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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holder for Shaving Brush

My son loves to create anything and everything (no surprise). He designed this holder out of a vitamin jar so that his shaving brush can dry out easily.
I think its very cool. But then again, I am biased.

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Check out these fabric hand bags made out of recycled products:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Oatmeal container Lace

Opening up a new container of oatmeal- I realized that this plastic piece that I pulled off the lid would make a very nice lace. It has a large round piece on the end that keeps the lacing in place.

Then the ring can be used to hang the shape or ornament to the window or on a holiday tree.

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The RecyclingOccupational Therapist

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Trash Menagerie at Peabody Museum in Salem

Totally enjoyed the art exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. Lots of creations out of laundry bottles, but much more as you will see. I will add photos as time permits.

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The RecyclingOccupational Therapist

Lee Sewell-born 1945- Annapollis, MD. Sewell grew up near a dump and says he has been playing with junk for 50 years. He started by pulling trash objects apart, until his parents suggested he try putting them together instead. He has developed his own technique for assembly trash using nails, bolts and screws.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two Liter Bottle Recycling

More bottle Ideas than I ever thought of.....I especially like the methods for killing a single weed and growing a plant .
School System Occupational Therapist in Virginia said....

Thanks very much for reading my stuff! I look forward to learning lots of new ideas from your blog. Once I stop writing all my work reports I'll get back to writing in my blog again! Karen

November 7, 2009 12:06 PM

Friday, November 6, 2009

Make Your Own Ink Dabber

Make your Own Ink Dabber- a nice home made fine-motor activity!
From: Your Therapy Source

Activity Board

Check out this homemade activity board on clever school OT- Karen Wellek Scott's blog

ICYOU health care videos

I found this great site with health care related videos. Two of mine have been added:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How to Make Homemade Crafts

Check out my latest article:
How to Make Homemade Crafts
naturally out of recycled materials.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wary Meyers' Tossed & Found: Unconventional Design From Cast-Offs

The Boston Globe magazine has an interesting article ( by Molly Jane Quinn) about using cast-offs in home decoration. As the Recycling Occupational Therapist- it caught my eye even though I have close to zero interest in home decor and go straight to the Miss Manners, Cupid and Coupling columns.
I love the chair made of cast-off noodles- just one of the projects written about in John and Linda Meyers new book Wary Meyers'Tossed & Found: Unconventional Design From Cast-offs. The authors offer interior design services, but I recommend the trash picking, yard-sale visiting and thrift-store haunting techniques they mention.

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Make "Fingarings" with Sculpey

Cumba Siegler, Ma, OTR/L a school-based therapist in the Santa Cruz City Schools describes a clever use of Sculpey in her article Fine-Motor Fun with Fingarings.

These are not simply finger rings from Massachusetts, but rather material for a therapeutic activity. She has the kids strengthen fingers, motor plan, refine dexterity and learn cognitive concepts using them. So save your Sculpey scraps for these rings or buy a package of varied colors and start baking.

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New GeriatricOT Blog

I am starting a new blog called GeriatricOT and the the address is
I find that I frequently have information and ideas to share related to geriatrics and in particular alzheimer's disease and need a place to comment. I spend most of my blogging time on my blog and will continue to share the bulk of my pediatric information on that site and occasionally add to the site.

If you haven't yet joined the as a follower, I highly encourage it because I enter a lot of information about low cost activities that can be used on and off the horse. I think that its a helpful site for occupational therapists whether or not they work in the specialty area of hippotherapy.

Recycling Occupational Therapist Presentation

Austill's Rehabilitation Services, Inc.
100 John Robert Thomas Drive
Exton, PA 19341-2652
Tel. (610) 363-7009

April 22, 2010 (Thursday) from 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
This presentation is for therapists as well as educators and parents. Austill's is an AOTA approved provider.
I will speaking on the topic of "Designing Low cost Activities to Use with Environmentally At-Risk Children"
and will include information on adaptations for children with profound developmental disabilities.
Penn State Great Valley Conference Center
30 East Swedesfor road
Malvern, PA 19355

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sensory Activities for Prewriting

I like both of these simple activities that look like a bit of work to make, but fun to do with the kids. The materials are not exactly from recycling materials- but pretty cool, anyway. I especially like the idea of movoing around rice or sand to fill in the recessed shapes.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Trash Fashions

I have to admit- this blog of trash fashions is more exciting than my recycling blog. Check it out:
Trash fashions

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Creative Alternatives to Self-help Devices

Check out this article by Phyllis Ehrlich, MS, OTR/L for inexpensive occupational therapy ideas: Creative Alternatives to Self-help Devices
Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Monday, August 10, 2009

Laundry Clothes Pin Bag

My son inherited the recycling gene and came up with this clothes pin bag after noticing the old one falling apart.

Very clever if I don't say so myself!

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Friday, July 17, 2009

Recycled Magazine Bowl Art Project

Here is an attractive paper craft using magazines. It is made by folding and wrapping layers. Author, Lila Kall recommends this craft for children in grades 4-8.

Recycled Magazine Bowl Art Project

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

How to Re-use Plastic Containers

Some nice tips on reusing plastic containers:
How to Re-use Plastic containers

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Clutch Bag KNit out of trash bags

Here is an example of craftsmanship. I am enjoying some simple knitting projects using trash bags, but check out this site for what the pros are making.

Recycled Plastic 'K' Clutch

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fish from Recycled Bottle

Check out this project by Jennifer Claerr:

Craft Project: Make a Fish from a Recycled Bottle

I like how this fish is made by cutting this shape out of a dish soap bottle . Read how at BrightHub

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Balloon Paddles

I just read an interesting article in the AOTA OT Practice written by Kathy R. Broussard about how she made paddles out of coat hangers and nylon that she eventually refined and now markets through the Abilitations catalog at School Specialty products. I couldn't find a contact email for her to ask about use of the photo, but if you have this issue, check out the article Bringing an OT Idea to Market on page 7. Here are a link with paddles made out of paper plates:
and nylon:

Kathy describes in her article using the paddles she made while working at a Veterans Administration facility. The veterans loved competing while paddling balloons back and forth and this improved upper extremity strength and ROM. The patients with dementia loved it too and this helped improve endurance and muscle tone, postural control, crossing midline, motor planning, eye-hand coordination and social skills.
She further refined the wire and nylon paddle by taping pipe insulation on the handles making them softer and easier on the hands. These are now called PaddleLoons (a combination of a paddle and balloon). If someone has a photo of these-please send them in.

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Friday, June 26, 2009

Make a Messenger Bag

Make a Messenger Bag out of Trash Bags - Make: Video Podcast

Learn how to iron plastic bags together to make a sturdy messenger bag. This video is pretty cool, but I think I prefer my back pack!

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Crushed Paper and Tong Activity

Naturally, I can't resist linking to an activity titled:
Fine-Motor Recycling

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Friday, June 19, 2009

Plunger Ring Stack Activity

I haven't been writing on this blog much because most of my work centers around hippotherapy and I write about my activities on the hippotherapy blog at
But here's an idea I came up with while trying to help a 3 year old child with CP to sit more erect on the horse. He grasped onto a Princess Wand toy in front of him and the distal stability helped him to control his trunk and sit tall. The toy is a bit flimsy. Then I thought of using a small plunger which of course has a strong wooden dowel. I then discovered that a massager, shown below fits perfectly inside the plunger and the suction holds it in place.

I have been making rings to stack for many years (a common recycling technique) out of container lids. This green one can be used to turn my plunger into a ring stack activity. The thing I love about this is that as the child stabilizes the plunger part, it vibrates.

I will try this out next week during hippotherapy. I have introduced vibrating toys to the ponies before but will test this one out. Then I can use it for a ring stack activity or to help the little guy with CP stabilize his arms and trunk. I already know that he loves vibrating toys.

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist
Source: How Vibration Helps Children with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorders by RecyclingOT

Friday, May 15, 2009

Teaching to snap

Part of spring cleaning involves throwing out the clothes my son has outgrown. Seen here are the pockets that I cut off his shorts. Amazingly, one pair of shorts has 6 pockets with snaps. I painted orange nail polish on the spot where the snap needs to be pushed. I ask children to open them, remove a toy, and push the orange spot to close them again.
I work with a particular child on the autism spectrum who is able to do many fine-motor tasks such as closing buttons, snaps and container lids but doesn't seem motivated to do tasks with accuracy. I asked him to push the lid on a yogurt container so that it would be completely sealed and sand would not fall out when turned upside down. He seemed to understand and was interested when I did this (above a baking pan). We were both thrilled that nothing fell out!

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Visual motor activities using Paper towel tubes

There's 2 visual motor activities on Your Therapy Source web site that I like using a paper towel tube. One uses a towel tube such as this with an opening that shows a a bead inside. The child has to control the tube, keeping it level in order to see the bead through the opening. This is great for bilateral hand use, motor control and visual fixation.

I have done an activity similar to this one using a clear plastic tube. I drew two lines near the center and asked the child to keep the bead or superball inside the lines by balancing the tube- first while stationary, then while walking.

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What to do with Rubber bands

I have been collecting rubber bands from newspapers and produce for some time to use in making rubber band balls with kids. I just saw an ad for a book called Rubb-Origami that has some fun ideas on things to make out of rubber bands. You can also send your old rubber bands to them and have them make a new creation (for a fee).

The authors teach how to make little people and animals out of rubber bands. Info at;

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Monday, March 30, 2009

Plastic Bottle Earrings

I am tempted to try this:

How to Make Beads from Recycled Plastic Bottles
A quick and easy way to turn plastic bottles into beautiful beads.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Building Skills By Building Toys

Photo coursey of Advance for OT and Donna shaman

The article - Building Skills By Building Toys in Advance for Occupational Therapists. Occupational therapist Donna Shaman explains the therapeutic benefits when children make their own toys. Many of the toys are made of recycled materials (hence my big interest) such as cardboard, styrofoam and a tofu container. The activities promote sensory and motor goals ( since the projects are 3 D), social and play skills and develop cognitive learning (i.e. literacy) since many of the toys have signs on them to read.

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L author of, The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Water Bottle Peg Board

Check out my newest video to learn how to make a peg board out of the plastic bottles used for contact lens saline water and cardboard boxes. Enjoy!

Source: Sensory Pegboard for Children with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities by RecyclingOT

Trash 2 Treasure Video

Here is a video that explains how Trash 2 Treasure, a non-profit in Florida, collects recycling products to make crafts and other projects. A lot of the supplies can be used by teachers and students. Some of the treasures include: paper, wire, fabric,tile,wood scraps, glass for mosaics, paint, notebook binders, pens from out of business supply companies,foam, styrofoam, tins, prescription bottles, corks, containers, envelopes, tubes and Cd spindles. People can join, paying a membership fee and then take whatever they need. What I love best about such an enterprise is the recyclist doesn't have to store all this trash in one's own home!

Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L, author of The Recycling Occupational Therapist

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Make a Button Board

It is easier to learn how to open and close buttons using a board rather than on your clothing. For one thing, the child is often in a hurry to button up a sweater and needs to get it done quickly in order to go out and play. It is also easier to learn how to manipulate buttons when they are in front of you and not on your body.

This board makes it easy to practice the button manipulation six times. Start out first teaching the child how to remove what I will call the "hole in fabric". It is more challenging to attach it back onto the buttons. Here is how I made this buttoning board:
  • Cut the six pink plastic circles out of a laundry detergent bottle.
  • Punch two holes in each plastic piece
  • Sew the pink buttons to a large piece of blue fabric.
  • Cut a round piece of fabric and cut a hole in the center. Reinforce the sides with duct tape.
  • Wrap the large fabric (here it is blue) around a sturdy piece of cardboard. Sew or tape the fabric in place on the back of the cardboard.
Teach children how to work in the left to right and top to bottom direction while either attaching or removing the "hole in fabric" pieces.
I plan on using the board during a hippotherapy session. I will ask the children to remove the "hole in fabric" pieces and then insert them in a basket.
Source: Fun Activities that Develop Buttoning Skills by RecyclingOT on Rumble

This buttoning board involves attaching plush, soft strips of fleece with 3 button holes cut into them. Again it is easier to remove them than attach. Some children or clients with developmental disabilities may enjoy color matching the strips. However, everyone will enjoy the tactile, sensory experience.

Source: Sensory Buttoning Board by RecyclingOT

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Plastic Bag Basket

Here it is! Inspired by the plastic bag knitting video I came across on youtube- I followed directions and knit a basket or bag, I'm not sure what it is. I am going to try attaching it to horse tack and use it for hippotherapy activities. I am thinking that the kids could take squeaky toys out of it and drop them into a box on the other side, so I can work on trunk rotation and crossing midline. I've been adding more entries to my horseot blog than on the recycling blog, but if you check it out you will find some fun activities that use recycled stuff, mainly plastic. You know how I love making things out of plastic bottles!

Source: Make-Your-Own Yarn for Plastic Bag Knitting by RecyclingOT