Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Felt These Were Amazing!

A few years back I discovered an amazing toy company called eeBoo.  They are a New York based company who's products are tremendously well made and can .  Many of them have a timeless feel to them and could see them being ones that I save for my grandchildren way, way down the line.  Their products range from arts and crafts to puzzles and paper dolls.

I love mosaic activities, as I am sure is already obvious with two of my previous posts here and here.  For an occupational therapist, mosaics and tangrams can work on generalizing so many occupational therapy goals.  And if you find the right set, it can be incredibly fun and motivating.  So when I saw the eeBoo Felt Mosaic game at my sister's house a few months ago, I knew I had hit the jackpot.

The eeBoo Felt Mosaic game is amazing for a ton of reasons.  Using a variety of different colored triangles, a child is given the chance to create tons of different images.  While I love Tangrams, I find that for some children it is more challenging to try and differentiate all the shapes to create the pictures.  By having one shape, I feel like there is more opportunity for success for many of the kids I work with who present with learning difficulties.  This could also make it easier to adapt for some of the children we work with in an occupational therapy setting.  While this is suggested for children age 5 and older, I think that some of the simpler cards could be appropriate for some of the younger children on my caseload.

The other thing I love about this game is that if you want to use it with younger children, you can use it as a game to teach shapes.  With a hands on approach, you can use the triangles to teach younger children about colors and a variety of shapes.  You can also work on improving fine motor and grasping skills when picking up and releasing the different shapes.  For children who have difficulty with fine motor control, the material on the board (the board you put the felt pieces on is made of a material that helps the pieces stay in place) allows the pieces you have already laid in place to stay still.

The eeboo Felt Mosaic game can work on a variety of other skills.  I have listed just a few below.

Improve Visual Perceptual Skills-mosaics/tangrams are a perfect way to work on improving visual perceptual skills.  This is something that many children really struggle with but it is important for so many academic skills.
Improve Organizational Skills-one way to help a child with this activity would be to talk to them about organization.  When beginning to work on a picture, have the child pull out all the pieces that they may need prior to putting the picture
together.  Just getting them to look at the picture and figure out what triangles they will need will help them have more success in completing the picture.
Improve Imagination Skills-even though the game comes with tons of cards for you to copy, it also allows you to use the different shapes and colors to make your own designs.  This can be a great opportunity to help a child work on thinking outside of the box and begin to try and create different pictures.  Sometimes I like to get the kids to make pictures of things that interest them.  It's fun to see how their thought process works and what the end result is.  Plus it helps to build confidence when a child feels like they have created something from beginning to end.
Improve Problem Solving Skills-children must really problem solve and think about where the shapes go and how they would fit into the "puzzle" to make their picture look the same as the card.  This could also be a great opportunity to work with children on how to ask an adult appropriate questions to help them problem solve.  Sometimes children who have difficulty with problem solving also present with decreased frustration tolerance.  As a child's ability to problem solve improves, so will their frustration tolerance.
Improve Social Skills-this is a perfect activity to work on in groups of 2 or more and work on cooperation and team work.  With supervision from an adult, encourage children to take turns or help their friend out if they are having trouble.
Improve Upper Extremity Strength-take a look at the picture to the right.  Here is one of my awesome friends enjoying this game while in the net swing.  He is SO excited to be building a rocket ship that he doesn't even realize how hard he is working on building his upper body and neck/head strength.  If you can find a game that is fun and motivating, they won't even realize that their bodies are getting tired.  Try it!  And let me tell you my little friend pictured was really proud of himself after completing the rocket picture!

I have a feeling this will be my first of many posts featuring the fabulous games and toys of eeBoo.  My closet at work has many of their products and I have given so many as gifts to people that I probably should buy stock.  I highly encourage you to browse their online store and see what they have to offer your kids but to also check out your local toy stores and see what they have in stock.  What I love about this company is is that on their website, they encourage you to shop your local book and toy stores.  I know for a fact that many of the toy stores in NYC carry eeBoo products.  Support your local small businesses.  They count on us!  I know that Little Things in Park Slope carry a ton of their products but check here to see a listing of stores across the country that are sure to carry their products.

I would love to hear what you all think about the Felt Mosaic game and if you have an eeBoo product that you use and love with your kids.  I am just a click away and love hearing from my readers.  Have you used this game and made adaptations to it that your fellow therapists/teachers/parents could use to help their kids have more success?   I would love for this blog to become a place for all us dedicated therapists to share their thoughts and ideas.

To end this blog, April is OT month.  I would love to come up with a way to use my blog this month to not only promote the benefits of occupational therapy, but to educate people about what occupational therapy is all about.

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