Yoga is my absolute favorite way to exercise. I also love to recommend yoga for kids. Years ago I got into yoga as a form of exercise and stress relief. I ended up loving it so much that I was certified to teach “Group Exercise” through the American Aerobics Association with the hopes of teaching yoga as a hobby. I did that for a year and liked it very much, but decided that I like being a member of a class more than I like being the instructor. However, I am a huge believer in the old saying “everything happens for a reason”. I learned yoga well enough to teach it and to combine it with my “OT” knowledge, which really helped me to use yoga as a therapeutic activity with my students. Continue reading
This post “Combining Handwriting and Play” 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!
How to Make a Do-It-Yourself Weighted Fidget
I’ve been blogging a lot lately about fidgets and fidgety kids. Parents and teachers are always looking for a way to keep fidgety kids quiet and focused. Weighted items like vests or lap pads are commonly used by teachers to help kids who are fidgety, restless, and unfocused. Fidgets are another common request – they are great for keeping busy fingers quiet while the rest of a child’s body is attending to the lesson at hand.
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|
|Scrabble Classic||Scrabble Junior Game|
|Taboo Board Game|
Toys and Games that promote Math Skills
|Monopoly (80th Anniversary Version)||Froggy Feeding Fun|
Toys and Games that promote Problem Solving
|Rush Hour Jr||Rush Hour|
|Wood Labyrinth||Junior Labyrinth|
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 Beapop 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
|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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Busy Hands for a Fidgety Kid
Fidgets, Fidgets, Fidgets!
If you’ve been reading my latest posts, you’ll notice that I’ve been talking a lot about fidgets, fidgeting, and all things fidgety. Teachers are constantly asking how to help their students focus and how to keep them in their seats. Parents are looking for sensory toys to help their child succeed at school. There are many simple fidgets that you can supply a student with to keep busy hands quiet during class activities.
As I’ve recently posted, there are great little toys you can get at the dollar store that will do the job. But, sometimes you need something more. Something sturdy, durable, washable, AND fidgety. Today I’m excited to write about a new product I found called Fiddle Focus™ for Busy Fingers. It’s made by Creative Educational Strategies and Services. I had a great experience with one of my most fidgety Kindergarten kids ever. This product did the trick, so I’m happy to share my good luck with you.
*This post contains affiliate links
The Busy Hands tactile fidget is a tactile strip with four different patterns and materials set next to each other in a horizontal row. There is velcro attached to the back, so you can stick it to the underneath of a desk or a table if that is convenient.
My Fidgety Kindergarten Case
“Danny” was a 5-year-old boy who presented with all the classic symptoms of ADHD. He was inattentive, impulsive, and had a constant need to be moving. I worked very closely with the special education teacher in his co-teaching kindergarten classroom to make sure that Danny’s environment was set up so that he could learn. We tried a Seat Cushion for him, which helped him stay seated for longer periods of time. Then we added TheraBand to the legs of his chair, so he could kick while sitting at his Kindergarten work table. We gave him a weighted vest to wear during circle time, which he loved. So we had most of our bases covered.
Except for his hands.
Those fingers would seek out anything they could during lessons, resulting in untied shoelaces, tiny crayon wrappers all over the desk, you name it. I decided to try out the Busy Fingers from Fiddle focus. We had already tried Velcro under the table as a tactile fidget. The problem was that he kept peeling it off. Simply rubbing the Velcro wasn’t enough.
The Busy Fingers tactile strip turned out to be perfect. It comes with a velcro strip, so we stuck it to the underneath of his kindergarten table right at his seat. Now it was out of view, which didn’t make all the other kids ask about it.
But, when he got up to go sit on the rug, he was able to peel it off and take it with him. This way, his fingers were busy while the teacher taught her lesson of the day. Now, with the vest, the cushion, and the Busy Fingers, we had the tools we needed to help Danny focus. On a side note, Danny’s mom was on board with us trying all this stuff. He was just as inattentive and fidgety at home.
Danny’s special ed teacher told me that Danny was doing great with the Busy Fingers. She said “he’s playing with it while the teacher is teaching but he hears everything she says. It’s under the table so the other kids aren’t distracted, but he loves to reach for it in between lessons”. Sometimes it’s hard to understand that a child can still hear everything you say even if they aren’t looking at you. But the same is true for us. How often do we watch TV, read a book and have a conversation with someone at the same time? Not everyone’s brains are wired to concentrate on one thing at a time. That’s okay. As long as you get done what needs to get done, it’s all good.
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|What is your favorite fidget? Please share!|
|~Miss Jaime, O.T.|
Wiggly Kids Need Fidgets to Learn
In the “olden days”, kids were expected to sit still and listen. When they didn’t, they were in big trouble. Nowadays, teachers and parents understand that kids need to move in order to learn. Children who have special needs may have particular difficulty listening or maintaining attention to topic for what educators consider “appropriate” periods of time. Thankfully, fidgets have become more and more commonplace in the classroom. Teachers have changed their classroom routines to include movement breaks and “brain breaks” so kids can get their “wiggles out”. But when it’s time to sit and listen, nothing beats a fidget for keeping busy hands still.
Simple Fidgets from the Dollar $tore
Teachers (and O.T.’s) spend a ton of their own money every year to make sure their kids have everything they need to learn. As one of those “teachers” AND a total Bargain-Hunter, I spend a lot of time at the Dollar store. I’m teaching a class for teachers in a few days about sensory processing and I want to drive home the importance of letting kids fidget. So I decided to start the class by giving each teacher (aka student in my class) a fidget to play with during the lecture part of my class. I decided to share my favorite budget fidgets on my blog to help other teachers as well as all the parents of those wiggly kids.
— AOTA (@AOTAInc) November 20, 2015
Fidgets keep wiggly hands busy. So the kids aren’t looking at you when you talk, Who cares!? They know what you look like. And very often, they can still answer your question. So why not give them something to fidget with?
Ok, so here goes: Miss Jaime, O.T.’s Top Ten Dollar $tore Fidgets
1) Bubble Wrap– The best fidgets are silent, but there is really something so satisfying about the “POP” of bubble wrap. It also works on the “pincer” grip that OT’s are always looking for. It works on hand strength, too. A word of caution, kids with weak hand strength have difficulty popping the bubbles. So they tend to “sneak” a pop by using their nails to cut the bubble. Not on my watch – oh no you don’t. Pads of the fingers only, kiddies!
2) Car Wash Mitt – this is a weird one, but if you look past the name on the label- it’s a perfect simple fidget. the soft material just begs for fingers to play and rub and the little nubs are the perfect size for little hands. If you wanted to take it a step further, you could open it and put some rice or beans in there. Then it’s not only tactile, but a weighted fidget, too.
3) Microfiber Hand Towels – the ones I found at the Dollar Tree by me (in the Baby section) have these cute little character faces on the ends. Just one could be a nice quiet fidget. Or you could sew two together and make a weighted lap pad.
4) Cold Compresses – Again, in the baby section. Most people wouldn’t think of these as a fidget, but why not? They are filled with little gel balls that are fun to squish around, and they are Quiet!
5) Pop beads– in the Kiddie toy or “goody bag” section – there are usually pop beads available. Now, I can’t pretend that Dollar Store Pop beads are as good as really good pop beads from a therapy catalog. BUT – sometimes budget pop-beads do the job. They are quiet. Plus, they work on eye-hand coordination and bilateral coordination.
6) Stretchy animals – Again – in the toy section or maybe the goody bag section, there are usually lots of yucky stretchy worms, spiders, frogs, etc. They tend to be seasonal. But they are always there. They are quiet and small enough to fit in a pocket for silent fidgeting.
7) Silly Putty – Silly putty is almost always available at the dollar store and it’s a great simple fidget. It’s quiet and so satisfying to stretch and roll in between fingers. It fits in the little “egg” to keep it nice and clean in the child’s supply box.
8) Loofah – My favorite part about being an OT is that I am able to look at things further than seeing what they are usually used for. Everyone knows a loofah is great in the tub, but why not in the classroom? They are quiet, they are fun to fiddle with. Sometimes they have little animal heads on them, which makes it seem more like a toy and less like a hygiene tool. But either way, they are great for busy fingers.
9) Tiny Koosh balls – I like these because they fit right in a little palm or a little pocket. They are quiet, and they are usually colorful. The tiny spikes feel good when you roll them in your hand or against a desk. My Dollar Store usually has them in the goody bag section. They usually come ten in a bag, so ten fidgets for a dollar, which makes a budget diva like myself very happy!
10) Large Squishy balls – these are usually in the toy section. They come in fun loud colors and are sooo fun to squish, stretch, and smash. I do like these fidgets, but I find that they are a little more distracting than the little ones. They don’t fit in a pocket, either.
A lot of teachers who aren’t used to giving out or allowing fidgets will say to me “how do I explain to the other kids that only Johnny is allowed to have this toy”? I like to tell kids that every student is different and they all need different tools to learn. One child might need a special cushion seat and another might need special crayons. Everyone is different and just because one child has something doesn’t mean you all need it. I love the book “Arnie and his School Tools” for this reason. It basically explains this to the kids in a cute story about Arnie, a very fidgety kid!
|Arnie and His School Tools: Simple Sensory Solutions That Build Success|
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Products you should check out for your Sensory Kid! (affiliate links)
|FIDGIPOD HAND FIDGET||Set of 3! Tangle Fidget Toy||Pencil Tops Fidget|