Rainbow Brights!

adminarts and crafts, bilateral coordination, fine motor, focus, friendship skills, grasping, modulation, organization, regulation, school age, social skills, visual motor 8 Comments

If you have a young girl or know any young girls (or young boys for that matter), I am pretty certain you have heard of the latest craze, The Rainbow Loom.  Thanks to my goddaughter, I learned about the Rainbow Loom in April before it was virtually impossible to find in the stores.  Meghan was wearing the bracelets and showing me her whole setup.  Once she started making one for me, I was sold.  I went home immediately and bought two looms; one for work and one to keep at home for any younger visitors to play with.  Since bringing it to the gym, it has been a huge hit.

If you don’t know about the Rainbow Loom, let me tell you about it because it is truly a perfect addition to any occupational therapist’s bag of tricks, especially if you work with school age children. Basically, the Rainbow Loom (pictured at the left) is a set to make friendship bracelets.  Using a plastic loom, a hook and a bunch of brightly colored rubber bands, you make an awesome bracelet out of small colored rubber bands.  You place the rubber bands on the loom and then use a hook to weave the rubber bands into a colorful bracelet.  I encourage the kids to use their pinchers (fine pincer grasp) to place the rubber bands onto the pegs.  You have to follow a pattern so this is great for visual motor and visual perceptual skills.  I encourage the children I work with to choose a pattern and follow it from beginning to end to work on planning and organization skills in addition to the aforementioned visual skills.  If you have a child who needs to work on visual skills, this is a great craft activity for them.

Here is the original set.  Perfect for throwing in a bag
for those of you who do lots of home care or running from
school to school

Each set (pictured at the right) comes with the original Rainbow Loom pattern.  As of right now, that is the only one I have used with my kids at work.  However, if you have a child who has mastered the original bracelet pattern and is ready for more of a challenge, You Tube has step-by-step videos for tons of other patterns.  You can also check out the Rainbow Loom website for some links to other videos.  As a child becomes more of a master, you can start seeing how independent they can become learning new patterns by watching the videos.  I guarantee that if a child who has struggled with these types of activities can figure out the different patterns on their own, their confidence and self-esteem will improve by leaps and bounds.  It may even motivate them to try other activities that have been challenging for them in the past.

In addition to what I have already mentioned, The Rainbow Loom can work on the following occupational therapy goals:

This child is using great bilateral coordination
for the completion of her bracelet

Improve Bilateral Coordination Skills-this is a great activity to focus on bilateral coordination skills in a fun and motivating way.  So much of this activity requires the use of two hands.  From putting the rubber bands on the loom, to stabilizing the loom with one hand while the other holds the hook to removing the completed bracelet from the loom with one hand while holding the loom still with the other.  So many ways to address this OT goal in a sneaky way (love tricking the kids into working on goals)!
Improve Grasping Skills-if you have a child who struggles with pencil grasp, this is another way you can work on encouraging a proper grip.  If you look at the picture below, you will see that you should hold the Rainbow Loom hook with a tripod like grasp.  I work with so many children who avoid working on handwriting activities and most of the time it is because their grasp on a writing instrument causes them so much difficulty with the task.  Using the Rainbow Loom can be a sneaky way to work on improving a pencil grasp without the child even knowing it!

Check out the tripod grasp being used in this picture.
This is the grasp that is expected when holding a writing instrument

Improve Focus and Attention-if you are trying to work on increasing a child’s attention span and ability to focus, this is a perfect activity for them.  It is crucial that a child has good attention and focus when completing their bracelets because there are a lot of steps to completing each bracelet.  If you take your eyes away and lose focus on where you are, there is a chance you will have to start from the beginning again.  I try and help keep the children I work with who have decreased frustration tolerance by calling their attention to where they are and what the next step is.  Sometimes, having children talk through the next step, they are more successful.  As each child becomes more confident with their looming skills, you can decrease the amount of assistance you give them.  If you look at the picture above, you will see a child deep in concentration….something I strive to see in the kids I work with.  

Do you have a child who needs to work on his/her organizational
skills?  The Rainbow Loom kit above is a great way to
encourage a child to keep their supplies neat and organized.  

 Improve Organizational Skills-for children who lack organzational skills, this is a fun way to work on that.  Instead of having them just pick through the rubber bands while making the bracelet, I have them take out all their supplies first.  If they are following a pattern, they have to figure out how many of each color they need and put them in piles.  When they begin actually making the bracelet, they aren’t wasting time digging through all the rubber bands.
Improve Self-Esteem and Confidence-I can still remember making friendship bracelets when I was younger.  I can remember struggling learning how to get it just right and feeling frustrated when it didn’t come out perfectly.  But then, I finally got it and finished that bracelet and gave it to a friend and felt so good about myself.  Since this is an activity that is a bit of a fad right now, all the kids want to do it and do it well.  Being able to take their looms and make bracelets alongside their friends will help the kids I work with feel better about themselves and much more confident in his/her skills.  And in the end, if I have helped make a kid I work with feel better about themselves, then I have done what I truly set out to do.

Improves Social Skills-as some of you know, the Rainbow Loom is a craze right now.  I know my almost 8 year old niece and her friends have made hundreds of them this summer at her camp.  They sit together and share their materials, help each other out when they need it and exchange completed bracelets.  I just gave Julia her very own Rainbow Loom Deluxe kit and she is beside herself.  She is on vacation now, but know that she can’t wait to show it off to her friends and make more bracelets with them.  This is such a great social activity for kids that doesn’t involve electronics and/or screen time which I find to be such a welcome thing for school age kids.

How many of you have memories of making friendship bracelets growing up?  I can clearly remember going to the craft store with my mom and sisters and picking out tons of embroidery thread and spending hours and hours with my clipboard creating bracelets.  It wasn’t easy and I had to start over again time and time again, but the satisfaction I felt when I completed a bracelet was awesome.  It made me feel so proud to create something and then be able to give it to a friend or family member.   I am loving watching that satisfaction and pride in the children I am working with.  What I really love is that this is an activity that is the rage amongst so many young (6-10 years old) kids this summer.  So when a child I work with, who typically struggles being able to do things like their peers, masters this, I know they feel good and are more likely to try this with their peers.  Way too often, I see children I work with avoid to do activities that they really want to do because they are afraid to not be as good as their friends.  I love watching them practice and then master something like the Rainbow Loom and then go out and do it alongside their friends.  Not only makes them feel proud, but it makes them feel like they are part of their peer group which is something that many of the children I work with typically struggle with.

If you are wondering where you can pick up a Rainbow Loom kit for your kids, I suggest checking out local toy stores first and seeing if they carry them.  My love of supporting small businesses is no secret.   I know that Stoopher and Boots on the Upper West Side in Manhattan carries them (and the accessories).  The educational store Learning Express carries them as well.  If you have no luck there, check out Amazon.com and see what you can find there.  This is where I found the Rainbow Loom Deluxe kit for my niece Julia’s 8th birthday and am pretty certain I have not given her a gift that has made her this happy in all 8 years of her life!
I am excited to hear about your experiences with the Rainbow Loom with your kids.  Do you have a pattern that you have introduced to the kids you work with that has been easier for them than others?  Have you come up with ways to adapt the activity for children?  I would love to hear from all of you about your experiences with the Rainbow Loom.  As always, I am just a click away and really do love hearing from my readers.  

Comments 8

  1. Such great ideas OT Mommy! I was working with a kid today and sorting out his two colors and thinking I should have my animal sticks out right now! I am going to keep a set in my rainbow loom box from now on!

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