Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Active Video Games Not So Active

A recent study published in Pediatrics compared activity levels of two groups of children given a Wii.  There was 78 children, ages 9-12, who participated.  Each child was given a new Wii console of which none had previously owned.  One group of children were asked to choose one game that was fitness focused ie Wii Fit Plus.  The other group of children were asked to choose one inactive game ie Mario Kart.  The children wore accelerometers for 6 weeks.  At the end of 6 weeks, they were allowed to choose one new game for an additional 6 weeks.  At the end of the 12 week study, there was no difference in the level of activity between the two groups.

Reference:  Marcus, M.   Active' video games may not boost kids' fitness: study. Retrieved from Medical Xpress on 2/29/12 at

Need ideas to get children moving?  Check out the Sensory Motor Activity ideas from Your Therapy Source.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Loop Board

Here is a simple do it yourself project costing about $3.00.  You can watch the video at

Monday, February 27, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jackpot for Handwriting Research

I came across this jackpot for handwriting research and information today.  There was a handwriting summit a few weeks ago in Washington DC sponsored by Zaner Bloser.  Now they have put up all the research presentations which you can view in full online for free.  You can watch the videos and even get the slides for the 6 presentations (one is presented by Jane Case Smith OTR, EdD).  In addition, you can download the white paper which summarizes research on why handwriting belongs in today's classroom.   

Here is the link to the 6 presentations.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Button Gloves

Make these button gloves to practice finger opposition, finger isolation and encourage proprioceptive input. Get the directions over at YourTherapySource.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Connections Formed When Learning

Researchers studied how mice learned new motor tasks and observed changes in the motor cortex (specifically dendritic spines).  The results indicated the following when analyzing the spatial distribution of new connections or clusters that formed between brain cells:
  • spatial analysis showed that one third of the newly formed synapses were located next to another new synapse. The new synapses were formed over several days 
  • second connections which formed from repetitive activation strengthened the first connection - this clustering may "magnify the strength of the connections"
  •  when learning two different tasks new synapses were formed but they did not cluster together
One more study to support that practice makes perfect when it comes to motor skills.

Reference: Medical XPress New connections between brain cells form in clusters during learning. Retrieved from the web on 2/22/2012 from

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Autism and Motor Skills

Recent research was published in Autism regarding motor skill development in children with autism.  The researchers studied 144 children from 67 families where at least one child had a diagnoses of autism. The Bruininks Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, 2nd Edition, was performed on sibling pairs.  The results indicated the following:
  • the lower the score on the Bruininks the greater the degree of social impairment and severity of autism
  • total motor composite scores were at least one standard deviation below the mean in 83% of the participants with autism
  • only 6% of the unaffected siblings exhibited one standard deviation below the mean with regards to total composite score
  • overall motor skills in siblings without autism were essentially normal
The researchers concluded that motor impairment constitutes a core characteristic of autism.

Reference:   Hilton CL, Zhang Y, White, MR, Klohr CL, Constantino J. Motor impairment in sibling pairs concordant and discordant for autism spectrum disorders. Autism. Published Jan. 18, 2012. doi: 10.1177/1362361311423018

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

DIY Bead Maze

Here is a simple bead maze to encourage fine motor and coordination practice.  Sorry to say you will need to sew but just a tiny bit and nothing complicated.  Worth it for an inexpensive therapy tool.  Read the directions on how to make it at Your Therapy Source.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Occupational Therapy Reminders

Do you ever with you could just give the teacher a quick reminder of what needs to be carried over in the classroom?  Therapists and teachers are so busy managing classrooms that these quick tips can really come in handy.  You can download 4 free handwriting reminders and/or get the whole set of 80+ tips, Occupational Therapy Reminders - Handwriting, Organization and Scissor Skills , which is on sale until 2/29/12.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Aquatics and Cerebral Palsy

The International Journal of Pediatrics recently published research entitled Aquatic Exercise Programs for Children and Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy:What Do We Know and Where Do We Go? It is a review article on research since 2005 on this topic. The results indicate that there is limited research on this topic. Most of the studies were done with small sample sizes and higher functioning children (GMFCS Levels I, II and III). Only one participant with GMFCS Level IV was studied and no participants with Level V. Of the six articles that were included in the review most of the interventions were aerobic activity in the pool for 45 minutes, 2-3 times per week. The researchers recommend additional research including all children with cerebral palsy regardless of GMFCS.

You can read the entire study here.

Reference: J.W. Gorter and S. J. Currie. Aquatic Exercise Programs for Children and Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy:What Do We Know and Where Do We Go? International Journal of Pediatrics Volume 2011, Article ID 712165, 7 pages doi:10.1155/2011/712165

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Including Preschoolers

Head Start Body Start presented a webinar on including preschoolers with special needs in active play today. This webinar had lots of great ideas - some therapists would be familiar with and perhaps some are new information. Here are a few tips that I found helpful:
  • "teach children how to stop before you teach them how to go" - Diane Craft PhD
  • cover balloons in panty hose to prevent any broken pieces if it pops and to prevent children from biting the balloons
  • put eye bolts on each side of the room, clip a clothes line onto the eye bolts when you need a quick room divider for games or to hang objects from
  • several tips on modifying lessons
You can download the handouts from the webinar here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bubble Wrap Printable

Head on over to YourTherapySource to download this free printable to use with large bubble wrap. Kids can tell a story popping pictures as they go or perform exercise repetitions popping numbers. There is even a free blank board to make your own popping game.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Twist (literally) on Puzzles Part #2

 I came across another idea on Pinterest about changing up puzzles.  Basically, using any picture or text that you would like, you can create a twisting puzzle.  For this example I printed out a picture on heavy duty cardstock that would wrap around this container with about an inch of overlap.  Cut the paper into strips.  I glued the bottom strip directly to the container so that it would not move.  Try and use a metal container (recycled can) so that is does not bend when doing the puzzle.
 Pictured below is all the strips already on the container.  I used tape to secure each strip.  You want them to be tight so they don't slip but not so tight that they do not rotate.  That is why the tape came in handy because I had to reposition it to get it just right.
 Now mix up the puzzle pieces.
 Give it to the child to twist back into place matching up the bottom strip. 
 Puzzle solved!
If it is too difficult for the child to twist the pieces of the puzzle you can add little paper tabs to each piece.  You may want to add these anyway for variety of solving the puzzle.
Instead of using pictures, you could put spelling or sight words on it.  It does make a nice fidget to use while learning.  Have fun!

This activity encourages:
  • visual perceptual skills
  • fine motor skills
  • opening of the web space
  • bilateral coordination
  • grading of movement  
Visit for more fine motor and visual perceptual activities.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Robot in the School

If you know a child or student who can not attend school due to medical reasons you will want to watch this video. If the school has wifi and the child has the abilities this is an amazing way to attend school from home. I had seen previously how doctors use this technology for telemedicine but never in the schools. It appears to be quite economical as well - only around $6000 which seems cheap to me for such amazing technology. This is a story about a 7th grade student with spina bifada who can not attend school for medical reasons. Instead he "travels" through his school with the use of a robot on wheels that he controls.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Twist on Puzzles Idea #1

On Pinterest  (you will be reading often about ideas from Pinterest), I saw an idea for an open ended art project. It was sticking cut up straws onto contact paper. I thought this would be a great activity for a little one. We figured we would test it out. After cutting up the straws and adding macaroni wheels, I hung up the reverse contact paper on the wall. This child had no interest in the straws at all - not sure why but absolutely no interest.  Then the child decided to put puzzle pieces on the contact paper. Genius!


This worked great. The contact paper held wooden puzzle pieces on the vertical plane. The wrist extension and reaching added a bonus to the puzzle.

The puzzle was placed on the floor so another addition of lower extremity work with the squatting.

Then the child wanted to repeat the activity (as most children do). Now the task was difficult to put the pieces back on the contact paper. First to find space and second to push hard to get the puzzle piece to stick. All in all, this landed up being a great therapeutic activity that metamorphosed based on the child's thought process.

Discount for Handwriting Fonts

Zaner-Bloser contacted me to offer my readers a discount for Zaner-Bloser handwriting  Fonts Online.  It allows you to create worksheets, practice pages and more.  They are offering it for $14.99 until 12/31/12.  There is a free version so you can test it out if interested.  Enter code ZBFOP to receive the paid version of ZB Fonts Online for only $14.99. Exp. 12/31/12.  You can get more information at the Zaner-Bloser website.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Spy Movement Breaks

Here is a simple, novel activity for quick movement breaks in the classroom or at home.   Pour some colored rice or beans into a recycled water bottle.  Write down several exercises that can be done with no equipment ie jumping jacks, marching in place, squats, etc.  Write the activities on both sides of heavy duty cardstock (I used a recycled folder).  Slide them inside the bottle and give it to the child.

When it is time for a movement break the child has to find and perform all the different exercises in the bottle.  If you wanted you could connect a list to the bottle so the child could mark off what exercises they found in the bottle.  If a child is unable to read, try placing pictures of different animals in the bottle and the child would have to perform all the animal actions.

If you have a group of children, play musical I Spy bottle.  Pass the bottle around the group.  When the music stops, the child holding the bottle has to find an exercise and be the leader of the group to perform the exercise.

This activity encourages:
  • visual perceptual skills
  • physical activity
  • memory
  • bilateral coordination
For more movement ideas in the classroom check out all of these Brain Breaks at
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