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Bingo

BINGO! New Twists on a Classic Game

BINGO! What’s the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word? Senior night at the community center? What if I told you the images that come to my mind are all from my childhood? That’s right. Bingo is also for kids. There are lots of great options out there for playing Bingo as a family, and I’ve even got a few new ideas to put a new twist on this old favorite. But hey, while I’m at it, let’s re-invent some other classics too!

Fun Ways to Play Bingo:Bingo! Fun twists on a classic game

Travel Bingo: Going on a family road trip or long flight? Use a handy template to create your own travel Bingo game. Come up with a random list of things you’ll see along the way (stop signs, a certain letter, a license plate from another state, etc.) and use it to create your own Bingo cards. This is a great game that the whole family can play together (except the driver! Keep your eyes on the road!) and will enhance your kids’ observation skills.

            *Insider Tip – You can also use pictures to make Bingo exciting for younger kids too!

Educational Bingo: Struggling to learn letters, math, colors, shapes, etc? There are lots of great educational Bingo sets out there, but you can always make your own too. Create your own set of cards for a game that will make learning fun.

Puzzle Piece Bingo: This alternative I discovered quickly became a favorite when I worked in a daycare. This is a great option for younger kids who may not get the whole Bingo concept yet, or who need to work on fine motor skills. Take several board style puzzles (these are the ones that have a sturdy backboard that the puzzle pieces snap into). Ask each child to select one of the puzzles, then have them dump all the pieces into the Bingo Bin or Bingo Bag (You can make this as simple or as creative as you’d like. In daycare we just dumped all the pieces into an empty box). Have each child sit with their puzzle board in front of them. Hold up one piece at a time, and tell them to raise their hand or call out a silly word if they think the piece is from their puzzle. Go through pieces one at a time until the first child finishes their puzzle. BINGO! Hooray! Great Job!

The Tray Game: Okay, so maybe this one was never a classic, but you may have played something like it at a shower once. This game is great for teaching observation and memory skills. Take a tray or flat surface, and fill it with tiny random objects (race car, tooth pick, thread, button, coin, etc.). Put the tray where everyone can look at it and set a timer (anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes depending on ages and attention spans). Then remove the tray from the room and have everyone write or say as many objects as they remember. The one who remembers the most wins! (This is also great for teams!)

Photo Scavenger Hunt: Kids love scavenger hunts, but they usually result in big bags of junk that need to be sorted and put away or just get thrown out. That’s why photo scavenger hunts are so great! Kids love the adventure and discovery, and taking pictures themselves will be the icing on the cake! To play, create a list in advance for teams to search for. Give each team a camera (disposable are the cheapest and lowest risk, but kids can’t see how their pictures turned out. For instant gratification use a digital camera or old school Polaroid camera, but ask adults to take charge of the camera when not in use). You can set points for especially tricky things to find, and get everyone involved in the pictures too. (A picture of two team members hugging, everyone jumping off a curb, etc.) At the end of the hunt display the pictures where everyone can see them. Give awards for biggest smile, Goofiest silly face, most finger-free photos, etc.

*Insider Tip: For a fun day out and an opportunity to teach kids to pay-it-forward make your list all about helping the community. Make your list all about small things they can do to help others – like picking up some trash, helping someone unload groceries, etc. (For more great ideas, check out my blog on teaching kids to pay it forward.)

I hope you and your family enjoy these new game ideas. Please comment below to let me know what your family like best, and share your other great ideas. Have Fun!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Toys to Promote Fine Motor Skills in Children of All Ages

Whether you are shopping for a baby, a preschooler, or a pre-teen this season, there are an array of toys to work on kids’ dexterity, upper extremity coordination, and fine motor development.  Certain activities that your children take part in during the day may be working their hand-eye coordination and visual-motor skills without you even realizing it.

Between puzzles, arts and crafts, and board games, below are some recommendations for things to look for when shopping for your growing explorer.

Games that promote fine motor skills:

Puzzles/Board Games:

Puzzles are a great way to promote cognitive enhancement and fine motor development during each stage of a child’s growth. For younger kids, puzzles don’t just come with larger pieces. There are many puzzles with handles or pegs on each piece so they can work on pinch, grasp, or grip.  Some classic toys for babies, such as ring stacking and shape sorting games, are great for learning how pieces fit together and for working on visual-motor integration and visual perceptual skills. Though it might not look like a typical puzzle, Mr. Potato Head is also a game that encourages fine motor skills. Read more

Terrific Toys for Speech and Language Development

Below is our list of the top 10 toys for promoting speech and language development in preschoolers. Parents can help their preschoolers through play by describing and labeling items (e.g., “the brown horse”), modeling (e.g., “my turn”), expanding utterances (e.g., “oh, you want MORE blocks?”), and asking questions during play (e.g., “do you want the red truck or the blue truck?).

Toy

Function

Animals/farm
  • Vocabulary building (e.g., animal names, animal sounds)
  • Requesting (e.g., “I want the dog”)
  • Location concepts (e.g., “the cat is UNDER the tree”)
  • Following directions (e.g., “put the cow next to the pig”)
  • Functional play
Balls
  • Turn taking (e.g., “my turn, your turn”)
  • Requesting (e.g., “can I have the ball?”)
  • Vocabulary building (e.g., throw, roll, bounce, kick, catch, toss, pass)
Blocks
  • Vocabulary building (e.g., “up,” “fall down,”)
  • Location concepts (e.g., on top, next to)
  • Turn taking
  • Requesting (e.g., “I want more blocks”)
Books
  • Asking/answering “wh”-questions (e.g., “what did brown bear see?”)
  • Vocabulary building (labeling items)
  • Requesting (e.g., “turn the page”)
  • Sequencing
Bubbles
  • Requesting (e.g., “I want bubbles,” “more bubbles”)
  • Vocabulary building (e.g., “pop bubbles,” “blow bubbles”)
  • Oral motor development
Cars/trucks/trains/bus
  • Vocabulary building (e.g., labeling toy items, increased use of verbs, fast/slow concepts, environmental sounds)
  • Requesting (e.g., “more cars”)
  • Turn taking (e.g., “my truck”)
  • Location concepts (e.g., “car is ON the track”)
Mr. Potato Head/doll
  • Vocabulary building (e.g., body part labeling, labeling clothes, learning colors)
  • Requesting (e.g., “can I have the hat?” or “I need help”)
  • Functional play
“Pop up Pal” (cause/effect toys)
  • Requesting (e.g., “I need help”)
  • Learning if this happens, then that happens (e.g., “press the button, to open the door”)
  • Direction following
Play food
  • Vocabulary building (e.g., naming food items, colors)
  • Requesting (e.g., “I want more”)
  • Direction following (e.g., “put the banana on the blue plate”)
  • Functional play
Puzzles
  • Requesting (e.g., “more,” “help please”) to earn more pieces
  • Vocabulary building (e.g., shapes, letters, animal names) depending on puzzle
  • Functional play

Read here for helpful apps for speech and language development.

Learning Through Play Time with Your Toddler

Play time provides a natural context for early language learning and is also important for the development of social communication skills. Childrentoddler playing learn through play and often practice newly acquired language skills and words during play time.

There are three stages of play development:

  1. The first stage is referred to as “self-related” symbolic play. This type of play can be observed between 12-18 months. This type of pretend play mimics daily activities using real objects. A child at this stage of developmental play typically plays alone. For example, a child will pick up a cup and pretend to drink.
  2. From 18-24 months, a toddlers’ play progresses to “other-related” symbolic play. The child is still using real objects, but will perform the action on multiple play toys. For example, the child will use the cup to give a drink to a doll, offer a sip to the bear, and finally have a drink herself.
  3. The final stage of play development is “planned” symbolic play. This stage of developmental play emerges between 24-30 months of age. Play behaviors include using one object to represent another, such as using a stick for a spoon. At this stage, the child has also begun to plan out play sequences by gathering all necessary props prior to engaging in a play routine. She might use a doll or other play toys as the agents of the play action. For example, the child will have the doll give the bear a drink.

Suggestions for Toys:

  • 12-18 monthstoy kitchen set, toy garage set, zoo animals. All of these toys provide multiple opportunities for parents to sequence a variety of play time routines for the child to imitate. This is where we as parents and caregivers must dive into our inner child and start using our imagination!!
  • 18-24 monthspuzzles, farm set, pretend painter’s/doctor set. These toys provide the child with multiple opportunities to start acting out and initiating their own play routines and to use their own imagination, as well as allowing for multiple play partners and toys to be used. Be prepared to clean up a big mess!

Following these guidelines should  help you use age-appropriate play with your child. Developing play skills will expand your child’s language and social communication.

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How to Promote In-Hand Manipulation in Everyday Activities with Kids

In-hand manipulation skills are important for many everyday tasks, such as eating, writing, dressing, playing, and drawing. With all the busy schedules these days, it is often hard to find time to practice such skills enough.Mother practices hand manipulation with daughter

Here are ten ways to encourage development of in-hand manipulation through tasks and activities that you and your children already do!

  1. When putting change into a piggy bank, have your child pick up several coins with her fingers, one at a time, and transfer them onto her palm. With all of the coins securely held in her palm, she should then transfer one coin at a time into the bank.
  2. Play board games or any game involving small pieces (for example, connect-4). Have your child hold all the pieces in her hand, transferring pieces from her palm to her fingers, one at a time, as needed for the game.
  3. While eating snacks, have your child hold multiple small pieces in her hand, letting go of one at a time. Also, while eating a larger snack like a chip, have your child rotate it in-hand (turn it in a circle) before eating it.
  4. Use tongs or tweezers to pick up game pieces. You can also use them for crafts!
  5. Encourage your kid to do buttons, skips, and snaps independently or help you with yours.
  6. Ask your child for help with various baking and cooking tasks such as rolling bread or shaping cookies. She can also use tubes of frosting to help decorate cakes and cupcakes.
  7. If you are about to enjoy a pop, ask your child to help you open it. Do the same for opening and closing bottles or jars of various sizes.
  8. While drawingplace the crayon inverted (upside down) on the table so that your child has to turn it around with one hand before drawing.
  9. Complete a puzzle together. While figuring out where the pieces go, encourage your child to use one hand to rotate a piece until it fits in a spot.
  10. When writing with a pencil, practice rotating it around to erase with one hand or have races to see who can “shift” their hand down the pencil the fastest.

Do not let a learning opportunity pass you by! Keep an eye out for these everyday opportunities that can promote continued development of in-hand manipulation skills for your children. Without any planning, you can still easily help your children blossom and reach their full potential!

For more information on in-hand manipulation, see my previous blog.

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