One of the things I love about the holiday season is that it often means the discovery of new toys to bring into work. I am a bit of a stalker on Facebook and Instagram when people post pictures of the gifts their kids got for the holidays because I always find something new. This year, one of my colleagues posted pictures and videos of a game and I just knew I had to have it. The pure joy and the hysterical laughter coming from everyone playing it made me go right to Amazon and order it.
Boom Blast Stix by Moose Toys has quickly become not only one of my favorite games, but the kids love it too. My daughter was actually upset with me that I was taking it to work. It's a simple game that doesn't require batteries and can keep kids entertained for a long time. The directions are very straightforward making it a great game for kids (and grownups) of all ages. While it says it's meant for kids who are 6 and older, I have played it with some of my 4 year olds and they have been successful. The game comes with a container and lid, which acts as the gameboard and 32 stix. Kids have to lock the sticks into place, great for improving grasp strength and manipulation skills, and then gently place them on top of the lid. The key to this game is placing the pieces on as gently as possible with the goal being stacking as many as possible before the stix explode. The biggest obstacle I have found with my kids is the whole idea of gently placing them on top of each other. So many of my kids I work with have difficulty with regulating their movements and are often in a rush to finish their turn. While I remind them at the beginning of the game to take their time with their turn, I have found that after a couple of times of their stick unsnapping, they remember to slow down without verbal prompting.
**one other reminder....my kids have a tendency to put their heads right above the game as they are putting their pieces down. It's important that they keep their faces away as you have no idea when the pile will explode and where the pieces will go!
In addition to working on the aforementioned skills, this game is great for working on the following skills:
**I sometimes sneak an extra strengthening activity during cleanup by making them pick up all the pieces with a pair of child-friendly chopsticks
Improves Bilateral Coordination-in order to lock the stix, kids must use two hands at a time. Many of the kids I work with will try and use their dominant hand at all times but with this game, you just can't snap the pieces into place without using both hands.
Improves Hand-Eye Coordination-this game requires a tremendous amount of visual attention and focus. Kids must look at the pieces carefully before placing the piece down.
Improves Executive Functioning Skills-this game is great for working on improving focus and attentional skills. It's also perfect for working on self-regulation and organizational skills. It requires a child to control the impulse to throw the pieces down on the lid. It also works on motor planning and organizational skills because they have to look at the pieces on the lid and see what spot is the safest/least likely to cause the pieces to explode when they put them down.
Improves Social Skills-while the directions are very straight forward with this game, you can challenge the kids you are playing with to try and come up with their own rules. Throw a dice into the box and have them roll the dice to see how many sticks they need to put down on that turn.
What I really love about Boom Blast Stix is how many occupational therapy goals can be addressed while playing this game. The kids don't even realize that they are "working" which makes it doubly great. Parents are always asking me what they can be doing at home with their kids and the thing that is most important to me is that kids don't feel as though they are in another therapy session. Good family games are always my go-to recommendations and Boom Blast Stix will be on the top of that list!
If you have any other fun family games that you have recently discovered, especially ones that would be good for the whole family, I would love to hear about them. I am only a click away and love hearing from you all.