Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Look at that chicken scratch!

As a therapist, one of the areas I practiced in was within the school systems. When working with kids, teachers and/or parents would frequently approach me to help address fine motor and handwriting skills. With school almost out for the summer months, I thought I would post some ideas to keep those little fingers nimble and to help encourage continued development over the summer season.

The first thing to consider when looking at handwriting or fine motor skill is the proximal stability. More simply put, to have good control in your hand you have to have good support from the starting point. That would be the trunk and shoulder.

Some great summertime activities that will help to develop trunk muscles and shoulder strength are things that require a co-contraction. Like swinging from monkey bars, doing push-ups and playing baseball. All of these activities stimulate the muscles along the sides of the body which will give the student good balance to sit upright in a chair during fine motor tasks. Things like swinging a bat or throwing a ball and reaching and grabbing for alternating monkey bars require the shoulder to push and pull in synchronicity for task completion. This is working the whole shoulder girdle. Once there is good proximal control or shoulder strength, it will become easier to perform activities in the hand.

Now we can take a look at what might be going on in the hand to limit abilities. Usually, it is a general weakness from limited use or a fatigue. The fatigue is usually because of weak shoulder and trunk muscles that cause the hand to work harder for control. Now that we have started working on the trunk and shoulder to provide more support to the hand we can work directly on the hand to gain strength and dexterity. I’m going to go over a few games you can play to help get the hand ready for some beautiful handwriting.

This first game will help to differentiate the strength side from the function-side of the hand. It is called a tip-to-palm transfer (and the return is the palm-to-tip transfer). Use a handful of small objects like beads or pieces from a travel size game (I like travel-size games because the playing pieces are smaller).

Place them in a pile on the table. Have your kiddo pick up one item at a time using their thumb and forefinger of their dominant hand. (Make sure they use their fingertip and don’t try to use the side of the finger). They then need to place that item in their palm without help from the other hand. (I usually give them something to hold with the other hand or have them sit on it). Now, that they have picked up one item and they are holding it in their hand, they have to continue to pick up one piece at a time and fill their hand until they have a fist full or they are repeatedly dropping their items. Once they have a fist full, do the same thing in reverse. See if they can pull one of those beads out of the bunch by rolling it with their fingers and bring it to the tip of the forefinger and thumb without help from the other hand. Continue one at a time until the hand is empty again. Count the pieces collected and try to beat the record each time you play.

The next one is a tongue twister…Pick–up pickle picker. You can find a pickle fork in a kitchen gadget store for about a buck fifty. It really is a tool for getting pickles out of a jar. (Now what will they think of next??? I mean, what’s wrong with a fork or you fingers for that matter?) Anyway, this tool will help them to develop a good three-point grip. Just make sure they have good finger placement. Start with the middle finger and forefinger on the sides of the tool and the thumb is used on the plunger part. Then for the game they can see how many items they can pick up using the tool. I like to use those small craft puff balls (Do they have a name???).

You could do this same game using a pair of large toaster tongs (they look like giant wooden tweezers) or I also have this little thing you are supposed to use to remove the leaves from a strawberry. Your kiddo can use these tools to pick up any small item like tiny toy lizards, bugs, doll accessories or other small toys. The key is to be sure that they have the correct finger placement. Thumb on one side, forefinger and middle finger on the other side and the ring finger and little finger curled into palm.

Pla-doh treasure hunt is the last one I want to review. I have always used therapy putty because it provides different levels of resistance, but pla-doh will work fine. This game will help develop hand and finger strength. Get a large ball of dough or putty and hide small items inside. Then have your kiddo pinch and pull at the dough until everything has been removed and all the tiny bits of dough or putty are cleaned away. Then they can try to push the items back in and hide them for the next time.

By playing these games you can feel like you are addressing any issues in fine motor skills and your little one will just be playing while they work. If it’s not fun, it just becomes a battle and then no one wins.

If you are interested in more ideas, one of the best seminars I have been to for handwriting was Handwriting Without Tears. I highly recommend this for teachers who are teaching beginning skills in letter formation and handwriting skills. I also think it is good for parents who are having a difficult time helping their kids in this area.

Happy handwriting!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Have a seat

Here’s a fun idea for a year round planter. Any old chair can easily be turned into a whimsical planter. It’s a great little conversation starter too. Mine sits on my porch all year and gets decorated for each season.

The next time you’re at a flea market or yard sale, don’t disregard that beaten down, ragged old chair with no seat left. I found this one in a friend’s barn and it only had three legs. The hubby found some scrap wood and did some magic with a few nails and some glue. It’s not strong enough to sit on but it works fine for a few plants. I used some weed barrier and a staple gun to make a pseudo bucket to hold the dirt and whatnot. Slapped some left over paint on it and it looks good as new…well close enough.

When planting in the chair, I like to have one plant that grows up like a grass and one for color or something that will flower and a third that will grow down or vine like an ivy of some sort. I top everything off with some moss to give it a finished look.

I bought this one a few tears ago at a yard sale for $5.00.

In the fall, I fill it with gourds then I use a bright orange ribbon to tie some Indian corn to the back.

During the winter I fill it with pinecones or sometimes holiday ornaments and tie a nice gold ribbon on the back.

In late winter early spring, I fill it with different rocks, moss and a cute garden trinket.

This is just one trash to treasure idea. If you really want some good ideas go check out Ashley over at Domestic Fashionista. She’s the queen of trash to treasure.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Busy, busy, busy...

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with making comments to my bloggy friends and for that matter I’ve been rather poor at updating my own blog posts.

I’ve been busy working on some new products for an event on Friday. I will be a vendor at the ITNS symposium. ITNS stands for International Transplant Nurses Society. They are a great group of nurses (and other professionals) who specialize in the area of organ and tissue transplants. It amazes me to sit and listen to what the speakers have to say. (I go every year).

Anyway, here’s a peek at just some of what has been keeping me away from the computer.

Amber and tiger's eye on a floating necklace...

These are the first things I have made in navey blue...

What a statement this snowflake obsidian makes on this triple strand necklace. I also made it in Rose quarts and Amethyst.

Some things in browns...

I love this Yaya inspired turquoise and burnt orange set...

I made this teal set for myself and another one for the show...

Here it is in Black....

Some floating Howlite...

Red, White or Blue....

A handfull of Earrings...

A few Purses...

And I'm almost ready to go.

This is an awareness bracelet for Organ and Tissue donation. I make other Awareness bracelets in other colors too. Green is the color to give life. If you haven’t already checked that box on your driver’s license, to be an organ donor, you might want to give it some thought. You could save a life. If you want to learn more, go see what the people over at CORE have to say.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

To all the Mothers, Grandmothers, Godmothers, good hearted people who are like a Mom (to those who really need you in their life) and to all the Mothers in waiting…

You’re awesome!

Now here’s a peek at our little tradition.





(Little Man doesn't get paint on his)

What's your tradition?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tile Mosaic Anyone?

One of the mediums I love to work in is tile mosaic. I made this one years ago as a gift for my Mom.

While cutting tile takes a bit of skill there are some other ways to get a similar effect. I recently coordinated a craft project for a group of kids. The next time you need a rainy day activity or some quiet time to yourself, try some paper tile mosaic.

All you need is: colored paper, scissors, a glue stick or two and a marker.

I used a paper cutter to get ready for the group but you can have your little ones cut their own paper and it’s a great fine motor activity (that’s the Occupational Therapist in me).

Use the marker to make a basic shape drawing of something simple like; a flower, truck, butterfly, train, tree, fish, kite, anything that you can think of. Then the kids can use the cut paper and glue stick to “color” the picture.

This kept my girls busy long enough to allow me to type this post, make a pair of earrings and I started sewing a purse.

Their busy work.... and mine.

Aawwwe...gee thanks

How did you know it was my birthday? Ok, so that was probably a coincidence but I checked my e-mail the other day to find out that great gals over at lipstickdaily gave me an award.
My first award!!!!!!

I’m so excited!

Now, according to the rules, I get to share the love and pass it along to some other great blogs that I enjoy.

First off, I accept the award and post a link to the amazingly smart ladies who bestowed the honor to my humble little blog and me. That would be; Elaine and Kate from lipstickdaily. You have to stop by and see what I mean. These BFF are funny, smart, insightful and all around great gals. Thanks Ladies!!!
Secondly, I need to choose 15 blogs that I have newly found and give them a heads-up that I think they are cool enough to get an award. Since I’ve only been doing this for a few months, I’ll consider all the blogs to be new. So here goes.

Mrs. Cooper One sweet Lady
Fragrant Liar Nothing like someone who says it like it is.
Jamie Come on, you go just because she has wine in her title
Michelle She’s very creative
Classy Chaos She’s cute, she’s classy, who cares about the chaos?
Rachel yet another good girl
Julie got to love a strong woman with a sense of humor
Jan one down-to-earth chick

OK, 15 are way too many. My hubby is going to kill me if I don’t get off the computer and try socializing with the rest of the family soon. Is there a penalty for only listing 8? Either way, enjoy checking out some other blogs. I’m sure you will meet someone you like.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Is it wrong?

Is it wrong to spy from the parking lot of my daughter’s school? She’s in kindergarten and is going on a fieldtrip today. This is not her first field trip but it is different from the others. In the past she has gone to local area farms and places close to our little town. Past fieldtrips never seemed so big before. Today, the bus will take the highway into the city. The ride there will be almost an hour. The destination is bigger that other places she has visited. They are taking lunch with them and will not return until the afternoon. Today’s trip is three extra hours than her usual school time. {Me crying} My baby is growing up, Aaaaa!!!!!

Now I did, for several days, contemplate the thought of showing up somewhere on her fieldtrip and tagging along. This would be with the other two kids in tow. Then I realized it would be somewhat difficult to be inconspicuous. You know, it would be hard to hide behind a bush with the stroller and the 3 and half year old who does not have the ability to hold still. So instead of making an obstacle out of myself, I have decide to stay home drink coffee and bite my fingernails.

However, something did come over me after I dropped the three y/o off at her pre-school. I decide to swing over to the kindergarten and sit in the parking lot to watch the kiddos line up like ducklings and get on the giant yellow bus. So I sat. Then I began to text the hubby step by step while I waited. I just wanted to make sure she had her lunch with her and that she had her hood up since it’s sprinkling out. Hmm, will she be warm enough? Will she stay with her buddy? Will she eat her apple or just go straight for the cookies?

What? Are you kidding me?!?!

The bus moved!!!! I can’t see!!!!

So I drive around to get a better view. Now I’m starting to be concerned about my sanity. The hubby is now referring to me as 007. This is not normal.

Is it??

I’ve had 3 cups of coffee and 2 fingernails are gone. I can’t tell if I’m shaking from the caffeine or nerves.

This is going to be a very long day.
As I sit here with butterflies in my stomach and a lump in my throat