Musical Motor Fun!

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Children naturally love music and even the littlest one will bounce along to a song. So turn up the tunes and grab the shakers, tambourines and noise makers and have your child join in on the fun. Musical instruments encourage motor skills, creativity and depending upon the tempo they can be either calming or energizing. What better way to have fun in 2017 with a bang…or a beat!

  • Drums, xylophones, piano and flutes all encourage bilateral skills, the ability to use both hands together. Even if it sounds like a cacophony let the symphony begin! Even toddlers can join in on the fun with a shaker in each hand or they can clap along.
  • Slower paced music with a consistent and predictable rhythm will have a calming effect on the system. Music that is quick paced and more upbeat will have an alerting effect and this facilitates action/movement.
  • Just as it’s more fun to work out to music, encourage your child to get off the couch for some music and dance as an exciting way to exercise! Have your child turn around, jump up and down and rock side to side to the beat. Have your child dance to the “Hokey Pokey” or sing “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” slowly at first so your child can keep up. For older children speed it up or make up your own words as you move along.

Remember to capture these great family moments and join in on the fun too!

Lisa
Director of Fun, Co-Founder & Mother of Four
Registered Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L)
Sensory Integration and Praxis Test Certified (SIPT)

Each HOOT for Kids blog represents our point of view but should not replace diagnosis and treatment from your own doctor or therapist

Spread the Fun: Angels in the Snow!

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Bilateral coordination involves the ability to use both sides of the body together in a coordinated manner. This skill is called upon when catching a ball, riding a bike and jumping rope. Another great activity to develop this skill is having your child make “angels in the snow.” Even if you do not live where it snows, it can be performed indoors on the floor with cotton fill.  This activity can be adapted to both older and younger children. Here is how to get your child in the fun!

  • Have your child lay flat on the ground with their arms and legs together so their body is perfectly straight. Have your child begin by opening just their legs in a rhythmic fashion.
  • Move onto to just the arms which tends to be a bit trickier—have them raise their arms up overhead while maintaining contact with the surface.
  • Put it together now with the arms and legs opening in unison forming angels in the snow!
  • For the older child let the challenge begin: try to see if they can do one arm and leg on the same side or alternate left and right. For the younger child, challenge them to spread open their legs and close them only, then open their arms and repeat legs/arms/legs/arms.

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Join in on the fun alongside your child who may find it easier imitating movements through demonstration. Enjoy coordinating your movements together to make a “family” of angels to resemble your own family!

Lisa
Director of Fun, Co-Founder & Mother of Four
Registered Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L)
Sensory Integration and Praxis Test Certified (SIPT)

Each HOOT for Kids blog represents our point of view but should not replace diagnosis and treatment from your own doctor or therapist

Creating Long-lasting Holiday Memories

The holiday season is in full swing and with children in the home, it’s always a flurry of excitement. Selecting a tree! The presents! The lights! Traditions are in the making with every bulb hung, every cookie made and every song sung; these moments create treasured memories. Enjoy these moments and engage your little one in the holiday festivities:

  • Have your child hang plush ornaments towards the bottom of the tree. Using a pipe-cleaner to hang the ornament is safe and easy for your child to handle. Take a moment to recognize their achievement and contribution—this builds close relations, a strong sense of belonging and boosts their self-esteem.

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  • Have your child color a wooden ornament with markers, crayons or paint. Adorn the tree or hang throughout your home where your child will see it easily! Or get fun holiday socks and have them color them in with fabric markers.
  • Turn up traditional holiday tunes as your child helps out in the kitchen. Provide child sized baking mitts, small cookie sheets and child-friendly plates to go through the motions of baking. With their own small rolling pins and spatulas they can partake in the finishing touches while working fine motor skills. Even the youngest child can be present handing you supplies and hand towels as needed.
  • Folding napkins or placing them in ring holders is a great way to help at the table. Have your child assist in a holiday bouquet for the table.
  • Homemade holiday and thank you cards can be created from one of their festive drawings. Top it off with holiday stickers for friends and family to treasure their creations.

From our family to yours, Happy Holidays!

Lisa
Director of Fun, Co-Founder & Mother of Four
Registered Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L)
Sensory Integration and Praxis Test Certified (SIPT)

Each HOOT for Kids blog represents our point of view but should not replace diagnosis and treatment from your own doctor or therapist

Floof for Indoor Winter Fun!

A bucket of Floof will go a long way this holiday season!  With its super soft texture this novel moldable compound will appeal to children and adults alike. From a therapeutic standpoint the possibilities seem endless. It is a sensory playground with its velvety appeal, making handling easy as it is extremely pliable and mess free. Gather a tray with sides to keep it contained and let the wintery fun begin!

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  • Simply have your child squeeze mounds of Floof to warm up the hand muscles. Watch as it begins to become ultra pliable. The sensation promotes relaxation as it is soothing!
  • Gather up all the small molds and props to engage in creative play. Have your child construct snowmen with the accessories included. Set up an entire play scene complete with miniature snowballs.


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  • The Floof material can also be used with household kitchen tools. Have your child form large snow balls. Take a potato masher and have them flatten it. This strengthens the arms, hands, wrists and fingers as well as creates a fun 3 dimensional design. Have your child push Floof into a cup cake tin or miniature muffin tins to create pretend “cupcakes” and then have them decorate with marbles, pegs, or candles for a fine motor work out and pretend play!
  • Hide small treasures while forming snowballs and see if your child can discover them all. Simply shaping the snow balls call on a host of motor skills, bilateral (using 2 hands together), strength, fine motor and attention to task.


Join in the fun and enjoy this wonderful winter time!

Lisa
Director of Fun, Co-Founder & Mother of Four
Registered Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L)
Sensory Integration and Praxis Test Certified (SIPT)

Each HOOT for Kids blog represents our point of view but should not replace diagnosis and treatment from your own doctor or therapist

Cold Weather Skills: Buttoning and Zipping

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Baby it’s cold outside…so now is a great time to get your child practicing on how to button or zip up! Activities and adaptations to make dressing skills easier are always welcome to little ones who are in the process of learning how to get dressed. So before you break out the Christmas sweater and winter coats, here are a few ideas to make learning a snap:

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  • Practice activities that promote the lateral pinch needed for fasteners including placing coins in a piggy bank. Make it even more challenging by providing a slit wide enough for plastic chips or coins to fit through in a disposable container such as a margarine tub.
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  • Zipper pulls can be readily attached to the existing zipper tab. They are fun, colorful and motivating, allowing your child to get the grip they need! Check out our add-on selections under Apparel and Accessories.

Want to learn more about ages and stages of buttoning and zippering and dressing skills? Check out this great article that provides even more helpful tips:

http://mamaot.com/when-can-kids-learn-to-button-and-zip/

Remember to be patient and encouraging to make it a positive experience. When your child masters these skills, they’ll feel proud of their accomplishment. Now go bundle up and enjoy the cool outdoors!

Lisa
Director of Fun, Co-Founder & Mother of Four
Registered Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L)
Sensory Integration and Praxis Test Certified (SIPT)

Each HOOT for Kids blog represents our point of view but should not replace diagnosis and treatment from your own doctor or therapist

Fine Motor Fun!

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Developing and refining fine motor skills can be easy and fun! With a little ingenuity, your child will exercise these hard to isolate hand muscles while engaging in play. These intrinsic muscles require specialization in order to ease into the next developmental level, enabling them to position scissors , cut, color, and later write.

Playing with tongs of many varieties is a fun way of developing precision and strength. Here are a few novel ideas that will surely engage your child and can be adapted for toddlers as well!

  • Mix some colored craft pom-poms with cotton balls for this pretend play of “popcorn server.” Have your child use cupped tongs or regular household tongs to serve the colored popcorn into bowls or paper bags designed by your child.
  • Using child-friendly tweezers have your child place small figurines or play items into cupcake tins. Create a game out of it with plastic “bugs” and see if your child can play “bug keeper,” separating the bugs from each other in their own tin “home.”
  • Serve up small baskets of acorns, nuts and play apples with salad tongs for pretend play.
  • Hide colorful play apples in festive paper grass and have your child retrieve them with house hold tongs. They can be placed in cupcake tins or a pie plate for “apple pie” pretend play.
  • Transform yarn pieces, festive ribbon curls or curled pipe cleaners into pasta. Use a colander and have your child serve up “spaghetti” on plates for restaurant play.

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Enjoy engaging your child in pretend play. They’ll be well on their way towards building hand muscles needed to cut, color and draw for future school success!

Lisa
Director of Fun, Co-Founder & Mother of Four
Registered Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L)
Sensory Integration and Praxis Test Certified (SIPT)

Each HOOT for Kids blog represents our point of view but should not replace diagnosis and treatment from your own doctor or therapist

Sensory Development with a Fun Fall Project!

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Craft projects are a great way to work on motor skills with your child. Autumn is a wonderful time to bring the outdoors indoors by collecting a variety of nature’s gifts. Here is a fun project that will stimulate their sensory development with the textures and smells of Fall while building a memento to treasure!
• Use a sturdy paper plate as a base for your wreath. Cut out the center portion of the plate to form the shape.
• Go outdoors with a small brown lunch bag and collect a variety of twigs, autumn leaves, pinecones and anything else that catches your child’s eye.

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• Now go indoors and lay out your findings on a table. Your child can now squeeze white glue around outer edge of the plate—it is an excellent way to build hand strength, dexterity and eye hand coordination.

• Begin layering the twigs first. Continue layering pinecones, leaves, and dried flowers while squeezing glue to secure items as you move along. Make sure your child is the one placing the items to get the full sensory and fine motor experience!

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• Top it off with a cinnamon stick, a pinch of glitter if desired, and a festive bow.

Let your child choose where to proudly display their masterpiece and enjoy!

Lisa
Director of Fun, Co-Founder & Mother of Four
Registered Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L)
Sensory Integration and Praxis Test Certified (SIPT)

Each HOOT for Kids blog represents our point of view but should not replace diagnosis and treatment from your own doctor or therapist

Helping Hands in the Kitchen!

Fall is a season that awakens the senses with the smell of a crackling fire, the sight of brightly colored pumpkins, the sound of leaves crunching underfoot and the taste of apple pie. This same sensory experience awaits your child at home in the kitchen! Cooking and baking are excellent ways to use hand manipulation which offers great sensory motor benefits including bilateral skills, strengthening, following directions, attention/focus and sequencing to name just a few.

  • To work their bilateral skills have your child use their dominant hand to mix while the other holds the bowl still. A rubber placemat provides good traction to help stabilize the bowl.
  • Children learn about the quality of food through their eyes and hands so let them sample the food as part of the process—nibbling a slice of apple when making apple pie or feeling the texture of dough as they roll it.
  • Scoop, pour, shake and stir! This strengthens your child’s hands and arms.
  • Working alongside your child builds confidence and camaraderie. Let them play different roles in the kitchen: “chef” with preparing the food and then “server” with setting the table.
  • Make it feel like a special occasion—set flowers on the table and save a special seat for their favorite stuffed animal! Creating a nice table setting helps them practice counting, learning left from right, and coordination with both hands as they practice folding napkins, set utensils, and stack plates.

So let the creative cooking begin and bon appétit!

Lisa
Director of Fun, Co-Founder & Mother of Four
Registered Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L)
Sensory Integration and Praxis Test Certified (SIPT)

Each HOOT for Kids blog represents our point of view but should not replace diagnosis and treatment from your own doctor or therapist

Summer Fruits Add Sweet Fun!

For most children trying new foods is fun. For others it is a challenge but a little bit of creativity can open doors. Summer melons and fruits are abundant in beautiful colors and smells. Start with the visuals and encourage your child to assist in the preparation and perhaps they may warm up to the smells and tastes of summer!

First, a child “tastes” food with their eyes. That’s right! A child with sensitivity to tastes, smells and textures will visually sum up a food situation and decide just by looking whether or not a food is good or yucky. Just by simply looking at appealing colors and arrangements can grab their attention. Start by bringing your child with you to the grocery store or farmer’s market to pick out the fruits you will use for a fruit bowl. Watermelons, melons, cantaloupe, and strawberries are just a few!

Next, engage the strongest primitive sense: smell. Bring summer smells into your kitchen by cutting up your fruits with your child observing. Talk about how each fruit is grown in a garden and all the attention it requires to ripen to be fully enjoyed. Place each fruit in separate bowls and have your child smell the differences. Afterwards, combine them all together in one big bowl.

Finally, provide the opportunity for your child to interact with food in a non-stressful and playful way. Depending on your child’s age and abilities, provide safe wooden skewers with blunt tips. Have your child watch as you begin to alternate the fruit pieces onto the sticks, repeating the pattern. Have your child try to put the fruit on following the pattern or they can hand you the fruit to place on the stick.

Children learn by what they see, smell and taste. They watch their parent’s reactions to food and can sense pleasure just by watching. Given the time and example, your child may eventually try one of their own creations and next time you follow their lead!

HOOT HOOT Hooray…let’s be creative and play!

Lisa
Director of Fun, Co-Founder & Mother of Four
Registered Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L)
Sensory Integration and Praxis Test Certified (SIPT)

Each HOOT for Kids blog represents our point of view but should not replace diagnosis and treatment from your own doctor or therapist.

WHOOOOO Is Ready For a Sensory Summer?

It is summer time and naturally it begs kids to get out and play. It is warm out and it’s time to have some outdoor fun. What a great opportunity to use summer as your theme to stimulate their senses. Children of all ages can enjoy the sights, smells and textures of summer to enhance their sensory experiences. Fond memories of childhood are deeply connected to our sense of touch and smell. Here are just a few ways to get their senses engaged!

  • Sand is a great texture to play with. Even if you don’t live off a Coast, bring the experience home with Kinetic sand. It is the rage as it mimics the real thing bringing the beach experience right into your home. Grab a few plastic sandcastle molds and have your child use whatever you have right there in the kitchen to build an awesome castle of their own.
  • Let’s face it…getting wet when it’s hot out is a thrill as a kid. Get the giggles going with fun water play and make sure you’re part of the action! Get a bucket of water for each of you, some soft sponges of all sizes, soak the sponges and start beaming them at one another. If your littlest one shies away from that then fill a bin with soapy water, pull out the figurines and toy cars and have a car wash. Squishy wet play is a great way to get those little hands strong!
  • Flavors and smells of summer are a good way to get their minds and taste buds going. Slice up bite size morsels of your favorite summer melons: watermelon (of course!), honey dew, and cantaloupe. Have them close their eyes and play “mystery melon”—which one is their favorite? Then make some fun melon popsicles. Fill an ice cube tray with your favorite fruit juice and throw in some small chunks of watermelon, cover with plastic wrap, stick popsicle sticks or toothpicks in the middle of each square, freeze, and voila! Mini popsicles. Have your little helper fill the trays themselves and assist in handing over the sticks to you for a little fine motor challenge.

Enjoy your summer and we will be back soon with more fun tips. HOOT HOOT Hooray…let’s be creative and play!

Lisa
Director of Fun, Co-Founder & Mother of Four
Registered Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L)
Sensory Integration and Praxis Test Certified (SIPT)

Each HOOT for Kids blog represents our point of view but should not replace diagnosis and treatment from your own doctor or therapist.

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