lefty gifts

If you love a Lefty… great gift ideas for the lucky Lefty in your life!


gift-ideas-for-the
LEFTY GIFT IDEAS

The holidays are around the corner and it’s crunch time to find the perfect Lefty Gift.  In the spirit of the last minute search, here are some cute ideas for the Lovely Lefty In Your Life.

Lefties are forced to live a Right-handed world.  It’s just not fair!

As I’ve stated before, Lefties often claim to be “ambidextrous”.  The real truth is that Lefties are forced to adapt to right handed furniture, school supplies, kitchen utensils, and even jewelry!  So in the spirit of the holidays, here are some cool lefty gift ideas for your ALL the Lovely Lefties in your life!

From the Little Lefty who is struggling in school as well as your Lucky Lefty spouse who has everything…

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For your Little Lefty….

Learning everyday skills like tying your shoes can be a challenge for any child.  This Lefty Kit includes Lefty Scissors, guides to help learn how to tie a shoe and how to write as a Lefty.

 lefty gifts  lefty gifts

Red and Blue: Lefties Tie Shoes, Too!  Kindle Edition – FREE

This Lefty Shoe tying guide comes with lefty scissors, too!

Learning how to write and cut Lefty

Lefty gifts at School…

The biggest concern for me as an OT is that Lefty “hook” that many children develop when they start to write.  Also- why is the cutting so jagged and choppy?  It’s because Righty scissors have the blades set for a Righty!  Many Lefties switch hands to cut because of this. This can be very confusing for a Kindergartner who is really busy trying to strengthen their hand dominance and hand strength.  So some suggestions to help this…

This can be very confusing for a Kindergartner who is really busy trying to improve their hand dominance and hand strength.  So some suggestions to help this… Lefty notebooks with the spirals on the other side (nothing to hook away from, Brilliant!) and Lefty Scissors.

 

lefty fiskars Lefty gift notebook     lefty school kit
 Lefty scissors can make a big difference when Little Lefties are just learning to cut.  It can also stop your Lefty from switching hands when he or she cuts.  Lefty Notebooks have the spiral on the other side, so it doesn’t get in the way of the lefties arm when writing.  This lefty kit for school includes a notebook, lefty scissors, a Lefty Stabilo pen and a lefty sharpener.  Awesome!
 

lefty

 

lefty
 A Slantboard is recommended for young lefties who have/are developing that “hooked” wrist.  The Slantboard puts their wrist into extension (bent upwards), eliminating the hook.  Lefty Notebook set with Lefty Visio Pens

LEFTY GIFTS FOR WRITING AND DRAWING

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 This Lefty Activity Pad was specifically made for little lefties!

 

  81ilsx35hal-_sl1500_ Lefty gift pencil LEFTY GIFTS
Stabilo makes a series of Lefty pens and pencils! These Lefty Visio pens are ergonomically shaped to provide lefty writers  a comfortable, easy to use writing utensil!

LEFTY GIFTS FOR YOUR LEFTY WITH AN “INKED-UP” HAND:

Again, Lefties are notorious for having a dirty pinky side of the hand.  This is because they write from left to right (as all English Language writers do) and the ink smudges on the pinky side of the hand as they move to the right to write the next word.  This contributes to the “hook” so commonly seen in Lefties.    Most adult Lefties are very picky about what kind of pen they use.   Gel pens are best because the ink dries quickly.  So here are some lefty gifts for your inky Lefty:

So here are some lefty gift ideas for your inky Lefty:

lefty gel pens  Lefty  lefty
Gel Pens are better for lefties because the ink dries faster This Gel Pen Set is perfect for your Inky Lefty!  How about a Lefty coloring book to encourage mindfulness and relaxation?

 LEFTY GIFTS FOR Lefties in the Kitchen…. Uh-oh.

I don’t mean to generalize, but if you do a bit of research you will read that Lefties can be clumsy.  Righties can be clumsy too, so the stereotype really stinks.  Especially because Lefties live in a Right handed world.  Simple everyday tasks like cooking dinner or making coffee can involve a right handed tool like a Can Opener.

Here are some cute Lefty Gifts ideas to help our your Loveable Lefty in the Kitchen:

LEFTY GIFTS   Lefty Gift LEFTY GIFTS
Lefty Can Openers can simplify a lefty’s life Lefty 4-in-1 folding corkscrew & bottle opener!   This Lefty Baker’s kit includes a Lefty Measuring Cup, no more twisting to read!

 

lefty knife  Lefty Chopsticks
 A Magic Slicing Knife- just for Lefties!  Training Chopsticks for Lefty or Righty!

LEFTY GIFTS For your “Techy Lefty” 

lefty gifts  lefty gifts   Lefty Gifts
 A reversible Ipad Case  A leather portfolio for Leftties!  A Left Handed Mouse….
Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks for stopping by!

I wish all of my readers a Happy, Healthy Holiday!

 

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OT toys

Holiday Toy Suggestion List from Miss Jaime, O.T.

What to get your O.T. Kid for the holidays…. Printable list included

Do you feel like your child has everything?  Not sure what to get but hoping to get something that will help them learn and progress with their skills?    Here are some ideas for each and every kid out there…

 

As the aunt of 12 nieces and nephews, I have to admit that I have always been partial to giving “educational” gifts.  “Educational” to me means that it will work on some type of skill.  Not necessarily math or reading, but anything that they should be developing naturally  (fine motor skills, visual perceptual skills, coordination, etc.).  Of course I want my loved ones to have fun and be excited about their present, but I can’t help but want to work on age appropriate skills – it’s become ingrained.  As an OT, I am constantly searching for ways to “hide” work in fun activities or games.  It’s amazing what you can discover about a child when you actually sit with them and play. This list is very general; its purpose is to get you thinking about what you think your little one might need to improve.  If you already know, go right to that section.  If not, look over the list and think about your child’s strengths and weaknesses.  Some of these games may seem really old- they are the classics!  “The oldies but goodies” and they are still a lot of fun.  Also- keep in mind, just because they seem old to you, doesn’t mean they will seem old to your child. If they have never played them, they will still be tons of fun.

 

Target and Kohls always have good sales on the classic games like Checkers, Connect four, Jenga, Battleship, etc.  For other games such as Scattergories,  Pictionary, etc.,  I would check on-line. You should be able to get great deals.  I have also heard that “Five Below” has a ton of “knock-off” games for a great price.   Oriental Trading is good for gross motor and sensory items like a tunnel, body sock or zoomball.  When I am buying for my school (ie, it will get a lot of use and needs to be REALLY durable), I will buy gross motor stuff at a therapy company such as Abilitations or Achievement products.  If it will be a family toy or used by one child, I stick with Oriental Trading.  Click on the “Hands on Fun” link to get to the “OT stuff”.   Barnes and Nobles tends to be a little more expensive, but during the holidays, they always have “fancy” versions of the classic games. They come in nice wooden boxes and would make a great gift that would last for years.

 

My favorite stores to shop for crafts are AC Moore and Michael’s.  They always have cheap crafts for boys and girls that work on fine motor skills, bilateral skills, and visual perceptual skills.  When in doubt, I go to AC Moore – they have paint by number, color it your self backpacks and jewelry boxes, wooden models and build it kits, etc.  They also have great crafts for the “tweens”, learn how to knit, learn how to make a friendship bracelet, learn how to do origami, science kits, etc.  Great for those blizzards that are around the corner!

 

Speaking of blizzards, so many Long Island families spend weekends away upstate; maybe skiing or visiting friends.  These are the perfect times to break out the classic board games.  Some of my best holidays memories involve all the laughs surrounding a family game of Jenga with my grandparents or a game of Old Maid with my parents and brothers and sister.   Rather than constantly relying on the DVR or some movie rental, break out some crafts or a good game and play with the kids.  Then, let them play a few rounds on their own to “practice”.  This is how kids learn to take turns, play fair, etc.  So many games nowadays only require one player.  How do kids socialize when they are playing by themselves?  Just because they are sitting next to their cousin playing “Minecraft” doesn’t mean they are actually bonding and interacting with them. So enough of my preaching – you know what your child likes, needs, and is capable of.

 

Here are some additional ideas to get you thinking.  Notice that I didn’t put ages on this list.  I hope that isn’t an inconvenience, but many children with disabilities are delayed in their motor skills and need toys that may be geared toward younger children.  That’s ok, they are still fun and “fun”ctional.

Fine Motor Games/ Toys 

Perfection

Jenga

Legos

Duplos

K’Nex

Kerplunk

Lite Brite

Honey Bee Tree

Tricky Fingers

Lacing cards

Stringing beads

Lanyard Sets

Wikki stix

Silly Putty

Colorforms

Mr. Potatoe Head

Dot Art

Mosaic Art

Wack-A-Mole

Nuts and Bolts

Cut-in-half Food

Playdoh Fun Factory

Stacking rings

Sequencing toys

Model Magic clay

Mancala

Pegboard games

Games with tweezers (bedbugs, operation, etc.)

Cards (uno, playing cards)

Crafts (beads, jewelry making, weaving, knotting quilts)

Scatterpillar scramble

Weaving loom

Sewing craft kits

Pop beads (Large or Small)

Bracelet or friendship making kits

Perler Beads

Hook and Latch Rugs

Model cars

Wooden Build-it kits (home depot)

Shrinky Dinks

Chinese Jumprope

Gross Motor Activities/ Toys/ Equipment

Bicycle, rollerblades, scooters, etc.

Tunnels

Sporting equipment

Vecro ball and target

Velcro catch

Zoom ball

Jumprope

Hopping Spots

Scooter (to sit on)

Mini Trampoline

Chinese jumprope (Klutz)

Hippety-hops

Ball pitt or “Jumpolene”

Twister

Bop It

Pogo-stick   

 

Visual Motor/ Visual Perceptual

Legos- any and all kinds!  The tiny ones make a great stocking stuffer!

Knex – often come with a “make this” guide, so children have to copy the picture

Don’t break the Ice

Thin Ice – anything with marbles is great – unless you have a “mouther”

Hungry, Hungry, Hippos

Memory

Aqua Doodle

3 D Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles

Velvet color/paint  by number

Etch-a Sketch

Crayola magic wonder markers

Crayola pip squeak skinny markers – one of Miss Jaime’s favorite things (only if they are skinny; better for little hands)

Crayola Twistables

Tracing stencils

How to Draw Books

Rush Hour and Rush Hour, Jr.

Perfection

Battleship

Word search books

Guess Who

Spirograph

MagnaDoodle

Easy Bake Oven

Mad Libs

Scattergories

Perfection

Pictionary

Boggle

Simon Says

Sensory  Materials, Games, Equipment

Radio/ CD Player with headphones

Earmuffs

Sound Machine

Aroma therapy materials (diffuser, scented lap pads, etc.)

Bath stuff – Massage Glove, loofah

Mini Massager

Floam

Moon sand

Wikki stix or Bendaroos

Fingerpaint

What’s In Ned’s Head?

Bean Bag chair

Wiggle Writer Pen

Hippity Hop

Play-doh and Accessories

Koosh Balls, Stress Balls

Model Magic clay

Body Sock

Cuddle Loop

Play tent

Kinetic Sand

Ball pitt

WANNA PRINT THIS LIST? CLICK HERE  FOR A PDF holiday suggestions.pdf

Again – this is a general list meant to give you some ideas.  Please feel free to share and leave a comment if you have any other great ideas!! Happy Shopping!

~ Miss Jaime, O.T. logo

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Need to fill a stocking or a goody bag? Need one more gift to make "eight"?  Check out this link for some Dollar Store Sensory Ideas!

Need to fill a stocking or a goody bag? Need one more gift to make “eight”? Check out this link for some Dollar Store Sensory Ideas!

Tips to adapt your Holiday Cookie Tradition for an "OT kid"

Tips to adapt your Holiday Cookie Tradition for an “OT kid”

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Dollar store, stocking stuffers, sensory, fidgets

Dollar Store Stocking Stuffers for your Sensory Kid…

The “little” holiday gifts are sometimes the hardest to think of….

Opening my stocking on Christmas morning was one my favorite parts of the holiday.   My mom always stuffed my stocking with little nail polishes, socks, and other tiny fun things, all individually wrapped. I’m sure she spent a fortune and a ton of time wrapping every little thing, only to the five of us rip through the stockings in less than five minutes.  As we all grew up and moved out, the stocking tradition stopped, which was soooo sad.  Oh well!  Life goes on!

As I ran to the dollar store yesterday to get some tinfoil pans for the ten pounds of mashed potatoes I need to make for Thursday, I was struck by all the awesome Sensory stuff at the Dollar Tree.   In the spirit of the holiday season, I decided to share  some of my Dollar Store know-how for all you moms out there who need to stuff a stocking for your sensory kid!

Some of this stuff is “non-traditional”,  but shouldn’t stockings be individualized to the child?

So if something seems weird but might be something your child loves, go for it.

StressBalls – Tactile and great as a fidget (also great for hand strength)

Koosh balls– Tactile and great as a fidget (some kids are very defensive to Koosh balls for some reason)

Silly Putty – Stretchy and tactile, heavy work for little hands.  (also great for hand strength)

Fake Play-Doh– I say fake because it is imitation play-doh and it’s definitely not as good as the real thing.  However, it is still fun to squeeze, squish and create with.  It just won’t last too long.

Silly String – Tactile- Kind of wet and cold when it squirts; (AMAZING for hand strength – see spray snow) and so fun to play with in the snow!

Shaving Cream – For finger painting, sensory squeeze bags, or the moonsand recipe below, etc.

Body Lotion – For massages, deep pressure and tactile input (can help calm and get little ones to sleep) Dollar Tree has princess lotion!

Hair gel – For finger painting, sensory squeeze bags, etc.

Slime/Gak – These little eggs of goo are usually in the same aisle as the stress balls – they are wet, smelly, slimy, and the containers are hard to  open (need 2 hands and great practice for opening lunch/juice boxes, etc.)

Loofah – Great in the bathtub or out, loofahs can be great for tactile and sensory input

Nail files – This is a tough one to sell for any kid, but a sensory kid really can be defensive when it comes to nail hygiene.  For girls, the promise of glittery nail polish or polish that is “Anna and Elsa’s” favorite color can help persuade them for a little, soak, scrub, and file.  For  boys, sometimes watching mom or dad or an older brother can be a little helpful.  If they really hate getting their nails clipped and or filed, try to do it after a bath and use a buffer instead of a nail file (until they tolerate it).

Velvet color by number– These are fuzzy and fun for kids who enjoy coloring and the tactile feedback helps kids to color within the lines

Scratch Art – These vary by store but the concept is the same, grab your scratcher (with a perfect pencil grasp, of course) and scratch the paper until some fabulous art shows through.  It’s fun.

Chalkboard games – Many of these from the Dollar Store are cheap and don’t last long. But writing with chalk provides a kinesthetic feedback that kids don’t get to experience with dry erase, pencil, writing on a tablet, etc.  It is fun and if used consistently, can really help a child’s motor skills.

Cornstarch – This is a weird one, and your kid may think you’re crazy.

1)  You can use cornstarch to make “oobleck” ( a Dr. Suess favorite – look up the book and here is the link to the recipe)

2) You can make moonsand

Bubblewrap – so, so, fun.  I bring bubble wrap to my classes sometimes when I want to strengthen a pincer or pencil grasp. The weak kids always want to “rip” the plastic with their nails.  Not on my watch!  Get those “pinchers” moving.

Stretchy Bugs, Animals, Creatures, etc. – These are great fidgets for a kid who needs to have something in their hands all the time.

“Fidgets” – I consider mini koosh balls, tops, jacks, mini slinkys, etc. all to be fidgets.  They are small and keep little hands busy when mouths are supposed to be quiet (teacher is talking, waiting in waiting room, sitting in movie theater, etc.)

Grow In Water Pills – I buy these pills a lot when I’m at the Dollar Store – they look like an aspirin, but when they are submerged in hot water, the plastic coating around them starts to melt and then a little sponge in the shape of a bug, dinosaur, etc., pops out for kids to play with.   Because I am always looking for ways to work on hand strength, I put a bunch in a tupperware and then give my students Travel Size Water Bottles  filled with hot water so they can squeeze, squeeze, squeeze until their hands get tired.  I’m so mean, right!?  But they love it and then they get to have water play.  Also, the sponges can be used later for painting activities, etc.   You can do a lot with these little guys – and they are usually 9 pills for a buck – what a bargain!

Grow in Water Animals –  Same concept as above.  But they are bigger and cost $1 each – and they will definitely take up more room in the stocking (that’s always a plus!)

Mechanical pencils -there is something thrilling about replacing the broken lead of a mechanical pencil. That is, the first few times.  After that you start to get annoyed and then think… Maybe I shouldn’t press so hard….If you have a child that presses way too hard when he or she writes, give these a try.  The feedback from the break may be a help with that habit.  If your child is in the second grade or older, I suggest trying to get them to change the lead themselves. Resist the urge to automatically do it for them. Maybe they will be able to do it.

Highlighters – Kids love highlighters.  I think it is because they are mostly a “grown-up” thing.  However, highlighters can be great to help kids with copying, “highlight one line blue, copy it, next line yellow, copy, etc… They can also be great to help outline a shape when your child needs to “cut on the line”. They can help highlight where to write when they need to skip spaces or write smaller. They are even good to make boxes to keep your letters and words spaced properly.

Flashlights – What kid doesn’t love their “own” flashlight?  It may seem like a weird gift, but you can explain that it is their special flashlight to use if the lights ever go out. You can also use it to work on visual tracking and scanning, games like I spy, ( turn the lights off in the living room, “I spy, Daddy!,  I spy, the TV set!, etc.” Your child  has to move the beam of light (aka. tracking) and then settle on the object he is looking for.

Basting Brush – Again, this one is a little weird, but it is basically a plastic paint brush.  The bristles are a different texture for your “multi-sensory” kid and it can be just another tool to have fun and paint with.  Besides, your child doesn’t even know what basting is.

Spray Snow – Spray Snow can provide hours of fun, but obviously your child needs to be chaperoned.  Aerosol cans like these can be dangerous, but I love the position that the little hand needs to take in order to get it to “squirt”.  It is EXTREMELY difficult to hold the cylinder of a can in your thumb, middle, ring and pinky while your index sits on and squeezes the cap.   This one is for older kids (like 8 and up).

20141125_170449

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sensory processing

Sensory Processing 101 is a vital resource for parents, therapists, and teachers who work with Sensory Processing difficulties.

Oral Motor

Okay, I am going to include this because so many children have weak oral motor skills and it can impact their speech,  eating habits, and oral hygiene.   That said, your house will be very loud and potentially obnoxious if you stuff your kids’ stockings with these toys.  BUT! in the spirit of the holidays…. it is supposed to be all about the kids, right?  Maybe confiscate the loud ones for “another day” when they can go outside or in the soundproof basement, etc.

Whistles – in the party favor section, there are a lot of different whistles, princess, whistles, hunting “duck” whistles, etc.

Blow toys- not sure what these babies are called exactly, but you have to control your breath so the ball goes up but not too far, etc.  This works on force modulation (if you remember from last week) and breath control.

20141125_164155

 

Balloons – Kids love balloons and there are a million ways to play with them.  You can put them in their gift and then offer to blow one up and they are likely to play with the balloon longer than your other present.  For older kids, trying to blow up a balloon is a major deal, and something we totally take for granted.   Many dollar stores have them multi-colored bags or one color, which can be fun if you get your child to “help decorate” for the holidays.

Blow outs – these look like the annoying noise makers from New Years Eve, but way bigger.

Novelty straws – Straws are a great way to work on “sucking” and oral motor “strengthening”.  The Dollar Store has fun ones for both boys and girls.

Noise Horns – Again, so annoying but so strangely addicting…

Musical Instruments – On this particular trip to the Dollar Tree, there were a lot of recorders.  Blowing would be work alone, but then you have the eye-hand coordination to try to cover up the holes at the same time.

 

Pin these for Later! 

IMG_1180 long island hippotherapy therapuetic riding Resistive exercise band

 

 

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What is your favorite Dollar $tore Stocking Stuffer?  Please leave a comment and let us know!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!      ~Miss Jaime, O.T.

 

 

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Cooking with kids, cooking and OT

Holiday Cookies & Motor Skills for your OT kid

cookiesfam

Making cookies can be a great way to work on OT skills with any child….

 

Holiday cookies are often the symbolic start of the holiday season…

When I was little the night that we made Christmas cookies was one of my favorite nights in the holiday season.  Even today, my brothers and sister and I crack up at certain songs or memories from when we were little.  Making cookies was an important tradition for my family.  In following that tradition, I had some bonding time with my nieces last night and we decided to start our holiday season by making some cookies.  I thought I’d use some examples from our night to give you all some tips and tricks….

What kid doesn’t like to make cookies?  

hmm, well a child with sensory issues might not.  And a child with poor motor skills who isn’t “good” at making cookies might not either.  Then there are the children who have dietary issues  or allergies that interfere with making and eating classic cookies.  Luckily there are a lot of ways to adapt “cookie making” to make it a holiday activity that the whole family can enjoy.

Sensory

For sensory children who exhibit tactile defensiveness, cookie making can be a “persuasive”  way to get their hands dirty.  Sensory issues are not black and white and every child is different.  As an OT,  I think it’s important to desensitize children as early as possible.  Often sensory issues can be confused with and/or turn into behaviors. As a parent you have to use your judgement in regards to knowing your child and how far you can “push”.  Also, you need to pick your battles. Cookie making should be fun, so you don’t want to end up in a fight or with a tantrumming kid.  However, if you just “let  it go”, the problem may not get better.  You also don’t want your child “watching” as you make cookies or even worse, playing in the other room because they don’t want to be involved in such a “gooey” task.

image

Holding a cup and flipping it over is hard work for little forearm muscles…but great exercise!

Let your child pour, scoop or measure all the dry ingredients to start.  If your child is old enough, have them read the recipe and figure out which measuring spoon, cup, etc., that they need.  These are real life skills!  Kids don’t really get a chance to learn this kind of stuff in school.  (Many middle school programs have a class called Family and Consumer Sciences, or FACS, where kids will have a few opportunities to cook).   Dry ingredients are less “noxious” than wet sticky ones.  Your child will get a chance to participate but doesn’t have to get all uncomfortable right away.  You can start to push the envelope by having them pour or measure the “wet” ingredients into a measuring cup or bowl.  They  won’t mind touching the container, just the wet stuff inside.  Cracking an egg always seems to be exciting, no matter how old the child is. Obviously your chances of getting a “usable” egg with no shells, etc., will be slim, but plan accordingly and have your child attempt to crack an egg (or three) into a separate bowl.  When you crack an egg, you have no choice but to get “gooey”, so this is a good chance to work on defensiveness.

 

image

My nieces were thrilled to be able to crack their first egg for our cookie making session…

Once your wet and dry ingredients are all in the same bowl, let your defensive child use a long handled spoon to mix them.  This is great exercise for the upper body, too.  If you feel like pushing a little further, use a regular spoon. Your child will not be able to help but get some of the batter on their fingers.  If they get upset, try to blow it off and make it “no big deal”.  If there is a “ruin the night” tantrum on its way, get the bigger spoon.  If even the long handled spoon isn’t working, let your child wear small kitchen gloves or even large zip lock bags over their hands.   The really “good” sensory work comes when you start to mix your cookie dough into one big ball. This requires a lot of sensory tolerance.  Again, if you need to offer your child zip lock bags or gloves, go ahead. If you can get away with it, try not to.

Hand Strength and Dexterity, and Bilateral Coordination 

Occupational Therapists often suggest using therapy putty or clay to work on hand strength, but why not cookie dough!? Cookie dough is softer than the usual putty materials, but there is also a much larger amount.   It is much harder to “knead” a giant ball of  dough than a little silly putty egg’s worth.  Little hands can get tired fast.  And for big kids, if they have weak hands, this is a lot of work.

 

For children of any age, cookie making is a great way to work on intrinsic hand strength.  Your intrinsic muscles are tiny muscles located in your palm and along your fingers that help you to grasp, release and manipulate small things.  When you move your fingers away from each other or toward each other, those are your intrinsic muscles.  Look at the palm of your hand where a “palm reader” would look.  These lines are formed from the arches in your hand.  You have groups of muscles that work together to get the hand to perform certain movements.  Many children do not have good intrinsic hand strength.

arches 2

A child with weak hands and underdeveloped muscles will have trouble making a “cup” with their hand like this

arches in your hand

 

intrinsics

Look how tiny they are! It takes a lot of work to get those little guys strong. So get baking!

 

(If you ask a child to roll a die and they can’t; they just throw it or drop it; it is usually because they can’t make a “cup” with their hand to keep the die in place.  This is because the arches in their hands aren’t developed enough to make or keep the cup.)

Many, many children have poor bilateral skills.  They want to leave their non-dominant hand hanging useless at their side while the dominant hand attempts to do the work.  Alright, they don’t really want to leave it, they can’t help it or they don’t even realize they are doing it.  Sometimes, due to poor strength or stability, a child tries to compensate by using their other hand to support a different body part.  An example would be the child who always leans into their left arm on the chair while the right arm is writing or coloring.  If the child has poor stability or postural control, they are relying on that arm to kind of “prop” their body.   The child who always uses their hand to hold up their head probably has difficulty poor postural control.  Cookie making really involves both hands – pouring, stirring and holding the bowl, using a rolling pin, etc.   And that is before you even start working with the doh.

Rolling-Pin-pic

 

So enough of the technical stuff.  But I am going to tell you a few ways to “modify” your cookie making activity so that you can get both of those hands as well as those intrinsic muscles involved.

1.  Kneading dough into a giant ball – this works on both arm and hand strength.  It increases endurance and builds the small muscles in the hands.

2.  Scooping a round of dough – using utensils requires skilled movements with the forearms.  The child with mature motor skills should be able to hold a spoon (like a shovel) dig into the dough, and get a nice scoop.  Many children who do not have mature motor skills will hold the spoon incorrectly, which makes the whole task difficult.  If you see your child doing this, just change the position of the spoon for them.  Practice of good positioning can help form the habit.

3.  Making a “Snake” – Don’t be afraid to ask your child to roll the whole ball into a snake (even if you don’t need a roll, they probably don’t know that).  Get as much exercise as you can with this dough! Rolling with both hands can be tricky because they both have to roll at the same time, while pressing with the same force. So you are working on bilateral coordination and force modulation.  (The child with poor sense of force is the one who always accidentally squeezes all the juice out of the juice box before getting a sip.  They also squeeze an enormous blob of glue out of the container when they only need a dot.)

4. Cutting the snake with a knife – Children should start being exposed to using a butter knife or a plastic knife by at least the age of five.  Most children aren’t, for obvious reasons.  But if mom or dad is right there, it should be fine. Plus, using a knife (like a spoon) requires good forearm and hand skills.  It can be very awkward the first time a kid tries to use a knife.  Cookie dough is nice and soft, and all they really have to do is press down. If you are really looking to increase the hand strength, show your child this grasp below.  This grasp strengthens the small muscles of the hands and the arches.

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My sweet little niece having a great time slicing up her “snake”. This is a great grasp for increasing hand strength.

 

You may notice that your child switches back to a “fisted” grasp.  This is normal.  Those little intrinsic muscles get tired quickly.

5. Rolling out the dough – Using a rolling pin is great for bilateral skills and force modulation too.  Plus ,it’s oh-so-fun!

6.  Rolling the dough into small balls – this is a great activity or building the arches in the hands and for using two hands together.  If your child tries to make a ball against the table, show them how to do it in two hands.  This provides double the exercise, plus it reinforces those bilateral skills.

7.  Isolating one finger at a time – Certain cookies (lindser tarts are my favorite) require a “hole” or “imprint” in the middle for jam or whatever.  Many children with poor motor skills have difficulty using one finger at a time.  Using the thumb by itself is the easiest, and then the index. The rest of the fingers are pretty hard. This is a great time to work on remembering the names of each finger for your little guys.

8.  Decorating or adding chips – Depending on what you want to work on with your child, you can adapt your decorating a million ways.

Pincer Grasp -If you want to work on using a pincer grasp (thumb and index only), have your child decorate the roll, (aka, the snake) by placing “spikes”, (aka chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, etc.) down the snakes back.  Yes, they will blend in later when you make another giant ball, unless you decide to work on knife skills to cut the snake into rounds instead of using a spoon.  You can also get crafty by using chips or sprinkles to decorate and make eyes, buttons, etc.

Pencil Grip – 1) Grab your tweezers (clean, please) and have your child sort the colored sprinkles.  Depending on your child’s age and level of skill this could be fun or it could be torture.  See how it goes.

 

2) Give your child a toothpick and let them “poke” a letter into the cookie.  “S for Santa, M for Mommy, etc.”)

9. Force modulation – use squeeze icing to let your child decorate.  The smaller icings usually come in “gel” and they don’t really look great after you bake the cookies, but the kids have fun creating. Plus, it works on hand strength and force modulation to get the pressure right on the tube.

10. Bilateral Coordination -Using cookie cutters is great for working on two hands.  Resist the urge to “clean the edges” away from the cutter for your child.  Show them how!  If they mess it up, oh well, roll it back into a ball, flatten it out, and try again!

11.  Visual Motor Skills and Visual Perception – Try making a design on a cookie and then having your child copy it.  Get them to draw it on paper after or before.  You can make letters, shapes, or pictures.  You can make faces, too.  You can also help your child to make a design by creating a “connect-the dot” by poking the holes with toothpicks for them.  I did this with my nieces and they followed the design using our “color-sorted” sprinkles to make these cookies.

imageimageimage

imageHoliday cookies & OT, fine motor & cookies

Any recipe can be modified and adapted to work on hand skills!  Use these tips to guide you in helping your child work on areas that are hard for them while still having fun!

And have a great holiday!

~Miss Jaime, O.T.

 

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Happy Cookie making!
 ~Miss Jaime, O.T.

 

 


 

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fidgety kid

5 Simple Homework Tips for your Fidgety Kid

5 Homework Tips for Your Fidgety Kid

Doesn’t this guy look too perfect? Most kids are not able to sit so beautifully for homework time. Here are some simple “OT tips” to get those bottoms on the chair and that work completed!

fidgety kid

It’s Back to School Time!

This means schedules, routines, and good old chaos for so many families.  One thing parents complain about is getting their child to SIT for homework.

I’ve got a few secrets for that! 

In the spirit of back to school, here’s a short list of simple tips that will help YOUR fidgety child focus during homework.

This post contains affiliate links.

1.  Make a homework station

Assembling all your “homework supplies”  on a Lazy Susan will put everything in one spot.  This is easy for your kids to grab, AND you can move it out of the way at dinner time.

The kitchen table is NOT a great spot for all kids for homework; especially the little ones.  Here’s why:

Positioning is really important for comfort.  The kitchen table is designed for grown-up bodies, not little kids.  This is why little kids sometimes have a booster seat at dinner – it puts their body in the proper position to eat.   When a child is sitting at a grown up table, they have difficulty reaching the tabletop comfortably.  They compensate by leaning forward on the table, sitting on their legs, or kneeling.  This drives parents crazy because it isn’t the “proper way” to sit during dinner.  

If they can’t fit, what else should they do?

The same lies true when it comes to homework.  Here’s the optimal position for a child.

  1. Feet should rest on the ground, with knees and ankles at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Feet and legs should make the letter “L”.
  3. Thighs are parallel with the floor, not slanting downward.

( If your child is sitting on their legs, kneeling, standing, or kicking their feet, check the set up of the  table.  If you have a child size table, make that your homework table.  It provides your child with the optimal position to promote shoulder stability, comfort, and neat handwriting). 

POSTURE2

 Correct – Table and chair are the correct height, allowing the child to sit up straight, elbows are resting comfortably on table and feet are flat on the floor.  

2.  Provide fidget toys

If you have a child that is constantly distracted, touching things, or banging their pencil,  it may actually be smart to give them something to fidget with.  There are fidget toys available at the dollar store such as little koosh balls, stress balls, or even a rubber bracelet.

Give them something to fidget with?    YES.

Like adults, some kids are tactile people,  and they need to keep their fingers busy in order to concentrate.   Give it a try – it’s a good idea to explain to your child that they can play with the toy while they read or do their work, not instead of doing work.   If  it makes your child more distracted, take the fidgets away.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s worth a shot!

 

3.  Try chewing gum

 

 

gum

Chewing gum can help organize and center a child

Oral motor input can be calming, organizing and settling for children.  It goes back to infancy when they suck on a pacifier or their fingers to calm down and get to sleep.  Even grown-ups have oral motor habits or tendencies that  are self-soothing; stress eating or eating while studying, smoking,  or constantly drinking water, coffee or soda are a few examples.

Children who are constantly putting toys in their mouths, chewing on their pencils, and sucking on their clothing may be seeking oral motor/sensorimotor input to help their bodies reach an optimal arousal level.   An “optimal arousal level”  means that the child is not lethargic, hyper or antsy.   Children who put toys in their mouths, chew on their clothing or bite their pencils at school may be seeking oral motor/sensorimotor input

Occupational Therapists and experts in self-regulation suggest that oral motor input is necessary for the organization of the nervous system. Therapists stress the importance of oral mouth stimulation in regulating attention and mood.  Speech therapists and OTs often incorporate activities that require sucking, blowing, or chewing in order to facilitate increased attention with the kids.

Chewing Can Be Calming…

I’ve used gum chewing with kids who are constantly humming, talking, or whining because it gets their mouth moving (comfort for them) while quieting (comfort for me!) them at the same time.

Try having packs of sugar free gum at the homework station.  Children love to chew gum  and it is a great way to help them concentrate.  It is also healthier than getting into a routine of mindless eating or crunching snack during homework time.

 

4.  Use a Kitchen Timer

 

 

Lux_Products_Long_Ring_Timer

An actual kitchen timer is better than just using your phone or the microwave because the child can set it themselves. They really like to do this and it works on fine motor skills. Plus they can see how much time they have left without getting up.

Kids who are really fidgety have a hard time sitting for long periods of time.  A fun kitchen timer like a cupcake one is a great way to set scheduled movement breaks into your child’s routine.  Figure out how long your child can sit and focus before they get restless or frustrated.  Then let them set the timer.  When the timer goes off, they get a quick break.  Because these kids need movement, make it a movement break.  You can write five or ten different exercises on index cards and then let them pick a card. So work for ten minutes, pick a card, do 50 jumping jacks!  Now – set the timer again and back to work you go.   This is a good system for all kids because it works when they are lethargic (to get their central nervous system organized and wake them up) or fidgety (to get their central nervous system organized so they get some of those wiggles out).  Also, having a set “chore” to do during the break provides you with a start and a finish.  Otherwise, your little one will wander off to watch a little TV, get all caught up in their show, and never come back!

 

5. Let them play first

kids playing

Sometimes homework needs to be done right after school. The household schedule can be crazy and things need to get done.

BUT – kids need to play.  

They sit inside almost all day long and then they sit on the bus on the way home.  Fidgety kids (and even non-fidgety kids) need to get moving in order to have a good day.  Recess periods are getting shorter.  Kids have Physical Education class a few times a week, not every day.

 

It’s a shame because spending less time moving limits a child from developing overall strength and motor coordination.   Kids work hard to sit and get their work done.   And that  just doesn’t feel natural for a fidgety kid!

 

So when they get home, send them outside to just swing on the swing, jump rope, play ball or ride their bike.  All of these activities provide sensory input, which is calming and organizing to a child’s central nervous system.  So if possible, let them play!

Good Luck! ~Miss Jaime

 

Want more Handy Tips for your Fidgety Kid?  Like MissJaimeOT on Facebook for the latest tricks, hacks, and OT tidbits!

AND DON’T FORGET TO READ THESE! 

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