A Valentine’s Day Motor Monday: Super Simple Hand Strengthening

I have a confession: I love the Dollar Store.  I just do.

The problem is that it’s impossible to leave without a few extra things.

BUT – that’s how I ended up with my latest and greatest Valentine’s Motor Centers.  

I swear I just went in there for a couple of birthday cards, but when I saw the “seasonal section” filled with Valentine’s Goodies, I couldn’t resist.

These adorable pink and red Valentine’s Day “table scatter” hearts were the perfect size for little hands to work on grasping.  I just started adding to my basket.  

Sigh.

Why resist?  It’s for the children!

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10 pocketbook-sized toys to occupy your kid (instead of your phone!)

 handwriting, fine motor skills

I am totally on the “LIMIT TECHNOLOGY” for little kids bandwagon and am all about “Pocketbook-Sized Toys”! I have been so inspired by some articles I’ve read lately; especially a great article by Your Therapy Source (link at the bottom).  So I decided to make a list of 10 pocketbook-sized toys to occupy your kid (instead of your phone!)

As a public school OT, I work with Kindergarten students two days a week.  The continued decline in the basic motor skills of four and five-year-old children is VERY evident.  There are probably many reasons why, but I feel that lack of functional play time is a BIG contributor.    Nowadays, many kids have their own tablets, TV’s in their rooms, and an IPOD shuffle. They spend less and less time playing outside, which limits their gross motor skills, endurance, and coordination.   When they are inside, they spend less time playing with toys and using their hands and more time with technology.

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#Functionalskillsforkids

Combining Handwriting and Play

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!

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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 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

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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Cooking with kids, cooking and OT

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long island hippotherapy therapuetic riding dollar store fidgets, dollar store sensory

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Happy Holidays From Miss Jaime, O.T.

 

 

 

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How to Throw a Kids Halloween Party…Sensory Style!

sensory processing, spd, sensory recipes, Halloween slime

Autumn:  pumpkin pie, costumes, and everything else.

As an OT, I love to get into the “Halloween Spirit” of things at school with my students.  Sensory recipes are always a great way to work on multiple skills at once, including Mixing, Measuring, Pouring, Stirring, and Kneading.

Cooking is a great way to work on fine motor skills, bilateral coordination (using two hands), dexterity, and functional life skills.

 Sensory recipes are a non-edible method of working on all the above skills, which is perfect for school.

Food Allergies at Halloween

It’s important to make sure that none of your students have food allergies or aversions when you bring a Sensory recipe into a classroom. Some of my kids have gluten-free diets or nut allergies, so when in doubt, I send a letter home with the ingredients a week before the activity to get permission from the parent.  Better to be on the safe side.

Halloween parties often include lots of candy and junk food. Instead of the typical sugar overload, why not set up a bunch of fun Sensory activities to get your kid’s friends in the Halloween Spirit?

Halloween Sensory Recipes

Here are my five favorite Sensory recipes – with a Halloween spin!

1) Halloween Dirt Doh

I’ve written about this recipe before, it’s a simple recipe with used coffee grinds.  Make a large batch and it’s perfect for a Spooky Coffin!

Here’s the recipe:

2 cups used coffee grinds (wet or dry)

2 cups of water (add it little by little until you get the consistency you want)

2 cups of flour (add more if you need to make the doh a little more doughy)

I asked my local bagel store to save me all their used coffee grinds for a few days before our Halloween party.  When I went to pick it up, they had three bags full.  Perfect!  I filled an “under the bed storage” tupperware container with my ingredients.

I let my students mix it up with spoons and their hands.  Then we hid some “spooky” items in the dirt – eyeballs, fingers, and bones.  Add a fake tombstone and voila!

Now you have an awesome spooky sensory activity that addresses tactile defensiveness, hand strength, and bilateral coordination.   Also – used coffee grinds have a distinct odor.  Kids who are picky eaters usually have a strong sense of smell, which can trigger a gag reflex.  Engaging in “smelly” activities is a good way to work on desensitizing the sense of smell.   Finding things that are hidden in a busy background is a visual perceptual skill called visual figure-ground.

Add a blindfold that takes away the visual component, and now you are working on stereognosis.  Stereognosis is the ability to recognize an object by using tactile information.  This means a person uses their tactile sense without using their vision or sense of vision or hearing to figure out what they are touching.  Just like digging in your purse for your phone, while looking at something else.

sensory processing

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

Bet you do that a lot! I know I do…

sensory recipes, halloween sensory, SPD, oobleck, slime

dirt doh, coffee grind doh

2)  Halloween Slime

A simple slime recipe can be altered a million different ways.  Add a bit of food coloring or washable paint and you can color it to fit any holiday or theme.  I used my go-to slime recipe, added a bit of orange food coloring, and gave my kiddies some cheap Halloween manipulatives to play with.

Here’s the recipe:

2 cups of Elmer’s glue

2 cups of water

2 cups of liquid starch (found in the laundry aisle)

Mix the glue and the water together to thin out the glue.  Then, slowly add the liquid starch. Mix together with a spoon, then knead with hands.  Add coloring to your liking.  Once the starch is all blended (I let the kids take turns kneading and squeezing the whole batch), split the batch into individual portions for each child.  Then the fun begins!  The texture of the slime can vary, which can alter your activity. I had one class that ended up with very “stringy” slime, which reminded us of spider webs!  Another class had very firm slime, which was perfect to make Jack o’ lanterns.  Add some cookie cutters, manipulatives, etc. and let the kids get creative!  You can even leave it white and let the kids create their own mummies or ghost faces!

 

slime, Halloween, oobleck,

slime, Halloween, pumpkin

 

3) Halloween Play-doh

– you can go simple and just buy playdoh, or you can whip some up the old fashioned way.

You can use cookie cutters to make witches, pumpkins, spiders, you name it!  I like to use a chip tray to give my kids cut up pipe cleaners, wobbly eyes, and tiny spiders.  The kids can make a Halloween creation of their own design.

spidertray, sensory activities, HalloweenHalloween playdoh, spider

 

4) Pumpkin Pie Playdoh

I am a pumpkin lover. I love the taste, but I also really love the smell! Like I said, it’s good to incorporate olfactory (smelly) stuff into your activities. It can help picky eaters to broaden their boundaries and it is a great way to incorporate multi-sensory learning into your lessons.

You can use a simple play-doh recipe and add some Pumpkin Pie Spice and some orange food coloring and you have the perfect Pumpkin Pie Playdoh!

Halloween sensory, sensory recipes, oobleck, slime

Here’s what you need to make the doh:

2 cups of flour (you can use gluten-free if you need to)

1/2 cup of salt

1 cup of water

a dash of pumpkin pie spice (a make your own recipe listed below if you can’t find it)

a couple of drops of orange food coloring or washable paint

Mix the flour and the salt together. Add the water bit by bit and keep mixing and kneading until you get a firm, doughy texture.  Add the pumpkin pie spice and the orange paint. I like to do this at the end because the kids can see where the paint isn’t mixed.  This gives them a visual cue to keep kneading, twisting and squeezing until the colors are blended nicely.

To make pumpkin pie spice:

1/4 cup of ground cinnamon

4 tsp. ground nutmeg

4 tsp. ground ginger

1 tbs. ground allspice

This results in quite a bit of pumpkin pie spice – you can half it if you want, but I love to keep it around and use it to flavor my coffee. Add a teaspoon to your regular coffee grinds and you’ve got some fabulous pumpkin flavored coffee.  Who needs Starbucks!? Budget Divas make their own!

sensory processing, sensory recipes, spd

The Sensory Processing 101 Bundle sale ends Oct 31, 2017!

 

5)  Ghost Guts

My kids got a giggle out of this one!  I took a simple sensory recipe and gave it a Halloween name.  It went great!

Here’s what you need:

2 parts corn starch

2 parts shaving cream

You can give each kid a bowl or make it in one big batch.  I made it in a big Tupperware bowl and let my kids do the mixing.  I also hid some little white bones and spiders in there for my kids to pull out. They loved it.

ghost guts

 

I hope your Halloween party is a smashing sensory success!

Do you have any great Halloween Sensory Recipes to share with us?

Miss Jaime OT

Happy Halloween! ~Miss Jaime, O.T.

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Dollar Store Sensory finds, stocking stuffers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Products You May Enjoy:

 

Sensory Thera-Snow

water beads, sensory activities

 

 

Jelly BeadZ® Water Gel Beads

Lakeshore Scented Dough

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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…

This post contains affiliate links

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

51dkcwylazl
 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!

 

Other  Posts You May Like:

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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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