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!

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 🙂

Bug Sundae

Trevor loves cold things. So this summer we’re going to be doing a lot more cold-themed sensory activities. Today I made him a Bug Sundae to play with. He kept calling it a Bug Saturday, which was pretty darn cute 🙂 Love the things kids say!

I put Cool Whip, cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, and his plastic bugs into a little plastic bucket and let town have some messy fun. He had a great time squishing, smelling, and even licking this activity, lol. It was a nice way to stimulate a lot of different senses.

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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?

Easter Dough

I always love trying out new playdough recipes with my little sensory guy. I saw this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago and thought it looked interesting. But given the fact that his oral sensory seeking has suddenly become out of control again (today he licked the stairs, yuck!), the last thing I wanted him to play with was something non-edible but called the name of a food. So with Easter approaching I mixed it up and we had fun with Easter Egg Dough instead!
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All you need is cornstarch and cheap hair conditioner. Mix it up in a 2 parts cornstarch to one part conditioner ratio and you have a sweet smelling, pastel-colored dough that is perfect for spring! It is a great new texture to explore.

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Trevor had a great time with this new dough recipe, and baby sis enjoyed watching him play too:

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Those Sneaky Leprechauns!

This year we made a Leprechaun Trap for St. Patrick’s Day.  I had never heard of the idea until this year, when it seemed to be everywhere on Pinterest.  I love doing things to make the holidays fun for my kids, no matter how big or small, so this idea is perfect!

I covered an old shoebox in white paper, then cut strips of paper in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple for the lid of the box.  Then I had Trevor work on color matching and decorate the rainbow lid with pom poms and stickers (a great way to sneak in some fine motor and bilateral coordination work too…cause I’m tricky like that!)

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The night before St. Patrick’s Day I propped the lid open with a stick, adding a cup filled with gold coins inside to entice that leprechaun.  Trevor also set gold coins out around the outside of the trap too.

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Then on St. Patrick’s Day when he woke up he discovered that the leprechaun (whom he named “Larry” because of a book they read at preschool) caused all sorts of mischief!  I turned our dining table chairs upside down, put cars on the couch “watching” TV, put slippers on top of shelves, throw pillows on top of bookshelves, and more.  I also left a gold coin in each spot that Larry the Leprechaun caused mischief.  And of course in true Trevor fashion, since he notices the smallest details, he thought Larry caused even more mischief than I intended.  Anything that had been moved while he was in bed he thought the leprechaun did!

Inside the box I painted green footprints, left a note from the leprechaun, and also put in a little present for him.  He was bummed we didn’t catch that sneaky leprechaun, but of course he enjoyed getting a little gift.  And he was laughing about “Larry getting into mischief” all day yesterday!  Hmm…maybe Trevor is a leprechaun too?

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And even though she was super fussy, we couldn’t leave Miss Paige out of this St. Patrick’s Day post.  My little girl is getting so big!

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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?