Cutting, laminating, photo copying, lesson planning .... do you do your preparation in the school holidays?
Teachers and OTs (or an other therapists for that matter)... we have a problem!
We never quite "switch off"!
We are always looking or listening out for a great idea that we can implement with the kids we see. Even on holidays... I notice ramps and think about access, I notice toys in shops and think how I could use that or I watch kids play and guess how old they are! Yep, I have a problem!
Last year we were quarantined at home during one school holidays due to illness (gastro from memory). To make the most of this time, I made these scissor skills busy boxes! I knew that they would come in handy once the illness had passed and I was back at work! These boxes are perfect for home, preschool or in an OT tool kit!
Yes they take a little while to set up but they are worth it!
I sourced theseplastic boxes years ago from IKEA Australia and love that they have little compartments which can be adjusted in size. They also have a lid making them ideal to move around from place to place!
I set up two types of boxes but you could use a combination of craft and cutting strips. The cutting strips were made from scrapbooking paper. This is a little thicker than normal writing paper and easier for little hands to hold and to cut (as it doesn't flop around as much and require too much stability with the non-dominant hand).
In the cutting strip box, I wanted to have a range of developmental stages including shorter strips, thicker lines, thinner lines, curves, straight lines, corners and more! Read more about developmental stages over at MamaOT. If you are making this box for home, you may want to consider where your child is at developmentally before starting!
A craft box is a great way to encourage those who are just starting out with scissors! Present a range of things to cut such as straws, crepe paper, wrapping paper, tissue paper, wool, ribbon, twine, tinsel, etc! Encourage your child's creativity with some glue to stick down all the things they cut!
These scissor skills busy boxes will appeal to your child if they already interested in cutting or they love experimenting with craft supplies!
However, there are some children who are just...not..interested...in...cutting! These are the kids who are referred to OTs because of poor fine motor skills, poor hand strength and poor postural control. Sometimes these children have difficulty with cutting because they have not yet established a hand preference or have poor bilateral coordination (see here for more information).
Here are some tips for using the scissor skills busy boxes!
Please tell me that I'm not the only one who has trouble "switching off"! Perhaps this is a subconscious reason I started this blog, so that I could record ideas and observations!
Have you got a "busy box" for scissor skill practice? What have you included in your box?
MESS FREE? ✔
EASILY TRANSPORTED? ✔
FUN AND ENGAGING? ✔
MORE THAN ONE THERAPY GOAL? ✔
This activity ticks all the right boxes for a mobile occupational therapist!
Have you heard of Q-tip painting? (Q-tips are also called "cotton tips" in Australia and are usually found in the personal care section of a supermarket). Q-tip painting has been quite popular in the last few years with Q-tips used as paint brushes dipping into paint and making "spots" onto various printables available.
Last year, I put together my Q-tips and my ink pads... creating Q-tip stamping! It was a hit with my kids; providing the same fun engaging activity without the MESS!
This is why I love Q-tip stamping!
This is an activity that would well in a classroom, at home or in an OT session! You could shrink down the pages and turn them into a card or display the finished pictures!
Have you tried Q-tip STAMPING before?
Do you have other mess-free activities that you use in therapy sessions?
If you try this activity for yourself, I would love to see it! Tag #yourkidsot on Instagram or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't forget to download yourFREE EASTER Q-TIP PRINTABLE HERE!
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Do you fidget?
Do you chew your pencil, tap on a table, tap your foot, move in your seat, twirl your hair?
Fidgeting is a movement that you may not even be aware of until someone points it out to you. People (both children and adults) may fidget whilst they are concentrating on a conversation, listening to a teacher or watching TV (just some examples).
Some children with sensory seeking behavior need ways to intentionally fidget so that they can obtain the proprioceptive input to help their bodies regulate and calm down.
Have you seen balloon fidget toys before?
I have been wanting to make these for a long time and have finally made them! They are so awesome to squish and squeeze! There are lots of recipes on the internet, but I found two really simple (and dare I say fool-proof) ones that I have "tweaked" for you to try!
Water Beads Balloon Fidget
What you will need:
2. Water beads (fully grown)
What to do:
1. Give your balloon a stretch and blow into it (just to stretch it).
2. Deflate your balloon and attach to the end of the funnel.
3. Push the water beads into the funnel and into the balloon. You may need to move them down the neck of the balloon with your fingers.
4. Fill your balloon to the desired size then tie a knot to secure them.
Your kids will love scooping water beads to put into the funnel, then pushing the water beads into the funnel with their fingers. The perfect finger isolation activity!
Note: Inspiration for these balloon fidgets came from Karina Garcia's You Tube channel. She uses transparent balloons which are so cool!
Baking Soda and Conditioner Balloon Fidget
What you will need:
1. Baking Soda (aka. bicarbonate soda)
2. Hair conditioner
4. Plastic fork or spoon
7. Elastic Band
8. Netting from fruit or vegetables
9. Matches or lighter
What to do:
1. Pour your baking soda (I used 300 g to make 2) into a bowl.
2. Slowly add a little hair conditioner to the baking soda and mix together with the spoon. Continue to add the hair conditioner and mix until you get a sloppy thick icing consistency (see video for consistency).
3. Give your balloon a stretch and blow into it (just to stretch it).
4. Deflate your balloon and attach to the end of the funnel.
5. Push the baking soda mixture into the funnel and down into the balloon. You may need a plastic fork or spoon to help push it down.
6. Fill your balloon to the desired size then tie a knot to secure them.
7. Cut some fruit/vegetable netting to the desired size. Singe the ends of the net with a lighted match just to stop any fraying.
8. Secure the netting over the balloon with a rubber band.
9. Squeeze and play!
Your kids will love helping you mix the baking soda and hair conditioner together. You could play with this as "cloud dough" until you are ready to fill the balloons. Make sure you get a reasonably wet consistency for to put into the balloons (it will still work if you don't but you might not get the bubbles popping out of the net). Once ready to play, your kids (and any adults around) will love squeezing these over and over again!
Note: Inspiration for these balloon fidgets came fromAira Tan's You Tube Video.
Have a look at my video to retrace the steps and see how squishy they are!
Use of these balloon fidget toys should always be supervised especially over time with the wear and tear of the balloon. The length of time each balloon will last, will depend on the quality of the balloon and how often it is played with. You could try adding a second balloon over the first to provide some longevity. These balloon fidgets are not suitable for children who are mouthing toys and objects. They are also not suitable for children under 12 months of age.
These balloon fidgets provide sensory input for a child who needs to fidget. They also make great ways to warm up your child's hands ready for writing or cutting. They are perfect little stress balls and they are also heaps of FUN!
I love these balloon fidgets! I hope you do too!
Have you made a balloon fidget yet? Let me know if you try one of these!
Don't forget to share this article with your friends and family if you think they will like these balloon fidgets too!
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Wow, what a lovely craft!
The craft had a photo of Miss 4 years on an elf body, with paper concertina arms and legs.
Did you make that (Miss 4 years)?
Um no, I did the folding! The sheepish teacher admits to me.
This situation greets me more often than not and it prompted me to write this post. With school resuming in Australia very soon, this article is for teachers! If you see your teacher "guilty" of these things maybe you can prompt them with "why"?
Also note, when I say "teachers", I'm also talking to OTs and parents who may also be "guilty" of these things!
1. Teachers PLEASE don't do the craft FOR your kids!
This is my top gripe with preschool and school teachers. Kids do not need or want insta-worthy craft! Parent's don't want to see YOUR crafting skills (even if does make the classroom look beautiful).
Kids need opportunities to snip, cut, rip, glue, fold and to make mistakes! They need to have craft opportunities where they can learn about spatial relationships (even it means legs are coming out of heads, arms are different lengths and tongues don't curl properly). Painting outside the lines means they can work out where things are in relationship with themselves. Manipulating glue stick lids or squeezing the PVA glue are opportunities for fine motor and hand strength development. Early opportunities for snipping and cutting will lead to smoother cutting and better manipulation of the paper with practise. Folding those paper planes and flying them, kids will learn that more accurate folds make better planes and should practise these fine motor skills. Rolling, tearing and scrunching paper are so important for bilateral coordination and fine motor development.
At home, provide lots of craft materials for your kids to create, experiment and learn! You may not be "crafty" yourself or even like the finished product that your child produces (lets be honest here)... but it is not actually always about the finished product. Allow your child to work through the process. Need some ideas? Check out my "homemade arts of craft section". Each craft here is designed to be done by kids (with minimal help from adults).
2. Teachers PLEASE don't sharpen pencils for your kids!
I'm sure this is a time saving thing, but teachers why not provide ordinary pencil sharpeners in the classroom?! They don't even make a mess as they have little containers to catch the shavings. I don't mean to be patronizing but I would love to see more pencil sharpeners in preschool classrooms especially. What an easy natural way to work on bilateral coordination and fine motor manipulation. So much of the "turning" action when sharpening a pencil is made by the thumb and index working together. What a perfect "pre-writing" activity! If your child is using their whole hand to turn the pencil, encourage them to do this with the thumb and index finger - it may take practise!
As OTs we come up with exciting and creative ways to work on these skills, however such a simple thing as sharpening pencils regularly will help your kids to develop these skills! I may be including "pencil sharpening" as homework this year for my OT kids!
Make sure you encourage your child to do this at home too! You will be surprised with how quickly your child might say "my hand is tired" as they are not used to using these muscles.
3. Teachers please don't expect good handwriting if your child is sitting in a plastic garden chair!
It has been a few years now since I worked in a school where the standard chair for students was a cheap plastic garden chair with arms rests. These chairs were horrible for posture at a desk. The arm rests did not allow the chair to go under the tables, the child was either sitting back in a slouched position or sitting right on the edge at the front of the chair so they could rest their arms on the table. The chairs easily tipped and were difficult to move in and out of the table.
Other schools may not be as bad with the chairs provided, however I do want to remind you that posture is important. Children should be able to comfortably place both feet on the ground and the table should be slightly higher than their bent elbows without elevating their shoulders. Children should also have enough space so they are not "on top of" the child sitting next to them.
Check your tables and chairs at home too! Check where your child may be doing any "table top" work. The dining table may be a great option but often kids have their legs dangling and their arms are uncomfortable as shoulders are elevated so that they can reach. Small children may work better at a coffee table whilst sitting on an ottoman or cushion. You may want to invest in an adjustable table and chair that grow with your child.
You will find out the importance of posture and gross motor skills in "THE HANDWRITING BOOK" which is currently being launched! Apply the launch week discount code: HANDWRITINGHELP1
4. Teachers please don't take away writing lines too early!
Removing writing lines too early is like removing the lane marks on a road and expecting people to drive within the imagined lanes accurately. Some people can do it, but many can't! (OK - A slight exaggeration but you get the picture!)
Writing on lines provides children with a visual guide as to how to position letters. They can work out the size of letters and how they are positioned in relation to each other within a word and a sentence. When you remove the lines, kids need to be able to visualize how tall letters need to be and even how to write in a straight "line". Yes they need to know how to visualize this themselves - but at what age?
Often when I see children in year 1 or 2 or even older who have handwriting legibility difficulties, I need to give them the "lines" back to help with the visual spatial and organisational skills. I use my "earth paper" to provide a strong visual guide and then we work back to needing less lines. You could also use grid paper to help with organisation and spacing.
5. Teachers please don't punish kids by making them sit still or keeping by them in from recess or lunch.
Research shows that kids need opportunities for movement, exercise and fresh air.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (2012) make the following recommendations about the need for recess.
In conclusion the AAP state "recess should be considered a child’s personal time, and it should not be withheld for academic or punitive reasons".
Any teachers, OTs or parents guilty of some of these things?
I love working with my "teacher" friends and colleagues! I count many teachers as very good personal friends! Please don't take this article personally.
I did have a good chuckle with the teacher I mentioned in my introductory story! She "knows" where I stand with letting kids do the "craft"!
Let's go "BACK TO SCHOOL" in 2017 with a fresh look at how we "help" our children with their development and learning!
This article is part of the 2017 Aussie Back to School Blog Hop!
Read the "back to school" articles here by some wonderful Australian Bloggers! You will find out how the first time school mums are feeling, tips for special needs parents, great lunch box ideas as well as suggestions for those who don't like crunch and sip!
Teachers Please Don’t! | Your Kids OT
Advice For First Time School Mums From Seasoned Mums and Teachers | The Multitasking Woman
10 simple ways to make school lunches more fun | Kidgredients
Teacher Types Top Tips for Going Back to School | Teacher Types
Maintaining a Play Filled Routine throughout the School Term | Kids Play Space
5 Must Have Items for Starting Day Care | My Bored Toddler
Handling Crunch and Sip with Fussy Kids | Play With Food
How to share your child’s special needs with their new teacher | My Home Truths
16 things the school holidays have taught me | Eenie Meenie Miney Mum
The Most Important Skills Your Child Needs for School | The Happy Me Shop
101 Sandwich Filling Ideas for Kids | Create Bake Make
The Crucial Role of Recess in School. (2012). Pediatrics, 131(1), 183-188. doi:10.1542/peds.2012-2993
One month until Christmas and it is time to put up the decorations!
Only a few more OT sessions before we stop for the year! Are you in Christmas-mode yet?
My facebook news feed has started to have more and more options to celebrate this festive season! Recently, I came across this "DIY PAPER CHRISTMAS TREE" idea by Krokotak! I thought it was wonderful but wanted to make it a little more structured for my kids who find it difficult to cut without a line to follow.
This little craft will work on a number of skills whilst having fun! There will be scissor skills, fine motor manipulation, left and right bilateral coordination skills as well as planning and sequencing skills!
What you will need:
This is an adorable tree that you could hang up in the classroom. You could also add a string to hang it is an ornament on your real Christmas tree!
Don't forget to print out theFREE template so you can start creating this tree with your kids! I would love to see your creations if you try this at home. Tag @yourkidsot on Instagram or Facebook! I can't wait to see your trees!
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It is almost Father's Day here in Australia! We have been making origami ties and combining it with sentence writing in OT this week!
I love using origami in OT sessions as we can work on a range of skills including fine motor manipulation, bilateral coordination, sequencing steps, organisation and planning. It can be really difficult for those who have never done paper folding and do not understand how to get the edge to meet with another edge. I always suggest to parents to make paper planes at home! This is the easiest and fun way to practise paper folding skills! You can find some step-by-step paper plane instructions HERE.
With something a little more complicated like this tie, I model each step for the kids to do and help them to line up the paper.
I found this writing prompt "I love my dad because" from Beauty and Bedlam. I resized the original printable so that I could place it on one A4 page and have large lines for writing. You could also make it smaller and turn it into a card for Father's day.
WHAT KIDS SAY!
It is always amusing to read what kids write about their family! Here are some of the responses that the kids have written this week...
I love my dad because he cuddles me. (Andrew, 6 yrs)
I love my dad because he is my dad and we play together. (Michael, 7 yrs)
I love my dad because I sleep in his bed. (James, 5 yrs)
I love my dad because we play basketball together. (Will, 6 yrs)
I love my dad because we build things together. (Will, 10 yrs)
I love my dad because he is a little bit nice. (Benjamin, 5 yrs)
I love my dad because he helps me not to get in trouble with mum. (Finn, 6 yrs)
I love my dad because he looks after me. (Oliver, 5 yrs).
Wishing any fathers reading this a very Happy Father's Day!
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Rainbow "coloured" rice is a great addition to a "sensory bin"! There are heaps of tutorials on-line to teach you how to colour rice. I used a really simple method ... I added a cup of rice to a plastic container and a few drops of food colouring. I shook the container until all the rice was covered with food colouring, then lay the rice out on baking paper to dry. Our rice took less than 24 hours to dry (drying time will depend on the weather and the amount of food colouring used). You may notice we have a few lentils in our rice mix (already mixed in when we used the rice in a sensory bin). I didn't bother with vinegar or alcohol and did not have a problem with the colour transferring onto our hands. I found that my cheap supermarket food colouring worked better than may gel colours as this was more "blobby".
Combining our coloured rice with some small items, we made a beautiful "I spy" bottle! I took a photo of our treasures and laminated a print out before Mr 6 enjoyed pouring the rice into a funnel and hiding the treasures. Once filled, I sealed the lid and attached the laminated page with a dry-erase marker. Super-easy craft!
Watch our fun video to see how we made the I spy bottle!
We made this "I spy" bottle to use as a travel toy. It is a fun way to work on visual memory and visual discrimination skills. I'm looking forward to trying it out with my OT kids this term.
For younger children, you may choose a clear plastic bottle rather than glass. For older kids you could choose very small similar items to place in your bottle ... you can make this really difficult!
When we have finished with this bottle, I can pour the contents out into a sensory bin for further play! It will make a great treasure hunt to explore with busy fingers as well.
Have you made an "I spy" bottle? What is your favourite thing to hide?
Cindy is a registered Occupational Therapist practising in Sydney Australia. She has two young children who are a constant source of inspiration and learning. Cindy loves working creatively to help children to reach their potential, finding opportunities in everyday living and making learning fun. Cindy is the author of the Occupational Therapy blog Your Kids OT.
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We love paper plane making! Making planes seems to appeal to both boys and girls and wide range of ages. Just take out some paper at a weekend BBQ and you will have the big kids (ie. adults) involved in who can design and create the plane that can fly the furthest!
You may have read my post two years ago about paper planes where I showed you how to make the "acrobatic" plane. Read it HERE if you missed it!
Paper plane making is really a wonderful way to work on fine motor manipulation, visual planning and sequencing skills. I use paper planes in therapy sessions to work on these things as well as using it as a writing prompt. You may prompt your kids with "Where is the plane going?", "Who is on the plane?", "What type of plane is this and what does it carry?", "What will the plane need to fly?". "What can the people do on the plane during the flight?" or "What can the pilot see during the flight?"
This time I have step by step instructions for you to make TWO more super planes! Find the instructions below and download your FREE COPY of the instructions as aPDF file HERE.
I hope these planes bring you and your kids hours of entertainment! Let me know if you try them out!
The "Flying "W" Plane.
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aster activities are super fun to do with your kids! Here is an amazing selection to suit kids of all ages and abilities!
GROSS MOTOR GAMES
1.. Lucky Egg Exercise Game by Your Therapy Source.
2. 10 Games to Play with Plastic Easter Eggs by Growing Play.
3. Easter Egg Hunt for Motor Skills by Starfish Therapies.
4. Bunny Hop Gross Motor Game by Tools to Grow.
5. Easter Themed Brain Breaks by Pink Oatmeal
NUMBERS AND SIGHT WORDS
6. Egg-cellent Activities by Mrs Wheeler's First Grade
7. Craft Words Family Eggs via BuzzFeed Life
VISUAL PERCEPTUAL SKILLS
8. Easter Egg Pattern Copying with FREE Printable by Your Kids OT
9. Easter Bunny Themed I-Spy Game with FREE Printable by And Next Comes L
10. Easter Tot School by Hart 2 Hart.
11. Easter Spot the Difference by Activity Village UK (free printables)
12. Teaching Symmetry to Kindergarten Kids by Hub Pages
13. Sensory Craft inspired by the Sydney Royal Easter Show by Your Kids OT
14. Glitter Colouring Easter Eggs by Your Kids OT
15. Easter Egg Dyeing (attempt)! aka Sensory Play by Your Kids OT
16. Pom Pom Painting Easter Egg Craft for Kids by Crafting Morning
17. DIY Salt Dough Eggs by Design Mom
18. Easter Baskets for Kids (paper mache) by Red Ted Art
FINE MOTOR and SCISSOR SKILLS ACTIVITIES
19. Spring Time Eggs by Your Therapy Source
20. Easter Pattern Activity by Made by Teachers
21. Lace and Trace Peeps Printable by Our Thrifty Ideas
22. Bunny Tong Scissor Skills Activity by Sugar Aunts
23. Q-Tip Painted Easter Eggs by No Time for Flash Cards
24. Easter Basket Coupons by Growing Play.
25. Easter Fun for Kids with Special Needs by Have Wheelchair Will Travel
What's your favourite Easter activity?
Chatterbox Time! Kids all love to make and play with chatterboxes! I remember making them when I was a child, did you? Last week, I made these with some of the kids I see for therapy and it was the perfect activity to work on a range of skills.
If you haven't made one for a while, this is how you fold your chatterbox. Start with an A4 size piece of paper and make sure you press down each fold neatly. The neater the folding the better the chatterbox will work in the end.
1. Start with an A4 piece of paper. (You could also start with a square piece of paper and skip to step 4.)
2. Fold down one corner so your triangle lines up with the side.
3. Cut off the section under the triangle.
4. Open out your triangle so you can see your square.
5. Fold down another corner creating a triangle.
6. Open out your square so you can see the two folded diagonal lines.
7. Bring each corner into the middle, pressing down on the fold.
8. Flip over your square.
9. Bring each new corner into the middle, pressing down on the fold.
10. Almost there!
11. Fold along the horizontal middle line, open and fold along the vertical middle line, open. (This will held with the movement of the chatterbox when playing.)
12. Put your fingers in the "open square" parts of each quarter. Your chatterbox is now ready to decorate!
13. Add a coloured dot to each square. (We also wrote the colour name for those kids who needed a reference to spell the colours when playing.)
14. Flip over your square and write a number in each triangle section. Try to have odd/even numbers to help later with playing.
15. Open out each double triangle to write a question/joke. Write the answer in the bottom half. (If your child has small legible writing you may be able to fit in a question/joke in each small triangle.)
16 and 17. Ready to play. Use your thumb and index fingers on both hands to open and close the chatterbox.
We had a great time making these in OT last week. Here are some of the skills we worked on:
Whilst I had a double-sided page of jokes for the kid's to choose from, these were the clear favourites!
Have you made a chatterbox recently? What's your favourite kids joke?
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Hi, I'm Cindy and I am an Occupational Therapist. I enjoy working creatively with children to see them reach their potential. Read more about me here.
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Disclaimer: The information on this site is general in nature and should be used for educational and entertainment purposes. The activities are safe for most children, however, you should consult an Occupational Therapist or health professional to address specific movement, sensory or other medical conditions. This blog does not replace formal therapeutic professional advice given by a health professional or medical practitioner. Reviews and endorsements of products will only be made based on my expertise and personal opinion; and deemed worthy of such endorsement. The opinions shared in sponsored content will always be my own and not that of the advertising company or brand. Content, advertising space or posts will be clearly identified if paid, affiliated or sponsored. Affiliate links may be found throughout this website in advertising. This means that if you follow through with a purchase from these links, Your Kids OT will receive a percentage of the sale. Your Kids OT undertakes to meet the requirements of the "Social Media Policy" as published by Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Further information about this policy can be found here.
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