For the last several years, I have compiled a holiday toy suggestion list for the families I work work with; this is my 2012 Holiday list. I am going to try and go through and highlight some of my all time favorite toys that make the list year after year. The first one will be the Orb Factory Sticky Mosaics.
I discovered the Sticky Mosaics about 4 years ago when I was looking for new toys and ideas for some of the older girls I worked with. I wanted a long term project that didn't involve coloring. I stumbled upon the mosaic sets and have probably spent hundreds on them since. They are brilliant and I still kick myself that I didn't think of it myself. At this point, there are a variety of collections so you will easily find one that your child will love and be motivated by to work hard to complete. They are colorful and some even have gem-like stickers to complete the mosaics which the kids love! I have to admit, I am a big fan of some of their most recent additions to the Orb Factory family such as the room decor collection (jewelry boxes, picture frames, etc.).
What I love most about this toy is how many OT goals can be focused on with these mosaics. First and foremost, it is a perfect activity to work on with children who have immature grasping skills. The size of the mosaic tiles are just right to encourage a fine pincer grasp which many children with hand weakness don't have. For some of my children who lack bilateral coordination, I will stick the stickers on the back of their hands so they have to pull the stickers off with the opposite hand. For children struggling with learning numbers and colors, you can use this activity to work on those skills as well. All the squares have a number on it and you have to match the correct color with the numbers. My favorite thing is that after weeks of working on the mosaic (I typically see children one time per week so this can take several weeks to finish; if you are working on it at home, it most likely will not take as long) and the picture is finally complete, the look of pride and excitement on the child's face is priceless. This ends up being ideal to work on improving a child's self-esteem and confidence. Other OT goals are:
*Improving visual motor/eye-hand coordination skills
*Improving sequencing skills-give the child a number or color pattern to work on when putting the stickers on
*Improve upper extremity strength by putting the templates up on a vertical surface (easel or tape to the wall) and have your child have to reach up to put the pieces on; when at my sensory gym, I will have a child lie prone on a net swing and work on the mosaics.
*Improve focus and attention. For some children, challenging activities lead to a significantly decreased attention span to said activities. I will sometimes give my children a time challenge and say they have to put as many as they can on the template in a given amount of time. I increase the amount of time with each visit.
*Improves social skills. There are a few oversized mosaic collections that I have used at The Meeting House; you can put the larger kits out and tell a group of children to complete it together. Assign a color/number to each child and make sure they work out any conflicts themselves.
Over the last few years, Orb Factory has expended their products to include products not only appropriate for boys, but also collections for toddlers or children with more significant fine motor delays.
I hope that you found this blog helpful and if you are looking for a reasonably priced and battery free gift, you should definitely check these mosaics out. While you can find plenty of collections online, be sure to check out your local toy and book stores to see if they carry them first. I know I always feel better about supporting small businesses when I can. If you have any questions or would like to share any ideas or products with me, I am a click away and would love to hear from you!