Thursday, November 7, 2013

Our top 10 Awesome Fine Motor Skill Activities

Fine Motor Skills? What are they? Here is a quick explanation from good old Wikipedia: 

Fine motor skill is the coordination of small muscle movements which occur in body parts such as the fingers, usually in coordination with the eyes. In relation to motor skills of hands and fingers, the term dexterity is commonly used. When applied to the theory of human aptitude, this is called "manual dexterity". The high level of manual dexterity that humans exhibit can be attributed to the manner in which manual tasks are controlled by the nervous system.

Making fine motor skill activities fun is very important to keep your little one interested and involved.  Here are my daughters personal top ten:

1. Threading beads onto pipe cleaners

2. Making pasta necklaces - don't forget to paint the pasta first for an added fine motor activity!

3. Building a castle with duplo (or lego if old enough and not likely to mouth the small pieces)

4. lacing pipe cleaners through a colander - A good activity for when you are cooking dinner so they are still being supervised by you but sitting safely out of the way completing their activity.

5. Finger painting (you are never too old to finger paint!)

6. Alphabet modeling out of play dough (forming each letter of the alphabet one by one out of play dough - can also extend the activity to make names and words) If your little one is like mine and will eat the play dough make sure you purchase a non toxic version or better yet, make your own.

7. Stacking cups upside down to make a tower (can use the game jenga too but don't have high hopes as this is very tricky for sensory kiddos - who am I kidding, its tricky for me too!)   

8. Painting with water - on the concrete outside down on all fours with a paintbrush and container of water to dip in - this also helps with core strength which in turn can help strengthen crossing the midline.

9. Painting with ear buds (Q-tips) my 3 year old son also loves to do this one.

AND last but not least, my daughters favorite.......

10. Painting nails!! What little girl wouldn't love to do this! (and boy for that matter!) excellent way to practice crossing their midline while exercising a very precise fine motor skill activity.  Let them choose their colour and compliment the great job they are doing throughout the process.  You could even let them do your nails!

My daughter is 7 years old so these are good activities for her age group and her low level of fine motor ability.  They can be done by preschool age an above! As she progresses and grows up we will extend her activities to things such as sewing and baking.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

DIY Crash Mat - OT

For tumbling, squashing, jumping or just lounging around, Crash mats are the ultimate sensory play tool when it comes to OT.  Crash mats don't come cheap so here is a quick step-by-step guide to how we made our crash mat.  

Step one: What you need - a bag of foam offcuts (can be purchased from Clark Rubber for $30) You can also cut up an old foam mattress etc.  2 single bed quilt covers, scissors, a chair to hold it open.

Step two: Cut up the foam into cube pieces, its not as easy as it sounds so to save time I would cut half the piece then continue to rip them apart - it doesn't have to look pretty.

Step three: Hold the first quilt cover open by hanging it on the back of a chair and begin to fill with the super pretty cubes of foam.

Step four: once its full, close it up and then stuff it backwards into the second quilt cover so no foam will be exposed or fall out.  Its a bit tricky stuffing the full quilt into the empty one so may require a second person to help or to keep you calm while you do it haha

Having the two layers of quilts keeps all the foam in and it also makes cleaning it much easier.

I was able to be given some hand-me-down quilt covers so they didn't cost me anything but I did check at the local op shops and single quilt covers are usually no more than $5 each.  Therefore this whole crash mat cost $40 or less which means a saving of roughly $80 compared to a bought sensory crash mat.

Maddy's OT has several crash mats made from this same technique!
There isn't a day that goes by where the crash mat isn't used at home.  The activities that it can be used for are endless.  A quick one to start the day is if you have a trampoline, pop the crash mat on there and get your sensory kiddo to 'splat' on it like a star fish a few times.  Its fun for them but it also the 'splat' restarts their senses when they are having sensory overload by jolting deep pressure into the muscles and joints.  Another way to use it is to squash them by folding the crash mat around them (like making a Maddy burrito!)  I think my personal favorite is to lay on it and watch a good movie! :)