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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.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Expo Dry Erase Board & Expo Markers



Not exactly a toy or a product you would expect to find on a blog about games, but I have strong opinions about dry erase boards and markers and I use them frequently in therapy, so I decided to include them. Believe me when I say not all dry erase boards and markers are created equal. I have tried many different ones and I keep coming back to this specific board by Expo and Expo markers. The main problem I have had with other brands is that the board often does not wipe totally clean, leaving shadows behind that cannot be removed, even with the cleaning solution. And just a tip from experience here, wipe the boards as soon as you are done working on them. Even Expo markers and boards might leave a shadow if you don't erase it for days. I used this particular board for years and then Expo quit making them and came out with a  different, inferior product and it had the same problem as other boards. I was very disappointed until I saw this board on Amazon the other day and ordered it to see if it was "my" board, and sure enough it is. This board is plain white on one side and has writing lines on the other side.  I have used many different things to erase on this board including paper towels, an old cut up towel, and dry marker erasers from other games. The Expo brand markers come in three sizes that I know of: chisel tip, fine point, and ultra fine point. The ultra fine point is closest to the width of a pencil line and is the one I use most often. Here is an example of the different widths:

I use this board often with the Ed Emberley Drawing books that I have blogged about. It has been my experience that kids who are working on pre writing symbols and lines, visual perceptual skills, writing and precision with a writing tool often love drawing on white boards with colored markers. Yes, there is less feedback to the hand when you are gliding across a smooth surface with a dry erase marker, but you can still work on holding a writing tool, using a writing tool to draw controlled precise lines/rounded corners/diagonal lines, drawing simple shapes, reducing overflow, and proportion. And at the end, as the kids are admiring their handiwork, I can often slip in a little writing such as a few words or simple sentence about their picture. None have balked at that yet. 

Try this:
  • Work on diagonal lines for letters such as K, Y, X, W by drawing pictures that incorporate diagonal lines (whiskers, sharp teeth, legs, bird toes). Work on distal rotation by drawing pictures that incorporate small, colored-in circles (eyes, freckles, tassels, chicken pox). Work on rounded lines, such as needed for many lower case letters, by drawing pictures with rounded and wavy lines (ears, water, noses, hair). Sounds pretty basic, doesn't it? One big reason I like the Ed Emberley books is because I can quickly scan each picture looking for the feature(s) that I want to practice without having to make up drawing after drawing in my head. I'm not that fast or that good.
  • Be short and precise with your verbal instructions as you model. Draw only one line or shape at a time and make sure they are following your instructions to the best of their ability. Drawings may start out looking rough, but typically improve over time with practice.   
  • Model how to start and stop on a line. I often just reach over and erase overflow with my finger and they quickly get the idea.
If you are interested in purchasing this or just want more information, click on the image below.

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