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November’s All-Star toy of the month is Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel by Educational Insights. Your kids will love helping the squirrel stock up on acorns to prepare for the cold winter. Help them take turns spinning a dial and using tongs to pick up acorns.
This game is great for challenging fine motor skills. In order to integrate more gross motor, or big muscle strengthening, consider placing the acorns on the floor and the logs on a table or higher surface. You can scatter them, put them in a bowl, or in a bin of rice or lentils so that your little one can sort through them while holding a squat position. Why on the floor? Because every turn they take they will have to squat, which is one of the best activities for building core and glute strength.
All of our little friends love this adorable squirrel! While collecting acorns and adding them to logs, children can also practice identifying and matching colors, counting, making comments and asking questions using complete sentences (e.g., “I only need one more,” “I picked red and purple,” “He stole my green acorn,” “My/your turn,” “May I please have the spinner/squirrel?”, etc.), and taking turns. Anytime little ones play a turn-taking game, they are naturally learning important social skills; we love that this game provides plenty of opportunities to practice good sportsmanship. It’s a bummer when we lose our acorns to a gust of wind or a sneaky squirrel, and this is the perfect time to learn how to appropriately react, or to encourage a friend, during such disappointments (e.g., “Oh, man!” “You’ll get more acorns soon!”, etc.). After all, the fun part is playing the game and sharing the experience with our friends, even if we aren’t the winner 🙂
The squirrel tongs are not only cute, they are also a fantastic way to work on fine motor skills and hand strengthening! This game also works on visual motor skills to match by color, and hand eye coordination to transfer the acorns into their designated slots. If the tongs are too tricky, your little one can use their fingers to transfer the acorns! Using fingers is important for developing in hand manipulation skills; try a ‘magic’ trick by having your little one hide an acorn in the palm of their hand and then roll it up to fingertips to place.