Building and constructing in a playful and imaginative way helps children develop motor skills, spatial concepts and critical thinking. These skills provide a foundation for a variety of other fine-tuned skills and are absolutely critical to the development of special needs kids.
Stacking Games for Fine Motor Control
Fine motor skills are those that require a refined use of smaller muscles, especially in the hands. Without fine motor control, tasks such as eating, practicing dental hygiene, getting dressed and writing prove highly problematic, even impossible. Use fine motor development toys such as Squigz to practice placing pieces end on end, stacking pieces high and making various shapes. Fine motor skills toys can include blocks, beads, marbles, pieces of string and anything else that requires a light touch!
- Make necklaces
- Start by using large beads and a string that's easy to see and maneuver, and work your way up to smaller beads and fishing line
- Count small items such as acorns or pebbles by moving them from one bowl to another
- Stack blocks to compete for highest tower
- Pick flowers or grasses
- Make a paper airplane, a paper hat or boat
Games to Develop Spatial Concepts
Creating spatial awareness isn't just a way to help kids better understand their own surroundings. Spatial concepts help to develop new vocabulary (such as above, below and behind), and encourage new and more critical ways of thinking about the world.
- Line up blocks in a variety of ways
- Use Magna-Tiles to create patterns by copying
- Create an obstacle course with soft blocks
- Do the Hokey Pokey
Critical Thinking Activities
Critical thinking starts with activities that promote spatial concepts, encourage imaginative play and make comparisons. Additionally, by verbalizing what's happening in the world around us, children are able to connect real-word applications of critical thinking to practice.
Use toys like the Bucket of Pets to sort according to various specifications
- Number of ears
- Number of legs
- Compare objects, whether at home or at the grocery store
- Engage in role-playing games
- Make patterns