Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review of Crazy Bones Toy by OT

Thanks to Jessica Helvey, MS OTR/L for this guest post:

Occupational Therapy with Gogo’s Crazy Bones
A product review of a new occupation-based toy

I’ve been an occupational therapist for six years and I have worked with a variety of clients. I thought my “toolkit” for engaging clients in purposeful, meaningful activities was pretty well rounded—until I became a mother myself. When it came to my own son, Nathan, I couldn’t seem to engage him for any length of time on tasks that targeted component skills, such as hand dexterity, finger isolation, pincer grasp, or in-hand manipulation. Nathan, who is four-years old, frequently became bored with pencil-and-paper tasks targeting handwriting, and zipper and button activities seemed meaningless to him. I quickly realized we needed something fun and engaging that wouldn’t be interpreted as work.

One day while waiting in line at Walmart, Nathan became captivated by all the toys and candies lined up near the register. He was drawn to one fun and colourful package in particular—Gogo’s Crazy Bones. He asked me to buy it and at $3 each I grabbed a couple without thinking much about it. It wasn’t until we got home and I watched him play with the quirky little characters that I realized what a fantastic fine motor skills toy we had found.

I immediately Googled the Gogo’s and discovered that there was so much more to the toys than I would have imagined. The Gogo’s come in hundreds of shapes, colours and designs and kids can play dozens of games that are not just fun, but educational, too. The web site,, was a great resource and I downloaded several game ideas for Nathan. Better still, now that I knew more about the Gogo’s I was able to come up with my own activities that we could play together or that Nathan could play independently.

For example, to help Nathan with stereognosis, hand dexterity and in-hand manipulation, we invented a game called “In the Box.” We put several Gogo’s into an empty tissue box, along with some random sensory items (a small fuzzy ball, several dry beans, a ball of Play-Doh, etc.). Without looking, Nathan puts his hand into the box, feels for the Gogo and then guesses which character he is holding.

Another fun game that helps Nathan develop body awareness and pre-writing skills is “Build a Gogo.” To play, Nathan selects various shapes cut from construction paper and assembles them to form his own Gogo creation. By using prepositional phrases such as “on the top,” “under the circle” and “beside the square” Nathan is learning how to use and follow directions.
I’ve found that every component skill I want to address in our daily “OT sessions” can be included in our Gogo’s playtime. Since our games are occupation-based and purposeful to him, Nathan never asks to stop playing and the range of games is limited only by our imaginations.
As an occupational therapist, I know how important the role of play is in the development of a child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being. I can also relate to the frustration occupational therapists (and parents) sometimes have when it comes to finding engaging activities for young kids who need practice in component skills. After my “by chance” encounter I realized what an efficient and effective tool Gogo’s Crazy Bones are. Who knew something so useful could come from an impulse buy?

Visit for more info.

Gogo’s Crazy Bones have incredible practical benefits for occupational therapists who often have to travel to and from schools, clinics, homes and hospitals.
1. Size and portability. Gogo’s are very small and don’t take up much space in your toolkit.
2. Multi-client use. Gogo’s appeal to boys and girls from a wide range of ages, which means fewer tools for you to carry.
3. Replaceable. If you lose one Gogo, you can still play and the figures are very inexpensive to replace. (I can’t tell you how many games I have shipped to the game graveyard because critical pieces are missing.)
4. Reward. After a great session the child may be awarded a few Gogo’s to take home and practice with for the next session.
5. Variety. Kids don’t get tired of playing the Gogo’s games. They use their imaginations to create new scenarios or visit the web site to learn new games.
6. Child-led. Playing with Gogo’s is a child-led activity, which is so important!
7. Educational. Sorting, patterning and counting Gogo’s requires problem solving as well as fine motor and other skills.
8. Low maintenance. Gogo’s have no batteries or moving parts to break, which is critical when set-up and clean-up time is an issue.
9. Easy to clean. Infection control is important when the same tools are shared between many clients.

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