Thursday, October 20, 2016

Visual Motor and Discrimination Activity – Hedgehogs


Here is a cute, visual motor and visual discrimination freebie with hedgehogs.  Just print, grab some crayons and start looking for matching hedgehogs.


DOWNLOAD the visual motor and visual discrimination freebie here.

This is from the Visual Discrimination Seek and Find download which includes 8 full color boards with cards and 12 black and white boards to color. Look for objects that are pictured on the tablet screen. Match up the cards or color in the matching picture according to the key. This activity encourages visual discrimination, visual closure and visual motor skills. Kids will love the tablet theme! Just print and play.



You can create the boards with cards.  They range in difficulty from easier to more difficult.


Create busy bags to make the activities easy to travel with from school to school.


Find out more information about the Visual Discrimination Seek and Find download.

visual discrimination seek and find Your Therapy Source

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Link Between Visual Motor, Object Manipulation Skills, Executive Function and Social Behavior

Link Between Visual Motor, Object Manipulation Skills, Executive Function and Social Behavior

Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport published research on 92, three to five year old children to establish a link between early visual-motor integration skills and executive function and a link between early object manipulation skills and social behaviors in the classroom during the preschool years.  Each participant was evaluated for visual-motor integration skills, object manipulation skills, executive function, and social behaviors in the fall and spring of the preschool year.  The results indicated the following:

  1. children who had better visual-motor integration skills in the fall had better executive function scores in the spring of the preschool year after controlling for age, gender, Head Start status, and site location, but not after controlling for children’s baseline levels of executive function.
  2. children who demonstrated better object manipulation skills in the fall showed significantly stronger social behavior in their classrooms (as rated by teachers) in the spring, including more self-control, more cooperation, and less externalizing/hyperactivity after controlling for social behavior in the fall and other covariates.

The researchers concluded that children’s visual-motor integration and object manipulation skills in the fall have modest to moderate relations with executive function and social behaviors later in the preschool year.

Reference:  MacDonald, M., Lipscomb, S., McClelland, M. M., Duncan, R., Becker, D., Anderson, K., & Kile, M. (2016). Relations of Preschoolers’ Visual-Motor and Object Manipulation Skills With Executive Function and Social Behavior. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 1-12.

Teaching Catching, Throwing and Kicking Skills

Teaching Catching, Throwing and Kicking Skills is loaded with information to help children learn object manipulation skills. It is in PDF format and in Word (therefore you can edit the pages).  This packet includes the age progression of each skill, visual picture cards with step by step directions, tips on teaching the skills, letter home to parents regarding teaching the skills, different ways to practice the skill and data collection to track progress. The activities are reproducible to use over and over again with all the children that you teach.  FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Tactile Function in Children with Cerebral Palsy


As pediatric therapists, assessment and treatment of children with cerebral palsy frequently focuses on motor impairments although, children with unilateral cerebral palsy (hemiplegia) are also likely to have sensory impairment.  Research indicates that tactile registration for children with hemiplegia is consistently worse with their impaired hand than their unimpaired hand.  Both hands of children with hemiplegia performed worse than either hand when compared to typically developing children. Forty percent of children with hemiplegia had tactile registration and perception deficits, 37% had perception deficits only and 23% had no tactile deficit. The larger the tactile registration deficit, the poorer the performance on all tactile perceptual tests.  The researchers concluded that tactile dysfunction may contribute to functional impairment and is a possible target for intervention (Auld, 2012).

Here are a few suggestions to encourage tactile registration and perception during therapeutic play activities:

  1. Provide different textured toys during playtime.  For example, verbalize and discuss differences between soft/hard, bumpy/smooth, fluffy/scratchy, etc.  If the toys are just smooth plastic, then try and add a sensory component to the toy.
  2. Add weight to toys to increase input.  For example, try stacking boxes with weights in them (ie 1 lb. bag of beans).
  3. Add to texture during arts and crafts time.  For example, add sand to fingerpaints or use shaving cream.
  4. Focus specifically on tactile perception and registration.  For example, the child can close their eyes and rely only on their sense of touch to identify objects.  They will not be able to use their sense of vision to determine what the object is and how to hold it.
  5. Add tactile input to weight bearing activities.  For example, when a child is working on weight bearing with an open hand, try performing that skill on different surfaces such as bubble wrap (bumpy), sand paper (rough), dry towel (scratchy), yoga mat (smooth) or cold (gel ice pack).  For the bare feet, try walking or balance with on different tactile surfaces such as grass, sand or dirt.


Auld, ML et al. (2012). Tactile function in children with unilateral cerebral palsy compared to typically developing children. Disability & Rehabilitation, 2012, 1–7, Early Online. DOI: 10.3109/09638288.2011.650314

Teaching Motor Skills to Children with Cerebral Palsy and Similar Movement Disorders - A

Teaching Motor Skills to Children with Cerebral Palsy and Similar Movement Disorders – A Guide for Parents and Professionals – The ELECTRONIC version of Teaching Motor Skills is a must have reference for all therapists who work with children with cerebral palsy. Whether you are a beginner or experienced therapist you will find the information concise, informative and very helpful to carry out everyday functional tasks including stretching with children with cerebral palsy. The book provides activity suggestions throughout the developmental sequence such as head control, tummy time, sitting, transitions, walking and beyond. There is also great information that reviews additional interventions for children with cerebral palsy such as bracing, surgical and medical management.  Find out more.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Halloween Mini Book

Halloween Mini Book from Your Therapy Source

Check out this adorable Halloween Mini Book that you can print, cut and fold.  I happen to love small things so this fits the bill.  I also happen to love Halloween activities.  So fun to create!

You can download this free template to practice scissor skills and folding.  Send home the mini book for the child to write some small notes or draw some pictures.  Just print in grayscale if you want it black and white.  It still comes out really cute!

DOWNLOAD the Halloween Mini Book and step by step directions for free!

Need more Halloween activities?  Check out Halloween Visual Perceptual Puzzles, Print and Create Halloween Fine Motor Projects, Multisensory Handwriting Activities for Halloween,  My Halloween Handwriting Book, Halloween Brain Breaks and Halloween Poses.

Check out Cut and Fold for more scissor and folding skills practice.

The post Halloween Mini Book appeared first on Your Therapy Source.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

5 Ways to Incorporate Visual Supports During a Therapy Session


It is well known that children with autism and certain other disabilities benefit greatly from the use of visual supports throughout the day. Visual supports can be pictures, objects, written words, body language and cues. Some children use visual supports as a primary means of communication in the classroom and home. If this is a child’s sole means of communication, visual supports should be used at all times which would include occupational and physical therapy sessions, physical education class, art, music, library and more.

Here are 5 ways to incorporate visual supports during a therapy session.

1. When explaining directions to certain children, you may need to provide a visual strategy or symbol instead of just verbally expressing directions. Many times picture symbols are used for the child to select a choice or to respond but are you providing picture symbols for “receptive” language as well?


2. Provide responses appropriate for therapy sessions beyond choice selection. Remember children are frequently performing motor tasks and physical activities during a therapy session. You may need to create picture communication boards that allow the child to express statements such as:

This is fun.
I need a break.
I am in pain.
I need a drink.
I am ready to go.
I want to slow down.
I want to stop.

Get more information on the Response Board for Therapy Sessions.

3. Create picture symbols that relate to a therapy session. You can use a commercially produced product or take photos of objects that you use during a therapy session. Once you create picture symbol cards of these items, you can use them to allow the children to make choices regarding activities.

4. Create a schedule for during the therapy session. Set up a schedule board with parts of therapy session on it such as First This and Then This steps to complete so the child can know what to expect.

5. If you need a child to complete many tasks, try creating visual supports for all the steps in the task. Break the whole project down into simple steps with visuals.

Visual Supports for Self Regulation and Classroom Participation

Visual Supports: Schedules, Self-Regulation, & Classroom Inclusion includes 283 visuals!  The pictures are color coded, engaging, and easy for children to understand. Visual supports for self-regulation can be pivotal in implementing an IEP in the least restrictive environment. Find out more about this digital document.

The post 5 Ways to Incorporate Visual Supports During a Therapy Session appeared first on Your Therapy Source.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

10 Ways to Increase Student Participation in School Based Therapy


Here are 10 ways to increase student participation in school based occupational, physical or speech therapy:

Student Choice:  Allow the students to choose activities.  Have several activities available that will accomplish the same end results and let them choose.  Need to plan in advance, ask the student the session before what activity they would like to work on next.  Maybe provide the student with homework to plan out some activities that will help them to achieve their goals.

Work with their Peers:  Most students enjoy working with a partner to problem solve and to throw in some social interaction.  If a student does not receive group therapy sessions would this be a possibility to increase his/her interest during a therapy session?

Work with Technology:  Most technology use is a real barrier breaker especially for students with special needs.  It is unique in that you can be 10 years younger than someone else but you may know more about technology.  Sometimes a skill that is being worked on for possibly years during therapy could be achieved through the use of technology.  Not sure where to start, ask another middle school student to help you.

Connect the Real World to the Work that We Do:  If your student is getting tired of practicing something over and over, perhaps take a field trip to show them why they need the skill.  Can’t take a field trip, find a video on the internet explaining why the skill is beneficial.  Maybe ask the student to think up a project to complete that will affect the real world.  Working on handwriting skills, how about a letter campaign to fix something that the student feels needs to change?

Love What You Do:  Be enthusiastic as the teacher.  If you are bored and monotone, it rubs off on students.  Keep therapy fun and exciting.

Get Me Out of My Seat:  Let students move during therapy sessions as much as possible.  They are required to sit for such long lengths of time.  Throw in movement when working on skills.

Use Visuals:  If a student is not understanding what you are asking he/she to do, use a visual.  Again, show a video, use picture symbols or physically demonstrate yourself.  Brainworks offers a HUGE collection of visuals.

Understand the Kids:  This can be difficult at time.  But get to know your students.  What are their likes and dislikes?  Use those to your advantage to keep them engaged.

Mix It Up:  Change up how you are practicing an activity.  This is a great motor learning concept.  Humans needs to learn motor skills in different environments and settings to truly learn a skill.  Use different materials, practice in different rooms, practice outdoors and practice with different people.

Be Human:  Engage with the kids.  They need role models who can show that it is okay to try and maybe you will make a mistake along the way.  So if an activity that you wanted to try didn’t work out as you expected (we have all been there) tell the student that you made a mistake.  Explain to them that if we try it a different way in the future it may be more beneficial.  Not sure how to fix it, ask the student first they may just have the best idea of all!

Bonus suggestion – Use incentives and motivational tools to keep student engaged.  Some children are highly motivated to participate when rewards are offered.

Reference:  Heather Wolpert-Gawron. Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement. Retrieved from the web on 10/14/13 at

Punch Cards and Reward Cards for Therapy

Punch Cards and Reward Cards – download of 40 punch cards and 10 reward cards for motivation to complete pediatric therapy goals. Set goals for the student to achieve. When the student completes an activity, punch a hole in the card. After 10 punches, the student chooses a reward card (with free prize suggestions). Also included is a list of 30 free or low cost rewards.

The 40 punch cards include:

10 daily routines ie getting ready for school, taking a bath, etc
10 exercise cards
10 fine motor/handwriting
10 Give Yourself a Hand
There are 10 cards on each page. Once printed and cut out each card is 3″ by 2.5″.


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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

5 Ways to Reduce Stress in the Classroom


Classrooms can be stressful for certain students and for all students during certain times.  Over stimulating environments or unrealistic academic expectations are two examples of what can make stress levels start to rise.  Here are 5 suggestions to help create a peaceful classroom:

  1.  Reduce visual clutter –  Psychological Science published research indicating that children in highly decorated classrooms were more distracted, spent more time off-task and demonstrated smaller learning gains than when the decorations were removed. The 24 kindergarteners were placed in laboratory classrooms that were heavily decorated or sparsely decorated and taught lessons. The following results were reported: children learned in both classroom types but they learned more when the room was not heavily decorated, children’s accuracy on the test questions was higher in the sparse classroom(55 percent correct) than in the decorated classroom(42 percent correct), and the rate of off-task behavior was higher in the decorated classroom (38.6 percent time spent off-task) than in the sparse classroom (28.4 percent time spent off-task).
  2. Reduce noise levels – Sometimes children can be LOUD!  Imagine trying to learn when the noise level is too high.  By establishing reasonable noise levels in the classroom it prevents overstimulation.  Students may need to be taught what appropriate noise levels are acceptable.  Try using a noise meter for a visual cue.
  3. Provide a quiet area for all students – establish an area in the classroom where students can go for some quiet time.  Provide noise cancelling headphones or quiet, soft music for children to calm down.  Maybe place a few pillows or comfortable seating in a corner for a calm down space.  Provide visual pictures to help students relax before a test or after a stressful situation.
  4. Maintain a routine!  When students know what to expect, stress is reduced.
  5. Set realistic expectations.  Make sure students are educated on what your expectations are to maintain a peaceful classroom.  Keep in mind as teachers and therapists, students can only sit still for so long.  Provide movement and brain breaks throughout the day.  Physical activity can help to reduce stress.  Be aware that all students are different and certain students may lack the self regulation skills to remain calm during the school day.  Try teaching students some calming strategies for the classroom.

What is your favorite, most effective tips for reducing stress in the classroom?

Reference: Medical Express. Heavily decorated classrooms disrupt attention and learning in young children. Retrieved from the web at on 5/28/14.

Calm Down Card Cover 1

This set of Calm Down Cards includes 30 full size photographs with calming phrases (11″ by 8.5″ page) and smaller size (4″ by 3″ cards). Print the full size cards or the smaller size cards. You could also laminate the smaller cards to place on a key ring to toss in a calm down kit. Children can simply use visual imagery with the photos to help them calm down. Another option is to view the photographs with calming phrases and music as a PowerPoint show on your computer, tablet or phone.  Find out more information.

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