Lowercase Letter Formation

lowercase letter formation activities

Teaching kids to write lowercase letters can be a tricky task. Kids are exposed to different techniques depending on if they went to preschool or not. Some children pick up on lowercase letter formation easily and others struggle with reversals, placement on lines, and accurate letter formation. Today, I’ve got some tips and tricks to teach kids how to write lowercase letters and a tool that kids will love.

Lowercase letter formation activities

Lowercase Letter Formation

Teaching lowercase letter formation can be fun! We’ve shared quite a few ways to use creative activities in teaching kids to write letters here on the website. One such activity is using a sensory means with baked cotton swabs.

Like we talked about in yesterday’s play-based learning post, we know that adding movement, play, and a creative component to learning allows kids to engage with learning in a way that allows children to truly benefit from the learning experience.

Ways to work on lowercase letter formation

Using play and movement in working on letter formation takes just a little out of the box thinking. Here are some ways to teach letter formation with movement and play.

Use a sensory writing tray to teach lowercase letters.

Add movement! Add motor components to teaching letter formation as kids learn how to form big lines down, curves, and slanted lines. Letters can be acted out with rhymes or with themes like in the Lowercase Muscle Movers card set.

Build lowercase letters with play dough, slime, wikki stix, yarn, or paper strips/paper curves.

Trace and then re-trace the letters on a dry erase board. Rainbow writing offers several chances to practice letter formation.

Trace letters with a finger. Then use finger paint, pudding, dish soap, lotion, or cooking oil.

Want an easy, on-the-go tool for working on lowercase letter formation in a fun and engaging way? I’ve got a fun way to help…

Fundanoodle Lowercase Letter Formation Kit

Muscle Movers are a tools for working on letter formation with a focus on movement, motor planning, gross motor skills, and play. Heavy duty laminate cards with letters on one side, unique animals and activities on the other – the educational opportunities are endless. Use the cards for letter recognition and getting the wiggles out, add Wikki stix or PlayDoh to allow your Little Learner to use their fine motor skills to form the letters on the card and finally practice with the included dry erase pen.

I Can Build Letters! Magnets (with a magnetic dry erase board)– This set includes hands on letter building with colorful lines and curves used to work on letter formation. These colorful, super-strong magnets allow help improve problem solving and fine motor skills while visually supporting letter formation. These can be used on any magnetic surface.

I Can Build Letters guide– Use this guide as a companion to the I Can Build Letters! Magnets. Your child can start by building the letters on top of each guide on a regular surface, progress to a magnetic surface and then ultimately build letter puzzles with the color builder guide

I Can Write Letters! Workbook– Little Learners start writing using Fundanoodle’s zip, zoom, and buzz terminology. With our grid paper, they learn how to keep their letter a consistent size and we introduce the letters from easiest to hardest to write to develop confidence. And each book includes a series of practice pages and a reward sticker system

The Fundanoodle Letter Fun Kits come in a colorful zippered tote for learning on the go!

More lowercase letter writing activities

Some of the smartest and most creative folks I know are the readers of The OT Toolbox. I asked readers to tell me sensory strategies they personally love and use to address sensory modulation. Scroll through the comments…you might just find some new sensory strategies that will work for you! Hopefully we can learn from one another!

Sensory Friendly Clothing

Sensory friendly clothing is a must for kids with sensory processing needs. Heck, sometimes that itchy sweater or scratchy jeans get on my nerves, too! Today we are chatting all things sensory friendly clothing. Sensory issues with clothing are a common concern. You’ve probably noticed that itchy tag or a turtle neck sweater that just drives you nuts. But what about our kids with sensory issues? Finding clothing for sensory issues can be a puzzle and an an adventure! Today we are talking about sensory friendly clothing and how something as simple as sensory friendly pajamas can make a world of difference in the child with sensory processing disorder or sensory needs.

Sensory friendly clothes and common sensory clothing issues that kids have.

Sensory Clothing

Many times, our kids with sensory processing needs struggle with tactile defensiveness or sensitivities when it comes to clothing. It’s nothing new to find that certain materials, seems, or clothing articles are itchy, scratchy, bumpy, rough, or even hurt our kids. Parents of children with sensory needs find that addressing sensory clothing issues is a real struggle. It’s just one more aspect of daily life that needs adjusted, modified, or adapted.

Meeting the needs of the child is essential for function and self-care. In fact, that independent functioning at the “just right” level is the foundation to daily life. Self-care is a priority of parents and allows children to become more self-reliant (Chiarello, 2015). It builds skills, develops self-awareness and self–esteem. Self care by identifying and understanding one’s particular preferences and using those day in and day out in self-care tasks brings us full circle in the way of functioning.

While there are ways to adapt clothing to make it less of a tactile issue, and addressing sensory sensitivities through sensory diets and sensory input is helpful, sometimes, meeting the child’s specific needs makes sense in the way of adaptive clothing that meets the needs of the child.

Sensory Clothes on the Market

Luckily, we are in an age of more awareness and inclusion. We have seen more and more sensory friendly clothes on the market and readily available in stores. We are able to use what is out there, and when the specific adaptive clothing is not available, we can sometimes adjust what we’ve got to make it meet the child’s needs.

You may have seen sensory clothing available in stores and online. The fact is that these items are more readily available. And, that is a wonderful thing to see! Prices, styles, and selection are improving. Costs are becoming more affordable. Our children with sensory needs can better thrive as a result.

Sensory Clothing Issues

There are certain aspects of clothing that are a common complaint for those with sensory processing issues impacted by clothing sensitivities. Some common complaints include:

  • Annoying Seams on clothing
  • Bumps or wrinkles in fabric
  • Tags that itch and scratch
  • Rough material
  • Clothing that bunches
  • Clothing that doesn’t “give” or stretch
  • Wide leg or arm openings that “flap” around the wrists or ankles
  • Clothing that is too tight or too loose
  • Pressure from shoes or footwear that doesn’t bend or give
  • Elastic waistbands
  • Padding or underwire in bras
  • Shoulder straps that are tight or too loose
  • Clothing that doesn’t breath or holds moisture from sweat
  • Clothing that never seems to fit “just right”

All of these concerns are sources for a daily battle when it comes to getting dressed and with the end result of independent self-care and self-dressing for kids. Getting out the door and onto the school bus can be a daily struggle that leads to a meltdown before the day even begins.

The same situation can occur at night when children with sensory processing disorder are asked to get dressed into their pajamas…those itchy pjs that bunch and pull…it’s a nightly battle that results in a pre-bedtime meltdown and hours of restlessness when what the kiddo and parents really need are rest and sleep.

Sleep and sensory needs

Occupational therapy practitioners often support and work with families of children with an autism spectrum disorder or another developmental disorder to address function as it relates to effective sleep. Sleep deprivation can impact the child, the family, and functional abilities on a day-to-day basis. When a child with sensory processing needs struggles to find rest as a result of clothing issues, meltdowns at bedtime, or frequent waking as a result of sensory avoiding or sensory seeking behaviors, sleep is impacted.

OT professionals aim to address a variety of needs impacting restful and adequate sleep. One such strategy for sensory needs is to suggest sensory friendly pajamas and clothing (Picard, 2017).

Want to try a pair of sensory friendly pajamas to address sensory issues like the one discussed today? Let’s take things up a notch by getting a sensory clothing into your hands.

One sensory clothing company that really addresses the sleep and sensory component is Lovey & Grink. These sensory friendly pajamas are fun and comfortable pajamas that they are excited to put on before bed. So often, kids complain that pjs are hot or scratchy. It can result in a nightly meltdown.

Take a look at many of the sensory pajamas out there on the market. When you look for super soft pajamas, you might notice that most of the softer pajama brands we saw were prone to shrink or really expensive. Lovey & Grink pajamas are kid tested and approved and best of all, reasonably priced. A bit more about these sensory pajamas”

  • Breathable (keeping your kids cool)
  • Durable (they’ll hold their shape and last after tons of washing)
  • And super soft (they’ll want to live in them!)

Parents know that anything that makes the bedtime routine a little smoother is a welcome help. These sensory friendly sleepwear is a tool that meets the child’s needs for better sleep.

Sensory Pajamas Giveaway

This giveaway has now ended.

Some of the smartest and most creative folks I know are the readers of The OT Toolbox. I asked readers to tell me sensory strategies they personally love and use to address sensory modulation. Scroll through the comments…you might just find some new sensory strategies that will work for you! Hopefully we can learn from one another!

References:

Lisa Chiarello and the Move and Play Study Team (2016) Children’s Participation in Self-Care and Ease of Care-giving for Parents. Movement and Participation in Life Activities of Young Children Information for Families and Service Providers. www.canchild.ca.

Picard, M. (2017). American Occupational Therapy Association Fact Sheet. Occupational Therapy’s Role in Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/AboutOT/Professionals/WhatIsOT/HW/Facts/Sleep-fact-sheet.pdf

Play Based Learning Tool

Play based learning is a powerful tool! Today, we are discussing how and why a creative play that combines movement and visual processing skills impact learning and development. We’ll cover using learning and play with movement-based learning through play ideas using brain breaks. We’ll also share interactive learning opportunities that address motor, cognitive, social, emotional, sensory, and emotional needs.

This content is part of our week-long therapy giveaway event, where we are collaborating with brands to give you the opportunity to win various therapy items, toys, and games as a thank you for being here and a celebration of our profession and those we serve. This giveaway has now ended.

Play based learning ideas for kids

Play Based Learning

What is play-based learning, and why is learning through play important for kids? Why is it that children learn through play?

Play based learning offers many opportunities to advance on cognitive skills through the process of play. By using skills that the child is familiar with and confidence in, they can excel in learning concepts by simply playing.

While play offers the opportunity to build and advance on skills like motor development, executive functioning, problem solving, visual processing, and other areas. But play also offers situations to expand on self-regulation as well. By incorporating play into a learning experience, children get the chance to move. It’s a brain break built right into learning.

Learning through Play

Learning and thriving as a child, according to Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, a well-known child development expert notes that children require the “six C’s” in order to succeed. These are six attributes that must exist in order for children to thrive. Through that success comes learning. These aspects build on one another and allow function and success for the child. The six attributes for successful thriving are as follows:

  • collaboration
  • communication
  • content
  • critical thinking
  • creative innovation
  • confidence

By building these areas as well as using these attributes in learning opportunities, we give our children the opportunity to succeed in learning. Don’t these attributes sound like aspects of play? Through play, kids collaborate with others. They interact in play situations in games and pretend play. They communicate with peers or through self-talk. They participate in real-life situations and carry those situations over into play as they “chew on” things that occur around them in the real world. They might pretend to go to the grocery store, drive a truck, take care of a baby, or be a teacher. They see the content and practice it by playing. Play is a chance to practice and expand on critical thinking. It’s a chance to expand on attention, problem solving, working memory and other essential skills. Creative innovation happens during the play process and as a result, creative innovation. All of these skills happen through play and are essential for learning as well. When the processes are combined by true engagement in play AND learning, real skills can be developed and built upon. Play is a powerful tool for learning!

Learning through play allows the learning situation to become active and not passive. It allows us to take a meaningful part in the learning process rather than sitting back and soaking in information. Play offers the freedom to participate in meaningful learning situations that are memorable.

By adding movement, games, or play situations into learning facts, the connections between physical education, movement, breaks, recess, energizing activities, and improved cognition strengthen. In fact, movement can be an effective cognitive strategy to (1) strengthen learning, (2) improve memory and retrieval, and (3) enhance learner motivation and morale.

Movement and Learning in Play

Brain breaks are a buzzword in the schools. But the facts are that kids are receiving less recess time, increased demands in the classroom, and have less outdoor play at home. When those factors align, it’s a recipe for disaster. The thing is that movement breaks in the classroom, or “brain breaks” offer kids the chance to reset. They can help to prepare the nervous system for learning. They can also be done in between learning activities or combined with learning situations to support self-regulation while children are engaged in an academic or learning task.

Movement, standing up, stretches, yoga breaks, and activity are powerful tools! As noted in Teaching with the Brain in Mind, by Eric Jensen:

“These actions can raise a child’s heart rate (and as a result, blood flow) by as much as 5 to 8 percent in just seconds (Krock & Hartung, 1992). And finally, here’s a powerful research finding: evidence from animal studies indicates that voluntary exercise influences gene expression to improve learning and memory (Tong, Shen, Perreau, Balazs, & Cotman, 2001). This improved pattern of gene expression enhances many factors that support the encoding and transfer of data, synaptic structure, and the activity and plasticity of neurons. All of these processes facilitate learning.”

Play Based Learning Activities

So knowing all of this, how can we combine play with learning in the classroom to build concepts, practice math facts, memorize vocabulary words, practice comprehension, and other essential learning tasks?

Adding opportunities to move during classroom times offers just the freedom for the facilitation of learning, all while offering the means to move and get the child in the “just right” state of regulation for absorbing information.

One tool for offering learning through play is by using an open-ended means of combining learning with games and movement activity.

Learning Through Play Activity

Adding movement to classroom learning by using games and gross motor actions offers a brain break opportunity. Some ideas include those that incorporate gross motor movement into math when repeating facts. These allow whole-body games such as Simon Says.

Students can perform specific motions when math facts are true, and perform other motor tasks when math facts are false. Try asking kids to jump or do jumping jacks for an up and down motion.

Bounce a beach ball in a game or at a target to encourage eye-hand coordination while practicing facts or stating true/false responses.

Add upside down motions in the classroom for a calming activity or one that “resets” sensory modulation. Students can sit in their seat and reach under one side to place an object at the far side of their chair, putting their head in an inverted position. Try placing index cards with facts, spelling words, or statements into piles on each side of the chair.

Toss balls at a target with answers.

Add movement games and songs into learning with tunes like “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes”.

Bend over at the knees and place cards, post-it notes, or items into a target. Add over or under movements with specific answers or true/false responses.

Sit on a target and spin around to each as far behind as the child can to add rotary movements. They can place balls into a target as the answer. Make it part of a relay or timed response with a team as they answer questions.

PunkinFutz Play Space game

Use this PlaySet to build on learning in the classroom. The numbers can be assigned to answers or used in math activities. Add movement and play to learning by using the play set in gross motor activities, self-regulation and sensory modulation activities, motor planning, and emotional regulation activities, or other learning through play activities.

  • 1 PunkinPlaySpace
  • 3 Orange PunkinPitch Balls
  • 3 Blue PunkinPitch Balls
  • 1 Durable Vinyl Storage Pack

Play ANd Learn Play Space GIVEAWAY

This giveaway has now ended.

Play Based Learning Ideas

Some of the smartest and most creative folks I know are the readers of The OT Toolbox. I asked readers to tell me sensory strategies they personally love and use to address sensory modulation. Scroll through the comments…you might just find some new sensory strategies that will work for you! Hopefully we can learn from one another!

Then, scroll through the comments…you might just find some new learning through play activities that will work for you! Hopefully we can learn from one another!

Benefits of AOTA Membership

Benefits of AOTA membership for occupational therapists

Today, we are talking about all of the benefits of being an AOTA member. This is one annual membership that I adore being a part of. So, what are the benefits of an AOTA membership for occupational therapists? Let’s chat!

Benefits of AOTA membership for occupational therapists

AOTA Benefits…it’s Big!

This is one giveaway that I’m super excited about. I absolutely love maintaining my AOTA membership. Here’s a few reasons why I make the effort to pay this annual expense.

Occupational therapists gain so many benefits from being an AOTA member

1. The massive number of resources on The AOTA Website

The amount of resources, articles, worksheets, handouts, and special area resources are just some of the benefits of being an AOTA member. Members also have access to education, and research information via OT Practice magazine, OT Practice Online, American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT), AJOT Online, the OT Practice Pulse, and AOTA Alerts e-newsletters, and even blog posts. Not only that, the Special Interest Sections (SISs) are options for customized resources that meet your specific needs. Membership appreciation events includes opportunities to access free webinars for continuing education credits as well as celebratory events.

2. AOTA Supports the Occupational Therapy Profession

Through advocacy, research, and promotion, AOTA is a source of support for all OT professionals. When one of our fellow professionals makes their way into the news, AOTA shares and promotes this media, helping to make others aware of the OT profession. The association works toward public policy, scope of practice, and licensure issues. There is so much work being done behind the scenes, from advocacy for health care reimbursement to protect our profession. Here’s the thing: we NEED them to advocate for us. We NEED help to lobby for issues like Medicare changes or licensure concerns. In order to do these vital tasks, AOTA needs our our membership money or other funding to pay for lobbyists.

One specific advancement of our profession is the development of an Occupational Therapy Compact, allowing therapists the privilege and opportunity to practice across state lines. What a fantastic advancement that will provide so many opportunities for OTs while keeping our profession current with the practice of other professions such as medical, physical therapy, nursing, and other health professions.

3. Discounts Through AOTA Membership

By being a member of AOTA, OTs gain discounts on continuing education opportunities, conferences, books, and retailer. Other discounts include deals on professional liability, disability, life, medical coverage, and student and personal loan refinancing. Want to branch out and start your own business or private practice? AOTA can support you with those insurance and financing opportunities.

4. Connection and Collaboration with AOTA Members

By being an AOTA member, occupational therapists have the opportunity to connect with others in the field on www.CommunOT.org. Have a question or want to connect with others in your field of practice? The social networking forum is your opportunity.

As an AOTA member, you receive a discounted price on the annual AOTA conference…and with it, the prospect of meeting thousands of OTs from all over the country. The collaboration and networking is substantial. This conference is the highlight of my year…if you’re going, let me know! I would love to connect!

5. Leadership Oppourtunities with AOTA

Leadership is just one means of giving back to the profession and battling that burnout. It’s true! Volunteering has been proven to benefit individuals in both mental and physical health. Volunteers gain self-confidence, self-esteem as practitioners, and satisfaction in their life and job. The duties of a volunteer role provide a sense of purpose, pride and identity. As therapists, we KNOW the power in that! What better way to combat burnout and job fatigue than with a volunteer or leadership role that serves our profession?

AOTA members have the opportunity to participate in volunteer roles on the Coordinated Online Opportunities for Leadership database; committees; and more. Want to see a change in the profession? You have a chance to step up and speak your voice!

Students have the opportunity to take part as a volunteer for AOtA through the Assembly of Student Delegates as they represent their school on a national level.

Sort through the vast number of leadership and volunteer roles that AOTA offers here.

6. Student Resources

Student members of the national OT association benefit from many resources and tools. Students can join at a discounted rate and gain all of the benefits listed above as well as resources to learn, become involved in the profession, stay up to date on research, prepare for fieldwork, study for the NBCOT examination, and even find a job.

Find resources on fieldwork, job placement, leadership opportunities, exam prep tools, and more. Students will love the the OT Student Pulse, a monthly e-newsletter for AOTA student members created by the Assembly of Student Delegates. The resource is a newsletter written by students for students, and includes relevant and effective information on occupational therapy issues along with news, resources, and opportunities.Students even have the opportunity to submit an article idea or share a student accomplishment that will be blasted out in the newsletter. I wish the OT Student Pulse was around when I was a student!

7. AOTA Provides Career Advancement Opportunities

From professional development, specialty certifications, job placement or a change in area of practice, AOTA offers the tools and resources needed to advance one’s career. Clinicians can participate in board certifications or specialty certifications as a means to promote proficiency while highlighting your professional and personal accomplishments as an occupational therapy professional.

For those therapists who want to advance their career through post-professional degrees or training, AOTA The association also offers its Fellowship Program as a means to cultivate and recognize post-professional training programs that advance the knowledge and skills of licensed occupational therapists in focused areas of practice.

So, what do you think? Are you an AOTA member?

AOTA Membership GIVEAWAY

This giveaway has now ended.

Some of the smartest and most creative folks I know are the readers of The OT Toolbox. I asked readers to tell me sensory strategies they personally love and use to address sensory modulation. Scroll through the comments…you might just find some new sensory strategies that will work for you! Hopefully we can learn from one another!

Build Skills with Building Block Activities

Building block activities are a powerful way to build skills. Development occurs through play and play is the job of the child. By using creative block activities in play, children can thrive in their skill development. Here, we’ll discuss how and why building with blocks is so powerful in development of kids. We’re covering all things building block activities and exactly HOW to maximize skills like fine motor skills, visual perception, and even social emotional skills…all with toy blocks!

This giveaway was part of our 10 day therapy giveaway event, where we are collaborating with brands to give you the opportunity to win various therapy items, toys, and games as a thank you for being here and a celebration of our profession and those we serve. This giveaway has now ended.

Block activities to improve visual processing skills, fine motor skills, executive functioning and more.

Most of us have strolled through the toy aisle and found a set of building blocks for kids. Building blocks come in different sizes, colors, shapes, and even patterns. Did you know, however, that despite building block activities being one powerful way to build skills, that most sets are not played with once they are in the home? That’s right…most of the time, those building block sets just sit theri collecting dust. Today, we’re talking all about how to use building sets with kids to build skills!

Building Blocks for Kids

Toy blocks a are classic toy…and there is good reason. Research tells us that early experiences with blocks stimulate the development of spatial. language, cognitive, and problem-solving skills. All of these are the literal building blocks for higher level tasks like reading, writing, executive functioning, math, and communication skills.

There’s more. By building with blocks, kids are establishing concepts of cause and effect (that tower falls down if I build it too high), reasoning (I need to place the blocks flat on each other so they don’t topple over), and creativity, self-esteem, STEM concepts, early math, language, and motor planning. Wow!

We’ve covered the fine motor development that occurs by playing with blocks. We’ve also addressed visual perception and block play.

Today, we are discussing the various ways to play with blocks that build more than wooden buildings…blocks build skills!

Block Activities for Toddlers and Babies

For the young child, presenting kids with just a jew blocks is the key to avoiding overwhelm. The nice thing about a variety set of blocks is that the various blocks can be used in different ways while working various skill areas.

Lovevery blocks for toddlers and preschoolers

Sorting Shapes Block Activity– By sorting the colors and shapes of blocks, they are working on so many skills. Visual perceptual skill development begins at a young and age, including the ability to visually discriminate. We know that young babies are able to visually differentiate their mother from another female adult by visual assessment. The same skill can be used and honed with toy blocks

Use a small set of blocks and ask the child to pile clocks into sets according to color or shape. You would be surprised at a young child’s sorting ability and visual discrimination skills. Sorting block shapes occurs around 15 months and at that time, a shape sorter is the perfect tool for encouraging matching. Visual discrimination skills will improve over the toddler years as your little one begins to recognize differences in shapes such as triangles and pentagons.

Sorting blocks is a literal building block for visual perceptual skills, math skills and executive functioning skills.

use blocks to work on fine motor skills and imagination

Pretend Play Block Activities– Children can use blocks as pretend play items as they interact with adults or other children. Giving blocks a name and a voice offers opportunities act out scenarios, express needs and wants, and practice communication.

By using blocks as pretend people, cars, trains, and animals, toddlers and preschoolers experiment with imagination and creativity. This is the beginning of social emotional skills. Show your little one how they can set up a little family with the blocks as they talk to each other in words and phrases that your child knows. What a great way to work on communication and language.

building with blocks help development of visual motor skills and fine motor skills

Building Activities- The sky is the limit when it comes to building with blocks. You can show a young toddler how to stack two blocks while the develop the fine motor precision and refined grasp to place blocks and releasing their hand without knocking over the blocks. Show your little one how to stack one or two blocks with specific colors. By asking them to copy your block form, not only are they working on fine motor skills, they are also building visual perceptual and visual motor skills.

Lovevery block set and block activities for kids

Use Blocks to Make Patterns- Building on the copying skills mentioned above, using blocks to copy and create patterns is an exercise in early visual motor skills, visual perception, and fine motor skills. It’s also a fun way to introduce early math concepts. Little ones can copy and create patterns using different sizes, shapes, and colors of blocks.

Start out by creating a simple pattern with an AB pattern of blocks. Preschool children can use blocks to create ABB and ABC patterns too.

Gross Motor Skills with Blocks- Just because using blocks with preschoolers is a fun fine motor activity, there’s no reason to leave out the gross motor skill development. Use a small wagon, or create a pulling system to help kids with pushing, and moving the whole body while moving blocks from one place to another.

There is a reason why toddlers and preschoolers love to move their toys around in bags or carts…the proprioceptive input that they achieve by pushing or pulling a cart full of toys provides much needed sensory input that helps them organize and calm their bodies. Pretty cool, right?

Another gross motor activity with blocks is a pretty simple one to set up. Use blocks to create obstacle courses, paths, and games. Kids can animal walk from block to block, tip toe between block paths, or transport blocks one by one in a relay race. Block play is so open-ended and can meet any child’s needs.

Build Letters with Blocks- Block activities for preschoolers can involve building and making letters. Letter recognition begins around 24-36 months and during that time is a great way to teach letter identification. Use building blocks to help kids trace letters using a finger. Point out how the letters are formed and you can even build those letters higher with another layer. Here is information on how to build letters with correct formation.

Use blocks to make dominos for a fine motor activity

Stack and Knock Over- Building towers with blocks or a trail of dominos is one way to help kids better understand STEM concepts, cause and effect, and problem solving.

Ask your little one how they can make one block fall over by using another. See if they can figure out how far apart to place blocks to make them push one another over in a row of “dominos”. It’s a fantastic exercise in eye-hand coordination.

Building Borders- Use about 10-20 blocks to create small squares and rectangles to form a border or home for small toys, dolls, or other small toys. By creating a “home” for their toys, children can work on shape identification as well as various skills: eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills, fine motor skills, precision of grasp and release, bilateral coordination, and crossing midline.

Take the house building up a notch by adding layers to the walls. Children can begin to stack blocks and attempt to create higher walls without knocking them over.

Lovevery Blocks are a new product created by the folks at Lovevery. The 70 piece set is valued at $90.00 and is perfect for kids aged 12-48+ months (and higher! My big kids are loving this set right now!) Lovevery has thought of your child as they grow. The set includes an activity guide with over 20 block activities designed to build learning and developmental skills as they grow. These are beautifully made blocks that will grow with your child.

  • 70 wood pieces in a rainbow of 18 different hues
  • 18 different shapes and tools
  • Activity guide with block play ideas to promote skills like visual perception, eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and more
  • Arrives in a wooden storage box that converts into a pull car
  • Drawstring cotton bag for flexible storage
  • Solid wood blocks made of sustainably harvested FSC-certified wood
  • Water-based non-toxic paint and finishes
Lovevery building block activities for kids

LOVEVERY BLOCK SET GIVEAWAY

This giveaway has now ended.

Comment below with your favorite way to play with blocks. This can be an activity that your kids love or one that you use in therapy sessions to build specific skills.

Block Activities and Ideas

Some of the smartest and most creative folks I know are the readers of The OT Toolbox. I asked readers to tell me sensory strategies they personally love and use to address sensory modulation. Scroll through the comments…you might just find some new sensory strategies that will work for you! Hopefully we can learn from one another!

Sensory Swing for Modulation

Sensory swings are a wonderful tool for improving sensory modulation in kids. Here, we will discuss how and why a sensory swing is used for modulation of sensory needs. Sensory swings are powerful sensory strategy when it comes individuals with sensory processing needs. Let’s discuss how sensory swings can help with sensory processing and modulation.

This content is part of our week-long therapy giveaway event, where we are collaborating with brands to give you the opportunity to win various therapy items, toys, and games as a thank you for being here and a celebration of our profession and those we serve.

Use a sensory swing to help kids with sensory needs including sensory modulation

Sensory Swings for Modulation…

You’ve seen the issues in classrooms and in homes. There are kiddos struggling with self-regulation and management of sensory processing. We notice the child that gets overwhelmed or stuck on a direction to complete a worksheet. We see a child who breaks down and resolves into a pattern of hitting, biting, kicking, or damaging property. We notice the child that can’t sit upright in their seat to listen to their teacher. We can identify the child who bites on their pencil to the point of nibbling on eraser bits and chunks of wood. We see the actions and we see the results of a real need. Sometimes, we can even predict the events or situations that lead to these behaviors.

What we don’t see is the internal struggle.

We miss out on the feeling of overwhelming sensory input. We can’t feel the emptiness or the detached sensation. We miss out on what’s happening inside those beautiful, intelligent, and awesomely created brains and bodies.

While we can connect the dots from event to behavior, our biggest struggle as advocates, educators, and loved ones is to know the true internal path that connects those dots.

An occupational therapist analyzes the occupational domains that a child or individual pursues. They determine any difficulties in modulation, discrimination, praxis, motor skills, and other components that impact those occupations. In providing sensory-based interventions, therapists use tools to move their clients to optimal levels of arousal for functioning.

The sensory swing is one of those ways to help with sensory modulation.

What is Sensory Modulation

Sensory modulation information including what is sensory modulation and how to help.

As discussed in the book, The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook, sensory modulation is the organization and regulation of sensory input through the central nervous system to enable skills and abilities such as attention, activity levels. This skill is an efficient, automatic, and effortless occurrence in those with typically developing individuals.

Sensory modulation is defined by Dr. A Jean Ayres as “the neurological process that organizes sensation from one’s own body and from the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively within the environment. The spatial and temporal aspects of inputs from different sensory modalities are interpreted, associated, and unified” (Ayres, p. 11, 1989).

Problems with sensory modulation result in difficulty responding to and regulating sensory input. A child with sensory modulation disorder might withdrawal as a result of their responses. They may become upset by noises or sounds. They may become overly distracted or obsessed with specific stimuli.

Sensory Modulation in a Nutshell

Essentially, sensory modulation is the ability to take in sensory input, sort it, and respond to that input. Modulation results in function, alertness, awareness of self, and awareness of the world around oneself.

When sensory modulation is stalled, moving slowly, or running on hyper speed, we see disorganized, over-responsive, or under-responsive individuals.

As a result, children struggle to complete functional tasks, follow directions, learn, manage emotions, interact socially, etc.

How to Help with Sensory Modulation

Sensory modulation issues can be improved to impact a child’s arousal state so they can be effective and function in daily living tasks, in school, emotionally, and socially. Some sensory strategies to help with modulation are listed below.

Use the expertise of an occupational therapist to identify and analyze modulation levels. Identifying strengths and weaknesses can play a part in helping to understand other underlying areas that need addressing and play into sensory modulation concerns. Functioning individuals may require specific levels and intensities of specific sensory input, which can vary across different environments or on a day-to-day basis.

  1. Use sensory activities to add proprioception, vestibular input, or touch input to help with arousal states, and calm or alert levels in order to function in tasks.
  2. Create a sensory diet that allows for sensory use across environments and sensory tools or strategies to address changes in modulation or arousal.
  3. Set up a sensory station to successfully integrate sensory activities into daily lives. Sensory stations can occur in the home, classroom, or on-the-go.

A sensory swing can be used to impact sensory modulation in all of these strategies.

Harkla sensory swing for therapy and sensory modulation

Use a sensory swing for Modulation

A sensory swing can be a calming place to regroup and cope. It can be a safe space for a child to gain calming vestibular input through slow and predictable motions.

A sensory swing can be a source of intense vestibular input as a means to challenge arousal levels.

A sensory swing can use a firm pillow base to provide proprioceptive feedback and heavy input while addressing tactile defensiveness.

A sensory swing can be a means for combining calming or alerting motions with coordinated movement strategies to impact praxis, postural control, and perception.

A sensory swing can be used with others as a tool for building social skills and emotional regulation.

A sensory swing can be used as an outlet for meltdowns before they turn into biting, kicking, hitting, or yelling.

A sensory swing can be a transition tool to provide calming vestibular input before physical actions and executive functioning concepts needed for tasks such as completing homework, or getting ready for bed.

Use a therapy swing to help kids with sensory processing

INDOOR Sensory Swing

Want to address modulation and impact sensory processing needs in the home, classroom, or therapy room? we’ve talked about how sensory swings impact sensory processing and the ability to regulate sensory input. Let’s take things up a notch by getting a therapy swing into your hands.

One sensory swing that I’ve got in my house is the Harkla sensory swing. We’ve used this exact swing as an outdoor sensory swing, but it’s a powerful tool when used as an indoor swing. Today, you have the chance to win one of your own. Using a Harkla swing as an indoor swing provides opportunities for modulation in various environments and as a tool to regulate emotions, behaviors.

Over or under inflate to provide more or less base of support and a challenge in postural control. Additionally, this swing holds up to 150 pounds, making it an option to address sensory modulation for adults.

Use the cocoon swing to create a relaxation space or sensory station right in the home or classroom. With the easy-to-install swing, a sensory diet space can come alive using the Harkla Therapy Swing!

Occupational therapists use pod swings to address sensory modulation, attention needs, regulation, or sensory processing disorder. The cocoon swing we’re giving away below provides a hug-like effect to address sensory needs or as a fun space to hang out in in the classroom or home. A few more details about this indoor swing option:

  • Comes with all the hardware for an easy setup, including a pump, adjustable strap, 4 bolts, carabiner, and a ceiling hook
  • Holds up to 150lbs for a safe place for your child
  • Includes an adjustable strap to make it easy to safely hang your sensory swings indoors from any height
  • Comes with easy-to-follow directions so anyone can hang it up
  • Free shipping & a lifetime guarantee

Harkla Sensory Swing Giveaway

This giveaway, sponsored by Harkla, has now ended.

TOns of Sensory Modulation Ideas

Some of the smartest and most creative folks I know are the readers of The OT Toolbox. I asked readers to tell me sensory strategies they personally love and use to address sensory modulation. Scroll through the comments…you might just find some new sensory strategies that will work for you! Hopefully we can learn from one another!

Ayres, A.J. (1 989). Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests. Los Angeles, Western Psychological Services.

Therapy Tools Giveaway

Hi there friends! For a while now, I’ve wanted to organize a massive therapy giveaway of some kind to just say thank you for your support over the years. This week, (plus a few extra days…) I’ve got some really awesome therapy tools to give away as part of a Holiday Therapy celebration! This giveaway celebrates you and all you do for others. The items are therapy tools and resources that you can use in your clinic, classroom, or home. NOTE: This giveaway has now ended. Stay tuned for next year’s Annual Therapy Tools Giveaway occuring in November 2020.

Therapy Tools Giveaway

These therapy giveaway items are perfect for occupational therapists and anyone working in pediatrics.

Stop back each day to enter the daily giveaway and catch up on the ones you may have missed. Each giveaway opens on the day specified and will remain open for the duration of the giveaway period. Share this page with others you think may benefit from the item or items.

Thankful for You

I am so grateful and incredibly proud of the readers of The OT Toolbox. You are professionals, advocates, and servants, defenders, and counselors. You are leaders, educators, and supporters of those looking for their ability to do and be. You are the manager of function and the chief of ability. By using your sincere empathy, insight, judgement, and expertise, you are the means for guiding those you serve towards capability. The profession is proud to have you. You are an instrument to build up others and the system to establish function.

You are the reason that so many flourish with their daily occupations. You are the roadmap to ability in the day to day skills that make up our classrooms, clinics, and communities. You deserve so much more than these items. These giveaways are just a simple way to express gratitude for you and all you do on a daily basis.

Therapy Tools Giveaway

So, to kick off the holiday season with gratitude and thanks, I’m excited to announce the first (hopefully annual) Therapy Giveaway!

Scroll down to find and enter the therapy tools being given away this week. You will find items for the classroom, sensory tools, fine motor tools, and therapy resources designed to promote function and ability in a variety of occupations. Enter each giveaway once per day! Each giveaway may have additional rules or stipulations, depending on the brand or company offering the therapy item. This giveaway is hosted on The OT Toolbox but may offer additional giveaway

THERAPY GIVEAWAYS

This is the place you will need to come back to each day over the course of the next 10 days. Each day, you will find a new therapy giveaway item “turned on”. If you missed entering any of the past giveaways, don’t worry! Just go back and enter those giveaways. All giveaways end on December 4th at 11:59 pm PST. Winners will be notified by email. Prizes will be fulfilled by the brand or company offering the giveaway. For some prizes, a full name and physical mailing address will need to be obtained via email so the prize can be mailed out.

Scroll through the images below and enter each one beginning on the day indicated. I’m excited to share each of the items below. In total, giveaway prizes add up to over $1,000! You’ll find therapy items that you can use in your practice, in the clinic, classroom, or home. There are sensory tools, handwriting products, massive therapy resource bundles, amazing therapeutic toys, and so much more. You are going to love each item!

Here we go!

Therapy Giveaway Item #1

Therapy giveaway Harkla sensory swing
Win a Harkla sensory swing for sensory input in the home or classroom! Valued at $80.00! Includes swing, all installation hardware, and cushion.

CLICK HERE to enter to win the Harkla Sensory Swing.

Therapy Giveaway Item #2

Lovevery blocks giveaway to win a set of blocks for kids
This 70 piece wooden block set from LOVEVERY is valued at $90 and includes over 20 block activities designed to promote skills, learning, and development.

Click HERE for a chance to win a LOVEVERY block set!

Therapy Giveaway Item #3

Free AOTA membership therapy giveaway
One occupational therapy professional will win a year-long membership to AOTA. Open to current and new (not currently a member) OTs, OTAs, OT students, and retired OT/OTAs.

Click HERE to enter to win a year-long membership to AOTA!

Therapy Giveaway Item #4

play and learn set giveaway for therapy giveaway
One PunkinFutz PlaySet, valued at $95.00. This multi-purpose therapeutic toy that offers endless learning and play activity opportunities and has a play-based curriculum available.

Click HERE to enter to win a PunkinFutz PlaySet!

Therapy Giveaway ITem #5

sensory friendly pajama set therapy giveaway
Win one pair of Lovey & Grink sensory friendly pajamas, valued at $42.00.

Click HERE to enter to win a pair of sensory friendly pajamas!

Therapy Giveaway Item #6

letter builder kit giveaway for therapy giveaway prize
Win one Lowercase Letter Builder Kit from Fundanoodle, valued at $74.99.

Click HERE to enter to win a Lowercase Letter Builder Fun Kit!

THerapy Giveaway #7

fine motor toy giveaway for week of therapy giveaways
Fine motor toy designed to promote fine motor strength, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination and more. Valued at $21.00

Click HERE to enter to win this fine motor toy!

Therapy Giveaway #8

therapy resources available online
Win a massive digital resource containing e-books, occupational therapy worksheets, activities, and therapy resources, valued at over $220!

Click HERE to enter to win a massive therapy resource bundle!

Therapy Giveaway #9

Win a Mightier Professional Kit, valued at $395 and includes a Mighty band & dedicated Mightier tablet, 1-on-1 onboarding and customized setup for your practice, Access to Professional Development Trainings and Mightier Certification Program, Unlimited player profiles, Monthly clinical consultation with a dedicated Mightier Certified OT

Click HERE to enter to win the Mightier Annual Professional Kit!

Therapy Giveaway Item #10

Pitchkit giveaway for therapy giveaway prize
Win a PunkinFutz Pitch Kit Set, to work on bilateral coordination, core strength, motor planning, eye-hand coordination, and more. Valued at $80.00

Click HERE to enter to win a PunkinFutz Pitch Kit Set!

Be sure to stop back each day to find out the details of each giveaway item!

Therapy tools giveaway items

Parade BINGO Game

One of my favorite holiday traditions I have with my kids is sitting down to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Watching the parade, floats, musical acts as they kick off the holiday season is such a calming and fun time for us as a family. One way that we enjoy the time together as a family is by playing Parade BINGO. Many moons ago, I came up with this game and made a quick little BINGO board. My kids would fill in the squares with things they thought they would see in the parade, and we would mark the spaces with candy corn as we saw items on our BINGO cards. This has been such a fun tradition for us that I’ve shared out makeshift BINGO cards on Instagram each year. This year, I decided to make a quick printout so you can play along too, with literally no-prep.

Free printable parade BINGO card

Thanksgiving Parade BINGO Game

You know how to play BINGO, but did you know that by playing the simple game, kids are working on a variety of skill areas? Things like visual perception, discrimination, form constancy, visual memory, visual scanning, figure-ground are just some of the visual processing skills that are addressed with a game of BINGO. Then there’s the auditory processing skills, executive functioning skills, fine motor skills, and even handwriting. Problem solving, self-awareness, and so many more skills are impacted with this simple game.

The Parade BINGO game works the same way you would play any other BINGO game. Fill inthe spaces, watch the parade, and when you see an item on your card, place a small marker on that space. You could also have kids color in the space to work on hand strength and line awareness, or you could mark an “X” on the spaces. The options are limitless.

You can play this game too. Print out the BINGO game card below and make a handful of copies. Play as a family, or let each family member have their own card.

Send the handouts home with clients or students as “homework”. Families will get the chance to connect and build memories all while working on the skills kids need.

Have fun with your game of Thanksgiving Parade BINGO. Enjoy!

Get a free Parade BINGO game

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