Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Feed the Gator: Prescissor Skills Activity!

 Feed the Gator!


This is an easy activity to make that requires just a few objects (tongs, pom pom balls, construction paper, glue, and a small disposable tin container. The activity promotes separation between the two sides of the hand, and it builds the muscles and coordination needed to develop scissor skills and fine motor skills.

The first step is to decorate the pan using glue and construction paper. You can make the pan into a gator, frog, or even a bear! Be sure to add the eyes, tongue, and teeth. 

To have the child complete the task, just place the pan on it's side and instruct them to "feed the gator" the pom poms! Click on this link to watch "feeding the gator!"

Suggestions for grading the activity
• Using different tongs (more or less resistance)
• Different size pom poms (smaller = more difficult; larger = easier)
• Smaller target/container (smaller target = requires more precision, more difficult)

This project was completed by a Master of Occupational Therapy student at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and posted with permission.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Using Wikki Stix for Pre-writing Skills!

I love Wikki Stix! What are they? Wikki Stix are pieces of yarn dipped in different colors of non-toxic wax that can be used to form shapes, design, numbers, and letters! They are great because they are reusable and can be cut into different lengths. They will also stick to different surfaces such as paper or a table and be easily removed.

For prewriting skills, you can form a circle (as seen above) and instruct the child to make one just like the one you made. You may need to provide some assistance with forming the circle at first.

You can do the same with a cross (as seen above)!

And you can also have the child copy letters or numbers!

There are many other uses for Wikki Stix. You can use them to make mazes for tracing through,  and you can even use them to outline the edges of a coloring deign to help teach a child how to color within the lines!

Friday, March 24, 2023

Fun Activity for Visual Perceptual Skills!

Making and copying designs with foam shapes is a great way to have a child work on their visual perceptual skills. Start by having the child create a simple design using 3 to 5 shapes. You can then copy the design that they created.

Next swap it up. You create another design, and ask the child to make one just like yours. If the first one you create is too challenging, simplify it by using fewer shapes.

When your child is able to copy the designs independently, gradually make them more complicated so that the child has a "just right challenge!"

The foam shapes are available on Amazon.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Pincer Grasp Activities


When a child holds a small object between the tips of the index finger and thumbs, this is called a superior or refined pincer grasp. The superior pincer grasp typically develops by 12 months of age, but it may develop a few months earlier in some babies.


Pincer Grasp Activities


Incorporating activates into an infant’s regular routine is a great was to help develop the pincer grasp. At snack time, provide small food items such as Cheerios and put each piece into a different section of a plastic ice tray. This will encourage baby to use a pincer grasp when reaching in to grasp the pieces. I would recommend taping the ice tray to the table or highchair tray so it doesn’t slide around. Here are a few more activities to help develop a pincer grasp.


1.     Peel off stickers small “kids” stickers and place them on a piece of paper.

2.     Tape a piece of contact paper to the wall with the sticky side facing outward. Have your child pick up small pom poms or cotton ball pieces and stick them to the contact paper.

3.     Cut several colorful straws into small pieces. Have the child pick up one piece at a time and drop it into a water bottle.

4.     Take a kitchen whisk and stuff it full of small pom poms and have your child remove them.

5.     Playing with toys that require a pincer grasp provides opportunities for practicing the skill, which is how motor learning occurs. Practices improves muscle strength and coordination, and it will also improve your little one’s confidence!

Monday, January 16, 2023

The Importance of Reading!!!



Early exposure to reading increases a child’s chances of future academic success. Reading experience, as well as exposure to rich conversations, help improve a child’s vocabulary and ability to communicate.

This is not good news for children who live in poverty. Research has found that there are a dozen or more books per child in neighborhoods with average incomes; however, in poor neighborhoods you will only find one book for every three hundred children. Additionally, there is significantly less conversation between these parents and their children. These issues lead to limited exposure to reading for children living and poverty.

What does this mean? By the time they are school age, these children have 25% of the vocabulary than children from middle-income neighborhoods, which puts them below the national norms with language and prereading skills.

Many organizations in the United State are working to decrease this gap, by making books available to those who cannot afford them. They are working to increase the access of low-income families to books. For more information, visit their websites.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library 

Reading is Fundamental

First Books

Photo Credit: Stephen Andrews @ Unsplash

Friday, November 4, 2022

How early can ADHD be recognized?

How can a parent know if their 3 or 4 year old has an attention problem? Is it possible to recognize Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) before a child starts to grade school? Dr. Mark Mahone, director of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Maryland says yes. He feels that it is important to identify ADHD as early as possible because of the impact that it has on a child’s academic performance in school. Interestingly, warning signs of this disorder frequently appear in preschool, around age 4. By school age, the Centers for Disease Control reports that one in 11 school children have been diagnosed with ADHD.

The following early signs are associated with ADHD.

  1. Avoids tasks that require sustained attention for up to one to two minutes.
  2. Does not maintain interest in a task after several minutes, and switches to another task.
  3. Is more verbal and noisier than same-age peers.
  4. Climbs on furniture and other items when directed not to.
  5. Unable to hop on one foot by four years of age.
  6. Is constantly restless, wiggling feet and hands and not wanting to stay seated.
  7. Puts self in danger because he exhibits no fear.
  8. Not cautious of strangers
  9. Displays inappropriate aggression with peers.
  10.  Frequent injuries (broken bones or stiches) because of impulsivity.

Of course, any time a parent has concerns related to their child’s development, they should consult with their pediatrician.

Source: Psychology Today

Friday, August 19, 2022

Sleep Problems Solved: Get Cool Koala Child-Friendly Bedtime Meditations!!!

It can be challenging, and sometimes nearly impossible, to get your kids to fall asleep quickly and get a good night's rest. Now, there is a solution to this problem! Cool Koala, created by music therapist Ryan Judd, is a program of relaxing, engaging, bedtime meditation sessions. Ryan’s intuitive and deliberate approach to his work with children is evident in this amazing product. Every evening, your child will have access to a unique, child-friendly guided meditation. With fun characters like Cool Koala, Busy Beaver, and Cranky Cat, your child will look forward to relaxing and going to bed. Not only will your nighttime routine go more smoothly, but your child will also gain skills that will help them relax, focus, and find peace on a day-to-day basis moving forward. I highly recommend Cool Koala Meditations!


To learn more about Ryan Judd, visit his website, The Rhythm Tree!