Children can be difficult to shop for once hitting a certain age where they no longer show interest in all the toys and games that they once couldn't put down. Now that the holidays are around the corner, and relatives are inquiring about what to get your kids, you find yourself stumped. You're just not sure what will be worthwhile and keep your child's interest for more than a few days. What will keep their minds stimulated so that they are learning something AND having fun. What are the best educational gifts out there that promote learning in a fun way? Our therapists at Oceanside Therapy Group have given us their expertise when it comes to toys, games, and activities that are perfect to get your child for the holiday season.
Card & Picture Games
Zingo is a game of bingo works on picture identification, incorporates turn taking, and visual/matching skills. Card games are always good for fine motor and manipulation skills. Kids can work on shuffling, dealing the cards, counting, and holding the cards. A simple game of Uno is fun, but 2 other great games are Blink and Spot It. These games work on visual perceptual skills, matching, and sorting by color/shape/number, etc.)"
Board Games & Interactive Games
Cranium Hullabaloo - sold on Amazon and Ebay - Hullabaloo is great for auditory processing, visual-motor, and gross motor skills. Headbandz & Apples to Apples - These games help with social skills and turn taking. Mancala: It’s a strategy and cognitive processing game. Chinese Checkers is a great activity for fine motor skills, problem solving, and turn taking.
Other Resources for Toy Ideas
Written by Oceanside Therapy Group
Parents often want to know at what age they should be encouraging their child to grasp the pencil correctly. While it is important to facilitate the development of a functional pencil grip, it is crucial to understand the normal development of a pencil grip to avoid forcing your child to use a grasp he or she may not be ready for.
Typically, the development of a pencil grip in young children follows this predictable course:
An efficient and functional pencil grip is one that allows the child to write neatly in a timely manner without fatiguing the hand muscles. Poor pencil grasps engage the incorrect hand muscles, leading the child to fatigue quickly and produce messy handwriting.
How Occupational Therapy Works on Pencil Grasp Development
Occupational therapists facilitate the development of a functional pencil grasp through the use of various therapeutic activities and exercises. Sometimes the use of an adapted grip is implemented to facilitate a functional tripod grasp. There are many grips to choose from so please consult with your child's occupational therapist on this matter.
Activities that facilitate the development of a tripod pencil grasp...
-Coloring with small or broken crayons is a great activity as it facilitates the use of the thumb, the index, and middle finger as there is limited space for the other fingers to come and join the party
-Coloring on a slanted surface - this promotes the wrist to extend backwards, which facilitates controlling the writing tool with the finger joints instead of using the entire hand
Manipulating Theraputty or Play-Doh is a good activity to strengthen those hand muscles needed for sustaining a pencil grip during writing activities. You can hide beads in Theraputty and have your child find them. Other ideas include:
-Attach clothespins to the brim of a cup
-Operate trigger spray bottles
Fine Motor Control and Finger Isolation
-Play Lite Bright
-Roll 1/4 inch balls of clay or theraputty between the tips of the thumb, index, and middle fingers
-Pick up small objects (pom poms, pegs, cheerios) with a tweezer or tong
As a child's postural control and shoulder strength improves, the child's ability to control the pencil with the fingers will begin to emerge.
If you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact your occupational therapist.
Written By: Nalleli Reyes, MS, OTR/L for Oceanside Therapy Group
Case-Smith, O (2010). Occupational therapy for children. Missouri: Mosby Elsevier.
Fleming-Castaldy, R. P. (2014). National occupational therapy certification exam: Review & study guide. Evanston, IL: TherapyEd.
Happy OT Month! April has been recognized as occupational therapy month since 1980. In addition to April being OT month, this year occupational therapy is celebrating its centennial, 100 years as a profession!!!
For occupational therapists the goal in therapy is to assist individuals in developing life skills and to participate in everyday activities. An individual’s “occupation” often depends on their stage in life: childhood, adulthood, and older adulthood. Occupational therapists also use a holistic approach to treat the “whole person”, and address the occupations of each individual in a unique way.
Children who are currently affected by developmental delays, or have a diagnosis which impacts their development often benefit from an occupational therapy evaluation (determining the child’s current level of performance), observation, treatment (intervention and strategies to address the child’s delays/areas of need), and consultation (working with the parent and/or family to carry over skills and strategies within the home environment).
Pediatric occupational therapists assist children in developing their “occupations”: playing, learning, socializing, and developing all of the skills needed to explore the world around them. At Oceanside Therapy Group, our occupational therapists assist their pediatric patients in developing grasping skills, fine motor skills, visual motor skills, sensory processing skills, and self-help skills (feeding, dressing, hygiene, toileting, etc). Each child is uniquely different, therefore treatment is individualized to help each child achieve their goals and be successful in everyday life skills.
Please join OTG in celebrating 100 years of occupational therapy this month! Feel free to ask our therapists how occupational therapy might help your child with their daily occupations to achieve their life skills.
Written by: Sarah Cortez, MOT, OTR/L for Oceanside Therapy Group
AOTA. "About Occupational Therapy" Aota.org. The American Occupational Therapy Association, 2002. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
AOTA. "Child Development." Aota.org. The American Occupational Therapy Association, 2002. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
OTG. "Pediatric Occupational Therapy." Oceanside Therapy Group. Oceanside Therapy Group, 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
Many parents may wonder why occupational therapists are focusing on strengthening versus the desired activity to meet goals relevant to their child’s fine motor skills. Therapists continue to use words and phrases such as “proximal stability for distal mobility,” but if we don’t understand the importance, why would we challenge our kiddos?
Muscle strength is a vital feature in our lives that most of us take for granted. Without realizing it, we use a tremendous amount of movement recruiting both small and large muscles simultaneously to perform and complete functional tasks everyday. Children struggling to control writing utensils or requiring assistance to complete fine motor skills, often lack appropriate stability and control of their shoulder girdle muscles.
From infancy, we sequentially build muscle strength from our core extending outwards to our limbs, ultimately meeting developmental milestones and improving our skill set. When one's body, shoulder, or arm is moving in space, small movements of the hands and fingers become difficult due to the lack of stability and limited control.
Weight bearing activities develop the muscles of the hand that are responsible for in-hand manipulation skills and dissociation of the two sides of the hand. These hand skills are important for everyday childhood activities such as coloring, cutting, writing, manipulating fasteners, as well as twisting or tearing to open containers. Shoulder exercises can increase shoulder stability, ultimately improving your child’s handwriting and fine motor skills.
Please consult your child’s occupational therapist for further information, questions, or specific home exercise programs.
Written By: Jaclyn Jerse, MS, OTR/L for Oceanside Therapy Group.
Case-Smith, J., Allen, A. S., & Pratt, P. N. (2001). Occupational therapy for children. St. Louis: Mosby.