Kiddos with sensory or developmental problems might have trouble crossing mid-line. You might know a child who has trouble making both hands work together to accomplish a task like handwriting, cutting with scissors, tying shoes, buttoning a shirt, or catching a ball. Bilateral coordination is necessary for many functional activities!
Bilateral Coordination and Functional Activities
Bilateral coordination activities are needed for activities where each hand does the same job (jumping jacks, movement games like the Hokey Pokey, and pulling up pants). Other tasks require both hands to do different jobs in a coordinated way (holding the paper and writing with a pencil, holding paper and cutting with scissors, tying shoes, fastening a zipper, weaving a loom, or putting on a coat).
This activity is one that’s been on my mind for a while. As an OT, I’ve done versions of this activity many times with kids who have trouble with kinesthetic sense, visual perceptual skills, and bilateral coordination.
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This activity is a version of the Brain Gym program, which uses whole body movements to improve skills, including learning and functional tasks. In Brain Gym, there is an activity called Double Doodles, which involves doodling with both hands, with a piece of crayon or chalk in each hand. The activity encourages children to use both hands together. The point of the activity is to establish direction and orientation relative to the child’s body. The movement activity addresses hand-eye coordination in different visual fields, promotes spatial awareness and visual discrimination, addresses left and right awareness, improves peripheral vision, promotes body awareness and coordination with specialization of the hands and eyes, and works on gross motor movement skills.
Brain Gym is an excellent way to promote whole body learning through simple and fun movement activities.
Four Leaf Clover Bilateral Activity
In this gross motor bilateral coordination activity, we’re using visual motor integration. While creating a four leaf clover shape, the child is using his visual sense to guides movement through peripheral vision.
This is an easy activity to set up. Tape a large piece of paper to the wall. Poster board (like we used) works great, but that can get pricey. A nice option is using a large roll of paper like easel paper or butcher paper. You can also perform this activity at a large chalkboard or dry erase board in classroom settings.
First, draw a large and symmetrical four leaf clover shape on the paper. Provide the child with a crayon, pencil, marker or chalk for each hand. Standing in front of the clover, ask them to stare at the center of the paper. You can draw a dot for them to look at, if needed. Then, show them how to start both hands at the top center of the clover and to slowly trace the lines of the clover to meet at the bottom center. We included a stem on our clover, but you can just draw the four leaves.
Tell the child to not worry too much about staying right on the lines. The object is to have both hands move together doing symmetrical motions. Repeat the lines again and again. Add colored crayons/markers/pencils to create a rainbow four leaf clover.
A few things to watch for:
- While drawing, watch the child for stiffness in the hand, wrist, or arm.
- Be aware of whole body movements. Arm motions should come from the shoulders.
- Remind the child to keep their eyes fixed on the dot at the center of the clover.
- Remind the child to keep the writing utensils in contact with the paper. They shouldn’t lift the crayons at all.
- Watch for bilateral coordination, ensuring that both arms are moving at the same speed, distance, and positioning.
Other ways to extend this activity:
- Draw the four leaf clover on paper and have the child sit to perform the re-tracing activity.
- Do this activity on a driveway or sidewalk using chalk.
- Draw in the air with pointer fingers.
- Draw in a sand table.
- Use finger paints.
- Use ribbon sticks in the air.
- Use musical instruments like bells or maracas.
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Be sure to stop back soon, because I have a ton more visual motor integration and gross motor bilateral coordination activities like this one in store for you!
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