Paper Plate Activities

Paper plate activities and paper plate crafts for occupational therapy

In occupational therapy, paper plate activities are one of those OT intervention tools that are low-cost and can be used in a multitude of ways to support many different developmental skills. From paper plate interactive activities, to scissor activities, to fine motor development, paper plate crafts and sensory activities can be used to promote many skill areas in occupational therapy interventions or at home and in the classroom.

Paper plate activities and paper plate crafts to develop skills like fine motor skills, social emotional skills, and gross motor skills.

Paper Plate Activities

I get really excited when I talk about the next subject – paper plate activities! Paper plate crafts and activities are so fun and often require very little materials with the end result being so wonderful for kids! 

Paper plates can easily be used for arts and crafts, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, subject or topic learning, visual motor and perceptual skills, emotions and self-regulation as well as a myriad of games.

Paper plates can be a go-to when you need a quick activity in any setting or on those cold, rainy days when you need something to keep the kids busy. They are a great motivator for kids and can help build important skills that a child needs to continue to learn and to grow. 

Paper plates are a thrifty tool for therapy to build those motor and perceptual skills while providing a fun activity that any child will want to engage in during sessions. The use of paper plates in the classroom can be for exploring emotions and self-regulation, creating after reading a book and lots of subject and topic learning fun. Their use in the home can include arts and crafts, instrument making, and games that result in some fantastic family entertainment.

Paper plates will give you the variety you need to help many kiddos on your caseload, in your classroom, or in your household. So, the next time you’re at the store, grab some plain or even festive paper plates and see what fun you can create with kids and you may find that you enjoy the fun too! 

Use these paper plate crafts to work on scissor skills, hand strength, dexterity, eye-hand coordination, and more.

Paper Plate Crafts

In occupational therapy interventions, we often use crafts as a medium for developing skills (taking us back to our roots of our profession!) These paper plate crafts are great for developing fine motor skills, scissor skills, bilateral coordination, motor planning, executive functioning skills, and more.

  • Mini Beach– Work on hand strength, utensil use, and more to make a paper plate beach craft.
  • Paper Bowl Scarecrow Craft– Use this paper plate craft to work on fine motor skills like precision, dexterity, and mixed medium use. Add in emotional learning to make the scarecrow personalized. Kids can take this craft and add their own unique twists for a multi-sensory craft with open-ended results.
  • Paper Plate Snail Craft– Work on precision, in-hand manipulation, arch development, and other fine motor skills with this paper plate snail craft.
  • Paper Plate Cars This craft is great for addressing scissor skills.
  • Paper Plate Baseball Craft– Improve scissor skills with this paper plate baseball craft.
  • Paper Plate Bubble Gum Machine Craft– Work on eye-hand coordination skills.
  • Thanksgiving Feast Plate – Use this craft to work on functional tasks such as meal skills and utensil use, as well as hand strength.
  • Tin Foil Moon– This is a great craft for working on graded hand strength and bilateral coordination skills.

Paper Plate Activities for Emotions and Self- Regulation

The best thing about occupational therapy professionals is that they can use ANY material to work on a variety of skill areas. Use paper plates to address social emotional learning and self-regulation skills!

Paper Plate Fine Motor Activities

Paper plates are a great fine motor activity to support hand strengthening, scissor skills, bilateral coordination, and more.

Paper Plate Gross Motor Activities

Paper plates can be used in therapy to support gross motor skills, too.

Paper Plate Learning Activities

Use these activities to work on functional tasks and executive functioning skills needed in daily occupations such as learning, math, using a phone, telling time, name writing, and more.

Paper Plate Auditory Processing with Paper Plate Instruments

You can use paper plates to work on auditory processing, too.

Paper Plate Visual Motor Activities

Paper plates are a great tool to use in therapy to address visual motor skills.

Now, what are you waiting for? Go grab some paper plates and pick an activity!!

Regina Allen

Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence activities for kids

Emotional intelligence in children is a skill that takes practice, example, and more practice to develop. For all of us, emotional intelligence can be an ongoing skill that impacts social emotional skills, relationships, and functioning in day to day tasks. Here we are

For those of us raising children and working with children it is clear that they need more than ‘book smarts’ to navigate the rather complex world that they are growing up in. For a long time the intelligence quotient or Emotional IQ was the only benchmark for measuring children’s potential and predicting how well they would achieve.

In more recent times people studying development and psychology realized that there were other skills necessary for achieving success in the world. One of these sets of skills has become known as Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and understand your emotions and those around you with empathy and perspective. These emotional intelligence activities for kids develop Emotional IQ through play.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is described as the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and to understand the emotions of those around you. The concept of emotional intelligence also known as emotional quotient or EQ developed in the 1990’s and has gained widespread acceptance in recent years.

Instrumental in the development of the theory and models of emotional intelligence is Daniel Goleman a psychologist and author. Goleman and emotional intelligence may be terms that you’ve heard connected, where he describes four main domains that make up Emotional Intelligence.

These domains are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. What do each of these emotional intelligence domains mean?

  • Self-awareness – Self-awareness is having conscious knowledge of your own character and feelings. This results in being able to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness in kids plays a role in emotional control, mindset, habits, and executive functioning skills.
  • Self-management – Self-management is being able to control and manage your emotions in a healthy way. Self-management for kids involves self-regulation, mindset, habits, and self-control.
  • Social awareness – Social awareness is the ability to pick up the emotions of other people and to understand what they are feeling. This can be a challenge for children of all needs.
  • Relationship management – Relationship management is the ability to build relationships with others through positive interpersonal communication skills (Segal, 2020). Children develop relationship management skills through example by watching others in their lives, by interacting with peers and adults, and through play.

The domains are further broken down into twelve competencies and learnable skills that are relevant to the specific domain. (Matlock, 2017)

At the bottom of this post, you can find hands-on activities for children that develop each area of these emotional intelligence skills.

Emotional intelligence and emotional leadership

Emotional leadership is a term developed by Goleman and others, and refers to leadership in groups, impacted by one’s emotional intelligence. When you take a look at the domains of EI, you can see how they play into the functioning of a group.

Occupational therapists know a thing or two about group management and group leadership. At it’s infancy, occupational therapy played a major role in group therapy and mental health. While this domain of occupational therapy intervention is no longer primary area of intervention, there are still many OTs working in the mental health arena and especially in the group treatment intervention.

Emotional leadership is an important part of group occupational therapy sessions, as the participants are interacting with others in the group and developing specific individualized goal areas but also group goal areas. Groups in therapy have a leader, often the therapist, but sometimes the therapist presents as a facilitator but one that keeps the group on track as the group interacts with other participants.

In this way, participants can develop emotional leadership skills and skills that can be used outside of the group setting as a development of emotional intelligence and emotional learning.

It is clear that a lot of work has been done on developing an understanding of emotional intelligence and the components that make up this construct. But how important is emotional intelligence in the lives and development of our children?

Is Emotional Intelligence Important?

Cognitive behavioral therapy recognizes that feelings or emotions can influence thoughts. When emotions run high they can alter the way our brains work and this can have a negative effect on our cognitive abilities. Our feelings can influence the decisions we make and how we interact with other people. It makes sense that having a greater understanding of our emotions will help guide how we interact with others.

Improving our emotional intelligence makes it easier to resolve conflicts, manage our stress and interact appropriately with those around us (Segal, 2020). And children will definitely benefit from developing these skills. Children’s learning is influence by their emotional state so managing emotions in a positive way allows children to be receptive learners at school.

Emotional intelligence includes the ability to name emotions. The act of naming emotions tends to diffuse their intensity and lessens the negative impact they may have on our cognitive abilities. The psychologist Dan Siegel refers to this as ‘name it to tame it’ (Schwartz, 2015). The value of recognizing feelings and emotions is evident but how does emotional intelligence develop.

Development of Emotional Intelligence

When asked how emotional intelligence develops in a recent interview Daniel Goleman stated that “emotional intelligence begins to develop in the earliest years. All the small exchanges children have with their parents, teachers, and with each other carry emotional messages. These messages repeat over and over to form the core of a child’s emotional outlook and capabilities.” (Scholastic, viewed 2021)

As adults interacting with children it becomes important to ensure that we are able to recognise and manage our own emotions. Once we are able to do this we can become valuable role models for children and we can provide opportunities for them to see emotional intelligence in action. Recognizing and discussing emotions with children lays a foundation for their self-regulation.

The development of emotional intelligence begins in infancy, through interactions with caregivers, and continues as children are socialized across their school years alongside parents, peers, and teachers. Emotional intelligence is gained through both informal experiences (observations and conversations) and through and formal instruction (being taught emotion vocabulary, learning self-regulation strategies).

How emotional intelligence is taught depends on age, but unlike learning other skills such as math and science or English language arts, there is no age at which it is too early or too late to develop your emotional quotient. The parts of the brain needed to develop emotional intelligence are active from birth and will continue to develop throughout life.

As with many developmental tasks it seems that the first few years of life the brain is at its most receptive to learning key skills. And emotional intelligence is one of these important skills. (Brackett, Cipriano, 2015

This resource on executive functioning skills and emotional regulation shares more information on the role executive functioning skills play on emotional IQ.

 How to Teach Emotional intelligence?

An essential part of developing emotional intelligence is being able to talk about feelings. This skill set is often termed emotional literacy and it is something that we are able to teach young children.

We can teach children to read and understand emotions and to respond appropriately to their own emotions and the emotions of others. Goleman explains that you can teach young children about the most basic emotions, such as happiness and anger and when they get older touch on more complicated feelings, such as jealousy, pride, and guilt (Scholastic, viewed 2021)

It is important to remember to include a range of emotions both positive and negative when talking about feelings.

Although it is not always comfortable talking about negative emotions it is important that children recognize and accept the wide range of emotions that they are likely to experience during their lives.  We can incorporate opportunities to promote emotional intelligence in our everyday lives. 

Emotional intelligence activities for therapy, the classroom, ad home to help children develop emotional intelligence skills for functioning.

Emotional Intelligence Activities

What does promoting Emotional Intelligence look like in a therapy session?

As an occupational therapist (and a parent!) it can be overwhelming to think about the number of developmental needs that fall within your domain of influence. My therapy approach has always been aligned with building confidence and self-awareness in the children that I treat so in that way emotional intelligence has been fostered through incidental learning and interactions.

In more recent times I have used tools and resources that focus specifically on building skills that will enhance emotional intelligence – empathy, self- regulation, communication skills – depending on what the individual child needs. 

In my therapy session the first few minutes are spent getting a gauge of where the child is at and what their mood is like. By spending a few minutes engaging one on one with the child I am able to assess their level of attention, level of arousal and motivation at the time. I also have a mood meter on my wall and the kids love moving the arrow to the colour that corresponds to how they are feeling that day – low energy, just right energy, slightly high energy or off the chart energy levels.

With a reluctant child I might get the ball rolling by sharing how I am feeling that day and using the mood meter to plot my energy levels. I also have a feeling chart called ‘How does your jellybean feel today?” adapted from a book by Susan Jelleberg (Jellybean Jamboree).

This introduces the idea of naming emotions and of expanding our vocabulary related to emotions. In this way I feel I am working on the self-awareness component of emotional intelligence. 

The next step is ensuring that the child is in a good space to learn and this means aiming for a calm-alert level of arousal. The Zones of Regulation offer a number of tools to help children reach that just right space. Some children need activities to lift their energy and some children need activities to lower their energy levels. I find deep pressure or proprioceptive activities work like a charm and I also use breathing activities frequently in my therapy sessions.

In this way we tackle some of the self-management aspects of emotional intelligence. 

Social management is a tricky one for young children to pick you. Learning that the people around them do not always think and feel the same is them is an on-going process. There are some lovely activities to encourage empathy in children and to help them become aware of other people’s feelings.

Finally relationship management is encouraged through appropriate interactions between myself and the child during the therapy session. For some children this means learning how to deal with losing a game or competition, learning how to take turns or share or learning to give and receive complements.  

So within the confines of a short therapy session, while working on other specific OT goals, it is very possible to facilitate and encourage a child’s emotional intelligence. An understanding of emotional intelligence and is various elements means that it is also possible to encourage its growth in the classroom and in our homes.

And it is with this well-developed emotional intelligence that I believe our children will be able to successfully navigate the world they are growing up in and find meaning in their lives. 

For further information on some of the component skills and activities related to emotional intelligence have a look at the following links. There are numerous resources on the OT Toolbox that deal with developing different components of emotional intelligence.  

Self-Awareness Activities for Kids

To develop self-awareness it is important to be able to understand what you are feeling. Children can participate in some of the following activities in increase their awareness of emotions.

These self-awareness activities promote social emotional development through the awareness and process of practicing identification of emotions:

Penguin emotions game– Use this penguin theme emotions activity to support emotional intelligence in kids.

Social emotional learning– This social emotional skills worksheet supports the development of emotional intelligence by allowing children to draw in facial expressions that match various emotional states.

Social emotional learning 2– This comprehensive resource on social emotional learning supports development of emotional intelligence by offering resources and information on how children develop emotional skills and ways to support that development.

Spring matching emotions slide deck game– This Spring themed emotions activity supports the development of emotional skills by offering practice and matching of facial expressions.

Self-Management Activities for Kids

To develop self-management skills you need to move beyond identifying emotions and figure out strategies that will help to regulate these emotions and subsequent behaviours. 

This Zones of regulation toolbox offers a collection of activities and resources designed to promote self-regulation and self-management skills for kids.

Breath control is an important skill for kids to achieve in developing and refining self-management skills.

Deep breathing exercise cards are a powerful tool to use in building and developing self-management skills for kids. Print off these cards and use them over and over again to meet the interests and needs of a whole classroom or clinic of children.

Proprioception activities are heavy work movement activities that provide children with a sense of awareness when it comes to how their body moves through space or in a given situation.

Social Awareness Activities

To develop social awareness you will need to understand other people’s emotions effectively. These hands-on social awareness activities are strategies that children can use to develop emotional intelligence in social situations.

Empathy for others- Developing empathy requires practice and awareness. This Quick as cricket activity for Empathy helps children to understand the perspectives of others through a classic children’s book. The hands-on accompaniment activity gives kids a chance to practice their empathy skills and put them to work in social situations or through the social interaction with others.

Try these friendship activities to work on specific skills in developing social awareness, relationships skills, and interpersonal skills in children.

Through books, families can look at the pictures and come back to specific concepts again and again. And, adding hands-on, multi-sensory play experiences brings those concepts home.

In the resource, Exploring Books Through Play, you’ll do just that.

This digital, E-BOOK is an amazing resource for anyone helping kids learn about acceptance, empathy, compassion, and friendship. In Exploring Books through Play, you’ll find therapist-approved resources, activities, crafts, projects, and play ideas based on 10 popular children’s books. Each book covered contains activities designed to develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills, sensory exploration, handwriting, and more. Help kids understand complex topics of social/emotional skills, empathy, compassion, and friendship through books and hands-on play.

Click here to get your copy of Exploring Books Through Play.

Relationship Management Activities

To develop relationship management skills you will need to know how to develop and maintain good relationships with other people. These relationship management activities are strategies to work on emotional intelligence during interactions and relationships with others. 

These Social skills interventions are therapy activities designed to promote relationships with others through hands-on activities that give kids practice to support relationship skills with others.

This resource on Executive functioning in school is helpful in addressing relationships with peers, mentors, and teachers.

To work on emotional development requires many executive functioning skills, including impulse control, working memory, mindset, attention, planning, self-talk, inhibition, and more. To address these skills in kids, using a fun, hands-on approach to talking about these skills through lists, drawing, and goal-setting is key. You’ll find the exact tools to address these needs in the printable, Impulse Control Journal.

Impulse Control Journal the OT Toolbox

The Impulse Control Journal…a printable resource for helping kids strategize executive functioning skill development. When saying “calm down” just isn’t enough…

When a child is easily “triggered” and seems to melt down at any sign of loud noises or excitement…

When you need help or a starting point to teach kids self-regulation strategies…

When you are struggling to motivate or redirect a child without causing a meltdown…

When you’re struggling to help kids explore their emotions, develop self-regulation and coping skills, manage and reflect on their emotions, identify their emotions, and more as they grow…

Grab the Impulse Control Journal to build organizational strategies, planning, prioritization, habits, and mindset in kids.

Contributor to The OT Toolbox: Janet Potterton is an occupational therapist working predominantly in school-based settings and I love, love, love my job. I have two children (if you don’t count my husband!), two dogs, one cat, two guinea pigs and one fish. When I am not with my family or at work I try to spend time in nature. The beach is my happy place.

Social Skills Checklist

social skills checklist

Everyday, social skills are a part of every interaction we have with other people. Today, I have a social skills checklist that can be used to identify areas of difficulty and areas of successes related to social interactions, social emotional development, and a way to identify specific areas that impact in social emotional learning. This list of social skills for children can be helpful in breaking down social learning and social skill development.

Social skills checklist for kids development from preschool through adulthood.

Social Skills Checklist

Before we get to the social skills checklist, let’s break down social skills into the components.

This social skills checklist breaks down social abilities and social development in kids.

Included in this checklist are the individual components of social emotional skill areas, or social abilities:

  • Conversational Skills
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Emotional Skills
  • Social Play
  • Emotional Development
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Peer Interactions
  • Self-Awareness Skills
  • Self-Confidence

You’ll see each of these social and emotional skills areas listed below with a checklist of each area related to social emotional learning. Use this list of social skills to support social emotional development in children.

How to Use a Social Skills Checklist

When we can identify specific aspects of our behavior and actions related to what’s happening around us, we can identify specific thoughts feelings, reactions and responses that impact our interaction in the environment and with others.

Having an awareness of each aspect of social and behavioral responses and internal thinking is a helpful place to start when it comes to promoting social emotional development. Then, we can know where to start by identifying specific areas of need in kids.

By helping individuals identify aspects of social skills, observing social emotional skills in others, identifying expected and unexpected behaviors, we can help the kids we serve to notice and the impact they have on others’ thoughts, emotions, reactions and responses.

By having individuals observe their own behavior, they can recognize how it impacts others, how it impacts participation in functional tasks in various environments, and they can make the connection between emotions, regulation, social skills, and functioning.

A Note About this Social Skills List

Remember that all children develop differently, and when it comes to social emotional learning, there is a close compont of executive functioning. Executive functioning skills down’t fully develop until adulthood. And so, social skill development can occur through adulthood as well.

This list of social skills is meant to be comprehensive. Not all aspects of social skills will be achieved and steps can be skipped or developed in various orders based on experiences. In general, the lists are written in a developmental order, but the segments of social skills (Conversational skills, Interpersonal skills, Emotional Skills, Social Play, Emotional Regulation, Peer Interactions, Self-Awareness skill, and Self-Confidence) can all be developing and occurring at once. These social abilities are all happening at once and are fluid in development.

Use this social skills checklist to identify areas of development, including self and social awareness in one-on-one tasks, peer tasks to function, learn, and play.

conversational Skills

Conversational skills occur throughout almost all functional tasks and environments. From the home, to school, to the community, conversational skills are needed for social interactions all day long.

  • Participates in conversation (verbal and/or non-verbal)
  • Responds to yes/no questions
  • Answers questions
  • Initiate conversation when it is appropriate to do so
  • Initiates conversation around specific topic
  • Adds to a conversation around a specific topic
  • Asks questions around a specific topic
  • Responds to questions around a specific topic without getting off track
  • Makes a variety of comments, related to the topic, without getting off track
  • Ends conversations appropriately
  • Waits to interject in a conversation
  • Maintains appropriate proximity to conversation partner
  • Recognizes the facial expressions of others
  • Recognizes the nonverbal cues, or “body language” of others
  • Requests assistance from others when needed
  • Understands the jokes of others
  • Maintains eye contact during conversations (able or unable)
  • Maintains an appropriate distance when interacting with peers
  • Speaks at an appropriate volume in conversations
  • Speaks at an appropriate volume on virtual/digital conversations online or via a device
  • Considers the perspective of others
  • Notices when others may be struggling
  • Offers assistance to others
  • Verbally expresses their feelings
  • Responds to greetings expressed by others
  • Joins a conversation with two or more people without interrupting
  • Maintains back and forth conversation
  • Initiates greetings to others
  • Provides compliments to others
  • Introduces self to others
  • Politely asks others to move out of their way
  • Acknowledges the Compliments Directed at Him/Her by Others
  • Allows Peers to Join Him/Her in Activities
  • Responds to the Invitations of Peers to Join Them in Activities
  • Allows Others to Assist Him/Her With Tasks
  • Responds to Questions Directed at Him/Her by Others
  • Experiences Positive Peer Interactions
  • Compromises During Disagreements With Others
  • Responds Slowly in Conversations
  • Changes the Topic of Conversation to Fit Self-Interests
  • Misinterprets the Intentions of Others
  • Makes Inappropriate Comments
  • Engages in Solitary Interests and Hobbies
  • Ends Conversations Abruptly
  • Fails to Read Cues to Terminate Conversations
  • Exhibits Fear or Anxiety
  • Regarding Social Interactions
  • Experiences Negative Peer Interactions
  • Engages in Socially Inappropriate Behaviors
  • Exhibits Poor Timing With His/Her Social Initiations
  • Is Manipulated by Peers Engages in Solitary Activities in the Presence of Peers
  • Conversational skills online in email or text messages
  • Conversational skills during times of stress such as tests, games, etc.

Interpersonal skills

Part of interpersonal skills is the self awareness and social awareness involved in peer interactions. Interpersonal skills refers to interacting with others in social situations, classrooms, homes, and the community. Also involved is interpersonal skills on a digital manner, which is a new ballgame for many adults who are raising children in this digital era.

Types of Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills can be broken into several areas:

  1. Listening
  2. Collaboration
  3. Empathy
  4. Problem solving
  5. Conflict resolution
  6. Constructive feedback
  7. Diplomacy

Interpersonal skills enable us to interact with others. These social skill checklist includes aspects of interpersonal skills.

  • Introduces him/herself to someone new
  • Introduces people to each other
  • Makes eye contact (if able/willing)
  • Uses manners
  • Problem Solving related to others in a specific situation
  • Referring back to previous situations where they needed to use problem solving (working memory)
  • Seeks help from peers in a one-on-one setting
  • Seeks help from peers in a group setting
  • Seeks help from adult
  • Accepts consequences
  • Plays a game successfully
  • Wins a game with appropriate behavior
  • Wins a game with appropriate conversation to others
  • Loses a game with appropriate behavior
  • Loses a game with appropriate conversation to others
  • Responds to constructive criticism
  • Shows self-confidence in group situations
  • Shows self-confidence in one-on-one situations
  • Shares with others (when appropriate)
  • Shows ability to compromise
  • Shows ability to cooperate on a problem
  • Shows ability to cooperate on a disagreement
  • Listens to others
  • Takes turns
  • Uses personal space
  • Respects the personal space of others
  • Follows directions in a given situation
  • Works with others to follow directions as a group (walking on one side of the hallway)
  • Identifies/defines problems
  • Generates solutions to problems
  • Carries out solutions by negotiating or compromising
  • Understands impact his/her behavior has on peers
  • Interprets body language in others
  • Interprets or recognizes body language in self
  • Clearly communicates
  • Offers constructive feedback to others in a one-on-one basis
  • Offers constructive feedback to others in a group setting
  • Responds to constructive feedback from others in a one-on-one setting
  • Responds to constructive feedback from others in a group setting
  • Offers input to problem solve
  • Accepts input from others to problem solve
  • Uses given information to problem solve with flexibility

Emotions and Social Skills

  • Understanding emotions in general
  • Identifies emotions in others
  • Identifies emotions in self
  • Able to identify a potential reason for emotional displays in others
  • Able to identify a potential reason for emotional displays in self
  • Justifies emotions once identified
  • Able to regulate emotions with appropriate responses
  • Displays empathy towards others
  • Displays a variety of emotions
  • Identifies likes and dislikes
  • Demonstrates affection and empathy toward peers
  • Refrains from aggressive behaviors toward peers
  • Refrains from aggressive behaviors or self-talk toward self
  • Identify emotional state during a conversation or situation
  • Uses different tones of voice to convey messages
  • Compliments others
  • Appropriately receives compliments
  • Asks for a favor appropriately
  • Apologizes independently
  • Says thank you
  • Gives compliments to peers
  • Gives compliments to adults
  • Flexibility
  • Accepts making mistakes without becoming upset/angry
  • Accepts consequences of his/her behavior
  • Accepts unexpected changes
  • Continues to try when something is difficult
  • Ignores others or situations when it is desirable to do so
  • Conversational Skills
  • Problem Solving
  • Compliments
  • Flexibility

SOCIAL PLAY AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Beginning Play Behaviors

  • Maintain proximity to peers within 1 foot
  • Observe peers in play vicinity within 3 feet
  • Parallel play near peers using the same or similar materials (Playing alongside a peer with own toys or games)
  • Imitate peer (physical or verbal)
  • Take turns during simple games (e.g., rolling ball back and forth)

Intermediate Play Behaviors

  • Play associatively with other children
  • Shares toys during play
  • Changes play with flexibility
  • Respond to interactions from peers such as accepting a toy from a peer;
  • Answers questions during play
  • Return and initiate greetings with peers (e.g., wave or say “hello”).
  • Know acceptable ways of joining in an activity with others (e.g., offering a toy to a peer or observe play and ask to join in).
  • Invite known peers to play
  • Take turns during structured games/activities (social games or board games)
  • Ask peers for toys, food, and materials

Advanced Play Behavior

  • Play cooperatively with peers
  • Game play with rule following
  • Game play with problem solving when rules are broken
  • Make comments about what he/she is playing to peers
  • Organize play by suggesting play plan
  • Plays the role of a leader during peer play
  • Follow another peers play ideas
  • Plays the role of a follower during peer play
  • Turn taking during structured activities
  • Take turns during unstructured activities
  • Invites unknown peers to play (age-appropriate unknown peers in settings such as playgrounds)
  • Give up toys, food and materials to peers
  • Offer toys, food, and materials to peers

EMOTIONAL REGULATION

Emotional regulation is broken down into several areas when it comes to different social skills. this includes internal self-regulation as well as self-regulation during peer interactions, group interactions, problem solving, and flexibility of emotional regulation. A component to these concepts is working memory.

In these ways emotional regulation is related to executive functioning skills.

  • Understanding emotions
  • Identify likes and dislikes
  • Identify emotions in self
  • Label emotions in self
  • Identify emotions in others
  • Label emotions in others
  • Justify an emotion once identified/labeled
  • Demonstrate affection toward peers
  • Demonstrate empathy toward peers
  • Ability to demonstrate intense fears
  • Uses tone of voice to convey a message

Self Regulation and Social Skills

  • Allow others to comfort him/her if upset or agitated
  • Self regulate when tense or upset (using self-regulation skills independently)
  • Self regulate when energy level is high (using self-regulation skills or strategies)
  • Use acceptable ways to express anger or frustration (e.g., states they are upset or asks to take a break)
  • Deal with being teased in acceptable ways (e.g., ignore, walk away, tell adult)
  • Deals with being left out of group
  • Request a “break” or to be all done when upset
  • Accept not being first at a game or activity
  • Say “no” in an acceptable way to things s/he doesn’t want to do
  • Accept losing at a game without becoming upset/angry
  • Deals with winning appropriately
  • Deals with losing appropriately
  • Accept being told “no” without becoming upset/angry
  • Able to say “I don’t know.”

Flexibility of social interactions

  • Accept making mistakes without becoming upset/angry
  • Accept consequences of his/her behaviors without becoming upset/angry
  • Ignore others or situations when it is desirable to do so
  • Accept unexpected changes
  • Accept changes in routine
  • Continue to try when something is difficult

Problem Solving in social situations

  • Claim and defend possessions.
  • Identify/define problems.
  • Generate solutions using working memory or with innovative thought generation
  • Carry out solutions by negotiating or compromising
  • Seek assistance from adults
  • Seek assistance from peers
  • Give assistance to peers
  • Identify when assistance is needed for self
  • Identify when assistance is needed by others

Self-Regulation and Group Interactions

  • Participate in group interactions
  • Respond/participate when one other child is present.
  • Respond/participate when more than one other child is present.
  • Respond/participate in a group of children WITHOUT adult supervision
  • Respond/participate in a group of children WITH adult supervision
  • Use appropriate attention seeking behaviors (e.g., calling name, tapping
  • shoulder).
  • Follows the rules of a group
  • Remain with group during group tasks
  • Follow the group routine
  • Follow directions during group settings
  • Make transition to next activity when directed
  • Accept interruptions/unexpected change
  • Take turns with others in group settings
  • Work collectively as a group to solve a problem
  • Interact with group members
  • Refrain from breaking off into smaller groups
  • Refrain from gossip or turning other group members against one another

Peer Interactions

  • Invites peers to join them in activities
  • Joins peers in activities
  • Takes turns during games or activities
  • Takes turns in situations such as waiting in line, using the bathroom etc.
  • Maintains personal hygiene
  • Interacts with peers during unstructured activities
  • Interacts with peers during structured activities
  • Asks questions about others
  • Asks questions to to continue a conversation
  • Engages in one-on-one interactions with peers
  • Interacts in groups of peers
  • Maintains the “give-and-take” of conversations
  • Expresses sympathy for others
  • Expresses empathy for others in conversation
  • Expresses empathy for others in action
  • Acknowledges the interests of others
  • Limits negative conversations about others
  • Responds to negative conversations about others

Self-Awareness Skills

Self-awareness is an important part of social emotional learning and development of social skills. Self-awareness refers to the ability to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values. This ability to be self-aware influences how an individual responds to situations. Self-awareness also impacts behaviors.

Self-awareness is greatly related to emotional regulation, the limbic system, and fight/flight/freeze concepts.

Self-awareness involves body awareness, confidence, an awareness of interests, strengths, and weaknesses in given tasks.

Self-awareness skills include:

  • Identifying personal strengths
  • Identifying personal weaknesses
  • Identifying one’s emotions
  • Identifying and developing interests, likes, and dislikes
  • Demonstrating an awareness of feelings and values
  • Having self-confidence
  • Understanding the concept of over-confidence
  • Being able to differentiate between abilities and inabilities
  • Examining prejudices and biases
  • Experiencing self-efficacy
  • Having a growth mindset

Social Confidence

It’s through the development of self-awareness skills that social confidence forms. When we are able to be aware of ourselves and build in the areas listed above, confidences in our abilities to react, respond, and use regulation strategies follow. This is one aspect of social confidence.

Another aspect of social confidence refers to develop self-esteem and an ability to interact with others in a variety of situations. This can happen in established friendships, new friendships, established and known settings, and new or novel settings.

Social confidence refers to these aspects of social skills:

  • Having confidence in our emotional response
  • Being yourself
  • Participating in new settings
  • Participating in new activities
  • Reaching out to others who the child doesn’t know
  • Participating in activities even through there is a chance of failure
  • Trying again after failure
  • Learning new things
  • Being supportive to others
  • Not worrying about what others think of one’s actions
  • Not worrying about what others may think of one’s behaviors

How to promote Social Skills in Kids

Take a look at the lists of specific social skills in this checklist. It is hard to think of any daily task that doesn’t require some aspect of social skill development. From interacting with family, the community, peers, there are tasks occurring all day long that require social skills.

Use this social emotional learning worksheet to work on identifying emotions and to drive social skill development.

Use these social development toys to promote social skill progression.

For more ways to pinpoint areas of development in kids, try the Impulse Control Journal. This comprehensive resource outlines daily interactions and allows children to identify how they’ve behaved or responded to situations.

Children can identify aspects of social situations that have worked well, and aspects that they can improve upon.

The Impulse Control Journal has activities and tools to support and develop mindset, habits, goals, interactions, working memory, and much more.

Click here to get your copy of this resource today.

Impulse Control Journal the OT Toolbox

The Impulse Control Journal…a printable resource for helping kids strategize executive functioning skill development. When saying “calm down” just isn’t enough…

When a child is easily “triggered” and seems to melt down at any sign of loud noises or excitement…

When you need help or a starting point to teach kids self-regulation strategies…

When you are struggling to motivate or redirect a child without causing a meltdown…

When you’re struggling to help kids explore their emotions, develop self-regulation and coping skills, manage and reflect on their emotions, identify their emotions, and more as they grow…

Grab the Impulse Control Journal to build organizational strategies, planning, prioritization, habits, and mindset in kids.

Another fantastic resource that can help develop social and emotional skills is the activity book, Exploring Books Through Play.

This digital E-BOOK is an amazing resource for anyone helping kids learn about acceptance, empathy, compassion, and friendship. In Exploring Books through Play, you’ll find therapist-approved resources, activities, crafts, projects, and play ideas based on 10 popular children’s books. Each book covered contains activities designed to develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills, sensory exploration, handwriting, and more. Help kids understand complex topics of social/emotional skills, empathy, compassion, and friendship through books and hands-on play.

The book Exploring Books Through Play, has 50 different activities based on popular children’s books. Each book is used for 5 different activities that cover a variety of areas: sensory play, crafts, gross motor activities, fine motor activities, handwriting, scissor skills, and so much more.

This book is designed to address emotional regulation and connecting with kids.

social emotional activities for kids

WHAT’S INSIDE EXPLORING BOOKS THROUGH PLAY?

We have handpicked these easy and hands-on activities to help kids develop essential social emotional learning skills.

As classroom curriculum becomes more focused on academics, social and emotional development can get lost in the shuffle. This book focuses on abstract concepts of friendship, acceptance and empathy. By using children’s books that foster understanding of these concepts through pictures and stories, we can help children understand and see these emotions in action. What if you could use books and interactive activities to teach friendship? What if you could read a book that centers on accepting differences and create or make an activity or craft that helps children see acceptance in action. What if you could explore emotions through story and interactive play? In this book, you will find books that cover abstract concepts and use play to build social and developmental skills.  The 10 books covered include:

  • A Sick Day for Amos McGee
  • Boy + Bot
  • Little Blue and Little Yellow
  • Red: A Crayon’s Story
  • Chrysanthemum
  • The Day the Crayons Quit
  • Leonardo the Terrible Monster
  • The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend
  • Whoever You Are and Penguin and Pinecone

Want to help kids learn more about complex concepts such emotions, empathy, compassion, and differences?

Creative book activities that help kids develop fine motor skills and gross motor skills, while exploring books.

Exploring Books Through Play uses children’s literature as a theme to engage in fun, hands-on activities that help children and adults delve deeper into the characters and lessons, bringing the stories to life and falling further in love with literature. Read a story and then bring the characters to life while learning and building skills. Each story offers unique activities designed around central themes of friendship, empathy, and compassion.

Each chapter includes 5 activities for each of the 10 children’s books. The activities are perfect for children ages 3-8, can be used in small groups or as a whole class, and are easily adapted to a home or classroom setting.

Click here to get the Exploring Books Through Play resource.

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.

Children’s Books for Zones of Regulation

Zones of Regulation children's books

Here we are covering tons of Children’s Books for Zones of Regulation. These are self-regulation books for kids that reinforce the concepts from the Zones of Regulation program for self-regulation and self-modulation. These books pair well with the concepts in the popular self-regulation program and go very nicely with the hands-on Zones of Regulation activities that we have here on the website.

Children's books for Zones of Regulation and books that support self-regulation skills in kids.

Children’s Books for Zones of Regulation Program

Identifying emotions can be difficult for some children. Recognizing an emotional state, identifying it within themselves, and then learning strategies for self-regulation are all needed for gaining emotional control. As parents, therapists, and teachers we can and should help young children understand and identify their feelings and help them gain ways to communicate their feelings appropriately to others. 

Using age-appropriate books are a perfect tool to assist when helping children learn about emotions.

There are books to help children identify and recognize emotions and to help children discover and learn self-regulation and coping strategies which can help them develop emotional control and maturity within themselves.

Books about self-regulation

Self-Regulation Books

There is a vast library of books to help and many of these can be easily used as a supplemental tool coupled to the curriculum or programs you already have in place. For the purposes of this post, the books listed here are utilizing the Zones of Regulation™ curriculum as a backdrop. Simply stated, the Zones of Regulation™ curriculum is a color coded, four zone program which is designed to help children navigate their confusing feelings.

The books in this post are favorites of therapists, teachers, counselors, and parents as they have used them frequently with the children in their worlds. Through these books children will learn to identify emotions and begin to relate their own feelings and emotions to the characters within the books. They will learn techniques and strategies to calm and regulate as they deal with the overwhelming strong feelings they experience in their daily lives.
 

Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.

Self-Regulation Books: Books for the Red Zone

RED ZONE books are those books that have topics such as anger, devastation, elation, explosive behavior, feeling terrified, or hands-on physical reactions such as hitting or kicking, or maybe even yelling.

The following red zone books are popular among teachers:

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Ways to Explain Death to Children – This book is perfect for children of all ages when the death of a loved one has occurred or is about to happen. It explains with sensitivity and caring in a beautiful way about the cycle of life and helps a child to understand that all living things have their own lifetimes.

Llama Llama Mad at Mama – This book is when Little Llama gets really tired and overwhelmed and has a meltdown when running errands with his mom. With Mama Llama’s guidance, they clean up the mess and find different ways to make the errands more enjoyable. Pair this book with a hands-on activity like our Llama Llama Red Pajama heavy work activity that offers great calming proprioceptive input.

When I Feel Angry – This book explains how different things can make you feel angry, and this is an acceptable feeling; however, it is what you do when you get angry that matters most.

When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry – This book explores the very upsetting feeling of anger and emphasizes that everyone gets angry sometimes. The main character, Sophie, gets really, really angry and kicks, screams, and roars, and then runs into the woods to climb a tree and calm down, she later returns home to her loving family where things are calm and back to normal.

Self-Regulation Books: Books for the Yellow Zone

YELLOW ZONE books are those books that have topics such as feeling anxious, excited, frustrated, grumpy, nervous, scared, being silly or wiggly, or feeling worried.

The following yellow zone books are popular among school counselors:

Bear Feels Scared – In this cute and compassionate book, Bear gets scared by bad weather and gets lost in the woods. After worry from his friends, they find him and help him to calm his fears. A book that tells a story about fear and reassurance that things do get better.

Bye Bye Pesky Fly – This is a cute little book about Pig and Fly who end up teaching children how they can deal with situations in relationships that annoy or frustrate them in a kind way.

Grumpy Bird – This is a fun little character book about Bird who wakes up with the grumpies and when he goes on a walk to shake them off, his friends join in and soon he discovers that exercise and the company of friends can help him shake off his grumpy mood.

Wemberly Worried – This sweet book is about the mouse Wemberly who worries about everything and after she makes a new friend at school she begins to worry less and less. It’s a cute book that shows children that by facing the anxiety it can get better. It’s an entertaining and reassuring book that shows how anxieties can lessen over time.

Self-Regulation Books: Books for the Green Zone

GREEN ZONE books are those books that have topics such as feeling calm, content, focused, happy, proud, ready to learn, and thankful.

The following green zone books are popular among educators:

I Am Thankful – This is a special, rhyming book that follows three diverse families as they celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with their own traditions, acts of kindness, and demonstrating the ways they give back to others.

I Feel Happy: Why do I feel happy today? – This is a sweet book that teaches young children the feeling of happiness and how sometimes it feels loud and other times it may feel calm. The main character who is a sunshine name Happy, teaches children how being happy feels in the body and what it may look like on the outside.

Marvelous Me: Inside and Out – This book encourages children to enjoy the things that make them unique and feel proud of who they are! It’s a cute book about a young boy who simply likes himself for who he is and all the things that make him special.

Self- Regulation Books: Books for the Blue Zone

BLUE ZONE books are those books that have topics such as feeling bored, depressed, disappointed, sad, shy, sick, or tired.

The following blue zone books are popular among parents:

Bored Claude – This cute book is about a shark feeling gloomy and bored. His friends are busy doing things, but Claude isn’t interested in doing what they want to do as he thinks it’s boring. He comes up with a brilliant idea for something that everyone can do together.

I’m Sad – This book is about Flamingo who talks about feeling sad and his friends who try to cheer him up, but nothing seems to work. Flamingo learns he will not always feel this way and sometimes just being a friend means you just support by being there and you don’t have to try to cheer someone up.

When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt – This is a book about how Sophie’s feelings get really hurt in school when the class laughs at her painting making her feel sad and disappointed, but when she explains her painting to everyone, they understand what she is trying to do.

More Self-Regulation Books

ALL ZONES books are those books that include all of the emotions. These books are popular among most professionals and parents:

Glad Monster, Sad Monster – This little brightly colored book shows monsters acting out different emotions and things that could trigger them.

The Color Monster – This is a fun concept book for children when the Color Monster wakes up feeling many emotions all at once. The book helps children to identifying emotions and learn how to feel more in control.

The Feelings Book – This bright and colorful book talks about how we all feel different emotions sometimes.

The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too! – Every young child knows about Mo Willem’s Pigeon and those famous temper tantrums, but this book is about more emotions and The Pigeon makes it more engaging while getting kiddos talking about emotions.

The Way I Feel – This is a comprehensive book about multiple emotions with fun rhyming text that makes it fun to read aloud. 

Additionally, GREEN ZONE books are those books that have strategies or techniques for teaching self-regulation and coping skills resulting in children achieving feelings within the green zone. These books are popular among most all professionals, but more directly, among pediatric OT practitioners:

A Little Spot of Patience – This is a cute little book about learning to enjoy waiting! What? Children can actually learn to enjoy waiting? Yes! This cute book presents ideas of how to pass the time and tells why waiting can make some things better. 

Breathe Like a Bear – This is a beautiful book with mindfulness exercises designed to teach children strategies and techniques for managing their breath, bodies, and emotions. It has 30 short breathing movements that can be performed anywhere and anytime.

Even Superheroes Have Bad Days – This is a fun action-packed book with wonderful rhyming text making it a fav among children because what child doesn’t like superheroes! This book reveals many ways that superheroes (and children) can resist the temptation to cause a scene when they feel extreme emotions. It teaches many fun ideas to help children cope with strong feelings and emotions
when they feel overwhelmed.

How to Be a Superhero Called Self-Control! – This is a gem of a book for pediatric occupational therapy practitioners as it uses Self-Control, a superhero, who wants to teach children some very special super powers for self-control in learning to deal with anger, anxiety, frustration and other strong feelings. Several strategies such as the use of deep pressure, self-massage, breathing exercises, and other activities are a part so that children can learn to find their own personal peaceful place. Really an OT gem!

The Impulse Control Journal– This printable workbook is a huge resource when it comes to mindfulness, mindset, impulses, habits, and making choices. There are lists to write out goals, and areas to draw to get kids thinking on how to address regulation needs. This tool is great for impulse control, but covers many other areas as well, including helping kids come up with strategies for self-regulation.

I Can Do That: A Book on Self-Regulation – Another pediatric OT practitioner gem! This book is told through rhyming text from a child’s point of view and helps children to learn self-regulation techniques by effectively practicing ways they can control their own emotions and actions when they start becoming dysregulated. A great book for children with a sensory processing disorder!
 
My Mouth is a Volcano! – This is an entertaining book that takes an empathetic approach to teaching children the value of respecting others and listening while waiting for their turn to speak. The character in the book has habit of interrupting others and the book teaches a witty technique to help children learn to manage all of their thoughts and words.

My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing – This interactive book helps to teach children to breathe along as they learn to make angry and sad feelings disappear. Do you have magic breath! Yes, I do! This book helps to guide children into a calm space of mindfulness.

My Magical Choices – Another beautiful book with rhyming text that engages children in learning about the choices they make. It teaches children about positive, conscious language while emphasizing a myriad of behaviors such as being responsible, calm, forgiving, and generous empowering them to be responsible for their own happiness.

The Kids’ Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control – Frankly, this book is jammed full of simple ideas to regulate the emotions and senses helping children to tackle different feelings full force and feel awesomely strong and in control. Can I say another pediatric OT gem here? Some examples of strategies and tools include: breathing, deep pressure holds, finger pulls, use of fidgets, headphones,
and chewing gum. Children learn to use these to help them feel calm, cool, and AWESOME!

What Should Danny Do? – This is a creative and interactive book that gives the reader choices of what Danny will do in a dilemma in order to navigate the stories within the book. This empowers the reader to make positive choices while demonstrating the natural consequences to negative selections helping children to understand that the choices they make help to impact their day.

What Were You Thinking: Learning to Control Your Impulses – This is a great older kid’s book addressing the teaching of impulse control. The main character, Braden, has trouble controlling his impulses and has poor decision-making skills, resulting in ill-timing, disruptive behaviors, and impulsive reactions which impact others around him. The adults in the story must teach Braden impulse control through lessons shared by his teachers and his mom.

You Get What You Get – This is a very relatable book for some children as the main character, Melvin, throws a fit when he doesn’t get what he wants. The book depicts how he must learn to deal with his strong feeling of disappointment – an important life lesson – “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit”!

Through these books, many children will learn about emotions, understand that others feel the same way, and will learn techniques and strategies to deal with these strong feelings in their daily lives. It is important to emphasize to all children that there are no “good” or “bad” emotions as we all experience them and that all emotions are okay to feel, but it is important to learn how to manage our
emotions for overall health and well-being. When children learn to identify emotions and what can trigger them, they can learn effective coping strategies and build a strong emotional foundation allowing for improved social skills and increased self-esteem and self-confidence.

Regina Allen

Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!

The Limbic System and Function

fight, flight, fright, and function based on the limbic system

Did you know that the limbic system plays an important role in everything we do? As occupational therapists, educators, and parents, understanding the role of the limbic system and function is not only practical information…it’s essential to understand when it comes to child development and day to day functioning as children learn, play, participate in household tasks, and interact with peers.

Today I am sharing really interesting information on the brain, the limbic system, and emotional regulation. I’m hoping to make this explanation of neuroscience super easy to understand so you can take this info and run with it!

Resources and tools for understanding the limbic system and functional tasks.

Let’s do this! Recently, we covered emotional regulation and executive functioning skills. When it comes to emotions, regulating behaviors, and the mental skills of executive functioning, you can see how all of these areas play a role in everything we do on a day to day basis. Social emotional learning is part of this. The limbic system is an important brain structure involved in each of these areas.

What is the Limbic System?

The limbic system is an area of the brain including several brain structures. These include the amygdala, the hippocampus, the hypothalamus, thalamus, and olfactory bulb. There are some really important hormones associated with these structures and their responses as well.

These structures and their hormones control functions such as emotions, behavior, motivation, sleep, appetite, olfaction, stress response. This is really interesting, because you may connect the dots with this list and see that social emotional skills, executive functioning, inner drives, and sensory processing (including the sense of smell and interoception) all centered in one place in the brain! (This is not to say that these are the only places in the brain that operate these functions as well.)

Generally speaking, the limbic system is the emotional brain.

It’s the space where survival behavior occurs. It’s the place in the brain that coordinated emotions, fear, aggression, basic inner drives, and episodic memories.

You know how the smell of freshly baked chocolate cookies brings back cozy memories of baking with Grandma all those years ago? Now, when you smell that ooey, gooey chocolate baked into chewy dough you might feel calm and at peace and picture yourself in your grandmother’s sunny kitchen when you were young. That’s the limbic system at work!

We all have limbic memories…maybe it’s the scent of vanilla that fosters a memory from childhood. Perhaps it’s the scent of glue that takes you back to peeling dried Elmers glue from the palm of your hand. Maybe it’s a certain scent that brings back scary or bad memories. Each one of us is unique in how those connections work in our brains!

“The emotional brain, the limbic system, has the power to open or close access to learning, memory, and the ability to make novel connections,” (Vail, 2017).

Fight, flight, fright, and function for behavioral regulation to get things done impacted by the limbic system.

How the Limbic System and Function are connected

When it comes to participating in daily tasks, emotional response, behavioral regulation, the limbic system plays a primary role.

Here’s how this inner brain emotional powerhouse works when it comes to the limbic system and function:

The Limbic System is a Fright, Flight, and Freeze Response Center

The limbic system and function are connected by the fight, flight, freeze system of the brain.

A stressful situation sends signals to activate the amygdala, which quickly processes that information. It activates the hypothalamus which tells the adrenal gland to send adrenaline into the blood stream. The hypothalamus also activates other hormones to alert the pituitary gland.

Several hormones work together to keep the body on high alert, while suppressing other body systems. The adrenal glands release hormones such as epinephrine that work to raise blood pressure and heart rate, increase blood flow to muscles and organs, and elevate breathing rate. All of these systems keep you on high alert.

When we are on that high alert state, it is difficult to accomplish everyday tasks.

Think about being in an over-responsive state and trying to read a book, concentrate on completing complex math problems, solving difficult scenarios, or reading a research article. All of these tasks require attention, focus, and the ability to block out other sensory and environmental input. For children, accomplishing day-to-day tasks like getting dressed, completing the morning routine, interacting with peers, or learning can be a similar scenario. For some, that fight/flight/freeze state interrupts the ability to initiate a task or follow through to accomplish a task.

Let’s look at this another way: Have you ever been startled by a deer jumping out in front of your car while driving? You probably recall that whole-body sense of alertness and maybe felt prickly sensation all over your arms and that JUMP of acute awareness. When the deer pranced away, your body probably settled and while you were still feeling that sense of alarm, your body was already settling down. That’s because after a stress response is over or dismissed, hypothalamus activates the parasympathetic nervous system and inhibits the stress response.

Similarly, when in a flight/fright/freeze state, it’s impossible to accomplish routine, mundane, or novel tasks.

The limbic system impacts emotions

The limbic system and functioning are connected by our emotional response and behavioral regulation.

As our “Emotional Center”, the limbic system impacts behavioral response and emotional regulation in everything we do. This inner area of the brain are also deeply associated with emotions. The amygdala and the hippocampus, in particular are the emotional centers. These two structures connect via the thalamus.

Together, these connections play a role in emotional activities like friendship, affection, and mood. Regulation of emotions also occurs here: particularly emotions that have a role in survival such as aggression, love, fear, or anxiety.

These brain organs also help the brain interpret the emotional content of memories. The amygdala assigns emotional meaning to memories and helps the brain form fear-based memories. The hippocampus helps form sensory memories, which are memories associated with sensory input.

The limbic system regulates those automatic responses to emotional stimuli and plays an important role in behavior. Other places in the brain, such as the frontal regions (executive functioning center) are recruited for modulation of amygdala activity. This is when self-regulation happens.

When it comes to self-regulation, many children have a difficult time learning and achieving without help. In any given moment, a child (and an adult) encounters multiple situations and circumstances that require an awareness of self and others as well as the ability to have or gain self-control.

Generally speaking, a child should achieve an optimal level of self-awareness and mindfulness to identify their inner feelings and emotions and be ready to regulate themselves when the time comes. They need to learn strategies and techniques that work for them to assist them in leaving a less optimal level in order to get back to a “ready-to-go” level of regulation so they can accomplish tasks like brushing teeth, reading a book, interacting with a friend, crossing the street…the list can go on and on!

Is this brain talk fascinating? Or are your eyes glazing over??

How to facilitate the limbic system for function

The main thing to remember is that we CAN help kids with regulation and modulation of those inner brain workings, so the can play, learn, interact with others, and complete day to day tasks.

  • We can teach them tools to help with the stress input and give them strategies so they are not in constant fright/flight/freeze mode.
  • We can offer sensory input that provides the movement that their body needs so the nervous system has what it needs.
  • We can give kids the words they can use so they can recognize their body’s emotions.
  • We can show them strategies to help regulate.
  • We can offer opportunities to connect with them.
  • we can help them build a personal toolbox of emotional regulation strategies.

Fostering connections and providing the right kind of tools facilitates emotional regulation, behavioral regulation, and functioning skills.

The Creating Connections Toolkit is powerful in working on the emotional regulation skills of kids. Not only does it offer resources to explain and better understand behaviors, but it offers solutions that kids want to use. It’s a goldmine in building social connections between friends, family, and social relationships…but also builds those essential brain connections, too!

Many of you have already purchased the Creating Connections toolkit. So many of you have reached out to get your copy of my added bonus after purchase. A lot of you have told me that the toolkit looks amazing and that you are exited to get started with it’s use in your practice, classroom, or home.

Creating Connections toolkit

Others have reached out with questions on the toolkit. I wanted to take a minute to answer some of those frequently asked questions in one place:

1 || What is included in the Creating Connections Toolkit?

There are 20+ amazing digital products included in this toolkit. Plus, we have some extra bonuses you will receive when you purchase. Here is a list of all the products included in this toolkit. To read a detailed description of each, you can click HERE to read more.

EMOTIONAL REGULATION ITEMS

  • Breathing Exercise Cards for Kids
  • Emotional Regulation Activities Pack
  • Sammy the Golden Dog Games
  • Emotional Regulation Bundle for Teens
  • Social Emotional Learning at Home
  • How to Teach Your Child Emotions and Increase Frustration Tolerance Through Play
  • Social Stories Shadow Puppet Kit

SENSORY PROCESSING ITEMS

  • Sensory Processing Explained: A Handbook for Parents and Educators
  • My Senses Day Camp Program
  • Sensory Regulation “I Feel” and “I Need” Tools Board
  • The Newbie’s Guide to Sensory Processing
  • Play2Learn Sensory Bins eBook
  • Heavy Work Exercise Cards
  • Rewiring the Brain Handbook (Intermediate Guide)
  • Outdoor Visual Schedule and Supports for Kids Printable Pack

Growth Mindset & Affirmations Resources

  • Growth Mindset & Affirmations Journal for Kids
  • Growth Mindset & Affirmations Journal for Teens
  • Rainbow Mindfulness & Movement Packet
  • Teen Mindset Challenge
  • Superhero Affirmation Cards

Family Connection Tools and Resources

  • Family Game Night Social Skills Pack Family Connections eBook
  • Our Family Journal
  • Family Scavenger Hunts
  • Town Mouse, Country Mouse Activity Unit

BONUS ITEMS

  • Creating Connections Toolkit User Guide & Video
  • Special coupon codes totaling over $70 in value 
  • Collection of printable resources

THE OT TOOLBOX BONUS ITEMS

  • 20 Video Modeling Emotions Videos
  • Stop and Think Cards
  • Sensory Processing Handbook
  • Sensory Processing Handbook (Spanish Translation)
  • Sensory Diet Strategy Tools

2. What ages of kids will I be able to use these resources with?

The toolkit includes tools and strategies that can be used with toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary school-aged children through middle and high school. 

Some products are recommended for specific ages and this will be included in the description of each product and also in the user guide.

3. Why is this only available for a limited time?

This digital toolkit is filled with 20+ products from many different authors and contributors. They have agreed to offer their products for this limited time at the special price of $19. After the sale is over, you won’t be able to get all these digital products again in one place or at this low price.

4. How will I be able to access the products?

All of the products in the toolkit will be digital downloads. Upon completion of your purchase, you will receive an email with links to download each of the products.

5. I work with children. Am I able to use the products for virtual classrooms?

Yes! All of the authors have graciously allowed this exception to their terms of use in light of the pandemic and distance learning. However, they ask that items are only uploaded for your own classroom use and not used in a school-wide or district wide capacity.

Are you ready to create meaningful connections and navigate big emotions together?

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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.

Self-Monitoring Strategies for Kids

self-monitoring strategies handouts

One of the big executive functioning skills is the ability to self-monitor oneself. Self-monitoring strategies play a part in the ability to notice what is happening in the world around us and what is happening in our own body. The ability to “check” oneself and monitor actions, behaviors, and thoughts as they happen play into our ability to problem solve. Use the tips below to help kids learn how to self-monitor and problem solve. These self-monitoring strategies for kids are applicable in the classroom, home, sports field, or in social situations.

Self-monitoring strategies and free handouts with self monitoring examples for parents, teachers, therapists.

As a related resources, try these self-reflection activities for kids. You’ll also love these other free handouts for executive functioning skills: Organization Handouts.

Use these self-monitoring strategies for kids to teach kids how to self-monitor their actions and behaviors for better learning, attention, and functional independence.

Related read: Here are more executive functioning resources to fill your therapy toolbox!

What is self-monitoring

Self-monitoring is a process of metacognition. Metacognition is the ability to plan for and execute a task, monitor one’s actions, analyze a problem, apply a strategy, maintain attention, and evaluate or monitor completion of an activity. Ideally, metacognition should occur naturally and instinctively as we engage in an activity.

The ability to self-monitor is made up of two main areas:

1.) Observation- In this stage, a child is able to identify a specific behavior, thought, or action that occurred. This might happen during the action or afterwards.

In a child who struggles with talking out in class, they may catch themselves as they are interrupting. Another child may realize they spoke out of turn only after the teacher mentions the interruption.

In both cases, the child is able to identify what behavior has occurred through self-assessment. This level of self-monitoring is a real struggle for some students and working on the ability to notice the behaviors or actions that are inefficient or inappropriate for the situation. The ability to observe and recognize behaviors or actions is a skill, and that self-monitoring ability requires a lot of reflection, as well as the ability to recognize an ideal response or appropriate behavior for a specific situation.

2.) Recording- This stage of self-monitoring is a means for moving from an awareness of actions and behaviors to function. In the recording stage of self-monitoring, children are able to note their actions and make changes based on what happened in specific situations.

Having a set of strategies in place to address self-regulation needs, attention needs, or emotional supports is beneficial for use in the moment. Jotting down deviances of targeted behavior can help kids to become more aware of what happened in a specific situation and how they can make adjustments in the future to avoid specific behaviors, or how they can use accommodations and self-regulation tools to respond and react more appropriately.

Self-Monitoring Strategies

In talking about self-monitoring skills, let’s first discuss what exactly self-monitoring is and what it means for kids to self-monitor their actions, thoughts, and behaviors.

Observation, or self-assessment may require work in order for the child to understand targeted behaviors.

Recording or measurement of actions can occur through several methods:

  • Checklists
  • Parent/Teacher/Student communication sheets (where the child inputs behaviors throughout the day)
  • Journaling in a notebook or a tool such as the Impulse Control Journal
  • Data collection sheets
  • Frequency collection forms
  • Self-graphing

Self-Monitoring Examples

  • Lists of appropriate actions or behaviors
  • Simple strategies to impact self-control
  • Visual cues
  • Verbal cues
  • Reminder notes
  • Goal setting
  • Journaling in a notebook or a tool such as the Impulse Control Journal
  • Coaching
  • Role-playing practice
  • Self-talk
  • Modeling from peers

The goal of this stage is to get students to move from a teacher/parent/therapist/adult support of self-assessment to a self-assessment status where the child identifies behaviors and actions that are off-target.

A child’s ability to stay organized can make a big impact on self-monitoring. Use the organization activities and strategies identified here.

Why is Self-Monitoring important?

When children self-monitor their actions and thoughts, so many areas are developed and progressed:

  • Attention
  • Behavior
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Hindsight
  • Foresight
  • Persistence
  • Shift

You can see how each of the executive functioning skills play into the ability to self-monitor and how self-monitoring skills play into the development and use of each of the other executive functioning skills.

The ability to self-monitor actions, behaviors, thoughts impacts learning, mindset, social and emotional skills, and functional participation in everyday tasks.

Self-Monitoring Impacts Function

There are also functional skills that are developed and improved through self-monitoring:

  • Learning
  • Communication
  • Behavior
  • Task initiation
  • Task completion
  • Social-emotional interaction
  • Follow-through on learned skills

Self-Monitoring Strategies

Below, you will find additional self-monitoring strategies that can help children with the ability to identify and self-assess and self-adjust behaviors that may occur within the classroom, home, or other environment.

These strategies should be viewed as supports that can be used independently by the child following instruction and input to teach strategy methods.

  • Make an outline for writing tasks, homework assignments, or multi-step assignments in order to keep the child on task.
  • Utilize a self-monitoring schedule- Ask the child to stop and self-check their actions, behaviors, or thoughts to make sure they are on-task.
  • Try an index card or other visual reminder on desks for a list of appropriate behaviors.
  • Use social stories to teach appropriate actions and reactions to specific situations in the home or classroom.
  • Incorporate a schedule of self-regulation strategies to address sensory, attention, and focusing needs. A sensory diet can help with this.
  • Teach the child to check and recheck- Teach children to stop and check and then re-check their behaviors.
  • Teach the child self-talk strategies.
  • Teach students to look at their finished assignment from their teacher’s eyes. This can help them have an outside view of completed work or actions in the classroom and adjust as appropriate.
  • Sensory or coping strategies scheduled throughout the day for sensory input or movement breaks.
  • Use a timer for scheduled self-assessment and self-reflection of behaviors or actions and recording of data.
  • Work toward fading self-monitoring visual and physical cues as well as data collection means.
  • Teach the child to journal experiences. The Impulse Control Journal can be a helpful tool for children who are able to write or dictate to an adult.

Related read– Find many strategies and activities to boost attention in kids here.  

Self-Monitoring Handout

Want to access this article as a printable PDF to use as a handout? Use the printable version in education to parents, teachers, therapists, and other professionals. Simply print off the printable version and add it to your therapy toolbox.

Note: In order to access this file, you will need to enter your email address. This allows us to send the PDF directly to your email. This is a 5 page printable self-monitoring strategy outline for educating those who work with kids with self-monitoring skills in kids.

Free Self-Monitoring Strategies Handouts

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    Impulse Control Journal the OT Toolbox

    The Impulse Control Journal…a printable resource for helping kids strategize executive functioning skill development. When saying “calm down” just isn’t enough…

    When a child is easily “triggered” and seems to melt down at any sign of loud noises or excitement…

    When you need help or a starting point to teach kids self-regulation strategies…

    When you are struggling to motivate or redirect a child without causing a meltdown…

    When you’re struggling to help kids explore their emotions, develop self-regulation and coping skills, manage and reflect on their emotions, identify their emotions, and more as they grow…

    Grab the Impulse Control Journal to build organizational strategies, planning, prioritization, habits, and mindset in kids.

    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.

    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 resource may be blocked by your work institution.

    FREE Unicorn Yoga Slide Deck

      We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

      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 Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
      background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
      providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
      a 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