When budgets are tight and space is limited it is essential that the tools in your therapy toolbelt are multitaskers! Games are a fun and engaging therapy tool that can be quickly set up to address many therapeutic AND educational goals. In this post we are going to take a look at all the ways the game NOVENOPS can be adapted to meet a variety of therapeutic goals.
What is NOVENOPS ?
NOVENOPS is a popular game that is easily adaptable to all ages and levels. Best of all Kids LOVE it! NOVENOPS is a card game designed to develop an understanding of the basic elements of grammar and sentence structure. NOVENOPS is an acronym created from the words NOun, VErb, NOun, and Phrase. It includes 52 cards, a heavy duty foldable game board and directions all in a portable tin box.
Basic Rules for Playing NOVENOPS!
Goal – be the first player to discard all of the cards from their hand
Time- about 15 minutes
To Play: Unfold the enclosed “game board” and place it within reach of all players.
After shuffling the game cards, deal 5 cards to each player and place the rest of the cards in the center of the board
The first player plays a noun card from their hand onto the Noun space on game board; if they do not have a Noun card, then they draw from the deck.
The next play is a Verb card, followed by a Noun card and finally a Phrase card.
Repeat until one player has played all the cards in their hand. They are the “winner.”
For more information, check out the video below.
Modifying Game Play to Target Different Goals!
The Reluctant Writer With Handwriting Goals
Modifying NOVENOPS to meet handwriting goals can be done simply by adding a scoring element. Game play follows the basic rules of NOVENOPS with the following modifications:
Players all receive a ‘scoreboard’ at the start of game play. This scoreboard can be any writing paper that is appropriate for the player.
Playing a ‘Phrase’ card ends the round and whoever played that card is the winner of the round.
The winner of the round writes the sentence they created on their scoreboard as a means to keep score and then play moves to the next round.
Whoever has the most silly sentences written on their scoreboard at the end of game play, wins!
The Reluctant Conversationalist With Expressive And/ Or Receptive Language Goals
Targeting expressive and/ or receptive language goals while playing NOVNOPS typically doesn’t involve changing game play rather changing the pace of the game. Try this:
Set up NOVENOPS as described above and follow the basic instructions for game play.
After each round (when a phrase card has been played) take a moment to pause and reflect on what is happening in the sentence. For example, players have created the silly sentence “The mother hid the dinosaur in the refrigerator”.
Target those language goals! These targets can be simple and concrete ‘wh’ questions like; “Who hid the dinosaur?”, “Where is the dinosaur”, “What happened?”, “How did the dinosaur get in the refrigerator”. Or they can involve more creative thinking; “Why do you think the mother hid the dinosaur in the refrigerator?”, “What do you think the dinosaur will eat while he is in the refrigerator?”.
The Squirmer With Academic Based Goals
Adding a movement component to seated tasks can do wonders for focus and attention. One of the easiest ways to make NOVENOPS a movement game is to turn it into a type of obstacle course. Here’s how to do it:
Set up a course with three pathways
At the end of each pathway stack three piles of NOVENOPS cards (a stack of noun cards, a stack of verb cards, and a stack of phrase cards).
Depending on the student’s abilities, create obstacles or motor challenges along the paths. For example a chair they have to wiggle under, a stack of books they may have to step over, or a winding path they may have to zig zag through.
Whoever creates the most sentences before time is up wins!
Pro Tip: This is a great activity idea for therapists doing push in sessions!
A little creativity can go a long way in making the tools in your therapy toolbelt, multitasking superstars!
What do the muscles of the core have to do with good handwriting? The simple answer is, a lot! The five main muscles of the core are the pyramidalis, rectus abdominus, external obliques, internal obliques, and transversus abdominis. These muscles are important for many day to day activities; for a deeper dive into this topic check out the free, recorded webinar Postural Control as a Base of Support for Upper Extremity Participation presented by Celine Rosati Skertich and Linda Merry. When it comes to handwriting, the core muscles are key to providing the stability from which our hands can work from. Without the stability provided by the core muscles, the arms would have difficulty positioning the hands and the hands would have difficulty holding writing utensils steadily. In order to make handwriting successful, it is important build a strong foundation from which students can work from! In this blog we will explore fun ways to develop and strengthen core musculature.
Adding dynamic movement to seated tasks, is a great way to build core muscle strength. There are a multitude of alternative seating options that allow for dynamic movement while sitting. Examples include, The AlertSeat, Kore Wobble Chairs, and therapy balls. For more information on this check out the blog post, Flexible Seating Options in The Classroom & Home Learning Environments. It is important to remember that using alternative seating to strengthening core muscles should be done during fun, non demanding activities such as watching a movie or playing an easy table game.
Scooter Board Fun
Scooter board activities are fun and engaging; depending on positioning, scooter board games can be a great way to strengthen either the front or the back core muscles.
Scooter board activities done while positioned on the stomach (‘superman position’; think belly down, arms and legs lifted and extended) are great for strengthening the extensor muscles. For a fun game try scooter board- bean bag tag. To play, players lay belly down on the scooter board with a set of beanbags on the scooter board directly under their chest (this encourages the extensor positioning). The goal of the game is to drop beanbags on opposing players’ backs. To do this they would use their arms to push their scooter to their opponent and then drop the beanbag on their opponent’s back.
Scooter board activities done while positioned on the back in the ‘tucked position’ (think knees in toward the chest, arms flexed, and head lifted) are a great way to target the flexor muscles. Scooter board monster stomp is a great example. To play, tape pictures of monsters (or anything of interest) to the wall, at a low level, 1-2 feet from the floor. The player lays on their back on the scooter board and assumes the ‘tucked’ position. The player’s teammate (or therapist) gently pushes the player to the first monster (a small push on the shoulders will usually do the trick!). The player’s job is to stomp the monster with his feet with enough force to propel him back to his teammate who will direct him to the next monster. Use caution here, this game takes a lot of strength! As soon as the player shows signs of fatigue (i.e. difficulty holding his head up) players should switch turns.
Balancing requires core stabilization, a great way to strengthen those muscles! A simple game of catch becomes a core strengthening challenge just by standing on a wobble board or air filled cushion. A core workout can be done while completing an obstacle course simply by adding a balance beam component or stepping stones. Another great option is to explore the many different yoga balance poses!
Handwriting is an intricate process that requires more than just putting pen to paper; the core muscles provide the essential stability from which our hands work off of. Building a strong foundation, before we put pen to paper, will increase handwriting success and lessen frustration.
Allyson Locke M.S., OTR/L & Sarah Glovasky M.S., OTR/L
Summer is fast approaching but that doesn’t mean kids need to lose the skills they developed over the last academic year! Last year, we posted a blog filled with summer activity ideas geared toward preventing the “summer slide”. As therapists, we know summer activities provide numerous opportunities to develop and build skills that will be needed for the upcoming school year in fun and non threatening ways. So we are bringing back the topic with this new post. New this year are more activity ideas and contributions from Sarah Glovasky M.S., OTR/L! As always appropriate supervision is recommended!
Messy play is a great way to develop the sensory skills needed for important school tasks like handwriting and social interactions. Summer is the best time for these messy activities because they can be done outside leaving the mess outdoors. An added bonus is that it is usually warm enough for a quick wash with the hose before going back inside. A few ideas to try:
Hide objects (like rocks, sticks, or mini animals) in a pile of mud, shaving cream, or leaves. How fast can you find them? How many can you find in 10 seconds? Not only is this a great sensory activity it helps strengthen the visual perceptual skills needed for academic tasks like reading!
Stomp in rain puddles, roll down a grassy hill, or skip through a soft patch of dirt. These big body movements help develop the vestibular and proprioceptive systems which are so important for self regulation!
When it is too hot or too rainy to go outside there are still plenty of opportunities for sensory exploration that are a bit less messy!
Make a sensory collage with items found in the recycling bin or use the Sensory Collage Kit! How many different textures can you incorporate? What textures do you like to feel? As a bonus, ripping, crumpling and rolling paper, tissue, and cardboard are all great ways to strengthen the muscle of the hand. For more ways to use recycled materials check out Second Hand Therapies.
Art projects afford great opportunities to develop the small muscles in the hand. This muscle development is critical for academic tasks like writing with a pencil and cutting with scissors. Get creative with your art projects, try:
3D Art. Three dimensional art helps kids build form and space concepts. Building a fairy castle outside is a great way to learn about size concepts. Inside, building with blocks, clay or even pillow cushions is a great way to explore how these concepts work. To add a sensory component try using scented dough!
Tie-Dye Prints: This is a great outdoor activity! First color an old bed sheet or large piece of paper with washable markers. Next use a spray bottle, filled with water, to squirt the drawing. Watch the colors mix and swirl together! Using a spray bottle not only helps build the muscles in the hands it is also great for bilateral coordination! For a smaller scale version, use an eyedropper to wet the paper!
Draw pictures in the dirt or other mediums like pudding (great for kids who like to explore with their mouth!) Use a stick, rocks, or fingers to draw with! We still love the Ed Emberly drawing books when you need drawing inspiration, stencils are another helpful tool! Drawing is so important for early writers and is great for visual perceptual development!
Making Bubble Art! Make bubble paint by putting a small amount of bubbles and a dab or two of food coloring in a bowl (use different bowls for different colors). Use a bubble wand and dip it into your favorite color. Blow the colored bubbles right at plain paper and watch the designs come alive!
Play Catch! Chasing after, stomping on, and catching bubbles are great ways to get some extra energy out. It is also a great way to develop eye-hand coordination and the visual skills needed to complete academic tasks like copying from the board. To make bubbles easier to catch try using Touchbubbles!
Make A Mountain of Bubbles! For a fun indoor activity, fill a small dish bin or other similar size, shallow bucket with lots of dish soap and a few inches of water. Use a straw to slowly blow into the water to make a mountain of bubbles. To really work the muscles in the mouth try a long straw or one with lots of twists like the Krazy Drinking Straws or Connector Straws.
With these fun activity ideas the learning doesn’t have to stop when school is out. Keep skills sharp and be ready for the upcoming school year!