I am so excited when I find a truly fun toy that builds the visual and fine motor skills that my preschool and early elementary clients need. I am giving this book to 2 of my best friend’s grandchildren (ages 8 and 10) today. She and her husband have them for the holiday week, and if their outdoor plans get rained out, she will be thanking me long after they have gone home. They will be entertained for hours.
This is a book that is intended for kids over 3, but until about 6, some adult assistance is probably a good idea and under 5 is necessary to prevent problems. No child will have any idea that they are building bilateral control skills, developing coordination for cutting and handwriting, and gaining spatial-perceptual skills for reading and writing. To them, it is all just creative fun!
The book is ring-bound and the pages are laminated. This creates a sturdy book that resists tears and arguments. It also means that the tape sticks easily and removes almost as quickly. One of my clients told me last week “I just love to take the tape off!” Narrow paper tape is a little tricky to tear with your fingers, so kids under 6 or so will need some help, and kids 6 and up will need a lesson in how to tear tape. I measure and tear the tape for the under 5’s, and ask the 5’s to use safe scissors to cut the tape as I hold it. Take your tape pieces and stick them to the white spaces in the picture to complete the design. I love the idea that kids can go “logical”, for example, and put red tape on the red barn, or choose to use all the colors randomly and make a kaleidoscope barn! I also recommend placing more tape to create silly designs. Red tape flames coming out of the helicopter, the big spider with home-made baby tape spiders, etc.
Placing the tape correctly requires the use of both hands. Kids need to be able to grade their pressure and coordinate finger movements to release tape onto the picture accurately. You can (and I recommend) talking with preschoolers about the line directions as “horizontal”, “diagonal”, and so on. Knowing the words that teachers use for handwriting instruction makes learning easier. Knowing the proper words that adults use is empowering.
Measuring whether the tape is the correct length, and if not, deciding what to do about that is a wonderful way to build pre-math and math skills. Bring a ruler and this book with you to a family restaurant, and don’t tell kids that they are working on math skills. I don’t know if the Montessori teachers do measuring activities, but it sure would fit into their philosophy.
For the little guys, there can never be too much tape. Sadly, M. and D. feel differently, and only include 4 rolls of 1/4 inch tape. They don’t sell the tape separately. I guess you could buy paper tape and cut it to the correct width, but that is a pain. I nosed around Amazon and did not see clear choices for narrow paper tape. The books are affordable enough that you could just pick up another one, and maybe get one for each child in the house. Perhaps they could trade tape colors so that the kid who loves red gets 2 rolls and trades off the green and yellow.
Now you can see why I am so excited about this activity book. So much fun and creativity for a wide range of ages, and no child even suspects that they are gaining valuable skills this summer!