Today, we’re kicking off a brand new series on how to use common play items to improve your child’s visual skills. Each post will feature several ways to use an activity that kids naturally enjoy and gravitate towards in order to build up their visual system.
Bubbles are a childhood favorite and for obvious reasons: they’re easy, fun, and magical. (They also have the side benefit of being super easy on the wallet.) While we’re all about that giant bubble fest of unstructured playtime crazies, we wanted to give you some quick tips on ways you can enhance your bubble game without your kids suspecting that you have ulterior motives for playtime.
1. Finger Popping
One of the main ways we like to have children use bubbles is by popping them with their pointer fingers. This works on a variety of things: fixation of the target (oculomotor/eye tracking skills), awareness of where the target is in space (depth perception), and fine motor skills. Encourage your child to alternate between their two hands as they pop the bubbles in order to facilitate bilateral integration (use of both sides of the body).
How to make it a game: poke the bubble, pretend you’re a bee and sting the bubble with your finger
2. Popping with Pencils or Chopsticks
Once your child has mastered popping the bubbles with their fingers, we suggest moving on to popping the bubbles with pencil tips, chopsticks, or some other type of stick. This requires more precision in your child’s fine motor control as they now have to control something other than their body to pop the bubble. Again, encourage your child to hold a pencil in each hand and alternate hands to facilitate bilateral integration (using both sides of the body).
How to make it a game: pop the bubbles with your fairy wand to cast the spell, stab them with your sword or light saber
3. Catching in a Cup
Grab a small plastic or paper cup and see if your child can catch the bubbles in the center of the cup without letting them touch the sides. Like popping bubbles with pencils, this requires more precision in fine motor control and in awareness of where the bubble is in space. Encourage your child to hold the cup in both hands, just their right hand, and just their left hand to ensure they develop motor control in both sides of their body.
How to make it a game: race to see who can catch the most bubbles in their cup, assign points for each bubble that lands in the cup, hold one cup in each hand and try to catch two at a time.
We hope that you enjoy these bubble games as much as we have! If your child finds them extremely challenging, it could be a sign of a vision issue such as poor depth perception or eye tracking, and they might benefit from scheduling an exam with one of our developmental optometrists. Give us a call at 509-972-6688 to learn more.