By Christine Marchant
As a Child Development Facilitator (CDF) we need to be quick to respond to the child. We need to pack light, yet have at least 5-10 different activities or games in our bag. We need an extensive collection of activities and toys. This doesn’t mean that we need to spend a lot of money on our supplies. I had a toy store in my basement because I LOVED my toys and games.
I had up to 8 clients on my caseload a year. This made me aware of what I own and when to use it. I was practicing COVID health safety long before COVID. I was always careful to not cross contaminate my clients. Each client and each location had their own bag, backpack, or duffel bag. I had several duplicates or versions of every popular activity or game. That way I didn’t worry about wiping each item as the child used it–saving so much time when I was pressured to rush to the next client. Every 2 weeks or school break, I would empty all the bags, clean out the scraps, broken, ripped items, disinfect everything, and leave the stuffies or papers on the shelf for several weeks. I stored my supplies according to the target goals. All of my supplies were from the dollar store, thrift store, or homemade.
Ring toss is a popular activity that is EASY to make. I found MANY different versions of it. When I go to the thrift stores, I look for anything that can be converted to the activity. A variety of different sizes and textures. I found cheap ring toss games. Quite a few times I created my own from some games that I converted. Here’s a few versions I had:
- Real ring toss games
- Pipe Cleaners (Great Occupational Therapy (OT) activity. Letting children create their own ring toss activity gives the child a wonderful sense of accomplishment and reaches most of your goals. Children are more engaged and interested in the sessions when they participate and enjoy creating it.)
- Yogurt Container Lids (Lids of every size and colour are awesome! Use a sharp pair of scissors to start the cutting. Alternatively, let the child use their child safe scissors to cut the centres out. The lid centres are quite thin and make it an easy OT activity to create rings. These are also awesome with a ball of wool or string when you have them wrap the disk with it to change the colours and to add weight to it.)
- Cut Different Shapes (Use different colours of construction paper and cut out the centres and laminate them. Children love to make these. They’re light and it’s a wonderful way to hit multiple target goals.)
- Twister (Has rings in the game. They are blue, red, green, and yellow and are great for teaching the basic colours. I also use them for teaching the zones of regulation where the target poles or bowls have the zones on them.)
I like to have several sets and switch out the games after 3 sessions. This keeps the activity the same yet different.
- Paying attention to details
- Understanding and acceptance of instruction
- Problem solving
- Language stimulation
- Fine motor development
- Keeping the conversation going
- Taking turns
- Becoming aware of other’s struggles and needs
- Offering help to others
- Self regulation
- Place the poles, bowling pins, or bowls a foot away from you and the child (my favourite was this tall green plant that waved, swerved, and rolled away). The players stood on their knees or feet and tried to toss the rings onto the target.
- Stand or kneel beside the child. Never send the child to a spot away from you.
- Place the rings in front of the child.
- Allow them to pick them up and look at/explore them
- When they are satisfied, show the child how you hold the ring and say “toss” as you toss it. Let the child toss the rings
- They may go crazy! They’ll throw them EVERYWHERE and wear them on their head, lick them, bang them, stand on them, sit on them–let them go through this necessary phase. (Do not reprimand them or threaten to take away the activity)
- Explain the only rules you have are: (1) do not hit a person and (2) do not throw it at the walls, tv, windows, etc.
- After the child has calmed down, take turns gently tossing the rings
- After the child is confident, move the target another foot away
- Once the child understands the rules and expectations, start to fade out prompting
- Encourage the child or others to take your turn, then back out of the activity and smile, laugh, giggle, etc., when they land on the target or miss it
Be genuine with your reactions and enjoy the experience. Always keep the child beside you. If you place the child across from you, there’s WAY too much space between you and the child which might put you in the position of chasing. DO NOT chase—EVER!
Keep the child beside you and you guide their arms and throws. If they are wild, put your arm around them to guide and support, and to quickly react when they decide to whack you in the head! If you do your due diligence and always prevent the behaviour, you’ll never lose control of the child or activity.
I found out over the years of experience that this is definitely the activity that will set off impulsive behaviour, dashing, throwing, spinning, and running around the house. MANY times the child will start whacking me in the forehead. Do not discipline the child. Gently push the hand away from your body, downward, and remove the ring from his clutches. Explain the rules, tell him he has one more chance, and then remove the ring and clean up the activity.
This behaviour only happens with the most difficult cases. 90% of the time, it’s a fun, pleasant activity. I mentioned the extreme example because I found this activity is a HUGE trigger for kids and I don’t want you to be caught by surprise. It’s a complete shock when it comes out of the blue with no warning. There’s something about ring toss and bean bag toss that will trigger impulsive behaviour in pretty much any child.
Plan for prevention and you never lose control of the activity. Keep the goals in mind. Landing the rings on the poles can be a goal but it does not need to be the only goal.
Be genuine with your smiles and encouragement. Enjoy the experience.