Sunday, June 16, 2013

Collage Fun for Little Hands

I am constantly on the lookout for arts and craft projects that I can do with my preschoolers at work.  Something that can be worked on over a few sessions but not so many sessions that they lose interest in the project.  A few weeks ago while looking for a birthday present, I found this really cute set of animal collages by Djeco (be sure to check out their website.  It's totally cute and interactive!).  The Djeco Collages for Little Ones has already become a favorite with some of my littles at the gym and can't wait to try it out at home with my 3 year old daughter who has recently become quite interested in arts and crafts.

This kit comes with 4 animal collages and all the materials needed in order to complete them.  For those of you who like organization, this set is perfect because the materials come in separate envelopes.  This is great for the kids too as it limits the number of pieces and materials that they have to sort through which will ensure success.  Everything you need is in the kit including glue.  Take a look at the picture below and you can see how the kit works.

There are 4 animals in each kit.  They are all SUPER cute!  When I was doing this at work, the little girl had a really hard time picking out which one she wanted to do.  There is a blank animal board, an envelope filled with all the pieces for each collage and an instruction booklet with step by step directions.  Depending on the goals you are working on with each child, you can adapt the expectations for completion.  For example, you may be working on increasing a child's level of independence so you would just hand them the kit and see what they can do before you have to help them.  You may also be working on getting a child to ask for help when they are challenged by an activity.  You can purposely leave out some of the materials needed in order to complete the collage which will encourage them to ask you for help.  And when they finish the collage, the look of pride is amazing. One of the kids I was working on this with could barely wait for her mom to come pick her up so she could show the finished product to her.



Here are the occupational therapy goals that can be worked on:
Improve Visual Motor/Perceptual Skills-the set comes with an instruction booklet that gives step by step directions on where all the pieces go.  I like to have the kids take out all the pieces and place them on the working surface in order for them to work on visual scanning and organizational skills.  As they turn to each page, I have them take all the pieces needed for that particular page and put them to the side.

Improve Fine Motor Skills-many of the pieces are tiny and require good fine motor control and using good grasping skills.  I try and encourage the kids to use their "pinchers" (thumb and pointer finger) when picking up the pieces.  This is a great activity to work on improving fine motor control; when putting the pieces in their place on the collage, you have to have good control so it is in the right place.

Improve Bilateral Coordination-I find this is a good activity to practice bilateral coordination.  This can be done when putting the glue on the pieces and holding the board down to place the collage pieces on.

Improve Attention and Focus-this is a fun way to work on improving a child's ability to focus and attend to a task.  You can set a timer and have them work on it for a certain number of time or tell them they need to get through a certain number of steps.  Good attention/focus is important when putting the pieces on the board in the correct place.

Improve Social Skills-this is a great activity to do with a group of 2 children.  You can work on taking turns putting pieces onto the board.  Instead of having a grownup assist, you can encourage the kids to ask each other for help.  When working with other children, it will will also work on them becoming more flexible and doing things that they may not want to but have to because their friends want to.

Improve Creativity-while there are templates to follow, you can also work on improving creativity and thinking out of the box by giving kids the materials they need and asking them to create their own animal.

While you can easily find the set online, I recommend checking out your local toy stores and seeing if they carry it.  I think it is always best to support small businesses when possible.  I know that in my neighborhood of Park Slope Little Things Toy Store sells many of the Djeco products.

I hope you and your littles have fun with this arts and crafts set.  It's a great set for so many reasons, but I love that you can really adapt it so you can work on a ton of occupational therapy and speech therapy goals.  I would love to hear from you and learn about any other adaptations or modifications you would make when working with your kids.  I am always a click away and love hearing your feedback and suggestions.

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