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

Therapist Thursday: What Does Sensory Really Mean?

Today’s Therapist Thursday comes from Pam at The Inspired Treehouse, a team of three moms and pediatric therapists who believe that with a little help, kids can build strong, healthy bodies and minds through play. The Inspired Treehouse is passionate about creating activities and sharing knowledge to promote development and wellness in kids.

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Getting messy is a wonderful play experience for young children and highly encouraged here at the Treehouse.  But sensory integration is a lot more complicated than just getting your hands dirty.  Here’s a quick glimpse into the world of sensory processing.

The senses send information to a child’s nervous system where it is then processed in order to generate a response.  A sensory experience can “rewire” the brain, helping a child understand his environment more clearly and making him feel safe.  Or, it can be overwhelming, causing him to become defensive and withdrawn.  And, just to make things a little more complicated, no two children will ever respond to a sensory experience in exactly the same way.  For example, if I offer GAK or putty to two children, one child may squeeze it tightly running it through his fingers, enjoying the cold wet feel.  The other child may drop it immediately, irritated by the same sensation.  This is what sensory means – the way the body receives, analyzes, and responds to the signals it gets from its environment.

Does your child withdraw from certain types of play?  Does he have extreme adverse reactions to certain sensory experiences?  If so, talk to your child’s doctor or school to see if occupational therapy services might be beneficial.  An occupational therapist (OT) is trained in sensory integration and can help you learn to guide your child through sensory experiences in a safe, playful, and non-threatening manner.  The end goal is for the child to have a strong, stable, and healthy sense of himself in his environment.

Encourage your child to experience touch, sounds, sights, tastes, and all different kinds of movement during play.  Thoughtful, guided exposure to playful sensory experiences is the best way to promote healthy development of the sensory system, ensuring that little bodies learn to process, integrate, and generate appropriate responses to the sensory information in their environments.

For further information, visit some of our favorite sensory based articles and websites.
Family Education: What is Sensory Integration?
The Out-of-Sync-Child
Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation

Pam is a mother of two children, Jack (7) and Ella (5) and has  been an occupational therapist since 1997. She has worked in several environments including pediatric inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, step down NICU, and currently school based for the past 8 years. This quote has traveled with Pam to each desk she has claimed while being an OT and helps her stay focused both in her career and as a mom.  “A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person who passes by leaves a mark.” For more information on the therapists at The Inspired Treehouse click here.

Fun with Easter Eggs All Year Long

Now, that Easter is over, what are you going to do with all those plastic Easter eggs? Here are some fun ideas to use the eggs throughout the year!

  1. Take them apart and have your child practice matching the different colors or designs to put the eggs back together. For older children, you could write an upper case letter on one half of the egg and a lower case letter on the other half of the egg. Then, have the child match the upper and lower case letters.
  2. Practice color patterns with the eggs.eggs1
  3. Put different dry materials inside the eggs, glue them back together, and let your child have fun with new sound makers. Some fun things to try inside are: rice, beans, pasta, small beads, a couple marbles, or coins.
  4. Play hide and find. Hide the eggs around your house and then give your child verbal directions on where to find the eggs. This is a fun way to work on following directions!
  5. Paint with the eggs. Open them up and use the open circle side to dip and paint and make circles on paper. eggs2
  6. Use them in sensory bins as scoops!
  7. Keep them in the kitchen for special play when your kids want to help you cookJ
  8. Matching game with a colored dot inside an egg carton and then the child matches the eggs to color in the egg carton. You could also write letters or numbers inside the carton, and then on the eggs too. eggs3

Amy Bumgarner, OTR/L

Fundanoodle and Autism

In honor of National Autism Awareness Month AND National Occupational Therapy Month we’ve asked our Occupational Therapists to tell us how Fundanoodle can be used with children on the Autism Spectrum. We’ve had such amazing feedback from the Autism community and hope to continue to develop those relationships!

“If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve only met one person with Autism.”

I love this quote, because we are all individuals with various strengths and weaknesses, it’s what makes the world go around. With that said, while no one person is like another, individuals with Autism do share some of the same strengths, preferences and learning styles.  Keeping that in mind, we are going to explore Fundanoodle, and discover why children who have Autism love it!

We know that children with Autism are better taught visually, because they tend to think in pictures or symbols.  As well, they thrive with consistency and structure.  And, we cannot forget that they are children, so they love to play! Play is an essential part of learning, but sometimes they may need our help interacting, organizing and planning.  Remember, a multi-sensory approach works best.

“If you tell me, I forget

If you show me, I see

If you involve me, I remember.”

Now, let’s explore how Fundanoodle provides these key components, making learning fun and engaging for children who have Autism.

Visual Supports:

  • Colorful pictures and symbols – From the colorful bead patterns and Magna Stix, to the appealing pictures of Max and Alphie’s adventures in the writing tablets, the visual stimuli is engaging, yet not too busy.
  • Familiar symbols such as “Stop” and “Go” signs provide starting and stopping points for letter formation.
  • Some children with Autism read very well and use Max’s written directions to form the letters, thus promoting independence with handwriting.

Structure and Consistency:

Our recommended multi-sensory approach to handwriting includes three steps:

  1. Build the letter with the colorful, resistive MagnaStix.
  2. Write the letter on the dry-erase board or in a tactile media such as cornstarch or flour.
  3. Perfect it on paper using the visual supports and guidelines that progress from boxes, to green and red top and baselines, to traditional, three-lined paper.

The Action Words used to depict the strokes are carried throughout the program, from the large floor pads designed for three year olds, all the way through upper case, lower case and cursive instruction.

Play:

Make time for fun and learning! Fundanoodle affords the opportunity to play for kids of all ages!

  • Get their “wiggles out” and promote proprioceptive and vestibular input, with Fundanoodle’s Muscle Mover Cards.  This is a great multi-sensory activity to address both large and fine motor movements.  Once your child performs the action on one side of the card, she can flip it over and write the letter on the opposite side of the card with a dry-erase marker. The Muscle Mover Cards are great to use in conjunction with the “letter of the day”.  So, if you are working on the letter S, she’ll slither like a snake over to the table, where she’ll then form the letter S with the MagnaStix, write it on the dry-erase board, and then in the writing tablet.  Some of the animal actions are great for your sensory seekers, while others work to calm and organize those children who may have sensitivities.
  • The I Can Bead, Lace, Rip, Trace Kit is full of hours of fun!  They won’t even know that they are hard at work improving their visual motor and fine motor skills, as well as organizing, planning and sequencing! It promotes nice tactile exploration, too!
  • I Can Pound Activity Block is the ultimate experience for promoting play, while developing critical skills! This is a favorite among the children that I work with!  The patterns range from pictures, to letters of the alphabet to numbers.  Demonstrate pounding a colored peg into the “dot” on the pattern and then have him pound away to create a colorful picture.  Many times, I will use this in an obstacle course or during a sensory break.  The pegs might be placed at one side of the room and the block is placed at the other side of the room.  He might get a peg, and crawl like a worm over pillows and through a tunnel to get to the board, where he then pounds the peg into the pattern. Or, because children with Autism do respond well to pictures, we might use the Muscle Mover Cards to imitate an action as we move from one side of the room to the other to get to the pounding block. The rote action of pounding, combined with the resistive nature of the block tends to be very calming for children with Autism.  This is a great activity to put in your cozy corner at school or home.

No two children are alike, but all children love Fundanoodle!  We make learning FUN!

Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Don’t forget to enter our Favorite OT contest on Facebook. Michelle has our vote! 🙂

Therapist Thursday….Fall Sensory Bins!!!

by: Amy Bumgarner, OTR/L

Sensory bins are one of our favorite activities! The possibilities are endless and they are great way to talk about current lessons, themes, seasons, or holidays.  As the leaves are changing, we have so much new sensory input to take in.  So, why not bring a little bit of it inside?

Have fun making your own sensory bin at home! You can go on a nature walk to gather some of the contents:

fall sensory ben

Leaves     Nuts       Twig      Pine cones           Straw     Pine Needles       Berries

And, you could add some fun stuff from the house too! Dried corn is fun way to add some extra “filling” to your sensory bin.  As well as any fall trinkets you may have around the house!

Once your children have had fun digging into the sensory bin, then take some time to talk about the different textures, colors, and how each object changes with the seasons.  Little kids can make a collage with the supplies, and older kids can write a story about the experience.  This is a fun way to work on using detail words in our writing (i.e., the color and shape of the leaf)!

You can also hide letters and the Magna Strips from our I Can Build Letter kits in the box so your child can practice letter recognition or building letters with the Magna Strips.

Therapist Thursday….HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

Safety on Halloween is always discussed this time of year.  What about safety for those kids who might be a little scared of strangers, those children that have sensory overload wearing a costume, or those sweet little ones who just don’t understand the concept of Halloween?  We found this poem below and found it perfect for all children!

Happy Trick or Treating!

IMG_1507“In a few hours, a lot of creatures will visit your door. Be open minded. The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy might have poor fine motor skills. The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy might have motor planning issues. The child who does not say “trick or treat” or “thank you” might be painfully shy, non-verbal, or selectively mute. If you cannot understand their words, they may struggle with developmental apraxia of speech. They are thankful in their hearts and minds. The child who looks disappointed when he sees your bowl might have a life-threatening allergy. The child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have SPD or autism. Be kind, be patient, smile, pretend you understand. It’s everyone’s Halloween. Make a parent feel good by making a big deal of their special child.”

We reposted the above quote from:

http://www.childrensoutreachproject.org/current-parents/newsletter/177-happy-halloween.html

 

Weighted Writing Utensils (Pencil Grasp 101)

Pencil Grasp 101 Continues . . . .

Check out this idea we found on Pinterest….we thought it was worth a try!  Let us know if you have tried this and how it works!

weighted pencil

“Weighted pencils can be beneficial for students who do not press hard enough when writing or for students who have poor body awareness and need additional proprioceptive input to increase awareness of their hand.” (the description with the pin on Pinterest)