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, February 10, 2016

Melissa & Doug Wooden Stringing Beads

Work on developing intrinsic muscles, precision translation, in-hand manipulation, bilateral integration, eye-hand coordination, grasp, manual dexterity, palmar arching, visual discrimination, spatial relations, visual scanning, figure ground, sequencing, decision making, planning, creative play, simple spelling  

In the box: Over 250 beads (170 uppercase alphabet), 8 laces

Lots of chances to practice hand skills in this box. The pieces are all made of wood and the bright colors appeal to kids. The shapes include flowers, butterflies, hearts, fish, stars, teddy bears, circles, and squares. The letter beads have the same letter on all six sides of one block. While an activity like this usually appeals to girls, getting boys to string beads is another story. To make the activity meaningful for boys so that they engage voluntarily, I will pull this box out around the holidays, like Valentine's Day or Mother's Day, and suggest making something for a mom or girlfriend. There are eight laces and they have plastic tips on the ends. I see that the reviews on Amazon say that this item has no lid. That is a real drawback to many Melissa & Doug toys. However, mine does have a plastic lid that slides on and off. Melissa & Doug have lots of different beading kits and I have tried several with good success. I have also tried the small beading kits you get from Michael's that have wooden beads and charms. I have found that the holes are not always smooth and the string can get caught up on the rough edges and snag as you try to pull the beads across and can even kind of feather the string as you go. Also sometimes the charm is so wide that it's hard to push the string to the other end. Never had these problems with Melissa & Doug products.

Try this:
  • Hold the string in the non-dominant hand and pick up and place beads with the dominant hand. Watch to make sure the string is held still and the fingers are moved and the bead is pushed away from the palm with the dominant hand.
  • Place one bead in the cupped fingers and ask the individual to push it to the fingertips, turn it to the correct direction and use. Move to placing beads further and further back toward the cupped palm.
  • Hold two beads in the dominant hand. Push one forward to the fingertips to work with and then the other. Holding the string with one hand while holding and using the beads with the other will set up a natural opportunity to use in-hand manipulation skills.
  • Use as a sorting activity. Use a cupcake tin and sort by color, shape, or letter.
  • Use the letter blocks to practice letter identification or form simple words.
  • Put one of each letter into a small box or bag. Pull out several without looking and see how many words you can make from the letters.
  • Make patterns, by color or shape, on the table top or in beading.
  • Make the pattern for a necklace first on table top to focus on visual perceptual skills, then pick them up one at a time to string and focus on fine motor skills.
If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below. There are over 250 reviews of this item on Amazon.

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