Sunday, December 28, 2014

All Lit Up!

So Santa was really good to my girl this year.  He not only brought her all of the crazy things she asked for (he failed on the real live unicorn but she is keeping her fingers crossed he comes through next year), he also brought the toys her mom would have wished for.  He must have known that I had some concerns about her fine motor skills and the way she grasps objects.  With that in mind, he brought her the new/updated Lite Brite.  I wasn't sure if it would be a hit with her (or me for that matter).  I tend to not like the updated versions of great games...remember how they updated Perfection so instead of 25 shapes to match you only have 9?  Total bummer of an update.   I'm happy to report that all of the updates made to this latest version of Lite Brite are good ones...ones that actually make this an amazing toy for not only my little girl, but also for the kids that I work with that have fine motor, visual motor or sensory processing difficulties.

I have been a huge fan of Lite Brite since I began working as an OT.  In the almost 15 years since I began working in schools and private practice, I have tried just about every version that has come out! Many of them may be in storage in my basement right now but for one reason or another, haven't made it out of the basement to my office.  While I loved the original version of Lite Brite, it was large and took up a lot of space.  And you were limited to how you could use it because it needed to be plugged in in order to work.  The screen was also large, so it took several sessions to finish the picture and often times, it would get messed up and the kids wouldn't want to fix it.  I'll admit, that I haven't been using it much in therapy lately because I have found a lot of other things to use that will accomplish the same goals.  I'm excited to bring Lite Brite back into the rotation at work in the new year!

First, let me tell you about all the new features of the Lite Brite:
*the magic screen blocks the light when pegs are removed, making it easier for kids to make their own designs.  I can't wait to try having kids practice making letters, numbers and shapes with this
*the templates are reusable.  I used to get so upset that once the design was completed, you couldn't easily use it again.  Not only are the templates reusable, the paper is thicker and more durable for multiple uses.
*templates are smaller making it easier for children to complete a design in one sitting if you want.
*the board comes with 8 templates but there are also two refill sets you can buy each with another 8 templates and pegs that go with the them.  Check out the Lite Brite Underwater and Lite Brite Animal refill sets.
*the pegs now come in different shapes and designs to help make more detailed and realistic looking pictures.  There are also animal and nature pegs.
*the storage box can be attached and detached for the actual Lite Brite unit.  One of the versions I have has a door that flips open and with just a little bit of a bump, they would all fall out and get everywhere.  For some of my younger kids, I like to dump out all the pegs onto a flat surface so they can see better.
*the square/flat shape makes it great for us therapists to be creative with where and how we have the kids use this.  I plan on having kids work on a design while lying on their belly on the net swing or putting it up on an inclined surface so they have to reach up to place the pegs in.

In addition to everything I have already mentioned, the Lite Brite is great for working on a variety of occupational therapy goals including:
Improve Fine Motor Skills-the reason I have always loved Lite Brite was because it was a great tool to work on improving grasping skills in a motivating way.  It's also great for working on improving grasp strength and in-hand manipulation skills.  Depending on what your goals are for a child, you can adapt your rules for completion of the template.  For example, if you want to work on improving grasp strength, have a child use a pair of zoo sticks to pick out the peg that they need.  If you have a child working on developing more mature in-hand manipulation skills, give them a certain number of pegs they have to pick up at a time and challenge them not to drop them from their palm while they are putting the pegs in the board.
Improve Visual Motor/Perceptual Skills-one of the things I really like about this new version is that the pegs not only come in varying colors, but different shapes and designs as well.  This requires a child to be attentive to what shape they are looking for to complete their design.  It's also great for working on visual tracking and visual discrimination since the pieces are hard to distinguish at times.  A child needs to pay careful attention to whether or not they need a square or circle peg which can be tricking to do sometimes.
Improve Executive Functioning Skills-unlike some of the older versions of Lite Brite, this one offers smaller sized designs that can realistically be completed in one sitting for some of the older children I work with.  This can be a great way to work on improving attention and focus.  Additionally, you can work on improving organizational skills by changing your expectations for the kids.  For example, you can have a child pick one color to work on at at time and have them count, find and sort all the pegs they will need.
Improve Social Skills-I've always found that Lite Brite can be a great activity to do with a small group of children because it requires turn taking, helping each other out and can foster conversation. Especially when working with older and more

I know that everyone is probably on toy overload right now and the idea of adding something else into their collection is the last thing you are thinking about.  However, if you are looking for a new toy to add to your bag of tricks at work in 2015, I highly recommend the new and improved Lite Brite.

Now that I have shared my favorite gift that my child received this year, I would love to hear from any of you about yours.  I'm certainly not in any rush to buy new toys for home, but as the new year approaches, I want to have fresh ideas to motivate my kids at work to continue to work towards reaching their goals.  More importantly, I want to make sure they are having fun while with me at the gym!  I am only a click away and love hearing from each and every one of you!


  1. Thank you so much for sharing This post. It's gretful blog I have really enjoyed keeping up with you on this blog.
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  2. I can't believe I have not seen this new version. I have a couple of questions. You mentioned reusing the templates. Can you still see the color outline after the pegs have been removed? Does this stand on it's own, or do you have it propped against something in the picture? I have never liked the new versions because they are hard to hold vertical while inserting pegs. My favorite has always been the first, old fashioned version because of the wide base of support that makes it easier to work on a slanted surface. Thank you for your detailed descriptions!

    1. It is SO much better than any of the earlier versions Kathy! The biggest difference is that the actual lite brite board doesn't have holes in it, instead each hole has some kind of cover that offers resistance (instead of getting the resistance from pushing the pegs through the paper). Each of the templates are made of thicker paper with the holes already in it with a color outline around. It doesn't matter how many times it is used, the outline will always be there!

  3. I will try it! Thanks so much for the recommendation and the detailed description.