Friday, May 30, 2014


I've been looking for OT t-shirts with fun sayings for years and years--does anyone have one of these and can let me know what they like/don't like about them?????  Friday fun.  Thx.

t-shirt vendor

6-1 Update:  One of my PT friends has had his for about 4 years and it's wearing well--so...I'll probably get one as an end-of-the-school year present for myself!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

90 Degrees in the Shade

Get the towels ready, it's time to have some outside fun with water. 

First, explore the textures of the water/beach/fun-in-the-sun objects--we'll begin with a scratchy starfish.

Next, a soft and cheerful duck-billed fishie.
Now it's time to help pour water into a basin, then splash our hands in the water.
Some students were a little nervous about even touching the water, and some students loved it, a lot!

A whole lot!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Who Needs Paper?

Sometimes it's fun to put paper aside and use other classroom materials for fine motor work:
I drew the circles and the student kept a bunch of pennies in her hand while placing a single penny inside each circle.  Can slightly incline the board to facilitate more wrist extension but not so much that the pennies slide off...

Saw this in a first-grade classroom--had no clue you could use dry erase markers on a cookie sheet! 

If/when your students get ho-hum about activities toward the end of the school year, change up the work surface to perk up their alertness levels.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Come On, Get Happy

When I play with these twisty eraser sticks, the "Get Happy" song plays in my head:
RVA "Get Happy" Song
Thanks, Mr. Williams.
I'm going back to Big Lots this week to get more.  Excellent fidget toy, I'd say.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Practice Letter Formation Using Painters Tape

All you need is an easel or a bulletin board and painters tape.  Use the tape to mark off a rectangle that substitutes for a piece of notebook paper, then tear off long and short strips of tape to "write" upper and lower case letters.

Take turns guessing which letter your partner is making.  Great activity for bilateral coordination and precise pinch.

Yes, my on-its-last-legs camera took this poor quality video.  It really is time for a new one.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Happy Mother's Day Cards

Use celery as a stamp for rosey Mother's Day cards???  What????  Well, let's try it.
Collect an assortment of flower-ish colors, some construction paper in colors that moms often like, some paint brushes and...


If it doesn't work to dip that big clump of celery into those teensey muffin tin openings, try brushing the paint on.
That way, you get to observe all those interesting grasps...

Copy the classic greeting, or write your own thoughts.

Just like snowflakes, no two Happy Mother's Day cards are the same.

What design would be good for Father's Day?????????

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Attention Horse Lovers

Just for fun--took these videos this afternoon of Freddie learning not to be afraid of the billowing, blue ghost-like tarp:

Video of Freddie

Monday, May 5, 2014

Helping Children and Young Adults with Emotional Disabilities

Excellent article by my work buddy, Fiona:

Strategies to Teach Clothing Fasteners

Here are some well thought-out tips from one of our OTs, Kathryn Mason:


The following are some strategies that may be helpful for teaching dressing. Add the extra practice activities or modifications if the child has difficulty progressing to the next level.


Be sure the child can identify the words you use in training (zipper catch, zipper tab, buttonhole, armhole, collar, heel, etc.) before beginning practice.

Practice with clothing that is large, which will be easier to get on. Large snaps, large buttons, loose buttonholes and big zippers will also make practice easier.

Use solid colored clothing with contrasting colored zippers or buttons, rather than a busy pattern.

Have a “dress-up box” with varied clothes to make practice fun.

Unbuttoning is easier to learn than buttoning.

Toggle buttons are the easiest to learn, as the buttonhole is a loop extending past the fabric. If you have toggle buttons available, start with them before progressing to the round buttons and slot buttonholes.

Soft, stretchy fabric will be easier to use than thick fabric such as stiff denim. Sweaters and PJs are great to practice with as they have large buttons. Start with 1 inch or larger buttons, decreasing size as the child masters the larger button.

Stand behind the child as you assist him, so your hands make the same motions his hands should.

Realize that girls’ clothes and boys’ clothes generally button from opposite sides, so ideally practice with clothing for the correct gender.

Buttoning pants should be saved for last.

Thx, Kathy, for putting this all together!  Will share more of her tips in future posts.

Comfortable Writing Posture

How can we help a students rest their forearms comfortably on the table when writing?  (Thanks, Zee, for your comment today.)  Students have different reasons why this is hard for them to do and I think one of those reasons is their difficulty combining wrist extension with active finger flexion.

By the time students are in older elementary grades they typically have the neurological maturation and physical ability to grade flexion and extension in their shoulders, elbows, wrist and fingers when performing skilled tasks.  However, some students with no known physical concerns have a significant degree of difficulty writing on a horizontal surface (AKA desktop) unless they hover their forearm over their paper.  How to help them develop better control?

Here are some suggested activities, some easy, some hard:

Wall pushups on flat surface--face wall with both hands on surface or just one hand with body turned sideways

Chair pushups on flat surface--chair within 2' of ground  (stabilize chair against non-moving object)

Wall or desk pushups with hands over rounded object (half tennis ball, swim noodle)  Be sure to stabilize desk against non-moving object

Carrying therapist's tote bag down long school hallways  (one of my favorites...)

Traditional theraputty exercises

Hanging by hands from horizontal bar

Bear walking (hands and feet flat on floor)

Balloon tennis with homemade "racket"

Chores that require hand strength and/or sustained wrist extension (carrying pet water bowl or water jug, vacuuming, dusting, making bed)  Another favorite...

Putting away canned goods after shopping

Vacuuming car  (lots of weight bearing through palms and angling the vacuum nozzle in different directions to reach all the nooks and crannies)

Working on a vertical surface (writing, coloring, using magnets, etc.)

Please send me your ideas and I'll add them to the list.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Time to Start Researching Summer Program Ideas

Found this blog today--some good possibilities for summer home program activities:

On her July 3, 2012 post I love the photo of the dog forbearing the tugging of the little boy at the other end of his leash.

Create a "Nest" to Escape the World, Temporarily

One of my middle school teachers told me yesterday that she hopes to turn a small workroom into a sensory haven next year.  Doing research I found this great idea:


Think I'll be looking for a thrifty fitted sheet, preferably made with "t-shirt" fabric.  Might work well for an older student, with ever-vigilant adult supervision, of course.