Thursday, July 20, 2017

Color Cut Glue Shark Freebie – Just in Time for Shark Week!

Color Cut Glue Shark

All right, I admit it… I definitely get sucked into the whole shark week thing.  And super ashamed to say that I will be tuning into to see if Michael Phelps beats the shark.  It is all such ridiculous and mindless television but I do enjoy to zone out once in awhile.  Last night, I decided since everyone LOVED the free Spring and Summer Color Cut and Glue projects why not create a shark.  Download your free copy at the end of the post.

This is a simple one page black and white activity to practice coloring, cutting out simple shapes, planning out where to glue the pieces (the trickiest part) and then paste the shapes together to create the shark.  Just print and it is all set to go.

This activity encourages:

  • scissor skills practice
  • eye hand coordination
  • bilateral coordination
  • motor planning
  • sequencing

So look at that – all in the name of Shark Week and you can have fun practicing those skills.  Haha!  Remember to get your free copy by signing up for our newsletter at the bottom of the post.

Looking for more scissor activities?  Here is a collection of three activity downloads for scissor practice.

Scissors Bundle from Your Therapy Source

If you need more specific information on the development of scissor skills, check out The Scissor Skills Book.  This digital download is a huge resource for anyone who works on scissor skills with children. Written by the Functional Skills for Kids (FSFK) team of 10 pediatric physical and occupational therapists with years of experience in the field, The Scissor Skills Book is the ultimate resource for tips, strategies, suggestions, and information to support scissor skill development in children.

Color Cut Glue Shark

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

5 Simple Tips to Help Children Reach Their Goals

5 Simple Tips to Help Children Reach Their Goals

Do you ever feel like a child you are working with is in a rut or having trouble reaching their goals?  Maybe you just want to give them an extra push to accomplish a task.  Here are 5 simple tips  to help encourage children:

1.  Change up the tools, toys or activities that you are doing.  It may be just as simple as approaching the skill using a different tool or material.

2.  Change the environment.  Perhaps trying accomplishing the skill outdoors, in a quiet room or with a peer.

3.  Be positive.  If you assure the student that they have the ability to accomplish the goal you will provide them with the ability to believe in themselves.  The power of positive feelings can go a long way.  Check out Positive Affirmation Posters and Cards to provide your students with a visual reminder.

4.  Change your teaching style.  If you are only providing verbal directions, perhaps offer a demonstration or a visual picture of what the student needs to accomplish.  If you are always offering verbal feedback, perhaps try diminishing how often you provide feedback to see if that makes a difference.

5.  Offer rewards.  Some students respond very well to a reward system.  You can read more on rewards and motivation in previous blog posts:

Encourage students to track their own progress with My Goal Tracker.

My Goal Tracker student data collection

TitleMy Goal Tracker: This is an electronic book of data collection forms for students to track their own progress. The student can track his/her goals over time, by monitoring the skills over the course of a day, week, month or quarter. This allows the student to get a visual picture of improvement, decline or maintenance of different skills.

Included in this download is the following: samples of completed forms, goals setting worksheet, improvement ideas worksheet, goal tracking cards (for trials or percentage) and graphs to complete for daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly progress (number of trials out of 10, percentage or minutes). There is also one blank form for you to label if you are monitoring goals in a different manner. Complete the goal worksheet, print the necessary forms and place in a binder. The student can then graph his/her progress accordingly.
By having the students track their own goals they will take ownership of their progress. It doesn’t get any easier than this to track progress. Find out more.

5 Simple Tips to Help Children Reach Their Goals



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Monday, July 17, 2017

Right or Left Hand Poster

Teaching children right from left can be a difficult concept.  The ability to determine whether you are using your right or left hand requires higher level spatial awareness, body awareness and motor planning skills.  This right or left hand poster is from the Right or Left Games packet.  You can download it for free (see below).

Here are some ideas for the right or left hand poster:

  1. Color it reinforcing which is the right and left hand
  2. Hang it on the wall for visual reinforcement throughout the day
  3. Hi- 5 Hands: Hang it on the wall.  Smack the right hand and say out loud “right hand” repeat with the left hand.
  4. Wall Presses:  Hang it on the wall.  Put your hands over the correct hands and perform wall presses for proprioceptive feedback to provide extra sensory feedback regarding which is the right or left hand.


Check out the complete Right or Left Games packet.

Right or Left Games

The Right or Left Games packet helps children to practice right and left discrimination, bilateral coordination, fine motor skills, balance skills, body awareness, motor planning and visual spatial skills.  The Right or Left Games Packet includes the following:

  • one page handout on tips to teach children right from left
  • 18 right and left hand action cards
  • 45 right and left sides of the body action cards
  • one game board
  • 18 cards to move along the game board ie move 2 spaces to the right, move 1 space to the left and one space up, etc.


If you need more activities to practice visual spatial skills and body awareness check out these titles:

Simon Says

Which Way?

Move Like Me

Personal Space Journey

25+ Bilateral Coordination Exercises

The post Right or Left Hand Poster appeared first on Your Therapy Source.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Weighted Pencils and Handwriting – What Does the Evidence Say?

Weighted Pencils and Handwr

Pediatric occupational therapists sometimes recommend a weighted pencil to improve handwriting legibility and increase pencil pressure but what does the evidence say?  Not much…  I found one recent study on the use of weighted pencils and handwriting.  In theory, the purpose of the weighted pencil is to provide extra proprioceptive input in the fingers and hand to help provide extra feedback.  A recent study in the Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention discussed three case studies of children who were unable to form their letters. Following the use of a weighted pencil, all 3 children demonstrated marked improvement in their ability to write.

If you are aware of other research studies on the use of weighted pencils, please send me an email.

Read more on ways to increase pencil pressure.

If you decide to recommend the use of a weighted pencil to improve handwriting legibility don’t forget to follow up after you implement the strategy.  Read 6 follow up questions to ask regarding the use of adaptive equipment in the classroom.

Read more on Proprioception and Handwriting.

Reference:  Brown, M. J. (2017). Use of weighted pencils to improve handwriting legibility. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention10(1), 52-68.

Need to check if the weighted pencil is affecting handwriting skills?  Try using a handwriting rubric.

Handwriting Rubrics

Handwriting Rubrics – This is an electronic book of 26 rubrics to assess handwriting. A rubric is a scoring guide to judge performance on a specific task. Have you ever wanted to quantify handwriting skills such as letter formation, speed or copying? Handwriting Rubrics can be used as assessment tools to quantify an individual’s written productivity. By using the rubric, each individual can be scored based on the same criteria.   FIND OUT MORE.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Smile Find – Visual Scanning Visual Discrimination Activity

Check out this fun freebie to challenge visual scanning and visual discrimination skills.  You can download it for free by signing up for our newsletter at the end of the post.  Can you find all 14 smile faces that look different from all the rest?  Grab a yellow highlighter and give it a go.  It is certainly tricky to scan the whole paper to find only the 14 smiles faces that look slightly different.  So get those visual scanning and visual discrimination skills ready and give it a go!

If you need more visual scanning activities check out Ready, Set, Scan – this digital download includes 12 visual scanning and discrimination activities. How fast can you scan, find and mark each item? There are 12 challenges in all with different themes including: shapes, animals, fruit, party, travel and babies. Just print and start the search. Follow the directions: start a timer, scan for one object at a time, mark each object and stop the timer. Record your time in the box provided. Dot markers work great for marking the item. Use a different color dot marker for each item.

Need more visual discrimination activities?  Check out this figure ground and visual discrimination bundle for a huge selection of activities at a discounted price!

To get your FREE copy of the Smile Find visual scanning and discrimination activity sign up for our newsletter to get immediate access.  If you already are a subscriber, just enter your email and you will be redirected to the download.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Feeding Difficulties and Children with Cerebral Palsy

Feeding Difficulties Cerebral Palsy

Children with cerebral palsy may present with feeding difficulties which have an effect on growth, nutrition, general health and social interaction.  These feeding difficulties in children with cerebral palsy include issues such as choking, feeding time greater than 3 hours per day, frequent vomiting and and difficulties with chewing.  One protocol that has been created to help with difficulties chewing is the Functional Chewing Training.   The Functional Chewing Training was created to improve chewing function by providing postural alignment, sensory and motor training, and food and environmental modifications.

The Functional Chewing Training includes 5 steps to address feeding difficulties in children with cerebral palsy:

Step 1:  Positioning the child. A proper head and trunk control is crucial to facilitate smooth chin and lip closure and encourage
tongue movement.   For Functional Chewing Training the child is placed in a sitting position with the body tilted 60–90° tilted and head in neutral position, with the arms and legs supported.  Read more on postural control and mealtime here.
Step 2: Positioning the food.  The food is placed through corners of lips to the molar area during every feeding to help prevent abnormal reflexes.
Step 3:  Sensory stimulation of the upper and lower gums from the front teeth to molar area using massage helps to encourage lip closure, tongue lateralization and rotary chewing.  This helps to prevent tongue thrust, decrease tactile hypersensitivity and facilitate chewing function.
Step 4:  The chewing exercises are performed using a chewing tube placed in the molar area of the child.  The caregiver moves the tube from one side of the mouth to other side which the child completes the chewing exercises.
Step 5:  Adjustment of food consistency included increasing the food consistency gradually.

When a 12 week Functional Chewing Training program was completed in a double blind randomized group of 80 children with cerebral palsy who experienced feeding difficulties, the training program was shown to improve the chewing performance and mealtime functioning of children with cerebral palsy.

Additional research indicated that the Functional Chewing Training program is an effective approach on the severity of tongue thrust and drooling in children with cerebral palsy.

You can read the full article on Functional Chewing Training here.


Inal, Ö., Serel Arslan, S., Demir, N., Yilmaz, Ö. T., & Karaduman, A. A. (2017). Effect of Functional Chewing Training on tongue thrust and drooling in children with cerebral palsy: A randomised controlled trial. Journal of Oral Rehabilitation.

Serel Arslan, S., Demir, N., & Karaduman, A. A. (2017). Effect of a new treatment protocol called Functional Chewing Training on chewing function in children with cerebral palsy: a double‐blind randomised controlled trial. Journal of oral rehabilitation, 44(1), 43-50.

Meal Time Rubrics

Meal Time Rubrics include assessments for: finger feeding, using a spoon, using a fork, using a knife to cut, using a knife to spread, drinking from a cup, drinking with a straw, drinking from a water fountain, pouring liquids, cafeteria, meal preparation, cleaning up from meal, manners and independent feeding. The rubrics will be delivered electronically in PDF format and in a word processing format so that you can edit the document if necessary. This allows you to customize the rubric to your individual caseload if necessary.

Some suggested uses of Meal Time Rubrics are:

  • assessment at initial evaluation and annual reviews
  • progress reports
  • establish entrance or exit criteria for therapy
  • creating measurable goals


The post Feeding Difficulties and Children with Cerebral Palsy appeared first on Your Therapy Source.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Alternative Classroom Seating for Children with Autism

Alternative Classroom Seating for Children with Autism

Recent research investigated whether regular classroom chairs, therapy balls, and air cushions affect the classroom behavior of individuals with autism.  The participants included 15 students with autism who were video recorded in three phases: sitting on their common chairs, air-sit cushions and ball chairs.  Using momentary time sampling, sitting times and on-task behaviors were quantified and compared during different phases for important changes over a period of 8 weeks.  Stereotyped movements, social and communication skills of the students were measured with the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale-Second Edition test,

The results indicated the following:

  • significant increases in in-seat behaviors in 86.7% of the students and on-task behaviors in 53.3% of the students (eight out of 15) when seated on therapy balls.
  • air cushions had no significant effects on in-seat/on-task behaviors.
  • significant decrease in stereotyped movement and increase in communication and social skills were observed in these students.
  • teachers preferred the use of the balls and/or air-cushioned chairs for their students.

The researchers concluded that therapy ball chairs facilitated in-seat behavior and decreased autism related behavior of the students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in class.

Reference:  SADR, N. M., Haghgoo, H. A., Samadi, S. A., Rassafiani, M., Bakhshi, E., & Hassanabadi, H. (2017). The Impact of Dynamic Seating on Classroom Behavior of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Iranian journal of child neurology, 11(1), 29.

Read more about In Class Sensory Activities and On Task Behaviors in Children with Autism.

Get 20 Alternative Seating Picture Word Cards for free.

Need more ideas and handouts for in class sensory activities?  Check out the titles below.


Wiggle Worms: A Guide to Alternative Seating for the Classroom digital download which includes all of the resources you need to begin implementing alternative seating strategies in a classroom.  Find out more information.

Cut and Paste Sensory Diet

Cut and Paste Sensory Diet  includes 2 sensory diet books, one for home and one for school and over 150 picture word cards to reinforce sensory diets at home and at school.  Find out more information.

Alternative Classroom Seating for Children with Autism

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