Paint to Learn!

I love any activity that is not only fun for my kids, but educational too.  This was also ridiculously simple to set up, which is always a bonus.

For this project I pulled out my fantastic Melissa and Doug Finger Paint Paper (not sponsored, I just love it…although if Melissa and Doug wanted to sponsor me I wouldn’t be opposed 😉 ).  This paper is great because it’s thick and doesn’t tear when kids add a lot of paint to the paper.

All I did was take a trusty Sharpie and draw shapes on the paper for my daughter, and some of the Dolch Pre-K sight words on my son’s paper.

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I taped the paper to our kitchen table and let them paint away with some homemade flour paint (though you could just as easily use store bought).  My daughter still tends to eat a lot of our art projects 😉

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This activity was great because we got to talk a lot about what they were painting on (identifying words and shapes).  Fine motor, language, and sensory skills all tackled in one simple project = a total win!

Coffee Filter Flower Garden

We absolutely love our sliding glass door.  It is such a great location to do all sorts of fine motor and play activities.  Recently I set up a coffee filter garden for Trevor to water.  He had sooooo much fun!  And using a spray bottle (plus working on that all-important vertical surface!) is great for improving strength.

On the inside of the door I drew the stem and leaves of the flowers using a green window crayon.  Then on the outside of the door I taped up some coffee filters that I had dotted with our dot markers.  Finally I gave him a spray bottle filled with water and let him go at it!

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He had a great time “watering his garden”.  After he had sprayed literally every single inch of the coffee filters, he wanted to go inside and spray away the stems too.

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I hope your kids enjoy this activity as much as Trevor did!

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Platform Swing Painting

A great way to work on core strengthening (and another awesome pre-writing activity) is to play or work in the prone position. Normally Trevor hates being on his tummy. It’s partly sensory I’m sure, but also partly probably discomfort due to his hypotonia. Either way, he overcame that dislike to engage in this fun activity: painting on the platform swing! I set up a large piece of paper, drizzled some blobs of paint on it, and let him vroom his motorcycle toy through it to make tracks. It was a blast (although be sure to use washable paint, because it did end up a little bit messier than I expected).

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Real Tools = Real Fun!

Trevor is really into tools and “fixing” things right now. He likes to go in his Daddy’s shop and see (and touch) all of his tools. So I’ve been trying to let him explore real tools in a fun and safe way. I made him his own workbench using a scrap piece of wood. I nailed in a few nails for him to hammer and started a few screws for him to try and finish screwing. He loves it! It’s great fine motor work too. I also squirted some shaving cream on his workbench so he could use the putty knife he stole, ahem, borrowed from his Daddy. It was a fun way to add in tactile sensory play as well.

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I’ve also set him up with wrenches, pliers and hammers before at a Play-Doh station. It’s a fun and interesting way to encourage squeezing and hand strengthening. Since Trevor has some weakness in his hands this was a great activity for him. And using Play-Doh is a great pre-writing activity for any kid.

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Aluminum Foil River

We finally made an aluminum foil river today. I’d seen the idea floating around the blogosphere for awhile now, but had yet to attempt it myself. One of Trevor’s PT goals is to walk/run on uneven surfaces, so I thought this would be a great way to encourage that. He had to walk up and down a little grassy hill to play with the river. And of course, the boy loves water, so he had a fabulous time!

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At first I just had out small boats that would fit in the river, but he wanted to bring all of his water toys out. So it was a good lesson in size comparison too. The toys that didn’t float down because they were too big, he ended up pulling them down the river himself. Other than wasting a lot of water, this activity was a great success 🙂

Window Painting

One of the best ways to strengthen the small muscles in the hand is to encourage your child to work on vertical surfaces. To help Trevor with his fine motor skills I try hard to find fun ways to get him to use a vertical surface. This weekend it was nice outside so I thought we’d do some window painting.

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I squirted some of his washable Crayola sidewalk paint onto a plate and let him go to town on our sliding glass patio door. He had tons of fun! After he was finished painting I gave him a spray bottle filled with water to squirt so he could help wash the paint away and do some more fun fine motor work.

Laundry Basket Rides

Laundry basket rides are a fun way to work on gross motor skills (core strengthening) and vestibular processing as well. Now that Paige is sitting well with support we’re doing a lot of sitting activities to help her develop that core strength so she can sit unassisted. Since laundry basket rides are one of Trevor’s favorite core strengthening activities I thought it would be fun for Paige to try it out too!

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She loved it, as you can see from her smile 🙂 She enjoyed the slow and steady ride. Trevor, now that he’s stronger, likes going side to side, playing stop and go, and playing slow and fast in the laundry basket.

What everyday objects do your kids like to use as toys?

Marble Monster Fine Motor Activity

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Since Trevor struggles with his fine motor skills I’ve really been trying to incorporate more fine motor activities into his playtime.  After watching the “Gulpy, Gulpy Gators” episode of Doc McStuffins, Trevor wanted to get his marbles out.  At first he played with the marbles on his Pool Noodle Marble Run, but that just wasn’t cutting it.  He wanted to feed his marbles to something just like on Doc!  So I grabbed the segment of pool noodle that was left over from creating the pool noodle marble run and turned it into a monster.  I cut teeth out of a white strip of cardstock and taped that around one end of the noodle.  (I also taped a piece of pink ribbon on the inside of the teeth for the tongue).  Then I hot glued some googly eyes to the pool noodle and used a Sharpie to draw on some eyebrows and a nose.

Trevor had a great time getting his monster to gulp up all of the marbles!  He was so excited about his gulpy monster that he had to show my niece when she came over the next day.  They played with it together and it turned out to be a great turn-taking activity.

Pool noodles are so versatile!  What fun activities have you done with a pool noodle?

Bean Bin Hide and Seek

Lately I’ve been making more of an effort to have Trevor to play in his sensory bins.  The experience really does help calm and regulate him.  With Paige’s birth I definitely was slacking with his sensory diet and it showed.  With organizing the playroom, getting his sensory materials in order was the first order of business.  His sensory bins are more accessible now and he’s really taken a new interest in them.  And the results of this increase in sensory play are wonderful 🙂

He’s been having a lot of fun playing Hide & Seek with his bean bin.  We use a bunch of little character toys (Toy Story, Mickey and Friends, etc.) that I picked up at the Dollar Tree.  We bury them under the beans and then he finds them.  He thinks it’s hilarious if I sing about his toys to the tune of “Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?” (Oh Where, oh where has Mickey gone, oh where, oh where could he be?) when he digs for them.

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What are your kids’ favorite sensory bin activities?

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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