I cannot BELIEVE how much fun this Step 2 Waterpark Arcade toy could be! You hook it up to your outdoor garden hose and play. As an occupational therapist, I want all of my older toddler and all my preschool clients to get one of these arcade games to work on visual-motor coordination and hand strength.
What kid isn’t right for this toy?
This isn’t a toy for a child that cannot resist the impulse to spray others, as the water flow could be pretty strong. Almost every child is going to have some experimentation with controlling the hose. That isn’t the same as intentionally nailing their baby brother in the face.
Nor is it a good choice for a child that is really unsteady on their feet. It won’t be easy to handle a hose while sitting down, and too much failure is really hard on kids that are already stressed because of missing camp.
They have to have enough hand strength, even with two hands together, as shown, to squeeze the trigger while aiming. Older kids can stand farther back from the toy and use one hand.
Kids with significant problems with strabismus may not be able to aim from a distance. Strabismus will force them to use one eye to avoid “seeing double” at a distance. Again, failure isn’t fun. Weakening one eye isn’t a great idea either. If this motivates a child to wear their special glasses or eye patch, on the other hand, it could help you get some compliance.
Can You Incorporate This Toy Into Fine Motor or Handwriting Practice? SURE!!!!
Parents can come up with a score sheet on the sidewalk with chalk, on a white board with a marker, or use a bucket with pebbles. Every time a child hits the mark, they get a point.
They can write a hash mark or erase the previous score and write the new one, which is great for preschoolers and kindergarteners to practice writing numbers over the summer.
Of course, they have to write their names and their opponent’s name as well.
Counting the pebbles without writing them could be great practice for younger kids.
I just found this online after a parent asked me for recommendations for equipment. She isn’t sending her two kids under 5 to camp this year, and needs some ideas to turn her backyard into a fun place to spend the summer. This is the Little Tikes Magic Flower water table.
Why do I love this one?
Watch their video on Amazon and you will understand! But before you do, here are my reasons, as an occupational therapist, for recommending this water table:
Multiple levels mean that children of different ages can both have fun.
Multiple ways to explore helps kids take turns without having to choose between “the fun thing” and the “barely OK things” on the water table.
The animal theme works for lots of kids. Not everyone likes pirates. Or even understands pirates.
It is big enough to have at least 2 kids playing at the same time, maybe 3.
They include 2 duckies (who doesn’t love duckies?), 2 frogs, 3 turtles, a fish, and three pouring choices. I hate tables where you STILL have to go out and buy stuff to make it fun. This table is “one-and-done”.
All of my clients with low tone and hypermobility that can stand will be motivated to do so; there isn’t really any way to lean on this water table. They can stabilize by holding an edge, but they cannot drape themselves over it. They will be bending and reaching. A lot. That is a good thing.
Kids that use a wheelchair or need to sit while playing due to mobility issues will still be able to have fun with their friends and siblings that can stand and bend. This water table is inclusive.
I really hate sand tables. You would think that as an OTR, I would love them.
Nope. Sand gets everywhere. In clothes, in body folds, everywhere. Kids get sand in their mouth and in their eyes. It tracks into the house unless you shower your kid outside, and maybe it will be found inside even then. Sand is a pain in the neck.
As long as you empty your water table and hit it regularly with some soap or a diluted bleach solution to keep it clean, it is much easier on everyone to have a water table rather than a sand table. This one is going to be a lot of fun!