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3 Ways to Use Magna-Tiles® Structures in Occupational Therapy

There’s a LOT of cool things that come with the job of “wild creator” at CreateOn. (Like, product testing. Hey – we grownups love building too!) But seeing all the amazing ways our sets are used tops the list. Magna-Tiles® Structures versatility make them the perfect accessory for playroom and classrooms alike. Using Magna-Tiles®, parents and educators can encourage kids to use their imagination to create unique builds while learning new skills.

We recently spotted Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Meghan Corridan using Magna-Tiles® Structures during therapy sessions with her kiddos. We reached out to her to learn more. And being the phenomenal OT/educator that she is, Meghan was happy to share her thoughts on Magna-Tiles® Structures and a few ways the tiles can come into play (wink emoji!) during a therapy session.

Let Them Play

What makes a toy a good tool for an occupational therapist? For Meghan, it needs to be “typical.” By typical, she means something that you can find on a store shelf or order easily online. Not something that needs to be special ordered from a therapeutic catalog. She also loves using tools/toys that her clients can use in therapy sessions as well as at home. And bonus points if it is something that her clients can use with their siblings!

Enter Magna-Tiles® Structures. “They are a really nice empowering tool. They allow for creativity and flexibility. And what you can do with each child varies,” says Meghan. Our creativity-sparking tiles allow for open-ended activities that can be used to build fine motor skills, gross motor skills, imagination skills and SO much more. In addition to that, it is comforting to Meghan’s kiddos when they’re able to interact with a favorite character, like the familiar characters on Magna-Tiles® Structures story sets during a session.

Give Structure to Therapy Activities

If you are an occupational therapist or a parent of a child that benefits from these services, check out these fun activities!

Color/Animal Hunt

Introduce Magna-Tiles® Structures into your session with a color or animal hunt. This type of activity is great during big body work. Big body work is play that actively and energetically allows children to use their entire body to help them learn to control their bodies, senses and feelings. Gross motor skills are also strengthened using this activity.

For color/animal hunt, place the tiles on a magnetic strip or surface, like a magnetic board. Use a Magna-Tiles® Structures set that includes color words or animals such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Ask the child to select a color or animal from the magnetic surface. If using tiles with animals, for added fun, the child can pretend to be the animal on the tile they chose. If using tiles with color words, ask the child to find a block that is the same color as the tile they selected.

Example using Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Using animal tiles
Find the tile with a horse on it. Go get the tile with the horse on it. Gallop and neigh like a horse!

Using color word tiles
Find the blue tile. Go get the blue tile. Find a block that is the same color as the blue Magna-Tiles® Structures tile.

Arrange The Animals

Another great way to incorporate Magna-Tiles® Structures into a therapy session calls for a vertical surface and a balance board. A vertical surface can be a refrigerator, magnetic board, smart board, anything vertical! A vertical surface provides a better view of the task at hand and has the added benefit of working upper body strength. It is also helps with visual motor skills and visual perception. A balance board is a piece of equipment that has a hard, flat surface that sits on top of an unstable, rounded base. Incorporating a balance board works on executive functioning – mental skills that we use every day like memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. Working on executive functioning can help children learn to focus, follow directions, and handle emotions.

For this activity, pick a set (like The Very Busy Spider) and grab The World of Eric Carle book, The Very Busy Spider. Read the book and then place the animal tiles on the floor in front of the balance board. Once on the balance board, ask the child to squat down and pick up the tiles and arrange them in the order they appear in the book on the vertical surface.

Example using The Very Busy Spider

Read The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. Step onto the balance board. Find the first animal listed in the book. The first animal is the horse. Squat down and grab the tile with the horse on it. Place the horse tile on the vertical surface. The next animal is the cow. Squat down on the balance board and grab the tile with the cow on it and place it next to the horse on the vertical surface.

Create Your Own Story

One of our favorite things about Magna-Tiles® Structures is that they are great tools to spark creativity and build imagination skills. Meghan encourages creativity with her social skills group by allowing the children to make up their own stories!

Pick a set that includes characters or animals (such as From Head to Toe!) and place the character or animal tiles in a row. Have each child pick a tile and create their own story about the character or animal on the tile they chose and share it with the group.

Example using From Head to Toe Magna-Tiles® Structures set

Place the tiles in a pile. Each child picks a tile. One child picks a tile with a cat on it. The child tells their own story about the cat.

There’s No Right or Wrong Way to Play!

We know that parents are looking for a toy that will stand the test of time and the test of an excited young creator. The same goes when choosing a tool/toy to use for therapy. That’s another reason Meghan includes Magna-Tiles® Structures in her therapeutic toolbox. They hold up, no matter how many hours of play they endure.

Magna-Tiles® Structures are also a fantastic tool because they allow children to be successful in play. What do we mean by that? The tiles are large enough for small hands to grasp and they easily click together. This is great for a client that can’t grasp a small piece or can’t use both hands. “The nice thing about them is there is no right or wrong way to play,” says Meghan.

From playroom, to classroom, to therapy room, Magna-Tiles® Structures versatility allow them to be used in so many ways. They are a fun way for children to practice letters and words, but they also serve as a useful tool to practice fine motor skills, gross motor skills and so much more. As Meghan said, you can do something different with them for each child.

That’s why we CreateOn!

Share with us how you are using your Magna-Tiles® Structures! Tag us on Instagram @createonproducts or use the hashtag #createon on Facebook or Twitter. Happy creating!

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