Posts tagged ‘Preschool’

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
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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.

Nail Trimming

nail trimmingDistress during nail clipping is one of the everyday obstacles we hear about from many of our families. Some children have trouble tolerating the clippers, some dislike the sharp feel of the nail after clipping, or the novel tactile input on the fingertip that was previously covered by the nail. Here are some ideas to try next time the clippers need to come out.

 

  • If your child likes to play with resistive materials like theraputty or play doh, have him use the materials before nail clipping as a way to “warm up” the fingers before the task. Or, let him hold a vibrating massager to provide vibration to the fingers. Offer these types of materials after the trimming as well.
  • Try a lotion massage on the hands, using firm stroke with your whole hand (not just fingertips pressing into your child’s hand). End with deep pressure gently “pulling” down the length of each of his fingers, toward the nail.
  • Nails will be softer and easier to trim after bath time.
  • Use child-friendly terminology – don’t say you are going to “cut” the nails, use words like “trim”. Children may associate “cut” with pain.
  • Have your child be in charge of counting each nail that is trimmed. Counting will help him see that the process will not take forever.
  • Singing a song together may help as well. Try the tune of “Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush” and change the lyrics to “This is the way we trim your nails”.
  • Some children prefer the vibration and pressure of a nail file rather than clippers.
  • At first, a successful nail trimming may be one hand at a time, or even one nail. Find the level where your child can tolerate the process without being overwhelmed and build from there.
  • Teach your older child to safely trim his or her own nails. Sensory input that he controls may be easier to tolerate than imposed input.

Bouncing off the Walls

“My child is bouncing off the walls and you want me to do what?”3529498271_c44d228fbc_z

Sometimes we as occupational therapists have to start our conversations with the families of our clients with “I know this is going to sound crazy, but I’ve seen it work for your child.” The natural instinct when we see a child running and quite literally bouncing off the walls (and the couch, and the bed, and his brother), is to try and calm him down by getting him to stop moving. Sit still! Stop jumping! Stop watching TV upside down! There are times when children do in fact need assistance to slow down their “engines”, take a break and relax. However, as Gwen Wild, the creator of Sensational Brain puts it: “there are times when children need guidance in how to burn off the extra fuel in their tanks.”

Children who are under-responsive to sensory input, particularly movement and body awareness, may constantly fidget and change position. This is not just a subtle pencil tap or foot wiggle that most children will display from time to time. This is more like spontaneous somersaults across the living room and gravity-defying chair tilting on a constant basis. The vestibular system is the sensory system which helps monitor changes in head position and movement against gravity. Children who are under-responsive to this input need more intense and frequent stimulation than same-age peers. Everyday movement activities such as walking, playing or swinging are simply not enough to be satisfying and regulating. These lower intensity movements feel bland and leave under-responsive kids craving more (and higher! and faster!).

This is the reason your child’s occupational therapist may recommend sensory diet activities that provide intense vestibular input for a child who is constantly on the move. Tools such as sit-n-spins, trampolines (with appropriate supervision and safety precautions), scooter boards, animal walks or structured exercises that include inverting the head may be useful in helping your child meet that high threshold that he needs to feel regulated. Our goal in suggesting these types of activities is to provide your child with safe, structured activities to take the place of body slamming the couch at Grandma’s house. If you have questions about sensory diet activities that may be beneficial to your child, talk about it with your occupational therapist.