Tag Archives: holiday

My OT Christmas List

By: Laura Bueche, MOT OTR/L

If you are looking for the perfect holiday gift for your child, here are some ideas to give your little one the input they are looking for over winter break. I also included other helpful websites, stores and catalogs for children with special needs.

Heavy Work and Movement

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Cuddle Me Sensory Tunnel– Great for therapy requiring tactile input and crawling practice as well as for sensory seeking kids to cuddle in for comfort. $49.99

scooter-blog.jpgScooter board– Develops sensory processing, coordination, balance and agility skills. $19.25

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Mini Kids Trampoline– Helps with muscle development, coordination and sensory processing. $68.99

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Wiggle Sit Cushion– provides subtle movement input and is a great seating option that often helps with focusing, while developing balance skills and trunk control. $14.90

 Deep Pressure Toys

 

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Weighted toys– A great sensory diet addition that provides comforting deep pressure input. $36.00

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Body Sock– excellent for providing calming/organizing deep pressure input, and for developing motor planning, spatial, and body awareness. $31.98

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Weighted blankets– Can calm anxiety and ease stress for some children with autism, sensory processing disorder, developmental disorders, and more. $ Prices vary

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Vibrating Pillow– Provides a sense of calm. $17.95

Balance and Coordination Toys

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Balance Board– helps develop the necessary skills for normal childhood activities which require good balance and coordination. $19.95

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Velcro Toss– Great for practicing motor-planning and timing skills. $8.49

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Zoom Ballgreat for bilateral coordination, motor planning skills, shoulder stability, and building upper body and core strength. $13.99

balance-stepping_otBalance stepping stones– Helps to improve balancing and coordination abilities. $29.49

 Tactile Exploration Toys

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Fidgets– Great for calming and alerting, to promote focusing and concentration, decrease stress, increase tactile awareness of fingers/hands and as a way to keep fidgeting fingers busy. $ Price Varies

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Water Beads – These make for fun sensory activities. $5.95

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Kinetic Sand– Great for a calming sensory experience and for tactile therapy play. $12.99

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Be Amazing Insta-Snow Jar– great for use in sensory tables for early childhood. $9.89

Adapted Toys

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Santa’s Little Hackers– A seasonal toy drive to adapt toys,  making simple modifications to the electronics of toys and giving them away. These adaptations make the toys accessible to individuals with disabilities so they can play independently.

Other Adapted Toy Resources:

Adaptive Tech SolutionsAdaptive Tech Solutions is a therapist owned and operated company that provides adapted equipment for individuals with disabilities at affordable prices.

Beyond Play: Features switch toys which are wonderful way to teach cause and effect and can help children develop a sense of control over their environment and self-esteem.

Other Resources:

I’m looking forward to checking out this new store in the Chicago area, Spectrum Toy Store.

Toys R Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids – Prepared by the National Lekotek Center, the catalogue is available at your local “R” Us store.

And last but not least, view our Amazon Wishlist for therapist recommended toys and games for all children’s developmental stages at bit.ly/eswishlist.

Getting Back to the Basics this 4th of July

By: Kelly Lopresti, Director of Child Development, The Lily Garden Child Care Center

The warm summer weather is perfect for a Fourth of July celebration that incorporates easy patriotic activities. Think back to your own childhood outdoor experiences in the summer months with nights playing kick the can and flashlight tag.  4thWe can show our kids how to have a great 4th of July celebration by adding a few throw back activities from our youth.  Below is a list of list of easy activities that will keep kids busy, laughing and having a ton of fun during your holiday weekend.

Potato Sack Race: Bring back the classic potato sack race for your Fourth of July party. All you’ll need is a handful of bags (even old pillow cases will work) and a group of people. Line up the bagged participants and send them on their way laughing toward the finish line.

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Fun with the Brady Bunch kids.

Fun Tip: Choose festive bags, such as red, white, and blue pillow cases, or decorate your own potato sacks with the image of the flag or the Statue of Liberty.

IMG_1410Spoon Race: We named this Fourth of July game for one of our nation’s founding fathers, and it’s sure to be a hit. It’s the Abraham Lincoln Spoon Race.

  1. Divide the kids into two teams and designate a starting point and finish line.
  2. At the starting point, place a bowl of pennies and two spoons or ladles (one for each team); at the finish line, place two empty bowls (one for each team).
  3. One at a time one person from each team must fill the spoon with as many pennies as possible and then race to the finish line to discard them into the team bowl.
  4. Here’s the catch: Any dropped pennies must be picked up and returned to the spoon, and the player must return to the starting point. The first team to transfer all the pennies to the bowl at the finish line wins.
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Photo from Oriental Trading

American Flag Relay: Fill two large plastic buckets or bins with sand and insert small American flags. Use the same number of flags as participants.

  1. Designate a starting point and a finish line, placing the buckets at the finish line.
  2. Split the kids into two teams and have them form two lines at the starting point.
  3. On your “Go,” the first person in each line races to the bucket, grabs a flag, and marches back (for safety reasons, don’t allow children to run with the flags).
  4. The next person in line cannot go until the previous person has returned with his or her flag.
  5. The first team to capture all of its flags wins.

 

Other ideas:

  • Bike Decorating contest: Get the streamers and balloons ready and start decorating.
  • Hula Hoop Contest: Grab some Hula Hoops and a few wiggly participants to get the contest started. The person who can continue to hula the longest wins.
  • Baseball Throwing Contest: Incorporate America’s favorite pastime in your 4th of July celebration. The person who can throw a baseball the farthest wins. This game is best played at a park with an adult marking the distance each time.
  • Tug-of-War Contest: Create two teams to tug on opposing sides of a rope. Make three knots in the middle of the rope and a line on the ground between the teams. The team who tugs the furthest knot across the line wins
  • kiteFly a Kite: Let your patriotic spirit fly high into the sky this July Fourth. Make and decorate kites as a family and fly them in the backyard or at a park.
  • Baseball: Baseball is widely considered the all-American sport, which makes it a perfect Fourth of July game. Designate team captains and mark bases with bags of sand or painted twigs.
  • Patriotic Scavenger Hunt: For a festive and fun July Fourth game, send players on a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood. Include patriotic items on the list, such as red, white, and blue items; a nickel, in honor of Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration of Independence; and mini American flags.

For more ideas for a fun 4th of July weekend visit:

To learn more about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley’s Lily Garden Child Care Center visit eastersealslilygarden.org.

Holiday Travel Anxiety

Anxious about the upcoming holiday travel? Here are two great resources and perspectives to help you prepare.

The first is a blog post from the Easter Seals Inc. blog with “12 holiday travel tips for families with special needs” by Sara Croft.

Sara Croft compiled “tips from behavior analyst, therapists and respite providers to make holiday traveling a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Before the airport: 

  1. Make sure you pack everything your child might want/need in a carry-on bag, including a change of clothes. Create a sensory pack with their favorite calming toy, stuffed animal, object or blanket. Sensory items are a great relief for kids who may become anxious due to first time traveling and fear of the unknown.
  2. Discuss what the experience of the ticket counter and the security check might be like to the child before you arrive at the airport. You could simply talk to the child about it, discuss it with them, or use social stories to aid in the explanation.01_Mason Esquivel
  3. Make sure you call TSA Cares at 1-855-787-2227 at least 72 hours before boarding the plane to ask any questions you may have. A TSA Passenger Support Specialist can be requested to provide on-the-spot assistance. The TSA has a helpline for individuals with special needs.
  4. Try to book flights when your child is generally the most able to handle a change in routine. For many children this may be in the morning when they are not tired and overwhelmed from a long day.
  5. Ask your doctor for a letter describing your child’s condition especially if your child has an “invisible condition” such as autism. It might be helpful to show documentation of the disability to airport security or flight attendants. Visit the TSA’s website and print the disability notification card that you can present at the TSA screening.

At the airport and on the plane:

6. To make your walk to the gate easier, approach the check-in or information desk to ask for a ride or shuttle to your terminal.

7. Inform TSA of your child’s disability and how they might react to security screening or waiting in long lines. Most airports have a family line or will allow the parent and child to be screened together.

8. It might be a good idea to bring noise cancelling headphones for the airport and the plane to help drown out some of the loud noise in the airport and the airplane. Sunglasses can block out the harsh bright light in airports and create a calmer environment.

9. Bring your child’s favorite music or no mess activity to keep them entertained on the plane. Colorful string beads, bags of beads, and items that light up are great additions for the traveling sensory pack.

On the road trip:

10. If your child escapes from their seat easily consider getting covers for the seat belt buckles and remember to check the child locks on the door.

11. Make sure your child is prepared for the road trip by creating a social story about the trip to read for them. This story may need to be read several times prior to the actual trip.

12. Have a visual aid to represent how many hours you have traveled and how many are left. A timer can help your child countdown the hours or minutes until the next stop or activity.

These are excellent tips from Sara to make holiday traveling easier for the whole family.

Another great perspective is from a local parent, David Perry, who writes in today’s “On Parenting” section of the Washington Post ,”When traveling with children, all needs are special.” David shares his family’s experience with traveling to Italy over Thanksgiving. It is a terrific story and a good reminder that travel with all children takes some improvisation.

 

Indulge! Language is sweet

By: Jennifer Tripoli M.S., CCC-SLP 

With the holidays around the corner, more than likely you will be baking some sweet treats this season! Believe it not, baking can be a great context to practice language skills. Here are a few speech and language skills you can work on while making your desserts this holiday season.

  1. Following directions- auditory comprehension of 1 and 2 step directions (e.g. Get out the eggs from the fridge and put them on the counter) and reading comprehension of written directions (e.g. following written recipe).
  2. Sequencing- doing steps in the correct order is key to baking! Have your child retell you the steps to making the dessert once it is completed.
  3. Inferring/Predicting- ask your child what he/she thinks you will need to complete your recipe. “We are making chocolate cupcakes, what do you think we may need.”
    • Inferring is a child’s ability to relate known information and apply it to a new context. This is an important skill not only for language, but also academic and social success!
    • Predicting– ask your child what he/she thinks will happen prior to each step in the recipe.
  4. Describing Skills- have your child describe what he/she is seeing, thinking, feeling, smelling, and tasting! Baking provides a rich sensory environment that allows for great practice with using different adjective/attributes (e.g. “this chocolate feels sticky and gooey, looks brown, and is smooth).baking cookies
  5. Improving vocabulary- baking is a great opportunity to introduce your child to new vocabulary words that they may not learn typically be exposed to such as utensils (e.g. whisk, spatula, etc.), appliances (e.g. oven, mixer, etc.), and unique verbs (e.g. beat, stir, bake, sift, etc.). You can also have your child name other desserts they know or like to eat!
  6. Problem solving/safety- all children should be baking with parent supervision, but this provides an opportunity to teach problem solving and safety skills. For example, you can ask your child questions such as “What should I do if I burn my hand?” or “What do I need to wear when I take the cupcakes out of the oven?”
  7. Planning/organization skills-have your child take part in the entire baking process from the beginning. Have he/she make a list of ingredients, go shopping with you, and pick out what is needed.
  8. Story retelling- have your child tell people who were not present during the baking session what you made! E.g. “Tell Aunt Kelly the chocolate brownie story.”

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Now that I have shared the different language skills you can work on while baking, I better give you some yummy recipes to try these out!

I follow a blog on Facebook called “Super Healthy Kids” and they post some amazing, healthy, kid friendly recipes (including desserts!). I highly recommend giving them a “like” so you can follow along too! Also, you can check out these best holiday baking recipes from food network! Also, there are some fun and useful tips for baking with children from Food Network.

Did I really have to convince you to go make something yummy? Life is short, eat dessert! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Are you looking for holiday gift ideas for kids? Our therapists have suggested toys and games they use in therapy that can be purchased for our Centers as a holiday gift. This Wish List also makes a great gift guide, as it is therapist recommended!

To learn more about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley Speech & Language Therapy click here.

Holiday Gifts and Toys For Kids

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

With the holidays right around the corner, everyone is beginning to purchase gifts for their loved ones. Christmas is a special time for kids (Santa is coming!) and you are probably looking for toy/game ideas that are worth your money. Not only do we wish to purchase toys that are children want, but also toys that are developmentally and educationally beneficial as well. Before you run out to the stores to get your hands on those “hot toys” (and fight those crowds!!), lets consider a few guidelines.

  • Is the toy developmentally appropriate for your child?

Just because a certain toy is the “it” toy, this doesn’t mean all children should have it.  Does your child have the skills to play with the toy in a productive way? You should buy toys that the child can play with functionally at this point in their development.

  • Will this toy grow with your child?

Toys can be very expensive nowadays, so we want to purchase toys that will grow with a child. Will your child enjoy this toy not only right now, but in the future? Are there a variety of different ways this toy can be played with? An example of a toy that may grow with a child is an animal set and barn. Toddlers may play with this toy by placing the animals in and out of the barn or learning the animal sounds. Older children may play the animals by creating stories or more complex play schemes with the barn.

  • How expensive is the toy?

Just because a toy is expensive does not mean it is the best toy for a child! Many of the best toys for children are in expensive such as blocks, balls, pretend play musical instruments, stuffed animals, etc. If you are on a budget, here are some toys you can make at home for next to nothing and even use some of those old things you have laying around the house! Click here for ideas!

  • Does the toy require batteries? Is it electronic?

My favorite toys for younger kids often don’t require any batteries!  Sometimes the toys do everything and anything and do not allow for the child to learn or do something independently. I think the best toys are old fashioned, basic toys. These toys don’t always make sounds, move, or have flashing lights!

  • Does the toy promote exploration and problem solving skills?

Toys that allow your child to figure out something by themselves should be given! E.g. Puzzles (for all ages), shape sorters (younger children), Playdough, building kits, etc.

  • Other questions to ask: Does the toy promote/allow for physical activity? Is the toy safe for child’s age/developmental level? Does the toy/game promote educational concepts? Is the toy durable?

Toy Ideas by Age

1-3 years

  • Musical instruments
  • Bubbles
  • Balls
  • Fisher Price play sets (bus, airplane)
  • Farm with animals (here) OR zoo with animals (here)
  • Elefun Game (here), Elefun ball popper toy (here)
  • Fisher Price Spiral Race Track (here)
  • Cause/effect type toys
  • Blocks (here or here)
  • Ball/hammer toys (here)
  • Stacking buckets (here)
  • Books with simple illustrations and early vocabulary
  • Basic wooden puzzles with early vocabulary (animals, vehicles, food, etc.)

*Note- Due to the “electronic age” many toy companies are pushing electronic/computer/ipad based activities for children under the age of 2 years. The American Academy of Pediatrics does NOT support the use of electronics for children under the age of 2 years.

For more information visit: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/Babies-and-Toddlers-Should-Learn-from-Play-Not-Screens.aspx

3-6 years (preschool and kindergarten age)

  • Dollhouse (any with family)
  • Pretend play dress up outfits- firefighter, cook, police officer, vet, etc. (here)
  • Doll/stuffed animal/puppets with clothes/accessories
  • Farm/zoo with animals
  • Play food with microwave
  • Stove, grocery cart, cash register, tea set, sandwich making set, etc.
  • Train set with city
  • Basic turn-taking games (Barnyard Bingo 3+, Zingo 4+, Candyland 3+, Chutes and Ladder 3+, Hi Ho Cheerio 3+, Diggity Dog 3+, etc.)
  • More complex puzzles that require higher level problem solving
  • Toys/games that target academic concepts (colors, shapes, numbers, letter, etc.)
  • Books with more pictures and words (compared to toddler books)
  • Play-doh and play-doh sets
  • Block set that allow for more creative/complex building
  • Art supplies, crayons, coloring books, etc.

6-9 years

  • Lego sets (look at age and complexity)
  • Board games (HedBanz, Operation, Zingo, Guess Who, Monopoly Junior, Charades game, Blurt, memory games, Trouble, Don’t Say It, etc.)
  • Books with more complex story lines- beginning chapter books
  • Games that encourage physical activity- basketball nets, soccer goals, baseball equipment, etc.
  • Art/craft materials to improve creativity

9 years +

  • Thinking games such as Chess, Sodoku, crossword puzzles, Checkers, Scrabble, Jeopardy, Catchphrase, Bop it!, Boggle
  • More complex Lego/building sets
  • Apple/Android apps or computer games (they aren’t all bad!) that target executive functions such as problem solving (apps- Cut the Rope, Rush Hour, Tetris, apps that aren’t just a game but actually make you THINK!) Click here for more on “executive functions” (here)
  • Check out Marbles-the Brain Store or other stores like it for unique games/activities that workout your brain! (Here)

Other Resources:

Click here for Toys R Us guide for differently abled kids!

Safety tips for toys: http://toysrusinc.com/safety/tips/

Please visit my previous post on 3 classic games for targeting speech and language skills! here

Want ideas for speech and language? Please visit the Easter Seals DuPage Speech/Language Department’s Pinterest page! here