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Saturday, May 4, 2019

Magnetic Building Sets for Sequencing and Motor Control

I not only love to make therapeutic activities out of recycled materials….. I am also excited to create an entirely new activity out of materials that are broken, in storage or simply not being used anymore. The magnetic building block toy is pretty challenging for most of my clients. The directions are to copy diagrams of shapes created by connecting the pegs and balls. I happened to have some metal washers and a broken Connect 4 frame and turned the materials into a very versatile activity that could be used to develop

1)     Eye-hand coordination to place the pegs inside the Connect 4 frame sections

2)     sequencing skills to place the washer, color paper on top, matching color magnetic peg and finally the ball on top.

3)     Motor control to keep the pegs upright and fix when they do fall.

4)     Sensory stimulation from the pull and push of magnetic materials placed in and out of the coffee can

5)     Flexibility to use the materials in a variety of ways

Materials..... I keep a look out for these at yard sales.....

My clients always benefit from movement as they place the magnetic pegs on or off the magnetic white board. I cut paper circles out of construction paper to for color matching, but this is optional.  Purchase small or larger materials according to the child or client’s motor abilities. Also, using fewer materials and spreading them around the board may reduce excess knocking over pieces. 

 Offer an opportunity to draw circles on the white board to place the magnets inside. Someone will surely love wiping the board clean! 

Source: Magnetic Building sets for sequencing and Motor Control by RecyclingOT

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Social Skills Sorting Task for Individual with Developmental Disability

This client loves to sort but he does not like to share or take turns. He is nonverbal. I am teaching him to sort only the yellow, red and blue colors into the 3 containers close to him and to hand me the colors that I need.  I am sorting green, purple and orange pictures into the 3 containers in front of me.

 I mixed up all the colors/pictures and gave each of us 1/2 the pile so that we need to give the other person the pictures that are not on our perspective sides. This was kind of hard for him to do because he didn't want to share the activity with me, but he learned the rules pretty quickly.  I think that this activity will help him better tolerate others in his space and engage with his peers through a shared task.

Source: Social Skills Sorting Task for Developmentally Disabled Client by RecyclingOT

This video demonstrates how to make the snap cover board out of coffee container lids!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

EazyHold Grasp Adaptation for Developmental Disabilities

My client loves to grasp and shake objects. He is blind and this video demonstrates one of the few functional hand skills he enjoys. He loves the freedom of grasping independently that the EazyHold provides. The tambourine sound in the background is actually made by a different individual and the client shown is playing along with her. I wish I could share his great big smile.

Source: EAZYHold Grasp Adaptation for Developmental Disabilities by RecyclingOT


Blind-Deaf Client Manipulating Magnets to Develop Motor Skills

The client in the video is blind, deaf and developmentally disabled. He appears to enjoy insertion tasks, but will stop if they are too challenging. I think that he enjoys inserting the magnetic pieces because he can feel how they connect and separate and they don’t go flying all over the place. This activity works on motor control, finger dexterity and stabilizing materials with one hand. He typically avoids using his hands together but here he is working independently for several minutes-a huge success for him!


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Pull-Open Rings for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

These "Pull-open rings" are easy to cut out of all the vibrant, colorful, plastic containers in the recycling bin (especially if you drink coffee) and require using hands together to pull open and attach to a tube or giant ring stack. 
The ring stack shown in the video is too large to drop the rings down the traditional way, from the top. So, my clients need to pull them open to attach.
This activity works on:
• using hands together
• sequencing steps to pull and place
• providing sensory stimulation from pulling/pushing into place
• integrating movement by retrieving rings from high or low surfaces
The video also shows a client with hemiplegia who avoids using his weaker, less coordinated left hand. He was not happy about this set up but the more he uses his left hand, the better he is at tasks that involve stabilization with the left and manipulation with his right hand.
This activity works on many different skills and the rings are FREE!

This client likes to move. He self-stimulates all day long by shaking paper in front of his face. However, he engages in simple hand activities when they involve movement and visual stimulation! He received vestibular stimulation as he picked up the rings from the floor and high surfaces and proprioceptive stimulation as he pulled the rings open in order to attach to the large ring stack. Working with materials in front of his eyes helped him to visually engage!

Learn more about activity adaptions in my books!

Source: Bilateral Rings for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities by RecyclingOT

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Shoe Bag Sorting Activity for Developmental Disabilities

Every occupational therapist loves a hanging shoe organizer! I found this one while taking my first bike ride of the spring. Washed it and began the fun! 

Shoe bag organizers are great for sorting activities when working with young children or adults with developmental disabilities. I sewed a different color object to the outside of the shoe sections.

My philosophy is that if a client has the skills to sort, identify pictures or read then I should try to incorporate using these cognitive skills. The video shows 3 different clients:
1. One has great color matching skills but is unable to read
2. Another is able to sort the colors AND read the color names in order to put the paper into the matching color pocket and
3. The last client shown is unable to match or sort colors, but he enjoys removing the items from the sections and inserting them into a container.

This activity also works on using hands together, reaching and motor eye-hand coordination. Many of my clients love repetitive tasks such as this and find it relaxing. Fortunately, its easy to find small colorful objects or to cut your own from paper, magazines or plastic containers.

Source: Shoe Bag Sorting Activity for Developmental Disabilities by RecyclingOT

Friday, April 5, 2019

Bilateral File Organizer Activity for Individuals with Autism

A file organizer was adapted by snipping the center of all the horizontal bars except the top and bottom. I found out that if you snip all of the bars, you end up with two separate pieces! The edges of the cut bars are rough so you may want to cover them with duct tape. I attached a plastic container at the top of the organizer to use for storage and to insert/remove the pieces.

Now the fun part: Cut up plastic shapes or laminated pictures that your clients enjoy. Punch holes in the centers and enlarge them as needed. Some clients may prefer removing the shapes, others may prefer attaching and some want to do it all..... 
This activity works on the following skills:
• Using hands together
• Crossing midline in both directs
• Eye-hand coordination
• Identifying shapes or pictures
Options: Place the file organizer higher to encourage reaching. Place the shapes/pictures in a container on the floor, high up or across the room to incorporate movement. I found that this activity made a very active client who likes busy hands very happy!

Materials:  File Organizer, snippers to cut center of horizontal bars, heavy duty scissors, plastic or laminated shapes, heavy duty hole puncher, container for storage and duct tape

Friday, March 29, 2019

Teaching Children How to Form Writing Lines

Your younger toddler discover the joys of scribbling between thirteen and eighteen months of age.  Now your eighteen-to-twenty-four-month old is ready to imitate the forming of lines. This involves watching you do the motion and then doing it immediately afterward. Most children do not learn how to form shapes by looking at a drawing until after two years of age. Children typically learn to imitate forming lines in the following sequence: 
  • vertical lines
  • circular scribbles
  • horizontal lines

Messy and Not Messy Play to Form Lines

Using finger paint, whip cream, and other messy play media, you can show your child how to form vertical, circular and horizontal strokes. Demonstrate how to form vertical lines from top to bottom and horizontal lines from left to right. This is suggested because in many western cultures letters are largely formed and words are read in these directions. Having said this, let me add that drawing and pre-writing should be fun, and there is no need to correct your child's efforts.  

If your child does not like getting "messy" consider placing the paint, hair gel or other colorful substance inside a tightly closed, heavy duty, clear plastic bag. They can still imitate forming lines by pressing into the bag.
Here is an easy activity that involves forming lines: Give your child a pail of water and a short fat paintbrush. See how many lines she can paint on a building or house before they dry up and become invisible. 

Make-Your-Own Picture Frame

This is also a good time to teach the concept that coloring stays on the paper and does not go on the table or wall. You can make this concept more obvious by drawing a thick line in a different color around the paper's edges or even framing it with strips of colorful cardboard or tape. This is the first step in learning how to color inside shapes. 

Here is a simple Make- our-Own picture frame using a folder and piece of paper. After your child produces a scribbled work of art place it inside the folder with a large cut out to create the frame. Tape in place.

The video demonstrates a few sensory-based strategies to teach how to form lines. For example, the indentations in the green dishwasher soap bottle provides tactile (touch) sensory cues as the child forms lines inside the grooves. 

Cut a long, thin rectangle out of cardboard, plastic or a rug square.  You just created a writing guide or window. Place the guide on top of various textures such as my mermaid pillow or bubble wrap to form lines .                                                                                                                               The bottom photo shows the silver line I "drew" using the guide!

Source: Teaching Children How to Form Writing Lines by RecyclingOT