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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

American Girl Paper Punch Art


 Work on hand/finger strength, fine motor precision, manual dexterity, coordinated use of both hands, grasp, tool use, scissor skills, gluing, visual discrimination, visual closure, visual form constancy, spatial relations/position in space, coordinated use of both hands, mental flexibility, creative thinking, executive functioning, midline activity, eye-hand coordination, play and leisure exploration and participation    
In the book: 4 plastic & metal punches, heavy paper for punching, 200 designs
This is more in-line of a craft than a game or toy, but I have included it because it is off-the-shelf I love anything that includes some type of tool. This book includes the punches, paper, and ideas you need to make projects for everyday as well as seasons and holidays. To get ready, bring your own scissors, glue, and toothpicks (to spread the glue on very small pieces) to the table. The paper objects you will be punching out are quite small to start with and some of those you will be cutting to make even smaller. I am not a scrapbooker, but from what I have seen, these are those types of punches: a plastic casing outside and a metal punch inside. These punches do require a good push or squeeze to punch through, and sometimes I use two hands to stabilize and get the required strength. Not for those with weak hands. 
Below is the size of the punch. The silver heart shows the object that will be punched and the size.
Use a combination of punches to make individual small objects, like animals, and flowers, or make a number of creations and put them on your own paper background. Each small object that you punch out can be cut in someway to make other shapes. For instance, cut off the points on a star to make (very) small triangles, and a heart cut down the middle vertically makes very nice wings, bunny ears, and individual tulip petals. Some of the categories in the book include The Mighty Jungle (wild animals), Ocean View (things found underwater), Fall Fun (things fall related), Field of Flowers (lots of variety), and Furry Friends (pets). There are also sections on how to use the small creations to make Valentines, gift tags, bookmarks, and birthday cards. Colored paper in the back of the book is meant to be torn out and used. Once you tear it out it is up to you how to store it. But the stampers have a nice plastic cover over them that stays put until up take it off. Would be nice if the book was spiral so it would stay open while you work, but it is not.
Cut out strips for punching.                   Use items made for cards.                   Use objects made for picture.
Try this:
  • Follow the pictures in the book exactly for a VP workout, or use them as a guide and encourage the individual to think creatively about color or placement of pieces to the whole.
  • Punch a variety of pieces out before play if the individual could not manage the punch but you still want to work with the small pieces.
  • Try different ways of punching, such as using punch in non-dominant hand, lay punch on table and push with both index fingers, hold punch upright so paper won't fall out and punch with both thumbs. Experiment to find something that works for you.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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