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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, December 23, 2015

Build-A-Cake by Wilton


 
Work on following directions, following a recipe, tool use (spoon for stirring, knife for frosting, scoop for putting cake mix into cups, cup for measuring), motor planning, coordinated use of both hands, bilateral integration, proximal stability, balance, sensory awareness, visual discrimination, eye-hand coordination, spatial relations, figure ground, baking, creativity, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 24 cups (6 triangles, 8 squares, 5 rounds, 2 diamonds, 2 pie shapes, 1 half-moon), instructions for making 3 different models (train, dump truck, rocket)

Puzzle cakes – seems like a funny thing to find on a blog about toys. But in my defense, after you bake you can play with the cake shapes, arranging them into different designs, before you frost and eat them. Always on the look-out for toys that have pattern cards and for practicing visual perceptual skills, I was happy to stumble onto this item. Just think of all the areas you can cover with a chance to bake, play, and then frost. The cups are flexible silicon and come in different colors. Mine are bright blue, green, red, yellow, and purple, but the box says colors may vary. The cups are different shapes, but about the size of an average cupcake. The instruction sheet is a folded sheet with instructions in two languages – English and French. The instructions also include a recipe for buttercream icing. There are enough cups to make each model without having to bake twice. I am thinking that one cake mix would do it since one cake mix will make 24 cupcakes and the model with the most cakes is the rocket, which takes 21 cakes. The pictures give ideas for decorating with candy, but just frosting them, or even plain, would also taste good. Here are the three patterns that are included, but don’t stop there, make up your own designs.   


As I write this I am reminded about the Honeymooners episode where Ed Norton reminisced about receiving a chocolate bunny for Easter when he was a kid. His family was so poor that they played with that chocolate bunny like a toy for quite a while. Finally, he said, it got so dirty they had to eat it! Still makes me laugh.

Try this:
  • Allow the individual to pick out the cups needed for a model by following the pattern picture. Then let him assemble the finished product in the same manner after baking.
  • Make up your own models suited to the individual you are working with. Use just a few cakes to start simple, then make models that need more as you go.  For instance, a square with a triangle above will make a simple 2-cake house, three circles placed in a vertical line will make a snowman.
  • Make frosting the cakes more challenging by holding a cake in the air (arms by side will add stability) in the non-dominant hand (instead of leaving it sitting on a plate) and rotating it in-hand while holding the knife and frosting with the dominant hand. Difficult.
  • Use canned frosting, holding the can in non-dominant hand while swirling knife around the inside edge with the dominant hand.
  • Place several layers of sprinkles into small bowl and practice picking up a few in the tripod fingertips to sprinkle on cake.
  • Use a spatula and teach how to scrape the bowl sides with dominant hand while turning bowl with the non-dominant hand.
  • Let the individual play with the cakes after they are baked and before frosting. Offer simple suggestions if needed, and encourage the individual to be creative as he is moving the cakes around. Let him make the final model to frost.
 If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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