Let’s Boogie…Again!

adminbilateral coordination, fine motor, graphomotor, grasp, grasping, handwriting, letter recognition, preschool, school age, visual perceptual skills Leave a Comment

In February, I wrote a post all about the Boogie Board writing tablet.  I was obsessed with it back then and still am.  So when I was in Mary Arnold Toys on the UES of Manhattan last week and saw the Boogie Board Play N’ Trace, I was quite excited.  A quick recap for those of you who are reading who don’t know about the Boogie Board.  The cliff note explanation is that it is an ultra-light LCD writing tablet (think Magna Doodle but smaller, thinner and easier to take places with you) that can be used for a variety of writing and drawing activities.  In my private practice, I will use it to practice letter and number writing to try and decrease the amount of paper I use.  We also use it to make plans and lists for the kids we work with who need that visual schedule in order to keep them organized and on task.  There are an endless amount of uses for the Boogie Board and it is one of the most recommended items when parents ask me what they can get their kids.

The Boogie Board Play N’ Trace was specifically designed with children in mind.  The differences between the original Boogie Board and the Play N’ Trace are:
-the shape and size:  The original Boogie Board is a light-weight rectangular shaped board that is about the size of a large envelope.  It can be easily thrown into a bag, making it perfect for passing away time on the subway, in waiting rooms, etc..  The Play N’ Trace is still light-weight but larger and not as easy to carry around in a purse (great for a therapist who is traveling all around and carrying  larger bag).  It’s oval shaped with a nice little thumb hole that’s perfect for kids to grab onto.
-the screen:  unlike the original Boogie Board, the Play N’ Trace has a transparent green screen so you can easily trace different things.  Once you are done drawing, you can place it over a darker surface so you can see the image better.  
-the stylus:  the stylus for the Play N’ Trace is a little bit thicker, which is better for those little hands.  It is also double-tipped with one side being pointed like a pencil and the other beveled like a crayon.  If you want, you can put a pencil grip on it to encourage a more appropriate tripod-like grasp.  
The Boogie Board Play N’ Trace can be used a variety of different ways in your therapy sessions.  I have used it for things as simple as having kids imitate lines and filling in face parts on a blank face. When practicing writing letters and numbers, it’s a great tool to use because you can practice over and over again without wasting lots of paper.  Plus, I’ve learned that the kids LOVE to keep practicing because they can magically make their images disappear with a simple push of a button.  Each board comes with 3 sheets of letters and numbers for you to have the kids trace, but I find that they are too small for many of the kids I work with.  I am going to find larger/individual letters for them to trace from the Handwriting Without Tears book.  It’s great that the board comes with some activity sheets, but for so many of the kids I work with, the letters and numbers on those sheets are too small since they are just beginning to work on learning these things.  Personally, I like to work on individual letters/numbers/shapes and letting kids master one at a time without having too much in their working field.  Since so many of the kids I work with are under the age of 5, working on mastering individual letters is far more important and effective.
In addition to all the great graphomotor related things you can work on, the Boogie Board Play N’ Trace can be used for the following:
Improve Grasp-I’ve already talked about how you can use the Play N’ Trace to work on graphomotor skills, but want to talk more about the ability to focus on working on improving pencil grip.  I like that the stylus that comes with the board and it is perfect for children who have a normal grip when holding writing instruments.  For those who don’t, the stylus is the perfect size for most pencil grips.  I would suggest experimenting with different pencil grips to see what works best for the kids you are working with.   
Improve Bilateral Coordination-so many of the kids I work with have a difficult time with using two hands during writing activities.  I am constantly reminding them to take their non-dominant hand and hold the paper down during these tasks.  With this board, you have very little choice but to use two hands.  Hold the board with one hand, the stylus in the other and draw away.  When you are done drawing, you have to hold the board with one hand and erase your image by pushing the button with the other hand.  
Improves Visual Skills-there are a bunch of activities that you can do in order to work on improving visual motor and visual perceptual skills.  For example, you can draw a picture and then erase it and have the child remember what you drew and have them replicate it.  You can work on improving coloring skills by drawing shapes on the board and having the kids color them in trying to stay in the line as much as they can.  Draw simple mazes and have the kids complete them without going out of the lines.  Practice writing letters, numbers, shapes, etc..  Practice visual attention by finding simple (or more complex) images and placing them under the board and having kids trace them.  I could kep going and going but I won’t bore you all…oh, the ideas are endless!

As I just said, I could go on and on and on about how great the Boogie Board Play N’ Trace is, but I won’t bore you any more.  What I would love to do is open the conversation up and hear how others might use the Play N’ Trace during their therapy sessions or with their kids at home.  I’m always a click away and looking forward to hearing from you guys about ways to use the Boogie Board Play N’ Trace.  

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