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Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy 2013!

I came up with the idea of plastic weaving letters, numbers, shapes and objects while writing my Kindle book "The Almost Complete Plastic Bottle Activity Book".   I have "patent pending" status for my "weavable toys" and am currently looking for a manufacturer or business that wants to have these manufactured and then pay me royalties.  
Weaving shapes reinforces letter and number formation concepts while strengthening fingers. There is a lot of motor planning involved in pushing the pieces in and out through the notches. These are a lot of work to make out of detergent bottles and I am hoping that they will soon be available for purchase. However, I am happy to share here for those Do It Yourself-ers.....
The sizes of the shapes and number/sizes of the notches determine how challenging these will be to connect.  You have the option of creating a single shape such as the 2 to weave or create 2 shapes to put together like in the two round shapes that form the 3.  
 Obviously weaving the straight line in the 1 is easier than weaving the round shapes.... 
Younger children may be given  1 single shape to weave into the larger notched shape.
But older children may be given 2 or more shapes (such as the 2 and 0 in the photo) and pieces to match up before weaving. This works on visual discrimination skills, its sort of like putting a puzzle together.... 
The last photo shows the 2 shapes positioned upside down with the detergent labels showing. Tell the children that only the plain color sides should be showing and then the correct side will be facing upwards. 





Friday, December 21, 2012

A Challenging but Enjoyable OT Seminar


I had been looking forward to presenting my OT seminars in CT and NH this week.
http://www.barbarasmithoccupationaltherapist.com/workshops.html

However, since the Friday tragedy in CT, I was feeling awful about being near all that heartache. Indeed, I felt an air of somberness in the room as I greeted the participants. Adding to the challenges was the fact that my flight had been cancelled, I ended up taking a taxi from Newark to Bristol, CT and I was not able to get my baggage until the next day. This meant that I had no displays, I wore the same clothes twice in a row- including the Keene sneakers I wear when doing hippotherapy. Did I mention that I only had 3 hours of sleep?

How in the world did I end up in Newark, NJ when I live in MA? I simply do not like driving long distances and wanted to avoid giving a 5 hour seminar (which is exciting, fun and exhausting) and then driving 3-4 hours to the next location. I was happy to spend 4-5 hours to fly out to Newark and then connect to Hartford. However, I never anticipated my connection being cancelled due to the weather. My taxi driver was super nice and $340.00 later (all reimbursed of course) I arrived at the hotel, slept 3 hours and woke up surprisingly energized.


Occupational therapists like hands-on activities and displays, especially since this was touted in my seminar brochure....

I woke up and assessed what was available- I had a lot of glossy magazines in my backpack along with my computer and snacks....

I happen to be a television talent show fanatic and was in tears when the cast of The Voice paid tribute to the victims. This experience inspired me to make a paper shrine with candles that I created by ripping paper.





While ripping the letters to spell LOVE, I thought about what a great fine motor activity that is but may be difficult for some children to do- so when I got home I  cut out a plastic W, punched holes in hit and attached it to thick folder paper using paper fasteners. It was a bit more labor intensive to make than I had hoped but I found it very easy to grasp the plastic edges and rip- ending up with a very nice paper W.















Other activities included:

  1. Squirting a dab of hotel lotion in the palm then asking the OT's to use only that hand to spread it all over the hand as much as possible. This is a great activity for strengthening the hand muscles and provides tactile stimulation.
  2.  Each OT rolled up a sheet of paper to make a tube. They also ripped paper to crunch into a small ball. Then they inserted the paper ball into the tube and blew it into the bag that I held for them.  I have to say I heard more laughter then than I had ever at a previous seminar.
  3. I wrapped a large piece of paper around some crunched up paper and taped it in place to create a ball. Then I wrote numbers all over the ball. The numbers were all squares- 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81, 100, 121, 144. Then 2 volunteers ( I can't remember if they truly volunteered or not !) tossed the ball back and forth. I called out a finger such as right index or left thumb and the person would read out the number the finger was closest to.                                                                Meanswhile, the other OT's  wrote down the square roots, added them up after 6-7 turns and then we compared answers. I think this is a pretty good activity for older students who need to work on: scanning, eye-hand coordination, convergence and divergence. The same activity can be adapted so that the players are calling out letters and then try to make a word out of the named letters. This will help in promoting letter discrimination and form constancy since they will have to identify letters even when viewing them from a rotated perspective. 



Special thanks to my program manager (the young lady behind the table who gives out the handbooks when participants arrive). Her job is also to help me be relaxed so that I can give my all at the seminars. She drives me to hotels, pumps the gas,  arranges meals, calls taxis when needed, gets photocopies or supplies as needed, sets up the technology and contacts the hotel staff when there is an environmental  problem. This must be what its like to be rich and have full-time paid assistants!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Winter Weavable- Snowman


The snow man is made of 3 circular pieces- a small one, medium sized and large one so that the child needs to match the corresponding sized circle to the correct snow ball. The snow man was cut out of an orange juice bottle and the weaving shapes can be cut out of detergent, dishwasher soap bottles or container lids. The snowman is just one of the many activities described in my Kindle book: "The Almost Complete Plastic Bottle Activity Book" available on Amazon.  















 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Seasonal Weaving Crafts


This menorah is made from an orange juice bottle. I love how the bottom of the bottle enables it to stand up on its own.

Children may color designs with dry erase markers. Wiping them clean strengthens fingers and enables the child to create a new design.

I think that the ideal toys enable children to be creative and used in a variety of ways. The candles may be inserted in different orders. You can cut a large variety of colors and lengths so that children have artistic options.




Happy chanukah!



No time to cut plastic bottles? Check out the Weavable Toys: Basic Shapes now sold on Amazon with free shipping and gift wrap option. 












This woven place mat made out of strips cut from bottles is easy to clean and perfect for a splash of Thanksgiving color.







A homemade Weavable gift.....


The bow is made out of a hard to find pink coffee can lid.




Check out my digital book for more ideas of what to make out of your plastic bottles....The almost Complete Plastic Bottle Activity Book is sold on the Amazon Kindle site.







 




A few more activities designed last year.......

The Almost Complete Plastic Bottle Activity Book is mostly pictures of activities that I have designed and used with children with and without learning challenges.  I describe how simple adaptations help children more easily manipulate objects. Also learn how to take familiar simple activities and make them more challenging!

 The title reflects the fact that I am designing new activities every day and this book will never be complete..........

I am thrilled to be able to offer this digital book to friends around the world for only $8.50!













Here are a couple of examples of the creative activities parents, teachers, therapists and others will enjoy making and using with the children in their lives............

Both the Christmas tree and Hanukkah menorah involve weaving plastic strips (cut from detergent bottles) in and out of notches. This is a great way to strengthen fingers and develop dexterity.


There are many more  "weavable" activities in this book......- so many that I decided to patent the concept....... All of the prototypes  shared in this book can be made from plastic bottles, but I am hoping that these materials will become commercially available and as popular as Legos.