Unicorn Yoga

Unicorn Yoga

If you’ve got a little one who is a big fan of unicorns, than this Unicorn Yoga is a sure win. I’ve had this unicorn craft on the site for years and wanted to add a few other unicorn activities to go with the craft. That’s where these stretches and gross motor exercises come into play.

Unicorn Yoga

Unicorn Yoga

Just in time for Unicorn Day (yep, that’s actually a thing! Unicorn Day is on April 9th), these unicorn yoga exercises are a great addition to your therapy toolbox.

The exercises are a free slide deck that can be used in teletherapy, or as a brain break activity to incorporate into a functional sensory diet or self-regulation strategy.

Kids that love all things unicorns will find these unicorn yoga poses a fun way to incorporate their interests into a meaningful and motivating sensory and gross motor exercise.

In each slide deck, kids can follow along with the unicorn yoga pose to challenge core strength, stability, strengthening, motor planning, crossing midline.

Other benefits of yoga exercises for kids include:

  • mindfulness
  • proprioceptive input
  • vestibular input
  • calming input
  • self-regulation.

Unicorn fitness was never so much fun…or cute!

Also included in this slide deck is a deep breathing activity. The unicorn image shows children how to take in deep breaths for the sensory and regulating benefits. Kids can use these deep breathing strategies while completing each unicorn yoga pose throughout the slide deck.

Unicorn Yoga Slide Deck

To incorporate these slides into your therapy practice, you’ll access the slides via the form below. Then, you can pull up the slide deck onto your Google drive. Go through each yoga pose with children in your virtual therapy sessions, at home, or in the classroom. Kids can copy the positioning with your verbal cues, and correct any body positioning, depending on spatial awareness and body awareness needs.

Parents, teachers, and therapists may want to follow along with the cute unicorns on each slide, too!

Want to add this free therapy slide deck to your toolbox? Enter your email address below and the exercises will be delivered to your inbox.

NOTE: Please consider using a personal email address rather than a work or school district email. Due to recent changes with network security measures, the email delivering the download may be blocked by your work institution.

FREE Unicorn Yoga Slide Deck

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    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Butterfly exercises

    butterfly yoga exercises

    This week’s occupational therapy theme is all about the butterfly activities. And, these butterfly exercises help with coordination, motor panning, coordination, and add heavy work input. You’ll love the butterfly yoga activities that are fun, motivating, and engaging! Add these butterfly gross motor exercises to your Spring occupational therapy activities.

    butterfly yoga exercises

    In this free slide deck, you’ll love the heavy work and gross motor coordination activities with a butterfly theme. Butterfly exercises get those kiddos moving and building coordination skills so they can move, play, and develop skills.

    Butterfly exercises

    Kids will love these gross motor exercises that challenge the following skills in kids:

    • Balance
    • Coordination
    • Motor planning
    • Crossing midline
    • Movement changes
    • Sequencing

    When kids follow along with the visual images in the slides, they can work on planning out gross motor actions, crossing midline, and building core strength that helps with attention, following directions, and getting much needed proprioceptive and vestibular sensory input.

    These are fantastic butterfly gross motor activities for preschool, Pre-K and grade-school kids as a brain break that builds gross motor skills.

    Butterfly yoga

    In the slide deck are butterfly yoga positions to challenge balance and build strength. These exercises use a variety of yoga positions with a butterfly theme. Some of the activities use the butterfly yoga pose and others have visual images of a butterfly net or other images to make the yoga exercises motivating and fun for kids.

    Can they balance on one foot while pretending to catch a butterfly with their net?

    Butterfly gross motor activities

    You’ll also love the deep breathing exercise in the slide deck to encourage deep breathing. Try using this deep breathing exercise while doing the butterfly yoga!

    MORE BUTTERFLY ACTIVITIES

    Use the butterfly life cycle heavy work activities in the Heavy Work Cards to work on calming proprioceptive input.

    Butterfly Exercises Slide Deck

    Want to add these butterfly yoga and butterfly exercises to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email address into the form below to access this slide deck.

    Note that if you are using a school system’s email address, the PDF delivery may be blocked by your institution or workplace as a result of your system’s security measures. A personal email address may be better used.

    Butterfly Exercises Slide Deck!

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      Spring Fine Motor Kit

      Score Fine Motor Tools and resources and help kids build the skills they need to thrive!

      Developing hand strength, dexterity, dexterity, precision skills, and eye-hand coordination skills that kids need for holding and writing with a pencil, coloring, and manipulating small objects in every day task doesn’t need to be difficult. The Spring Fine Motor Kit includes 100 pages of fine motor activities, worksheets, crafts, and more:

      Spring fine motor kit set of printable fine motor skills worksheets for kids.
      • Lacing cards
      • Sensory bin cards
      • Hole punch activities
      • Pencil control worksheets
      • Play dough mats
      • Write the Room cards
      • Modified paper
      • Sticker activities
      • MUCH MORE

      Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

      Spring Fine Motor Kit
      Spring Fine Motor Kit: TONS of resources and tools to build stronger hands.

      Grab your copy of the Spring Fine Motor Kit and build coordination, strength, and endurance in fun and creative activities. Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

      Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

      Beginner HIIT Treadmill Workouts

      HIIT treadmill workouts for beginners

      Because self-care is such a necessary component of battling burnout among therapist, a beginner HIIT treadmill workouts can add the physical exercise piece that is often missing from self-care. Here, you’ll find HIIT beginner workouts for the treadmill. These are simple ways to get started with HIIT workouts and adding the much-needed self-care piece of occupational balance.

      Beginner HIIT treadmill workout tips

      Self care activities play a role in addressing burnout that many occupational therapists experience. As occupational therapists, we often educate clients on

      Here, we’ll cover easy strategies to get started with HIIT on a treadmill workout.

      Physical Self Care- Having a simple physical exercise strategy in place helps when burnout and overwhelm make you want to skip the physical exercise.

      Implement an easy treadmill exercise program that doesn’t require a lot of thought or planning. Treadmill routines can address different needs including endurance, muscle building, weight loss, etc.

      Beginner HIIT treadmill workouts

      Adding physical activity that impacts physical wellbeing is the HIIT workout, or high intensity interval training. We talked about the use of a treadmill to assist with wellbeing in a previous post.

      HIIT workouts are beneficial for many because they provide the physical health benefits in a shorter amount of time.

      Those periods of high intensity running along with slower periods are very effective. There’s a reason why studies show that HIIT exercise impacts health and fitness. For busy therapists, quick and impactful exercises that helps with weight loss, and physical wellbeing.

      And, in fact, one study determined that HIIT exercise and MIT (moderate intensity training) decreased anxiety, stress, and depression as well as increased resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic confinements to home. The study also determined that the HIIT intervention seemed to be more beneficial to reduce depression than the MIT intervention. These are great findings when it comes to addressing factors that impact burnout in therapists and overall self-care.

      Put it on your schedule- When a physical exercise plan is written down, it becomes a part of your day visually. It’s easier to commit to an exercise plan that is on your daily schedule. And, having a fast routine a part of your day can create a daily habit that becomes part of the routine.

      A self-care workout plan includes time for you, Warm up, quick sprints, recovery intervals, and a cool down. During the high or moderate intensity period of the exercise session, your heart rate should rise at a perceived level of exertion.

      For beginners, getting started with a treadmill program can gain the benefits of a HIIT program but can start with a short activity plan.

      Setting up a treadmill plan can begin with just 10 minutes of activity at first, and then can gradually build up to 20-30 minutes and then longer.

      HIIT and MIT in treadmill intervals

      An essential part of physical exercise includes a warm-up, whether that be stretching, walking, or deep breathing. Adding relaxing music or pump-up music that fits with your interests makes getting started fun. This can then be incorporated into a cool-down at the end of your treadmill workout. The warm-up and cool-down periods reduce risk of injury as well.

      Use these clues as guides to determine if your treadmill intervals workout is high intensity interval training or moderate intensity:

      Moderate intensity exercise

      MIT, or moderate intensity training feels difficult, but at medium of the road level. Some signs of a somewhat difficult level include a quicker breathing rate, but you’re not out of breath. You should be able to easily carry on a conversation during your exercise. And, you should note perspiration during your exercise.

      High intensity exercise

      High intensity training is a more challenging level of exercise, where breathing rate is more vigorous. You need to pause during conversation to breathe, and perspiration occurs sooner in the exercise period. It is possible to quickly move from moderate level to a high level of intensity throughout exercising.

      Interval training routinely switches between these levels of intensity.

      Interval training sessions can switch between periods of higher rate of perceived exertion and lower rates of perceived exertion. It doesn’t take much to get started with HIIT. You can start with 30 seconds of high intensity running followed by 90 seconds of a recovery stage at a lower intensity.

      Another option for interval training can include treadmill speed, or incline.

      Still another HIIT workout can utilize the treadmill programs within the treadmill.

      With the Horizon Fitness treadmills and fitness equipment, there are a number of programing options, including quick, 20 minute programs, and other streaming fitness opportunities. The print-intensity workout is pre-programmed and some of the treadmills have a button to select the intervals.

      Check out the Horizon fitness deals, including free shipping that you can access now on the Horizon site.

      Affiliate links are included in this post, but I only recommend products that I own, and love!

      Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

      Flower Balance Activities

      Flower balance activities

      Want to help kids with balance, coordination, strength, and mobility? Need some core strengthening and stability activities to help with balance and vestibular integration? These flower balance activities are fun ways to help kids work on these very areas so they are able to move, play, learn, and function in day to day tasks. And, it’s all packaged up in a free Google slide deck so you can use these balance exercises in therapy sessions, at home, in the classroom, or clinic. These are Spring gross motor activities that really build skills!

      Balance activities slide deck with a flower theme to use in teletherapy sessions.

      Balance Activities

      You’ll find a lot of balance activities and exercises here on The OT Toolbox. We’ve shared balance beams, obstacle courses, brain breaks, prone extension activities, movement activities, and vestibular activities before. you may have even seen this DIY wobble disk made from ice. All of these activities are so great to help kids develop strength, coordination, movement pattern skills, and get them moving through play.

      Core strengthening is just one benefit of these balance activities kids can copy. We’ve talked before about core strength and it’s relationship to handwriting and other functional tasks.

      Flower balance activities for kids

      The free slide deck that I have available today, adds just one more balance tool into your therapy toolbox. It’s a fun way to challenge kids to move while copying visual images of body positioning. These exercises integrate visual processing to see the image and copy the positioning as well as motor skills as kids coordinate their body to move their arms or legs into the correct positioning.

      I’ve tried to use both sides of the body in this flower balance activity, so they can work on left-right discrimination as well.

      Flower balance activities

      When kids incorporate one leg stance, and holding a body position in a squat or lunge, they are adding proprioceptive input, so they gain the calming regulatory benefits, too.

      Flower balance exercises

      And, the therapy slide decks use a flower icon in various positions on each slide. So the user can copy the form by placing a pillow, stuffed animal, roll of socks, or bean bag into different places while maintaining balance. This can be a real challenge for some children!

      Flower deep breathing exercise

      There is a fun flower deep breathing exercise in the slide deck as well.

      Free Balance Exercise Slide Deck

      Want to use this free slide deck in teletherapy, in home programs, or in the classroom as a brain break? Just enter your email address into the form below.

      NOTE- Due to an increase in security measures, many readers utilizing a work or school district email address have had difficulty accessing downloads from the delivery email. Consider using a personal email address and forwarding the download to your work account.

      Flower Balance Activities Slide Deck!

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        Spring Fine Motor Kit

        Score Fine Motor Tools and resources and help kids build the skills they need to thrive!

        Developing hand strength, dexterity, dexterity, precision skills, and eye-hand coordination skills that kids need for holding and writing with a pencil, coloring, and manipulating small objects in every day task doesn’t need to be difficult. The Spring Fine Motor Kit includes 100 pages of fine motor activities, worksheets, crafts, and more:

        Spring fine motor kit set of printable fine motor skills worksheets for kids.
        • Lacing cards
        • Sensory bin cards
        • Hole punch activities
        • Pencil control worksheets
        • Play dough mats
        • Write the Room cards
        • Modified paper
        • Sticker activities
        • MUCH MORE

        Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

        Spring Fine Motor Kit
        Spring Fine Motor Kit: TONS of resources and tools to build stronger hands.

        Grab your copy of the Spring Fine Motor Kit and build coordination, strength, and endurance in fun and creative activities. Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

        Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

        Sensory Stations Free Spring Printables

        Sensory stations free printables

        This sensory stations printable set is a free download you can print off and hang up as an easy sensory path. You may have seen sensory walks in school hallways, or outdoor sensory walks on sidewalks. Sensory paths can even be done at home as a DIY sensory activity. The reason why we are seeing so many of these sensory strategies in place? They are a great way to get kids motivated and moving to incorporate the sensory input and motor planning that kids need.

        Free printable sensory stations for a sensory path with a Spring theme

        What is a Sensory Path

        First, let’s talk about what a sensory path is. You’ve probably seen the videos of kids completing motor activities in a hallway or even on a sidewalk. There are typically several sensory stations, or sensory and movement-based activities that kids can do as they move through the sensory walk.

        A sensory walk (or a sensory path) is a fun and engaging series of movements and activities designed to incorporate the senses and movements. They are designed to promote motor skills so kids get the sensory input they need in order to focus, pay attention, regulate their sensory systems so they can learn and function along with their peers. They are a fun and engaging way to incorporate sensory diet tasks into the school or home environment.

        When kids move through the colorful path, they are challenged to hop, jump, skip, tip toe, turn, spin, push, etc. All of these movements incorporate gross motor skills and sensory systems of vision, vestibular, and proprioceptive senses. You can read more here about heavy work of gross motor skills and sensory processing.

        What are Sensory Stations?

        In a sensory hallway or sensory pathway, there are typically “stations” or different movement activities that challenge different sets of muscles or actions. You might see a station where kids move through the letters of the alphabet as they hop along ABC images. You might see a sensory station that asks kids to tip toe along a spiral path, or complete wall push-ups. You may see a hopscotch board on the floor with numbers, letters, colors, or even sight words.

        Other sensory paths stations for deep breathing exercises, animal walks, or figure 8 visual motor activities.

        There are sensory pathways that incorporate different themes into the sensory stations. The sky is the limit when it comes to coming up with movement-based activities within a sensory walk.

        All of these sensory stations offer an opportunity for the child to engage the senses in a particular movement or activity.

        Free sensory stations printables

        Today, as part of our Spring Week, I have a free printable set of sensory stations for you. These are PDF sheets with several different sensory station activities. Print them off, hang them in a hallway, classroom, or in the home to engage vestibular, proprioceptive, and visual senses.

        The sensory stations included in this free resource include a figure 8 deep breathing activity. Kids can trace along the figure 8 as they take in deep breaths and then breathe them out.

        The next sensory activity in this DIY sensory path is a frog hop activity. Kids can hop like a frog and engage proprioceptive input as they hop up and down. The printable is open-ended so you can ask kids to complete as many from hops as you like.

        Next, you’ll find a wall push-up activity. Kids can complete wall push-ups against the hand visuals and engage heavy work input through their upper body as a calming motor activity.

        Then, there is a jumping jack activity that engages the vestibular sense and gets kids active, moving their whole body, and working on coordination, motor planning, and symmetrical and asymmetrical movements gross motor movements.

        Finally, the sensory path printables includes a spiral deep breathing activity with a buzzing bee. Kids can trace along the spiral and take deep breaths in and out. This calming activity can re-set kids and help with relaxation.

        All of these sensory station activities are open-ended so you can ask kids to say the ABCs or count as they complete the tasks. You can also rearrange the order of the sensory walk tasks or omit some of the activities is you like.

        Printable Sensory Stations

        Want to add these sensory path stations to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email into the form below and you’ll receive them in your inbox. Enjoy and happy sensory path planning!

        FREE Printable Sensory Stations for a Sensory Path

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          Spring Fine Motor Kit

          Score Fine Motor Tools and resources and help kids build the skills they need to thrive!

          Developing hand strength, dexterity, dexterity, precision skills, and eye-hand coordination skills that kids need for holding and writing with a pencil, coloring, and manipulating small objects in every day task doesn’t need to be difficult. The Spring Fine Motor Kit includes 100 pages of fine motor activities, worksheets, crafts, and more:

          Spring fine motor kit set of printable fine motor skills worksheets for kids.
          • Lacing cards
          • Sensory bin cards
          • Hole punch activities
          • Pencil control worksheets
          • Play dough mats
          • Write the Room cards
          • Modified paper
          • Sticker activities
          • MUCH MORE

          Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

          Spring Fine Motor Kit
          Spring Fine Motor Kit: TONS of resources and tools to build stronger hands.

          Grab your copy of the Spring Fine Motor Kit and build coordination, strength, and endurance in fun and creative activities. Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

          Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

          Free Heavy Work Activities Cards

          Heavy work activity cards Spring themed gross motor tasks

          Today’s free resource in the Spring Week tools are these free Heavy Work activities in printable card version, with a Spring theme! These are just the thing to get kids moving and adding much-needed gross motor movement into the classroom, home, or occupational therapy session. I modeled these printable exercise cards off our heavy work teletherapy activities freebie, so these are the perfect addition to your therapy toolbox.

          Heavy work activities with a Spring theme to add gross motor exercise and brain breaks as well as sensory processing input.

          Heavy Work Activities

          Heavy work activities help kids to incorporate balance, endurance, and motor planning into functional activities. By integrating the proprioceptive sense and vestibular sense, or balance, equilibrium, position in space, and movement, kids are able to better move their body with awareness of how their body moves. This body awareness is needed for most every activity.

          Adding resistance, or heavy work activates the muscles and joints in the body and “wakes them up”. Proprioception and calming vestibular work can have an organizing effect on kids. This enables a ready state for completing tasks.

          Getting kids to incorporate the whole-body movements that they need to regulate and develop strong, healthy bodies isn’t always easier, now more than ever. That’s where the Spring Gross Motor activities come into play. These are whole body activity, Spring-themed activities that make fun brain breaks.

          Functional Heavy Work

          Many heavy work activities can be incorporated right into the daily tasks. Things like pushing a vacuum, moving furniture, carrying a laundry basket are day-to-day chores that add a ton of heavy work input.

          Other heavy work tasks can integrate these senses as well.

          Tasks like using a moldable eraser, coloring with crayons vs. markers, or pulling on socks offer heavy work just as well, on a smaller scale.

          These are all strategies that play into a sensory lifestyle, or a sensory diet that is well ingrained into the day-to-day tasks. You can learn more about creating a sensory lifestyle into every day activities in my book, The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook.

          Heavy Work and Gross Motor Skills

          There’s more about heavy work than just sensory processing benefits.

          Heavy work tasks improve balance, core strength, motor planning, equilibrium needed for movement changes, stability, coordination, and movement patterns. All of these skills require equilibrium of the vestibular system for movement and changes in planes. They also require position in space changes. Heavy work has so many benefits!

          There’s more: Heavy work input also incorporates areas such as range of motion, flexibility, motor planning, crossing midline, muscle tone, and core stability.

          Free Heavy Work Activity Cards

          Would you like to get your hands on a set of free heavy work printable activities? This is a free download you can print off and use in therapy sessions, in home programs, as classroom brain breaks, and to just get those kids moving.

          To grab this free resource, enter your email address into the form below.

          FREE Spring Heavy Work Cards

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            More heavy work brain breaks and Spring activities

            You can find more Spring brain breaks and heavy work activities in the Spring Occupational Therapy Activities Pack. Right now, it’s a BONUS add-on to our newly released Spring Fine Motor Kit!

            Spring Fine Motor Kit

            Score Fine Motor Tools and resources and help kids build the skills they need to thrive!

            Developing hand strength, dexterity, dexterity, precision skills, and eye-hand coordination skills that kids need for holding and writing with a pencil, coloring, and manipulating small objects in every day task doesn’t need to be difficult. The Spring Fine Motor Kit includes 100 pages of fine motor activities, worksheets, crafts, and more:

            Spring fine motor kit set of printable fine motor skills worksheets for kids.
            • Lacing cards
            • Sensory bin cards
            • Hole punch activities
            • Pencil control worksheets
            • Play dough mats
            • Write the Room cards
            • Modified paper
            • Sticker activities
            • MUCH MORE

            Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

            Spring Fine Motor Kit
            Spring Fine Motor Kit: TONS of resources and tools to build stronger hands.

            Grab your copy of the Spring Fine Motor Kit and build coordination, strength, and endurance in fun and creative activities. Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

            Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

            Four Leaf Clover Balance Exercises

            four leaf clover teletherapy exercises

            This free teletherapy slide deck is a fun one; It’s a visual guide of four leaf clover activities for kids to work on balance and strength. The balance exercises are set up so kids can balance with a bean bag to work on core strength, coordination, stability, and motor planning skills. These balance exercises will get kids moving with St. Patrick’s Day therapy ideas!

            Try this four leaf clover exercises to challenge kids balance or use it as a brain break activity for St. Patrick's Day.

            Four Leaf Clover Activities

            If you need some activities to incorporated into virtual therapy sessions, or a fun brain break in time for St. Patrick’s Day, this four leaf clover activity is it.

            Like all of our free virtual therapy slide decks, this gross motor workout encourages kids to move and develop skills, with a fun theme.

            4 leaf clover activity includes a deep breathing activity and balance exercises.

            Kids can start with the deep breathing warm up activity, using the clover image. Kids can start by taking deep breaths in and out and following the directions on the 4 leaf clover image.

            Deep breathing exercises are a powerful way to achieve a calm-alert state, so that children are ready to learn and participate in therapy. This self-regulation benefit, along with the mindfulness and relaxation benefits makes this four leaf clover breathing exercise a great way to start any therapy session.

            You can get a printable version of this four leaf clover deep breathing exercise here on our site. It includes a coloring page, too, so if that would add to your therapy session, be sure to print that off as well.

            Use these four leaf clover exercises for balance and sensory input.

            Next, kids can move onto the balance exercises. Kids can use a bean bag or a pillow with each exercise to really challenge balance and coordination.

            For kids in virtual therapy, a bean bag may not be available. In that case, kids can balance with a pillow in the place of the clover images. Other ideas include using rolled up socks or a stuffed animal.

            Each slide deck moves kids through a set of exercises to incorporate core strength and stability, movement changes, inverted positioning, and motor planning challenges. By completing the 4 leaf clover exercises, kids are also gaining vestibular, and proprioceptive sensory input.

            Free 4 Leaf Clover Slide Deck

            Want a copy of this free therapy slide deck?

            Enter your email address into the form below and this slide deck will be sent to your email. You can make a copy onto your Google drive and then use it in teletherapy sessions, in home programming, or as a classroom brain break activity.

            Four Leaf Clover Balance Exercises!

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              Colors Handwriting Kit

              Rainbow Handwriting Kit– This resource pack includes handwriting sheets, write the room cards, color worksheets, visual motor activities, and so much more. The handwriting kit includes:

              • Write the Room, Color Names: Lowercase Letters
              • Write the Room, Color Names: Uppercase Letters
              • Write the Room, Color Names: Cursive Writing
              • Copy/Draw/Color/Cut Color Worksheets
              • Colors Roll & Write Page
              • Color Names Letter Size Puzzle Pages
              • Flip and Fill A-Z Letter Pages
              • Colors Pre-Writing Lines Pencil Control Mazes
              • This handwriting kit now includes a bonus pack of pencil control worksheets, 1-10 fine motor clip cards, visual discrimination maze for directionality, handwriting sheets, and working memory/direction following sheet! Valued at $5, this bonus kit triples the goal areas you can work on in each therapy session or home program.

              Click here to get your copy of the Colors Handwriting Kit.

              Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

              Exercise and Mood: Why Does my Child Need to Exercise?

              Exercise and mood in kids

              Years of research and personal experience can tell us that adults tend to function better with regular exercise. Exercise helps us sleep better, reduce our stress, and manage our weight2. But what about our kids – how do they benefit from exercise? Today we are going to dive deep into the research and see why and how our kids should exercise to better their mood. Let’s look at the link between exercise and mood, and establishing healthy habits that lead to function and independence in kids.

              Related: Emotional Regulation and Executive Functioning Skills.

              Exercise and mood in children. Kids benefit from exercise to help with tantrums, behaviors, and confidence.

              Exercise and Mood: Managing TEMPER TANTRUMS

              If your child is having issues with emotional regulation, it may come out as a temper tantrum. You know the feeling of having no control over your emotions; being taken on a ride of sadness, aggression, and pounds of heavy frustration. Most adults have had enough practice honing their emotional regulation skills to keep them from screaming in the middle of the grocery store after a long day. Children, however, are still working on developing emotional regulation skills, and because of that, their overall mood can suffer.

              According to research new and old, exercise can help a child better regulate their mood9. Next time your child is screaming in the middle of Target, think to yourself – have they gotten enough physical activity recently? I have found that 30 mins of exercise in the morning can help even out moods for the whole day. Plus, you are bound to get a good nap time out of them if they have gotten enough physical activity – double whammy for everyone’s mood!

              Tips for Exercise and Mood

              Try these tips for encouraging exercise to reduce tantrums in toddlers:

              • Instead of pushing your toddler in a scroller on neighborhood walks, encourage them to walk next to you for a while.
              • Use classic movement songs to incorporate movement into their day – our favorites are “Animal Action” By Greg and Steve, “Jim Along Josie” By Pete Seeger, and “Pet Parade” by Hoyt Axton.
              • If screen time is a part of your routine, use videos like Cosmic Kids Yoga  to make the screen time more valuable.

              Exercise to REDUCe ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

              Research shows that regular exercise in youth can treat anxiety and depression in the short term and long-term 3,4. Some studies suggest that high-intensity exercises, that will increase cardiorespiratory activity, improve mood more than low-impact exercises, like yoga5.

              While there is lots of evidence to support that exercise can improve mood in both adults and children, some of the research points to other affects that exercise programs can have on children. For example, when children are enrolled in sports or other physical activity programs, they are also socially active and get attention from adults, which may also positively impact their mood7.

              Whatever way you look at it, exercise is likely to improve their mood and guard against anxiety and depression.

              Exercise for self-CONFIDENCE

              One way that exercise improves mood is through raising self-esteem – physical activity gives you a confidence boost! Research shows that all kinds of physical activity contribute to a rise in self-esteem5.

              Self-esteem is so important in all the occupations that children have, particularly in school. Academic and social success are partially dependent on self-esteem and self-worth, and both contribute to a positive mood.

              “Psychological and behavioural problems in children and adolescents are common, and improving self‐esteem may help to prevent the development of such problems” (Ekeland et al., 2004).

              Exercise and positive BEHAVIORS

              In one study, researchers found that teachers reported an increase in wanted behaviors for children enrolled in both high and low-intensity exercise programs5. The theory here is that when a child’s physical activity needs are met, they are better able to regulate their emotions, attention, and behaviors9.

              This comes with the awesome effects that exercise has for executive functioning, which controls many cognitive abilities6. With this increase in desirable behaviors, they will be more likely to develop positive relationships with their peers, teachers, and family members8.

              “Exercise…is highly relevant in preadolescent children… given the importance of well-developed executive functions for daily life functioning” (Verburgh et al., 2014). 

              Exercise has been shown to increase self-esteem, cognition and academic success, and decrease depression and anxiety in children3. Not to mention the obvious health factors associated with physical activity like heart and respiratory function. All said, exercise is integral to the overall health and wellness of our children.

              EXERCISES FOR KIDS

              After all that exercise talk, we have to offer some great ideas to add to your list! Most important to any exercise routine – you have to do what you love! Find what your kids like and encourage them to try new activities.

              Another key strategy to encourage exercise in kids is to model healthy habits as the child’s parent. When parents model healthy choices, fitness, and regular exercise, kids see that and are more likely to follow suit with their own healthy choices.

              One way that adults can model healthy choices is through exercising in the home. When kids see adults exercising, they have that positive interaction with physical activity.

              Having a treadmill in the home is one sure-fire way to encourage movement, exercise, and healthy habits that are integrated into the day-to-day. With  Horizon Fitness treadmills and fitness equipment, you get the availablity of cardio equiptment right in the home. It’s there as a visable option for adding movement and regular cardio exercise on a daily or weekly basis.

              Plus, parents of children can benefit from the fitness programs for quick and effective workouts that fit into the busy family’s schedule. Horizon offers a number of entertainment apps and streaming options, including Bluetooth speakers,  live or on-demand fitness apps, and other streaming fitness opportunities. All of these extras are designed to promote improved physical exercise and meaningful motivation.

              Click here to join me in using Horizon Fitness equipment as a tool to ensure healthy families.

              References

              1. Ekeland, E., Heian, F., Hagen, K. B., Abbott, J. M. & Nordheim, L. (2004). Exercise to improve self‐esteem in children and young people. Cochrane Libary of Systematic Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003683.pub

              2. Oaten, M. & Cheng, K. (2010). Longitudinal gains in self‐regulation from regular physical exercise. The British Journal of Health Psychology,11(4). https://doi.org/10.1348/135910706X96481

              3. Ortega, F. B., Ruiz, J. R., Castillo, M. J. & Sjöström, M. (2008). Physical fitness in childhood and adolescence: a powerful marker of health. International Journal of Obesity, 32, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0803774

              4. Pascoe, M. C. & Parker, A. G. (2018). Physical activity and exercise as a universal depression prevention in young people: A narrative review. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 13(4). https://doi.org/10.1111/eip.12737

              5. Telles, S., Singh, N., Bhardwaj, A. D., Kumar, A. & Balkrishna, A. (2013). Effect of yoga or physical exercise on physical, cognitive and emotional measures in children: a randomized controlled trial. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health,7(37). https://doi.org/10.1186/1753-2000-7-37

              6. Verburgh, L., Königs, M., Scherder, E. J. A., & Oosterlaan, J. (2014). Physical exercise and executive functions in preadolescent children, adolescents and young adults: a meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine,48, 973-979. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/48/12/973

              7. Williams, C. F., Bustamante, E. E., Waller, J. L. & Davis, C. L. (2019). Exercise effects on quality of life, mood, and self-worth in overweight children: the SMART randomized controlled trial. Translational Behavioral Medicine,9(3), 451–459. https://doi.org/10.1093/tbm/ibz015

              8. Xue, Y., Yang, Y. & Huang, T. (2019). Effects of chronic exercise interventions on executive function among children and adolescents: A systematic review with meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine,53, 1397-1404. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2017-097600

              9. Zhang, Y., Fu, R., Sun, L., Gong, Y., & Tang, D. (2019). How does exercise improve implicit emotion regulation ability: Preliminary evidence of mind-body exercise intervention combined with aerobic jogging and mindfulness-based yoga. Frontiers in Psychology,10. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01888

              Sydney Rearick, OTS, is an occupational therapy graduate student at Concordia University Wisconsin. Her background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about meeting your family’s needs. After working as a nanny for the last decade, Sydney is prepared to handle just about anything an infant, toddler, or child could throw at her. She is also a newly established children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.

              Exercise and Mood Resources for Kids

              You’ll love these resources designed to help kids get moving, exercising, and building skills, and kids won’t even realize they are “exercising”!

              Designed to use fun themes, these heavy work activity cards add proprioceptive input to help kids become more aware of their body’s position in space.

              Heavy work input allows kids to gain more awareness of motor planning skills, coordination, AND strengthening in fun and creative ways.

              Incorporate the themed exercise cards into learning themes or play.

              Grab your set of heavy work exercise cards, now.

              Includes themes:

              1. Trucks Heavy Work Activities
              2. Insects Heavy Work Activities
              3. Sea Animals Heavy Work Activities
              4. Farm Animals Heavy Work Activities
              5. Jungle Animals Heavy Work Activities
              6. Woodland Animals Heavy Work Activities
              7. Superheroes Heavy Work Activities
              8. Sports Heavy Work Activities
              9. Monsters Heavy Work Activities
              10. Summer Heavy Work Activities
              11. Butterfly Life Cycle Heavy Work Activities
              heavy work activity card example