Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Let's Boogie

A couple of years ago, my daughter received a Boogie Board as a birthday gift.  She was a little young and totally uninterested in drawing or learning how to write.  As a result, my husband and I spent more time playing with this toy and it eventually ended up in the bottom of a basket of toys.  Fast forward about a year or two and we have a little girl has blossomed into an artist and a kid who really wants to practice writing letters and words all the time.  Every time I turn around, there is another drawing or list of words on scraps of paper in our house.  While we try and save as much as we can, many of them are not what Quinn had in mind so they end up getting thrown away.  As she has become more interested in spending her free time engaged in drawing or writing, I have found ourselves trying to use other less wasteful things.  She can spend hours working on an easel but that isn't always so easy to take with us when we are on the go so I was happy to remember our Boogie Board and pull it out of the basket.

For those of you who don't know about it, the Boogie Board is an ultra-light LCD writing tablet that can take the place of paper and pencils.  It's great for you on the go people who want to encourage your kids to draw/write and not always be attached to the iPad, iPhone, games, etc. It can be used for a variety of things and by kids of all ages.  The Boogie Board comes in a variety of colors which can sometimes make a big deal to certain kids (for example, my girlie girl loves the pink and flowered one).  Kids can draw, write and play games on the board and with a simple touch of a button, the screen clears and they can begin again.  If they make a mistake, it can be erased and they can try again.  Since the Boogie Board is so light weight, it can be thrown in a backpack or a purse without being too much of a burden.  I love looking out in a waiting room and seeing kids playing on theirs to pass the time between appointments.  We love to take ours in the car or on the subway to keep Quinn occupied and make the ride go by much faster.

I have not only been using the Boogie Board at home.  It has been a great tool to use at work and the kids love to use it.  It has been used for several purposes depending on the goals and needs of each particular child.  For example, it's a great tool to use for making To Do lists with kids who need the structure and routine.  I will write down our schedule for the session and after they complete each activity, they can then cross it off.  For kids who are working on handwriting, you can actually have them write the list for your session.

My favorite thing to use the Boogie Board for is to practice handwriting.  I tend to use it in conjunction with different iPad apps which can be a big motivator for those kids who like to avoid any handwriting activity.  My go to handwriting apps are LetterSchool or Writing Wizard as they are the most interactive and not just about tracing letters.  Kids will practice a letter on the iPad and then immediately pick up the Boogie Board to practice writing the letter.  There are several handwriting games you can play with kids based on their skill level.  For example, for kids who are learning how to read, you can make the sound of the letter and they then have to write the letter.  Another fun thing to do is to write words with some letters missing and have the kids guess what letter goes where and fill in the words.  If you have really creative kids, you can have them makeup their own handwriting games!

Some of the other occupational therapy goals that can be focused on using the Boogie Board are:
Improve Grasping Skills-each Boogie Board comes with a thin metallic stylus.  Any stylus is good for encouraging a proper grasping pattern, but I find that the stylus that comes with it is just the right size for adding a pencil grip onto.  I encourage the kids I work with to use a proper grasp whenever they use the stylus.
Improve Graphomotor Skills-I sometimes feel guilty about the amount of paper that I waste on daily basis practicing writing letters and numbers with the kids I work with.  Oftentimes, the kids end up leaving said papers on the floor in the waiting room and they never even make it home to show off to their parents.  With the Boogie Board, a child can practice over and over again without the guilt of what waste we are producing.  If kids want to show off their work to their people, you can take pictures and email it to them!
Improve Bilateral Coordination Skills-I love to have kids sit on the platform or bolster swing while using the Boogie Board as it forces them to use two hands.  They must hold the board with one hand and hold the stylus with the other.  When on a swing, they are also working on building trunk control and strength at the same time.
Improve Social Skills-I like to find ways to improve social development with all toys/products I use at work.  The Boogie Board can be used to encourage social skills by having kids play simple games together on it.  Tic-Tac-Toe, the Dot Game and Hangman are three good games that can be played in small group settings.

I love that the Boogie Board can be used for so many different things by children of all ages and it doesn't cost too much (approximately $30).  The Original Boogie Board can be found online but I have also seen it in several of the smaller, privately owned toy stores in my neighborhood.  While you may end up paying a little more in these stores, I always try and support small businesses whenever I possibly can.

Do you use a Boogie Board while working with your kids?  Do you have any other fun games or activities that you do while using it?  I would love to hear from any of you if you do.  I'm only a click away and love hearing from you all!

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