Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Functional Fine Motor Activities for Kids Using Household Items

Functional Fine Motor ActivitiesFunctional Fine Motor Activities for Kids Using Household Items

Functional fine motor activities for kids are so important to childhood development.  They are the building blocks for higher level skills such as using scissors, drawing, dressing, eating, handwriting and more!  Children need to experience frequent practice with fine motor activities to refine the movements in the fingers and hands before ever picking up a pencil.  Of course, there are plenty of toys to practice fine motor skill development but you can also infuse the entire day with functional fine motor tasks.  Here are 10 functional fine motor activities for kids using items from around the house:

  1. Pick up small pieces of food such as Cheerios, raisins, etc. using thumb and index finger.
  2. Open and close twist ties on bread and bakery bags.
  3. When eating breakfast foods such as a bagel, muffin or roll, pull off small pieces using thumb, index and middle fingertips.
  4. Practice screwing toothpaste cap on and off.
  5. Place lunch money (in coins) on the table and have the child pick coins up, using the thumb, index and middle fingers, without sliding money to the edge of the table.  Or have the child put the coins into a bank.
  6. Place lunch money in a plastic bag with slide zip top and have child seal the bag.
  7. Practice opening all lids (if the child has difficulty opening lid independently start opening it and then have child finish opening it).
  8. Table washing: using a spray bottle with water in it, squeeze the trigger with index and middle fingers while ring and pinky finger hold the bottle neck then wipe off with a towel.
  9. When reading, use one hand to hold the book and the other hand to turn the pages.
  10. Help with food preparation such as crush garlic in a garlic press, using thumb and index finger snap ends off green beans, rip lettuce up for salad, dry lettuce off in a salad spinner, use tongs to dish out salad, rolls or ice cubes and push toothpicks into snacks holding with thumb and index finger.

All of these activities and more suggestions like these are listed in Therapeutic Activities for Home and School.  This book provides pediatric therapists with over forty, uncomplicated, reproducible activity sheets and tips that can be given to parents and teachers. Each activity sheet is written in a simple format with no medical terminology. The therapist is able to simply mark the recommended activities for each child. By providing parents and teachers with these handy checklists, therapists will be encouraging therapeutic activities throughout the entire day rather than time set aside for traditional home exercise programs. This book is an essential tool for all school based therapists to facilitate carry over of therapeutic activities in the home and classroom.  FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION.

Therapeutic Activities for Home and School DOWNLOAD

Functional Fine Motor Activities


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Monday, August 14, 2017

Motor Learning Strategy: The Five-Step Approach

Motor Learning Strategy Five Step ApproachMotor Learning Strategy: The Five-Step Approach

As pediatric therapists, we constantly utilize motor learning strategies to help children acquire new motor skills.  One motor learning strategy that has been heavily researched is Singer’s Five-Step Approach.  This approach to learning a new motor task consists of the following five steps:

Step One – Readying:  The learner adopts a mechanical, attitudinal, and emotional position for delivering a high-quality attempt at the new motor task. This step may involve adopting a particular posture, completing preparatory activities such as a practice swing, or a breathing exercise.

Step Two – Imaging:  The learner uses visual or kinesthetic imagery for the desired action or outcome.

Step Three – Focusing: The learner focuses his or her attention on one relevant cue or feature of the task, blocking out all distractions.

Step Four – Executing: The learner attempts to execute the skill without consciously guiding the movement.  Just do the motor task without thinking about it.

Step Five – Evaluating:  The learner must evaluate the performance and how effectively steps 1-4 were applied.  Determine what to adjust when completing the motor task again.

The Five-Step Approach has been shown to be effective in a range of tasks, with various populations and with children and adults.  In addition, studies have indicated that once taught this approach, learners can transfer the strategy to learning a new novel motor task.  Recent research even indicates that learners who were taught the five-step learning strategy successfully recalled and applied it after a 1-month interval, and they demonstrated superior performance on both acquisition and transfer tasks, relative to the control group (Kearney & Judge, 2017).

When you are teaching a new motor skill, such as catching, throwing or higher level gross motor skills such as skipping, perhaps give the Five -Step Approach a try.


Kearney, P. E., & Judge, P. (2017). Successful Transfer of a Motor Learning Strategy to a Novel Sport. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 0031512517719189.

Singer, R. N. (1988). Strategies and metastrategies in learning and performing selfpaced athletic skills. The Sport Psychologist, 2, 49–68. Retrieved from: http:///

Singer, R. N., & Cauraugh, J. H. (1985). The generalizability effect of learning strategies for categories of psychomotor skills. Quest, 37, 103–119. doi:10.1080/00336297.1985.10483824

Do you need help teaching children to catch, throw and kick?  Teaching Catching, Throwing and Kicking Skills: Help children learn how to catch, throw and kick with this packet full of information of age progression of skills, visual picture cards, tips, letter to parents and more!  FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION.


Motor Learning Strategy Five Step Approach

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Add Laughter to Your Handwriting Practice

Add Some Laughter to Your Handwriting Practice

Add Laughter to Your Handwriting Practice

Here are some FUN free decoding jokes to add laughter to your handwriting practice!  This activity was created by Thia Triggs, school based Occupational Therapist, and is part of the complete Decoding Jokes packet here.

Not only does this activity provide handwriting practice, it also encourages:

  • Executive function and problem-solving skills.
  • Visual perceptual skills including visual discrimination, and visual memory.
  • Gaze shift -needed for reading, copying from the board, and getting information from the environment.
  • Attention and focus.
  • Pragmatic language skills.
  • Auditory skills of listening and memory.
  • Group skills: cooperation, communication, and visual perceptual skills.


Decoding Jokes

Check out the complete Decoding Jokes packet.

Add Laughter Handwriting Practice

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Instruction Influences Handwriting Automaticity in Children

Instruction Influences Handwriting Automaticity in ChildrenInstruction Influences Handwriting Automaticity in Children

Reading and Writing published research on handwriting automaticity of 177 Australian children in 23 classrooms at the end of kindergarten and the amount and type of writing instruction they experienced before entering first grade.  Individual child level data (e.g., handwriting automaticity and word-reading skills) were collected and teachers were asked to complete a survey assessing the amount of time and types of writing activities developed in their classrooms (e.g., teaching basic skills and teaching writing processes).

The results indicated:

  • a total variance of approximately 20% in children’s handwriting automaticity attributable to differences among classrooms when gender and word-reading skills were controlled for.
  • large variability in the amount and type of writing instruction reported by a subset of participating teachers.

The researchers concluded that handwriting automaticity was associated with the teaching of revising strategies but not with the teaching of handwriting.   Many different strategies were used to teach writing and the skills being taught, from turning sounds into letters to the planning of ideas to express in writing.  The researchers will now examine the students’ development of writing skills across time points to understand these initial results further in order to identify classroom-based practices that will lead to improved writing skills.

Many schools use specific handwriting curriculums to help reduce variance among classrooms for handwriting instruction.  At Your Therapy Source, we offer three handwriting tools and curriculums to help support handwriting instruction.

This Handwriting Bundle for PreK-5th Graders was created by school based occupational therapist, Thia Triggs of Print Path. 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. Best practices include research based methods incorporating application of developmental and motor learning theories to benefit your struggling learners.  Get 8 of the best handwriting instruction downloads for your multi-leveled interventions!  FIND OUT MORE.

Handwriting Heroes digital download is a highly effective, and easy to implement program for learning how to write lower case letters accurately and fluently. This powerful teaching tool is designed to accelerate handwriting instruction.  This handwriting program includes everything you need for consistent handwriting instruction for lower case letters.  FIND OUT MORE.

Handwriting on the Wall© WINTM Write Incredibly NowTM

Write Incredibly Now ™(W.I.N. TM) is an exclusive U.S. trademarked handwriting program of Children’s Special Services, LLC and designed by Susan N. Schriber Orloff, OTR/L!  It breaks manuscript into three forms and cursive into four using colors instead of directional cues, as well as gross and fine motor games. You get both the manuscript and the cursive programs in reusable workbook form for multiple use. There are games, activities and follow-up suggestions so that the child can individually continue the program after the 12 hours are “over”.  There is plenty of room to add your own creativity too!!  FIND OUT MORE.


Malpique, A. A., Pino-Pasternak, D., & Valcan, D. Handwriting automaticity and writing instruction in Australian kindergarten: an exploratory study. Reading and Writing, 1-24.

Murdoch University. Later literacy success hinges on early handwriting lessons.  Retrieved from the web on 8/10/17 at

Instruction Influences Handwriting Automaticity in Children

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Motor Learning in Children with Unilateral Cerebral Palsy

Motor Learning in Children with Unilateral Cerebral PalsyMotor Learning in Children with Unilateral Cerebral Palsy

Disability and Rehabilitation published research to examine explicit and implicit learning in children with unilateral cerebral palsy.  The study compared the motor learning of children with left and right unilateral cerebral palsy and typically developing children while they shuffled disks toward a target using a prism-adaptation design.  Each trial consisted of pre-exposure, prism exposure, and post-exposure phases with half of the participants being instructed about the function of the prism glasses while the other half were not.

To measure motor learning, the distance between the target and the shuffled disk was measured.  Explicit and implicit motor learning was determined using the prism adaptation design.  Prism adaptation is when the motor system adapts to new visuospatial coordinates imposed by prisms that displace the visual field. Once the prisms are withdrawn, the degree and strength of the adaptation can be measured by the spatial deviation of the motor actions in the direction opposite to the visual displacement imposed by the prisms, a phenomenon known as after effect.

The results indicated the following:

  • no significant effects were revealed between typically developing participants and participants with unilateral cerebral palsy.
  • participants with right unilateral cerebral palsy had a significantly lower rate of adaptation than participants with left unilateral cerebral palsy, but only when no instructions were provided.
  • the magnitude of the negative after-effects did not differ significantly between participants with right and left unilateral cerebral palsy.

The researchers concluded that the capacity for explicit motor learning is reduced among individuals with right unilateral cerebral palsy when the accumulation of declarative knowledge is unguided (i.e., discovery learning).  It was recommended to use implicit motor learning interventions for individuals with cerebral palsy, especially for children with right unilateral cerebral palsy.  When using explicit motor learning interventions use singular verbal instruction.


Fernández-Ruiz, J., & Díaz, R. (1999). Prism adaptation and aftereffect: specifying the properties of a procedural memory system. Learning & Memory6(1), 47-53.

van der Kamp, J., Steenbergen, B., & Masters, R. S. (2017). Explicit and implicit motor learning in children with unilateral cerebral palsy. Disability and Rehabilitation, 1-8.

Therapeutic Play Activities for Children Download

Therapeutic Play Activities for Children digital download includes 100 play activity pages and 12 tip sheets. The play activities encourage the development of fine motor skills, bimanual skills, rolling, crawling, tall kneeling, standing balance and cruising with a strong focus on children with cerebral palsy.  FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION.

Motor Learning in Children with Unilateral Cerebral Palsy

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Self Regulation in Children

Ultimate Guide to Self Regulation in ChildrenThe Ultimate Guide to Self-Regulation

Self regulation is the ability to tolerate sensations, situations and distress and form appropriate responses.  Simply stated, it is the ability to control emotions, thinking, behavior and motor actions in different situations.Here are the many different strategies,

Here are the many different strategies, tips and resources that Your Therapy Source has provided over the years all compiled in one location. Think of it as the ultimate guide to self regulation in children.

What? Why? How? Self Regulation Skills hand out – download for free.

Self Regulation Games for Children – Megan McClelland, Ph.D., Associate Professor Human Development and Family Sciences, and her student, Shauna Tominey, have allowed us to share the activities that they are working on developing to facilitate self regulation skills.

Self Regulation as a Predictor of Academic Abilities – Children with higher levels of self regulation in the beginning of the school year achieved higher scores in reading, vocabulary, and math at the end of the school year. The researchers concluded that improving self regulation in children can improve academic achievement and behavioral responses.

Aerobic Exercise Improved Self Regulation and Behavior – The results indicated that following the aerobic intervention phase, children experienced 32% to 51% lower odds of poor self-regulation and learning-inhibiting disciplinary time out of class.

Self Regulation Skills Curriculum Move, Work, Breathe – This curriculum provides an effective, time-efficient structured system to provide classroom breaks, improve self-awareness and self advocacy and teach specific self-regulation skills so that kids have tools to use in their classrooms. This system will get kids moving, give them the benefits of a brain power boost [from getting their heart rate up], give them heavy work and isometrics to help them calm down, and help them learn techniques to quiet and control their bodies in order to return to their academic work.

Self Assessment Checklist for In Class Behavior and Self Regulation – Students can refer to the checklist throughout classroom work to check in on their organizational skills, state of regulation, focus, effort, and behavior in class.

Fun Games to Practice Self Regulation Skills (No Equipment Needed) – Playing games help children to practice and learn self regulation!  Think about it.  Playing games help us to learn to: wait, follow rules and to tolerate losing.  Here are 10 FUN games that require no preparation or equipment to practice and learn self regulation skills

Self Regulation Skills and Developmental Coordination Disorder – Read more on why children with DCD experience difficulty effectively self-regulating motor learning.

Self Regulation Skills at School – Students are expected to control their actions in large group settings, small groups, transitions, independent work time, recess, the lunchroom and more.  When students struggle in the area of self regulation it can result in loss of instructional time due to unacceptable behaviors.

Yoga and Self Regulation for Older Students – The results indicated that the students who participated in mindful yoga demonstrated significant increases in both global and long-term self-regulation compared to the control group of students. There were no significant changes in short-term self-regulation.

Self Regulation, Yoga, and Preschoolers – The assessments showed significant effects of the mindful yoga intervention on all three indices of self-regulation.

Self Regulation, Cognitive Abilities, and Motor Disabilities – Students with considerable motor disabilities and mild-to-moderate cognitive disabilities showed a positive, but unrealistic, self-regulation profile.

Everyday Outdoor Activities to Practice Self Regulation – The more practice children have to develop self regulation skills, the more children will be better able to think before they act.

Early Predictors of Autism – Self Regulation and Sleep Patterns – A majority of the differences in communication and language, mental/cognitive function, motor function, social interaction, and self-regulation were identified at the 2-year time point.

Free App to Help with Deep Breathing, Self Regulation, and Motor Planning – Here is a nice FREE app for little ones who needs some guidance with self regulation and motor planning.

Self Regulation and Obesity – The children who exhibited a decrease in the ability to self regulate had the highest BMI and the most rapid weight gain.

Visual Supports Schedules, Self Regulation, and Classroom Inclusion – Visual supports for self-regulation can be pivotal in implementing an IEP in the least restrictive environment. This digital download includes 283 visuals.

Group Games to Help with Self Regulation – More and more research indicates that children with strong self regulation skills in preschool and kindergarten do significantly better on math, reading and vocabulary skills.  In addition, children who lack self regulation exhibit excessive weight gain.   Here are 3 group games to help children develop self regulation skills.  These activities work great for indoor recess ideas or for a quick brain break!

Physical Activity, Self Regulation and Preschoolers – Higher active play was associated with better self-regulation, which in turn was associated with higher scores on early reading and math assessments.

Steps to Help Children Improve Self Control and Focus – The goal is to use the techniques that the child already has for self regulation and infuse them throughout the day to maintain self control and focus.

Self Regulated Strategy Development– Self regulated strategy development (SRSD) is an instructional model to teach writing strategies to students. SRSD has been researched and shown to result in significant and meaningful improvements in writing knowledge, writing quality, writing approach, self-regulation skills, and motivation.

Tips to Help Children Develop Self Control – Read 10 simple tips to help children develop self regulation skills.

Mindfulness Activities for Young Children –  Research indicates that mindfulness techniques in school aged children can help to improve: sense of wellbeing, ability to focus, relaxation and self regulation.

Watch a video explaining the importance of self regulation skill development in children and how you can help.

Here are some additional suggestions using video to help with self regulation skills if you are working on:
The best deal is on the complete bundle of 9 videos and flash cards.  This can take care of your lesson planning for all year!
Scooter & Me Bundle – 9 Videos & 16 Self-Regulation Flash Cards

Ultimate Guide to Self Regulation in Children


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Monday, August 7, 2017

Drawing Process in Children with Autism

Drawing AutismDrawing Process in Children with Autism

The Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy published an open source article to determine the correlations between the drawing process in children with autism and developmental indexes.  The authors consider drawing to be one of the best tools to objectify the level of maturity reached by the child in psychomotor, cognitive and emotional areas.  The participants in this study included 84 children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), between the 2.58 and 15.00 years old.  Each individual completed a drawing exercise which was evaluated by an expert team of professionals to determine the drawing stage after establishing a scale ranging from the presence of the disordered scribbling to the presence of the body schema.  Different parameters were observed including: the attitude of the child, how that activity was accepted, eye contact during the action, use of color, prehension of the instrument, presence of interaction with the examiner during the activity, duration of the drawing and the attentive level, use of the space in the sheet, form and the order of the elements that constitute the drawing, line, shape, proportion and erasures and finally the child’s posture while drawing.  These parameters were used to create a 5 point scale:

Level 0. Refusal to draw or absence of productions.
Level 1. Disordered, random scribbling (age range 2 to 3.6 years)
Level 2. Controlled scribbling (age range 2 to 3.6 years)
Level 3. Named scribbling, with meaning attribution (age range 2 to 3.6 years old)
Level 4. Preschematic (Age range 3.7-5, 6 years)
Level 5. Schematic (age range 7-8 years)

The results indicated the following:

  • the drawing level improved with the increase of the age of children
  • the drawing level improved with the increase of Autism diagnostic observation schedule, second edition (ADOS)  in particular with the improve of the Social Affections
  • there was no correlation between drawing and restricted, repetitive behaviors
  • the drawing scores had a higher correlation with IQ scores than with ADOS scores

The researchers concluded that there is a close relationship of drawing with the level of autistic symptomatology. All children who are part of an autism spectrum disorder have a significant delay in the drawing process, and this delay is not related to the IQ, but rather to the Social Affection area investigated by the ADOS.

You can read the full-text article here.

Reference:  Di Renzo, M., Marini, C., Bianchi di Castelbianco, F., Racinaro, L., & Rea, M. (2017). Correlations between the Drawing Process in Autistic Children and Developmental Indexes. J Psychol Psychother7(291), 2161-0487.

Looking for drawing resources:


Bugs and Butterflies

Arctic Animals

Holiday Edition





Doodle Diaries

Drawing Autism

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