Monday, July 29, 2013

8-Bit Art Start for Little Hands

With summer in full swing and many people packing up and getting ready for vacations, I have been asked for suggestions for long plane and car trips.  A few weeks ago, while looking for birthday presents at a local toy store in Park Slope, I happened to see a cute set of sticker/workbooks called Pixel Heroes and Pixel Dolls.  I was immediately sold on the small size and how easily they would fit in my work bag (doing homecare this summer has forced me to look for smaller and more easily transportable items); I couldn't help but think how perfect they would be for so many of my clients who would be doing an extensive amount of traveling this summer and needed to keep working on their fine motor skills.

Using a fine pincer grasp to put stickers in the squares

Pixel Heroes and Pixel Dolls are quite similar to the Orb Factory mosaics that I wrote about here. Each book contains 9 different dolls or heroes to replicate.  On the left hand side of the book, you will see what the doll looks like and on the right hand side there is a grid shaded in guiding the user where stickers need to be placed.   There is an envelope full of small square stickers in the back of the book for easy storage and helps a child keep their work organized.  The gist of the sticker book is to use the different colored stickers and place them in the correct boxes.  They are required to go back and forth between the left and right sides of the books to make sure that they are following the correct pattern.  While this sounds easy, for many of the children I work with, it may be quite a challenge. First of all, the stickers are flat and not easy to manipulate so it's perfect for those kids who need to work on increasing grasp strength and in-hand manipulation skills.  It requires patience and focus to get the stickers in the boxes precisely.  This is a fun activity for older children who need to work on improving their grasping skills and it won't seem so therapeutic to them.  Remember, a child who has good grasping skills will have typically be able to hold a writing instrument properly, be able to manipulate buttons and snaps easier and develop other higher level fine motor and in-hand manipulation skills.  
Pixel Heroes Sticker Book

In addition to what has already been discussed, Pixel Heroes and Pixel Dolls can work on the following occupational therapy goals:
Improve Eye-Hand Coordination-a simple but great activity to focus on eye-hand coordination skills.  The pixel sticker books require a child to look at where the sticker goes and move it around with their fingers until it is in the box the correct way.  For some of my kids, I have them remove the stickers if not placed in the box as close as it can be.  It's important for them to not only put the stickers in place but to correct it if it is not in the right way.  
Improve Visual Tracking and Scanning-if you have a child who has difficulty with this visual motor skill, Pixel Heroes and Pixel Dolls is a perfect activity to work on that without them really knowing that is what you are focusing on.  In order for the doll/hero to be completed correctly, they have to constantly scan between the picture on the left and the grids on the right.  They need to scan each row and figure out what color sticker goes in each box.  
Improve Self-Esteem and Confidence-as with many arts and crafts projects, they can help build a child's sense of confidence and self-esteem.  Don't ever under-estimate what completing a challenging activity all by themselves can do for a child's self-esteem.  I love seeing their faces as they place those final stickers into the grid.  I like to show the kids how their accuracy improved over time by comparing the first few rows with the final ones.  
Improve Attention and Focus-it's important for children to really stop and focus on the picture and the grid.  Unlike the Orb Factory mosaics, there isn't a number or a color for the children to place the stickers on.  They have to rely on being able to copy the pattern provided on the left to the blank grid on the right hand side of the book.  When I first begin this activity, I have the children talk the pattern out to me for the first few rows to help them be more successful in completing the picture.
Pixel Dolls Sticker Book
Improve Organizational Skills-I encourage children to start at the top, left-hand side of the page when beginning their hero or doll.  I have them complete it line by line and not color by color.  For older/school age kids, working this way is important for handwriting, reading and math skills as they all start in the top, left hand corner.
Improve Upper Extremity Strength-I have been having some of my older kids complete their chosen pixel hero or doll while lying prone on a net swing in order to work on improving his/her arm and neck strength.  I love killing two birds with one stone and this is the kind of activity that allows me to do just that.  A kid can work on building their fine motor and grasping skills at the same time as upper extremity strength.  A great way to hide the "work" behind the whole thing.  One of the things I like best is that I can tell a kid that we will stay on the swing until they finish a certain number of rows.  So instead of constantly asking how much longer they have until they are finished, they can just take a look at how much work they have left.

The Pixel Heroes and Pixel Dolls books will be a huge hit with your older preschoolers and school age kids, both at work and at home.  These are perfect for parents who need something to keep in their bags when going out to eat, waiting for a therapy appointment to start or just to keep your kids away from iPads, video games or the television.

I was able to pick my books up at a local toy store in Park Slope, Brooklyn so I wouldn't be surprised if you would be able to find it one of your local toy stores.  I love being able to support the local small businesses in my hood and encourage you all to do the same.  If you can't find them, I happen to have an obsession with an online toy website called My Sweet Muffin, that sells these books (and a million other amazing products).  I originally discovered this store because of an obsession with a certain Danish toy product but have come to realize that they offer tons of other amazing products that are not only fun but therapeutic.

I would love to hear about your experience with the Pixel Heroes and Pixel Dolls sticker books.  Do you have other products that you have seen or used that are like this?  As always, I am just a click away and love hearing from my readers.

No comments:

Post a Comment