Cookie Doodle

Cookiedoodle Can Help

I have been a bit of a latecomer to technology. Watching my own kids as well as my clients get “hooked on” computer games, and now iPads and iPhones, have frustrated me to no end. I visit schools and see dozens of students who have poorly developed fine motor and visual motor skills. They slouch over their desks because they lack sufficient postural strength to fight gravity for long; probably as a result of too little movement and too much screen time. I watch kids with social challenges hide in corners playing with devices…alone. Yet, there is a common language and interest among children within the world of technology. Can there be a way to use it for physical, perceptual, and social good?

We came up with a couple fun ways to use technology in our Social Adventures groups that could promote positive growth in a variety of areas. One of my new favorites is using the Cookie Doodle app as a barrier game. Divide the group into two teams. Each team has an iPad with cookie doodle. The kids lie on the floor on their bellies facing each other with the iPads standing up back to back (like the battleship game). The kids can use pillows or wedges to lie on if maintaining weight on their elbows is too difficult. Heavy bean bags or weighted blankets can be placed on the kids’ backs if deep tactile pressure is warranted. Don’t have a group, or two ipads….this positioning can be done in individual sessions as well!

Now, for the technology and communication part… a child on team A chooses a type of dough and tells the other team so they can choose the same. A child from team B then chooses icing and tells the other team the color and where to put the icing on the cookie. The object of the game for the kids is to create cookies that are exactly the same without looking at the other team’s cookie. The goals of this activity for therapists may be to improve postural strength and stability, integrate primitive reflexes, develop strong hand dominance, cross body midline, improve ocular-motor control, improve proprioception through pressure control on the iPad, develop or reinforce spatial concepts, to effectively communicate, negotiate, be flexible, to ask clarification questions, to respond to a peer when spoken to, and to play with a friend.

Since technology is so reinforcing for kids, I finally jumped on the bandwagon…and I’ve discovered that it’s reinforcing for a reason. Technology is fun and when adapted for specific purposes, can
be surprisingly therapeutic!

Jill Perry MHA MS OTR/L

If you found the ideas in this blog helpful, you will definitely appreciate the activity ideas in the Social Adventures app available on the Social Adventures - all4mychild

Endless Possibilities

As an OT, I am finding the idea of iPad apps helping kids develop fine motor skills or social skills kind of a peculiar concept.  This might sound strange to our readers since I am a co-developer of a soon-to-be-published app for children.  I feel a need to explain myself so please stick with me.  I have a feeling many of you out there will share my sentiments.

Fine motor skills are so much more than touching, swiping, tracing, rotating the iPad, and an occasional pinch of the screen.  Development of fine motor skills requires active in-hand manipulation of a variety of materials for arch development, strength, tactile discrimination, finger individuation, and refinement of grasp patterns.

Social skills are not simply answering questions posed on a screen about social situations, reading emotions displayed on animated or photo faces on the screen, following if/then programs, or social stories created for the iPad.  Although all of these apps can be helpful, nothing can replace real life learning and friendship development, right? So, I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to find ways to use this exciting technology as a means to an end … for fine motor, visual processing, and social skill building.  Here are a couple of my favorite ideas or sequences:

 Use the Tasty Ice Cream app with kids lying on their stomachs for postural strength building or as a barrier game for socialization.  Follow up by making edible ice cream that requires a significant amount of real fine motor skills.  Continue to milk the ice cream idea by opening up a pretend ice cream shop and have a blast!

The Dexteria app has a crab pinching activity which is highly motivating.  Use this to get kids in the mode and then move on to a painting activity that involves holding a small sponge piece between the thumb and first two fingers to dab paint on paper.  The crab pinching app can also be used with a peer to work on negotiating space or taking turns.

As parents and therapists, we are masters of task analysis…identifying the steps and elements of an activity and creating manageable expectations for each child.  As we apply our analytic skills to technology which is increasingly available to families, we will find that this tool is simply another modality to help us better help our children.

by Jill Perry MHA, MS, OTR/L

If you found the ideas in this blog helpful, you will definitely appreciate the activity ideas in the Social Adventures app available on the Social Adventures - all4mychild