Tag Archives: Fine motor skill

Crafty Family Fun

17 Mar

I love spring, for some reason it brings out the creativeness within me, which is then passed on to the children for good measure.

Out of my two eldest children (these being Little man AKA a boy with aspergers and Alice-Sara his younger sister of 2 and a half years) its Alice-Sara who has always been the one most keen to embark on any creative projects, whether this be drawing and painting, or making something from odds and ends.

My youngest, Harley, a very energetic toddler of 2, has already displayed a fondness for crafting. He loves everything from finger painting to gluing and sticking (basically, anything messy).

Little man is extremely creative when it comes to ideas, poems and LEGO creations. He draws plans for designs, but doesn’t actually enjoy putting pencil to paper, he would much rather do everything on a computer if given the opportunity! The Use of Colour is something else his always struggled with! Given the choice, he will do everything in black and white! Little man does have many difficulties, not just with his gross but also his fine motor skills. His lack of control over his fine motor skills causes him difficulties when colouring or painting a picture as he struggles to remain within the lines, and being a bit of a perfectionist, he will normally just reframe from the activity all together!

Over the last few weeks, myself and the toddler have found ourselves elbow deep in paint, glue, goggly eyes, pipe cleaners and everything else you could possibly think of! Since discovering his enjoyment for such activities, I’ve found it a great way to interact and spend lots of mother and son time, enjoying each others company while the two older children are at school (before I know it, he’ll be in that place soon too, and I want to enjoy my toddler being a toddler for as long as possible).

Having been on a creative crafty high these past few weeks (trust me, we’ve made everything from Easter Baskets to sock puppets) I was delighted to hear from the lovely team at Baker Ross.

Baker Ross have an online Aladdin’s Cave, filled to the brim with everything you’ll ever need to get crafting, plus loads of undiscovered treasures. I love it over there, so, I’m obviously delighted to be part of their network of bloggers.

Yes, this makes complete sense, as not only do I love their stuff (I could quite honestly spend hours browsing their online store) but I love to craft, bead, draw and paint with or without the help of the children. I also believe that by encouraging little man to express more of his inner creativity, he will benefit greatly! This could also help improve his fine motor skills and he may well benefit in a therapeutic type of way too.

A few weeks back, a smiley delivery man brought me a box that put me in a crafty mood. Inside there were Daffodil windmill kits, a pot of pre-cut foam to create 3D flower pots, a very funky key ring making kit and the toddlers favourite, a kit to make an array of Pom-Pom bugs.

Although, I love to use the magic of imagination when thinking of, or working on a project, it was quite pleasing  how these were all kits with an intended purposes. So, instead of being sent craft supplies which I’d spit up and use within varying projects, I actually had some pre-planed tasks to embark on with the children.

Now, I’ll start with the Miniature 3d flowerpot kits, which sadly was mine and that of the children’s least favourite! Basically, you get a pot of foam pieces all pre-cut into the required shapes…. Flower heads, steams, leafs, flower-pot etc. The instructions are Ok, though some sections needed to be read twice. The only additional material that was required to create these foam flower pots, was some silicone glue (clear in colour). My daughter found this most fidley and it was frustrating to glue the bits on and then have to wait around for each bit to dry, it really wasn’t productive. Little Man attempted it for all of 2 minutes and this really wasn’t appropriate for the toddler. The leafs wouldn’t stick correctly to the stems as these were to thin, gluing each part, pressing firmly than waiting to dry before attempting another section, was the only way forward. What would have been perfect is, if the foam was self adhesive, otherwise this just ended up a bit of a gluey mess. I did however have some double-sided tape tabs which I cut and gave the children to use. This worked out a little better, though it was still not perfect. Once these had been assembled, they looked quite groovy. In the end we just made a selection without leafs, though they were all pretty much leafless by the end ! The fact these are made of foam meant they would be easy to customise and decorate if desired (I’d highly recommend some little gem studs applied to the petals for a pretty finish).

 Next up were the Brilliant Bug Pom-Pom kits: These were the toddlers favourite, and if I’m honest, mine too. Harley, the toddler, was able to help me with these and did so for over an hour, which passed the time nicely. The best thing about these, is the fact each kit (bug) comes in its own bag which is absolutely brilliant, means they could be used for party bags etc. The Pom-Pom bugs are dead simple to make, with easy to follow instruction, these look really effective. Each bag contains instructions, goggly eyes, the required amount of Pom-Poms for the Bug you’re making and pre-cut foam pieces for body, wings, etc

All you do is glue the pieces together as shown on the instructions. We did cheat and on certain sections we used double-sided tape! This was purely because Harley wanted to play with them right away, he isn’t the most patient child, but then again, what 2-year-old is?

I particularly loved the Lady Bird we made, what with its massive goggly eyes and big smile. My toddler Harley, loved the completed Bugs, he honestly sat playing with them for hours (a cheap Christmas 2012 for me then, I hope)!

Check out the picture I took of the Lady Bird with a completed caterpillar alongside the foam flowerpots I told you about first.

Daffodil Windmill Kits (10 kits per pack) were next on the list. These were made by my daughter and my good friend Donna. This crafting activity also came in their own packaging so great for gifts, especially Easter ones. These, I wouldn’t recommend for younger children, the instructions were not the easiest I’d ever seen, so, was in agreement when my friend blamed the instructions rather than herself, when she got the first windmill very wrong. 🙂 What’s more, there is no clear description of what way the pieces should be fitted and quite obviously my daughter did become a tad frustrated. However, on a more positive note, the overall quality of the windmills is absolutely brilliant. They do start of a bit stiff, but after a while loosen up allowing them to spin as they should. These are made from good quality card and they would look fabulous stood in some flower pots next to the daffs.

These are kinda like constructing a gift from a Kinda egg, only bigger. Children are not really required to use their imagination on any kind of level, as it’s basically a step by step construction process that I guess some children will feel proud to have completed. As nice as these look, I do personally like my windmills with some personal touches, so I think I’ll be getting the kids to decorate these with some sparkle.

Now up in-till this point, its fair to say that I was unsuccessful at getting Little man (my eldest who has Aspergers Syndrome) engaged in any of the above. He just wasn’t interested! Then came the wonderful Super Shrink keyring kit and that was it, he found something he wanted to have a bash at!

Little man must have seen the potential as I was a little confused at how the kit we had been provided with, could possible make keyrings.

The kit contains lots of keyring attachments, 5 mini packets of colouring pencils and lots of plastic sheeting (size of a standard photo).

Seems like a strange selection of supplies, wouldn’t you agree? It was only once I had taken a look at the instructions, that I realised how these worked and was both impressed and intrigued by the idea! Basically what you need to do is, take one of the plastic sheets and draw your design (any design) on the rough side. You need to ensure you leave enough room to hole punch the design and cut around it. Once cut and complete, heat up the oven and then place your design inside (with the help of a grownup helper) Leave in the oven for 2-4 minutes, remove and leave to cool! What actually happens is the plastic shrinks and becomes thicker, the colours (if used) become somewhat darker, though, I still found the supplied pencils to appear way to light, so Little man used markers instead, which worked really well. Once cool, you simply add the keyring attachment through the hole that was punched before the design was cut and baked.

As previously mentioned, Little man isn’t big on colour, his actually not keen on drawing (unless it’s a simple bus design or that of a hotel plan)! With this he instead opted for a simple design, a quote as opposed to a drawing. He enjoyed this activity so much that he started making keyrings for all his teachers and staff at his school, he even made one for the cab driver and escort, each with its own personalised message.

This was a great idea, it’s a fantastic idea to get children on the autism spectrum to display their feelings for others (which many find hard to express).

Above a selection of Little Man’s message keyrings to teachers and staff at his school. 

Little man loved the kit so much that he has told me that once these are all used up, I’m to order him some more, bless him.

If you love crafting with your kids, check out these creative kits and loads of other fabulous arts and crafts materials, over on the Baker Ross website.

Fun with Scribble Down

28 Feb

As a child I loved nothing more than embarking on a creative task, and to be honest, I still love to get creative whenever time permits. 

Out of all three of my children, it would seem that my daughter is the most creative, like me she loves art. However, I try to get Little man involved in creative task as often as possible, I feel it works as a great therapy like tool for his Aspergers syndrome, as it provides a calming effect. Creative and arty projects are also a great way to improve his OT skills, including that of his fine motor skills

Last week we were sent some very creative little projects to try from Craft and Play. These crafty little packs are called Scribble Down and have been created around the famous illustrations of ‘Clinton Banbury’ an artist who’s illustrations have been around some 30 years and have featured in some classic children’s stories and workbooks, as well as a weekly series of cartoons for the Times

Scribble Down, are sets of fantastic transfer activity packs, that allow children to create magical scenes with the use of a supplied background card and dozens of Clinton Banbury’s transferable images. What’s even better, these activity packs are a steal at pocket-money prices. 

There are lots of activity packs to choose from, there’s quirky animals, fantastic fairies, excitable pirates and many more! We received Clinton Banbury’s Fairy Cake Factory, consisting of  funky fairies, cupcakes and bakers. Others we received, were, Dinosaur encounter and Wild Adventures, which were equally as great with a host of transferable dinosaurs and wild wacky animals.

Each pack also come with its own mini tip, which consists of 6 easy steps teaching your child how to draw one of the characters from the activity pack so kids can create their own Clinton Banbury comic strips.

The children couldn’t wait to get started, these came complete with simple instructions that consists of both words and pictures (The visual aspect was ideal for Little man as his mostly a visual learner). 

To create the scene, all you have to do is remove the backing paper from the transfer sheet, select the image you want to place on the background scene placing it so the image is face down, then using a pen scribble over the chosen image. Remove the transfer sheet slowly, simply revealing the chosen image now on your scene. To give it a protective covering so it doesn’t peel off, use the backing paper and rub again.  

Alice didn’t use a pen, she opted to use a coin as she didn’t want to scribble on the paper, which is fine, however, the idea behind using a pen, ensures the whole image has been scratched and no bits get left behind when you remove the sheet.

Little man has quite poor fine motor skills and not a lot of patience, so did make a few mistakes. However, with some encouragement and practice he did fine, though he came back and finished later as his attention span is much shorter than your average child. 

Both Alice and Little man had fun creating their scenes (toddler is a tad to young at two to get involved). Alice did two of the cards straight of, and as mentioned, Little man did one over the course of a few days, but enjoyed it all the same. 

These are great value for money at £2.89 each. These are also great for the development and enhancement of a child’s imagination, as well as being a good way to improve a child’s fine motor skills 

They are brilliant and most defiantly worth buying for your creative little one’s, though watch out, you may find yourself have a sneaky go!

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Dycem mats have a use for everything

8 Nov

We recently agreed to do a review of the Dycem baby and child range who have an awesome range of non-slip mats designed to help make life that bit easier at feeding and playtime’s.

We were sent a pretty funky Dycem non-slip mat which was shaped as a hippo and was dark blue in colour. The mat has non slip technology and is designed to assist families in a number of areas.

We used the Dycem mat for Harley at dinner time, placing it on his high chair tray. The mat didn’t only look great, with its Hippo design, making dinner times fun, but it also done its job by stopping Harley’s plate from sliding all over the tray while he tries to master the scooping up of his food with his fork. Seriously its hard enough for my bubba as he is just developing the skills needed to feed himself as the development of his fine motor skills progress, without having his dish run away with his spoon.

The Dycem mat is a fantastic product and really stops this from happening, meaning there is more pasta in his mouth and less of the floor for the cats.

However it’s not just the toddler finding use of the Dycem mat, its been great for Little man (aka A boy with Aspergers) too.

As some of you will know Little man is under an occupational therapist and his fine motor skills are just one of the reasons why this is.
I’ve found the Dycem hippo mat to be a really useful tool for him, and he seems to agree, given his always using it now. Little man is really into construction sets especially LEGO, given his difficulties with fine motor skills, he often has trouble building things. His been using the Dycem hippo mat and it’s made a real difference. His no longer sliding all over the place, knocking down what his built as he tries to construct the next piece. He recently built a Kreo bumblebee car and used this mat to make the whole experience easier and more enjoyable. Little man actually request the uses of the mat every-time the Lego comes out, so doesn’t that show the benefit it has?

The overall aim of Dycem is to stabilise objects, hold objects firmly in place and provide a better grip.
It’s my opinion that it does exactly that, and does it very well.

Dycem non-slip mats are reusable, easy to clean , non toxic, latex and adhesive free.

There are a huge number of uses for Dycem non-slip products, some being, Occupational Therapy, Catering, Home and leisure & more.

You can even get this stuff on reels, its super grip and non slip technology makes it ideal for opening stubborn jars etc. Dycem has many uses just check out the website to see some great examples.

I really liked the Dycem Children’s range the colours and designs are fun and visually stimulating. The price is a tad high, though it is excellent quality.

You can by this particular mat in the colours Blue, Red, Yellow & Forest Green, It’s 35 cm x 25 cm in size, comes in Hippo or tortoise design and cost: £18.90 (ex Vat)

Click Here for product information 

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My Little construction workers

20 Sep


 Alice-Sara, shared her construction skills when reviewing the Meccano tool box for girls, back in August, Now it was the turn of the boys.

 Products we were sent: Space-Chaos & the Build and play mini case.

 First up it’s Little man’s review of the Space Chaos

 Space Chaos is designed for children 7-14 years (at almost 11yrs this was well within his age range).

 Before getting out the cash and splashing out, I suggest you find out if, (a) your child is a goodie (therefore the Silver force is what you should be aiming for) or (b) Your child is a baddies (therefore requiring a construction set from the Dark Pirates range).

As we were sent the products for the purpose of a review we didn’t put a request in, but on arrival of a Space Chaos, Dark pirates, I felt this was the right choice (Yes, he actually prefers to be a baddie, like his mum, *Evil laugh* follows)

 So, what’s the fuss about!

 Space Chaos is a collection of Air craft/space ships consisting of drones, raiders, bombers, fighters, destroyers and more! Each Set can make two models with a pack contents of around 140+ parts and pieces. The kit contains a special sound function that can be activated at the push of a button.

 Space Chaos Models come with a range of stickers to pimp out your ship, as-well as two trading cards showing the unique powers of each spaceship. Each trading card also displays a secret code, this can be entered online to access lots of extra goodies, including wallpapers, posters, cards, combat cards and plenty more.

 Getting stuck in!

Before I go any further I wish to remind or inform the readers who don’t know, that little man has Aspergers and has associated difficulties with his Gross and fine-motor skills. His recent Occupational therapy assessment highlighted that he has a much greater difficulty with his use of fine motor skills, then we all thought and expected. With this in mind I wanted to see how he was able to cope with the Meccano set, or if it could actually help better his skills.

 I grabbed some drinks and on my return discovered he had open every single individual sealed bag which contained the many different parts and mixed them together as one! “Great, this wasn’t going to be easy” All the pieces in the set were a mix of both plastic and metal. The instructions looked simple enough, yet the pieces were mixed and I can’t even construct a kinda egg toy let alone this thing!

 Little man was getting nowhere, so after what seemed like days I finally managed to separate all the parts into their required piles. The bits where very fiddly for little man and he continually dropped them, he became angry refusing to try again. Little man has very low concentration, so, we did some sections over the course of a few days till day three when he spent time with his father, the model was finally completed.

 Advantages

Good instructions

Builds two models 

Sound effects

Trading cards and online feature

End result, a great toy that offers lots of playability

Little man doesn’t stick with something for long specially if it’s not bus or train related. Through with his fathers help he remained focused, Patient, and willing. To have completed the model into something that offered playability. This was a massive achievement.

Disadvantages 

Difficult for children who experience difficulties with their fine motor skill.

No storable click case

The build and play mini (5-8yrs)

 A small sturdy solid case containing around 30+ pieces of flexible, easy click parts that allow a child to construct a total of two models (note: only one at a time)

 Now, this was Harley’s set and I’m not about to moan about the fact he didn’t have the first idea how to build this (apart from the construction of a wheel, which I’m sure happened by chance)! Why? Because at 21 months this set, that is recommend for 5-8 year olds is way to advanced and wasn’t going to happen. The idea was for Alice to carry out the honours and construct the set and once together, Harley would have a chunky car to text drive around the living room!  I now jokingly call  Alice Wendy from (Bob the builder) as she seems to have a skills when it comes to Meccano builds.

The way in-which the pieces click together is the same as Alice-Sara’s own meccano set. She read the instructions with ease and being at the top of the recommend age range for this toy she experienced little if not any problems at all.

 The end result, Harley had a very nice buggy type car with beady eyes.

 I’m unsure if a 5yr old could construct this set as well as maybe a 7 or 8 year old. Little man also had ago at Harley’s set and despite his fine motor skill problems, he had no difficulties due to the easy click together action and the bigger more flexible pieces.

 For this reason I would personally recommend the set designed for younger children, with the bigger easier to hold parts, if buying for a child with difficulties with their fine motor skills. (Just remove the label displaying the recommended age) little man would become very dishearten if he saw this.

Advantages

Capability to build two models

Big chunky pieces

easy to follow instructions

End result, a good toy with lots of playability 

Plastic click case to store parts

Disadvantages 

You can only build one model at a time

I Liked both products, but could see myself buying the latter (mini build and play) purely because of Little mans difficulty with the Space Chaos. I think the finished models of both sets look great! The build and play looked fantastically funky and cute, especially the big beady eyes. The Space Chaos had the added touch of the sound effects which Little man loved.

I also love that the mini set comes in a click case allowing you to store the pieces away nicely, something sadly the Space Chaos lacked.

 Stars awarded

Space Chaos ****

mini build and play *****

Prices do vary so I would suggest having a look around online

But for those who hate bargain hunting you can get

Space Chaos Dark Pirates for : Amazon for £18.38

Mini build and play: Amazon for £9.99

 The world of Space Chaos can be discovered by visiting its websites which has been dedicated to the Space Chaos entire range.  http://spacechaos.meccano.com

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