Who Needs The Beach?

adminbilateral coordination, fine motor, kinetic sand, social skills, strengthening, tactile, toys, WABA fun Leave a Comment

After this long, long winter, I’ve been dreaming of summer, the beach and playing with my girl in the sand.  I can spend hours playing in the sand with her, building sand castles and digging for treasures.  She tells such tales while playing at the beach and it makes me so happy.  So, when I heard about WABA Fun Kinetic Sand, I had to give it a try.  I had seen small samples when I was at the NYC Toy Fair in February and have been on the lookout ever since.  Thanks to my good friends at Norman and Jules, I now have a place to get it whenever I need it.  That is only if they can keep it on the shelves long enough for me to snag more!  According to them, it is flying off the shelves quicker than they know what to do.  I think that that alone tells you how great this stuff is.

WABA Fun Kinetic Sand is a perfect occupational therapy tool and I highly recommend it to all therapists out there!  You should buy extra though because you are going to want one for home and work…advice from the girl who hasn’t been able to leave hers at work yet!  Quinn and I have spent hours playing with ours and have come up with many different ways to play with it.  I have used other kinds of “sand”, but this is by far the best out there.  First of all, you get a lot of it in the package for about $16.  There are other brands out there that sell far less for far more and it isn’t as good quality.  Secondly, I have used a couple of brands that have an odd smell to them.  So for kids who have sensory issues and may be tactile defensive, having something that might smell strange to them is bad news.  I was so happy to have found the perfect “sand”!

One of the things I like most about Kinetic Sand is that while it is fun to play with and easy to make a mess with, the cleanup is easy.  I know that I have a hard time playing with certain sensory materials because it takes so long to clean up and it gets EVERYWHERE.  When I am at work, I like to use things that are easy to take out and put back away.  Things that won’t get all over the sensory equipment or require me to spend valuable therapy time cleaning up the mess.  Not with Kinetic Sand; even if it gets all over the place, it can be cleaned up quickly (with a broom or a vacuum).

While Kinetic Sand has many therapeutic benefits, I love finding something new and exciting to use to work on increasing grasp strength.  I have used playdough for years and that’s always fun for the kids, but I have found that they changed the recipe in the last few years and it is way too soft and not that great for strengthening purposes.  Plus, it can make such a mess and a real pain in the neck to get it out of carpeting.  Another great thing about this sand is that it is ideal for all ages.  My 4 year old loves it but so do my older school-age children.  It’s also a great tool to recommend for parents to get at home to work on strengthening activities.  I am very careful about what I suggest for home use because I don’t want parents to turn into therapists; it’s important that whatever I recommend to parents that it is fun for the whole family and doesn’t seem like they are in a therapy session.  My daughter likes taking her PlayMobil fairies and trees and building a place for them to play.  It’s great to be able to take something that has so much therapeutic value and use it with everyday toys to make it seem much more like play.

Some of the other occupational therapy skills that can be worked on are:
Improving Tactile Defensiveness-it’s difficult to find a good material to work on improving tactile defensive behaviors.  I have found that many of the materials I have worked with at work get stuck all over the kid’s hands which causes them to to get anxious.  Or sometimes it doesn’t stick together well and they get frustrated.  Kinetic Sand has a super soft feeling as it flows through your fingers but at the same time, it can easily stick together and make some great shapes with little effort.
Improving Bilateral Coordination Skills-a good way to work on encouraging the use of two hands at a time would be to provide children with tools to dig with, shovel into containers, etc..  They need to hold the tools with one hand and fill up a cup with the other one.
Improve Grasping Skills-if you want to work on improving grasping skills, hide some small objects in here and have the kids pull them out.  You can make a birthday cake and have the kids put small pegs in for birthday candles.  You can hide different size and shaped shells in it, have them dig through and use Zoo Sticks to get them out of the sand to work on increasing grasp strength.  My daughter is obsessed with unicorns these days and a friend gave us these food picks.  We had been struggling to figure out the best way to use them and then Quinn decided on this.  Putting them in and then pulling them out are a great way to work on improving fine motor grasping skills.
Improve Creative Skills/Language Skills-if you have a child who has a hard time thinking outside of their box and likes to do things the same way all the time, you can use this and try and come up with some play scenarios.  You can create something together with the child you are working with and then have them tell stories about what they made.  If you have a child who gets speech and language therapy, consult with their therapist and ask what their goals are and how you can incorporate it into the work you are doing with the child.  There is nothing better than being able to work on multiple skills at a time during any given session.
Improve Social Skills-I can’t wait to try this with my social skills group!  Playing with Kinetic Sand can be a great way to get kids talking and improving conversational skills.  Get a couple of packages of Kinetic Sand and place it in tupperware or sensory table big enough for a few children to gather around.  Provide them with different sand tools that require them to share with one another.  For kids who need a bit more support or structure, give them something they need to build together, such as a sand castle or a sand animal.  They can only build one and must do it together instead of building separate ones.  This can be much more difficult than it sounds for children who have language and social difficulties.  As I mentioned above, you can also take characters and have the children use them with the Kinetic Sand to work on improving language skills.

As I already mentioned, I got my Kinetic Sand at Norman and Jules in Park Slope.  If you are making a special trip to get some, be sure to give them a call first to see that they have it.  When I was in there last, they said that they really couldn’t keep it in the store!  You can also order directly from the WABA fun website here.  Check out your local toy stores and see if they carry it.  However, keep in mind that there are a bunch of different versions of moveable sand and be sure to get the WABA Fun Kinetic Sand.

Do you have any other awesome sensory materials you use and can suggest to me and my readers?  I know there are a ton out there but would much rather use something that has been kid and therapist approved!  Until I started using the Kinetic Sand, I forgot just how much therapeutic value there was to manipulative materials!  I love hearing from you all and am always a click away so please send me your suggestions!

So, until you can make it to the beach to play with the real deal, enjoy your WABA Fun Kinetic Sand!

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