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.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Squigz Starter 24 Piece Set

Work on hand and finger strength, manual dexterity, visual discrimination, spatial relations, following directions, thinking skills, crossing midline, body awareness, coordinated use of both hands, core strength, sensory regulation, heavy work, sequencing, figure ground, play exploration and participation, creative play
In the container: 24 pieces
Ages 3+
As the container says, these are "fun little suckers!" Kids of all age levels and abilities have liked playing with these and they are one of my most used toys. Each piece is made of washable, high-grade silicone, and has one to six suckers. The pieces come in eight different shapes and are brightly colored. They stick to most any flat surface according to the package, give a nice "pop" when they are pulled up, and don't leave a mark or residue behind. If you are working with kids on hand strength, you may want to check these out. They do take a good push to flatten and a good pull to release. Make up your own games or be creative and build your own models because they also stick to themselves. I like to use these at the beginning of a therapy session and kids with decreased hand/finger strength that might balk at other activities have not tired of these. I also use them at the beginning of therapy sessions with kids who have sensory issues, to help get their hands ready for fine motor work. Squigz comes in different sizes and different quantities. I have decided against purchasing the smaller ones as they would not take as much strength to pull up so would not suit my purposes. I have used them for quite awhile with no signs of wear to the Squigzs, but the container is pretty beat up. I will have to find something else to keep them in.
UPDATE: After using these for awhile I would have to disagree that they will stick on any flat surface. Some tables they stuck to great, some they released quickly after being pushed down, and a few they would not stick at all. I am thinking the difference might have to do with what people may have used on their tables, such as oil or a dusting spray. So if you are taking these for a therapy session and you are not sure how they will react to a new table, have a back up activity ready or be prepared to use them on other surfaces, such as a tile floor, kitchen counter, or refrigerator. When they do stick, they are super fun.
Try this:
  • Stick them all over the table top, within reach. Then tell the individual to pull up a piece with the hand that you call, such as left, right, right, left, right, etc.
  • Call the hand, as above, but add a color. Pull up a yellow piece with your left hand, a blue piece with the right, etc.
  • Call right/left and color so that the individual must cross midline to get each piece. Place them at different distances so that the individual will have to reach.
  • Ask the individual to push them to the table and give you the instructions. Pull the wrong one on occasion and see if he detects the error.
  • Push two pieces together securely and ask the individual to use two hands and pull them apart. Push them together two-by-two when cleaning up and ask the individual to pull them apart before putting them in the container.
  • Use two tall green pieces, holding one in each hand. Pretend they are legs and walk them around the table, alternating pushing one down as you pull one up. Make up a story or make animal sounds and guess the animal as you go.
  • Ask the individual to pull up two at a time, such as left green, right blue. Simultaneously pull them off the surface.
  • Give the individual a sequence for pulling them up. Start with two, such as green red. Then three, green red blue. Then four. How many can they remember. Rehearse the colors verbally twice or three times before starting.
  • Play with them on a vertical surface, such as the refrigerator or a white board mounted on the wall. Play in a kneeling position and in standing.
 If you are interested in purchasing this item or just want more information, click on the image below.

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