Keri and Kim talk about several games and activities that are good for school-aged children. Here we have another favorite, “Ants in the Pants”, this is great for children who need to work on isolating their index finger, or work on hand strength because you have to flip this little guy into this guy’s hand.
It’s great for speech also, having kids follow directions, for example “2 ants in the pants”, turn taking, also have a fun competition to see who wins, and being a good sport about it.
The same company also makes a game called “Don’t Spill the Beans”, and that’s a great one to work on skills where you have to pick up one object and hold it in your hand and transferring from your fingertip to your palm and back again, it works on good manual dexterity.
Hi Ho Cherry O is a great game to work on fine motor skills and you can make it a little trickier by using tweezers or clothes pins and they have to pick up their cherries with the tweezers or clothes pins to work on the fine motor skills. And you can’t get enough turn-taking when it comes to speech. Each kid can talk about their favorite fruit, or telling stories about a time when they may have gone and picked out a fruit, and working on sequencing of the story. Using tweezers and clothes pins are one of an OTs favorite tricks in their bag for working on those fine motor skills and there are lots of games you can do that with, such as Lite Brite, Operation, Hi Ho Cherry O, Perfection.
There are also different “Gear Games” with little gears and knobs you have to link together and make a little pattern or fun thing, and the kids have to use a knob to turn it around, just good fine motor / visual motor activities. Those are also good for working on children to follow multi-step directions, such as put three links together and make it spin to the left. And also having children create their own creation and describing it so coming up with their own story and having them act out, pretend play is a great way for kids to express themselves and work on grammar, creating sentences, telling stories.
One of Kim’s favorite toys is called Tricky Fingers, it’s a little box with little balls in it and you have to use your fingers underneath the holes to rearrange to make the balls follow a pattern. It’s great for dexterity, learning improved awareness, because you can’t really see where your fingers are but you have to move in a way that gets what you want accomplished.
Wiki Sticks are a really fun way to work on pre-writing skills, drawing shapes, making letters, they’re little waxy things that you can rearrange and twist and pull, kind of like pipe cleaners but just a different fun twist on an activity like that.
Things that are going to encourage children to build, to construct something, are therapist great toys. There’s a lot of versions of that, Legos, Tinker Toys, Puzzibits , the magnetics toys, anything where they have to use their little fingers to put together a nice little object are great for learning how to build things and encourage fine motor planning.
Building is great for vocabulary, you can work on taking Lincoln Logs and building a house and taking a toy person and putting them in the house, on the house, or around the house. Also works great for comparing items using that vocabulary, this one is bigger than this one, smaller, longer, etc.
Mancala is another of Kim’s favorite toys, there’s a travel version of it to work on transferring from fingertips to your palm and back to fingertips again. Using all those good strong intrinsic muscles which are important for learning how to hold a pencil the right way, or hold your fork and spoon correctly.
And for kids who are still struggling with learning how to button and fasten their clothing there’s a great toy called Betty Button, and she’s a little stuffed pig and you have to interchange all of her clothes. They’re all attached with big fat buttons which are nice and easier for little fingers to manipulate.
One of Keri’s favorite games is Zingo, all of my kids love playing it, you slide it forward, it’s a lot like Bingo but with a zing! They have to pay attention to task and we work on following directions, they’re not allowed to shout out, they have to raise their hand, and identifying I need this picture to go on my board, so matching pictures together and taking turns which builds social skills.
Lacing cards are another great activity and toy that you can get for your kids to work on. The sequencing of up and down, front side back side, are also good for vocabulary. Great for bilateral coordination, visual skills, and it’s something you can make yourself with a backside of a cereal box, just punch some holes and get some string.