26 Oct 2012

Blue unicorn :) OT kiddo


I love the little corner at the top in this case, it looks like a blue unicorn! Providing the child with some much needed proprioceptive input. 🙂

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25 Oct 2012

Spelling words for OT


Today I worked on spelling words with a kid while working on his ocular motor skills. We had a metronome set at 60 bpm. He’d see the word and we’d do it together to the beat, ie b, o, n, e. Then I’d take the card away and he’d repeat it, b, o, n, e without seeing it that time. It’s nice to do ocular motor work with a metronome while also using the academic piece of sight words or spelling words. In this case a teacher showed me this list and I quickly took a snap shot so I could reference it later. I am using my iPhone a lot these days for digital reminders.

Also, for the metronome, I haven’t googled the “evidence” but anecdotally and via mentors I have spoken to, having a metronome on at 60 bpm is very calming and coordinating for the brain, for SOME kids. If you’re a person – or have a kid – where you start the metronome and the kid finds it super annoying, then use it sparingly, just for spelling words or something. But if you have a child who doesn’t really care or pay attention to the metronome, by all means leave it on to play in the background while the child is working.

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25 Oct 2012

Morphology Junior: Wednesday Giveaway :)

Today's giveaway is from Morphology Jr, who kindly sent me a free copy to review as well as send one to the winner of my giveaway. Just submit a quick comment and that's it. Winner will be chosen via random number generator, then I'll connect you with the right person to get your copy. 🙂 It lasts one week, so until next Wednesday. I am pretty sure you can decide whether you would want to win Morphology for teens/adults or the junior version. 

I received the junior version which I have briefly mentioned several times now in recent posts. I'm still waiting on feedback from a teacher, and we are on break for a few weeks, so I don't have it yet. I can tell you that I have used it with children younger than 8 by modifying the rules (and any OT worth her/his salt can figure out appropriate modifications), and that I for sure like the concept. I'd probably add in a few more “props” even for my older kids but overall, has a lot of potential for use in OT sessions, especially in regards to flexibility, visual memory, etc. 🙂 


Both games embrace and encourage creativity as players BUILD words out of items – glass beads, colored cubes, string, wooden sticks, wooden people – for their teammates to guess. Think a 3-D version of Pictionary. We think Morphology could serve as a uniquely wonderful and interesting device to help your patients progress developmentally, socially and creatively. 
Here's an example of Morphology in action here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_KQkr_aAQw&feature=relmfuYou can learn more about both games and the company at www.MorphologyGames.com

Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 8

24 Oct 2012

Morphology Jr as an Imagination/Flexibility/Creativity Tool for Our Rigid OT kiddos


Just received a free copy of Morphology Junior in the mail, to review. I tried it out today with a child working on flexibility and imagation. This game is for 8+ years old but I have to say it was challenging even for grown-ups to figure out how to do things like make a squirrel (other people have to guess what it is) using very limited supplies such as a few cubes, a string, etc. Actually I was impressed my child came up with balloon using the wooden dowel person, a string, and a white cube. (hard to see, but it’s in the upper part of the picture on the right). I also liked his version of “eating” – he made a little table with blocks, then a green marble thing was the food, and he had the wooden dowel person tilt torwards it.

We didn’t play it exactly as it is supposed to work, but I can tell that in its current state it’s too hard for most of my kids considering it was hard for us grown ups. HOWEVER, with slight modifications, it’s an awesome concept. I’ll probably provide a few more objects than what is currently provided. I let a special ed teacher borrow it to try with some of her small groups, I encouraged her as well to modify. We played a few rounds together. I see the potential. Not ready to fully review but wanted to share the first day’s insights! Anyone else used this?

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24 Oct 2012

Graph paper to promote fine motor control in coloring


This was SUPER tiny graph paper I found at Michael’s on clearance or something. I have no idea what it’s intended for, but when I saw it I knew I wanted it to promote coloring skills, ie just using the fingers and carefully coloring in small squares – it takes a lot of focus as well. We have so many kids that hate coloring and just scribble – I’d rather have a kid fill in about 5 tiny, tiny squares very carefully with his wrist “glued” to the table then scribble all over a piece of paper, at least as a start while improving control. When I was a kid I used to love to color on graph paper, filling in each square carefully with different colors and making patterns. Maybe getting a half piece of graph paper for each of your children and each time they see you, they color in maybe 5 squares very small, with either a pencil (varying degrees of pressure and therefore shading) or colored pencils or other very precise tools, and eventually even if their coloring is normally horrendous, they might end up with a pretty cool work of art. 🙂

Because remember: OUR ARMS ARE NOT WINDSHIELD WIPERS! We do not erase or color with windshield wipers! 🙂

Incidentally, I think I already posted this, but faster to re-write than go find it, I was recently gently holding down a child’s wrist while he was writing something to encourage just finger movements, and he said to me “You have such soft skin.” A FIVE YEAR OLD said this.  What a little future Romeo. 🙂

Activity: Color in at least 3-5 tiny squares on graph paper with wrist “glued” to table so fingers do all the precision work.
Rationale: If you hand a child a big coloring sheet and they have poor fine motor control, they will use their windshield wipers and hurriedly fill up the sheet. If you tell them…Look, I know you don’t like coloring, but we need to practice. If you just fill in three of these tiny squares (demonstrate) VERY CAREFULLY, I won’t have you do any more coloring today. This will show me you know how to control your fingers while you color.
Result: Typically, even children with somewhat poor control (I’m talking about pretty high functioning kids here though) when given the chance to just do 3 very tiny careful squares, will actually try hard/do a reasonable job with this task.

Modification: Use slightly larger grid paper and/or draw a few small shapes. Make them quite small (no bigger than an adult pinkie fingernail or so) and let them use pencil, ideally one with a really sharp tip. Start with just a shape or two so they can be successful, then you can slowly add in more shapes etc.
Modification 2: If the child is handed a coloring sheet that you know they wil do a poor job with, maybe use a small marker to dot a few small shapes that they need to do a careful job on, and then they can do their more typical work on the rest of it so that they can keep up with their class. Again focusing on just using fingers, not windshield wipers, and showing them how they can kind of outline it and then fill in the middle.

Scenario: Teacher has 1st grade child with IEP who is very delayed in motor skills. She knows she has to accept output from him that is below grade level, but when does she say “That’s unacceptable, do it again” the way she might to some of her other kids?

In this case, OT would show teacher some samples of “typical” work versus “best work”. “This is what he is typically able to do (see sample) but this is his best work, what he can do when motivated and working hard in a 1:1 environment (see sample). When you give him assignments, highlight or show him one small area (maybe one sentence out of five) that he has to do in his neatest handwriting, or one small area (maybe two shapes out of six) that he needs to color very carefully. The rest he can do his typical way to keep up with the class. If he submits work to you where it’s clear he rushed or did not put forth best effort on even those few small pieces, you can ask him to do those parts over again. But if he submits it and those parts are carefully done and the rest is more his typical work, that’s fine. Accept that, and we can build up our expectations for what he can manage in a large classroom environment, and as his skills continue to develop/refine.” Etc.

Same can be done for coloring, cutting, gluing, handwriting. Knowing their best work in a small environment, and starting to carry it over into the large classroom environment with baby steps. ALWAYS start with success! (Oh look, I can handle this!) so that next time you can turn 2 shapes into 3 shapes, etc because they are meeting their challenge with success. I’m sure tiger mothers will argue me on this one. So if they want to show up and take over, go ahead!

Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none

24 Oct 2012

Give-Away: One year subscription to PointScribe (valued at $129)

Update 10/31/12: Lisa won this one via random.org! Congratulations Lisa! 
Today’s give-away is nicely offered by Gail at PointScribe.com! I have not been able to try this out as our district is Mac-based and our PCs are few, but it seems cool if you do have this technology. This giveaway will run one week up until Tuesday at 1159pm. Winner will be chosen via random number generator and put in contact with Gail to get your subscription code. In your comment, please specify that you HAVE or WILL have access to a PC with a touch screen. I think  this would be best for someone in a pediatric clinic or a school, but anybody can enter.

“PointScribe is a multi-sensory interactive software application for teaching students of ALL abilities to handwrite. Students are captivated as they interact with PointScribe, writing on a touch screen in response to auditory and visual cues which draw their attention, eyes, and hand to converge on the touch screen writing surface. Students hear the name of the shape, see the shape, and write the shape: true multimodal learning. Lessons of proper shape formation and recognition are presented with consistency time after time. As student handwriting skills improve, the program automatically reduces the size to match the student’s proficiency with each letter, number, and shape. The size reduction continues until the student has mastered handwriting.”

“PLEASE NOTE: PointScribe does not run on an iPad; it is a software application that runs on a PC platform with a touch screen, not an app for a tablet. If you do have accesss to PCs but without touch screens, they are quite easy and inexpensive to convert via an add on touch screen (what we use here in our office). Here’s a link:  http://www.touchwindow.com/magic.html

Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 5

24 Oct 2012

Cheat sheets even for an OT


I recently started using a locker with a combination again, for the first time since high school. I volunteer as a hospital baby cuddler on the weekend and that’s where our purses go. Anyway, I was in a hurry so I had to google myself a reminder on how to do a combo lock, and then I took a snapshot of the screen (on your iPhone, to take a snapshot of the screen you hold down the Power key on the upper right of your phone, plus press the Home button, simultaneously). So then later instead of having to go back to the Internet I could just pull up the photo.

Also, I’ve read about OTs helping their high school kiddos make bracelets and or key chains that have the code weaved into it, ie lets say its 13 12 10, the child has a key chain that either has a certain amount of beads (13 blue, 12 red, 10 green) or literally beads with numbers on it, etc.

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23 Oct 2012

The Lava Paper is in!!


Our lava paper came in! I invented lava/worm/bee paper about a year ago?? and then Tonya of TherapyFunZone used photoshop to make it real, rather than my lame-o version of just drawing it onto kids paper. I typically just print out like 20 sheets at a time at home on my color printer because I do use it on a daily basis, but that is obviously quite expensive. So I used a Groupon I got through Vistaprint to get 1500 copies for I forget how much but under a $100 which is wayyyyyyy cheaper than what I was doing. Plus it’s a nicer quality paper. I use it sparingly, mostly for kids just learning the rules, and/or just cut out strips at a time instead of a whole sheet, and/or sometimes just still draw small amounts on a kid’s paper rather than use this, but since I do use it so often it’s very nice to have it.

For any new readers – I have links to this paper somewhere, lol, try checking out pinterest.com/funkist/ot-ideas and TherapyFunZone.com has it too (which reminds me I need to print out the stuff I bought from her site). But what it is is the rules of handwriting turned into drama. If you go above the sky, bees get your letters. Go too low and the worms get your letters. The lava burns your letters if they go higher than they should, only tall letters can get through the lava. Luckily, YOU are an eraser SUPERHERO so you can use your eraser powers to save the letters!

Makes it easy to cue, too once the kid is familiar. IE if a kid is going too high I can be like “Bees!” or too low “Worms!” or “Lavaaaa!! Owwww!” rather than having to be like “Gosh, Bob, I notice that your H is going a little too high over the top line.”

Lately I’ve been saying that the worms love to eat the tails of the tail letters (y, p, g, j, aka descending letters) and that anything else is poison to them. I have a rubber worm I keep in my storage clipboard and at the end of a sentence or two the worm comes to inspect to see what there is to eat. Hopefully only tails and no poison. Then the worm can do a stretchy happy dance!

One kid doesn’t care so much for the lava mid-line but LOVES the idea of roller coaster ride heights. (You know how you can only go on a rollercoaster if you are tall enough..)

IE the tall letters get to go on the roller coaster, and the short letters have to stay home and cry! As we’re writing we look at the word we’re about to write, let’s say, hmm, “example”….the e, x, a, m are all short letters with nothing too special. The p is a nice worm letter so the worms are happy. The “l” is the ONLY letter that gets to go on the roller coaster.

I read somewhere recently that you can use the non-dominant hand to show how the 3, 5, etc wrap around the finger (to help with reversals). I liked that idea, but I would want to make it more…anthropomorphic so to speak. Something along the lines of keeping the fingernail safe so you need to make sure it always has cover ….

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23 Oct 2012

Blue Starfish Ghost Attack!


This child is rather reserved in “real life” but if you let him get into this thing, he runs around shrieking with excitement. It’s essentially a giant spandex pillowcase with slit in back. If you use it you should make sure slit is in front and child can breathe/see…A lot of my OT kids prefer the slit in the back and you can argue it’s a safety issue, but once again I take things on a case by case basis based on their proprioceptive needs, balance, general safety awareness, the environment we are in, level of supervision, etc.

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23 Oct 2012

Shelby's Quest: Promo Code Giveaway

UPDATE 10/31/12: Congratulations to Nichole who won this promo code for Shelby’s Quest, chosen via random number generator at random.org. 🙂 
I will try to have a giveaway each weekday of this week. Each one will last for a week. So today’s Monday giveaway, Shelby’s Quest (iPad app) will last until Monday, October 29th, 9:00pm Pacific. Please submit one comment saying why you would like to have Shelby’s Quest and enough information that I can contact you, and/or you will need to check back. I will be using a random number generator (ie if there is 41 comments I’d give it the number 41 and it randomly chooses a number 1-41), to determine the winner.

I was given a free copy of Shelby’s Quest to review, and one free promo code to give to you all (it will be a code you receive that allows you to download it for free). So sometime in the next 7 days, comment on why you would like to try out this app! 🙂 
Here is the information on this app, part of an e-mail sent to me by Kami: 
– It was developed by Kami Bible, an occupational therapist in a school district in Washington State.
-The main character is a lovable labradoodle named Shelby
-This app is a therapy tool that focuses on fine motor and visual perceptual skills for young children and special needs students. 
-The best feature is its ability to track data on multiple children or student profiles. 
-You can view the demo video on YouTube at http://youtu.be/cx8ZS1Ngj2U

See it at the App Store: http://get.shelbysquest.com

Reviews of Shelby’s Quest so far:

-Video review by a4cwsn.com at http://bit.ly/Swuj0a
-OTsWithApps at http://bit.ly/NV3kty

I’m not ready to do a full review yet because I haven’t been able to use it much, but I liked what I saw! 🙂
All giveaway contests will last one week:
Monday: Shelby’s Quest
Tuesday: PointScribe
Wednesday: Morphology Junior
Thursday: PenAgain (this one will be through me, so someone else can get a chance to try them out – they sent me some for free last year)
Friday: Miss Awesomeness style! Some colored lava paper and a few other small items that I use a lot and love. Kind of random and silly. 🙂

Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 7