I think all us therapists are familiar with the magnetic fishing puzzle by Melissa and Doug. I must use mine nearly 1000 times a year at the gym and it never gets old. One of the best parts about this puzzle is that the kids love it and don't realize how many occupational therapy goals can be worked on using this puzzle.
Today, I was at my favorite toy store in Park Slope, Norman & Jules, looking for some birthday presents. While I was completely successful in finding great presents, I was also successful (like I am every time I enter the store) finding a really cool toy for work. This is not uncommon when I go into this store.
Amongst the many fabulous toys at Norman & Jules right now I spotted a really cute fishing set. Both Quinn and I fell in love with this toy and our little friend Liv did too. The wooden fishing rod by Pure Play Kids is a simple but amazingly crafted toy. It's the perfect size for preschooler and young school age children's hands. While the set comes with 5 different colored, fish, the magnet is strong enough to pick up any metal objects. I can't wait to experiment at the gym and have the kids pick up different objects so we can work on improving fine motor and grasping skills. I will use small objects so we can work on encouraging a fine pincer grasp. Earlier in the post, I spoke about the magnetic puzzles. I plan on using the Wooden Fishing Rod set by Pure Play to have the kids pick up the puzzle pieces instead of using the fishing pole that comes with the game to add more of a challenge and work on improving a child's frustration tolerance since it takes longer to wind the fishing pole up.
In addition to what I already talked about, the Wooden Fishing Rod toy will work on the following occupational therapy goals:
Improve Bilateral Coordination Skills-the best thing about the fishing game is how you can work on improving bilateral coordination skills when using it. One hand holds the fishing pole and the other hand is used to wind the string back up and then remove the fish from the pole.
Improve Visual Perceptual Skills-when playing with the fishing pole set, you can have the child you are working with follow a pattern when catching the fish (tell them to get the fish in a certain order). You can also have them work on matching colors by setting out different color paper and
Improve Modulation and Regulation Skills-I love this activity because it is a great way to work on improving modulation skills. The children have to not rush or go too fast when picking the fish up or winding the fishing pole up or the fish will fall off the magnet.
Improve Attention and Focus-you can work on improving attention and focus by slowly increasing the number of fish or objects that you have a child pick up during the activity. Start off with just a couple of fish or a couple of objects and as they get better with the fishing pole and winding it up, increase the number. You can ask them to follow a certain pattern and pick up the fish in a particular order to work on focus.
Increase Balance Skills-I like to challenge the kids by having them use the fishing pole while standing on a balance board or a slow moving square/platform swing. For those who are anxious about doing it this way, I make it a game by saying that they are standing on a boat and need to catch the fish. Standing on the board or the swing while engaged in this activity is a great way to work on increasing trunk control and strength.
Improve Social Skills-as with most games, I think it is important to figure out a way to use them socially. This fishing game is perfect for that. You can work on children taking turns catching the fish in order to work on turn taking. If you have more than one set of fishing poles, you can assign each child certain colors and have them work together to catch all the fish.
If you happen to find yourself in Brooklyn, I highly recommend you check out Norman & Jules. The owners of the store, Avi and Courtney, are the parents of 2 year old Charley who was a preemie and are committed to filling their store with top quality products. Not just top quality products, but ones that will stimulate development, motivate imagination and ensure hours of fun for not only your child, but you as well. I have found so many wonderful wooden toys and games here that I use at home and at the gym that have become the favorites of many. I guarantee that you will have a hard time walking out the door without a bagful of their magical toys! The icing on the cake...a portion of all sales go to The March of Dimes so you don't have to feel so guilty spending all that money!
I look forward to hearing from you and finding out if you have any other ideas on how to use this toy in the therapeutic setting. I am only a click away and love hearing from my readers. I have gotten so much good advice from my readers on how to adapt the toys and games that I have written about.