Miniature groceries assist therapists

A marketing gimmick to some, miniature groceries have returned to a national supermarket chain, which is proving to offer occupational therapy benefits and tools for child development.

Checkers Little Shop is a unique range of mini grocery collectables based on popular brands. Customers can collect them when they spend R150 or more at the till.

The miniature items are back with the similar level of enthusiasm to the initial release. Even though the retailer promotion was originally aimed at rewarding loyal shoppers, therapists, including speech and language and occupational experts, are now using these little collectibles.

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Zinathi Gxasheka with one of the mini collectables that can encourage kids to share. Picture: SUPPLIEDZinathi Gxasheka with one of the mini collectables that can encourage kids to share. Picture: SUPPLIED

From playing the “I spy with my little eyes” game to playing memory, therapists agree that not only are these items fun to play with, but they also help the intellectual development of many.

Occupational therapist Ray Anne Cook said children develop through play, using the promotional items. She said the child's inner drive is to develop themselves automatically through play.

“A typical child will use the items as part of play and development naturally. Therapists who are trained can use these promotional items in therapy to work through specific difficulties or traumatic experiences of the child." To help develop hand muscles, therapists use the Pick * Pay Super Animals cards to build structures with cards to develop motor skills.

Another method therapists use is placing the mini groceries into a shopping bag and getting children to try to identify objects through feeling the different objects.

Nicola Sowah, a speech-language therapist who works primarily with children who cannot communicate verbally, says: “I want to break the misconception that if people are not verbal, they cannot communicate.”

Sowah says she uses the Checkers Little Shop mini collectables in her therapy sessions as they are “a fantastic therapy tool”.

Sowah works at the Home of Hope, an organisation that takes care of children in a single residence foster home.

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