Sunday, September 25, 2016

8 Playtime Modifications for Children with Disabilities


Whether it be at home, daycare, school or extracurricular activities, children with disabilities may benefit from modifications during playtime. Here are 8 questions to ask when assessing a child’s needs during playtime:

  1. Does the environment need to be modified? If the physical environment is adapted perhaps the child will be able to be more independent during playtime. For example, move toys down to lower shelves to allow the child to access the toy without asking for help.
  2. Do the play materials need to be adapted? For example, build up a handle on a toy so a child can grasp it independently or use a larger ball so a child can catch it.
  3. Do you need to make the activity easier? For example, change the rules of the game to shorten the length of time to play or simplify the steps of a game.
  4. Do you need to make the play time more motivating for the child? Perhaps the child is not engaging in play because he/she is not interested in the toy or activity. Try using what a child enjoys playing with in different situations to expand his/her repertoire of play.
  5. Do you need to provide adaptive equipment? For example, use a chair with more support to provide additional postural control so the child can use his/her arms and hands more efficiently.
  6. Do you need to provide prompts to encourage appropriate play? Try modeling the activity or providing occasional verbal prompts for suggested uses of the toys.
  7. Do you need to partner the child with a friend? Try teaming the child up with a friend to model play activities or turn taking to complete a game.
  8. Do you need to provide step by step visual directions? Try placing visual step by step photographs in the play area for reminders of suggested play activities.

Play - Move - Develop

Play Move Develop is a collection of 100 reproducible sensory motor activities to encourage motor skill development and learning.  Find out more information.

Reference: Sandall, S. Play Modifications for Children with Disabilities. Young Children Journal. Retrieved from the web on 9/23/16 at

Read more on Gross Motor Skills and the Development of Play here.

The post 8 Playtime Modifications for Children with Disabilities appeared first on Your Therapy Source.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

3 FUN Elephant Activities to Practice Fine, Gross and Visual Motor Skills


Here are 3 fun elephant activities to play to practice fine motor, gross motor and visual motor skills.  Big bonus – It is actually Elephant Appreciation Day!  Who knew?  Me! Only because I just heard it on the radio.  Haha!  But it did spark a few ideas for the blog.  So here we go:


Copy the Elephant – download this activity to practice visual motor skills.  There are two versions – easy: copy the entire elephant and hard: complete the elephant picture.  There are more spatial reasoning activities included in the Grid Drawing download (or just grab another freebie).


Elephant Fine Motor Game – download this activity to practice fine motor skills, math skills and finger strengthening if you use play dough.

Elephant Gross Motor Activity – here is a fun brain break from Just Dance Kids.  It starts off with a monkey dance but keep dancing and you will soon be acting like an elephant.  Need more brain breaks?  Check out Your Therapy Source.

The post 3 FUN Elephant Activities to Practice Fine, Gross and Visual Motor Skills appeared first on Your Therapy Source.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

3 Strategies to Help Children Initiate and Plan Motor Skills


Children who struggle with executive functioning deficits may have difficulties learning how to initiate and plan motor skills.  Here are 3 strategies to help initiate and plan when learning a new motor skill:

  1. Work with children to establish the end goal.  By asking open ended or more direct questions to the child, determine specifically what the end goal is for him or her.  sample-completed-pages-my-goal-trackerPictured above is just an example of how to guide the student perhaps they want to learn how to catch a ball in gym class?  Climb the playground equipment? Write faster?  Learn self calming techniques? Maintain personal space?  Complete assignments quicker?  By establishing a specific end goal, children will understand the clear intent of why they are learning the skill which will hopefully drive intrinsic motivation.
  2. Break down the goal into a series of steps.  Help the child to determine what steps need to be taken to achieve the goal ie practice sessions, modifications, etc.  Let the student help map out how to break up the skill.  Try using this four square idea to get started. 4-stepsAsk questions to help prompt the child if necessary but do not just provide the solution to the problem. If the student is able, write down a timeline of when each part will be completed. For example, if the student is learning how to climb stairs in a crowded stairwell, then the timeline could include activities such as climb the stairs independently with visual distractions in the stairwell, climb the stairs independently with one other student in the stairwell and finally climbing the stairs with many students in the stairwell. Set dates for each skill to be accomplished. If the student is tackling a big academic project, encourage him/her to set specific dates with specific directions for each part of the project.
  3. Stop, reflect and review.  When you are moving through each “piece” of the overall goal stop, reflect and review. To encourage staying on task, the student can self talk asking “is what I am working on now going to help me achieve the goal?”.   Review and check if the student is able to repeat what was previously learned and show 100% achievement of that “piece”? Ask the student if they need to change the timeline or any strategies that are being used. Encourage the student to reflect on what, if anything, could be done to improve it to do it better the next time?

My Goal Tracker


My Goal Tracker: This is an electronic book of data collection forms for students to track their own progress. The student can track his/her goals over time, by monitoring the skills over the course of a day, week, month or quarter. This allows the student to get a visual picture of improvement, decline or maintenance of different skills.

Find out more information here.

The post 3 Strategies to Help Children Initiate and Plan Motor Skills appeared first on Your Therapy Source.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dot to Dot 1-10 and 1-20 Freebies


Connect the Dot activities are great fun for children the only problem is sometimes they can just be way TOO hard!  Here are two free dot to dots from the latest download, Connect the Dots.  There is an owl dot to dot with numbers 1-10 and a pony dot to dot with numbers 1 -20.

Owl Connect Dots 1-10Horse Connect Dots 1-20

Download the two free Connect the Dot puzzles here.

connect dots

The complete Connect the Dots download includes over 60 black and white, reproducible dot to dot puzzles progressively ranging from easy to more difficult to encourage visual motor, figure ground and visual closure skills. This download includes dot to dots 1-5, 1-10, 1-15, 1-20, 1-25, 1-30, A to Z, a to z and dot to dots in a picture.  GET MORE INFORMATION.

The post Dot to Dot 1-10 and 1-20 Freebies appeared first on Your Therapy Source.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Evidence Based Research on Why Students Need Traditional Handwriting Practice


One of the most common reasons for referral to school based occupational therapy services is handwriting assessment and treatment.  Here are a few references on why students still need traditional handwriting practice.

The Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy published a review of the interventions used to improve handwriting.  After reviewing 11 studies that tested relaxation and practice with or without EMG, sensory-based training without handwriting practice, and handwriting-based practice (including sensory-focused or cognitive focused handwriting practice) the researchers concluded that interventions that did not include handwriting practice and those that included less than 20 practice sessions were ineffective (Hoy, 2011).

The Journal of Occupational Therapy, School and Early Intervention published a small study comparing traditional handwriting practice versus iPad handwriting instruction.  For the 12 kindergartners and first graders who participated, the results indicated that traditional methods of handwriting instruction were superior in terms of letter formation and letter orientation when compared to iPad-mediated practice. In addition, letter recognition increased for those using traditional handwriting methods but stayed stable for the iPad-mediated group (Wells, 2016).

Educational Psychology Review performed a comprehensive analysis to determine if teaching handwriting enhanced legibility and fluency and resulted in better writing performance.  The results indicated that when compared to no instruction or non-handwriting instructional conditions, teaching handwriting resulted in statistically greater legibility and fluency. Motor instruction did not produce better handwriting skills  but individualizing handwriting instruction resulted in statistically significant improvements in legibility. Handwriting instruction produced statistically significant gains in the quality, length, and fluency of students’ writing (Santangelo, 2016).

There are many more research articles that can be cited through the years on the importance of handwriting instruction.  So we know students benefit from handwriting instruction and practice, BUT school districts do not seem to make time for it anymore.  Most school based occupational therapists deal with handwriting interventions on a daily basis.  Your Therapy Source has several handwriting resources that are available via electronic delivery to help with handwriting instruction and practice.

The most recent handwriting intervention offered at Your Therapy Source was created by Thia Triggs, OTR.  She has put together an amazing handwriting bundle package. This Handwriting Without Tears© -style letter font, uses 3-lines to best support your students. There are Go-Dots, Gray-Boxes, and Simple Arrows that inform rather than confuse learners.  You will get 8 of the best handwriting instruction downloads from Print Path for your multi-leveled interventions!  It is almost 500 pages!  GET MORE INFORMATION.

Handwriting Bundle OT SPecial Education YTS Handwriting Bundle OT Handwriting Bundle YTS Handwriting Bundle Winger WritersHandwriting Bundle Wall Cards YTSHandwriting Bundle Raise the Roof

Reference:  Monica M. P. Hoy, Mary Y. Egan, and Katya P. Feder. A Systematic Review of Interventions to Improve Handwriting. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy February 2011 78: 13-25, doi:10.2182/cjot.2011.78.1.3

Kevin E. Wells , PhD, Tracey N. Sulak , PhD, Terrill F. Saxon , PhD & Leanne L. Howell , PhD. Traditional versus iPad-mediated handwriting instruction in early learners. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention Volume 9, 2016 – Issue 2

Santangelo, T. & Graham, S. A Comprehensive Meta-analysis of Handwriting Instruction. Educ Psychol Rev (2016) 28: 225. doi:10.1007/s10648-015-9335-1

The post Evidence Based Research on Why Students Need Traditional Handwriting Practice appeared first on Your Therapy Source.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Teachers’ Perceptions of School Based OTs

The Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools and Early Intervention published research examining the results of a online survey completed by 47 teachers and how they perceive the role of the occupational therapist. The results revealed the following:

  1.  most of the teachers viewed occupational therapists as valuable team members.
  2.  the teachers reported limitations to the system that challenge collaboration.
  3.  the teachers want increased communication and collaboration with the occupational therapist.
  4.  school based occupational therapy was perceived as a valuable contribution to the educational team that was underutilized.

Need ideas and suggestions to increase communication and collaboration?  Here are some previous blog posts:

5 steps to increase communicaton

5 Steps to Increase Communication this School Year

5 Tips for Successful Collaboration

5 Steps to Successful Collaboration


Tips for Scheduling Team Meetings

Tips for Positive Communication with Parents

Just replace the word ‘parents’ with the word ‘teachers’ and get some tips for positive communication.

Reference:  Jeryl D. Benson , EdD, OTR/L, Kimberly A. Szucs , PhD, OTR/L & J. J. Mejasic , MS, OTR/L. Teachers’ perceptions of the role of occupational therapist in schools. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention. Volume 9, 2016 – Issue 3

The post Teachers’ Perceptions of School Based OTs appeared first on Your Therapy Source.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...