Children learn through play. As an occupational therapist who works with children and youth, I use games and toys almost every day to help develop important cognitive, visual perceptual, motor, sensory, social, play and leisure skills. While many different types of activities can be used in therapy, this blog focuses on off-the-shelf games and toys that are accessible to most. Whether you are a therapist, parent, teacher, or a game lover like me, I hope you discover something useful while you are here. Learn a different way to play a game you already own or discover a new game for your next family game night. Either way, just go play. It's good for you!

The OT Magazine named The Playful Otter one of the Top 5 Pediatric OT Blogs.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Seasonal Poppers

Work on hand strength, manual dexterity, eye-hand coordination, visual motor integration, spatial relations, using both hands in a coordinated manner, proprioception, visual tracking, play and leisure exploration and participation
In the package: 1 seasonal popper, 6 hard foam balls (there are 4 separate sets shown above)
Poppers also come in seasonal characters!  Load a ball into the popper's mouth. Then set up a target, aim, and squeeze the popper's belly to launch the ball.  Balls can travel up to about 20 feet, depending on how hard you squeeze.  The plastic is stiff and it will take some hand strength and two hands to put the ball into the mouth and to squeeze. Those with very weak hands will have difficulty.  There are a number of different animals and characters to choose from. I have found a slightly smaller version of this popper at Target during the holidays. Same company, although the balls from those are just a little bit smaller than these and there are four balls instead of six.
Try this:
  • Make up your own holiday games - How many can you lodge in the Christmas tree? Bounce them off a wall into a wrapped Christmas gift box. Can you knock over a plush snowman? As always... safety first.
  • Measure the distance you can pop the ball.  Go again and see if you can beat your distance.
  • Set up small targets and see if you can knock them over.
  • Set up targets on a level plane at equal distances, then a variety of elevated planes at equal distances, then on different planes at different distances.
  • Start where the individual is and make the popper harder and harder to squeeze as you go. Pushing the ball into the character's mouth gently will not require much hand strength. Pushing it in as far as it will go will require more hand strength to squeeze it out.
 If you are interested in purchasing a popper or just want more information, click on the image below.


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