One of my professional goals is to provide the therapy services I expect my sister, Marina to receive. I want to provide high-quality, engaging, and fun therapy sessions that increase independence. I want my students to leave OT feeling confidant and happy. I love incorporating games at the end of my session. It is my belief that we can target so many concepts through fun and play! For example, you can work on grasp patterns through play/games besides writing sight words and doing worksheets. I love researching new toys/games and reading reviews from blogs. Check out Toy Ideas Blog and Instagram (@Toy_ideas) for more game reviews addressing fine motor, age categories, and academic skills!! Below are my five favorite Fine motor games to play with my students!!
“Let’s buy toys with intention and purpose because they are not all the same, and the toys we choose matter.”_@Toy-Ideas
What I Look for When Picking a Fine Motor Game:
First I want a game that looks fun and ‘new’. I don’t want a game that looks like I could find it in my grandma’s closet; no offense Grandma’s games are always fun but it hard to motivate a student to finish work to play a game whose box is falling apart and the children on the box are wearing clothes from the 60s.
Second, I want the game to target a fine motor skill/s my students are working towards. I look at the game and reviews and break it down into its basic components.
Third, I want a game that is straightforward, with limited rules and instructions. I want something the student can help me set up and then we can just start playing. A lot of my students have difficulty with verbal instructions and overall attention. I need something that is going to draw them in and they can pick up without feeling frustrated.
Fourth, Think about your population! I want something I can wipe down after a session (especially now with COVID). I also want something with pieces that aren’t too small that they could be swallowed or lost.
1. Yeti in My Spaghetti
I love this game and it is always a big hit with my students! They think it is so funny! The concept is quite simple! Place the noodles across the top of the red bowl and then place the yeti on top! Each player takes a turn pulling a noodle out! Whoever pulls the noodle, that makes the yeti fall loses.
In 2017, Yeti in My Spaghetti won the coveted TOTY Game of the Year Award! That’s the highest honor a game can receive. Some fine motor skills I like to target while playing the Yeti in My Spaghetti game are pincher grasp, grading pressure, taking turns, and rotation of the wrist.
2. Pop Up Pirate
Not going to lie, you have to be mentally prepared for this game! I always jump when the pirate pops up out of the barrel. I would also not recommend this game if you have students who are sensitive to sound. The goal is to stick plastic swords in the slot of the barrel to see which one will release the pirate. He will shoot straight up.
I like to use this game to focus on grasp patterns/in-hand manipulation (lock and key grasp and translation), grading pressure, visual motor skills, and bilateral coordination (being able to stabilize the barrel while putting the sword in)
3. Honey Bee Tree
This used to be my sister, Marina’s game so it’s not right off the market but i have a few students that ask if we can play the bee game every session. Honey Bee Tree setup takes FOREVER. Set up is great fine motor and visual-motor practice but I find some of my students get frustrated trying to push the stick through two holes in the hive. I usually have them try a few sticks and then I put them in charge of dropping the bees in for set up “Everyone gets a job”.
The game is super fun!!! The students think it’s so funny when the bees come plunking out of the tree! It’s making my heart melt thinking about their smiles and laughter! The game is very similar to kerplunk only instead of marbles you have bees and the stand is a tree with a hive! I like to use this game to work on grasp patterns, bilateral coordination, in-hand manipulation, and visual-motor (being able to find the hole in the hive). I would not recommend for children that put items in their mouth frequently, the bees are a choking hazard
4. Pancake PileUp!
I love this game for my preschool and early elementary students. I originally found out about this game from a great PT I worked with in Pittsburgh! Each player has five different pancakes (chocolate chip, blueberry, strawberry, plain, and banana) then there’s a slice of butter, a spatula, and a plate! You are given a card with a stack of pancakes that you have to replicate! I love this part because I can target visual motor skills! For my younger preschool students, we use it as a pretend kitchen and they make me different stacks! Even if you’re not using the card, you still get some great fine motor practice and enjoyment!
I use this game to target, ROM in the wrist, visual motor skills, gross motor skills (if doing the relay portion), and executive functioning skills.
Sometimes when I am looking for a new game I will look at games that won the Toy of the Year award! That is how I came across Suspend made by Melissa and Doug! They make a junior version of the game, which is on my wish list!! The goal is to balance different metal rods on the T-frame structure and other rods already in play. It takes my students a few tries to get the hang of the game but it’s really fun! I use this game to focus on hand-eye coordination, visual-motor skills, grading pressure, and cognitive/executive functioning skills.
Fine Motor Game Wish List:
What are your favorite fine motor games? Share in the comments below!
For more fine motor activities to add to your sessions or lessons, check out the Simply Special Education Shop! I love the Simple Fine Motor Centers! Also, check out my previous blog here for some ideas to use with playdough!