Scratch, Position, and Grab Boards
The Scratch, Position, and Grab (SPG) Board is a perceptualyzing aid designed to fulfill a learner’s need for activity, while promoting increased fine motor development from a level of scratching, to a level of grasping and manipulation of objects. The SPG-Board provides conditions for learning the position of objects/materials, and so gives optimal opportunity for the learner to repeat performed activities at the various levels of development. Repetition is necessary for the establishment of a memory, which is conditional for cognitive development.
The SPG-Board is a board with tracks for positioning 12 squares. The holes on the squares make it easy to attach various items, so that the SPG-Board can easily be reconfigured to meet the learner’s needs and skill level. The rationale of the three colors is to distinguish between three important levels of the motor development of the hands and fingers.
The boards pictured here were purchased from LilliWorks.
Level 1: Scratch/Light Blue:
Low textures are attached to the squares that encourage the learner to scratch. The squares represent the level of finger activity seen before the thumb is consciously included in grasping behavior. (Usually learners do not like sand paper. They prefer to scratch on surfaces with textures different from familiar ones, such as fabric and hair).
Level 2: Grasp & Release/Turquoise:
Objects on tight elastic that don’t travel far. The squares represent the level of closing the fingers around an item, and increased grabbing activity.
Level 3: Grasp & Handle/Dark Blue:
Objects on loose elastics that can reach 6 to 12 inches. The squares represent the level of grasp and release leading to the ability to grasp and manipulate – as in a Position Board explained and shown in the books “Early Learning” and “Space and Self”.
The various colors of the squares can also be used to make it easier for a learner with vision difficulties to see the item.
NOTICE: The SPG Board is therapeutic equipment designed for use as part of an Active Learning program. It is NOT A TOY and learners using the equipment should be closely supervised by a competent adult. Care must be taken that items do not detach and pose a choking hazard.
Populate: Attach to the squares items appropriate to each developmental level. Items can be attached by using ¼” elastic through the holes in each square. As there is little clearance on the backside of the board, it is recommended that knots be tied on the topside of the squares. Do not loop the elastic around the sides of the squares. Pop rivets may also be used, but must be drilled out for removal.
Configure: Press the retainer button down and carefully insert the squares into the tracks. Configure and position the SPG Board so that the squares with items of interest are at the learner’s hands (perceptual field), or if motivated, just beyond their current reach. A learner may start with all or mostly Level 1 squares, then later mix-in Level 2, and progress to Level 3. Remove squares by pressing the retainer button down as needed.
Soap or silicone may be applied to the tracks as lubricant. Tracks may initially be tight, but will loosen over time.
The SPG Board has two holes for hanging it. They are the same distance as the holes on the Essef Board, so that hooks to hang the Essef Board may also hang the SPG Board, and the SPG Board may also be tied or strapped to an Essef Board. Forces upon those holes should be mostly vertical, as the holes are near the edge and strong side forces may damage the board.
NOTE: The SPG Board is made out of medium-weight plastics to keep it lightweight. It may be damaged by being dropped, or being hit by heavy items. It is possible to break portions of the track if excessive force or leverage is to insert or remove squares. The two holes to hang the board are also not designed for excessive forces. Vigorous kicking, use of a screwdriver or other metal tool can damage the SPG Board.
Description of Everyday Objects Used in Samples
Note the pairing of similar but different items so the Learner may gain more information through comparison.
Level 1 – Scratch
- Crinkly sounding plastic tray found in a box of chocolates
- Textured Braille Paper – folded and glued so that folds form flaps to play with
- Plastic Astroturf
- Bubble wrap glued to panel
- Stiff paper folded and glued to panel to create multiple flaps
- Pleated cloth binding
- Plastic gift bow
- Textured Braille paper
- Rubber material with raised circles (bath tub mat)
- Hook side of Velcro
Level 2 – Grasp & Release
- Plastic kitchen scrubber
- Plastic film canister with elastic strung through a hole made in the bottom on which several buttons have been tied
- Brush type curler
- Pipe cleaner – shaped into a circle
- Corrugated straw
- Soap suction cup holder tied to panel
- Knotted strings of different colors tied with elastic
- Button tied with elastic
- Interlocked plastic ring chain
- Rubber ribbed tube tied with elastic
- Plastic rings of different sizes tied with elastic
- Different buttons/beads tied with elastic
Level 3 – Grasp & Handle
- Ring of beads on elastic tied with 3”- 6” long elastic
- Cloth bag filled with cornstarch – tied with elastic and buttoned to the pane
- Key ring with plastic shoe tied with elastic
- Badminton birdie tied with elastic
- Wooden castanets (for children) tied with elastic
- Keys and key hook tied with 3”- 6” long elastic and buttoned to the panel
- Heavy keys of different sizes tied with 3”- 6” long elastic
- Two different plastic shapes for small beads (craft kit)
- Plastic film canister tied with 3”- 6” long elastic with beads tied to the inside of the film canister
- One steel and one plastic buckle tied with 3”- 6” long elastic
- Short toothbrush and cleaning brush tied with 3”- 6” long elastic
- Two nailbrushes, each tied with 3” – 6” long elastic
The item remains in a consistent location where the learner can locate it again. This enables the learner to interact with the items, by grasping, releasing, banging, throwing, etc. The SPG-Board provides conditions for learning the position of objects/materials, and so gives optimal opportunity for the learner to repeat performed activities at the various levels of development. Repetition is necessary for the establishment of a memory, which is conditional for cognitive development.
Making your own Position Board
- Directions for Making SPG Boards. (Word Version)
- Directions for Making SPG Boards (PDF Version)
To make a position board you will need the following supplies:
- Polypropylene pegboard preferred – best results with durability and cleanliness. The size is determined by your use of the board (table or tray top, wall hanging, or floor.)
- 1/8” elastic – minimal width, use larger widths for children that have increased strength
- Plastic tubing – large enough to cover elastic
- Loop turner – available at JoAnn Fabric – for pulling elastic through tubing
- Drill – to put holes in items to be placed on boards
- Items to be attached to board
Attach elastic to the end of the item(s) to be attached. Make sure that the length of elastic allows for the item to be brought up to a child’s mouth from its original location. Cut a piece of tubing and using the loop turner, thread the elastic through the tubing. Once the elastic is covered its entire length, tie the other end of the elastic to the pegboard.
Caution must be used to determine appropriate items to be attached to the board. Do not use any items that pose a choking hazard, that are easily broken, or that have sharp edges. The builder is responsible for the safety of the child using the equipment.
The items placed on a position board are determined by the developmental level of the child or children to play with the board. Evaluate items for sensory characteristics – visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and taste. Evaluate an item for the skill needed to manipulate it – pushing, batting, grasping, pulling, taking apart, putting together, etc. Ensure that items can be compared to others of size, weight, shape, etc.
A position board that requires skills that are too developmental high or too low for a child will not promote active learning, and may result in limited or stereotypical activity or no activity at all.
Lilli Nielsen, 1992, LilliWorks: Space and Self
Lilli Nielsen, 1989, LilliWorks: Spatial Relations in Congenitally Blind Infants
Lilli Nielsen, 1993, LilliWorks: Early Learning – Step by Step
Lilli Nielsen, 1998, LilliWorks: The FIELA Curriculum – 730 Learning Environments
For more information contact:
Penrickton Center for Blind Children, 26530 Eureka Road, Taylor MI 48180 | www.penrickton.com | 734-946-7500
See also the page on Making Your Own Position Boards.