Monthly Archives: February 2015

5 Great Yoga Poses for Kids

By: Bridget Hobbs, PT, DPT

Yoga is becoming an increasingly popular form of exercise, so much so, that you can find yoga studios on many street corners.  Yoga is also a very beneficial form of exercise for kids.  In the clinic, I use a set of yoga cards entitled “Yoga Pretzels” by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish.  They have large, colorful illustrations of the yoga pose on the front as well as a detailed description of the pose on the back.  Listed below are 5 of my favorite yoga poses for kids.  These help with motor planning, strength, balance and attention and are really enjoyable for kids to do.

1. Down Dog:  Down dog is a great hamstring stretch for kiddos (and adults) with tight hamstrings.   It is also really helpful for gaining strength in the upper back and core and for stretching the back muscles.

downward dog

2. Tree: Tree is my favorite pose to work on with kids who need help with balance.  Kids pretend like their arms are the branches and stretch them high.   Kids can really feel this one working their leg muscles.

Tree

3. Butterfly: If your child is a w-sitter, this pose is for them! Butterfly helps kids who have a hard time sitting cross-legged ease into sitting with their feet in front of them.  Butterfly is also a great core strengthener, as kids can lengthen their torso tall and gentle flap their legs up and down simulating butterfly wings.

Butterfly Pose

4. Plank: The plank pose is a more advanced pose for older children. It helps kids learn the proper technique for push-ups as well as provide a good calf stretch. It strengthens the chest, shoulder and core muscles.  If plank is too tough with legs extended, try putting knees on the ground for more stability.

Yoga_PlankPose_300x350

5. Resting pose: The resting pose is a good pose to end a session with. Kids can focus on listening to the slowness of their breathing to gain calmness and slow down a ‘fast’ engine.  This pose can improve focus and concentration.

yoga5

There are many benefits to doing yoga for children including:

  • increasing strength
  • energy
  • flexibility
  • overall sense of well-being

Some fitness centers offer yoga classes for children.  You can also purchase yoga cards fairly in-expensively and do yoga with your child to make it a family activity.  Yoga can be a life-long exercise that is easy on the joints and beneficial for the mind.

 

For more information about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley please visit EasterSealsDFVR.org.

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Sensory Play for Winter Fun

By Maureen Karwowski, OTSensory Play

We all know that winter time can be brutal for active kids who are stuck inside.  I live in Chicago, and the winters can feel endless.  I work with children who have sensory needs, and sensory input can be hard to find when you are stuck inside.

Here are some ideas that are safe, fun and require only what you have in your home.

Heavy work and movement play ideas:

  1. Have a tug of war contest with your child/children using a blanket.
  2. Have your child crawl across a “mountain” of pillows, and couch cushions.
  3. Wall push-ups, chair push-ups, wheelbarrow walking, and donkey kicks.
  4. Jumping in place, hopping or jumping jacks with the red light/green light game.red/light green light
  5. Animal walks such as crab walking, bear walking, frog hopping. Play red light/green light with these different walks.
  6. Log rolling across the room, or over a pile of pillows and blankets.
  7. Play the “roly poly” game where your child sits on the floor and curls up into a ball, and rocks back and up again.
  8. Give your child a magic carpet ride. Have them sit or lie in a blanket and pull them around.  If you have more than one child, they can help you pull their sibling around.
  9. Play catch with large, soft objects such as pillows or oversized stuffed animals.
  10. Have turtle races where the kids are crawling on hands and knees using a large pillow or couch cushion on their backs as a shell.

Messy, Tactile Play Ideas:

Setting up a vinyl shower curtain or a paint tarp can minimize the mess, and allow your child tSensoryhe freedom to fully explore textures.  If you have a young child, you can always have them explore textures in the tub.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Have a car wash with cars, sponges, soap suds and a spray bottle.
  2. Shaving cream, finger paints and cornstarch mixed with water are all great textures. For more texture ideas click on this link.
  3. A bin filled with dry tactile textures such as rice, beans, split peas, aquarium rocks and sand are all great options. Hide items for your child to find in the bin for a treasure hunt.

For more information about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley please visit EasterSealsDFVR.org.

My Favorite Speech & Language Apps: Part 1

By: Jennifer Tripoli M.S., CCC-SLP

“Can we play on your iPad?” is often the first question I get when a child enters my therapy room!  These kids, often referred to as the “digital generation”, are drawn to anything with a screen.  Though electronic overuse can be an issue with kids today, I am forever grateful for Steve Jobs and the people at Apple for opening up another world of speech therapy (a very BIG one!). Since the iPad’s release in 2010, the app world has exploded, especially in regards to educational apps for children. There are hundreds of blogs and websites dedicated to app use in speech therapy. This blog post will not be a comprehensive list of all the apps that can be used to promote speech/language development. There are thousands of apps, so I will touch on a few of my favorites at the moment and provide resources for exploring others.

A few of my favorite apps for development of speech/language/cognitive skills:

1. Anything Toca Boca!
This is my favorite app company for little ones. They have interactive apps that I use to target early language skills and pretend play. Try these apps to target pretend play schemes in a different way!

Visit their website for many more great apps.

2. Popplet by Notion
Price: $9.99
Not sure about it?  Try the lite version here for free!

Popplet is a visual learning app that can be used to target higher level language (word relationships, categories, compare/contrast, story retelling) and executive functioning skills (organizational skills, planning, generating ideas)

Here’s a pic of my client’s “popplet”. This visual representation assisted her in retelling 5 things she did over winter break

popplet

3. Toontastic by Launchpad Toys
Price: $9.99 for the app, other scenes/characters available for an additional cost

  • An award winning app that makes your child’s cartoons come to life!
  • Great for speech language skills: story retelling, sequencing, using complete sentences, working on pronouns, understanding emotions and much much more!
  • Kids follow the story arc to structure their story (setup, conflict, challenge, climax, resolution), choose a setting, pick the characters, animate, and set it to music!
  • Can save these videos or share them!
  • Also, check out Toontastic Jr. which is recommended for kids 3 years and older

4. Peekaboo Barn by Night and Day studios
Price: $1.99
Peekaboo Barn
Not sure about purchasing the full app? Download the lite version here for free!

  • Interactive app aimed at toddlers
  • Typical farm animals (cow, pig, horse, chicken, etc.) are hiding in the barn! Touch the barn and surprise! Out pops an animal
  • I have used this in therapy to work on cause/effect, use of exclamations (ooh! Wow! Whoa!), and use of words “open”, “out”, “knock knock” to name a few
  • This app is recommended for “toddlers”, but please keep in mind the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics on screen time for children under the age of 2 years old.

How do I incorporate the iPad into my treatment sessions? Moderation is key! Lately, I feel as if iPads and other electronic devices are getting a bad rap in regards to overuse. Just like anything else, we need to set limits for our kids. Many kids would play on the iPad the whole session if I allowed this (I don’t!). I try to alternate activities between electronic and non-electronic throughout the session. When alternating activities, it keeps the child more engaged within therapy activities. Using iPad apps in therapy offers a wide variety of ways to target specific skills and assists with generalization of skills. It gives me another platform to practice certain speech/language/cognitive skills.

Here are some great websites that review/suggest speech and language related apps:

Bridging Apps
Moms with Apps
Therapy App 411
Technology in (SPL) Education
te@chthought
Speech Language Neighborhood
Apps for Children with Special Needs

Want to learn about how to use your iPad’s video camera for changing your child’s behaviors? Click here!

Do you need more play ideas for your child that aren’t electronic? Check out my last blog here that gives toy ideas by age! Click here!

 STAY TUNED FOR PART 2!

For more information about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley please visit EasterSealsDFVR.org.