Thursday, May 31, 2012

Flowers made from melted crayons

This is a cute craft that kids love to create.  Items needed are: crayon shavings (I use scissors to scrape off pieces of crayon), wax paper, an iron, a green pipe cleaner and paper.   Have your child draw a large flower on a piece of paper (or you can draw it if the child is not yet able).  Then, if able, have your child cut out the flower shape (or you cut it out).  Next, have your child sprinkle some of the crayon shavings on the paper.  Cover the paper and crayon with the wax paper and roll the heated iron over the paper until the crayon has melted. Have your child poke the pipe cleaner through the center of the flower (once it is cool) and bend it to make a stem.   Your child can make a few of these to make a bouquet!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Here is a cute craft activity.  Take an egg carton and cut it so that you have three cups.  Have your child paint it as they like.  Then, take pipe cleaners and push them through the bottom of the egg carton and through to the other side.  This can be very difficult so you may need to poke a hole through with a pen or something first.  Have your child push the pipe cleaner through.  Draw on some eyes, and your child has made a caterpillar!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wheelbarrow races!

It's nice outside so get the kids out there and excercise!  One great idea is to have the kids have wheelbarrow races.  This is great for strengthening the upper extremities and helps both children gain control of their movements.  The kids will have a blast trying not to land on each other or take headers into the grass!  This is an activity that should be done on a soft surface such as grass.  Get the neighbors and have races.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Muscle strengthening and sports

So, I just got back from seeing a pediatric sports medicine doctor for my 12 year old daughter. Turns out she has loose shoulder joints causing the right shoulder to pop out of joint (sublux) for no reason. This happens during simple movements such as raising her hand during class. The appointment today inspired me to post about other aspects of Occupational Therapy that are important to children and their overall development. The physician said that with proper shoulder and back exercises, my daughter's shoulders would become stronger and would, thereby, pop out less. Now, I feel that I should mention that my daughter is a soccer player and does summer swimming, so she is a somewhat athletic child. She is not the perverbial couch potato. She just happens to have hyper mobile shoulder joints and needs to focus on exercises that strengthen her shoulders. Soccer, does not provide a lot of opportunities to strengthen the shoulders. It is important for children to be active. Sports, whether organized or not, provide great opportunities for children to increase their strength, endurance, balance and overall well being. It is, however, important for children to be well rounded in their sports playing, for many reasons. Focusing on one sport at an early age, and playing only that sport year round can lead to overuse injuries. Focusing on one sport, focuses on certain muscle groups and can lead to injury. It is beneficial to switch sports throughout the year. For example, do soccer in fall and spring, swimming in winter and summer. That way, your child will use different muscle groups allowing the others to take a break between seasons. When switching sports, it is important for your child to "ease" into the new sport, allowing his/her muscles to adapt to the new movements. In the next couple posts, we will provide fun, safe, movement activities and games for children to do to maintain a strong, healthy body.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Left-handed cutting

Now let's talk about the left-handed child and cutting.  Most classrooms provide right-handed scissors for the children to use.  What does it matter if a left-handed child uses right-handed scissors?  Right-handed scissors are designed to fit naturally within the curve of a right-handed thumb and fingers.  When used by a left-handed child, it is difficult to produce smooth, even cuts.  One might notice uneven, jerky lines when observing something that a left-handed child has cut.  It may not be lack of scissor skills, but that the child is using scissors intended for use by a right-handed child. The earlier a child uses the correct scissors, the more likely he/she will develop good cutting habits. When a left-handed child uses right-handed scissors,it is difficult for him/her to see the lines he/she is cutting, thereby causing the jerky, uneven cuts.  So, it is important that left-handed children are provided with scissors intended for left-handed children.  Speak to your child's teacher about designating a pair for your child's use and keeping them separate from the other scissors for easy identification.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Left-hand dominant children and writing

We’ve had a request to address children who are left-hand dominant and the difficulties that they face when learning to write.   As we know, left-hand dominant children make up a small minority of children.  Typical classrooms are right-hand oriented, presenting unnecessary difficulties for the left-hand dominant child.  Left-hand dominant children have additional challenges when learning to write.  As their hand progresses across the paper, they cover the letters that they have already written, presenting spacing problems as well as possible smearing of previously written letters.  These children will not have the visual guidance of being able to see the letters that they have already written in order to form a word.  Some of these children will develop strange grip patterns in an attempt to see what it is that they have already written. 
So, how do you, as parents or practitioners, assist the child to develop good writing skills using their left hand?  First, try repositioning the paper so that he/she will use a good grip while being able to see the letters that were previously written.  Practice prewriting lines and shapes using this paper positioning.  Have the child draw squiggly lines and shapes. 
Here is one way of positioning the paper for a left-handed child.  Note that the letters written are visible for the child. Smaller children may need the paper to be taped to the table to prevent it from moving from this position.  It is important to monitor for good grip patterns when a left-handed child first begins to write so that he/she becomes comfortable with the grip.
Lastly, remember, it is important not to force a child to be right-handed.  Allow the child to naturally pick the hand that is more comfortable for him/her to write.  We realize that there are children that, for pathological reasons, use their left hand to write, sometimes in an awkward manner.  These are not the children that we are referring to.  Those children may need to seek out the professional assistance of an Occupational Therapist. 
Please feel free to post questions regarding this, or, to post ideas/solutions that have worked for you. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Finger strengthening

Here's a cute project to work on finger strengthening.  Give your child some cotton balls and tell him/her to pull them apart.  Print a picture of a sheep and have him/her glue the cotton on to make the sheep "fluffy".  Be sure to allow your child to open/close the Elmer's glue and squeeze the glue onto the paper.  You will probably have to assist with guiding the glue since most children will simply squeeze the glue, making one big glob of glue.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Coffee filter coloring:  Take a coffee filter and put it on a plate or on paper.  Get some food coloring.  Have your child use an eye dropper get the coloring and drop it on the coffee filter.  You can use different colors to make a colorful design.  By lifting the filter up by an end, the food coloring will run to create neat designs.  When dry, use an unfolded paper clip to poke through the filter.  Tie the other end to a string and hang it from your child's ceiling.  Your child will love that he/she is helping decorate his/her bedroom!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Flower Pots- get ready for summer

Here's a fun activity for both you and your child.  Get Terra Cotta pots (any size will do) and have your child paint them.  You will want to use water proof paint if you are planning on using it outside this summer.  Have you child paint the pot any way he/she likes.  Once dry, have your child scoop some potting soil into the pot.  You can decide whether you want to plant seeds or a flower.  Have your child put the seeds or flower into the pot, pat the soil around it and then water it.  He/she can take care of it all summer and watch it grow!