This is our Valentine version of a “laser maze”. The kids love the challenge of navigating through the maze (without touching the lasers), being careful to retrieve the mail by releasing the clothespins using their “pincher” fingers. We have 2 mail boxes on either end to deliver the mail. Some of the yarn lasers have bells attached so if they touch a laser, it will set off the (pretend) alarm! This type of pretend play helps kids to slow down because they cannot move impulsively through the lasers without setting off the bells. It also requires sustained attention, eye hand coordination, fine motor dexterity and strength to release the clothespins and helps kids be more aware of where their body is in space.
How to make your own:
Find any two pieces of furniture (chairs and tables work well) and cross cross Chunky Yarn from end to end. Use real envelopes or make your own out of adhesive foam sheets (pictured are plain foam and sparkle foams with decorative heart foam shapes). Use regular clothespins or chip clips. The mail boxes and banner were purchased through Oriental Trading and craft stores.
To increase the challenge:
- Place the clothespins up high to encourage overhead reach. Place them down low to encourage lower extremity squat or kneel to standing.
- Place the lasers low to the ground to encourage prone position or army crawling which strengthens the arms and core.
- Add verbal directions to improve spatial relationships e.g ” Get the pink one on the right.” Or “Get the blue one below the white one”
- Consider using different types of clothespins (Wooden clothes pins, plastic clothespins and binder clips will all require varying amounts of strength and dexterity)
- Require pincher fingers only (thumb, index and middle finger).
- Separate two sides of the hand by placing an cotton ball or other small object to be grasped by pinky and ring finger against the palm of the hand while the pincher fingers pinch the clothespin.
- Time the child to see how quickly they can complete the maze and successfully deliver the mail to the mailboxes on either side.
To modify or make it easier:
- Put up fewer items.
- Allow whole hand grasp and release.
- Make fewer and wider zig zags with the yarn lasers.
- Color the tips of the wooden clothespins to make it easier for children to see which side to pinch.