Thursday, November 29, 2012

Taste/Smell and Visual Sensitivity

A continuation of a previous post, now focusing on ideas for taste/smell and visual systems:

Taste/Smell Sensitivity
  • Crunchy cereal, firm fruit (apples)
  • Vibrating toothbrush or massager
  • Whistles to help decrease a child putting his/her tongue into an open cup
  • Drawing shapes and letters in pudding
  • Gradually increasing willingness to taste a certain food
    • Tolerating the food on the table
    • Tolerating the food near his/her plate
    • Tolerating the smell of the food near his/her nose
    • Tolerating the food on his/her lips
    • Tolerating the food on his tongue
    • Tolerating one bite

Visual Sensitivity/Developing the Visual System
  • Allowing your child to wear sunglasses or a hat when outside
  • Making letters or shapes in different craft media (i.e. clay, playdough, shaving cream, string, pudding, popsicle sticks, sand paper)
  • Cutting on a straight or curved line
  • Tracking activities such as following clouds, birds, squirrels or airplanes move with your eyes
  • Ball play making sure to follow the ball with your eyes
  • Playing with a streamer on stick and following it with your eyes
  • Whistles that have an eye following component
  • Flashlight play 

Tickle Me Tunnel

OK here's another quick tip on a great holiday gift for those sensory seekers on your list... and Amazon has it for $32.99 and FREE shipping now... best price on the web!

This company also makes a variety of other tents and tunnels, perfect for secret getaways, rolling around in for proprioceptive input, and even during nap time!  If you've got a wiggly one in Head Start or preschool that has trouble staying on their mat during rest time, try a sleeping bag in a tunnel!  It's worked on more that one occasion for me... or try pushing a therapy ball through the tunnel for deep pressure input!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Toys for Christmas

It's almost that time of year- can you believe how fast this year has gone?  The kids are starting to get excited for Christmas and the parents are worrying about what to get them.  So, this month is a good month to make some toy suggestions that are both fun for the kids, but also work on educational skills.  Our first suggestion is a simple toy that has been around, and well-liked, for years; the Magna Doodle.  Kids love being able to draw and then erase.  Parents can have the child work on drawing shapes and letters.  Do math problems on them.  There are many differen varieties, and sizes, of Magna Doodles, so get one that would interest your particular child (ex. one with Princesses on it).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

More Circle/Carpet Time Strategies

-incorporate animal walks (frog, bear, crab, snake etc.) as a way to transition to circle or seated activity

-incorporate reward system (small piece of gummy or crunchy candy, stickers, stamp to hand, high five, verbal praise) intermittently for appropriate behavior.  Be sure to simply explain appropriate behavior (good sitting, etc.).

-massage, tight squeezes, bear hugs, or deep pressure onto shoulders as needed

-textured objects taped under chair or table that the child can quietly feel during circle or work time

Friday, November 16, 2012

Strategies to help kids focus at school

I had a teacher ask for ideas for those kids that find it difficult to sit still during structured circle time.  The teacher wanted strategies to help these kids increase their attention, while not disturbing the other kids in the classroom.  Here are a few ideas to try.  Keep in mind that it takes a lot of trial and error to find the right solution as there is no "one fits all" answer to this question.  Every child is unique and each responds to different strategies.
Have the child:
-hold squeeze toys, silky fabrics, vibrating toy, small amount of play doh
-sit on a ball, rocking chair, bean bag, sit-fit, or almost-fully deflated beach ball on a chair
-allow child to lie on stomach on floor
-do chair push ups while sitting (place palms on seat of chair and push  body upward)
-hold objects with weight (books, cans) in lap
-if seated on chair, put long sleeve shirt over the chair back, tie the bottom of the sleeves and fill with rice, sand, etc.  Have the child put the shirt arms over legs for calming input.
-tape a circle on the floor or use a carpet square as a visual cue as to where the child is to sit
- have child push or carry chair to circle area

These are just a few strategies.  So as not to overwhelm with a long list, I will post more in a later post.  Remember, it usually takes more than 1 try to assess whether a strategy is working.  Also remember, a strategy may work great for a couple of weeks and then become less effective.  At that point, it is time to try other strategies. 
I would love to hear of any effective strategies that others use in the classroom.  Feel free to comment with other ideas!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sensory Based Activities for Young Children

This list has been compiled over time from a number of different occupational therapists that work with young children.  We have organized the list by area of sensory processing.  Our hope is that these ideas will be helpful to you and increase your child’s success at school and at home.  A good starting out book is The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz.  Also, the sequel, The Out-of-Sync Child has Fun is available.  This author explains the neurology behind sensory processing difficulties in an easy to understand manner and she may give you some additional ideas to try with your child.  These books and others are available through, major bookstores, and local library systems.  Contact your OT for additional resources.

I will post ideas following the categories presented in the Short Sensory profile, an evaluation tool we use to assess the degree to which sensory processing issues affect the daily life of the child.

Here's #1 - Activities to address Tactile Sensitivity

  • Increase tactile discrimination – finding toys in putty
  • Reduce tactile defensiveness – sensory table filled with dry noodles, rice, beans, birdseed, sand, water, mashed potato flakes, snow, ice (pour, touch, mix)
  • Play in shaving or whipped cream, fingerpaint, etc., have a car/doll wash, encourage but don’t force, encourage line drawing and tracing
  • Fill Ziploc bags with shaving cream, pudding, ketchup, etc. if child is not willing to touch messy textures or have them wear gloves initially
  • Rub-a-dub-dub rub in the tub a variety of textures (different types of soaps, oatmeal soap, shaving cream, lotion soap, loofa sponges, thick washcloths, foam pot-scrubbers, plastic brushes)
  • Water play pouring, sponges, toy water pumps
  • Bury items in the sand encourage finding
  • Feelie box –insert item and guess what you have
  • Hands on cooking
  • Handling pets
  • Swaddling – roll up in a blanket
  • Back rub—deep firm pressure
  • Dress up with different texture clothing
  • Secret hideaway, make it fun by adding a variety of toys with texture in a large cardboard box or tent

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving head band

Here's a cute idea for the kids to make and wear for Thanksgiving (or any time).  It's a turkey head band.  Cut a paper plate in half for the turkey's body and have your kids color the feathers.  Cut out, or let your kids cut out,  a yellow circle for the head and a half circle for the body.  Cut out the eyes and a triangle nose.  Take 2 strips of orange paper and fold them accordian style and glue everything together.  Glue the turkey onto a band of paper fit to the child's head.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hand Turkey

Here's an idea to do for Thanksgiving: use an outline of your child's hand to make a turkey.  Trace your child's hand on a brown piece of paper (or have your child trace their own hand, if they are able).  Have your child do at least some of the cutting to make their turkey. Then, decorate the "turkey".  We used crumbled pieces of tissue paper to make ours colorful, but you could use colored feathers, or simply color or paint the feathers.  Either draw or glue on an eye, and your child has their own turkey!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Elmo cupcakes

This is a cute idea for birthday cupcakes!  Elmo!  Simply use red frosting for his fur, an m&m for his nose, white chocolate discs for his eyes and a half of one wafer of an oreo for the mouth. Kids love these!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pick corn

Have left over corn or maze?  Have your kids pick off the kernels, it's a really good fine motor activity!  They can then glue them onto a piece of paper do design a picture.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pumpkin painting

Don't know what to do with the pumpkins now that Halloween is over?  Let the kids paint silly faces on them.  They can use paint, or just markers.  Let them be creative!