Homework Can Be Fun! Part One

by Amy Bumgarner, OTR/L
What is it that’s so special about homework?  Why do younger children beg to “do school” just like their older siblings?  Well, from a little one’s perspective, homework really is a pretty big deal.  Think about it.  When your older child is doing “homework,” he or she is doing something new and important.  Students doing homework get to sit in a special place (the kitchen table or maybe a desk), get to use special tools (notebooks and pencil pouches and scissors and books that aren’t storybooks), and earn plenty of praise and attention.
You can create a similar environment for younger children, letting them feel important and busy doing their own special “school work,” while letting your older children focus on their own.  Consider some of these “special” activities recommended by the occupational therapists at Fundanoodle, which will help your little ones develop the fine motor skills they’ll need for “big” school:
•    Finger painting without the mess – Squirt finger paint in gallon size zipper bag.  Let the child make fun designs.
•    Sorting – Collect various trinkets from the dollar store and allow your child to sort them into various containers
•    Egg Carton Fun – Great for sorting and matching pompoms, stickers and of course, plastic Easter eggs, egg cartons can be used year round.  Try filling the plastic eggs with surprises, and coloring the “holes” in the carton to match the colors of the eggs.
•    Sticker Fun – Stickers are a great fine motor activity and keep a child busy creating collage and decorating.
Stay tuned for more suggestions in next week’s Therapist Thursday!

Indoor Summer Activity: Spy Agent Treasure Hunt

By: Leann Presley for Therapists Thursdays

This past weekend in Charlotte was HOT, HOT, like 105 degrees HOT. Unless you and your family had a pool to float in all day long, most activities had to be enjoyed indoors in the comfort of air conditioning. We’ve got a great fine and gross motor activity that you can do indoors on a hot, sunny or dark, rainy day to share with you today — Spy Agent treasure hunt!

Materials needed:

Streamers
Painters tape
Hallway 
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
Tape streamers across from one wall to the other in all various directions all the way down the hall at various levels and lengths. Place a treasure — a special treat or a new toy — at the end of the hallway as the prize for reaching the end of the hallway successfully.

Here’s how to play:
Tell the children playing that they have turned into spy agents and you have a mission for them. Explain there is a secret treasure hidden at the other end of the hallway and you need them to get it. In order to reach the treasure successfully though, they will need to be careful of the laser beams (streamers) that can set off an alarm if they touch or break them. Explain they can step over the laser lines, crawl on the floor or do whatever they need to get to the treasure but they just have to do it without touching any of the lasers along the way.

Variation 1: Let children help set up the laser beams (streamers). Tearing and ripping the streamers and tape is a great fine motor activity to increase hand strength and confidence in performing tasks with their hands.

Variation 2: Add more laser beams (streamers) to increase the difficulty level in the game. 

 

Fun with potatoes!

Mr. Potato Head and Fundanoodle

Here’s a fun food activity that will help kids improve their hand strength and fine motor skills. (This is also a great activity to introduce new foods to your child that they may not like in a non-threatening environment. Instead of being pressured to try or eat the food(s), they are only using them for play.)

Materials:

Large Potato

Toothpicks

Twizzlers

Marshmallows

Craisins/Raisins

Fruit: Strawberries, blueberries, grapes

Vegetables: Peas, Beans, Carrots, Celery

Ketchup/Mustard/Ranch or other condiments

Paint

-OR-

the various “parts” from a Mr. Potato Head game box.

Use the above materials to design your very own creation of a silly, serious, or cute face. The toothpicks can be used to attach the various items (and they are resistive for increased hand strength J). Take turns showing off your Potato Head and sharing with others at the table what your face is saying!

Most importantly — have FUN!

We want to see your potato head creations! Share them on our facebook wall!

Fundanoodle Father’s Day Fun

By: Sara Erwin

Sunday is Father’s Day! Here’s a Father’s Day gift idea that you and your children can make for dad using Fundanoodle products! Simple, fun and educational — everybody wins!

Items you’ll need:

Fundanoodle Dry Erase Board

Fundanoodle I Can Bead, Lace, Rip and Trace Kit Tracing Cards

Fundanoodle I Can Cut! Scissors

First, I wrote Happy Father’s Day on the Fundanoodle dry erase board and asked my daughter Lily to copy it on the board. I didn’t so much care to make her focus on her letter formation but instead a relaxed, fun way to incorporate some fine motor and handwriting practice as we prepare to create a Father’s Day Card.

Father's Day gift idea with Fundanoodle

Next we used the tracing cards from the I Can Bead, Lace, Rip and Trace kit.  I let Lily choose one that she would like to trace and she chose the flower.

Tracing fun for a Father's Day present with Fundanoodle.

Once she finished tracing the flower, she used the red scissors from the I Can Cut! Activity kit to cut the flower out of the paper along the trace lines.

Using the Fundanoodle I Can Cut! Activity scissors to cut.Then she copied the “Happy Father’s Day” from the dry erase board to the card. She added “Love, Lily” on the inside, drew a picture and glued the flower in the card.  (I had to sneak a picture,  Ms. Lily was getting tired by this point and definitely “over” mommy taking photos.)

Creating a Father's Day card with items from Fundanoodle Activity kits!

Will loves to write and color too (you saw him in a few of these pictures too) so it was easy to keep him entertained and he wanted to make his own card, too. If you have a little one at home you could also let them finger paint in shaving cream or play with playdough while you are working with your other child(ren) on this project.  You may of course need to let the older child have some fun with the play dough and shaving cream too.  *Hint … Use it as an incentive for when they are finished making their card :)

Muscle Mover Monday! Lower case “v”

Strike like a vulture.

Fundanoodle by Carolina Pad Muscle Mover Lower Case "v"

Then practice your lower case “v”.

Fundanoodle by Carolina Pad learn to write your lower case "v"

Learning good letter formation sets the foundation for a child’s education.

By Erin Webber, Kindergarten Teacher
Many children begin kindergarten with the knowledge of the alphabet and all of the letters but do not necessarily know how to properly form and write the letters. As a Kindergarten teacher, I prefer that when students begin coming to class they have a good foundation — I like for them to be able to recognize both upper and lower case letters, and be able to properly form these letters by starting at the top and using correct lines to make the letters. I usually like to encourage parents to start at the age of two in practicing and teaching lines and curves. And begin introducing proper letter formation practice at ages three and four to provide a good introduction to letter writing and the alphabet.
If they are not properly trained, children will come up with their own way to form their letters. When they start school we have so many things to focus on that I highly encourage parents to help at home before they enter kindergarten on letter formation. Parents should begin by teaching upper case letters first is because of the straight lines, and once they master these I suggest the introduction of lower case letter writing.
At what age did you, or are you planning to begin teaching your children letter formation and the alphabet?

Gross Motor Skill Development: Hide and Seek!

Kids love to play hide and seek.  When I say hide and seek you most likely think of playing the traditional method — someone is “it” and the other players “hide”.  Did you know that playing this game with your children can help refine their gross motor skills? This is great for gross motor skills and body awareness. A child might think they can fit into a small space — like between the couch and wall — but once they attempt to slide into the space, the child might realize they can’t fit!

Image

I also like to have my children play hide and seek to help them increase fine motor dexterity and strength in their little fingers and hands. I do this with a large plastic zip closure baggie filled with colored and mixed playdough and some of their smaller toys, spare change from the bottom of my purse, and other items like buttons or paperclips.

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I “hide” small items in the playdough and have my children “seek” to find the items in the dough. (Remember to be careful if your child is small and still tries to put small objects in his/her mouth.)

Once your child finds all the items, have him/her hide the objects for you to find the toys.  Pulling, smashing, and pushing the playdough is a great workout for little hands and it’s loads of fun!

-Sara

Parent Idea: Build sensory skill development while learning with shaving cream.

Shaving cream is a great way to get those little hands “dirty” and help children overcome some aversions to sensory issues.  I constantly have my children play in gooey things to help their senses develop.

This week we practiced forming the letters from the Muscle Mover Cards Uppercase with shaving cream and a place mat.


My five-year-old daughter practiced writing her upper case letters in shaving cream while my two-year-old son practices simple writing strokes that are appropriate for his age.

**Be sure to use shaving cream with care on some surfaces as it may cause damage.

Muscle Mover Monday! Upper Case P.

Waddle like a Penguin….

Fundanoodle by Carolina Pad Muscle Mover Card Waddle like a Penguin

Then practice writing your uppercase P.

Fundanoodle by Carolina Pad Muscle Mover Upper Case Letter P

Share a photo or video of your children (or entire class if you’re a teacher!) on our Facebook wall, via twitter (use hashtag #musclemoverMonday) or on Pinterest. We could have a very special treat for you in return!