Found this gem on the internet and could not believe how awesome it was - for free! The Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (where on earth is that) composed it & it's a great PDF for parents and teachers. It explains the whys, hows, wheres and whats of sensory breaks and has great pictures that you can print and laminate. I love that we are a community of learners. Have a great weekend!
For those of you that know me, you're already aware of how obsessed I am with supporting breast cancer research, funding and awareness. For those of you that don't know me, let me give you the background. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36, I was 7 years old. After battling for 3 years, and battling hard might I add, she passed away 6 months before her 40th birthday. I was 11. I've been getting mammograms since I turned 18. Three years ago, my grandmother (my mother's mother) was diagnosed. She is now in remission, thanks to successful surgery and treatment. Two years ago, I underwent genetic testing to find out that I was negative for BRCA-1 and 2 mutations. Yay! But because we still don't know if the mutation was what caused my mother's cancer - I am still considered high risk. So, I still go for my yearly mammogram and avidly support breast cancer awareness.
I had my OT kids show a little boobie love this week with Pink Ribbon pins. The activity was simple and didn't take more than 30 minutes. It's a nice, easy task to work on precision, eye hand coordination and bilateral skills. The pipe cleaner makes lacing very easy, so it can easily be done by 2 year olds and older.
What You Need
What You Do
One of my fave sensory motor activities. Great for core and upper body strengthening, prioprioceptive and vestibular input. Takes a lot of controlled movements, so my little friends' neurological systems are usually calm, alert and organized. Can't beat that.
Bec Oakley, some fabulous person out there, put together this booklet on 45 classroom friendly fidgets and posted it on the web. (Visit her blog HERE). Obviously. The booklet talks about when to use a fidget, what is a "good fidget" versus a "bad fidget" and other essential information that classroom teachers/parents should have before integrating fidgets in the classroom. Enjoy!
This morning, I went to our main office downtown to help set up an "Occupational and Physical Therapy" Informational Board. Before I could get started on what I love to do most - making displays - (well, besides wine-ing, sleeping and snuggling with my boys)....we had to strip the old bulletin board of all it's old decor. So there I am with a staple remover when I have a DUH OT moment.....
Classroom teachers, how many after/before school moments do you spent cleaning up your classroom or hallway bulletin boards. Why not make it a part of your monthly (or weekly depending on how much you love decor) classroom chore list. Look at how nicely a staple remover facilitates a functional grasp pattern!
Obviously, staples and the "jaws" of the staple remover are not going to be appropriate for every kid. I can see some of my students ripping at each other's fingers with them now. But I know at least one of you has that responsible little one who just needs to work on strengthening those little hand muscles. What a perfect chore for him! It's a great way to facilitate shoulder girdle stability, wrist extension, thumb opposition and mature grasp patterns.
My first graders are working on the Human Body Unit in their classrooms right now. The two *awesome* SLP that I work with are working on correlating their speech sessions with the body language (literally). In doing so, they had their students trace each other on HUGE pieces of art paper. Now those huge bodies needed organs. Since we share a ton of first graders, one of the SLPs asked me if I would be interested on working on those organs in my OT sessions. I had to get creative with how we were going to work on our "OT" skills - but I think this was a huge success overall.
My job was to come up with a brain, a spine, ribs, a heart and the stomach/intestines.
The Stuff We Use:
What We Did:
For the BRAIN, I made a template on cardstock. Cardstock is a great medium for hand strengthening. It's thinner than cardboard, and provides just enough resistance to provide proprioceptive feedback as well strengthening those thumb opposition muscles. Remember, when you work with thick paper, you're working on strengthening - so dial back on the precision/eye-hand coordination component - keep the cutting lines simple - straight lines, big angles and big curves. First, I had my kids cut out their brains. After they cut them out, we used colored masking tape and worked on precision and dexterity skills through ripping strips of tape off the roll and then aligning them with the "connections" on the brain.
* If you want to drive the academic point home, you can have a very basic conversation about how brain controls everything we do and write some things we do on the masking tape once they place it on their brains.
Again, I made a template on cardstock (can you tell I love making templates?) Then I had the kids cut out their spine (on the thick, angled lines, not the actual picture of the spine). Once they cut it out, they used hole punchers to squeeze holes where the dots were. Hole punchers are an AWESOME hand strengthening tool, but many kids have trouble with them, you may need to offer some assistance. Once they had their spines all ready, we put the spinal cord in by lacing "nerves" in the holes. Lacing is a great way to work on bilateral coordination skills. We left the string loose on the top so that we could connect the spinal cord to the brain (I might have gotten a little too detailed there for a first grade neurology lesson - but neuro was my FAVORITE class in OT school).
I kept it simple with this one. Again, we printed the template on cardstock and cut it out. I gave each kid a sheet of the color coding circle labels and had them peel and place the circles on the designated areas on their heart. Peeling stickers is a good way to work on fine motor precision. Every one of my kids asked for help, remember the point of the task is working on their fine motor skills, so encourage them to do it themselves!
* if you want to get cutesy, you could even write the names of people they "love" on each circle.
Again, keeping it simple. I had the kids trace their hand twice, then cut out the hands. Tracing hands is a difficult concept and requires a lot of motor planning skills. You may need to do hand over hand the first time, then have the child attempt it themselves the second time.
For the stomach, we ripped and crumbled tissue paper. The smaller you roll the tissue paper, the more precision you need. The stomach is a pretty big area, so we made pretty big chunks.
And finally, we re-used the yarn for the intestines. A great way to work on eye hand coordination skills is to draw the squiggly line with a marker, and then have the child trace over the line with Elmer's glue. After the glue was on, we carefully placed the yarn on the glue - talk about a precision task! It got pretty sticky!
I love Pinterest, but I can tell you I have had A LOT of epic fails in my Pinterest projects. I found a ton of websites with recipes for "calming bottles" - and through trial and error, came up with my own recipe that works for me.
Every year, there are a few kids in the building that just can't initiate the process of calming down. This little tool is pretty to look at, fun to watch and takes about 2-3 minutes to settle. It's a simple way to remove a child from a stressful or overwhelming situation and take a moment to be "mindful". If you have an impulsive child, I have suggested that the teacher tape a small picture or word to the back of the bottle. The child has to wait till they can "see" the picture and then needs to tell the adult what the "hidden" item is. It'll take at least 30 seconds for enough glitter to settle to even remotely make out the picture, and sometimes that 30 seconds is all you need.
What You'll Need:
If you feel festive - add some fun things to the bottle, like sparkly beads or sequins.
Some more tidbits - I've seen recipes with oil. In my experiments, I found that the oil created more like a lava lamp effect. The clumps never dispersed or settled. If you're looking to make something for your kids that need functional visual stim tools - this might be the route to go. Also, you may want to hot glue that cap on unless your willing to clean up a glitter bath. FYI Baby Oil bottles are clean and have child-proof lids.
Here in Rochester, I am in a dress and flip flops. It sure doesn't FEEL like autumn. I'll take a few more weeks of this Indian Summer.
Below you'll find a multi-step fine motor and graphomotor activity. It took my OT kids about three 30-minute sessions to complete. First, I had them color the tree and cat. Then to work on hand strengthening, thumb opposition and finger coordination skills, I had them snip pieces of construction paper to make "leaves". In the past, I've also used tissue paper and had them "tear and roll" the pieces into small balls. You could always tear apart real leaves or even use colored pasta or beans.
There's a couple ways you can modify it, so be creative and enjoy.
As you can see, one page has wider writing lines, depending on the age/abilities of your child.
Hope all of you USA school folks had a wonderful long weekend. The Atkinsons enjoyed the almost 80 degree weather in upstate NY. Big D had his first kindergarten peep's birthday party. It makes me so happy that he is making friends, he is my sensitive soul....
Anyway, here's an relatively easy fine motor, visual motor and visual perceptual activity for your 5+ little one for Columbus Day. In the file below, you will find 3 pages. The first is a Christopher Columbus picture, all divided up into thick-lined, sharp-angled, multi-directional shapes for your little one to work on his hand strengthening, eye hand coordination and bilateral skills. Once your little one has cut out the pieces, shuffle them up, and have him reassemble them on the puzzle boards. One puzzle board is a little easier, with the lines present so your little one can match the shapes to work on his shape consistency and orientation skills. If you would like to make it a little more challenging, use the blank puzzle board, so he can really work on visual closure and spatial relationships. If you want, you can have your child color the picture before he cuts it - this will make it a little easier to match the pieces by color instead of just detail. Enjoy!
Amanda Atkinson MS; OTR/L
Just your average Type-A mom & overzealous Occupational Therapist