Tuesday, November 23, 2021

5 Fun Motor Planning Activities for Kids!

Motor planning is the ability to plan, organize, sequence, and carry out actions, and it is involved in most every task we complete! Motor planning is sometimes called praxis, and when someone has difficulty with motor planning, it is called dyspraxia. Below you will find 5 fun kid-friendly motor planning activities!

Photo Credit: Virginia State Parks Staff
Wheelbarrow Walking: Wheelbarrow walk the child to a spot and have two bowls (i.e. one yellow, one blue) there.  Instruct the child place the yellow items in the yellow bowl and blue items in the blue bowl.  Wheelbarrow walk to a 2nd designated area where you’ve taped a small circle, square, and triangle on the floor. Give instructions: “Touch the square then the circle.” Increase the complexity: “Trace the circle with your finger then touch the triangle.” Take a break. Child may need to rest between activities.

Sidewalk Chalk Fun: Write numbers and letters on the sidewalk. Give the child a playground sized ball and tell him to “bounce the ball on the 5 then on the B.” Increase the complexity of the directions as needed.

Sidewalk chalk or tape out something similar to a hopscotch pattern.  Fill each square with a color/shape/letter, then give the child various instructions. “Hop with one foot on to the square with the letter C, then hop on both feet to the square with the number 4.” Increase the complexity of the directions as needed.

Balloon Game: Suspend a balloon from the ceiling or a door frame using a long piece of string. Have the child hit the ball while saying or singing the A-B-C’s or while counting. For example, A- hit the balloon, B- hit the balloon, etc. You can also make this more difficult by removing the string, and having him keep the balloon in the air as long as possible by hitting it while saying the A-B-C’s. Can she get all the way through the alphabet and keep the balloon in the air? This is also a fun activity for practicing spelling words!

Suspended balloon: Call out instructions and have the child follow them: “hit the balloon with your elbow! Hit it with your nose, etc.”

Bubble Fun: Have the child hop on one foot in place while you blow bubbles in her direction. Have them “clap” the bubbles to pop them while hopping.

Monday, November 8, 2021

What is Auditory Defensiveness?


When a child is over-sensitivity to sounds in the environment, this is called auditory defensiveness. Children with auditory defensiveness may present with some or all of the following symptoms:

* Seems unsettled or distressed in loud environments
* Frequently cover their ears to sounds that other children tolerate
* Bothered by noises made by things like the vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, etc.
* Avoid activities that have loud environments such as parties, ballgames, and movies.
* Possible language difficulties

The following strategies may help children with auditory processing issues. 

* Modify the environment (such as in a school) by considering the acoustics in the classroom. Changing seating arrangements may be beneficial and limiting extraneous noise from the hallway by closing the door or windows is also helpful. It may be necessary to cover the loud speaker with material to tone down the volume.
* Having rugs or carpet on the floor will decrease echo and extraneous noises.
* When possible, children should be forewarned about bells, announcements, fire drills, etc.
* Have the child wear headphones or earmuffs that that cover the entire ear to filter out extraneous background noises.
* Play calming music such as Mozart in the headphones or as background music.
* If concentration is an issue, the child should chew gum, suck on sour candies, and/or eat fruit roll ups, or crunchy snacks.

Photo Credit: Gemma Ryles

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Sensory Activities to Carry Out at Home!

When a child gets the sensory input that their body needs throughout the day, it helps them stay calm and focus. Typically, I recommend that a child carry out two to three of the sensory activities included in this home program approximately every two hours throughout the day. Please consult with your child's occupational therapist for recommendations that are appropriate for your child's sensory needs.

Photo Credit: StockPhotoFreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Home Exercises to Improve Hand Skills

 I am often asked to provide exercises or activities that children can carry out in the home setting to improve hand skills, so I thought I would share some of the tasks that I usually recommend. Please keep in mind that these may need to be adapted to meet the skill level of the child. Also, it is important to make the activities enticing and fun. You can incorporate them into games or time the child completing them so that they can try and improve their time on the next attempt!

Click on the worksheet below for a PDF copy of the worksheet!

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Paint by Numbers DIY Activity: Great for Fine Motor Skills!

Painting by the numbers is an awesome art activity that is good for a child's eye hand coordination and fine motor skills! It is also good for recognizing numbers and colors because the child has to match the number on the color key and then paint that color in the correct space.

Anyone can create this DIY activity! All you need is a basic water color set that can by found at your local craft shop or dollar store. You'll also need some construction paper and a sharpie and possibly some puff paint. Label each color with a number, and then create some simple drawings such as a house, person, tree, car, flower, etc. Next you will need to add numbers to the different parts of the drawings. If the child has difficulty staying in the lines when painting, you can outline the drawings with puff paint! Now it's time to paint. This activity is also a fun way to work on following directions and attending to task!

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

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Whatever It Takes: Solutions Discovered During My 35 Years of Living with MS is a Must-Read!


“Whatever It Takes: Solutions Discovered During My 35 Years of Living with MS” is an informative book that everyone must read, especially occupational therapists! In this wonderful resource, Barbara shares how she overcomes many of the barriers that she faces as she lives with Multiple Sclerosis by using creative solutions to maximize her independence. She shares how she uses voice controls, commercially available adaptive devices, a homemade sandwich gripper, and even zip ties to adapt to the demands of everyday life and carry out her activities of daily living. Barbara’s unique perspective, fun sense of humor, determination, and positive attitude are evident throughout the book. This valuable resource includes videos, photographs, and detailed descriptions of Barbara’s experiences using home modifications. I have no doubt that this book will inspire students and practicing therapists to think creatively so that they can help their clients who have similar struggles. Available on Apple Books or Google Play!

Sunday, May 9, 2021

DIY Pom Pom Counting Game!

This DIY pom pom counting game is fun and easy to make. It's great for learning colors, counting, and improving fine motor skills!  
Materials Needed: 
Pom poms of various colors
Small boxes to make the 2 dice
Cover the small boxes with paper and glue the paper in place. Put dots (1 - 6) each side of the die and color each side of the other die the different colors of the pom poms.
Now it's time to play! Roll the dice. The color of the side facing up is the color of the pom poms that the child will remove from the box using the chip clip or tongs. The number of the die showing is how many of the pom poms to remove. Be sure everyone gets a turn, and have fun!!!

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