We've all heard it; we've all thought it: "The kids don't need more toys!" So maybe we've overdone it with the stuffed animals, the dolls, the toys that talk by themselves in the middle of the day. This time we're going to support the purchase of toys & give you some options that not only benefit your child's development, but also support carryover from tactics learned in their OT sessions. Below is a list compiled by our therapists of the best unassuming games to help your child increase their fine motor, social skills, attention, and MORE! Each of these activities have been chosen for how they benefit your child's development & we would be robbing you of wonderful knowledge if we did not share our favorites.
1. Candy Land
You didn't expect a classic board game favorite to be valuable in OT, did you? The objective of the game is to move your gingerbread character piece through Candy Land on the colored pathway & be the first to arrive at the Candy Castle.
Ms. Jess says she loves to use Candy Land as a way to coordinate colors with Zones of Regulation. In short, Zones of Regulation is a curriculum created as a way to help kids of all ages work through their core feelings. Zones of Regulation helps children learn to self-regulate their emotions, increase problem-solving abilities, and work on control. In addition to social emotional formation, Candy Land is a great way to work on sequencing and fine motor skills. Buy Candy Land here: https://a.co/d/eGLVtJH
2. Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza
This one is a little wild, we know. We have 2 decks of this game, and it is such a wonderful game to incorporate into a session, especially with an older crowd. The objective is to be the first player to get rid of the cards in your hand & be the first to slap a match down. Once you get the hang of it, it's easy to play, but getting started can be a little tricky.
After the cards have been dealt, the person to the left of the dealer puts their first card down, face up, and says "Taco." The next player puts a card down, face up, and says "Cat," etc. This will continue until the card put down matches what the player just said. (example: If Ms. Megan puts down a "pizza" card when it's her turn to say "pizza") When this happens, all players must slap their hand down on the deck of cards and the last person to put their hand down must put all cards previously put down at the bottom of THEIR deck of cards. Ms. Evie suggested this game because it is a GREAT tool to work on attention, reciprocal play, and visual-motor planning. All of these tactics are being used at once, often unbeknownst to the player. You know the saying "if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life?" That's how this game feels. Buy here: https://a.co/d/4NVYEQ0
Who doesn't love a building activity? Squigz are little shapes made out of silicone with a suction cup base. This allows these little guys to stick to the walls, a whiteboard, books, and to themselves! When pulled from the surface they're stuck to, they make a fun popping sound, which integrates an auditory component to any game played with them! Squigz can be used to increase fine motor, visual motor, tactile, and sensory development. They help build dexterity in little ones, supporting finger and hand strength, they support problem solving goals, and the creative possibilities are ENDLESS. Ms. Katie suggested Squigz because of how versatile they are, they're lightweight (aka can be taken from clinic, to home, to daycare, etc), and check almost every sensory component box. Buy the Squigz starter kit here: https://a.co/d/2A10X14
We're just an office of fine motor promoters over here! Wriggleworms is a crowd favorite amongst the therapists because of the number of different components included.
This activity focuses heavy on fine motor skills at its core, incorporating hand strengthening tactics, pencil grip practice, and wrist movements. Other skills include color recognition, matching, visual tracking, hand-eye coordination, and precision. This activity can be turned into a game as it also comes with a spinner and activity cards to guide the child on what color to find, how many, and how to put the worms in "the dirt" to match the visual on the card. Buy Wriggleworms and explore other activity sets here: https://a.co/d/6coJhUB
5. Create, Drill, & Build STEAM Activity by Creative Discovery
The benefits of this activity are endless. Truly endless. This building activity allows kids to follow the prompts included in the box or create figures and shapes of their own using the parts included.
This activity encourages creativity and imagination, but also discreetly incorporates OT. This is as discreet as it gets. Let's just rattle off the skills: hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills as a whole, refine pincher grasps, shape & color identification, develop visual and spatial thinking, develop tactile skills, should we keep going? Ms. Hannah recommended this game and uses it with her smaller kids regularly because of the number of skills it explores. Buy here: https://a.co/d/fiIQTlj
Do you have one of these games? Let us know what you think!