Homemade Position Boards are perceptualizing aids 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 Scratch, Position, and Grab (SPG) Board is made by Lilli Works, but may no longer available. It is meant to provide 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.
Position (or SPG) Boards are among the easier and least expensive pieces of equipment to make. Many people prefer these to ones that can be purchased because of their greater durability. Like any Position Board they can be designed at various levels to correspond with the child’s skills and preferences.
Level 1 – Scratch Board
This level is used with children who are unable or just beginning to be able to open their hands and move their fingers in a grasping motion. Materials should be texturally interesting and varied. Some materials you might consider are various fabrics such as velvet, corduroy, brocade, waffle weave, or satin. You might also use various floor covering samples such as artificial grass, textured linoleum, various carpet weaves, wood. Low-profile kitchen scrubbers are also interesting as are nail files, aluminum, glass, small flat stones, or textured papers and cardboard.
Level 2 – Grasp and Release Board
This level of position board is used with individuals who can open and close their hands and are beginning to develop grasping. Objects that will match the size of the child’s hand can be attached to the board with computer zip ties or hot glued to the surface. Note: if you use hot glue, check each time to make sure the objects are secure. You might use things like castanets, plastic pot scrubbers, squishy balls, small strips of elastic with beads or buttons, ribbon bows, nail brushes, interesting small pieces of wood or metal, or any other graspable item. You want to make sure the shape of the object can be grasped by the individual.
Level 3 – Grasp and Handle Board
It is important to select objects that match the child’s abilities and interests. You should give thought to preferences that might encourage tactile exploration, but you don’t necessarily use only preferred items. A non-preferred item when explored independently under the child’s own control, might become a preferred item. If the child has some vision, consider preferences for color, shine, patterns versus solids. You teacher of students who are visually impaired can guide you in considering both tactile and visual needs of your learner. You might enjoy watching several videos about how TSBVI Outreach Consultant, Sara Kitchen, chose objects for a particular child.
Making a Position Board
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.
Examples of Position Boards
Here are some more examples of Position Boards from Trisha Borg at Narbethong State Special School.
Teacher of students who are visually impaired, Liz Eagan, created this free-standing, two-sided position board for her student in Bastrop, TX by using computer cord zip ties to attach three pieces of pegboard together.