I'll be the first to admit that I might have a bit of an obsession when it comes to buying supplies for work. It's pretty safe to say that my co-workers would agree BUT also totally appreciate when I find new things for all the kids that come to our gym. When it comes to markers, crayons and other writing instruments, I have absolutely no willpower and must try something that looks good. Over the years, I have learned that kids tend to be more motivated to participate in graphomotor (coloring, drawing, writing, etc.) activities when they get to use fun writing tools. Over the past year or so, my collection has become almost exclusively products from my most favorite company, OOLY. Their products are not only super high quality, they are totally unique and fun. I love how so many of them can be used in various ways that make learning fun. Below, I share some of my favorite OOLY products and include ways that they are therapeutic.
Switch-Eroo Color Changing Markers-this set of markers are one of my favorite and my kids at work love them for how magical they are. These color changing markers have one regular color on one end and a mystery color appears when you use the "magic" tip on the opposite end. These are one of those things that I use to make learning how to write letters and numbers more magical/fun. First I have kids color in big rectangles and then have them practice writing letters/numbers in boxes that I make for them. They are truly delighted as they see the color magically change as they learn how to write at the same time.
Do-Over Erasable Highlighters-as kids get older and academic expectations increase, you may need to help a child with organizing their work. This is especially important for children who may have executive functioning difficulties. One tool I often recommend to help with organizing homework and other things are highlighters. They may be used for a variety of things including highlighting important information in their work or helping to organize their weekly calendar. I love this set of 6 erasable highlighters because if kids make mistakes, they can easily fix that mistake without it being a big deal. They can assign a color to each subject to help them be able to visually keep track of what assignment is due for what class in their planners. Another great use for these highlighters is if you keep a family schedule: assign each family member a color and highlight their activities in that color so when kids are looking at what their plans are for the week, they can quickly look for their color.
Pretty Pop Mechanical Pencil and Eraser Set-I have become obsessed with this new set of mechanical pencils this school year. More importantly, my daughter has tested them out and agrees that they are the best. There are a few things that make these great and not just that they are like eye candy with their bright and fun colors. The extra thick #2 lead makes it hard for kids to break the tip even if they are using an increased amount of pressure (which is commonly seen in kids who have decreased grasp strength). The other awesome thing about this pencil is that the triangular shape naturally encourages kids to use a tripod-like grasp when holding it. In addition to 4 pencils, this set comes with an eraser and extra lead.
Unmistakables Erasable Crayons-I am a huge fan of any kind of erasable crayon. While I certainly don't encourage kids to be perfect, I do understand how many of them, especially older children, like to be able to fix their mistakes or change things if necessary. You can also encourage creativity and imagination skills when using these crayons by letting the kids color a piece of paper in and then using the eraser to make pictures, write letters or numbers or anything that comes to their mind.
Left Right Crayons-I found these years ago in a little toy store when on in vacation in New Hampshire and was immediately obsessed. Many of the children I work with, especially the itty bitty ones, don't have a hand preference (which is totally normal up until the age of 5 years old) but I still work on developing a proper grip. These ergonomically designed crayons are easy for little hands to hold and automatically encourage a tripod-like grasp. The set of 10 bright colored crayons are made of eco-friendly polymer, are nontoxic and can be erased.
Mighty Pencil Sharpener-it sounds silly, but I have gone through more pencil sharpeners over the years with many of them being totally junky. I actually encourage the children I work with to sharpen their own pencils when I am working with them because it works on a bunch of skills: bilateral coordination, hand-eye coordination, motor planning, organization and focus and attentional skills. This pencil sharpener is just the right size and shape for child-sized hands and has three sharpeners built in for different sized pencils.
On-the-Go Stationery Kit-one of the things I worked on with my daughter this summer was letter writing. She loves getting mail but needed encouragement to send mail to people. Since she is obsessed with unicorns, I knew that this stationery set would be a huge motivator for her. These stationery sets are fantastic and not only come with stationery and envelopes but also postcards, stickers, a little notepad, a mechanical pencil and a 4-color click pen. In a time when people are so attached to their phones or other electronic devices, it is nice to keep the art of letter writing alive, especially in kids. It's a great way to work on writing and executive functioning skills with older children.
Color Pop All In One Notebook-I am one of those parents who likes to have a notebook on me at all times. I prefer to not allow my daughter to use electronic devices outside of the house so it's important to carry a notebook so she can draw, write, etc. instead of relying on a screen to keep her entertained. I adore this all in one notebook because even though it's small, it has a lot in it. In addition to having lined, graph and blank paper pages, it also has an envelope behind the front cover where you can store things (we fill ours with stickers). It's small enough to easily throw in any bag but also big enough for your kids to have plenty of space to create whatever their hearts desire.
Creatibles DIY Window Cling Art Kit-I was so excited when I saw that OOLY had a bunch of new craft kits out this fall. My daughter and I had so much fun playing with this. The set comes with 5 bottles of colored paint (you can also mix them together to create other colors), a black outliner paint, 2 reusable transparent films and a book with 14 traceable designs. This requires time and patience (which I like to help work on executive functioning skills) as you have to do it in two steps and then wait for the paint to dry. First kids use the black paint to trace the outline of pictures (you can also create images of your own). Once they let that dry for a couple of hours, they can use the colored paints to fill in the picture. Kids can work on improving hand-eye coordination, focus, attention and grasp strengthening while creating stickers that will look like stained-glass pictures on your windows. It also helps in building confidence and self-esteem as they display their completed stickers.
These 10 products are just the tip of the iceberg. I didn't even get to include my favorite scented gel pens that we can not NOT have in our house or their amazing erasers that can not only clean up any mistakes but are also good for working on developing fine motor skills and increase hand strength because you can take them apart and put them together . If you are looking for high-quality, unique and fun products, I highly recommend spending some time on the OOLY website to check out everything. One thing that I love about their website is their gift section where they have put together gift sets for girls, boys and teens. They have bundles of products that will surely be a huge hit for any party, holiday or just because gift. I can speak from experience, every time I have gifted someone anything from OOLY, I have been asked where to get them. If you are looking for something specific for your child, feel free to reach out to me for suggestions. These are just a few of the many, many products I have used. I am always a click away and love hearing from you all.