Book Review of The Whole Spectrum of Social, Motor, and Sensory Games by Barbara Sher, M.A., O.T.R.

Book Review of The Whole Spectrum of Social, Motor, and Sensory Games by Barbara Sher, M.A., O.T.R.

Are you looking for fun and easy games for parents and teachers to play with kids of all ages? We have the perfect book to recommend, The Whole Spectrum of Social, Motor, and Sensory Games: Using Every Child’s Natural Love of Play to Enhance Key Skills and Promote Inclusion by Barbara Sher with Karen Beardsley. This 272 page resource book is brimming with multi-sensory games that stimulate brain development and foster the integration of the senses by enhancing motor, social, language and cognitive skills.

Who is Barbara Sher?

 Barbara Sher is a pediatric occupational therapist, mother, grandmother and workshop leader, Barbara is also known as the “Games Lady”. Barbara Sher, M.A., O.T.R., has over 40 years of experience as a teacher and occupational therapist, specializing in pediatrics. She is the author of nine books on games, which have been published in eight languages!Barbara Sher, MA, OTR, Barbara Sher, M.A., O.T.R., has over 40 years of experience as a teacher and occupational therapist, specializing in pediatrics. She is the author of nine books on games, which have been published in eight languages!

Her books feature games to elevate attention span, self-esteem, academics, motor skills, and social awareness, and always to promote delightful learning moments for all kids. She has also given workshops on making inclusive games and learning toys out of easy-to-find materials in many countries, including Cambodia, New Zealand, England, Vietnam, Norway, Nicaragua, Hong Kong, Houduras, and the islands of Micronesia.

We have reviewed a few of her resources and she participated in our Author Interview Series; find the links to these posts below.

Karen Beardsley, O.T.R. —The Whole Spectrum of Social, Motor, and Sensory Games was written with Karen  Beardsley who has been a pediatric occupational therapist specializing in early childhood for over twenty-five years. Parents and therapists of children with special needs will appreciate the appendix titled Home Therapy by Ms. Beardsley with tips for therapists on how to organize home visits and for parents on how to collaborate with their home therapists and the wonderful games in the home setting Karen details in chapter four.

Karen Beardsley has worked extensively with children who have sensory processing, neuromuscular, and feeding disorders in clinics, schools, and homes. She has ten years of international work experience developing school-based programs in the Pacific Islands. She has a private practice in Phuket, Thailand.

This newest book by Barbara Sher is illustrated by Ralph Butler.

Book Contents: The Whole Spectrum of Social, Motor, and Sensory Games

  • Chapter One:  Spontaneous Games for All Ages –Spontaneous, playful, learning games  for waiting in restaurants, airports, doctor’s offices, walking outside, or travelling
  • Chapter Two: Games for Babies –Daily games to develop the brain and deepen the adult-child connection
  • Chapter Three: Progressive Games for Ages Three to Seven –Inclusive games that use only one material to enhance multiple skills
  • Chapter Four: Therapy Games for Ages Three to Twelve –Home therapy games that enhance the basic skills domains by Karen Beardsley, OTR
  • Chapter Five: Short Group Games for Ages Three to Fifteen –Quick movement games that stimulate thinking, feeling, and creativity

Features of

The Whole Spectrum of Social, Motor, and Sensory Games

Quick searches —A well-organized book with an 11 page Table of Contents and an 11 page index so busy caregivers can locate information in the book quickly.

Space for notes –The pages have a dimension of 9.2 x 7.6 inches; therefore, each page has lots of room for personal notes.

Personal stories —Scattered throughout the book are stories that bring a human perspective to this resource book. The stories are teachable moments that Ms. Sher uses to impart her many years of experience.

Strategies —Tips for  parents, therapists, educators abound! Practical, immediately doable techniques for promoting play in the following areas and more:

  • How to get and maintain attention
  • How to organize the kids
  • How to make your own educational toys
  • How to organize the games
  • How to get everyone involved
  • How to end the games
  • How to work together
  • How to collaborate with your child’s therapists
  • How to connect with your child
  • How to adapt the games to suit your child

Introduction to each set of games – Includes a section called What Is Being Learned and it outlines the sensory, motor, and social skills reinforced in this group of games.

Lesson plans — Each game has detailed instructions complete with subheadings for Goals, Setup, Materials, Directions, Variations, and sometimes a Video link. Easy-to-understand explanations with examples reassures the adult in charge.

The games —All games are Simple, Fun, Engaging, Educational, and Inclusive! Ms. Sher knows that children learn when they are engaged. She writes, “Keep it light. If it’s not fun, it often isn’t therapeutic.” Most games encourage awareness of others, sharing, turn-taking, cooperative play, and reading social cues.

Variations or modifications —Most games can be played to fit children with special need or fit the games for use at home, school, parties and more. The variety of games can be played one-on-one or as a group. Some of the games include links to short video clips to see how the games are organized

Simple materials —What is needed for the games can be found in many homes! Many games use the same materials to develop a large variety of skills. Ms. Sher writes in What Materials Are Best: “Materials that are easy to get, such as aluminum cans, string, and plastic water bottles, are convenient and gentle on the budget. They can be quite diverse in their uses and have the eco-friendly aspect of being reused recyclables.” An example of this is found in the following excerpt where SEVEN games are described using only a blanket. The excerpt describes only one game.

Excerpt from The Whole Spectrum of Social, Motor, and Sensory Games

Pages 94, 95, and 96

BLANKET GAMES

In this book, the simple material of a blanket—just a large piece of any strong material would do—evokes  fun and encourages the development of motor, social, and sensory skills. For example, wrap a blanket tightly around two people and ask them to jump together, and they work on balance, timing, and shared attention—and they definitely gain social awareness of the other person who is snuggled up next to them!

What Is Being Learned

Sensory Skills

Vestibular feedback: The activity challenges children’s ability to stay balanced and to pay attention to the information in their inner ear that helps them maintain an upright position.

Proprioceptive feedback: The snugness of the blanket wrapped around them makes them aware of their body, satisfies their need for being held, and helps them stay in the present moment. Moving forward while snug in a blanket or attached to a friend also requires motor planning and body awareness.

Motor Skills

Rhythm and timing: Children get an opportunity to be in sync with another person by matching their rhythm and timing. (These games will still work even if the children aren’t in rhythm, but with practice this can be easily and satisfyingly learned.) Being in sync with another person also enhances social skills.

Socials Skills

Awareness of others: Some of these games start off as individual activities and progress to having two or more children wrapped together. Children notice the difference and become very aware of their classmates and the social pleasure of connecting with another without language.

Taking turns: Waiting for one‘s turn and understanding that other people get a turn are important and needed concepts for children.

Setup for All the Blanket Games

  • Set up a chair for each child. Having a seat makes it easier for children to contain their excitement. Explain that every child not only will get a turn but also will get more than one turn. Expect to have to remind children to stay seated when they get eager to be next.
  • In the games in which the children walk wrapped in the blanket, put two pieces of paper or mats on the floor. One is the “Starting Spot” on which children stand when getting wrapped in the blanket. The other  is the  “Turning Spot”  about ten feet away. This is the spot to which the children will walk, and at which they will then turn and return to the start.

Game 5: Sushi or Burrito

Directions

Lay the blanket on the floor and have one child lie down so that his body is parallel to the bottom edge of the blanket. Then you, with the help of other children, roll the child up in the blanket as if rolling up a sushi or burrito. Once the child is rolled up, the other children pretend to eat the yummy treat.

Afterward, the edge of the blanket is lifted up, and the child is carefully or quickly unrolled depending on his sensibilities. Again, as in the previous game, you might want to have a soft floor covering, such as carpeting or a mat. If that’s not available, unroll slowly.

See video of Sushi or Burrito Game below:

Smart Play by Barbara Sher

Bravo to the “Games Lady” for another EXCELLENT resource for all who work with kids!

Here are others!

Some of Barbara Sher’s Books

  • The Whole Spectrum of Social, Motor, and Sensory Games: Using Every Child’s Natural Love of Play to Enhance Key Skills and Promote Inclusion (2013)
  • Early Intervention Games: Fun, Joyful Ways to Develop Social and Motor Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum or Sensory Processing Disorders (2009)
  • Attention Games: 101 Fun, Easy Games That Help Kids Learn To Focus (2006)
  • Smart Play: 101 Fun, Easy Games That Enhance Intelligence (2004)
  • Spirit Games: 300 Fun Activities That Bring Children Comfort and Joy (2002)Self-esteem Games by Barbara Sher
  • Self-Esteem Games: 300 Fun Activities That Make Children Feel Good about Themselves (1998)

Follow Barbara Sher: 

28 INSTANT Songames: Fun-Filled Activities for Kids 3-8Buy:

Early Intervention Games: Fun, Joyful Ways to Develop Social and Motor Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum or Sensory Processing Disorders (2009)

 

Read Also: 

 

This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.
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