Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for Ice Cream

Due to the major heat wave we are experiencing here on the east coast, I figured I would try keeping with the summer theme and feature a cool app that has been bringing my daughter and many of the kids I work with great joy these hot days.  Wombi Ice Cream is a fun and creative app that allows children to make ice cream cones and ice cream sundeas for their customers.  While there is plenty of opportunity for a child to be creative with the app, there is also lots of great educational aspects to this game that enables them to work on improving a variety of skills, including, but not limited to, memory and focus and attentional skills.

Wombi has successfully created a game that is cute and colorful so it easily catches the eyes of the kids as they work.  Some may not like this, but there are no words used so a child is forced to rely on visual cues when playing this game.  Since I work with so many children who often forget to look at visual and social cues enough, I think this is a great addition to the game.  I encourage children to look at the faces of the customers as they are ordering and receiving their ice cream.  If they delivered a satisfactory order to their customer I point out how they are they smiling.  When they make an order that isn't what their customer ask for, I point out that they have an unhappy face and that they won't take the ice cream from them.  It's could be a great chance to work on making a child more aware of how their actions have an impact on others.  Even though it is just a game, a child can work on this important social/life skill in a fun and un-stressful manner.

A character comes comes up to the window of your ice cream truck and places their order.  It starts off easy with one or two requests and gradually increases the demands.  In the beginning, a child is asked to create ice cream sundaes or cones using a couple of specific ingredients.  As they play on, they will soon be asked to not only include ingredients, but also to make sure they leave out other ingredients that their customer does not want.  A great chance to work on memory skills; however, if your child has a hard time remembering, they can scroll between the order window and the ice cream page to ensure they make the correct order.

In addition to what I have already mentioned above, here are some of the other occupational therapy goals that can be targeted:
Improve Visual Memory Skills-while there is some free play involved, there are also many opportunities for children to have to remember what their customers asked for on their cones or sundaes.  I love that it gets more challenging with increased play and that they may need to also remember what NOT to put on their customers order.  This really requires a child to think back to what they saw and not just throw together something.  If they don't make what their customer asks for, they will not get paid!
Improve Focus and Attentional Skills-in addition to visual memory, a child is required to maintain his/her focus and attention on the game in order to correctly complete their customer's order.  It is important that they pay attention to the details of their customers order and remember to put them all on the ice cream or else they will have an unsatisfied customer.
Improve Modulation and Regulation-a child is required to regulate their speed when placing the ingredients onto their order.  If they move too quickly, the ingredients will fall to the ground.
Improve Organization Skills-I love to work on improving a child's ability to organize their thoughts and work with this app.  For children who lack organization, I often have them start with the cone, add the requested ice cream flavor(s) and then put the toppings on.  I like to have them start from the bottom and move their way up.  Sometimes, I won't let the children move onto the toppings until they are certain that the ice cream and cone are exactly what the customer has requested.  This can be frustrating for children, but an important skill that will be useful in so many areas of their lives.
Improve Memory Skills- I love that while you can be creative and choose your own ingredients, there are also opportunities to work on sharpening ones memory skills.  The longer you play the game, the challenge increases.  When your customer comes to the window to order, they may ask you to use specific ingredients.  If you don't use them in your ice cream creation, they won't pay for it and will walk way unhappy.
Improve Social Skills-while this app can easily be done indpendently, I enjoy using it in the social context as well with my little kids.  You can work on taking turns adding ingredients to your ice cream to improve team work.  This is also a great opportunity to work on children working on accepting things not going their way; they need to be flexible if their friend chooses to choose orange flavor ice cream even if they wanted vanilla.  This can also be a great opportunity to work on improving language and conversational skills between friends by having children ask each other questions such as their favorite ice cream flavors, what they like on their ice cream and many others.

This is a great game for your preschooler and can be done successfully independently.  While I use it at work socially, children can do it by themselves at home and parents can rest assured that they will be learning some important skills that will be helpful when they are in school.

I would love to hear from any of my readers if they have found other ways to use this game in social ways during their sessions.  Do you have suggestions to share with my readers?  I am just a click away and would love to hear from you all.

As the heat wave continues on the east coast, I hope you are all finding ways to stay cool and enjoy the warm summer days.  If you are looking for something fun to do with your younger ones, definitely check out Wombi Ice Cream.  I guarantee your child will have lots of fun and will forget about how hot it is outside!

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