Activity Guide – Tactile Sensory Ball

The team at Achievement Products® asked our consultant, Occupational Therapist Scott Russo, to provide some activity suggestions for incorporating some of our favorite items into daily classroom activities or curriculum. Scott has provided some really great and creative ways to use items (that may have been originally designed for typically developing children), in special needs environments.

Today we will look at the Tactile Sensory Ball.

 
 Introduction:
The tactile sensory ball is an excellent tool for the development of balance, core strength, and vestibular and proprioceptive stimulation with the added benefit of increased tactile input. This ball is perfect for the child or teenager who is challenged by an under-regulated sensory system or overall decreased body awareness. The ball is a normal therapy exercise ball with hundreds of sensory bumps which increase the awareness of both the ball and the body during activity.
Activity ideas:
All activities should be engaged in with a caregiver or teacher in attendance. Develop static (non-moving) and dynamic (moving) balance skills. Start by having the child or teenager simply try to maintain their balance while their feet are on the ground. Move the ball in different directions and have the child adjust their balance accordingly. Start with slow movements and gradually increase to more challenging movements.
  • Have the child or teenager sit on the ball and try to maintain balance with their feet off of the ground.
  • Lying on the belly, have the child perform wheelbarrow walks. Make sure their legs are together and supported as they walk forward and backward on their hands.
  • To increase upper-body strength, have students try pushups with their feet or legs supported by the ball. The pushups can be graded by having less and less of the leg supported as the child or teenager walks out on his/her hands.
  • From a sitting position, have the child or teenager perform situps while maintaining their balance, have them lean back as far as they can support themselves, or with a spotter supporting them, then bring themselves back up to a sitting position.
  • Use the ball as a chair for increased attention. The ball can be used at a desk or table during fine motor or academic tasks.
  • Use the ball as a balance challenge for gross motor play such as balloon volleyball or catch. For the teenager, there are a variety of resistance activities that can be done using the ball as the balance device while performing normal weight training movements.
  • For increased sensory input, have the child or teenager lie on his/her belly and use the ball as a roller, applying pressure over the back.

For more information about the Tactile Sensory Ball and other great items please visit http://www.achievement-products.com.

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Activity Guide – Music Blocks

The team at Achievement Products® asked our consultant, Occupational Therapist Scott Russo, to provide some activity suggestions for incorporating some of our favorite items into daily classroom activities or curriculum. Scott has provided some really great and creative ways to use items (that may have been originally designed for typically developing children), in special needs environments. Today we will look at the Music Blocks.
 
Introduction:
These blocks provide immediate motivation for engaging children across a wide age range. Each block is colored and contains a short melody from 3 different song selections. Each of the colored blocks plays a different part of the melody from a classical, world beat or jazz piece. And the shapes on each block are coded to play a different style of music from vocals to instrumental to orchestral.  So the blocks can be mixed and matched to create over a million combinations! Even at its highest volume, the music is played at a level that will be non-threatening to the sensory challenged child. The blocks are perfect for developing fine motor, sequencing, and other pre-academic skills. They can also be used as a calming source for sensory challenges.
Activity ideas:
  • Develop grasp and release skills. For the babies or toddlers, simply have them pick the block up and try to place it in a square. The musical response of a successful trial lends the motivation for continued trials.
  •  Work on the in-hand manipulation skill of rotation. Once the child has the grasp and release mastered, increase the challenge by requiring them to rotate the block with one hand to find a specific shape for a different musical arrangement.
  • Develop matching skills. Have the child rotate each block until the shapes are matching.  Again, the musical arrangement will naturally indicate the correct answer.
  • Develop pre-academic skills. Identify a target color and have the child find the correct block for placement or identify a target shape and have him/her  rotate each individual block for shape identification.
  • Develop sequencing skills.  Place the blocks in order so that the melodies will play in the correct sequence.  Have the child listen to the sequence and then rearrange the blocks.  Then have the child try to re-create the correct sequence.  Modify the activity by playing the correct sequence and then remove all the blocks from the base before having the child re-create the sequence. For the advanced  stage, have the child cover his/her eyes while you arrange any sequence and then try to re-create the sequence based on only auditory input.
  • Develop memory skills.  Place the blocks in any order and allow the child to see and hear the sequence.  Then remove the blocks and have the child try to re-create the original sequence.
  • These blocks are perfect for use with children  who get easily overstimulated.  Free play with the blocks in a quiet portion of any room is an excellent method for calming the sensory challenged child.
For more information about the Music Blocks and other great items please visit www.Achievement-Products.com.

Activity Guide – Squeeze and Feed Frogs

The team at Achievement Products asked our consultant, Occupational Therapist Scott Russo, to provide some activity suggestions for incorporating some of our favorite items into daily classroom activities or curriculum. Scott has provided some really great and creative ways to use items (that may have been originally designed for typically developing children), in special needs environments. Today we will look at the Squeeze and Feed Frogs.



Introduction:
Squeeze and Feed Frogs are rounded, pliable frog faces that open their mouths when squeezed to “gobble” foam bugs. The resistance provided when squeezed is excellent for the development of hand and grip strength, and manipulation of the small bugs assists with finger dexterity and in-hand manipulation skills. The set comes with both a number die and a color die for ease of grading the activity to children of various ages. The dice also provide the opportunity for social play as Squeeze and Feed Frogs can be used as a game.  The bugs and the frogs are both visually appealing which increases the motivational component of the game.Activity ideas:

  • The simplest activity is to have the child squeeze the frog and place the bugs inside the mouth with their other hand. Have the child place his/her thumb on one side of the frog’s mouth with the other four fingers on the opposite side forming a cupping of the palm when squeezing. To increase the challenge, have the child try to pick up the bugs using only the frog and not their other hand.
  • Play a game using the die. For younger children, use the color die and have them race to get as many of the colors as they can into the frog’s mouth. For school-aged children, have them use the number die for number recognition. To increase the challenge, have the child use both dice and see if they can pick up the correct of number of the correct color.
  • Develop social skills. Have the child use the frogs for conversations. Have the child make the frog talk by squeezing and releasing the mouth. In a small group with two children, or a simple 1:1 adult/child situation, the frogs can have a conversation with each other.
  • To develop bilateral integration skills, use one frog to pick up a bug and have it feed the bug to other frog.

For more information about the Squeeze and Feed Frogs and other great items please visit http://www.achievement-products.com.

Activity Guide – Toppletree

The team at Achievement Products asked our consultant, Occupational Therapist Scott Russo, to provide some activity suggestions for incorporating some of our favorite items into daily classroom activities or curriculum. Scott has provided some really great and creative ways to use items (that may have been originally designed for typically developing children), in special needs environments. Today we will look at the Toppletree.

Introduction:Toppletree is a fun and challenging fine motor game. Starting from the base, players try to build a branch of the tree with four consecutive color pieces without toppling the tree. The game requires fine motor precision as the child must use muscle coordination to grade his placement of the pieces without toppling the tree. This game also assists the child in the development of planning and reasoning skills as they must be able to see how to get to their piece in the correct order while not compromising the tree’s balance.

Activity ideas:

  • Use the tree as a simple construction toy. Rather than following the actual game rules, allow the child to simply build the tree and see how big they can make it without toppling it over.
  • In a small group, each player selects a color and must build their branches using only that color. Taking turns, they must find a way to connect four consecutive pieces of the tree with their color.
  • Develop color identification skills. Specify which color piece you want placed at any time and have the child place it. Increase the challenge by telling the child which color you want placed on another color (ie. “Place a blue piece on a yellow piece”).
  • Using the idea above, develop social skills by having one child be the leader, calling out to the other children where they want different color pieces placed.

For more information about the Toppletree and other great items please visit www.achievement-products.com.

Activity Guide – Gel Spiral Pad

The team at Achievement Products asked our consultant, Occupational Therapist Scott Russo, to provide some activity suggestions for incorporating some of our favorite items into daily classroom activities or curriculum. Scott has provided some really great and creative ways to use items (that may have been originally designed for typically developing children), in special needs environments. Today we will look at the Gel Spiral Pad.

 

Introduction:

The Gel Spiral Pad provides a fantastic overall sensory experience while increasing finger and hand strength, and improving visual-motor control. The texture of the gel combined with its bright but soothing colors provides the perfect combination of tactile and visual input in a non-threatening manner to the sensory defensive child. The gel provides resistance for finger and hand strengthening as well a visual-motor challenge as the child tries to maneuver the embedded plastic pieces through the maze.

Activity Ideas:

  • Use the pad for sensory exploration. Have the child free play with fingers and palms across the surface of the pad. Cool the pad in a refrigerator before use for increased sensory input.
  • Place the Gel Spiral Pad on a light table for added visual stimulation, to reduce boredom and increase attention span.
  • Use the pad to develop finger isolation and strength. Indicate a finger for use on each hand and have the child use only that finger to move the plastic pieces, or simply to trace the spirals. Switch fingers at random intervals or when fatigue is noticed.
  • Time the child and see how fast he/she can get the plastic pieces through the maze.

Activity Guide – Balancing Hat

The team at Achievement Products asked our consultant, Occupational Therapist Scott Russo, to provide some activity suggestions for incorporating some of our favorite items into daily classroom activities or curriculum. Scott has provided some really great and creative ways to use items (that may have been originally designed for typically developing children), in special needs environments. Today we will look at the Balancing Hat.

Introduction:

The Balance Hat is a fun way to work on body awareness, gross and fine motor control, social skills and pre-academic skills. The lightweight foam pieces provide comfort when it is worn as a hat, safety if/when it is dropped, and ease of use due to the light-weight and easy grip material. The different colored and sized pieces allow for a wide range of pre-academic categorization options.

Activity Idea:

Simple stacking activities. Have the child use the “hat” as a simple stacking activity without putting it on his/her head. Discuss the sizes, shapes and colors of the blocks while the child familiarizes his/herself with the “hat”.

  • Have the child stack the blocks on their head while standing still. Place the blocks on a surface that allows the child to be able to reach the blocks without bending, and stack the blocks in the correct order. Doing this activity in front of a mirror can help the child with poor body or spatial awareness and can also assist the child in finding the correct order with the visual clues seen in the mirror.
  • Increase the stacking challenge and the motor coordination of the child, by having the pieces positioned on surfaces of different heights that require the child to reach up, bend down, and stack the blocks all without the tower spilling.
  • Introduce balance into the activity by placing the pieces on different surfaces around the room, then have the child move from place to place, putting each piece on their head without spilling the tower.
  • For group or individual play, complete a relay race. Separate the pieces so that child must walk back and forth between two surfaces to achieve the correct order of the stacking. If working in teams, each player must pass the hat successively to the next for the placement of the next piece.

Other relay ideas: the teams must first work together to create the stack in the correct order on the table. Then each team member takes a turn wearing the hat while walking a fixed distance. The hat must be passed between teams members as a baton would be in a relay race.

Activity Guide: The Button Bear Weighted Lap Pad

The team at Achievement Products asked our consultant, Occupational Therapist Scott Russo, to provide some activity suggestions for incorporating some of our favorite items into daily classroom activities or curriculum. Scott has provided some really great and creative ways to use items (that may have been originally designed for typically developing children), in special needs environments.

Today we will look at the Button Bear Weighted Lap Pad.

Introduction:

Providing both a weighted lap pad and a bear with several different options for developing dressing skills, the Button Bear Weighted Lap Pad is perfect for developing the fine motor skills needed for buttoning, zipping, tying, and additional dressing skills while providing the option of a weighted lap pad for improved sensory regulation. The detachable bear allows the pad and the bear to be used separately or in conjunction with each other. The colorful and charming nature of the bear provides a naturally engaging dressing toy that will entertain children for extended periods. The fabric was also designed to assist with tactile processing skills, providing several different textures that should be pleasing, even to the tactile defensive child.
Activity Ideas:

• Add the weights into the pad and place the pad on the child’s lap during classroom or community activities that require a child to maintain a seated position or long periods of focus such as circle time, church, car rides or dining out. The weighted nature of the pad will provide proprioceptive input and the bear will provide fidget toys, both of which should assist the child with self-regulation and attentional focus.

• The bear is attached to the pad with hook and loop. Have the child pull the bear off the pad and reattach. This exercise will help develop strength in the hands and arms and also improves motor planning.

• Place the pad (with or without weights) on the child’s lap with the bear’s feet facing the child’s belly. Experiment with the different dressing items.

• Switch the orientation of the bear so that the head is against the child’s belly and experiment with dressing from this direction. The change in orientation will provide a different challenge for the child but is also closer to the perspective of dressing themselves.

• Have the child remove the bear from the pad. Using just the bear, the child can engage in pretend play with the bear as if it were a typical doll.

• With the bear removed, the pad can be used as a regular weighted lap pad for proprioceptive input.

• The bear itself can also be used as a portable and socially appropriate fidget toy for holding attention and self-regulation.

For more information about the Button Bear Weighted Lap Pad and other great items please visit http://www.achievement-products.com/Default.aspx?src=logo.