Children race to find 2 matching shapes, letters or numbers on the card.
2- PathWords Jr: LOOOOOOVVVVVEEE this game. Such a smart toy! Children have to find the required words using different length/colored sticks. They must therefore use visual perceptual skills along with spelling skills. This is one of my favorite games for older children.
3- Chocolate Fix: Here is another very cool game that works on visual perceptual skills as well as motor planning and problem solving. By process of elimination they try to figure out where the different chocolates go on the tray.
4-Poppin’ Puzzlers: I grew up on this game and loved the thrill of finding the shapes before the tray popped! Now ypou can play against an opponent!
5-Curious George Discovery Beach Day: Kids really really like this game. I like that it works on visual perceptual skills and visual memory. Children try to remember where they found the item from the card they picked.
You can purchase any of these items on Miss Mancy’s AMAZON store. CLICK HERE for link
I love when November rolls around and all the men are sporting facial hair! It’s such a fun and visible way to support Prostate Cancer Awareness! Here are some fun ways to incorporate Movember in your activities!
1.Sticker mustache: This is a great way to teach children about facial features.
I found these furry sticker mustaches but they looked too painful to stick on the children’s lips. Instead we cut out a head, children picked a mustache and stuck it on. They then colored in facial features!
2. Matching mustache game: Use fun mustache cups to play a math game. Match the number to the matching number of mustaches. This works on counting concepts as well as visual memory.
3. Stack and throw: Use the same cups to have children create a pyramid (a wonderful visual-motor task) and use bean bags to see how many you can hit. I like to have children “earn” a bean bang by answering questions (ex: Name 5 animals that live in the ocean?) or by having to do a physical task (ex: Do 10 jumping jacks)
4. Draw the other half of the mustache.
Drawing mirror images is a great way to work on visual perceptual skills such as orientation as well as visual motor skills.
5. Ice Mustache Painting: Mix water and Kool Aide (put more Kool Aide than suggested amount) to make colorful ice cube. These can then be used to paint! Wonderful sensory activity for children of all ages.
6. Pin the mustache on the boy: I haven’t tried this yet but you can play a version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey by pinning the mustache on the Silly Face. Great body awareness game.
7. Mustache Writing Activity: Have a worksheet with very different looking mustaches and ask children to write who would have this mustache
8. Tic Tac Toe: I used a grid and plastic discs to create a Tic Tac Toe game. This is always a very good motor planning, problem-solving visual motor game!
9. Mustache Stamps: Use mustache stamps to create a face or to work on number concepts by stamping the correct number of mustaches that match a given number. Sooo many other ways to use stamps! Get creative!
10. Grow a Mustache: Get in on the action with all the fun mustache accessories you can find in craft stores. Kids love to dress up! I like taking pictures of the kids with funny mustaches and printing it out for them! They love it! This is my cutie pie nephew getting in on the action!
1- Create a fall scene using stickers This is a great activity for little ones. Peeling stickers has the advantage of working on pincer strength (an important component of dexterity) while allowing children to express their creativity.
2- Create a pattern on a small rectangular card. Draw a line to separate the card and ask children to copy the pattern that you see. They can then cut them in half to create fall tags. This is a wonderful visual-perceptual skill to learn.
3-Draw outline in paper and children have to find the matching sticker to the outline. This is a great visual perceptual game.
4-Peel 6 different stickers and place on a large die. Roll the die and the first to find that sticker wins a point.
For older children Create patterned cards. Children pick a card and have to pick out the stickers that create the pattern.
5-Create a sequence pattern and ask children to continue the sequence. This is a great visual perceptual and problem solving task.
6- Learning to trace is an important precursor to handwriting. Children learn to control their pencil. Using raised foam stickers is a great way to teach that skill to little ones because the sticker is raised and stays put! You can make this activity more challenging by not sticking down the sticker to the paper. Children have to coordinate both hands while tracing so that the sticker doesn’t move.
7-Use a foam cube (dollar store) and stick foam stickers on it. Dip in paint to create a stamp. Note: if the foam sticker is too thin, put a second sticker on top of it. Stamps are a great way to strengthen little hands.
8-Work on handwriting by stick foam animal stickers on paper and draw a talking bubble where children can practice to write. If you laminate the bubble, you can re-use with dry erase markers.
What to do with all this extra candy?
1- Science experiment:
Teach children about acid content. Place a candy in a bowl with a little bit of water. Add a teaspoon of baking soda. If the solution bubbles, then this candy is acidic. Try with a variety of candies such as Lemonheads, Nerds, skittles, m&ms etc…
2-Candy Graphing Math:
Create graphs of the various candies. (Sample taken from www.justreed-ashley.blogspot.com)
3- Licorice stamps:
Use the thin licorice strings (untwist) create a pattern on jar lids and use as a stamp. Children can create letters and numbers as well.
4- Blessing Boxes:
Create Sweet Blessings boxes filled with candy and donate to a local charity.
5- Candy Jar:
Kids are asked to bring extra candy to school. These can be placed in a jar that the teacher can use for rewards to the class. (Sample taken from www.decoart.com)
6- Paint with skittles and m&m:
Separate the candy by color. Dissolve the candy in a little bit of water and use like watercolors! (Sample taken from www.artprojectsforkids.org)
7-Twizzlers and string licorice to make letters:
Create cards with uppercase and lowercase letters. Laminate them and have children create these letters using licorice.
Teach children important sequencing skills by creating candy patterns that they have to follow. This is a great classroom activity for little ones. (Sample taken from classroomfreebies.com)
9- Candy Sorting:
Use tweezers to pick up and sort candy by color. This works on pincer strength.
10- Donate the candy to our troops:
Donate extra candy to our troops at www.treats4ourtroops.org
This is a great alternative to carving a pumpkin. Lay a pumpkin on its side, paint it green. Add streamers for hair, wiggle eyes, a felt mouth and accessorize with a witch hat!!! Kids LOOOOVED the Spooky result!
These were so easy to make and the resulting sound is really loud!!!
The kids loved playing around with the sound variations. We each got a chance to pull on our string while other children guessed what it sounded like. We made sounds of witches, ghosts, squeaky doors and even chickens!!!!!
You will need:
- Plastic cup
- Black Adhesive felt (You can do this with construction paper and glue instead)
- Skewer or nail to poke a hole
- Cotton string or yarn (will not work with nylon string)
- Paper clip
- Wet piece of cloth/material
Cut out 2 small triangles and a mouth with black felt. Flip the cup upside down, peel and stick facial features to the cup.
Use the skewer to poke a hole at the top of the cup.
Attach the string to a paper clip by making 2 knots.
Slip the other end of the string in the hole, from the top of the cup.
Wet a little piece of cloth (we used a cut up wash cloth)
Hold the cup up from the top and glide the cup on the string for some really silly sounds!!!
We had such a fun time this weekend at the first Annual uAspire Fundraiser Gala. Please help me support this wonderful organization that provides college scholarships.
Knowledge is power and there is no reason why anyone should be denied an education due to lack of finances! Just imagine…the cure to many diseases, new technologies, brilliant art, political and economic solutions is out there given the opportunity for kids to get the proper education!!!!
Invest in our future!!!! (:
Please follow this link to donate:http://www.uaspire.org/donate
I think my favorite challenge as an OT (and lover of crafts) is to find an inexpensive, easy to find item and come up with as many creative uses for it as I can! Here is my take on popsicle sticks. I have gathered info from many sources and have come up with my own ideas as well!
1. Use it as a spacing tool for writing.
2. Create fun little puppets and use them in a creative puppet show.
3.Use large popsicle sticks to teach children letter sizing. They write the letters on the stick and can’t draw letters past it.
4.Use as a tool to underline.
5. Use as a pointer for reading. They double up as a bookmark.
6. Use them as counting sticks
7. Use popsicle sticks to make letters that contain straight lines only ex: A, E, F etc…
8. Put stick on velcro at the ends of the sticks and use them to create shapes and teach shape formation (click on the picture for the link to theviolethours)
9.Use it to draw letters in the sand or in various other mediums such as shaving cream
10. Use 2 popsicle sticks to make tweezers! Love this! (click on the picture for the link to impressyourkids)
11. “Walk” your fingers along the stick forward and back to teach finger isolation movements (needed for a dynamic pencil grasp)
12. Twirl popsicle stick (like when you twirl a pencil to the side of the eraser). Another important skills that requires isolated finger movements and therefore improves dexterity.
13.Create a really fun Math Game. Click on the picture to get details from swampfrogfirstgraders.
This is a very popular workshop I gave last year to several schools. The questions and brainstorming that came from this presentation were very inspiring. I love when teachers try to incorporate fine motor and sensory goals in their classrooms realizing that it can benefit ALL children. This workshop addressed: Creating a Sensory Classroom, How to pick out the children that need OT, The importance of Movement in our curriculum and integrating children with special needs in a regular classroom.