Indoor Gross Motor “Snow” Play

We had a great time with our latest activity, an indoor Winter Wonderland.  It was full of fun and great gross motor play too!  Grab your winter coat and hat and join in the fun 🙂

  1. Cut out snowflakes and do a Snowflake Walk.
  2. Shake those same snowflakes in your hands while boogieing down and doing a Snowflake Dance.
  3. Tie some ribbon or string onto the snowflakes, tape them to the ceiling, and walk/run through the snow!  (We did this in a circle around our ottoman and sang songs like “All Around the Mulberry Bush”)
  4. Have a snowball fight with balled up socks.
  5. Go sledding by pulling/pushing your kid around in a plastic under-the-bed storage box (great for the core and vestibular processing!)

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Fun With Big and Little

Continuing on with our sorting projects, and going along with what Trevor’s working on in preschool right now (opposites), I thought we could have fun doing some work with Big and Little.  I gathered up big and little versions of stuff we had around the house. You could use whatever you want, but this is what I grabbed:

  • Cups
  • Blocks
  • Books
  • Donald Duck toys
  • Buzz Lightyear toys
  • Toy screwdrivers
  • Balls
  • Trucks
  • Dinosaurs
  • Tiger toys

Then I set the objects up in front of a big blanket and a little blanket and had him sort them by placing the big version of the items on the big blanket and the little version of the items on the little blanket.  It’s always easier to learn things if you get up and move.  The more parts of the brain you can access at once, the better.  Movement and learning go hand in hand.  Although Trevor’s strength is in visual learning, I always try and get him up and moving when we work on concepts too.

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After he sorted the items he wanted to play with them.  While playing I decided to extend the activity by saying things like “I’m going to put the little Buzz on the little block, what are you going to do?”  or “My little dinosaur wants to read the little book, what does yours want to do?”  He then would go grab the big versions of the items and copy me.

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How do you like working on opposites?

Have a Ball With Tummy Time!

One thing I’ve learned in dealing with Trevor’s motor delays is that you’ve got to get creative.  When I first had Trevor I assumed Tummy Time meant lying stomach-down on a mat, and that was it.  Due to his hypotonia he hated Tummy Time and screamed pretty much the second he was placed face down on the ground.  At first that meant we didn’t do a lot of Tummy Time.  But eventually I ended up learning some alternative ways to do Tummy Time.  I actually still do this activity with Trevor to work on strengthening his weaker core muscles, but it is also an excellent activity to do with your baby!  And with Paige being my second child she is lucky enough (or unfortunate enough, depending on how you look at it, lol) to take part in these activities from the get-go.  For the most part I’m more laid-back this time around.  But when it comes to motor development I have a little parenting PTSD, and so Paige gets tons of Tummy Time.

The best way for a child to enjoy Tummy Time I’ve discovered is to get them up off the ground.  Being on the ground and not being able to move themselves is frustrating.  So dig out that old exercise ball that you never use and put you baby on it!  It’s a great way for them to strengthen their muscles.  If you have a mirror down low like we do, have your baby do this in front of the mirror.  Babies love looking in mirrors!  If you don’t have a mirror down low, position yourself or someone else in front of your baby so they have someone to look at.  Babies love looking at faces too.

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Paige coos and smiles at herself when we do this.  She loves it!  Although given her age, she only loves it for short periods of time 😉 But it’s a fun alternative to the traditional method of Tummy Time.  I’m looking forward to sharing other Tummy Time activities too!

(And I’m sure I don’t have to say this, but make sure you hold on tightly to your baby, as they are up off the floor.)

Firetruck Painting

To go along with Trevor’s new interest in firefighting I created another fun activity for him to do.  It is a great sensory experience and fine motor skill builder too 🙂

I taped some white easel paper to his tray and set out some paints, shaving cream, a spray bottle filled with water, and 3 fire truck toys.  After he sat down I poured some red, yellow, and orange paint onto the paper for the “fire” and then sprayed shaving cream on it for the “smoke”.  Then he vroomed his fire trucks through the fire and smoke to save the day!  I also gave him a spray bottle filled with water to use as his “fire hose” so that he could fight the fires!  He had a blast spraying his trucks and the paper (and the wall, they tray, himself, and almost his baby sister – note to self:  supervise kids with spray bottles closely, lol).  I was so proud that he finally has the hand strength to use a spray bottle and he had so much fun fighting a fire!  It was cool for him to see the shaving cream melt away when it was sprayed with the water.  He wanted more and more shaving cream on his trucks and was a big mess by the time we finished.  Definitely a successful sensory experience!

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The paper was pretty soaked by the time he was done.  I was just going to throw it out (since this is definitely more of a process over product kind of project), but I decided to blot the paper and soak up some of the water.  Then I cut another piece of paper off his easel roll and smoothed it on top of the other piece.  It created a cool, pale, marbled effect on the paper and turned out pretty neat.  The soaked paper on the tray was then just thrown away.

I hope all of your little firefighters enjoy this activity too!

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Sorting Cars

Trevor’s current favorite book (although I’m sure it will change in a few days, lol!) is this book called Sorting by Henry Pluckrose.  It teaches about the concept of classifying objects and sorting them by color, size, shape, type, etc.  It’s a great introduction to this important math skill.

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When we were playing with his cars I asked him if he wanted to sort them.  He got super excited about the idea!  So I put some of his cars in a pile, and then we sorted them.  He had a blast sorting them, as he loves putting things in their rightful places.

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After we sorted his cars, we also sorted some of his play food.  You can do this activity with all kinds of objects.  I have a feeling that we will be doing a lot of different sorting activities in the near future!  After all, once he’s hooked on something we have to perseverate on it for awhile, until it’s mastered 😉

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Check out a lot of other fun early learning posts over at the Weekly Kid’s Co-Op who I linked up with this week!

Pretend Play: Firefighting

Last Thursday the local fire department visited Trevor’s preschool.  And in true Trevor fashion he developed a mini-obsession with the idea of firefighting.  He had to wear his fire helmet all weekend, including to his OT session on Friday.  If I hadn’t made him take it off, I’m sure he would have slept with it and bathed with it too, lol 😉

So to go along with his new-found interest in firefighting we came up with a fun way to play firefighters.  I cut out some red construction paper in the shape of flames and taped it to our pantry door.  Then I grabbed a recycled paper towel roll and stuffed blue tissue paper in one end to create a fire hose.  I got out his scooter board to use as a fire truck (and work on those gross motor skills too!).  He insisted that fire trucks have to be red, so I ended up duct taping a red kitchen towel to the top of the scooter board for him.

He had a blast “fighting fires”.  I loved seeing his play skills blossom and was impressed at how much better he is at the scooter board (yay for progress!).

I hope you all have as much fun fighting fires as we did this weekend 🙂

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And sorry the picture is a little blurry.  I’m blogging from my phone a lot now given the hectic, sleep-deprived life I’m leading 😉

Music Man

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Trevor has always responded well to music.  We have a lot of kids CDs that encourage movement and language.  We also have had some success with the Therapeutic Listening program as well, though it was limited.  But today I was reminded just how much music can help him.  On our way to OT today I blasted some Bob Dylan and Trevor just calmed right down.  For the first time since Winter Break he was calm in the car.  And when we got to OT he was so focused and much more regulated.  It was amazing actually.  When we got home he wanted to play dress-up.  And for the first time ever he put on his Batman shirt and cape that my husband had bought him 6 months ago!  He only had one meltdown all morning, and it was pretty minor in comparison to how he has been acting.

Of course it could be that his crankiness has finally just run it’s course thanks to a couple weeks of preschool under his belt.  He always does better when he’s in his routines.  But I’m going to take today’s amazing turnaround as inspiration to play more music for Trevor.  Hopefully my theory proves correct and music will help work out a lot of the behavior issues we’ve been struggling with lately.

Kid Science: Freezing Temperatures

One morning last week Trevor looked out the window and excitedly shouted “It snowed!”  Poor little guy was pretty upset when I told him that wasn’t snow on the roof, it was frost.  So I decided to try and teach him, in a fun way, about freezing temperatures.  We went outside and explored the frost on the grass.  He enjoyed playing with the icy blades of grass so much we had to take some inside with us!  We also set out a couple of containers of water that we could check the next day and find out if they froze, just like the water on the ground and roofs.

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The next morning we went outside and explored the frosty grass again, and then checked our containers.  The water froze and turned to ice overnight.  It was really cold outside so we took the ice inside where it was warm to study and play with more.  Trevor had a blast playing with the ice all morning until it melted.  I couldn’t believe how much fun he had just playing with the ice!  We carried the bin I dumped the ice into all over the house that morning.  This simple experiment was a fun way to teach him about water freezing into ice and then melting again into water.

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Paige wasn’t as into learning about freezing temperatures though, lol 🙂  Sleepy little babe all cuddled up in her sling…

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Pre-Math Skills on the Light Table

I’m slowly getting our playroom more organized.  My goal is to make the sensory- motor room I’ve always envisioned having for Trevor (and now Paige!) to be more functional.  One thing I’ve done so far is to make his light box more accessible and turn it into a true light table.  When I get the room complete I’ll post more about how I’ve created these functional spaces.

But for now I’d like to share a new light table activity!  I’m always on the lookout for new transluscent objects that would work well on the light table.  I found some fruit-shaped reusable plastic ice cubes at the Dollar Tree that are awesome.  The set came with 4 different fruits (4 grapes, 4 oranges, 4 apples, and 4 strawberries).  Trevor loved exploring these:

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I let him have fun doing some free play with them, then I guided him to try and complete some patterns.  Patterns are a great way to work on pre-math skills.  This month in his preschool class they’re working on patterns, and I always enjoy doing home carry-over activities to help reinforce what he’s learning at school or in therapy.

Here’s a grape-strawberry-orange-apple pattern we did together:

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We also worked on sorting the fruit.  I found a set of four colored containers (also at the Dollar Tree) and even though they’re opaque and not as cool-looking on the light table as translucent containers would be, they perfectly matched the colors of the 4 fruits.  Sorting is also a great pre-math skill!

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Hopefully now that the light box is more accessible we’ll soon be doing many more fun activities 🙂

Pinkeye, Growth Spurts, and New Year’s Resolutions

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been over 3 months since I last blogged!  I’ve never been one to make a New Year’s Resolution, but this year I made three:  to be more patient with my kids, to get my house more organized, and to start blogging again.  It’s nine days into the new year and I’m not doing the best at working on my resolutions obviously since it took me this long to start blogging again!

It’s amazing how much less time you have with two kids.  In the last nine days we’ve had colds, vaccine reactions, pinkeye, behavior problems due to change in routine (thank you Winter Break…grr), baby growth spurts (breastfeeding hourly, yikes!), power outages and many sleepless nights.  My patience has definitely been tested and all of the organizational projects I wanted to accomplish are going much more slowly than I would like.  But I hope that by breaking down and finally writing all of this down, and writing my first blog post of the new year now, I’ll be held accountable to my new resolutions. 

I’d love to write more, and I really want to share pictures of the new babe, but she just started crying, so I gotta go.  Time to eat again I guess 🙂