Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sensory Motor Benefits and Tips for Gardening with Children

Sensory Motor Benefits and Tips for Gardening with Children www.YourTherapySource.comWith Spring upon us, why not get children started with some gardening. Gardening offers children excellent sensory motor exploration. Think of all the senses that are involved in gardening:
Tactile – touching the rough seeds, feeling the dry dirt, experiencing cold, wet mud, handling the soft fuzz of a green bean or the smooth skin of a melon
Proprioceptive – digging in the dirt, pushing a seed into the ground, carrying watering cans, hauling watermelons and pulling weeds
Olfactory – smelling the flowers, herbs and vegetables
Taste – enjoying a crisp bite of a carrot or a warm tomato from the sun
Now think of all the motor experiences:
Fine motor – handling the small seeds or picking a berry or bean
Gross motor – kneeling in the garden, quadruped searching for cucumbers, squatting and standing
Coordination – using garden tools with both hands or maneuvering a wheelbarrow
Balance – avoiding stepping on plants or walking on the uneven ground
Why not start a garden this Spring. Here are 8 tips to creating a successful garden experience with children.
  1. Make sure you get the children involved. Ask what types of food or flowers they would like to grow.
  2. Look for seeds with short germination periods to keep the children interested.
  3. Give each child a small area that they can plant their seeds.
  4. Mark each child’s with a self decorate garden marker (i.e. large paint stirrer stick) in the ground.
  5. Use good soil to ensure growth of the plants.
  6. Remember to water and weed (fertilize if necessary).
  7. If you do not have the space to garden, how about creating a large container garden for the children to nurture and watch grown.
  8. If necessary, adapt the garden tools with bigger handles or velcro straps. If a child can not get to the ground to garden, bring the garden to them by starting a container garden.
Happy Gardening!

spring poses from
Spring Poses includes 12 full size pages with one Spring pose and directions per page, 3 pages of the 12 poses in smaller sizes, 20 games ideas to use with the poses and a Spring blossom tree game.  Find out more at

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Body Awareness and Spatial Awareness Activity

Body awareness and spatial relationship activity
Need a quick body awareness and spatial relationship brain break that combines estimation with movement and motor planning?  Here is a simple activity that helps students to understand spatial relationships to objects in the classroom.
Start out with each student standing up next to their desk.  Have them guess how many baby steps it will take to walk to the desk in front of them.  Once they have made the estimate, they can count the baby steps it takes.
Now try moving to a target further away with a different movement.  Guess how many jumps it will take to get to the window.  Once the estimate is made, the students can count the jumps it takes them to get to the window.  Return to the starting point.  Now ask the students to double the amount of jumps it took them to get to the window.  The students must now adjust the size of the jumps and how the body moves through space to take double the amount of jumps to the window.
Have the students partner up.  The students can stand at least 10 feet apart.  Estimate how many hops it will take to meet in the middle.  Test you guess and hop to meet in the middle.  Try again with different movements - ie backwards steps, heel to toe walking, lunges, marching etc.  Make sure to remind the students that part of the challenge is meet in the middle but not to touch each other.
Personal Space Journey from
Title: Personal Space JourneyBy:  Your Therapy Source Inc
Summary: Collection of activities to teach children about personal space
including many body awareness exercises and a social story on personal

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Postural Painting

Postural Painting - www.YourTherapySource.comHere is a fun twist on painting that will also encourage strengthening of the core muscles.  Hang up some paper on the wall.  We hung it up on some cardboard in case the kids paint off the paper.
postural painting www.YourTherapySource.comPut some paint on a tray.  The child can lay of the floor on his/her back.
postural painting www.YourTherapySource.comTo get those abdominal muscles working, the child then puts both feet in the paint, lifts up and presses feet against the paper.  Make sure the child keep the small of the back flat on the floor as they lift the feet.
postural painting
For some extensor strengthening (back muscles) put the child over a ball or bolster.  The child puts his/her hands in the tray, lifts up and presses hand against the paper.
postural painting www.YourTherapySource.comTo increase the difficulty, see if the child can hold his/her upper body off the ball and glide his/her hands all over the paint.
Have a bucket of water or wipes close by to clean up the feet and hands when all done.
Play Strong ebook for children from
By: Your Therapy Source
Summary: Download of electronic book with activities to promote muscle
strengthening in children.  Find out more at

Monday, April 27, 2015

Quiet Eye Training to Help with Visual Motor Skills

Quiet eye training to help with visual motor skills - you familiar with "Quiet Eye Training"?  This is a technique that attempts to get the eye to focus more instead of flicking about during coordination tasks.  It teaches the eye to look at the ball long enough to process the information.  The individual is reminded to briefly look at the exact spot where you want to send the ball (throwing or kicking) and then settle your eyes onto the ball and leave your focus on the ball.
A recent study in Research in Developmental Disabilities looked at using the Quiet Eye Training (QET) with 30 children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD).  Previous research indicated that QET was more effective than traditional training (TT) when teaching 8-10 year old children to throw and catch.  Traditional training teaches children how to control their arm movements during throwing and catching.
During the training the children were evaluated on performance and gaze.  In addition, motion analysis data was collected at pre/post-training and 6-week retention.
The results indicated that the QET group significantly increased QE durations from pre-training to the 6 week retention whereas the TT group experienced a reduction in QE.  QET participants showed significant improvement in the quality of their catch attempts and increased elbow flexion at catch compared to the TT group.
The researchers concluded that: QET changed DCD children's ability to focus on a target on the wall prior to the throw, followed by better anticipation and pursuit tracking on the ball, which in turn led to improved catching technique. QET may be an effective adjunct to traditional instructions, for therapists teaching visuomotor skills to children with DCD".
Do you use QET in your therapy sessions?  Would love to hear about the outcomes?
Reference:  C.A.L. Miles, G. Wood, S.J. Vine, J.N. Vickers, M.R. Wilson.
Quiet eye training facilitates visuomotor coordination in children with developmental coordination disorder.  Research in Developmental Disabilities. Volume 40, May 2015, Pages 31–41. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2015.01.005
visual motor exercises
Visual Motor Exercises includes 25 long mazes and patterns to print, assemble and complete to practice pencil control.  Find out more at

Friday, April 24, 2015

Using Activities of Daily Living for Positive Reinforcement

Using Activities of Daily Living for Positive Reinforcement -

Here are a few suggestions for squeezing in some more practice for activities of daily living and positive reinforcements:

  1. Button Bags – sew a felt bag that has a few button closures at the top. In order for the children to get the reward they must unbutton the bag to reveal the prize.

  2. Zippered Bags – hide the prizes inside pencil pouches and they have to unzip to reveal the prize

  3. Lock and Key – use a lock on a treasure box. To pick a prize you have to unlock the box.

  4. Unscrew the Lid – paint the inside of a jar to hide what is inside. The children have to unscrew the lids to get the reward.

  5. Shoe Untying – hide the prize inside a sneaker. The child must untie the shoe to get to the prize. Then let the child pick a prize to hide back in the shoe for the next child and tie the shoe back up.

  6. Envelope Cutting – hide the prize in an envelope and the child has to use scissors or a letter opener to cut the envelope open. Good one for small stickers.

Positive Affirmation Posters and Cards for Children
Keep a positive attitude with this download of 25 positive affirmation posters and 25
small cards of the posters.

Find out more.

Awards, Signs and Certificates for Pediatric Occupational and Physical Therapists

Need some inexpensive reward ideas? Just print out one of these certificates for a child!

Find out more.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

10 Ways to Walk Across a Balance Beam

10 ways to walk across a balance beam - to challenge a child's balance?  Trying walking different ways across a beam.  If you don't have a balance beam, you can put a long strip of painter's tape on the floor or draw a line outdoors using sidewalk chalk.  Obviously, a child can walk forwards across a balance beam so here are 10 more ideas:

1.  Walk across the beam with hands over your head, out to the side or on your hips.

2.  Place small objects on the beam (ie beanbags) and the child has to step over the bean bags but stay on the beam.

3.  Walk sideways, high kicks or backwards across the beam.

4.   Walk on your tiptoes or heels across the beam.

5.  Walk across with hands and feet on the beam.

6.  Walk halfway across the beam, turn one full circle and continue across the beam.

7.  Walk across the beam balancing an object (ie bean bag or small book) on your head.

8.  Walk across the beam heel to toe.

9.  Walk across a beam to the beat of a metronome.

10.  Move like different animals across the beam.


cross the beam balance game from

Title of Electronic Book: Cross the Beam Game

By: Your Therapy Source

Summary: Download of game that encourages balance skills and
visual perceptual skills.  Find out more at

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

10 Ways to Encourage Intrinsic Motivation in Children

10 ways to encourage intrinsic motivation in children from motivation is completing a skill or activity based on personal interest and enjoyment not for external rewards.  Many times young children need external motivation to complete activities during therapy sessions.  Therapists may use different reward systems such as Punch Cards and Reward Cards for Therapy to encourage children to participate in therapy sessions.  Intrinsic motivation can be harder to facilitate in children.  Here are a few tips to increase intrinsic motivation in children:

1.  Independent thinking:  Allow the student to work on a certain skill and report back to you how they have improved that skill.  They can improve or change it anyway that they think will help.

2.  Provide choices:  Children can be more intrinsically motivated if they have a say in how they are accomplishing a goal.  Try not to make any activity a requirement.

3.  Teach self direction:  Everyone feels a larger sense of accomplishment when you are able to do something all by yourself.

4.  Power of positive thinking:  Having an "I can" attitude can help tremendously and build up a student's confidence.  Check out Positive Affirmations Posters and Cards for ideas at

5.  Cooperative learning:  Students may feel more motivated when they can work with other students to help or teach them a skill

6.  Ask questions:  Encourage students to think for themselves rather than provide answers for them.  For example - what suggestions do you have to increase your handwriting speed?

7.  Keep it fun with some competition:  Most kids like to win and feel a sense of pride when they do .  Therapeutic activities can be intertwined with games.

8.  Shoot for your personal best:  Don't compare your abilities to others but rather that you improve each time.  Teach the student to track his/her own goals to visually represent improvements over time.  Check out My Goal Tracker at for student generated data collection.

9.  Plan together:  Ask the student how they would like to reach a goal?  Explain what options are available (ie different types of strengthening or aerobic exercises) and plan together what may work best.

10.  Educate the student:  When you are working on a certain activity, explain to the student why you are doing that specific activity and how it will help him/her in their everyday life.

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