Pop Tubes are a really simple yet fun and productive toy. Kids are fascinated by them because of the cool noise they make as well as the fact that they can stretch them and shrink them. Here are a few of the things we use them for in our clinic:
- bilateral hand use – This is a great way to work on bilateral hand use for pushing and pulling. We have a kiddo who has one arm that is weaker than the other arm and its a really good tool for having her work on using her arms equally. She prefers to stabilize with her weaker arm and do all the pulling with her stronger arm but this toy is motivating enough that she is working really hard at pulling equally with both arms.
- pushing vs pulling – When kids are working on pulling the tubes into their lengthened position they need more strength then when they are working on pushing it back into the short position. That being said, the pushing it back together requires more motor planning because they have to adjust their hands to prevent the tube from bending so that it will push back together evenly. The motor planning allows them to work on their problem solving skills as well!
- grip strength – Kids need to be able to hold onto both ends of the tube in order to manipulate it from shorter to longer positions and vice versa.
- motor planning – You can focus on motor planning with this simple toy by changing the demands of the task. Once they master pulling it open in front of them where they can see it have them try it behind their back, over their head or in front of them but so they can’t see it. This takes out the visual component and they will have to feel what they are doing. To make it more challenging have them try to push it back together in any of these positions as well.
- postural control – This can also fall under motor planning but change the kiddo’s position. If they can play with it sitting down, can they do it standing up? Do they need to compensate? What about lying on their belly or in a kneeling position?
- spatial awareness – If you pop two together you can have the kiddo’s make a circle with them and then have them put it on their head, over their arm, over their toes. You can switch between left and right sides.
- supination and pronation – You can change up how the kiddos hold the tube. They can have palms facing up (supination) or palms facing down (pronation) as they try to push it together and pull it apart.
- additional ideas – Since it is a tube you can also have fun with marbles and stretching the tubes into different patterns and seeing if you can get the marble to go from one end to the other or put a marble in when you make a circle with them and use both hands to spin it around the circle. This will also work on fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and bilateral hand use.
I also love the visual and auditory feedback these tubes provide. What other uses for pop tubes have you found?