Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Increase pencil grasp with this pen

A teacher I work with came to me the other day to get my opinion on this pen that she found at the local education store.  It's made to gain a more functional grasp in children and adults.  It has a flat edge where your idex finger rests and it positions nicely in your hand.  While not eliciting a true tripod grasp, it does allow for a functional fit for writing.  It is easy to use and glides smoothly over the paper.  Would I recommend it?  Yes, with clarification.  I have some children that, due to physical limitations, will never gain a true tripod grasp.  This may allow these children an alternative to a tripod grasp to help them function neatly and at a good pace during school   This tool may have break the "fisting" of pencils/crayons that some children have real difficulty breaking.  If these children consistently use this tool, they may just get out of the "fisting" habit.  And for adults with arthritis, or other such conditions that make it uncomfortable to achieve a tripod grasp, this tool could be the key to pain-free writing.

But, this tool is a pen and I do not recommend a pen for early writers.  First, pen can not be erased and we all know how many mistakes children make in the early stages.  Second, pens are more difficult to make a mark with since they must be held at a certain angle in order to create marks.    This tool may  help a child evolve his grasp into a tripod.  If only it was made as a pencil, or crayon.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Who says scarecrows can't be ninjas?

This is what my 7 year old brought home in his backpack this weekend...
I was surprised he got away with the handmade cut out sword, but couldn't resist posting here to encourage us all to think out of the box when fostering creativity!

Encourage your kids to complete art projects in their own way sometimes to keep tabletop work not so much like work.  Try making character scarecrows or making collages out of all those toy advertisements we'll be receiving soon.  Make a special art box of scrap papers, duct tape, stickers, Popsicle sticks, and some glue and see what they'll create!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bubble Painting

This is a cool idea I saw from at a preschool and told the teacher I would be "borrowing" this idea.  Bubble painting!  The kids LOVE it and it looks really cool to watch. 
Here's what you will need:
Paint mixed with dish detergent:  3/4 paint, 1/4 dish detergent  
    I found thinner paint works best.  You may need to play around with the mixture.

Paper cups

Straws- bendy straws work best

Paper Plates

Rubber Bands

Baby Wash cloths:  I found some at the dollar store

Mix the paint and pour onto a paper plate.  Poke a hole, gently so as not to go through the opposite side of the cup and so as not to get too big a hole,  through the paper cup with the straw.  Place the washcloth over the open end of the cup and secure it with the rubber band.  Place the straw through the hole in the cup and angle the end towards, but not touching, the cloth. Dip the cup, cloth end, into the paint.  Have your child blow through the straw as hard as they can and soon bubbles will come out!  TIP:  you will need to get a lot of paint onto the cloth for it to work. Rub the bubbles onto a picture and see how cool it looks.



Monday, October 21, 2013

pumpkin decorating

It's almost Halloween and time to carve and decorate your pumpkins.  There are so many fun, and creative ways to decorate a pumpkin.  Have your child take a small pumpkin and draw something on it using markers or paint.  Bigger kids can help carve the pumpkin (with supervision, of course).  Have your children dig their hands into the inside to take out all the seeds and goo.  Don't be afraid to get your, and their, hands dirty and gooey.  Separate the seeds to bake for a treat.  Pumpkin carving offers many different fine motor and sensory benefits, so carve, and decorate, away!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Play ball!

It's still nice outside and perfect weather to spend time playing catch with your kids.  It amazes me, and others, that kids these days do not know how to catch or throw a ball.  In working with preschoolers, it is shocking just how many kids have no idea how to catch a ball thrown gently to them.  Obviously, many of them have not ever been given the opportunity to learn this important skill.  There are many benefits to learning to catch and throw balls.  Eye-hand coordination is key to catching a ball.  Muscle strength and coordination play a part, as well.  If playing for a period of time, endurance is increasing.  Playing with another child, or even adult, is building social skills and the skills necessary for team sports.  So, please get out and play ball with your children.  It is not only fun for the two of you, but great bonding time between a parent and child.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Family Dinners

We have all heard that it is important to eat at least some meals together as a family.  We also know that with everyone's hectic schedules, this can prove to be almost impossible.  As kids get older, and into more and more activities, the evenings seem to rush by with practices and driving the kids here and there.  For families with older kids, it is extremely difficult to find a night that the whole family is at home at the same time.  But, try to eat together for at least a couple of meals.  Meal time is an ideal time to sit and talk with one another; to find out what each family member has been doing and find out how their days are going.  Children will open up about school, their friends and their teachers.  Parents can share what their days entail and tell fun stories about what happened during the day.  Meals are a great time to sit down and discuss problems and difficulties that the children are having and allow open communication between family members.  Older children get a sense of importance when their parents genuinely listen to them, without distractions.

Family meal times are also very beneficial to families with toddlers and small children.  Toddlers learn by example and meals are a great time to teach table manners and socially acceptable ways of eating.  Children can learn to use their utensils by watching their parents or older siblings use them.  They can learn that it is not socially acceptable to use their hands to shovel food into their mouth.  And small children can learn to use open cups during family meal time. (for those children not quite accurate with drinking from an open cup, give small cups with only a tiny bit of liquid).  Social skills, such as the art of conversation, can be learned while sitting at a meal.  Include your child in the conversations; no matter how young your child is.  So many parents allow children to sit at the table, either at home or in restaurants, with electronic devices to entertain them so that the parents are able to get a quite, less stressful, meal. While this may be ok occasionally, it is important to teach children to sit during meals and quietly engage in the table conversation.  Many children get so accustomed to being entertained by games during meals that they are unable to sit appropriately, without devices, when necessary.  So, start at home. and at a young age, and teach your children these essential social skills.  It may be difficult at first, but in the long run, you will be glad you did.  You and your children will be able to go out to eat and enjoy the meal together.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Having trouble cutting?

How can I strengthen my child's hands and teach two handed coordination?
  • warm-up prior to cutting with playdough or an exercise ball
  • work on targeting pincer strength and the open-shut motion needed for cutting by using tongs or children's chopsticks, he can sort pieces of cereal into bowls while you're cooking dinner
  • play with things that require both hands, like nuts and bolts, stretching rubber bands around an upside-down cup, wind-up toys, kaleidoscopes, stringing beads, lacing cards (make your own by punching holes in index cards and using a shoelace)
How should I approach cutting?
  • try cutting snips off a thin strip of paper first, then cutting across wider strips
  • then try cutting lines, curves, and shapes, reminding them to turn the paper with the opposite hand
  • provide a verbal cue of "op-en, shut, them" to pace your child
  • make a special box of random items like tin foil, wax paper, string, anything that's fun to cut
  • draw thick marker lines around pictures in those toy catalogs that will be coming out soon
My child is really having trouble, what kinds of adaptive scissors are out there?

Pocketful of Therapy carries a wide range of products and many types of adaptive scissors.  There are loop scissors for a child with a gross grasp, but little dexterity, self-opening scissors, tiny scissors, and even ones with extra holes for adult fingers to slide in behind the child's to help them learn to cut.  Adaptive Products carries adaptive scissors, including table top mounted ones and ones that are battery operated.  They also carry a range of workbooks with specific cutting activities.  Happy cutting!