by Barbara Sher; illustrated by Ralph Butler
Jossey-Bass, 184 pages, $16.95
Purchase Attention Games
The activities described in this book aren’t games in the usual sense. They are structured educational activities that any parent, child-care provider, or teacher can use to boost a child’s creativity and sensory awareness.
The activities are based on a simple premise, but one that is familiar to parents of ADHD kids: To help a child improve his sensory awareness, you must first capture his interest. Barbara Sher, a pediatric occupational therapist, offers a variety of games for kids of all ages. For each activity, Sher details the “type” of attention it will engage — open, which gives you an “overall impression” of your environment, or focused, which requires you to actively filter excess information. “Focused” is the kind of attention kids with ADHD have more trouble with.
The activities for infants are straightforward — shining a flashlight on various objects and slowly pronouncing the names of them, for example, or dangling objects with different textures within reach for the baby to touch.
Toddler activities emphasize feeling textures, noticing sounds, and observing changes — for example, watching what happens to a feather placed in water or feeling small objects hidden in a sock and guessing what they are.
The activities for older children involve the modalities of touch and muscle awareness, and also emphasize social and emotional development. One of the activities aimed at six- to 12-year-olds involves tracing a letter on a child’s back and asking her to write the same letter on a piece of paper.
The activities for teens are intended to bolster self-esteem and show how to find solutions to social conflict. One simple “game” is to have your teen share his high and low moments with you every day. Another is encouraging your teen to imagine that she’s the director of a movie, or the star of a scene, when facing a challenging situation.
Attention Games is a valuable reference for anyone concerned with children’s sensory development — and anyone looking for captivating, safe, fun activities to do with their energetic children.