The other day, I had time to kill between clients and walked into Learning Express and saw a handful of new items. One of the things that caught my eye was the Finger Loom. Made by the creators of the original Rainbow Loom, this kit requires no hook and bracelets are made using just your fingers. Even though I knew how great it would be for me to have in my bag of tricks at work, I immediately thought of my 5 year old daughter. When the Rainbow Loom craze was going on, she was a sassy 3 year old who wanted to do everything her 5 and 7 year old cousins were doing. She was so frustrated and sad when she couldn't do it but has been asking to learn ever since. We have tried the bigger loom, but she would give up pretty quickly. Yesterday, I was spending the day at the beach with just her and figured this would be a fun thing to bring out and show her. At first, she wanted me to do it for her, but I insisted she at least give it a try. When she first started, I agreed that we could take turns making the bracelet but after just a couple of times, she took the loom and the bands and took over the bracelet making.
There are a lot of things I like about this particular loom, especially for younger kids. While I take out the original loom quite a bit at work, I find that for my kids who lack coordination, the big size can be awkward for them to hold onto and they require more help. I also love that this doesn't require a hook to complete the bracelet. This allows kids to get the hang of the process of making the bracelet without worrying about manipulating the hook, especially if they are holding it the right way. Since there are only 4 pegs, there is less for them to be distracted by and they can keep their focus on just the bands and not the rest of the loom. For so many of my kids, this will be a great way to introduce them to Rainbow Loom bracelet making and get them motivated to be challenged and try the bigger ones once they have master the Finger Loom.
Improve Fine Motor Skills-this bracelet maker might be small, but it it is a great way to work on improving grasping skills and in-hand manipulation skills. From picking the bands out of the pile, to placing them on the loom to using your fingers to pull the bands off the pegs, there an endless number of skills that can be addressed. The best part is that the kids are so engaged and motivated by the bracelet making, that they don't realize that they are actually doing work!
Improve Bilateral Coordination Skills-this is a great tool to work on improving bilateral coordination skills (the use of two hands in a coordinated manner). It is nearly impossible to be successful making a bracelet without using both hands. My 5 year old daughter tried it and realized quickly that she needed both hands because I wasn't going to hold onto the loom for her while she made her bracelet. Once I prompted her to hold the loom with her non-dominant hand and to do all the fine motor work with her dominant hand, she become more independent and successful.
Improve Focus and Attention/Improve Executive Functioning Skills-like the original loom, the Finger Loom is great for working on building executive functioning skills. If you want to work on working memory, you can give a child the directions and have them either write them down or repeat them back to you or another friend. If you want to work on organizational skills, you can have the child you are working with pick out a pattern that they must follow and get out all of the bands that they will need to complete the bracelet out before beginning. I like to have older kids work on these more challenging activities in a room with some distractions present in order to work on being able to build their focus and ability to attend and complete tasks in a more typical environment. It seems silly, but if they can do something like making a bracelet with distractions present, they will be more likely to complete classroom assignments.
As we head into the end of July, I know many families are getting ready to go on family vacations and are always looking for things to keep their kids occupied on long drives, dinners out or time at the beach or by the pool. The Finger Loom is a perfect thing to pack as it is light, small and takes up very little room in a bag. It is also very reasonably priced (you can get a party pack of 9 looms for $16 on Amazon!) so you can pick one up for all the kids and/or guests who might enjoy them. So in addition to being a great occupational therapy tool, it can be an activity that can keep a group of kids engaged with each other and develop social skills (sharing the bands, making bracelets for each other, etc.).