Sunday, December 4, 2016

Proper Positioning for Keyboarding Rubric

Proper Positioning for Keyboarding Freebie from Your Therapy Source

Here is a free rubric on the proper positioning for keyboarding from the Keyboard Rubrics digital download.  School based occupational and physical therapists are frequently involved in evaluating positioning needs in the schools including computer stations.  With more and more children spending countless hours in front of a computer screen, proper positioning is essential to prevent long term complications with posture or overuse injuries.

A rubric is a scoring guide to judge performance on a specific task. A skill is broken down into different components and a numerical value is given to each component. The performance is then scored by totaling the sum of the numerical values. Rubrics are used as assessment tools to evaluate an individual’s ability to complete a task which in this case is maintaining proper positioning at the computer.

This rubric evaluates head position, back support, elbow position, wrist position, finger position, hip position, knee position, legs and feet.

Download Proper Positioning for Keyboarding Rubric as a PDF document

Download Proper Positioning for Keyboarding Rubric as a Word document

Keyboarding Rubrics from Your Therapy Source Inc

Keyboarding Rubrics digital download includes 28 rubrics to assess keyboarding skills in PDF and Word format. Also includes 3 references pages on work station area, keyboarding and the common core and fluency chart of handwriting versus keyboarding K-8.  Find out more information.

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

5 Ways to Play with Mini Erasers


Have you seen all the adorable mini erasers at the Target dollar spot?  They are also frequently at party stores and other dollar stores, too. They are festive, fun and cheap.  Big bonus – they are great for fine motor activities.  Here are 5 ideas to use mini erasers to work on children’s fine motor skills.


Mini Eraser Idea #1:  Count the Erasers – Put the mini erasers directly on your printer or copy machine lined up in order.  Make a color copy of the erasers.  Now write in the numbers and the child can start using the mini erasers as math manipulatives.


Mini Eraser Idea #2:  Stack Up the Erasers – put the erasers on a tray.  Using tongs or tweezers, can you stack the erasers as high as possible without them falling over.


Mini Eraser Idea #3:  Drop Into Slot – using a clean, recycled jar cut a slot in the lid.  The child can drop one eraser at a time through the slot into the jar.  Seems super simple, but trust me, little ones love this!


Mini Eraser Idea #4:  Match Up The Erasers – place the erasers in random order on the copy machine or printer.  Make a color copy.  The child can try to match up the eraser directly on top of the pictures that are in all different directions.


Mini Eraser Idea #5:  Seek and Find – hide the erasers in some dried beans that match the color of the erasers to make them a little more difficult to find.  Since we had tree mini erasers, we used dried peas and white beans.

What is your favorite activity to do with mini erasers?  And please don’t say erase.  Haha – actually I am not even sure if they do erase!

Print and Play Fine Motor Activities Pack #1Need more fine motor activities?  Check out the Print and Play Fine Motor Pack #1.  This download includes fine motor activities that promote cutting skills, finger isolation and in hand manipulation.  Find our more information.

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Friday, December 2, 2016

6 Strategies to Optimize Learning With Physical Activity


Research strongly indicates that exercise and physical activity helps to boost brain power.  Here are 6 strategies to put that research into motion:

  1. Get students moving and physically active.  Inspire students to exercise and be physically active.  School staff can add movement during brain breaks, recess time, during physical education, transition time and during lessons.  Parents can encourage decreased screen time and increased outdoor time at home.
  2. Incorporate exercise into learning activities.  When possible, teachers can add in physical activity directly into the lesson.
  3. Schedule physical activity during the school day at the best times.  Try increasing physical activity before at test or a challenging class.  Read 10 Easy Ways to Get the Brain Ready for Testing.
  4. Educate the school and family on the benefits of physical activity.  This will help everyone understand and encourage children to be physically active inside and outside of school.  Read 5 evidence based reasons how exercise impacts brain power.
  5. Start a committee to help increase physical activity in your school or community.  Create and develop a plan to start increasing physical activity throughout the school day and in the community.
  6. Teach the students the health benefits of being physically active.  When the students are educated, they will be more internally motivated to exercise.

Reference:  Reference: Marcus Conyers and Donna Wilson. Smart moves: Powering up the brain with physical activity. Phi Delta Kappan May 2015 96: 38-42, doi:10.1177/0031721715583961

Classroom Activity Posters

Classroom Activity Posters is a download collection of 16 exercise activities, 4 large posters and a brief, simple video demonstration of each exercise.The posters are divided into four groups: posture, alerting, ready to work and focus/balance. All of the exercises are performed in standing. Try these activities prior to starting fine motor activities, for posture breaks, to refocus students attention and for vestibular/ proprioceptive input in the classroom.  Find out more information.

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

5 Ways That Exercise Impacts Brain Power


Children and adolescents spend an average of 6 and 8 hours per day, respectively, in sedentary behaviors, both during and outside of school. This sedentary time is increasing in children in recent years most likely due to a dramatic increase in screen time and increased academic rigor in the classrooms.  Research indicates that physical activity influences brain power.

Here is some evidence based research on how exercise impacts brain power:

  1. Exercise enhances neurogenesis which is the the creation of new brain cells in regions of the brain associated with higher-order thinking and recall.
  2. Exercise boosts the formation of synaptic connections between neurons in response to learning and sensory input from the environment.
  3. Physical activity appears to stimulate the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps neurons and synapses grow.
  4. Exercise assists with the creation and maintenance of healthy blood vessels to increase blood and oxygen flow to enhance brain functioning.
  5. Physical activity helps create a positive mood.  This in turn releases neurochemicals such as endorphins, melatonin, and serotonin, increasing neural activation in parts of the brain associated with positive emotions and increased attention and focus.

Reference:  Marcus Conyers and Donna Wilson. Smart moves: Powering up the brain with physical activity. Phi Delta Kappan May 2015 96: 38-42, doi:10.1177/0031721715583961

50 Sensory Motor Activities for Kids50 Sensory Motor Activities for Kids –  this download of creative, fun filled activities promote fundamental motor skills, sensory processing, motor planning and body awareness. The book is divided into three sections – Games to Play in Small Spaces (classroom or small room), Games to Play in Large Spaces (gymnasium or outdoors) and Games to Play with Bean Bags. The activities require simple equipment such as bean bags, hoops, rope, balls, etc. Find out more information.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Jingle Bell Pencil


Jingle bell pencil is a super simple idea that promotes fine motor skill practice and handwriting fun. Have the child string some jingle bells on to a pipe cleaner. Wrap the pipe cleaner and bells around the pencil. Start your musical writing!

If the child is distracted by the bells while handwriting (or if it will drive the teacher insane – haha), use the Jingle Bell Pencil to play warm up games.  Move your Jingle Bell Pencil is different directions and see if the child can mimic your actions.  Create musical patterns with the pencil – slow ringing, fast ringing, etc and see if the child can copy it.  Air write the letters with the Jingle Bell Pencil.  Get creative!



December Multisensory Handwriting Activities includes worksheets that require movement, tracing, copying, cutting and gluing all with a December theme. There are 10 worksheets in double lined format (Handwriting Without Tears style) or in dotted line format (Zaner-Bloser style). In addition, a scoring rubric is included to track progress regarding letter formation, spacing, copying and more. This download is great for push in therapy, therapy homework or consultation services in the classroom. The words included are bells, candles, candy cane, choir, elves, gingerbread, holly, lights, reindeer and Santa.  Find out more information.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Recess and Executive Functioning Skills


Pediatric Exercise Science published research examining the effects of a physical activity program including both aerobic exercise and cognitively engaging physical activities on children’s physical fitness and executive functions.  Children from elementary school were divided into two groups – intervention (53 children) and control (52 children).  The intervention group participated in a 22-week physical activity program for 30 min during lunch recess, twice a week. Children in the control group followed their normal lunch routine. Aerobic fitness, speed and agility, and muscle strength were assessed using the Eurofit test battery. Executive functions were assessed using tasks measuring inhibition (Stroop test), working memory (Visual Memory Span test, Digit Span test), cognitive flexibility (Trailmaking test), and planning (Tower of London). The results indicated the following:

  1. children who participated in the congitively engaging aerobic exercise program showed significantly greater improvement than children in the control group on the Stroop test and Digit Span test, indicating improved inhibition and verbal working memory skills.
  2. no differences were found on any of the physical fitness variables.

The researchers concluded that a physical activity program including aerobic exercise and cognitively engaging physical activities can enhance aspects of executive functioning in primary school children.

Reference:   van der Niet, Anneke G.; Smith, Joanne; Oosterlaan, Jaap; Scherder, Erik J. A.; Hartman, Esther; Visscher, Chris. Effects of a Cognitively Demanding Aerobic Intervention During Recess on Children’s Physical Fitness and Executive Functioning.  Pediatric Exercise Science . Feb2016, Vol. 28 Issue 1, p64-70. 7p. 2 Charts.

Motor Minute ChallengesMotor Minute Challenges is an electronic book of 20 sheets to complete that encourage fine motor, visual motor and gross motor skills. Complete each challenge sheet by finishing pictures, mazes, physical activities and more. Time the tasks for 1-3 minutes or let the child complete each one at his/her own pace. These pages are great for challenges at home, indoor recess time and rainy day activities.  Find out more information.

Read the archives for more articles on the benefits of recess.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Cut, Sequence, Paste and Draw Holiday Ornament


Here is a holiday ornament activity that includes scissor skills, sequencing, motor planning, visual motor skills and following directions!  All on one piece of paper (translation: NO PREP activity).  This ornament activity is from the Cut, Sequence, Paste and Draw – Holiday Edition.   Print out this activity and the child can cut, sequence, paste and draw the ornament using the step by step directions.


Need more December activities?  Check out these titles (PS every title has a free sample page to download):

December Fine Motor Gross Motor Visual MotorDecember Fine Motor, Gross Motor and Visual Motor Packet

December Multisensory Handwriting Activities

December Multisensory Handwriting Activities

Christmas Poses - Postural and Strengthening Exercises with a Christmas Theme

Christmas Poses

December Visual Perceptual Puzzles

December Visual Perceptual Puzzles

Finish the Holiday Picture - December Edition

Finish the Holiday Pictures – December

Christmas Doodle Find

Christmas Doodle Find

Print and Create Fine Motor Projects – Christmas

Print and Create Fine Motor Projects Christmas



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