A Therapy-Informed Review of Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty
I can stop searching. I have found the perfect putty! That may sound like a strange statement coming from an adult woman, so let me explain.
I am an occupational therapist who works with children with differing abilities and special needs. For them, and for me, "play" is work. Children are working hard to develop the small and large motor skills (fine and gross motor) needed to do great things, but the children I work with need help meeting those motor milestones. For other children, sensory processing issues limit their ability to interact with the environment and objects around them in a way that their bodies can process and respond appropriately.
So why the search for putty?
In the therapy world, putty is great to provide little fingers with a strength-building activity in a fun way. Children learn to move their fingers in different ways to manipulate objects, use both hands together to push and pull, and build their fine motor coordination and muscle strength at the same time. Therapists also know the benefits of tactile tools for fidgeting to calm anxiety and improve focus. Unfortunately, if you look at any therapy catalog, you'll find that color choices are limited by medical-model "resistances" that stifle little imaginations from thinking outside the primary color wheel. ugh! There are a lot of benefits to playing with putty, so I've been on the hunt for a therapy putty that engages, inspires creativity, and challenges little minds while also meeting therapeutic goals...
Enter Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty
In our local boutique toy store, my daughters came across the Mixed by Me Thinking Putty Kit and a lightbulb went off inside my head! A few emails and Thinking Putty samples later, I'm excited at the therapeutic applications of Thinking Putty for children and adults alike!
A quick search on the Putty World website and you'll realize that there is a color, effect, texture, or special edition putty to suit any interest. For those of you who have a child with autism or ADHD, you'll understand the need to find highly interest-specific products to engage your child. With hypercolor, phantom, magnetic, UV-changing, glow, precious, and sparkle Thinking Putties, you'll be sure to find one that pleases!
The three Thinking Putty samples that we received to try out were a great variety of what the company has to offer: Hypercolor "Twilight", Phantom "FoxFire", and Magnetic "Strange Attractor." The sensory applications of these three putty varieties are perfect for the children I work with. We were able to explore how body temperature changes the color of the hypercolor putty, twist and roll the two colors together to make different patterns and shapes, and we even rolled a few putty letters too! We practiced letter writing and shape copying with the mini flashlight of the UV-Phantom putty which was a HUGE hit and engaged some of the most reluctant writers. The magnetic putty was the biggest hit of all as it came with a good-sized magnetic block that encouraged exploration of other magnetic objects in the classroom! Between the three Thinking Putty varieties we received, there was something for everyone in the therapy room that day.
Here are my top Thinking Putty "thoughts"
* Thinking Putty is nontoxic, latex-free, gluten-free, and wheat-free. This is a huge consideration in therapy practice as some kids continue to explore non-food materials with their mouths and my number one concern is safety when those accidents happen! Also, many students with autism or ADHD are on restricted diets for whatever food sensitivity or allergy reasons, so it's always good to know what's in the putty you're using!
* Just like the boring therapy putty I was stuck using previously, Thinking Putty offers 2 resistances: soft and firm....but now I have my choice of EVERYTHING to make the therapeutic benefits of putty much more exciting!
* If you've read my article on Creating a Sensory Tool Box, you'll remember that tactile tools for fidgeting were key to calming overstimulated minds and bodies by occupying idle hands. Thinking Putty is the perfect addition to your sensory tool box for home or school. It comes in different container sizes (3.2 oz, 1.6 oz, .47 oz, and the smaller samples from the kits) so depending on the size of little hands and the desk-drawer storage situation, Thinking Putty will fit discretely and quietly into any classroom.
* Smell-sensitive sensory kiddos will appreciate the odorless, scent-free Thinking Putty. For tactile-defensive children, the mix-your-own kit offers a sense of control within a sensory exploration activity. Children can choose their own colors, sparkles, shimmer, and glow (or not!) and make very small samples of whatever they choose. By giving them the control over choices in making their very own tactile sensory tool, children may be more willing to participate in the sensory activity.
Therapeutic Applications of Thinking Putty
* Push, pull, twist, rip, cut, stretch, poke! Whatever you can think to do with putty, you can do it with Thinking Putty...just in a more colorful, sparkly way!
* Use the UV-Phantom Thinking Putty to draw letters, words, shapes - develop eye-hand coordination skills, pre-writing skills, and cause/effect!
* Incorporate Glow in the Dark Thinking Putty into your dimly-lit sensory deprivation area for a tactile fidget with subtle visual intrigue!
* Twist and roll the Hypercolor Thinking Putty into different shapes and letters - can you make the curves and lines different colors? Can you rip and roll the putty into small balls and arrange them in a color-changed pattern?
* Explore STEAM curricular concepts with Magnetic Thinking Putty - What else in your classroom is magnetic? Conduct a scavenger hunt with your Thinking Putty to see what else is magnetized! Can you roll a Thinking Putty snake and make it move with your magnet? Watch magnetized Thinking Putty offer proprioceptive input to little fingers in new ways!