Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pin the shape on the board!

Here's a game which we made for Ryan, which you can make too!

We bought him a large piece of white styrofoam (1 inch thick) and cut out various shapes for him to lay out on the styrofoam. Then he sticks pins into the shapes! It's as simple as that!

This game is good for finger training (fine motor skills), shape and colour recognition, counting, sorting, and exploring texture. Ryan builds up and learns how to control the strength in his fingers - which he will need for writing. He also strengthens his powers of focus and concentration. Of course it promotes creativity too - Ryan can make different designs and patterns!

Richard and I cut the shapes from thin foam. You can cut any shape you like - no need to limit yourself to squares and triangles, although we had a lot of those as they are easy to cut. We cut our shapes free hand - no need to be precise about it!

We bought push pins/thumb tacks, in various colours and designs. Yes, they are sharp and no, Ryan did not prick himself. Not even once. He was able to aim for and pick up an individual pin, twirl it around with his fingers on one hand and hold it in the right position to drive it into the styrofoam. Don't worry - you child can do it too!

You can see from this photo that the white thumb tacks with the flat heads actually lie with their sharp ends pointing upwards.

No problem!

Three pieces of foam in that photo there - Ryan learns to adjust his strength - more strength needed!

We let him place the pieces and stick the pins wherever he wanted and it was interesting to see where he placed them - sometimes he put the pins in little groups on a foam piece, sometimes just one pin on a foam piece; sometimes huddled together, sometimes spaced apart; in a line or in a curve, sometimes standing straight up, sometimes at an angle. You can see also that he sorts the pins too, sometimes by design and sometimes by colour. Sometimes he even matches the colour of the pin with the colour of the foam shape!

Here's a short Youtube video (just over 2 minutes) of Ryan pinning. This was filmed the first time we introduced this game. You can hear Richard and Ryan discussing the colours and the shapes on the board. At the end of the video, you can hear Ryan say "Amazing!". He also says "Rainbow" a few times - because the final product is so colourful!

The next day, Ryan asked to play the game again! We had to buy more pins!

The cost involved was quite low - the styrofoam piece cost less than $3 and the foam sheets were also less than $3. You can get a box of pins/thumb tacks for about $1-$3.50 depending on quantity, design and where you buy it from. We used a LOT of pins because our styrofoam piece was so big, but you can go with a smaller piece. You can use cork board if you prefer a tougher surface - we're going to do that next and teach him to use a hammer!

[This post also appears in our Learning at Home section.]


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