Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Active Imagination Activity Book Review: A Useful Resource for the New Year

active imagination thin ice1.  Stay physically active despite winter cold.
2.  Spend quality time with our children.
These two commitments are ones that we are renewing for 2012.  If you have similar goals in mind, you may want to check out occupational therapist, Kelly Tilly’s  Active Imagination Activity Book, Sensorimotor Cards for Children to Improve Focus, Attention, Strength and Coordination.
Several months ago, we gratefully received a copy of this handy resource from Future Horizons in exchange for an honest review.  Since then, we have built strength and bonded with smiles through using some of the 50 activities included in the book.

A Rich Review of Active Imagination Activity Book 

How much do I love a resource that is easy for both children and adults to access, and one that has wipe clean pages to boot?  A lot!  And, that is exactly what the Active Imagination Activity Book is.

active imagination pageKelly Tilley did a fantastic job making her book a grab-and-go resource for adults and children alike.  The bulk of the spiral-bound book contains one-page, illustrated descriptions of sensorimotor activities that children can easily follow along with.  These are color-coded with tabs that highlight whether activities are Energizing, Upper-Body Strengthening, Core Strengthening and/or Calming, which help both children and adults to quickly select activities appropriate to the needs of any given moment.

Other portions of the book are more geared to adults using the book:
  • an Introduction concisely points our the why’s and what’s behind the the book.
  • Highlights of Active Imagination Activities suggests ways the books can be used and what types of activities might be selected before, during or after academic periods, prior to bedtime, as a part of obstacle courses, etc. 
  • Selecting Activities for Each Child describes what the combinations of tabs at the bottom of activity pages mean, providing clear explanation in layman’s terms about how and why to incorporate Energizing, Upper-Body Strengthening, Core-Strengthening and Calming activities into a child’s sensory diet.
  • a Quick- Reference Chart lists activities and the corresponding areas they help a child attend to.
Plus, the book is formatted so that it can stand as an easel, which allows children to easily view directions and drawings as they participate in activities

active imagination thin ice 2 As a parent of three young children who all benefit from purposeful activities interwoven with  creative play, I find this book a fantastic resource.  My children quickly gravitated toward it and enjoy using its ideas to spurn strength-building imaginative play, such as that they got into as a result of the “Thin Ice” activity.

As the person responsible for ensuring my eldest son maintains an adequate sensory diet, I herald this book for its grab-and-get-to-it formatting.  On busy days, when I realize I have been neglecting my son’s need for energizing or calming activities, I can toss him Active Imagination and tell him to pick several activities with red or blue tabs at the bottom.  On other days, when life allows me to be more proactive, I can spend a few moments tailoring  brief activity routines for my son, his siblings and I to have fun strengthening core muscles while satiating sensory diet needs.  Any day, I can turn to this Active Imagination for ideas that are clearly described, well-illustrated and purposefully-selected.
  • A spiral-bound resource that can lay flat or stand up as an easel.
  • Laminated pages that make illustrations pop while also guaranteeing that pages messied by eager young hands can easily be wiped clean.
  • A size that can fits well into a back pack or tote bag.
  • Activities that require almost no equipment.
  • A streamlined selection of illustrated ideas to improve any child’s strength, coordination, focus and attention.
You cannot get much more practical than that.  

Still, I am knocking the book down a 1/4 star for practicality.  Why?  Because I am a stickler for accuracy, and if one read the back cover of Active Imagination, the words “Exercises That Require No equipment!” stand out to me.  While it is true that many of the activities in the book require no equipment and all of them require only equipment that one is likely to have at home, I feel that the statement implies that no equipment is necessary for any of the 50 activities in the book.  This is not the case.
Equipment called for includes:
  • a large ball
  • a heavy blanket
  • pillows or cushions
  • bean bag
  • a laundry basket or box
  • a low bench
  • a wobble board
  • a chair
  • a bowl
  • a yard stick or wrapping paper roll

Although structure is vital for all children, especially those who are uniquely wired, my eldest son also thrives on variety.  He likes things that are new, or seem new.  Thus, I have found that while Active Imagination provides a fantastic selection of activities that appeal to my children, I have had to put it away at times in order to keep it interesting.  
active imagiantion teensy weensy spider ninaIn rotation with several other resources that we have, such as the MoveAbout Activity Cards that  I reviewed over at Our Journey THRU Autism, Active Imagination has remained useful to our family thus far and I can definitely see it staying in rotation for years to come.  With activities entitled such things as “Dolphin Dive”, “Meteorite Launch”, “The Windmill”, “Lava Leaps”, “The Seal from the Aquarium” and “Teensy Weensy Spider” (pictured in action by one of my kiddoes), this book not only lends itself towards strengthening and regulating bodies, but also towards seasonal topics, field trips and study units our family enjoys.
Additionally, although Active Imagination is published by a company geared towards Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder, I think it is a valuable resource for all children.  Every child has sensory needs to one degree or another.  Any child can benefit from core and upper-body strengthening activities.  All children can enjoy the calming and alerting exercises depicted in this activity book.  
A * for VALUE 
Handy resource for children and the adults in their lives?  $19.95 (or less with discount codes such as “HAPPY” at New Horizons).*

Fifty well-illustrated, clearly-described activity geared toward specific sensorimotor goals? $2.50 or so each.

My children finally beginning to figure out how to coordinate their bodies to do jumping jacks through the Soldier-Tepee Activity? 

active imagiantion soldier-tepee luke

Personal victories aside, I feel that Active Imagination is a good value.  The book is well thought-out and conveniently formatted with 50 relevant, easy and fun sensorimotor activities, plus helpful, yet concise, additional thoughts.  
For parents, it provides a quick-and-easy way to invite children to attend to their sensorimotor needs while activating their imaginations.

For homeschoolers, teachers, youth group leaders and coaches of pre-k and elementary school children, the book provides easy activities for individual and group movement breaks, as well as Physical Education ideas.

For Occupational Therapists, it fits nicely into a therapy bag and makes an excellent tool for sharing with parents to encourage continuity between activities done at therapy and at home. 

For children, it is just plain easy-to-follow fun!

*If you are lucky enough to have a library system that carries this book, definitely check it out.  Otherwise, if you are interested in purchasing a copy of the Active Imagination Activity Book, you may want to consider doing so directly through Future Horizons.  By entering the discount code “HAPPY” there, you can get 15% off your entire order and free U.S. shipping.  Plus, authors of  all the books/materials you order will receive twice the royalties they would if you purchased their items from, say, a rather large online book retailer.  This helps their livelihood and keeps the great resources coming.


Brittney said...

This looks like a great resource with a lot of fun activities! The children look very active and look like they enjoy the activities! These are the type of products I enjoy keeping on rotation too. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

This looks like such a fun resource! I love books that help me get my kids moving.


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