Can an Octopus Help Hand-Eye Coordination?

Amy Repko


The product that will undergo the magnifying glass is the Nuby Octopus Hoopla Bathtime Fun Toys (in purple). As the name suggests, the bulk of the toy is a purple octopus, with detached rings that the child can toss onto one of the tentacles of the octopus. The suggested age is 18 months and above and the intended developmental benefit is improving hand-eye coordination. As Bornstein and colleagues write, after 18 months of age, infants are able to picture non-visible trajectories (Bornstein, Arterberry, & Lamb, 172). This aligns with the purpose of the toy, as it is a toy toss game. Apparently I am easy to please because this toy initially stood out to me for its bright colors. After reading the initial pitch I thought it was a cute idea for a toy, however, I was taken aback to hear that there was a significant educational claim. As it is not a complex toy, I was surprised that there was any sort of room for an educational marketing claim. I kept my skeptical mindset throughout my investigation of the research around the subject of infants and hand-eye coordination.

Hirofumi Shimizu tracked the efficiency of developmentally disabled preschoolers learning to perform a hand-eye coordinated task on a computer. Seven preschoolers were required to complete a three-part computer-training program. The second part was heavily measuring hand-eye coordination by having participants follow the mouse on the screen of the computer. Results showed that given the three separate training sessions, participants we able to learn how to complete the task. This study suffers from the practice effect, or the tendency for participants to perform better on a task after completing it multiple times simply due to the repetitive nature of the study. It is also important to note that the sample was only seven subjects.

Hand-eye coordination is a skill that can greatly benefit in real life from the practice effect. Bornstein supports the claim of the toy only to the extent that children at 18 months are able to begin to imagine trajectories, much like what is needed to successfully play the toss game. It is not a far claim to say that if an infant plays with the toss toy enough, that they will improve their hand-eye coordination. It is incorrect to assume, however, that this toy has a unique quality that will be more beneficial that any other toss game. The research confirms that with enough practice, the toy may improve hand-eye coordination. There are no harms to this toy, unless someone was to step on one of the tentacles. My final conclusion of the toy is that although it is bright and fun, it has no unique quality that would promote hand-eye coordination at the age indicated and should not be advertised as such.


Bornstein, M.H., Arterberry, M.E., & Lamb, M.E. (2014). Development in Infancy (5th Edition). Psychology Press

Nuby Octopus Hoopla Bathtime Fun Toys, Purple . (n.d.). Retrieved from

Shimizu, H., Yoon, S., & McDonough, C. S. (2010). Teaching skills to use a computer mouse in preschoolers with developmental disabilities: Shaping moving a mouse and eye–hand coordination. Research In Developmental Disabilities, 31(6), 1448-1461.

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