Seventh Graders Help Design Therapeutic Toys for Children

Creativity is the name of the game in Austin Perry’s Design and Modeling class, an enrichment course that is part of Project Lead the Way. Recently, seventh graders at Briarcliff Middle School ended their third quarter with a toy expo, displaying therapeutic toys they have created specifically for children with cerebral palsy in mind.

Working in groups, students created a variety of toys made with specific children’s needs, such as toys that help with hand-eye coordination, wrist extension and improving the pincer grasp.

Each team selected a fictional profile of a child and used it as a basis for developing a therapeutic toy to help that child’s occupational therapy goals. The profile described what that child needs to work on and also provided a list of examples of appropriate toys. e.g., wooden dollhouses, along with a description of how those toys could help improve that specific issue.

For example, building blocks can help improve hand-eye coordination, while a peg board can help improve the pincer grasp. A drum kit can help lift up the wrist to extend it.

“Students took what they had been practicing all quarter in using the design process,” said Mr. Perry, who teaches mathematics and special education. “They worked on defining a problem, generating concepts, designing a solution, building and testing, evaluating and then presenting.”


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