Posts tagged ‘Early Elementary School’

From Our Bookshelf: Sensitive Sam

Sensitive Sam by Marla Roth-Fisch

sam cover Sensitive Sam is the story of Sam, a young boy with sensory over-responsivity. He is more sensitive to the way things smell, sound and feel and has difficulty with daily life activities such as getting ready in the morning and playing at school. The book describes many of the sensations that Sam experiences as overwhelming. At times, the language can sound a little negative, but by the end of the book Sam works with an occupational therapist and discovers sensory diet techniques that help him tolerate the sensations inherent in his day. In the end, Sam concludes: Take it from me, Sensitive Sam, That things will be okay. By doing things a little differently, I can have fun EVERY day! Sensitive Sam would be an appropriate book for children who have sensory over-responsivity. They may feel alone in their experiences, and the book offers comfort that they are not the only ones who hate the feel of clay or the sound of a toilet flushing. We appreciate the author writing this story about a boy with sensitivities, as young boys may face more social stigma than girls with sensitivities. The book does not go into detail about the sensory diet activities Sam uses to help with regulation, but the book would be a great jumping off point for a family to discuss the sensory strategies that work for their child.

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10 Ways to Play With. . . Part 4 of 4

Many of the children we see at our clinics have difficulty with motor planning.  Motor planning is a complex skill which allows a person to generate an idea for a motor action, efficiently time and sequence the movements necessary, grade the force required, and execute the action.  Children who have a hard time with the ideation phase of motor planning may tend to play the same activities over and over or struggle to come up with multiple solutions to a problem.  Open-ended free play is a great way to stretch this ability; however, a child who truly has a motor planning deficit will likely need some guidance and encouragement along the way.   Here are some suggestions to help you look at novel ways to play with toys or items you may already have in your home.   As you’re playing, ask your child questions like “What else could this be?” and praise their efforts to think outside the box.­­­

10 Ways to Play with a Beach Ball

  1. Set up a goal to kick the ball into, or for something new, challenge your child to use a different body part, like an elbow, to knock the ball into the goal.
  2. Grab a laundry basket and play a target game.
  3. Take on a multi-step challenge. The first person picks an action, such as bouncing the ball one time.  The next person bounces the ball one time, and then adds a step, like turning around holding the ball. The game continues, adding on more and more steps.  How many can you remember?
  4. Set up an obstacle course to maneuver the ball through.
  5. Kangaroo kicks: Have your child lie down on his back and prop up his body on his elbows.  Stand a few feet away (more if you have a child who tends to use too much force) and toss the ball for him to kick with the soles of his feet back to you.
  6. Write sensory diet activities recommended by your therapist on different areas of the ball. Toss the ball back and forth a few times, then do the action written on the area facing upward.
  7. Stand up some blocks and go bowling.
  8. Play the game ”keep it up”. How many times can you tap the ball up before it falls to the ground?
  9. Team work relay. Can your child and a friend work together to get the ball across the room by holding the ball between their hips?  Behind their backs?
  10. Pool noodle hockey. Have any pool noodles that survived the summer?  Repurpose them into hockey sticks for the beach ball.beach ball

10 Ways to Play With. . . Part 3 of 4

Many of the children we see at our clinics have difficulty with motor planning.  Motor planning is a complex skill which allows a person to generate an idea for a motor action, efficiently time and sequence the movements necessary, grade the force required, and execute the action.  Children who have a hard time with the ideation phase of motor planning may tend to play the same activities over and over or struggle to come up with multiple solutions to a problem.  Open-ended free play is a great way to stretch this ability; however, a child who truly has a motor planning deficit will likely need some guidance and encouragement along the way.   Here are some suggestions to help you look at novel ways to play with toys or items you may already have in your home.   As you’re playing, ask your child questions like “What else could this be?” and praise their efforts to think outside the box.­­­

10 Ways to Play with a Jump Rope

  1. Remember any jump rope rhymes from your childhood? If not, here’s a list .
  2. Wiggle the rope along the ground like a snake. Don’t let it bite you!
  3. Tie the rope between two chairs and play limbo.
  4. Have one person stand and slowly spin holding the rope so that it drags along the ground in a circle. The other players need to jump over the rope as it comes by.
  5. Pretend to be pirates and use the rope to tie up your captives.
  6. Pretend to be a cowboy. Learn to tie a lasso here.  Wrangle up some stuffed animals before they escape the ranch.
  7. Lay the rope on the ground in a circle and play a target game.
  8. Arrange the rope on the floor in different shapes and have the other players guess what the figure is.
  9. Stretch the rope out on the ground. Can you walk across the tightrope without falling into the canyon?
  10. Have a three legged race.2895685127_d257ab23e6_z

10 Ways to Play With. . . Part 2 of 4

Many of the children we see at our clinics have difficulty with motor planning.  Motor planning is a complex skill which allows a person to generate an idea for a motor action, efficiently time and sequence the movements necessary, grade the force required, and execute the action.  Children who have a hard time with the ideation phase of motor planning may tend to play the same activities over and over or struggle to come up with multiple solutions to a problem.  Open-ended free play is a great way to stretch this ability; however, a child who truly has a motor planning deficit will likely need some guidance and encouragement along the way.   Here are some suggestions to help you look at novel ways to play with toys or items you may already have in your home.   As you’re playing, ask your child questions like “What else could this be?” and praise their efforts to think outside the box.­­­

10 Ways to Play with Pillows

  1. Pretend to be frogs and jump lily pad to lily pad.
  2. Arrange the pillows as targets and toss crumpled up paper or balled up socks.
  3. Make a pillow path on the ground and walk on top of them, making sure you don’t fall off and step in the lava.
  4. Have a red light, green light pillow fight. Everyone has to stop when “red light” is called and swing the pillows in slow motion during a “yellow light”.
  5. Grab some couch cushions and build a pillow fort.
  6. Substitute pillows for chairs and play musical pillows.
  7. Make an obstacle course with pillows to jump over, skip around, roll across, etc.
  8. Use the pillow case for a potato sack race.
  9. Sing the “Wonder Ball” song and substitute a pillow.
  10. Have a snowball fight with crumpled newspaper. Defend yourself with a pillow shield.pillow stack

10 Ways to Play With. . . Part 1 of 4

Many of the children we see at our clinics have difficulty with motor planning.  Motor planning is a complex skill which allows a person to generate an idea for a motor action, efficiently time and sequence the movements necessary, grade the force required, and execute the action.  Children who have a hard time with the ideation phase of motor planning may tend to play the same activities over and over or struggle to come up with multiple solutions to a problem.  Open-ended free play is a great way to stretch this ability; however, a child who truly has a motor planning deficit will likely need some guidance and encouragement along the way.   Here are some suggestions to help you look at novel ways to play with toys or items you may already have in your home.   As you’re playing, ask your child questions like “What else could this be?” and praise their efforts to think outside the box.­­­

10 Ways to Play with a Blanket

  1. Make a fort by draping the blanket over a group of chairs.
  2. Create a quiet reading tent by draping a large blanket over a table.
  3. Use it like a parachute. Place small stuffed animals in the middle and have each person hold a corner and bounce the animals around.
  4. Pretend to be the king or queen with a long royal robe.
  5. Pretend to be a super hero with a cape.
  6. Play a memory game. Spread 3-5 objects on the floor and see how many your child can remember when the blanket covers them up.
  7. Go on a magic carpet ride. What do you see as you fly along?
  8. Have a tug-of-war battle.
  9. Guess the mystery object. Have your child put his hand under the blanket and without him seeing the object, place something small in his hand and ask him to guess what it is.  Cotton balls, coins, buttons, lego pieces, and paper clips are great for this activity.
  10. Go for a sled ride. Have your child sit on a blanket and gently drag him through the house.

blanket

Choosing the Right Coloring Pages

Many of the children we see in our clinics struggle with coloring skills.  Whether the difficulty is rooted in poor fine motor control, visual perceptual skills, attention or regulation, it is common to see a child begin coloring a page with good intentions, then end up scribbling or abandoning the task.  We are careful to present the children with a coloring page with a “just right challenge”, but there are an abundance of free printable coloring pages online.  Here are some of the things we look for.

  • Choose a topic or character your child is interested in. He may be more motivated to color a picture of a Lego Ninjago character than a holiday themed page.
  • Look for bold outlines. Children who have difficulty with the motor control necessary to efficiently direct their crayon will benefit from the extra “wiggle room” between sections, while children with visual perceptual difficulties may be able to better identify different areas of the picture.
  • Find pages with little or no background detail at first. Check out the difference between these two images. Both are Lightning McQueen, but a child with decreased attention or ability to maintain a regulated state may give up on the more detailed picture before it is finished.

detailed lightning simple lightning

  • Encourage your child to choose one area at a time to fill in.  If your child needs help to stay organized, ask questions like “What color should his tires be?”   Praise your child for his effort and make some room on the refrigerator for the masterpiece.

Multisensory Handwriting Practice

Research has shown that a multisensory approach to learning is beneficial for a wide variety of children, particularly with teaching handwriting and reading skills. Many children who struggle with the formation of letters will show reluctance to complete class work or homework and may write the shortest answer possible rather than demonstrating their full grasp of the concept.

In the clinic, we see children who glaze over at the thought of practicing letter formation and other handwriting skills but are willing to participate in novel multisensory activities such as those listed below.

  • Write or print out letters that take up an 8×11 piece of paper. Place a sticker or other indicator for where to start the letter.  Have your child drive a car or walk a stuffed animal along the letter’s path.A with push pins
  • Use the same printed letters from the first activity and place them on a cork board.  Have your child press push pins (with close supervision) into the start and end points for the strokes, then stretch elastics over the pins to create lines for the letter.
  • Assemble a rainbow salt tray.  In short, glue colored construction paper into the lid of a shoe box and pour a thin layer of salt on top.  Your child can form letters with her finger or use a paint brush or other tool to write.  For complete step-by-step instructions, visit http://www.learning4kids.net/2012/06/05/rainbow-salt-tray/
  • Shaving cream is a tried and true OT modality. Squirt a small amount of shaving cream on a cookie sheet, or right onto the tabletop if you don’t mind the mess. As with the salt tray, your child can use her finger or a tool to write and draw in the shaving cream.
  • Pour finger paint on a plastic plate or small tray. The paint won’t adhere to the surface and provides the opportunity to practice letters repeatedly and correct errors easily.
  • If you have a child who is over-responsive to tactile input, and therefore would run for the hills if you asked him to touch shaving cream or finger paint, try squirting hair gel in a sturdy zipper bag. Double bagging is probably the best approach.  You can add glitter or food coloring for extra visual appeal. Here is a great example: http://playathomemom3.blogspot.com/2011/07/squishy-bag-tactilemultisensory.htmlPlayDohCan
  • Roll play-doh or other modeling clay into “snakes” and form them into the letters.  Encourage your child to build the letter in the correct stroke order, for example, to make a “T”, start by forming the vertical line and then place the horizontal line on top.
  • Wiki Sticks are a fun tool for learning letter formations.  They are a combination of yarn and food grade, non-toxic wax that can be bent into any shape you wish.  They will stick on a piece of paper, a sliding glass door, a smooth easel or the tabletop.  Start by having your child bend the Wiki Sticks to “trace” on top of a printed letter.  Then have him copy the letter by looking at an example and work up to forming the letter on his own. http://www.wikkistix.com/
  • To work on letter identification, play a mystery letter game by tracing on your child’s back with your finger.  For extra motivation, give your child 100 points for every correct guess.  Please note:  this would likely not be an appropriate activity for children who are over-responsive to light touch and tactile input.
  • Many kids have difficulty sitting long enough to practice letters and reading and need movement to stay regulated.  So you can print out letters or sight words and tape them firmly to the floor, or write with sidewalk chalk on the driveway.  Call out a letter or sight word and have your child jump on the correct answer.  Make this a little harder by giving instructions such as “Jump on the letter that makes the sound ‘sss’”, or “What does ‘lion’ start with?”.
  • For a spin on the jumping activity listed above, try the same activity but give your child a (clean) fly swatter to smack the words or letters.Wiggle Pen
  • Children who naturally have a low arousal level and children who seek intensity may benefit from using a wiggle pen. Their legibility may decrease with this pen, but it is great for repetitive assignments such as writing out spelling words.  These same children may enjoy using scented markers as well.