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5 Reasons I Like to Change it Up and Use Flubber

There are lots of posts about using play dough in therapy so I thought I would write about using flubber instead.  You can use flubber for many of the same functions as play dough such as using them for smash mats.  Here are some reasons I like to change it up and use flubber every once in a while.

1. It is a nice change from using play dough.  I love play dough but using it all the time  can make it feel stale (I work with 2-4 year olds, so I use play dough/flubber a lot). Keeping the same toys but changing the medium from play dough to flubber often changes how the children interact with the toys.

2. Flubber has a different texture than play dough and allows people to talk about it being "cold,""slimy," and "slippery" to name a few. It is also a great way to use a variety of verbs including: "rip", "squish", "growing", "sink" and "pull."

3. If you have children who are sensitive to textures this is a great way to incorporate some OT therapy goals into yours.  As well it is great for cutting, another way of incorporating OT goals into therapy.

4. Kids who like to explore play dough by eating it or licking it, tend to do that a lot less with flubber.

5. Before last year, I would have said that it was easier to clean up than play dough.  It generally is.  Flubber tends not to get ground into shoes, carpet etc...  It is also a bit easier to pull out of toys, when a child has stuffed it into a hole.  Last year, a group of children liked to "shred" it and the little balls were found all over the floor. You could not really sweep them up so I was on my hands and knees picking up little bits of flubber.

Here is the recipe I use to make flubber. There are other recipes that use liquid starch.  I haven't tried them as you can't get liquid starch easily in Canada.

Do you use flubber in therapy?  

Bring Children's Lit into the Therapy Room with Books by Nicholas Oldland

As you know, I'm a big fan of using books in therapy.  This week I thought I would bring you a series of books.  Nicholas Oldland's books are great for building vocabulary and working on social language goals. They are also great for working on story grammar and comprehension goals. They are well written and the kids enjoy listening to them.  They are great for children from grade one through grade three.  

1.  Big Bear Hug This is story about a bear who loved to hug, especially trees. He spots a logger has to figure out what to do when the logger starts to chop down a tree.  This is great for problem solving, talking about feelings and the story talks about different types of trees which is great for building vocabulary.  

2. Making the Moose out of Life  This is a story about a moose who always has an excuse about why he couldn't join his friends fun.  Then he goes on an unplanned grand adventure. This shows that trying new things can be scary but life will be so much better when you try.  It again is good for working on building vocabulary.  It contains a variety of verbs, adjectives and words describing weather. 

3. The Busy Beaver  This is a story about a beaver who is unaware of his surroundings and  is careless.  He gets into an accident and realizes he needs to change his ways.  This is a great story to talk about why the beaver was not a good friend in the beginning and how to apologize to friends.  It is also great for talking about why you need to be aware of what is going on around.

4. Walk on the Wild Side  In this story, the beaver, moose and bear let their competitive nature get them into trouble.  This is another good story to talk about solving problems (e.g. "what would you do?") I also like it because it talks about the different strengths of the animals.  A great extension activity is to have the group talk about their strengths.

5. Up the Creek  This is a story about the beaver, moose and bear going on a canoe trip and all the trouble that ensues. This is a great story to talk about team work and negotiating with friends and solving problems.  This story also uses lots of boating vocabulary such stern and portage.  

If you are looking for some different books to bring into your social groups, these might be just the ticket. 

Why I like to use cooperative games in therapy

I frequently use cooperative games when working with 4, 5, 6 and 7 year olds. Here is why I find them valuable.

They reduce the stress some children feel when they are losing. We have all had those children where the game becomes more important than the therapy because they are sooo concerned about losing. Most co-operative games (at least the ones I've played) still have winners and losers but you win or lose as a group.  This group mentality seems to ease the fear that children have about losing. 

They help teach children how to behave when they lose.  There seems to be less temper tantrums and bursts of anger when you lose as a group. I think it has something to do with  working as a group. Losing provides an opportunity to talk about how you don't always win, what could you do differently next time, and did you try your hardest? If they lost, I will almost always have them play that game again the next time I see them and talk about what they would try differently this time.

They are good for teaching children how to behave when they win. We probably have all had a child who goes over the top when they win and makes the other students feel bad (e.g. "Oh yeah! I'm a winner and you're a loser!")  Winning as a team eliminates the taunting. When they win, I talk about and show what winning should look like (e.g. high fives, talking about good teamwork). If a child is learning about how to win gracefully then they play these games before they play more traditional one player wins type games.

They "force" children to work together.  For the most part, you can't win without working together.  Children are motivated by winning and with some guidance they start working together.  If they lose and did not work together then odds are they will try to work together next time.

They help with problem solving. Most of the games I have played have a strong strategy component to them.  Which character are you going to move on the game board? Which road piece are you going to put down? Are you going to give a card to another player?  It also fosters communication between the players.  They will often come up with plans (e.g. "If this happens we should do this...") and negotiate what they should do. It is also a great teaching moment to help children realize that no everyone is going to follow their plan.

They are great for teaching social skills.  These games are great for helping children learn taking turns, negotiating which strategy they should use at a turn, when should they suggest a strategy, how to give compliments, and how not to hurt a team members feelings. These are just a few skills targeted with co-operative games.

They have some games geared more towards girls' interests. Now I don't believe in "girl" toys and "boy" toys.  The girls I work with don't mind the games that are a little more geared towards boys but their faces light up with utter  joy when I pull out a game about mermaids or fairies. Funny side note: The biggest argument I had last school year was when I brought in a mermaid game for the girls in the class. The boys were all up in arms that they couldn't play it first.  The game ended up in the classroom for a week and was played multiple times a day.

I have found that using co-operative games to be invaluable in therapy.  They are fun, the children really really like to play them and they are learning how to become better friends.