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.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Tweezer Tongs Sorting Kit

Work on manual dexterity, fine motor precision, tripod or quadrapod grasp, separation of the two sides of the hand, in-hand manipulation, tactile perception, tool use, palmar arch development, eye-hand coordination, visual discrimination, visual memory, visual closure, figure ground, spatial relations, sequencing, executive functioning skills, process skills, play and leisure exploration and participation

In the box: 1 tray, 1 set of tweezer tongs, 5 sorting tubes, 50 balls in 5 colors (10 green, 10 blue, 10 yellow, 10 orange, 10 red) 
Ages 3+
This game includes one of my favorite type of tweezers/tongs for working on developing an appropriate grip for a writing tool. Looking at the picture I thought the tray and tubes might be lightweight plastic, but they are sturdy. Place the tubes into the tray, place the balls into the tray, start sorting. Each tube holds 10 balls and there are 10 of each color. Great for sorting by color. The balls are about the size of marbles, are a rubber-type material and are easy to pick up with the tweezer tongs. There are no extras, so don't let any roll away on you. The balls bounce easily and high, and the first day I used this game a ball bounced off the table and a dog caught it before I could even get up. I am already one short :( .

UPDATE: If all the balls are in the tray at the same time it is a bit of a tight fit for some kids. Since the balls are a rubber type material (not sure of the exact material) and not slick plastic, it has been a little difficult for some kids to wedge the tweezer tongs in between the balls. Simple fix - I hold a few balls back and add them later as space opens up in the tray.

CAUTION - The balls are small and could be swallowed if a young child or the wrong person gets a hold of them. They may look like candy or gum balls to some. Safety first - make sure this game is appropriate for the person you are working with and monitor during use.

Try this:
  • Use the tweezers for sorting all kinds of small manipulatives not using the tubes. Try using the tweezers yourself first to make sure they will be appropriate for the activity.
  • Sort the balls by color, putting one of each color into a different tube to start them off.
  • Make a pattern on paper, 5 circles across and 10 circles down (see image below). Color in the circles to match the colors of the balls and sort to match the pattern. Lay the pattern by the tray and sort. Sometimes I stand the pattern by the tray if kids have trouble looking at a flat model and then building vertically.
  • Put the pattern on a slanted surface and set it up across from the individual. Can he sort, looking up and down, side to side, without losing his place?
  • Fold the colored grid in half so that there are only five balls in each tube (instead of 10). Memorize the five colors for the first tube, hide the pattern, and stack them in the tube from memory. Do four more times until all the tubes have marbles.
  • Use a pattern card as below and put 10 assorted colored balls into each tube. Make a few mistakes here and there. Ask the individual to check each tube and determine if they are in the correct order.
  • Cover all of the pattern with a white sheet of paper except for the column or row that you are working on if the individual is having trouble keeping track of his place and to separate it from the rest of the pattern.
  • Skip the tweezers and use the fingers to sort the marbles into tubes, a cupcake tin, or other containers.
  • Place several balls in the player's hand. Ask him to move them one at a time to the fingertips and sort into the tubes without dropping any.
  • Cup the hand and hold the position as you drop the marbles, one by one, into the hand. Practice counting or saying color names as each is dropped.
  • Pick the marbles up one at a time and squirrel them into the palm. How many can be held without dropping?

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