Contributed Content by Lina Awshee, COTA/L, COVT
Happy Motor Monday!
With the summer heat, little miss Tessa and I have been pretty cooped up in the house (by choice, because the AC feels so good!). With her rambunctious personality and high energy level, it keeps me on my toes finding activities to entertain her throughout the day.
This week, I want to share with all of you some ways we use our climbing module to work on some very important motor skills!
We started off in the morning with our table top craft. Tess LOVES to paint and asks for it every day, so we worked on using both hands together (Bilateral Coordination) while painting toilet paper rolls. In the picture, you can see Tessa holding the paintbrush in her left hand using a palmer/cylindrical grasp, which she then rotates into a digital grasp when painting. At this stage this is what we would expect, and is developmentally appropriate for her. Hand dominance has not yet developed, and she usually alternates between her right and left hands when doing fine motor activities.
After we painted, we added stickers to the rolls. Stickers are an absolute must have in my “toolkit” both as a mommy and a therapist because it allows kiddos to work on so many visual & hand skills while being intrinsically motivated! (Who doesn’t like stickers, right?)
Of course, in this household, cleaning up is always a part of her responsibilities! Such a great quick and easy sensory activity while cleaning the paint off of the brushes!
Then…NAP TIME! While Tess was sleeping and our craft drying some more, I set up a couple things so that she can explore in the afternoon. Figure out what we made yet?
Our afternoon activity was an ” I spy” game, which included climbing up the tower and looking for things through the binoculars!
One of the things that was important to me in her playroom was to have at least one wall of blank space to work on developing her visual skills. The most foundational visual skill in prep for future academics is visual fixation. Fixation is the ability for your eyes to fixate or maintain gaze on a specific target. In this activity, I put up a couple of “target” objects for her to find. I called out an object (“police car!”) and she would look for it through her binoculars, then look at it for three (3) seconds (we’re working on practicing holding her gaze for short periods). There are many other skills happening here, but because I wanted to work specifically on her fixation skills today, the binoculars actually helps her fixate by blocking out her peripheral vision (basically, the “rest” of the stuff other than what she is looking at).
Once we finished spying objects, we also went on a “bug hunt.” I placed pom pom “bugs” all around the tower, and Tessa went around catching the bugs and putting them in her bug jar. This one is a pretty tricky activity that incorporates so many motor movements–balancing, climbing, reaching, pulling, pushing, the list goes on, and on! In the picture below, you can see her climbing the stairs while weight shifting (one leg up, one leg down), reaching forward with her right arm and holding the bug jar in her left! Not to mention the visual skills involved – fixation, scanning, tracking, focusing, and the fine motor skills of picking up the pom poms and placing them in the container. Also, I may not be a speech therapist but the language opportunity in activities like this are amazing–colors, directional words, positional words, etc.!
Lina & Tessa