Starfish Therapies

May 15, 2012

Stickers – So Simple, Yet So Effective

When working with kids motivation is the key.  Depending on the day, the hour or the child that motivation could look different.  One of the simplest yet so effective methods of motivation are stickers.  Kids love them!  Not only are they great motivation but they actually work on skills and the child doesn’t even realize it (that’s my favorite kind of motivation)!

I’ve talked about using sticker charts before and we make use of them in many ways.  We have some kids who have ongoing ones that will result in something once it is all filled up.  One of these uses is where they have to earn a sticker each day for behavior/participation/etc.  Others have an ongoing one with tasks they are working on and each session they do the skill/task they earn a sticker until the whole chart is full.  Others have sticker charts for each session where they write down their tasks or they have a goal for a certain number of stickers and they get to put one on every time they accomplish what they were supposed to.  We also just hand out stickers at the end of the session sometimes and they love to wear it proudly on their hand or shirt or forehead occasionally!

Other than motivation you may be wondering what else the kiddo is working on.  Well here are a few things:

  • Bilateral Coordination – If they are peeling the sticker off they need to stabilize the paper with one hand while manipulating the sticker with the other hand.  Also for precision of placing the sticker they need to use a stabilizing helper hand as well.
  • Mature Grasp Patterns -In order to effectively peel off the sticker it works best with a pincer grasp.  They may evolve to this and you may need to help them by starting with larger stickers first and then working your way down to smaller stickers.  Also, in the beginning the more you start the peel for them the easier it will be for them to get it but eventually you want them to be able to manipulate the sticker off the paper by themselves.
  • Fine Motor Control – This goes along with both of the above points but it also takes control to put the sticker on the surface that they want, especially if they want it in a certain location.
  • Visual Motor -If you have a square on a chart or they are making a picture with stickers they get to work on visual motor skills and precision by placing the sticker in the correct spot.  To encourage success, start with larger areas and work your way down to smaller areas for them to place the sticker in.
  • Body Awareness -You can have the kiddo place the sticker on a specific body part for increased body awareness.  Its always interesting to see where the stickers end up when you say something like ‘place the sticker on your forehead’!
  • Counting/Reading – For the kids who are working on charts they always want to know how many they have or how many more they need so its a great opportunity to work on counting and one to one association because they will have to point to the sticker or empty space while they count.  Also if you have specific tasks/skills written down they can work on locating the word(s) for where to put the sticker.
  • Choices/Decision Making – We will also use letting the kiddo pick out their own sticker as another whole type of motivation.  Sometimes we pick it out for them but on some ‘special’ occasions we let them pick it out.  The thought process that goes into what sticker is pretty amazing and you can see them weighing the pros and cons of their sticker choice as they go through the sheets of stickers and decide yes/no/maybe for that sheet to narrow it down and then making the final decision.  Sometimes its based on what they like and sometimes its based on what is already on their chart and wanting just the right mix of stickers.

How do you use stickers?

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