I have found that adding vibration to fine motor activities helps many children to focus, be motivated to use their hands and most importantly have fun. This is not true for all children, but well worth exploring to see if an individual child enjoys this sensory input.
The sound of the motor draws their attention to what is in the child's hands and the vibration provides sensory input to the hands,especially important for children who avoid touch to the palms but are willing to grasp a vibrating toy inside the palm.
I have written many articles about how to adapt activities .....and there is a tremendous about of information about activity adaptations in my books The Recycling Occupational Therapist and From Rattles to Writing: A Parent Guide to Hand Skills. Please check out these resources and other information on my website.....but here are a basics about good vibrations (first and only pun :-)
Using the motor from the Squiggly Wiggly Writer, an electric toothbrush, a massager or other toys- place inside a container used as a shape sorter. The motor in the top picture above is attached with Velcro to the yellow detergent bottle. This bottle can be used as a shape sorter by cutting openings such as a square hole for blocks or used for other types of insertion activities. Coffee cans and other containers with lids also work well. The motor from an electric toothbrush fits inside the coffee can nicely. The child has to stabilize the can during the activity- helping to develop bilateral hand skills. I have worked with 2-4 year olds who would not pay attention to this type of simple insertion task until it shook!!
Stacking cones is another simple early placement skill. I bought the green massager in a department store and it just happened to fit inside the cone. I attached the cone to a door snake (used to keep cold air out) . This made it easier to use during hippotherapy while the child sat on a horse. But this same activity can be used with a child sitting on a swing, bolster or other types of movement apparatus so that children receive both the vestibular movement sensory input as well as the proprioceptive vibration input and that double whammy may be just what they need to engage. Be sure to stop the movement for the brief time the child is actually placing the cone and then reinforce with movement afterward along with a downward push on the cone in order to feel the vibration.
I found the motorized toy designed for July 4th in the dollar store. I added the orange piece to the top, taped in place and attached clothespins for the children to remove. It makes interesting sounds, vibrates and has flashy lights. Its not for all but works great with some children.
I have designed several different types of vibrating ring stacks. One involved placing the green massager inside a small plunger. It just happened to fit inside and then the handle of the plunger functioned as the ring stack.
The child in the picture above is placing rings on a shaking ring stack made of a swimming noodle with the motor from the vibrating pen inside. This candle cane shaped ring stack is a bit more challenging to use since the child needs to motor plan moving the ring over the curve. However, some children need that extra challenge. I found the cane during the holidays a few years ago. It held treats for the horses. I punched holes in the bottom and attached it to the massager by wrapping yarn through the holes and around the massager and adding duct tape.
The child below is placing rings on a vibrating pillow. I found this pink cat pillow on ebay for 5 dollars. There are many different types of vibrating pillows sold on amazon, also that might work in the same way, but my little clients loved the pink cat.
The Princess Wand toy shown in the amazon ad below vibrates, has flashing lights and makes sounds when turned on. I use it as a ring stack and my clients love it!
Small toys or flat shapes can be attached to any vibrating toy and used in a fine motor activity that involves stabilizing the toy, removing the object and inserting the object into a container. Another variation would be to wrap rubber bands or fabric pieces around the toy and asking the child to remove them.
Some electric toothbrushes have a motor that is removed from the brush(as shown above) and this motor can be placed in containers. But the children's toothbrushes with characters such as the one shown in the amazon ad, are all one piece. You can place the end of the brush inside a swim noodle or tube to use as a ring stack or have the child place very small rings over the brush end. I have also inserted the small brush in inside toy openings to make the toy shake.
Lastly, any sensory table made with dry products like rice, beans, confetti etc can be made to shake by adding vibrating objects. this make it extra fun to explore.
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All of these activities vibrate!