Thursday, January 31, 2013

Upper Extremity strengthening

Here's a great idea for kids: tape a piece of paper to the bottom of a table.  Have the child lay on his back and color on the paper.  This is great for shoulder strengthening and upper extremity control. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ways to transition

Watching some little friends line up today got me to thinking, "there's got to be an easier way!"  There are many things you can do to help kids transition to lining up or between one activity and another.  Using a sound (ringing bell, buzzer, that was easy button from Staples) will help kids recognize it's time to move.  Lots of times a set of commands like "2 minutes, 1 minute, let's go" works well.  When a child needs more help or cues than those try these:

  • call kids by attribute (shirt, hair, eye color, etc.)
  • have them crawl, hop, or spin to the target area
  • sing a familiar song like The Ants Go Marching, or Clean Up, Clean Up
  • use a long caterpillar or footsteps taped to the floor, or colorful cones for a visual cues
  • use a picture schedule and have the child place the picture of the activity that's over into an envelope or pocket and do what the next picture on the schedule indicates

Remember when starting a new thing in the classroom, say taking your clothespin and pinning it to the center in which you're playing, lots of kids may get it right away.  Some are going to need direct teaching a few or many times before it makes sense.  Try a few ways of explaining, demonstrate with popsicle stick people or dolls, have the child draw himself doing it, we all learn differently!

What's your favorite way to transition?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pencil Control

Now, let's get started drawing shapes, begining with a circle.  Have your child imitate a circle, with the end points meeting.  Next, try a square and triangle, or intersecting lines.  Have your child focus on the corners so that they are not rounded.  Continue with this until the shapes come naturally.  Dot-dots are another great way of improving pencil control.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Getting Ready For Kindergarten

So, it's that time of year when parents of pre-kindergarteners start to think about their little ones going off to school. Kindergarten is not what it used to be and much more is expected of your little ones. Now days, most kids going into kindergarten are able to write the letters of his/her first name. Some are even able to write the letters of their last names. Most kids are able to cut across a piece of paper, and some can cut out shapes. The most common concern that I find parents having is that their child is not yet able to write their first name. Parents want their kids to have this skill and focus solely on teaching their kids how to write their names. They, as well as their kids, become frustrated by lack of progress. So, I am going to tell you what I tell them- some kids are just not ready to write their names. They just don't quite have the required pencil control to form letters. So, let's back up a few steps and work on the pencil control, then, once they get that, we can start to work on letters. Start by having your child draw straight horizontal and vertical lines across a piece of paper. Once mastered, have them draw these lines within pathways, trying not to cross the lines. Next, have him/her draw within curvy pathways. Try these on paper, with chalk on a chalkboard, or with paint. I will post next time about the next steps.

To improve a child's grasp, try a small, broken crayon (see post "school readiness skills".

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Another cute snowman

Here's yet another way to make a fluffy snowman.  Have your child draw the snowman using different size circles then pull apart cotton balls and glue them on.  Great for pencil control, as well as finger strengthening and bilateral coordination.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Here's an easy snowman.  Just use 2 different sized paper plates and a circle (have your child draw and cut out) and glue them together.  Use buttons for the mouth (or anything else) and pompoms for the buttons.  Or, have your child draw all of this one.  Your child can braid 3 pieces of yarn together to make a scarf and he/she has a cute little snowman.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cute tree

Here's a tree personalized by your child.  Apply paint to your child's forearm and hand then push them down on a piece of paper to make the trunk and branches.  Have your child crumble paper to make leaves.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ants on a log

Here's a cute little snack idea: ants on a log.  Take a stalk of celery and cut it into a smaller piece. Have your child spread either cream cheese or peanut butter on it and then place raisins on the spread to make the ants.  It's a tasty, healthy treat, and works on fine motor skills by allowing your child to use a butter knife to spread and having him/her use a pincer grasp to place the raisins.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Paper Snowflakes

Here's an oldie, but goodie: paper snowflakes.  Show your child how to fold the paper by folding it in half at least 2 times (remember the more times you fold it, the more difficult it will be to snip) and allow him/her to fold his/her own paper.  Then help your child to snip designs in the paper.  Your child can hang these snowflakes around the house to make a winter wonderland!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I had a parent ask what she could do to increase her son's finger strength since he had difficulty using his fingers to open lids, button buttons, and with controlling his pencil when writing.  This child is not very compliant with adult directed activities, so she wanted a way to strengthen his fingers that wouldn't necessarily be a "task" presented by an adult.  I suggested giving him a baggy filled with a snack, cereal or toy, for him to open.  Allow time for the child to problem solve through this.  You will be surprised how  difficult a task it is for small fingers.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Clothespins for finger strengthening

Everyone know the common use of clothespins- to hang out clothes.  But did you know that clothespins can be used to help with finger strengthening and coordination?  Teachers- put each of your kids names on a clothespin.  Have them put their clothespin on a container when they come to circle, or if they are called for a job. Parents can use clothespins with chores written on them and have the kids pick one from a container and then put it on the rim when the chore is completed.  Or, put fun activities on the clothespins and allow the kids to pick one when they earn it and then put it on the rim. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Scaries and Crashies

When thinking about kids and movement, it ranges from children that feel uncomfortable with even one foot off the ground to kids that can't get enough rides on the scrambler or like to bump into things or crash into the wall on purpose.  There is much you can do during the early years of child development to enhance sensory integration skills.  Here are some ideas to help with both types of children:

Movement Sensitivity
  • To reduce gravitational insecurity (being nervous or scared when off balance) try swinging gently on a flat glider swing, jumping on a bounce pad, play row your boat with child sitting on a ball
  • Rolling first on level ground, then down increasing grades of decline
  • Swinging in a blanket
  • Encourage swinging but don’t force (first low swing that feet touch the ground or hold him on your lap, hammock swing)
  • Spinning (don’t spin without child’s permission, maybe over stimulating)
  • Sliding different ways
  • Riding vehicles
  • Jumping on trampoline
  • Walking on unstable surfaces
  • Rhythmic rocking
  • Seesaw
  • T-stool
  • Sitting on a ball or lying
  • Tummy down, head up activities, try doing puzzles lying on your tummy on a pillow or ball
  • Hoppity hop ball so the child can control the amount of sensory input coming
  • A large tree swing or porch swing provides a gentler motion than playground swings
Seeks Sensation and Movement
  • Carrying heavy loads
  • Slow, rocking movement (rocking chair, therapy ball or swing)
  • Pushing and pulling
  • Hanging by arms on playground equipment
  • Pillow crashing
  • Hermit crab - place a large bag of rice or beans of the child’s back and let her move around with the heavy “shell” on her back
  • Joint squeezes
    • Put one hand on the child’s forearm and the other hand on his upper arm.  With slow, firm pressure, push his forearm and upper arm toward the elbow; then, pull them away.
    • Push and pull the muscles near his knees and shoulders.
    • Some kids feel centered with slight pressure on their shoulders or heads, press evenly, but not so much that the child feels trapped.
    • Slowly straighten and bend his fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles and toes.  
    • These extension and flexion techniques provide traction and compression to the joints and are effective when you're stuck in tight spaces, such as church pews, movie theaters, cars, trains, and especially airplanes where the gravity changes.
  • Body squeezes
    • Sit on the floor behind your child, straddling him with your legs
    • Put your arms around his knees, draw them toward his chest, and squeeze hard
    • Holding tight, rock him forward and back.
  • Bear hugs, aim for at least 12 hugs a day, teach the child to hug himself before activities in which he's required to sit
  • Pouring, the bigger the cups, jugs, and wading pool, the better for heavy work
  • Opening doors
  • Ripping paper or cardboard... my kids love to do this and break small branches for kindling for our fireplace
  • Playing ‘bumpety-bump’ on the tire swing
  • Line up standing back-to-back, play ‘hold up the wall’ by pushing into a wall with hands, back, lay down and push the wall with feet
  • Tug-of-war
  • Bulldozer- mat/cardboard – push load across the floor
  • Playing catch
  • Roughhousing
  • Arm wrestling
  • Leapfrog
  • Warm bath - hold bubbles in hands and blow them, spray bottles, squeeze toys or ring out washcloth, wrap up like a mummy or bear hug dry off to calm
  • Crunchy cereal, firm fruit (apples)
  • Deep massage to body using lotion, try a lavender scent before bedtime
  • Try sleeping or resting with a weighted blanket... don't go for more than 10% of your child's body weight for safety.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

For the birds

For an easy fun activity on a fine weather winter afternoon, take a walk and find some pinecones.  If you don't have big trees around, using an empty toilet paper roll will work too.  Put some peanut butter in a bowl and let kids use plastic knives or the backs of spoons to spread it on the pinecone.  Then roll it in birdseed.  Tie a string around the top and hang it near a window to watch new friends!