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Monday, September 30, 2013

Straw Holder


I need a straw holder to try out with a client and do not have the patience to order one. Nor do I want to spend 20 dollars!!! I just cut the shape from two  sides of a detergent bottle and punched holes. I can quickly make new ones when they get lost and adjust the size and location of the holes as needed. It stabilized the straw nicely when I drank out of this, so I think it will work  with the client.
Having something new to try makes work fun!
I use a heavy duty hole puncher from an office supply store and leather shears- from a sewing or office supply store.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Few Apple Fine motor Activities

These apples are easy to make by cutting colorful juice, detergent or dishwasher soap bottles. Choose green, yellow or red bottles to vary your types of apples. 

Children and adults with disabilities of all ages will enjoy these crafts while developing eye hand coordination. In fact, children as young as 1-2 years of age may pull the worms out of the apples. Weaving the worms back inside will develop dexterity as children use these during pretend play..... 
The video shows 3 different apple fine motor activities. Pushing the circles into holes in the large apple develops the strong fingers required to grasp a writing tool effectively. Apple lacing puzzles may have as few as 3 pieces or several to lace onto the large apple frame.  Vary the colors used to make orange pumpkins, yellow zucchini or green acorn squash! 

Source: Make Your Own Apple Toys for Preschoolers by RecyclingOT on Rumble

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Weaving onto round strips

My 4 year old client  is able to weave the plastic shapes from the Weavable Toys: Basic Shapes kit (she is weaving a pink one in thepicture) onto a round strip (blue in picture) with just a little bit of help pushing the tip through the 2nd notch. This is a great way to work on motor planning skills and bilateral coordination.
I have recently begun working at a program with adults who have developmental disabilities. I was impressed with some of the sensory activities designed to get them moving. One activity is to move large containers filled with sand to different locations.  I made this lacing activity by cutting up a large container (its white) into one very long strip.  I am going to try to find a weighted container that fits inside so that it will stay in one spot. Then I will see if some of the individuals who need sensory input like pulling the shapes off to insert into containers. They will need to extend their arms above the head in order to pull these off while standing. 
 I cut the weaving shapes such as the bananas and goldfish shown in photos from plastic that I cut from detergent bottles. I decided to make them identifiable objects- so made blue stars, yellow bananas, gold fish, green apples and red hearts. I think that some of the individuals will enjoy sorting these after removal. Weaving them back onto the strip will be another motor planning task to explore. Although I continue to enjoy designing and making activities out of recycled materials, notice that the weaving strip and shapes that the girl above is using were professionally manufactured. I assume that many folks do not want to make these themselves. My prototypes are a softer, more flexible, easier to weave plastic and the notches are perfectly consistent in size and spacing.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Retro Baby: A Book Review

Dr. Anne Zachry has long been sharing her expertise on her pediatric occupational therapy tips blog at:
 Now parents can benefit from her wisdom by reading Retro Baby (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013).  Like many in the early childhood development field, Dr. Zachry is concerned about the impact of the commercialization of baby development. The solution is getting back to baby basics…..
Advertisements have been around a long time, but parents today are inundated with messages coming from stores, televisions, tablets and Iphone screens-telling them what expensive positioning device or learning tools speed up development, enabling babies to compete in our complex world. Retro Baby is here to refute the claims and share the facts about child development. This guide actually teaches parents how to prevent harming their children! So let’s take a look at this Retro World……
Dr. Zachry begins by comparing the parent of a generation ago who might have purchased 1 or 2 items, perhaps a stroller or baby backpack to use during a walk. Today the choices are overwhelming and expensive as parents are told to buy positioning devices (i.e. bouncy seats, jumpers, walkers and learning saucers). These devices take time away from the sensory stimulation gained from active movement while held or on the floor.
 Retro Baby explores the impact of smart toys and the so called educational television shows and DVDs that are supposed to produce baby Einsteins. I love how the author researches the facts, provides references for further study and then simplifies concepts for readers in the ‘Truth Be Told” sections. For example, babies don’t need electronic toys….. "a simple set of building blocks provides endless entertainment and is wonderful for baby’s visual and motor skill development.”  
Readers, of course need to not only learn what pitfalls to avoid, but how to get back to basics such as:
·        Providing a variety of safe, stimulating tummy time activities and why this is sooooo important!
·        Stimulating the visual system to develop depth perception and eye-hand coordination
·        Positioning to avoid skull deformities and torticollis
·        Suspended mobiles to stimulate visual tracking, listening and focusing
·        Baby massage
·        Activities to improve head control and focus such as singing Patty Cake with baby sitting on parent’s belly  

Dr. Zachry also includes a wealth of information and activities that address concerns such as:
·        Overcoming “tummy-time “ resistance
·        Positioning and stretching strategies for babies with skull deformities or torticollis
·        When and how to swaddle a baby safely
·        How to choose safe equipment such as changing tables and cribs
Chapters 6-10 focus on the Retro activities baby boomers such as myself grew up with -when high tech meant Captain Kangaroo on television…. These chapters include a wealth of developmental activities such as
·        Playing horsey while bouncing on mama’s knees-for sensory stimulation and developing trunk strength
·        Pulling scarves out of containers-to develop fine-motor control
·        “Rock-On” activity- to develop standing balance and;
·        “Shop’til you drop” activity -to develop squatting skills
As the Recycling Occupational Therapist, of course I love Dr. Zachry’s low cost, yet effective approach and frequent use of home-made learning toys/activities.  I highly recommend this book to the discerning parents who want to provide sensory rich “Retro” learning environments.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Great Therapy Dog info!

I recently came across and want to share the website
This is a pediatric occupational therapy clinic that integrates a therapy dog named Tinder into the treatment sessions.
Check out this page to see a few of the ways a therapy dog helps to:
*make therapy fun
*provide sensory stimulation
*reduce anxiety
*motivate and engage

Here is an example of how Tinder is used as a prop while a child practices buttoning skills...

Check out lots of other great photos on their FaceBook page:

and videos, too....


Monday, September 9, 2013

How to Use Weavable Toys- Basic Shapes

Weavable Toys (patent Pending) by RecyclingOT, LLC are available via Paypal on my website:
 page: They cost $20.00 and for a limited time shipping is free within the continental U.S. 
Note: Boards are approximately 6 inches in width and height.  
Activities can be graded according to the child's abilities:
  1. Younger children may simply remove the colorful shapes from the white strips
  2. or remove the shapes from the white strips that are woven through the boards (circle, square, rectangle and triangle). It is generally easier to develop dexterity by teaching children to first develop skills to remove the shapes. (Many 3 and 4 year olds can do this).
  3. Teach how to weave the shapes onto only the white strips without using boards or
  4. Weave the white strips through the black boards without using the shapes
  5. Finally- after practice the child is ready to weave the colorful shapes onto the white strips while weaving onto the board... (these last 3 activities are suitable for children 4-6 years of age).

Notice how the green shape on top is woven into the board using the same notches as the orange shape below it on the other side........ Pretty tricky!

The mushroom shaped tips on the strips woven into the squares and circles prevent them from falling out while weaving.

 More challenging activities include:
1. Sequencing color patterns
2. Copying designs from another board or a photo of a board
3. Trace around the shapes or boards with woven shapes as though they were stencils. then see if the child can color them in to look like the design they had woven into the board.
4. Press Wikki Stix or pipe cleaners around the borders. Remove and color in.
4. Looking at the photo such as the one on the left and visualize how the lavender stars look on the other side. Then weave to create the designs on both sides. This might be the most challenging of all !

 These materials can be used by typically developing children to develop eye-hand coordination and visual-perceptual skills. However, they are also ideal in helping children with challenges to learn how shapes are formed. All children can enjoy choosing how to arrange their shapes and colors for creativity and learning!