Friday, March 10, 2017

Make Your Own Find-It Jar PLUS St. Patricks Day FREEBIE!


Make Your Own Find-It Jars    
 PLUS, our FREEBIE this month, a St. Patrick's day word-find activity.


Hi faithful readers! I'm so excited that we have been creating new fun activities for our clients. Find-It tubes can be quite expensive and we're always looking for affordable ways to teach our children skills. The tubes are quite easy to create and the variations are endless!

For St. Patrick's day, add green dyed rice. Since the children aren't actually touching the dye, it's safe. Easter....try pink, yellow, or light blue rice with tiny erasers found HERE via our Amazon Affiliate link. There are also food erasers, vehicle erasers, and bugs...among MANY others.

Beads commonly found at large craft stores also work well in the jars. If you don't want to use glass, try a plastic water bottle OR purchase plastic bottles at craft stores. The options are truly endless!

SUPPLIES NEEDED:


Jar with a lid
Several small items of your choice
Rice
Scissors
Packing Tape
Printed label

STEP 1:
Find a jar you want to use. The bigger the jar, the harder it will be to find the items. If you have younger children, try using a smaller jar or bottle at first.


STEP 2:

Find 10-20 items you want to put in the jar. They can be anything from legos and small toys, to tiny erasers and craft objects. The smaller the items, the tougher they will be to find in the jar. Write or type a list of the items you put in the jar, so you can have a label for the outside of the jar.

STEP 3:
Place the items in your jar first, then fill the jar to the top with rice. Seal the jar tightly with the lid. If you’re concerned about the lid coming off, you can put super glue around the lid before sealing it for a permanent seal.



STEP 4:
Use the packing tape to make a one sided laminate for your label you wrote or printed off. Cut the tape just a little longer than the paper label. Press the paper label to the tape, with the words against the sticky side. Smooth the tape and label onto the front of the jar.



STEP 5:
Keep the Look and Find Jar in the car for long rides, or for places where there will be long wait times like the dentist or doctor’s office. This activity works best for children who can read, since they will need to be able to locate items in the jar based off the label. If your child cannot read, give them a laminated index card with photos of each item in the jar. Give them a grease pencil or dry-erase marker to cross off each item as it's found.



And now......for this month's FREEBIE, enjoy this St. Patrick's Day word find.
Click the photo to download.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The NEW Fine Motor Company Created by OTs

Have you heard? The NEW Handwriting products that are sweeping the nation have a funny name but serious results!



Fundanoodle stands for FUN, FunDAmental skill development, and using your NOODLE!



I heard about Fundanoodle through another OT and researched it. I was addicted immediately! The products are created with quality and are extremely colorful. Each tool is designed to teach a critical developmental skill. Their target age is 3-6 years BUT we all know that many of the kids we work with need much more practice on motor skills and enjoy fun and engaging 'toys' that build functional skills. 



One of the most popular products is the 'Pound-It Kit.' The amazing thing is the hammer. It feels awesome in the hands and the head is weighted for extra proprioceptive input. Want more information about proprioception? Check out our earlier post about Sensory Processing Disorder HERE. 

Why hammering? OTs know that hammering is one of the activities designed to establish hand dominance. The kit comes with colorful plastic (not sharp) pegs which are pounded by the child into a foam block. There are so many shapes, letters, numbers, kids can design by pounding through specially designed paper templates. See the example below.



So, my next question is how long does this block last.....I was amazed at how long! No kidding, this thing can stand up to serious clinic use.

The books are equally as awesome! They are bound at the top for both left and right handed writing. Books on writing, drawing, letters, numbers, cursive, print, and activities are designed for fun while teaching critical skills. Click here for a sample pack.

In addition to the workbooks, Fundanoodle’s products include a variety of hands-on activities that are designed to combat the negative impact of touch screen technology. Organized in developmentally appropriate progression, Fundanoodle activities encourage interactive learning, develop focus and build the muscles necessary for classroom success.




Next up.......Magnetic LETTER pieces. We all know how letters are build out of pieces and now you can show your child HOW to build them. This set comes with magnetic and color-coded alphabet key so kids can play ALL day.
I encourage my clients to create a letter, then trace the letter with their finger. Next, use shaving creme, foam, sandpaper, or putty to trace and create the letter to add a sensory and kinesthetic component. 


On to the scissors. They seriously cut the paper but NOT HAIR! I have long locks and was brave enough to try them myself. This is any parent's dream.

The cutting book is fabulous too. Here's a pic:



There are muscle mover card sets for GROSS Motor skill building. We all need brain breaks and the activity ideas on the cards are both fun and engaging. Click HERE to read our earlier post about the importance of brain breaks and movement. Each card has a traceable (via dry-erase marker) letter in either upper or lower case and then an awesome movement activity to help children to add movement as they learn to write the letter. SO fun!

Read below to see why gross motor skills are necessary.






Have you noticed I'm in LOVE
No, I didn't create the products but I am so in love, in fact that I joined the company! 

I was lucky enough to join as a founding ambassador and feel lucky to be on the team. If you're interested, let me know

If not.....that's ok but you don't want to miss trying out some of the products. Show your OT, teacher, friends, and family what all the talk is about! 

Want to purchase? Click HERE to view our products.

Here are this month's purchase specials:

Friday, February 10, 2017

5 Tips to Build Kids' Working Memory

Working Memory: Executive Function Skill

Executive function difficulties commonly come along with (are co-morbid with) many disorders. What are executive function skills......Check out our earlier blog post here for 5 quick facts. Children who have been diagnosed with: ADHD, learning disabilities, autism, sensory, auditory, among many others experience dysfunction in working memory. What IS this skill? Our brains need to remember information in order to use it in a functional way. When you remember a phone number or the spelling of someone's last name in order to store it into your phone, you do not need to commit the information into your long-term memory. You simply need to remember it for a brief and fleeting moment of time in order to use it. Since it's not critical to your body's survival, there's no need to store it. Similarly, children use their working memory when copying information from the Smartboard to their paper. They read a chunk of information, repeat it in their heads as they transfer that information to their notes. If you consider that children use the same process in order to complete a work problem in math class. The order of operations, doing 'mental math,' OR remembering if the problem calls for multiplication, division, etc. is critical in order to get the correct answer. Here's more information about how children use working memory from Understood.org.
Working memory is a small but mighty part of our executive function tasks. I discuss this in my courses for OTs as well as in my book, The Special Needs SCHOOL Survival Guide.

Here are 5 strategies for you:


1) Let your child teach you!
Kids love to reverse roles and by teaching you the skill, they retain more information. As a homeschooling mother (and OT) I use this technique daily. Encourage your child to write on the board, draw pictures, act things out and demonstrate concepts to you. This adds fun and employs many brain pathways by adding visuals, movement, and excitement to learning!
2) Play card games.
Games such as Uno, Old Maid, and Go Fish are excellent for children who need to improve working memory. In order to be successful at the games, children must remember who has a specific card or in which order cards were played. If a child is just beginning this skill, play 'open handed' where everyone shows their cards. Encourage kids to keep their eyes on the card they need. To make it more difficult, use words such as, 'Now, use the eye in your brain or mind's eye to take a pretend picture of the card and remember it.' 
3) Reduce the memory load/expectations.
Ask your school for accommodations that break information down into smaller chunks. Provide single commands vs. multi-step ones. Use a peer buddy for note taking so that each child can share information. One of the best solutions is to request a copy of the teacher's notes so that students can highlight critical information as it's taught in class.

4) App up!
 Here's a list of apps that work specifically on working memory. We receive no compensation for any of them. Click HERE for list.
5) Use graphic organizers and visual charts. 
I always encourage both my children and my clients to begin all assignments by using a visual. The can make their own or use those provided on websites such as Do2Learn. Remember that scaffolding means building much support under a student in order to help him to reach his goals. According to the glossary of education reform, "The term itself offers the relevant descriptive metaphor: teachers provide successive levels of temporary support that help students reach higher levels of comprehension and skill acquisition that they would not be able to achieve without assistance. Like physical scaffolding, the supportive strategies are incrementally removed when they are no longer needed, and the teacher gradually shifts more responsibility over the learning process to the student."
Remember that the more the student practices these strategies, the better the results will be. Working memory is a skill used throughout the lifespan and not only when we are children. As with any skill, the earlier we work to build strong pathways, the better the outcomes. Let children have fun while working for the bests success!
Let us know if you have any more ideas.