Monday, November 4, 2013


Sorry for the hiatus.  Getting into the swing of things this school year has proven to be a bit tricky.  Lots of new things going on work-wise for me that has me working around the clock at times.  Throw in Halloween and I feel like I have lost all control of my own life!

This time of the year can be dangerous for a toy hoarder like me.  SO many great things arriving each day at all my local toy stores in preparation for the holidays and I get sucked into the stores to see all the great things coming in.  The best part for me this year is that my own daughter is at an age (3 1/2) where she may really benefit from all this shopping.

One of my new favorite finds so far is the Ready, Set.... Draw! books by Peter Pauper Press.  Peter Pauper Press is a publisher of books, stationary and gifts for all ages.  They happen to have a tremendous line of kids products that include, but are not limited to, picture books, magnetic games, origami sets and a series of drawing books.  Ready, Set.... Draw! books are great, especially for those of you who have kids who are interested in drawing but struggle with it.  I know that I have several kids on my caseload this year who really want to draw pictures, but can't get started and then are disappointed with the final product because it doesn't look the way they wanted it to.  Ready, Set.... Draw! books are great because there 6 steps for each picture in order to complete them.  You have the option of tracing each step and then underneath the six steps, there is a scene that you can draw the picture step-by-step.  There a bunch of different themes, including princesses, dinosaurs, sea creatures and a Christmas themed book. Definitely something out there for every child and his or her interests.  

As on occupational therapist, I am constantly on the lookout for drawing books that are appropriate for the kids I work with.  So many of them look like they will work, but then when I spend some time looking through them, there may be too many steps so I don't purchase them.  My kids at work are more successful when the steps are clear and not too overwhelming.  Sometimes, the pictures that the children are supposed to be creating are just too small which makes it difficult for them to copy.  These books are a great size  and each step has a limited number of instructions which allows a

Occupational therapy goals that can be addressed using the Ready, Set.... Draw! books are:
Improve Grasping Skills-make sure that you provide the child with crayons, markers or colored pencils that will encourage an age-appropriate grasp. While the goal of this activity is clearly to follow the steps to draw a picture, it is always important to encourage a proper grasp.  For younger kids, break crayons into small pieces so they can't fist the writing instrument.  For older kids, use a grip on the writing instrument in order to get them to use a more appropriate grasp.  While the book comes with 4-double sided pencils, you can use whatever is best for the child you are working with.
Improve Visual Motor/Perceptual Skills-in order to make the completed picture, one must follow the steps provided.  They must look at the picture and copy what they see.  They need to look at the shapes and place them in the correct places; if not, the picture will not turn out to be what they are expecting it to.
Improve Organizational Skills-if you have a child who has difficulties with organizational skills, this is a great book for them.  Many books have step-by-step directions, which is great for improving a person's ability to organize themselves.  If a child isn't focused and keeping their attention on the task at hand, they can become disorganized and lose track of what step they are on and then they have to spend a lot of time fixing mistakes or getting themselves back on track.
Improve Attention and Focus-in order for the picture to come out the way it is intended to, you must focus and pay attention to the details.  You need to focus on the shapes that need to be drawn, where they need to be added to and their position in the drawing and on the piece of paper.  If you stop paying attention, you may end up making a mistake and having to erase some of your work or having to start from the beginning.
Improve Confidence/Self-Esteem-one of the things I focus on more than anything during my sessions with all of my kids is improving their confidence and self-esteem.  It's important for a child to have a good sense of themselves and the work that they do.  I find that when a child is able to draw a picture and tell a story through their pictures, they feel much better about themselves.  I also find that they work harder on other graphomotor skills, such as coloring and handwriting activities.  Additionally, a while a child is working on building their confidence and self-esteem, they can work on improving their creative skills.
Improve Social Skills-since I run social skills groups, I am always looking for the social benefits of games and activities.  While this would be hard to use in a larger social skills group, if you work in a group of 2-3 kids, you could definitely use this book to improve turn taking skills, improve frustration tolerance and working on encouraging and helping out a peer.  If given the right support from the adults, this could be a great way to work on being a good friend/helper to a peer.

The Ready, Set.... Draw! books are not only great for therapeutic purposes, but also for the parents who want to give their children more opportunities to be creative and tech-free.  I have featured drawing apps on this blogs and used many drawing iPad apps in my private practice, but nothing is as important as teaching your children how to draw using paper and crayons.  I will be the first to talk about all the benefits of the iPad and other technological devices, but nothing will ever take the place of something created by the hands of those little people we love.  My apartment is covered with the pictures Quinn has drawn for us and each of them has their own story.  They tell us something about her at that time of her life.  For those kids who struggle with drawing and being creative, the Ready, Set.... Draw! books help them become more confident and help them to organize their work in a way that may encourage them to take creative/artistic risks in the future.

I was able to find the Ready, Set.... Draw! at a local toy store in Park Slope called Little Things.  Before going online and searching Amazon and other big stores, check out your local toy and book stores to see if they carry these items.  While it is important to support the small businesses in your hood all year long, I find that doing it this time of the year is even more important.

I hope to be better in the next few weeks about blogging and sharing holiday gift ideas.  I am beginning to work on my annual gift list which has to be done early this year since Hanukkah starts on Thanksgiving this year!   I am always excited to hear from my readers so if you have any questions about gift suggestions or ideas of what I should include on this year's list, please email me and let me know what you are thinking.  I'm always a click away and eager to hear from you all!

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