Therapist Thursday: Back to School already??

Today’s Therapist Thursday comes from our friends at The Inspired Treehouse and is full of great ideas to prepare your children for school during the last few weeks of Summer!

summer activities for kids

Every year in our school based therapy practice, we create and send home summer programs for our students because we believe that practice makes perfect!   Let’s be frank, no one wants to think about school over the summer.  And when children have long breaks where they don’t have regular opportunities to practice the skills they need in school every day, they often need extra time to get back into the swing of things when they return to school in the fall.  It may take weeks to get a child back to where they left off!  Here at The Inspired Treehouse, we want kids to have what they need to start the school year confident and ready to learn. Here are 10 functional skills used every day in the school environment with some playful summer activities  that will give the opportunity for practice and development of these skills.  These summer activities for kids are so much fun, we promise your little ones won’t even realize that they’re actually doing homework! 🙂

1. STAIR CLIMBING:  Most children have many opportunities to navigate steps in their school environment on a daily basis: to get to art or music, to play on playground equipment, and even to get on the bus.  This may sound simple enough, they practice stairs everyday at home, right?  BUT, have you ever thought that, at school, there may be 20 other kiddos trying to navigate those stairs at the SAME time??  This challenges balance, motor planning, strength, and body control.  To make sure your child stays confident and comfortable on the stairs, work on stair climbing as often as possible and in as many ways as possible.
Try these activities to help develop your child’s confidence and ability on the stairs:

Child Development Quick Tip: Stair Climbing

Simple Activities for Kids Using Stairs

2. HANDWRITING AND COLORING: These skills are challenged every single day in the classroom. The expectations for handwriting grow more challenging as our children progress and as they transition to a new grade level.  Learning to write requires continual development of fine motor and visual motor/perceptual skills. Our children need to be able to grasp a pencil or crayon efficiently, sustain pressure while writing/coloring, demonstrate enough strength to hold their writing utensil for a length of time, and motor plan to create writing and drawings.  On top of that,  they need to be able to visually attend to their paper!

Try these activities to practice handwriting and coloring skills:

Ant Farm

Child Development Quick Tip: Visual Motor Skills

Super Fingers

3. TRANSITIONS IN HALLWAYS: Children need to be able to line up, walk forward in a line, maintain body awareness throughout crowded hallways and rooms, and get to and from spaces calmly and independently. This challenges motor planning, body awareness, and sensory processing skills.

Try these fun activities to practice these skills:

Rabbit Hole

Wacky Relay

Partner Obstacle Course  

4. MAINTAIN UPRIGHT POSTURE IN A CHAIR:  How many times have you been in a classroom, or in your kitchen at homework time, and noticed a child slouching in a chair with his bottom sliding toward the edge.  Or maybe he’s completely bent over with his head resting in one hand or, better yet, his head down on the table.  Is he tired?  Maybe!  But, it’s possible that this child just doesn’t have the core strength or postural stability to maintain an upright sitting position in a chair for periods of time.  Or maybe he needs more propriceptive input to tell him what exactly his body is doing.

Help your child develop stability for good posture and give him proprioceptive input for better body awareness with activities like these:

Core Strengthening Exercises for Kids

Make Me Strong Partner Yoga for Kids

5 Olympic-Inspired Strengthening Activities for Kids

5. PARTICIPATION IN GYM:  Did you know that in the U.S., kids are observed and measured against all of the other kids in the nation in gym class?  Are they performing gross motor skills to the level of their peers?  Are they confident enough in their gross motor abilities to perform them in a group setting?  Can they control their bodies to complete requested skills in their own space within a gym full of other children?  Mastery of gross motor skills is dependent on age, but there are lots of fun activities that can help to develop some common developmental motor skills.

Try some of these activities to work on skills that might be required in physical education classes in the elementary years:

Child Development Quick Tip: Jumping Jacks

How Far to the Barn?

Tire Run

summer activities for kids THERE’S MORE… For five more tips from The Inspired Treehouse, please visit the original post HERE!


10 Things Teachers Want Parents to Know

By: Lisa Capretto

The relationship between teachers and parents is an extremely powerful component in student success. Yet so many parents go through the school year without communicating with the teacher or understanding what to do (or avoid) to make the most of the year.

So we went straight to the source and spoke with a teacher willing to reveal it all. Third-grade teacher Stacey Nelson is a devoted and successful educator in Tennessee, and on behalf of teachers across the country, she shared several things teachers wish parents knew before sending their children to school.

It boils down to three general guidelines: respect the teacher, be involved and be organized.

Respect the Teacher

  • Remember that the teacher is on your side. Teachers truly care about your children and want them to be successful. “The child’s success is our success,” explains Nelson. If your child’s teacher contacts you about a problem or something that happened at school, understand that the teacher is trying to work with you to resolve any conflicts that may be getting in the way of your child’s success. You’re all on the same team.
  • Trust in the teacher’s feedback. Just because a child doesn’t exhibit a particular behavior at home doesn’t mean he doesn’t exhibit that behavior in the classroom. So if a teacher reports a particular behavior that you haven’t seen before, don’t rush to say, “Well, I’ve never seen him do that.” The classroom and home environments are quite different, and oftentimes children behave differently when forced to follow rules and work with peers. Listen to what the teacher has to say and work with him/her to find a solution.
  • Don’t show up for a meeting unannounced. It’s great if you want to meet with a teacher to discuss an issue or chat about your child, but don’t show up at school without any warning. Instead, schedule a time to meet—not only does this show that you respect the teacher’s time, but it also gives him/her time to prepare for the meeting and provide you with everything you want to know.
  • Don’t go over the teacher’s head. If you’re having an issue with the teacher, your child, the subject matter or the classroom in general, talk directly with the teacher before going to the principal or other administrators. “Ninety-five percent of the time, a problem can be resolved between the teacher and parent with a simple phone call,” Nelson says.

Be Involved

  • Check children’s agendas and take-home folders every night. According to the National PTA, talking with your children is one of the most critical steps of healthy parenting. “Communication is key,” Nelson agrees. Not only does this help you stay on top of updates and what’s going on in the classroom, but it also shows your child that you are checking in.
  • Check on homework regularly—but don’t do it for the child! It’s important to review your child’s homework, but if she gets an answer wrong, take the time to help her understand why. “Please don’t just tell her the right answer,” Nelson says. “That defeats the purpose of homework!”
  • Address behavior issues at home. “Children don’t enjoy getting in trouble,” Nelson says. “So when they come home and tell you about how mean the teacher is, keep in mind they may be telling the story in a way that they won’t get punished.” If this happens, try to get to the heart of the issue and uncover the facts so you can address it.
  • Go to Open House Night. A good parent-teacher relationship leads to a good student-teacher relationship, so don’t skip the open house! “In the past, I’ve had parents that I have honestly never met in an entire school year,” Nelson says. “It’s a sad fact.” Use the open house as a time to get to know the teacher, ask questions, uncover expectations, address problems and find out what’s going on in the classroom. tip: Ask the important questions first, in case time runs out.

Be Organized

  • Establish a regular routine each night. This includes having children pack their backpacks the night before, to make sure they have everything they need for school the next day. “The number one thing my students tell me is, ‘My homework is done, but I left it sitting on the table,'” Nelson says. A simple evening routine can prevent this and prevent children from feeling rushed or disorganized in the morning.
  • Cut down on chaos and clutter at home. If your home life is disorganized, this can carry over into the classroom and make learning more difficult for the child. “When a child walks into my classroom, I can tell by the look on his face what kind of morning he had and what kind of day it will be,” Nelson says. Simple things like keeping a tidy home, an organized homework desk and a clean bedroom can help the child feel prepared and focused on the day ahead.

This post was originally posted on 6/23/2010 on

Believe It Or Not . . . It’s Back-to-School time!

Max & Alphie know that many of our southern friends (especially those in Georgia) have headed back to school today to start a great new year! We wish you all a year of great success!

Even though many more of our friends have several weeks of summer vacation left, we know that most people’s thoughts turn to school when the calendar turns to August! One of the first skills that Kindergarten children work on when they start school is letter and number formation. Why not get a head start on these skills with Fundanoodle’s easy-to-use writing activity books.

Check out this video which provides an overview of the Fundanoodle writing workbooks! Our friends Max & Alphie help children learn to form letters and numbers with action words like Zip, Zoom and Buzz, while providing visual cues like red and green lines for fun, intuitive learning.

When does back-to-school hit your house? Tell us below to be eligible to win an “I Can Write!” prize package featuring all of Fundanoodle’s writing books. Extra entries for tagging Fundanoodle when you share this post on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!

Here’s to Back-to-School fun!

I Can Pound with Fundanoodle {Video + Giveaway!}

Our second informational video we would love to share with our friends is our I Can Pound with Fundanoodle. In this video we introduce our award wining I Can Pound! kit and describe how it can be used as a differential learning product developing handwriting skills before ever picking up a pencil.

A favorite for our 3-4 year old children who like to hammer and move their muscles and a great letter formation tool for our older age groups!

Watch, share, and enter to win!

Just enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below and leave a comment on this blog post with either your Facebook or Twitter username (whichever you used to share!) and what product you would choose if you won.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Foundational Skills with Fundanoodle {Video + Giveaway!}

In lieu of our regular Muscle Mover Monday, Max and Alphie want to take this week to share our new instructional videos with you! And because we are so excited, why not offer a giveaway too?! Just check out our new short informational videos and share the link via Facebook or Twitter and you could win your choice of Fundanoodle product!

First up is our Foundational Skills video in which our CEO April explains the differential learning approach used across Fundanoodle products to develop everyday foundational skills children need to be successful in and out of the classroom.

Just enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below and leave a comment on this blog post with either your Facebook or Twitter username (whichever you used to share!) and what product you would choose if you won.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check back on Wednesday for another video and another chance to win!

Providing Positive Experiences for our Children

Today’s post comes from Rebecca Wofford at our philanthropic partners The Lunch Project and discusses the importance of not only nurturing our children beyond their physical development. Rebecca is a former lawyer and law professor, founder and Executive Director of The Lunch Project, giving kids the fuel to learn in Tanzania, East Africa and Charlotte, a blogger at and mom of Sam and Cate.


As parents, we want the very best for our children. We want to teach them and help them become the very best people they can be. At different developmental stages, children have different needs.

When they are babies, we are concerned with our babies most basic developmental needs. Our pediatricians help meet our parental concerns through established developmental milestones. As long as our babies meet these milestones during each visit, we breathe a huge sigh of relief. As our babies grow, the visits to the pediatrician become less frequent and the milestones grow with them but perhaps not in a holistic way. My son and daughter are 10 and 9 and I know, from their pediatric visits, that they continue to meet their height and weight milestones. However, I have wondered if they are meeting emotional milestones.

Although physical development should be measured and we should help our children meet these developmental goals through nutrition, physical activity, etc. we should also strive to meet their emotional needs and development. Providing love and safety meets the most basic emotional needs but as children grow their emotional needs grow with them. Our goal is for children to develop empathy. Kids as toddlers begin to develop empathy through basic concepts of sharing with others. This concern for and connection to another child should provide a positive experience.

I believe, as parents, we should continue to provide positive experiences for our children to connect and empathize with other children and that this will empower them to become good global citizens. This is the primary goal of The Lunch Project’s Summer of Service. Summer of Service introduces children to the lives of kids in Tanzania, East Africa, and specifically their goal of receiving an education. Kids also learn that this first generation of kids going to public primary school did not have lunch at school before The Lunch Project helped their community develop a lunch program. They learn that they have a lot in common with these kids but that they also face different life circumstances. Kids here empathize with kids who have struggled to learn on an empty belly. All kids understand the need to have food at school so you can learn.

How do kids view the Summer of Service? As a fun challenge that helps other kids. We challenge kids to create a family project that will raise $85 to feed 900 kids a hot lunch at school. Kids do what they love — whether it is baking cookies and having a cookie and lemonade stand to playing basketball or soccer with friends in a tournament — and ask for a donation from their friends or for customers to pay for their product. They learn the basic concepts of being a social entrepreneur. Because of the generosity of our sponsors, including Fundanoodle, our SOS families have been provided “I am The Lunch Project” t-shirts and car magnets, so they are also raising awareness about the global work we are doing as a community and, most importantly . . . with our kids. Because our SOS kids connect and empathize with kids across the globe, SOS kids rise to the challenge and with their accomplishment comes empowerment. These kids are changing the world and have met an emotional milestone of empathy in action along the way.

To learn more about The Lunch Project or ways you can get involved visit them at

Muscle Mover Monday…Uppercase D

It’s Monday morning!  Let’s get a move on!

Start your week with Fundanoodle’s award-winning Muscle Mover cards! Children can act out the movement from the cards to get the wiggles out, and then the fun continues by tracing the letter on the back of the dry erase card. Make sure to continue the blended learning by encourage the child to say the stroke movement out loud when they practice forming the letter.

We are going through the letters according to our I Can Write Uppercase! activity book and today’s letter is Uppercase D!

Zoom Down

Hop to the Top

Buzz Around

D_DogBack - Copy

Dig like a Dog!