March 06, 2014

Thinking Therapeutically Thursday {No.1}

If you follow me on Facebook, then you may have seen a post a few months back asking about any interest in me posting things related to what I do in pediatric occupational therapy. 

After thinking about it a while, this was born...

My favorite thing about my job is the ability to be creative and use crafts, games and other fun activities in therapy with my patients. 
For kids, playing is their main 'occupation' in life and so we use play in therapy to facilitate what they need to be working towards. 
Making it more 'fun' and less 'work' helps my kiddos respond more and do so much better in therapy!! 

It's all about taking an activity/game/craft and seeing how it can be used to work on all the goals my kids need to meet. 
And that's what I wanted to share with you!!
I can't promise it'll be every Thursday but I am hoping to get this series up a couple times a month :) 

I'll be sharing fun activities from bloggy land as well as some of my own ideas and how they can work on specific skills that can help you target them with your own kids!!
So welcome to the very first week of Thinking Therapeutically Thursday!!


Today is about all things St. Patrick's since it's always fun to incorporate upcoming holidays & events into what your kids are working on. 

First up...

Craft: Fruit Loop & Clouds Rainbow

What this can target: 

Fine Motor: This activity is great for facilitating a pincer grasp. Have your child sort the fruit loops into colors and then start placing them on the rainbow with glue. Not only does picking up the small pieces help aid in a good pincer grasp, but squeezing the glue bottle is great for improving hand strength in those little hands! For an added challenge, have them use kid-friendly tweezers to pick up the cotton balls and fruit loops. 

Visual Motor: Place a bowl of mixed-up fruit loops in front of your child and have them sort them into specific color groups. Talk about colors or have them line up patterns on the table before gluing them onto the rainbow. 

Sensory: I love this task for so many sensory reasons! For tactile play, the hard, crumbly fruit loops and the soft, squishy cotton balls are perfect to introduce different textures. Have them squeeze, squish and roll them around in their little hands and tell you how they feel. If you're brave, you can let them touch the glue (which is probably inevitable anyway) and talk about sticky textures too. You could also use colored marshmallows and skittles to throw in even more textures (soft, smooth, hard). 

Feeding: Have picky eaters? Kids that hate certain textures of food? This is great for 'food play' with different textures and tastes. While your putting the rainbow together, have your child 'kiss', 'lick' or 'bite' the different foods you use. Be creative! It's best to have lots of different textures so bring in marshmallows (soft), skittles (hard), cheerios (crunchy) and anything else you can think of. Praise them whenever they try the different textures, even if it's not actually eating or biting it. Bringing it to their mouth is the first step :) 

More ideas: Throw in some good weight-bearing by having your child put the rainbow together while sitting up on hands and knees. This gives them increased input through their joints and helps aid in core strengthening too. Have the items just out of reach so they have to reach forward or to the side to retrieve them. Or add even more movement in by placing the items across the room and the rainbow sheet on the other side. Have your child perform different animal walks (crawl, slither, wheelbarrow walk, etc) to get the supplies and bring to the rainbow. 

Bonus! It's great for speech too- talk about colors, textures, seasons, what you wear when it rains, etc.

 DIY Clover Lacing Card for St. Patricks Day

Craft: Shamrock Lacing Cards

What this can target: 

Fine motor: I love this activity mainly because it is perfect for working on manual dexterity and bilateral coordination. Working both arms/hands at the same time is a great motor coordination skill that helps them coordinate the movements of both sides of their body while incorporating the small movements of their fingers to weave the string in and out. Let them help cut the string and if their cutting skills are to that level, let them help cut the shamrock out too. 

Visual Motor: This works great for visual strengthening while they have to follow the holes and weave the string in and out in a pattern. Let them try and weave through the holes without missing any and keeping the same weave pattern around the clover. 

More ideas: Allow your child to help punch the holes around the edges for some good hand strengthening. You can also throw in some tactile play by having them do several different one with different textured string/ribbon. Try rough, smooth and feathery textures and then discuss about how each one went through the holes and whether it was easier or harder to use the various types of string. 

St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Treasure Hunt Printable from @TodaysMama

Activity: Shamrock Scavenger Hunt
Source: Today's Mama

What this can target: 

The sky is the limit for this activity. Think outside the box and incorporate whatever it is that you think would best benefit your child. So many fun twists and turns for this! 

Visual Motor: This is a great visual game. It works on visually scanning an environment (which so many kids need to work on!) and picking out something from a busy background. Hide some of the clues in harder to see places and some out in the open to make it less frustrating. You can either have the kids hunt for the clovers by following clues written on them or merely give them a number to find in the room you're in. If your child really struggles with this, give them small clues to help them zone in on them. Such as "it is near something green" or "where do you sit when you watch tv" to help them process through where they could be. 

Cognitive processing: This is also great to aid in kids coming up with their own ideas or thinking through a problem. If your child struggles with ideation (or coming up with spontaneous thoughts/solutions), have them help you hide them for a sibling or dad. Verbally cue them as little as possible and see what they can come up with. A different way to challenge them is having them follow either verbal or written clues to find the clovers. This works on problem solving or auditory processing as well. 

Sensory: This is great to get your kid up and moving, especially if they are low registration and you have to work a little harder to get them interested in movement tasks. It's also perfect for those sensory-seeking kids that need to get some heavy work or proprioceptive input in. 

Here are some great sensory movements to add in as they find the clues: 
*Crab walk
*bear walk 
*slither like a snake
*jump like a bunny
*roll on a scooterboard while lying on their stomach to find the pieces

More ideas: hide a fun treat at the end of the scavenger hunt- you can have a treasure trove of rolos and skittles for your little leprechaun or even surprise them with a fun sensory bin filled with green sand or beads and hide shamrocks and 'treasure' for them to hunt down. 

Activity: Pom pom magnet letters

What this can target: 
(I included this with St. Patty's crafts because of the rainbow-y colors!!) 

Fine motor: This is a great pre-handwriting task to facilitate letter formation. You could also work on shapes in the same way. Kids can either use a pincer grasp to pick up the pom poms or add in some hand strengthening with kid-friendly tweezers. 

Visual motor: Again, anything with colors and patterns help with discrimination, scanning and pattern recognition. Challenge your child to use only certain colors or create a pattern when setting up their letter.  A fun twist on this would be to create a 'fishing pole' with a dowel, string and a magnet so your child could fish for the pom poms. It's great for not only fine motor coordination to catch the pom poms, but they have to visually work at catching the correct color or size.

Sensory: This is great tactile play with the fuzzy poms. They also make glittery pom poms that are stiffer than regular ones that you could mix in for more textures. Have your child weight-bear on hands and knees to go 'fishing' for the poms poms to work on core strength and get a little extra sensory input. 

**Remember when reading/implementing these activities that all kids are different and I'm merely giving broad suggestions that can apply to many different diagnoses/situations.**

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  1. This is great, Kelsey! I'm looking forward to this series. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Love these ideas! Tried to pin...but my Pinterest account is messed up :( Will most definitely be doing some of these with my littles!

  3. Thanks for sharing, Kelsey! I will definitely be following and can't wait to see more!


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