The Recycling Occupational Therapist is only $25.00 with free shipping with Paypal

Offer only applies in continental United States

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


Friday, March 22, 2019

Make-Your-Own: Snap-Lid Board for Developing Hand Skills

Learning how to pull lids off food containers is an important, functional life skills that some of my clients find challenging.
The “Snap Lid Board” enables children or adults with developmental disabilities to practice skills that will help them to open and close food and other pull-lid containers. This is a very functional daily living skill that also works on
1) Visual attention
2) Upper extremity strength
3) Bilateral hand coordination
4) Sorting by a category and/or
5) Eye hand coordination to string onto the pipe cleaners
I showed my clients how to listen for the click sound that indicates that the lids snapped in place. People with learning challenges benefit from the repetitive practice- six times pushing the lid into place!

Pushing or pulling the lids requires force, so stimulates the proprioceptive sensory receptors in the arm/hand muscles and joints. Many children or adults with sensory processing disorders avoid pushing with their palms possibly due to touch sensitivities and decreased strength. Let’s distract them from the fact that this is exactly what they need to do in order to make the cover snap into place. Finally, the “stand up the frame” test will indicate success ( they don't fall off) or need for more pushing…….
Have fun turning the board into a sorting or lacing activity as your children or clients fill the containers according to color, shape, size or another category. Another option is to string beads or shapes with holes onto the pipe cleaners.
The following video demonstrates how I made this activity by
1) cutting around the tops of plastic coffee cans to create the blue threaded piece. You can any coffee brand container,  but be sure to use the identical product so that the covers snap onto any of the threaded pieces.  
2)  punching holes using a heavy duty hole puncher
3) Lace through the frame and punched holes to secure in place
4) I found this frame at work. You can use something similar or punch holes in a large storage cover .

I think that my clients love the smell of coffee lingering in these materials even after a washing!

Source: Make-Your-Own: Snap-Cover Board for Developing Hand Skills by RecyclingOT
Links to products you might use to make this activity......


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Vertical Board Stencil Activity for Individual with Autism

Its easy to draw and cut out a simple stencil from a folder or other cardboard. Its so easy, I suggest making a new and different one every day for children or adults with or without developmental disabilities.
Explore positioning options. For example, the individual may
1. work at a table
2. on an angled book stand on the table
3. on the floor or
4 . work while standing at a white board as shown in the video.

    This activity promotes the following skills:

1.       Visual attention to the materials since they are directly in front of one’s face

2.       Strengthening shoulders through reaching and pressing

3.       Stabilizing the stencil while coloring (bilateral hand skills)

4.       Eye-hand coordination

5.       Sensory stimulation to eyes, muscles, joints, vestibular system while pressing to color and wiping the board clean, as well as walking side to side and high/low to reach all parts of the board.

The client shown in the video loves pictures. She has a very limited vocabulary but “pictures” is one of her favorite words. Using stencils enables her to make her very own pictures while working on the above skills.

At first I asked her to form circles and crosses all over the white board. Then I decided to make it much more interesting and meaningful by using stencils. It takes a lot of trial and error to find successful activities, but its very rewarding when you do!  

Source: Vertical Board Stencil Activity for Individual with Autism by RecyclingOT


Friday, March 8, 2019

File Organizer Fine-Motor Activity for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

I love activities that are versatile and free. I made the file organizer fine-motor activity out of a file organizer that was being thrown out at work and detergent or dishwasher soap plastic bottles. 

The video demonstrates how I use heavy duty scissors to cut up plastic handles to create small shapes that can be attached or removed from the file organizer.  (I apologize that I haven’t thought up a good name for these objects, yet….) 

At the bottom of this post I share a few Amazon links to products used to make this activity. I make a few cents which you shop from my Amazon links.

Materials used to make this Activity

  • The file organizer shown in the video provides a vertical surface so that individuals strengthen arms while reaching and viewing materials directly in front of them as opposed to on the table. 
  • Cut handles from detergent or dishwasher soap bottles. Explore the variety of colors, shapes of the handles. Some plastic is very easy to cut  and others not so easy. In my opinion, the less expensive brands like Arm and Hammer are easier to cut than the pricier Tide bottles!
  • Attaching a small bag to the file organizer for storage is optional. 
  • Heavy duty leather or other types of work scissors. Once you start cutting plastic, the scissors will gradually become too blunk to cut paper. I use my "plastics" scissors only for plastic or cardboard.

There are many therapeutic benefits to this activity and here are just a few:

1)     The plastic is vibrant and colorful and can be used for color matching or sorting on the file organizer levels.

2)     The file organizer creates a vertical plane activity that promotes visual attention, reaching and upright posture

3)     The plastic pieces can be cut into smaller or larger pieces. Use larger or smaller plastic bottles to control your size options.

4)     Some individuals will be best at removing the shapes. That’s easier than attaching them!

5)     The file organizer can be rotated to explore the best position for the client to learn how to attach or remove the shapes.

6)     When plastic gets lost, simply cut up more bottles! No expensive pieces to replace!

7)     The individuals need to stabilize with one hand while attaching or removing the pieces. For some people that is a skill that needs to be worked on!

8)     The file organizer may be placed on top of a box so that the client is reaching and working on an upright posture.

9)     Movement can be incorporated into the activity by setting up a box of plastic across the room or on the floor so that the individual needs to walk across the room or move high and low to retrieve materials.

10)     It feels good to slide the plastic pieces across the file organizer. Some individuals will focus on the sensory aspects as they have fun touching, sliding and pulling the materials.

   Please be sure that you keep small objects away from children or adults with developmental disabilities who may put them in their mouth, creating a choking hazard. By the way, parents may create this activity for their typically developing preschool age children as they work on color matching and sorting and manipulation skills.

This cardboard box fit snuggly inside the file organizer. The box catches any pieces that fall during the process of pulling them off.

My client has cerebral palsy and enjoys reaching with either hand to remove and insert the shapes into the bag sitting to her right.

This reaching activity maintains upper extremity active range of motion .

I tried rotating the file organizer to better fit on the table. Then I noticed that the client was able to better perceive how the opening on the shapes needed to be positioned in order to remove them from the stand.
 Some children or adults may prefer to manipulate materials while on the floor, sitting at a table or standing. I raised the activity on top of the box so that she was not bending over and removed the box when she decided to sit in her chair.

Enjoy exploring the many ways that you can individualize this activity to the skill and interest level of your children or clients! I wish that I thought of this 25 years ago when my son was preschool age. He  loved watching me create manipulation toys.

Try these file organizers.


Try these heavy-duty scissors: