Rip Some Paper!!

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This post talks about a project we did back in October. There was so much going on in such a simple that despite being long past ghosts and goblins, I wanted to share….

I love October!  Between Fall coming into full swing and Halloween capping off the month, it leaves plenty of space for themed activities! On this day, we were creating pumpkins by ripping pieces of orange paper and pasting it within a pumpkin outline. Want an incredibly easy way to work on so much goodness? RIP SOME PAPER!! Ripping paper is a great way to build finger strength and bilateral coordination. Finger strength, especially the pincer grasp (the grasp between the thumb and pointer finger- you know, to do things like pick up Cheerios!), is targeted when ripping paper. This grasp is an important fine motor skill that should be developed between 9-11 months.  Ripping paper also works on bilateral coordination, or the use of both hands together. We need Bilateral Coordination for things like holding a ball, stabilizing toys, and ripping paper! The development of both these skills is important for several age-appropriate activities such as handwriting, building blocks, self-feeding, getting dressed and so much more! Take a minute to see how often you use the pincer grasp and both hands together to complete a task!

On this particular day, I had the kids lay on their stomachs, propped up on their elbows. This was for two reasons: 1) this position helps strengthen the proximal shoulder muscles (which also aide in the development of grasp and bilateral coordination) and 2) one of our friends was feeling wiggly while sitting in “criss-cross” during circle time, so I decided we should all change our position to a less wiggly one! Our kiddos in the 3-5 year age range should be offered position changes often to increase their attention and therefore, availability to learn!


Tactile Input- sometimes YUCK, sometimes YAY, but always DEVELOPMENT!

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Our art teacher, Miss Amy, is GREAT!  She comes to us from the San Francisco Children’s Art Center in Fort Mason and the children (and myself) just couldn’t be any  happier with her! On this day, she brought our littles (mostly age 2) some fun textures to explore. Play-doh is one of my favorite materials to use.  Yes, it gets a little messy, but development can only happen during exploration! Our kids NEED to get messy! Some kids really shy away from the feeling of play-doh or other textures.  When they do, it is okay! Don’t force it. Allow them to explore when they are ready. Give them a tool to use that intercepts the feeling of touch on their hand, like a rolling pin or a plastic pizza cutter (disclaimer: this child actually has not problem touching the play-doh with his hands, BUT if he did, this is what it may look like!)

GRADUAL EXPOSURE is so important when it comes to sensory input especially when a child is showing signs of sensitivity. Allow them to get close to the material without having to actually feel it. Let them use their other senses.  See it, smell it, hear it. Watch their peers play with it. Talk about it when it isn’t in front of them. We see this so often with foods, right? We call them, “Picky Eaters,” but really so many of our kiddos just don’t love the feeling of what is inside their mouth.  Or, maybe they don’t like the smell, or sound. Or, in my daughter’s case, it’s really just about control. Whatever it is! Don’t force a child to touch or taste something. Let them play, smell, look, talk about it. Use gradual exposure as a way to help your child learn to like certain textures and be better explorers!


What are Pre-Writing Skills?

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At Enrich Play Learn, we are all about building on foundational skills through developmentally appropriate activities within a small, structured, group setting. As a pediatric OT, I am always incorporating activities into our daily routine to work on developmental skills.  These kiddos are old 3 and young 4 and are just learning how to identify and write letters. Our current theme is COLORS. So, I had them each reach into the “magic bag” to pick out a laminated color dot, match that color to a colored marker, and trace their letter by connecting dashes. The color part of this is easy peasy for them (though I still get the occasional 3-year-old who get some colors wrong).  Tracing the letters is a bit more difficult. Can they draw a straight line and remain on the dashes? Can they hold the marker okay? Are they falling over when they are kneeling at the vertical surface? Did they even find the correct letter?! This requires a lot of different skills! Especially when the tracing is happening on a vertical surface! You need core strength, proximal strength, visual-motor coordination, appropriate grasp patterns, letter recognition, ability to color match, and probably more I am not touching on!