Monday, February 20, 2017

Motor Skills and Executive Function

Motor Skills and Executive Function

Mental Health and Physical Activity published research on the relationships between physical activity, aerobic fitness, and motor skills to executive functions and academic achievement in 697, ten year old children.

The results indicated the following:

  • no relationships were observed between moderate to vigorous physical activity and executive functions or academic performance.
  • sedentary time was related to executive functions and academic performance in English in boys.
  • aerobic fitness was associated with executive functions and academic performance in boys only.
  • motor skills were associated with most measures of executive functions in both girls and boys and academic performance in girls.

The researchers concluded that the strongest independent associations were observed for motor skills to executive functions. Sex-specific associations were observed for aerobic fitness and motor skills. Programs that increase both aerobic fitness and motor skills may positively affect executive functions and academic performance.

Reference: Aadland, K. N., Moe, V. F., Aadland, E., Anderssen, S. A., Resaland, G. K., & Ommundsen, Y. (2017). Relationships between physical activity, sedentary time, aerobic fitness, motor skills and executive function and academic performance in children. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 12, 10-18.


Need activities that include aerobic fitness and motor skills?  Check out 25 Bilateral Coordination Exercises.

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Manual Motor Skills, Daily Living Skills and Autism

Manual Motor Skills, Daily Living Skills and Autism

Developmental Science published research examining the longitudinal development of manual motor skills and daily living skills in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  Longitudinal grip strength and finger tapping, along with the relationship to current and future daily living skills, was evaluated in 90 individuals with ASD and 56 individuals with typical development who ranged in age from 5 to 40 years old.

The results indicated the following:

  • the participants with ASD exhibited atypical motor development, characterized by similar performance during childhood but increasingly poorer performance from adolescence into adulthood.
  • grip strength was correlated with current adaptive daily living skills.
  • Time 1 grip strength predicted daily living skills eight years into the future.

The researchers concluded that individuals with ASD may experience increasingly more pronounced motor difficulties from adolescence into adulthood and that manual motor performance in ASD is related to adaptive daily living skills.

Reference:  Travers, B. G., Bigler, E. D., Duffield, T. C., Prigge, M. D., Froehlich, A. L., Lange, N., … & Lainhart, J. E. (2016). Longitudinal development of manual motor ability in autism spectrum disorder from childhood to mid‐adulthood relates to adaptive daily living skills. Developmental science.

Life Skills Checklists

Life Skills Checklists  help track progress towards routine life skills needed to succeed in the school, home and community.  The checklists have been created in Microsoft Excel.  When you record a score for each life skill, it automatically enters into the graph for a visual representation of progress.  If you are using the document in PDF format you will have to hand write in the score and the graphing information.  This is a great resource for tracking quarterly progress and establishing goals.  

The 14 life skills checklists include:
  1. Dressing Skills
  2. Personal Hygiene
  3. Mealtime
  4. Food Preparation
  5. Chores
  6. Safety Skills
  7. School Routine
  8. Before and After School Routine
  9. Personal Health
  10. Interpersonal
  11. Transportation
  12. Self Advocacy
  13. Community Life Skills
  14. Pre-Vocational


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Thursday, February 16, 2017

New Ways to Play Candyland Including Exergaming

New ways to play candyland

Playing board games with children offers learning opportunities to develop counting skills, color recognition, fine motor skills, self regulation and social skills.  Candyland is an all time classic.  It was created in 1948 by Eleanor Abbott, while she was recovering from polio and was tested by the children in the polio wards in the hospital.  The game was submitted to Milton Bradley and the rest is history!  Children seem to love this game and will play it over, over, over and over again……  You get it.  It gets a bit boring after awhile.  Here are new ideas to change up Candyland:

Use the cards only –  Use the cards for a scavenger hunt.  Turn over one card.  See if the child can race to touch an object in the room that is the same color.  Hide some of the cards around the room, gym or playground.  How quickly can the child find all the blue cards, all the red cards, etc?  Add in handwriting practice.  Turn a color card over.  Write a sentence with that color word in it.  Turn over three cards.  Write a sentence with all three color words included.  Make a category game.  Turn over a random color card.  Write down as many items as you can that are that color.

Adapt the board game to add a tactile component for children with visual impairments.  Read about how to do it at Paths to Literacy – Adapting Candyland for Players Who are Blind or Deaf Blind.

Add in exercise and physical activity – some “exergaming”.  Candy Game Exercises sneaks in some exercises and physical activity while practicing turn taking, color identification and visual perceptual skills. This download includes 30 exercise cards, 30 regular color cards and the special cards (6 for the older version and 7 for the new version). Use these cards instead of the traditional color cards that come with the Candy Land® game.  If you don’t have Candy Land®, there is a Candy Trail game included that you can print and use with the cards.  Find out more information.

Candy Game Exercises


Reference: National Toy Hall of Fame.  Candyland. Retrieved at on 2/16/17.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fingerprint Bees

Fingerprint Fun Bees Freebie

Check out these fingerprint bees!  I love fingerprint art because it is easy to follow the directions and the end result is adorable!  This freebie is from Fingerprint Fun.  There are simple, step by step directions on how to create these buzzing bees.  Print out the page and complete the picture with your own fingerprint bee to create a work of art that is refrigerator ready!  This activity encourages children to practice visual motor skills, fine motor skills and creativity.

Download the Fingerprint Bees activity page.
Fingerprint Fun



Fingerprint Fun is a no prep, digital download of 25 fingerprint activities with step by step directions. Each page includes step by step directions, a picture prompt and space to complete the fingerprint artwork picture with your own adorable, fingerprint friends.  FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Math, Movement and Motor Skills

Math, Movement and Motor Skills

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience published research on math, movement and motor skills.  The participants included 165 children, average age 7.5 years old, who were randomized into three groups for 6 weeks of mathematical instruction: a non motor group, a fine motor math group and a gross motor math group.  The gross motor group performed inter-limb gross motor movements that alternated between dynamic and static movements and involved a large range of movement (e.g., skipping, crawling, hopscotching, throwing, one-legged balance) while solving mathematical problems throughout all lessons.  The fine motor group manipulated LEGO® bricks supporting the mathematical principles.  Each child completed a standardized mathematical test before, immediately after and 8 weeks after the intervention.  In addition, the researchers examined whether motor-enriched math was accompanied by different effects in low and normal math performers and the potential contribution of cognitive functions and motor skills on mathematical performance.

The results indicated the following:

  • all groups improved their mathematical performance on test scores before and immediately after.
  • improvement on test scores was significantly greater in the gross motor group compared to the fine motor group
  • no significant differences in mathematical performance were observed 8 weeks following the intervention.
  • normal math-performers benefited from gross motor math compared to both the control group and the fine motor group although these effects were not observed in low math-performers. The effects were partly accounted for by visuo-spatial short-term memory and gross motor skills.

The researchers concluded that motor enriched learning activities (particularly gross motor math instruction) can improve mathematical performance.

Reference:  Beck, M. M., Lind, R. R., Geertsen, S. S., Ritz, C., Lundbye-Jensen, J., & Wienecke, J. (2016). Motor-Enriched Learning Activities Can Improve Mathematical Performance in Preadolescent Children. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10.

Want to incorporate gross motor movements into your math lessons?  Create some Movement Flashcards.

Movement Flashcards

Movement Flashcards digital download includes 10 aerobic exercises with flash cards templates. Students can get physical activity while reviewing material. The 10 aerobic activities include: run in place, jumping, hopping, squats, lunges, skipping, twists, cross crawls, jumping jacks and marching. Each page includes a picture image of the aerobic exercise along with a blank template to type in 18 flash cards. You choose what to work on for academic material.  FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Letter Reversals and ADHD

Letter Reversals and ADHD

The Journal of Attention Disorders published a large study on 1109 children with possible ADHD to examine the relationship of static reversals, handedness and gender to reaction time variability (RTV).  If ADHD was present, the child was rated as mild, moderate or severe. Using parent report and observation, the age at which the children were still manifesting static reversals and handedness was recorded.   The results indicated that:

  • letter reversals were still present in 40.8% of the 3 to 6 year olds, 42.9% of the 7-8 year olds and 16.3% of the 9-11 year olds.
  • both-handed girls had longer RTs but were less variable in their RTs (12 out of 208 females were both handed)
  • the age of letter reversal continuation was significantly associated with RTV for male and female children.

Previous research indicates increased RTV is associated with occasional lapses in attention which is linked to intrusions of task negative brain network activity during task performance.  In addition, some studies of the default mode network (DMN) found increased activity in posterior cingulate, precuneus, and middle temporal gyrus during RT trials. The DMN is a network of interacting brain regions known to have activity highly correlated with each other and distinct from other networks in the brain. Normally, the DMN is active when a person is day dreaming or mind wandering.

It is hypothesized that RTV is possibly from: a temporal processing deficit, the inability to modulate very low frequency neural fluctuations, inefficient executive control and/or difficulties with regulation of energetic state.  The researchers concluded that a failure of suppression of visually symmetrical information and/or a failure of default mode suppression may also be associated with RTV in children with ADHD.


Buckner, R. L.; Andrews-Hanna, J. R.; Schacter, D. L. (2008). “The Brain’s Default Network: Anatomy, Function, and Relevance to Disease”. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1124 (1): 1–38. doi:10.1196/annals.1440.011. PMID 18400922

Levy, F., & Young, D. (2016). Letter Reversals, Default Mode, and Childhood ADHD. Journal of attention disorders, 1087054715624229.

Reversal Repair Letter Reversals

Reversal Repair is a multisensory intervention that includes twelve sequenced research-based activities to help students with persistent letter reversals. This program builds automaticity of oral, phonological, and written use of these frequently confused letters.  FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Proprioception and Handwriting

Proprioception and Handwriting

The Journal of Physical Therapy Science published research on 19 healthy children to investigate the association between proprioception, including joint position sense and kinetic sense, and handwriting legibility in healthy children.  To assess joint position sense, each participant was asked to flex their right elbow between 30° to 110° while blindfolded which was analyzed 3D motion Analysis. Kinetic sense was assessed using the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test. The children were directed to write 30 words and then the legibility of their handwriting was scored for form, alignment, space, size, and shape.  Data analysis revealed:

  1. significant negative correlation between handwriting legibility and kinetic sense.
  2. no significant correlation between handwriting legibility and joint position.

The researchers concluded that additional research is needed to determine the association of handwriting legibility and speed with joint position sense of the elbow, wrist, and fingers.

Reference:  Hong, S. Y., Jung, N. H., & Kim, K. M. (2016). The correlation between proprioception and handwriting legibility in children. Journal of physical therapy science, 28(10), 2849-2851.

Now You See It, Now You Don’t



Now You See It, Now You Don’t – includes 20 worksheets to practice kinesthetic skills without visual input. Some children rely too much on the visual system when completing visual motor activities. These worksheets encourage a child to use his/her kinesthetic sense (where the body is in space) to complete a visual motor task rather than relying on the visual system. The ebook includes 10 easier worksheets and 10 harder worksheets. The theme is animals and sports.  FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION.

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