Saturday, December 30, 2023

DIY Dry Erase Slant Board!

Check out this DIY reusable slant board that does not require paper to write on! The slant board is made from cardboard, and the writing surface is wrapped with a sheet protector so that it can be written on with dry erase markers, and therefore erased and reused. 

Using a slant board for coloring or writing tasks puts the wrist in a slightly extended position which helps a child move their wrist in a fluid motion when forming letters and promotes a more refined pencil grasp. Additionally, a slant board positions the writing surface in the line of vision which promotes an upright posture. Slant boards are also great for reading!

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Therapy on a Shoestring Budget: Homemade Therapy Putty

Here is a recipe for homemade therapy putty that every pediatric occupational therapist needs!



4-ounce bottle of Elmer's glue
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon borax
1/4 cup of hot water
3-4 drops of food coloring

Pour 4-ounce bottle of glue into bowl

Measure 1/4 cup of cornstarch and pour into same bowl
Add 3-4 drops of food coloring to bowl
Stir until everything is mixed
Measure & pour 1/4 teaspoon of borax into a separate bowl
Measure & pour 1/4 cup of hot water into bowl with borax
Mix the hot water & borax together until everything is dissolved
Once borax is dissolved, pour into bowl with glue/cornstarch
Knead the combination until putty becomes firm
Add beads or other small objects of your choice  
Seal in an air tight container 

Have fun with the putty! 

Guest post by UTHSC MOT students: Aliyah Hanks, MOT/S & Akosua Odei, MOT/S

Saturday, October 28, 2023

How To Get Baby To Sleep Through The Night

Do you have problems with your baby sleeping through the night? Maybe he falls asleep just fine, but then he wakes up in the night and calls out for you. This can be even more of a problem when baby gets big enough to climb out of bed and comes to Mommy and Daddy’s room. If you are dealing with any of these situations, you may want to consider establishing a regular bedtime routine for your little one. Read on to discover how to get baby sleeping through the night. 

Have a Routine

Research suggests that establishing a consistent bedtime routine for infants and toddlers helps a baby to fall asleep more quickly, and it even increases the duration of their sleep. Studies have found that toddlers who follow a bedtime routine each evening are less likely to call out to their parents or crawl out of the crib during the night. Interestingly, the mother’s mood also improved significantly once a regular bedtime routine was established. (Probably because she’s getting more sleep!)

Exactly why does this make a difference? Babies need to learn how to fall asleep on their own, without being rocked or having a parent in the room. If baby associates sleep with being rocked or having a parent close, when she wakes in the night, she will need one of these to fall back asleep. Obviously, she will cry or call our for Mommy to come rock her back to sleep, and this cycle will repeat itself every time she wakes in the night.

Stick with it

Starting a bedtime routine may be difficult at first, especially if your child is used to being rocked to sleep. You’ll have to put your infant in the bed and he will have to learn to fall asleep on his own. This will probably mean crying himself to sleep. At first. I’ll admit, I had a very difficult time with this, and my husband had to help; however, after a couple of nights, the crying did not last as long, and it wasn’t long before everyone in the family was sleeping all night. 

A bedtime routine provides a smooth transition from an active day to the calmness of sleep. A basic routine such as putting on pajamas, brushing teeth (when baby is old enough), reading a story, and a goodnight kiss lets a child know what to expect every evening. An added bonus is that children usually love having their parent’s undivided attention! The time together before a child falls asleep is the perfect time to stay connected. So if you haven’t already started this wonderful habit, do it tonight!

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Discipline Out of Love

As parents, we must have a plan when it comes to disciplining our children. We need to know exactly what we are going to do when our child misbehaves. We may wonder how love and discipline go together. I’d like to share a few guidelines that I've found to be very helpful when comes to discipline.

* Discipline out of your Love for your child...yes love and discipline do go together!

* Set clear expectations and guidelines, and post these guidelines as your “house rules.”

* Set reasonable limits and keep expectations age appropriate.

* Be consistent. Follow through with consequences every time.

* Provide strong consequences when a child deliberately disobeys.

* After the child is receives a consequence, take a moment to teach a lesson related to what the child did wrong and what should have been done.

* Remember, as parents, if we establish ourselves as the leaders of the family, discipline will not have to occur as often.

When it comes to discipline, is it is critical to be consistent, fair, and firm. Most importantly, don’t worry about being your child’s friend or buddy. That is not our job. As parents, our job is to be a parent and to prepare our children to function in this world as responsible citizens. Remember, love and discipline! It's a tough job, but we can do it!

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Get Ready for Kindergarten!!!


Image Credit: Carl Jorgensen

Parents frequently ask me what their child needs to do to get ready for kindergarten. I like to share this list of 25 “readiness” skills that kindergarten teachers have told me are important for a child to be successful in the kindergarten classroom.

Kindergarten Readiness Checklist

1)    Speaks in complete sentences

2)    Listens without interrupting

3)    Follows two-step directions

4)    Begins to share with others

5)    Is able to recognize authority

6)    Understands concepts such as “top,” “bottom,” “big,” “little,” “more,” “less”

7)    Able to follow basic rules

8)    Recognizes rhyming words

9)    Identifies some alphabet letters

10) Bathrooms independently

11) Button shirts, pants, coats, and zips up zippers

12) Can sort objects that are the same shape, color, or size

13) Recognizes and names at least 5 colors

14) Recognizes own first name in print

15) Recognizes letters in own first and last name

16) Begins to write some of the letters in own first name

17) Cuts with scissors

18) Trace basic shapes

19) Draws a line, circle, X and +

20) Works simple puzzles

21) Counts from 1 to 10 in correct order

22) Identifies the beginning sound of some words (C is for cat)

23) Runs, jumps, hops, throws, catches, and bounces a ball

24) Knows first and last name of parents

25) Adjust to new situations without parents being there

So get ready for kindergarten by practicing these skills with your preschooler and your little one will have a much smoother transition into school!


Thursday, July 20, 2023

DIY Froggy Puppet: A Fun Craft!!!

Here is a fun activity to work on fine motor and visual motor skills! It can be graded to be a developmentally appropriate activity for children of different ages and skill levels.

Supplies Needed:
Red & green construction paper
Red & green small paper plates
Google eyes
Glue gun

Fold the red paper plate.
Cut the green paper plate in half as pictured below.
Using a glue gun, glue the edges of the white sides of the green and red paper plates together. Do not put any glue on the center of the plates. This area needs to be open because that is where the fingers will be placed to manipulating the puppet.
Nest, cut out a long red strip for the frog's tongue. Then cut out the eyes using the green construction paper as pictured below. Glue the googly eyes on the green paper pieces. I usually put X's on the spot where the child is supposed to put the glue.
Roll the the red strip of construction paper on a pencil to make it curl. Have the child hold either end of the pencil and twist it for a nice bilateral task. See the photo below.
Glue the eyes and tongue to the proper location on the paper plates. Once the glue dries, the puppet is ready!

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Evidence-Based Practice: Pediatric Feeding via Teletherapy Intervention

Photo by: Providence Doucet- Unsplash

PURPOSE: The authors of this study wanted to learn if sensory play delivered through a telehealth intervention would help children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder better tolerate wet food items. Two children completed a 6-week treatment using a modified (23 step) Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) approach that was developed by Dr. Kay Toomey.

DESIGN: Mixed-methods research design.

METHOD: There were 3 fifteen-minute treatment sessions that including play with a wet food that the child did not tolerate (mixed fruit), then the use of the SOS approach to trial the

mixed fruit cup, followed by a play-based reward portion. The child’s caregiver tracked the child’s food acceptance.

RESULTS: Both children accepted the fruit cup more at the end of the study than at the beginning.

CONCLUSION: This study’s finding provide preliminary evidence that by using caregiver education and teletherapy, children’s acceptance of non-preferred wet food may increase through tactile play and tracking of progress using the SOS hierarchy.


Hawkins, J., Bileck, A.,  Brown, A., Eckert, H. Smith, D. (2022). Pediatric feeding via teletherapy intervention. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 76(Supplement 1), doi: 10.5014/ajot.2022.76S1-PO45


Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Children learn through play!


 Image courtesy of nenetus at

Children learn about the world around them through exploration and play. The role of play in child development is important for the development gross motor, fine motor and social skills. Play can be as simple as imitating the sounds that your infant makes, or it can be more involved, such as putting puzzles together, stacking blocks and imitating complex block patterns. Play activities such as these are great for motor and perceptual development, and they are also wonderful for social skill development.

Parents and caregivers need to have a basic understanding of developmental milestones in childhood. This knowledge will be helpful when encouraging your child come up with ideas for play.

Here is a brief early developmental milestone chart of skills that influence play. Please keep in mind that all children develop at their own individual rates, so the ages for acquiring these milestones may vary from child to child.

Begins to show interest in and curiosity about the environment – 4 to 6 months
Object permanence emerging/pointing to pictures and objects- 10 months to 1 year
Imitation and solitary play skills- 1 year to 15 months
Parallel play and symbolic play- 2 years
Interactive play and taking turns- 2 ½ to 3 years

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