5 Creative Core Strength Activities

Need ideas to help your child get strong? Here are five creative core strength activities using the Core Strength Handbook!

Core Strength Actvities

Does Your Child Have Weak Core Strength?

Does your child slump and slouch all the time?

Do they have difficulty with balance?

Is their “helping hand” holding their body up, rather than hold their paper steady?

Do they always lean on a chair, the couch, or other furniture when sitting on the floor?

Are they struggling to participate in exercise due to poor endurance?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child may have weak core strength.

I’ve been on a CORE STRENGTHENING kick lately.  Poor Core Strength is often an underlying cause of many other deficits a child may be demonstrating. Plus, it counts as “heavy work”, because it provides proprioceptive input – so it’s great for my sensory kiddos too!

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Your Child With Special Needs: How to Conquer Independent Bathing

child with special needs

Teach your child with special needs to shower independently with these 20+ tips from a pediatric OT. It will improve their quality of life as well as yours.

 

Your child with a Special Needs: How to conquer independent Bathing

<20 plus Occupational Therapy tips and strategies to facilitate independent showering and bathing for your child with special needs>


“I have no time to myself.  Ever.  My other kids were at least taking a bath by themselves by the time they were 7, but I can’t leave him alone….”

The young mom had bags under her eyes and a stain on her T-shirt.  The corners of her mouth turned down in a helpless, sad expression as she looked at her sweet ten-year-old child with Down’s Syndrome who was playing quietly with the toys in the waiting room.

She was exhausted.

Raising a child with special needs can do that to you.

I spent 5 years working as an Occupational Therapist in a residential home for adults with Developmental Disabilities.  Plus, working with dozens of families who have a child with special needs has taught me a few AMAZING tricks.

And I’m happy to share every one of them.

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positioning in the classroom

The Crucial Importance of Positioning in the Classroom

#functionforkids

School Day Functions – Positioning in the classroom

Positioning in the classroom is a HUGE part of student success.  In fact, “properly fitted furniture is essential if children are to learn handwriting efficiently” (Henderson &  Pehoski, 1995).

One of my biggest pet peeves about working in the school system is the gosh darn furniture.   Children are often seated in furniture that is just not the right size for them, and it totally stinks.

On top of that, many teachers have never been trained to check if a child’s desk or chair is the right size.   For the ones who do check, what are the chances that the school has other furniture available?   Sigh.  Rant Over.

The point is – what adult would tolerate working all day at a desk that was way too high? Companies spend a fortune supplying their workers with wrist supports to avoid carpal tunnel injuries and screen guards to protect employees vision.  Shouldn’t we make sure our students are in the proper position, too? Continue reading

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core strength

How To Support Your Child’s Core Strength Development Every Day

Back in the olden days, my parents had to walk to school 2 miles each way. Barefoot. Uphill. And they had to walk home for lunch, too.   Motor skill development wasn’t such a problem back then.

As a child, I never questioned how it was possible that it was uphill both ways, but now I get the feeling they may have been exaggerating.  Just a bit.

In today’s day and age, kids hardly ever walk to school.  Or anywhere, for that matter.  Even the ones who live down the block get dropped off by parents on their way to work.  I can see how this is easier during the morning rush and safer than letting your child wander the streets alone.  But kids need exercise.  And the truth is, there are easy ways to make sure you are supporting your child’s health and gross motor skill development every single day. Continue reading

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Promoting Fine Motor Skills on the Playground

 

#FunctionalSkillsForKids

“Promoting  fine motor skills at the playground”  is part of a year-long blog hop called Functional Skills for Kids.  Each month, I will be working with other pediatric OTs and PTs to post on different developmental topics that impact functional skills for kids. I’m so honored to be working with some amazing pediatric bloggers to bring you a well-rounded blog hop that will ultimately result in a BOOK!

This series will be a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, and therapists to learn about all the different activities a child performs each day.  Every month, each therapist will discuss different aspects of functional skills.  Each childhood function will be broken down into developmental timelines, fine motor considerations, gross motor considerations, sensory considerations, visual perceptual considerations, accommodations and modifications, activity ideas, and more.

This month’s topic in the  “Functional Skills for Kids” blog hop is the Playground, so check out the landing page for the rest of our posts and information on all things related!

playgroundFB

*This post contains affiliate links

Promoting Fine Motor Skills at the Playground

Occupational therapists who work with young children have an in-depth understanding of the skills a child needs to interact with their environment on a daily basis. A child needs to be able to negotiate their home, school, and playground (Henderson &  Pehoski, 1995).   Playing at the local playground is a wonderful way to help your child improve their physical , cognitive, emotional, and social development (Fisher, 1992).    Typical playground equipment such as swings, monkey bars and slides can help a child to develop sensory processing skills, motor planning, problem solving, balance, as well as hand strength.   As children interact with their environment, they learn how to make sense of the world around them (AOTA, 2012). The playground is a great place to start!

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Holiday toys from an OT

Holiday Toys Recommended by an OT

Holiday Toy Shopping is around the corner!

The holidays can be very overwhelming.  Shopping for kids who seem to already have everything can be very overwhelming too!  As an OT, I have some favorite tried and true toys and  games that address many educational and developmental issues. I’ve decided to make a short list for all the families out there who want to buy toys  that are fun but meaningful.  Toys that address motor skills, visual perceptual skills, and reading and math are always a great buy, because you are supplying some fun while also working on foundational skills that will also support their classroom leaning.

*This post contains Affiliate Links*

Toys and Games that promote Spelling, Reading and Language Development

Boggle 3-Minute Word Game  Boggle Junior Game

 

 
Bananagrams

 

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 Scrabble Classic  Scrabble Junior Game

 

 Taboo Board Game

 

Toys and Games that promote Math Skills

 
Monopoly (80th Anniversary Version) Froggy Feeding Fun

 

 Yahtzee  Sumoku

 

Toys and Games that promote Problem Solving

   
 Rush Hour Jr   Rush Hour

 

 
 Wood Labyrinth  Junior Labyrinth

 

 Classic Dominoes  Battleship

 

   
 Guess Who?   Clue

Toys and Games that promote Eye-hand Coordination & Using Two Hands

How to Draw Books

 How to Draw Cool Stuff  How to Draw Animals  How to Draw People

Connecting & Bilateral Toys

 
  K’NEX Building Set   B. Pop-Arty Beads  Squigz Starter 24 piece set

 

 
 Magformers   MagWorld Magnetic Tile   LEGO Classic

 

 Spirograph Deluxe Design Set  Beados Gems Design Studio

 Creativity For Kids Quick Knit Loom  Knot-A-Quilt No Sew Craft Kit  Kids Scrapbooking Kit
 
  Friendship Bracelet Maker Kit  Do-it-Yourself Jewelry

 

Toys and Games that promote Hand Strength and Dexterity

  B. Pop-Arty Beads  Play-Doh Fun Factory Play Doh Fuzzy Pet Salon

 

 Finger Puppets  Poppin Peepers Cow  Play-Doh Scare Chair Playset
  Tricky Fingers   Lite Brite Magic Screen  Helping Hands Fine Motor Tools

 Toys For Sensory Kids

Sumoku

     
 Classic Bean Bag Chair  Body Sox Sensory Bag  Fold & Go Trampoline  Kinetic Sand 

 
 Rocking Hammock   Indoor/Outdoor Hammock   Jump-O-Lene Bouncer
 
 Sunny Tunnel  Castle Play Tent 

 

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Happy Holidays From Miss Jaime, O.T.

 

 

 

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Resistance band, Handee band, strengthening games

Easy Classroom Strengthening Games

Strengthening is easy to include at school

One of my favorite exercises to do with both adults and kids is resistance band. There are dozens of ways to use resistance band to improve strength, balance, posture, and coordination. One problem that I often encounter with children is that they can’t figure out where to put their hands during the exercises.  Even if I start them off in the right spot, their hands slip too far down for correct positioning.  So I was thrilled to find the Handee Band, a yellow resistance band with two hand prints in the perfect spot for little hands.

 

Handeeband

The stand-up easel book is easy to flip and utilize for kids, teachers, and parents!

An easy “Brain Break” and it strengthens, too!

I discovered the Handee Band at the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) conference Expo.  I was excited about the hand prints on the band, but I was even more  psyched about the Handee Band booklet with exercises, stickers, and checklist for the kids to check off what exercises they’ve done.  It’s so easy to use and it’s perfect for a quick brain break, warm-up, or transition activity.  Kids love to move, and the Handee Band flip book and resistance band is a fun easy activity that a teacher can use throughout the day.  Teachers often ask me for ideas or materials for kids that “can’t sit” during circle time, etc.  I am definitely adding the Handee Band to my bag of tricks.

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The checklist is dry-erase, making it easy to use to track the whole class or an individual child. Just erase and use again next time!

resistive band exercises, handeeband flip book

Each monster features a different exercise, making it fun and easy to perform each activity.

My mind immediately started spinning about all the games and activities I could create for my classroom push-ins.  In the past, I’ve also created homework programs so that the parents of my kids could work on strengthening and fine motor skills at home.  The parents and the kids have always responded really well. Of course, I started brainstorming right then and there about the homework program I could create with the Handee Band.

This is a sponsored post, which means that I was provided with materials in order to write this post and put all my ideas into play. However, all of the opinions and ideas expressed in this post are mine and mine alone.  For more info, read my disclaimer.

motor homework program,  Handee band

The flipbook includes an easy zip-up bag to hold the resistance band and dry erase marker. Easy to store and easy to transport!

 

About the Handee Band:  The Handee Band exercise kit was created by an Occupational Therapist named Francesca Avalli.  The booklet explains 15 different exercises, each with its own cartoon monster.  Each page lists the name of the exercise with simple, easy-to-read directions to ensure that teachers and parents are helping their students to perform the exercises correctly. The booklet is a stand up easel which makes it is easy for kids to flip over the pages.  It also has two checkoff pages in the back, so kids can visually track and match the monsters with the days of the week.  The checkoff and dry erase marker are perfect for keeping track of how many reps of each exercise the child performed.  I also find that when kids are figuring out how to do the exercises with the bands, they are working on their  motor planning skills and their ability to follow directions.

Handee band classroom games

Using the Handee Band for  Classroom Strengthening Games:

The Handee Band exercise kit works great all by itself. It’s easy for a parent, teacher, or therapist to use the book or the E-book.  Extra bands are available for separate purchase  for as little as $5 so that there is enough for each child.  Once I bought the Handee Band, I started using it right away.  However, I am a little crazy that I like to change things up and give the kids “something different” when I push-in.  The stickers in the Handee Band booklet are perfect for creating classroom games and activities.  The Handee Band is also available in 5 or 10 packs, which is perfect for working in groups or with a class.  You can buy extra stickers, too. They’re my favorite! So here are some of the games I  came up with…

The kit includes a flip book with different exercises, a "Handee Band", and a dry erase checkoff sheet and marker.

1) Handee Band Memory 

I love to combine gross motor exercise with visual perceptual skills.  Memory is a classic game that can be played individually or with a small group.  I  decided to create a “Handee Band” Memory game using the Handee Band Monster stickers.  Each Monster has a Character name under his picture.  I decided to adapt the game by having one version with the picture of the monster on one card  and the name of the character on the other card.  This was perfect for my 3rd grade self contained class.  I made a simpler, more classic version for my self contained Kindergarten class.  Both versions were a hit! And, after I played the game with the kids a few times, they grew familiar with which exercise each Monster represented.  I was able to leave the game and the Handee Bands for the teachers to use as a warm up or a sensory break.

Classroom strengthening OT

Instructions:  Like the classic memory game, with a twist.  A child attempts to find two cards that match.  When any child in the group makes a match, ALL the children do the exercise that Monster represents. After the class does a set of ten, the kids get back to the next turn.

2) Handee Band Dice

Handee band dice game

My students love to play gross motor games using dice. I’ve adapted these dice from the Dollar Tree for other gross motor games in the past. So I thought, “Why not Handee Band Dice?”  Again, I used the stickers to create a simple easy game to play during class Occupational Therapy sessions.  The kids had a blast!  I was able to leave the Dice game for the teacher to use with the kids as a reward, as a sensory break, or as a quick warm up.

Instructions:  The children stand at their desks or in a circle on the rug, each with their own Handee Band.  One child picks a die and rolls it.  Whatever “Monster” the die lands on, everyone does a set of ten for that exercise.

3) Handee Band Spinner   

Handee Band Spinner

Every kid loves a Spinner!  Flicking a spinner is hard work; requiring separation of the two sides of the hand (pinky side  and  thumb side), motor planning, and dexterity.  But even when a child can’t flick a spinner, they can still swipe or hit it.  For this game, the children take turns flicking the spinner. When the spinner lands on a certain monster, the kids grab their Handee Bands and do that exercise ten times.  As the children grow stronger, the repetitions can be increased.

The rules are simple:  The children take turns flicking the spinner. Whatever “monster” the spinner lands on, the whole class does that exercise.  Then the next kid gets a turn.

4) Handee Band Class Checkoff

Handeeband checkoff, OT homework

This magnetic dry erase board is perfect to stick right on the teacher’s desk!

I loved the Dry Erase Checklist in the back of the book so much that I decided to create a larger “class wide” version for the kids to use during the Handee Band classroom games.  I used the stickers to copy the chart in the back. Again, the checklists require visual tracking and matching skills, so the kids are working on visual perception as they keep track of their progress.  I just used a plain dry erase board .  I arranged the stickers on the board and made lines so that it could serve as a Class chart.

Resistive band, Handee band homework, OT chart

My favorite thing about the chart is that the kids can use it to track the number of exercises they did. It also works on math skills, because the kids need to add by ten each time they do another rep.  In a pinch or a rush, the teacher can keep track on the board while the kids keep working.  Either way, my students love having a “chart” to represent how hard they’ve worked.  When I made the chart, I made the lines with a sharpie (permanent marker), but I wrote the initials of my kids in dry erase.  This way, I can use it over and over for years to come!

handeeband, resistive exercises for kids

The E-Book comes with a downloadable checklist, perfect for keeping track of hard work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using the Handee Band for a Homework Program:

Resistive exercise band

Kids love to show off to their parents and caregivers, but they love to show off to their friends even more!  Once the kids understand how to do each exercise, the Handee Band Kit is perfect to send home as “OT Homework”.  I have put together homework programs for my classes before in an effort to ensure carry-over into my student’s homes.  Most parents love an easy fun way to help their children grow stronger.  The Handee Band Exercise Kit is the perfect lightweight homework that kids can take turns bringing home.  OT’s and teachers can make an “O.T. Homework Chart” to keep track of whose turn it is to take the Handee Band Kit home.  My kids love to come in in the morning and put their sticker next to their name to show that they did their “O.T. Homework”.  I always include a letter to the parents explaining why the students have “O.T. homework”  and why carry-over is an important part of progress.

Strengthening Homework! What a great idea!

Handeeband homework

Handee Band: Resistive Band Exercises for Kids *The Handee Band kit and E-Book are available for purchase at www.HandeeBand.com.    You can also purchase individual or class packs of the bands and extra stickers.  It’s perfect for home or the classroom!

 

Check out this great blog post from Mama OT on How to Use the HandeeBand to Help Preschoolers with Sensory and Motor Skills

Miss Jaime OT

Happy Strengthening!

~ Miss Jaime, O.T.


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