Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review & Worldwide Giveaway: MeMoves: Prepare the Body For Learning

Why is very cute boy's arms glowing?  I can explain.

WHAT: MeMoves by Thinking Moves
INVENTORS: Roberta Scherf and Chris Bye
DOES: works to prepare the mind and body for learning; calming; midline work
INVEST:  $59.95 for DVD Program (The iOS app is $9.99)
AGES: 3+
TOOLS: I Can Take of Myself, My Body Needs to Move
EXPERT OPINION: Karin Buitendag, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Director, Occupational Therapy, STAR Center (Sensory Therapies and Research Center) and Amy Baez, Pediatric Occupational Therapist and Founder of Playapy
GIVEAWAY: TWO Winners will each receive a MeMoves Program complete with DVD, Music CD, User Guide, and Puzzle Cards

+1 Demo: Async load

One day, I was sitting with my friend Sue and we were talking about how iPad apps usually do not promote bilateral coordination like the way Sifteo cubes do.  It's true, isn't it?  Most apps do not give you or your child an opportunity to use both hands and arms.  The most that your "helper hand" will do is hold the iPad and now we even have pillows to take that job.

MeMoves is the brainchild of Roberta Scherf, the mother of an adult son living with autism.

But wait, look, here is an app that does allow you to use both hands.  It is really different from others. Not only does it cost almost $10 but it also features three categories you don't normally see in an app:  Joy, Calm, Focus.  These three categories also make up MeMoves DVD program of which the iOS app is modeled.

This is one of the most unusual products that I have ever reviewed.  I don't have lots of science to bring to you here. But I do have the encouraging thoughts from occupational therapists whom I really respect. Believe me, even if you don't buy this, you should read this review.  It's good to learn the message here.  The first one is paramount:

Grandma and Number 1 Son both love doing MeMoves.  I am so grateful to see them enjoy something together.  My mom is not a native English speaker but that doesn't matter with MeMoves.  I think that is really huge.

You Can't Learn When Your Body is Not Calm

It seems very obvious when we say it out loud but I think that today's classrooms are expecting too much calm from young bodies.  From the comments that I've read in my latest back-to-school review, it looks like homework is a major cause of anxiety.  If you think about that, if you think about how anxious a child is during homework, or any academic time, then it is safe to assume that the child may just be "half there."  Because when a child is unhappy or anxious, then the child is not attending to the task.  He is preoccupied with other things.

But how do you get calm? This is a real challenge. There are so many things that have to be done in a school day.  Do we all have time and knowledge and the space to teach meditation or yoga? Maybe not.  This is where MeMoves comes in.  Like many of the products here, it's one of those products that makes perfect sense to you even though you have never seen anything like it.

A lot of the exercises are very easy.

I saw the value in the program and I thought that it would be handy not only in the clinic setting but I also think it would be helpful in schools for teachers to use in the classroom," said Karin Buitendag, Director of Occupational Therapy at the STAR Center led by Lucy J. Miller, a globally recognized treatment and research facility for Sensory Processing Disorder.   She said that it could be used to get kids to regulate and settle down. "It's not something like yoga or anything else," said Karen who explained that kids could just sit or stand by their desks and do the exercises.  There is no need to move around. 

 How Does MeMoves Work?

First, I think it is important to mention that MeMoves is calming but it's not something you can ask a kid in crisis to do.  It doesn't work like that.  But for those kids who just came in to start another day at school or must calm down from recess then I could see MeMoves being quite effective.Karin explained that MeMoves is using a number of systems including auditory, visual, movement, propriception (pressure on joints, muscles).  For the auditory aspect, Karin said, "We know that rhythm has a calming effect on the central nervous system." 

MeMoves uses a host of different people to do the exercises.  A variety of ages and ethnicities.  My son's favorite person is someone who he refers to as "Grandpa."

Prefer to sit? No problem.

"The emphasis of MeMoves is not to do those movements perfectly," said Karin who stressed that it was more about participation.  She further explained that we can become more regulated when information gets successfully processed through our higher cortical function.  Oh, no, that sounds like prefrontal cortex to me!!!  That prefrontal cortex is the party pooper of my life.  It's not working up to par for us here and that stinks because it is the inhibitor of impulsivity and other undesirables.  

Anything to help with the inhibition process gets my vote!  Luckily, she said that in this case, the thinking element is important: A child is thinking about moving his arms and then raising her arms, trying to follow the patterns.  She is attending. She is present.  "It's about participation, it's not about perfection." Karin said.  Letting the child follow along at an exercise at his/her level is important.  "If that challenge is just right Is going to be so calming and self-regulating."

My older son loves this. I told this to Karin and she said, that getting that "just right challenge" is awesome for kids.  I think that idea is also discussed in the book that NYSCI's David Wells introduced me to:  "Flow" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

I know what she means, I tried the "Focus" exercises on my younger one and it was hard. He got frustrated but then we stopped and later tried other exercises in "Joy" and he found those delightful.  I think I have to really be careful of how much I ask from him with this.  We only do a few exercises at a time.

Cool for School

"I think the potential in school settings and group settings is really big," said Karin who will soon be leaving to practice occupational therapy in South Africa and you know what?  She's bringing MeMoves with her and will be trying it out with a few teachers.

Amy Baez, the pediatric occupational therapist who introduced me to MeMoves told me that one thing that MeMoves does a lot of is midline crossing exercises.   What is midline?  Glad you asked!

"Midline crossing involves the use of one side of the body in the space of the other.  This is important for the development of hand dominance and elements of gross motor skills such as trunk rotation, core stability, and bilateral coordination," said Amy.  She also told me that the way people prefer the use of a particular hand builds strength so that skills can be developed.  What are kids' most important midline crossing activity? I suppose you could say that would be handwriting? Yes? Of course, yes!

See... told you MeMoves is cool for school.  Amy Baez is very cool too.  She uses it in her therapy sessions as well. 

The world is run by those who show up- Anonymous   photo: Mass Am Sam

Afraid to Buy But Want to Try?

Karin had a good suggestion which really makes tons of sense to me for many therapeutic products.  That is, therapists should lend it out first.  Parents who are really considering buying it can borrow one from school or from their therapist (or local library?) to see if they should buy one.

This makes a lot of sense to me and Karin thinks that you won't get a uniform response for every child (which confirms that they're human).  So if you are an OT and you think this may help your clients then please lend it to them. Karin did exactly this for her clients and many of them ended up buying it for themselves.

Back to School - BE Bold, BE Different, BE Proactive

Last week, I talked about using a timer to lessen pre-homework anxiety. I think it is general consensus that homework today is a completely different animal than it was when we were young.  That said, I think getting something like MeMoves at the start of the school year can have so much potential. I really like to introduce new tools at the beginning of the new school year.  There is a certain amount of novelty during those first weeks of school. Novelty at this time of the year usually means, new socks, shoes, and backpacks but what about new habits, new routines?

Think like this, if you start your new job and start wearing glasses for the first time, no one is looking at you saying, "Wow, you're wearing glasses now."  Instead, you are just a guy with glasses. In that same vein, I hope that lots of classrooms this year will start off with MeMoves too.  Then they'll be the classroom with MeMoves and that is that.  Additionally, I think teachers will need to explain less when they start the school year with it which manages expectations naturally.  There is less pressure that way.  You'll never know until you try and luckily, there is a 30 day money back guarantee which I think is incredibly awesome, generous, and smart.

Want to listen to the Music CD before buying?  Of course you do- try it here!  You'll love it

There are 14 puzzle cards that you can do while listening to the CD or without and you can do it anywhere.  They are double-sided so there are really 28 cards in that sense.  The reds are for one-finger.  The greens are for two fingers. Cool!

And now here's your chance to win your very own MeMoves DVD Program! There will be two winners and it is WORLDWIDE for this one!  Thanks Thinking Moves! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturer for the publication of this review.  The items were provided to Toys are Tools and Karin Buitendag to facilitate a review. Amy Baez purchased her own copy. Reviews are never promised.  The giveaway prize is being donated by the manufacturer.


  1. Eclipse, hands down! :)

  2. My calming - wind down secret is a sand picture lately. I can spend hours looking at the sand making different landscapes. It's Zen :)

  3. My students would love to have this in the classroom. Last year, at the suggestions of one of the parents, we purchased the iPad app. It proved so calming for our kiddo who struggles to stay in control of his sensory system. As for which CD track I think my students would most like, I'd say Rain Somewhere.

    The calming technique suggestions I would have really vary. It all depends on each child's sensory system. We use yoga and MeMoves in our classroom, which really tends to help. I also often play classical music in the background while kids are working. This seems to help calm a lot of my kids. Then, there is always just allowing time to move, time for "brain breaks."

  4. My daughter would love the Rain Somewhere track.

  5. To calm or wind down I love to write down my thoughts while drinking a warm cup of hot tea or coffee, sitting in my favorite chair.

  6. I think Dylan would like the Dance music.

  7. Forever, I have used the same Mozart CD for Dylan to sleep to. It's very effective. For homework, I think just moving helps, but not too much moving. (I've found bike rides don't work at all, unfortunately.)