Holiday Speech and Language Activities

Here are some examples of how a holiday tradition can be turned into a speech and language activity: blog-holiday-speech-main-landscape

Looking at Holiday Lights

  • For a younger child: Play a silly sentence game. Make a sentence about the light display but put in a nonsense word. See if your child can fix the silly mistake. For example, “The snowman is under the grass.” or “There is an elephant on the roof.” Then see if your child can make a silly sentence for you to correct.
  • For an older child: Create complex sentences. Challenge your child to use the conjunctions and or but to talk about the lights. For example, “The window has a wreath and the garage has a bow.” or “This house has only white lights, but that house has all different colored lights.”
  • For a child working on speech sounds: See if the child can find decorations containing their sounds. For example, if a child is working on /l/, they can practice saying blue lights, yellow lights, snow globe, soldier, and igloo.

Singing Holiday Songs

  • For a younger child: Work on rhyming by starting a well-known carol then substituting a non-rhyming word in place of a rhyming word. For example, “Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh. O’er the fields we go, laughing all the go.”
  • For an older child: Make inferences about song lyrics by asking your child why For example, “Why do you think Santa asked Rudolph to guide his sleigh?”
  • For a child working on speech sounds: Listen to a familiar song and have your child write down every word with their sound. Then go back and practice saying the words they wrote. For example, a child working on final /l/ can listen to “Chanukah, Oh Chanukah” and practice saying the words we’ll, all, while, and table.

Decorating the Christmas Tree

  • For a younger child: Teach directional concepts. Ask your child, “Should I put this ornament above the tinsel or below the tinsel?” or “Should I put the star on the top or on the bottom?” while showing them what each directional word means.
  • For the older child: Practice describing ornaments by word features. Have the child say the shape, size, color, material it’s made of, and parts. You can play a guessing game where the child describes clues about the ornament and you guess which one they are describing.
  • For a child working on speech sounds: Pick a word that has a child’s sound in it and have your child repeat the word while decorating the tree. For example, a child working on “ng” can say “hang” every time someone hangs an ornament. A child working on /r/ can say “wrap” a number of times while wrapping lights around the tree.

Making Holiday Crafts

  • For the younger child: Practice requesting. Provide your child with all necessary materials but leave one item out. Encourage them to make sure they have all the items they need and have them ask questions if they do not have everything.
  • For the older child: Work on narrative skills. Have the child pretend they are leading a how-to TV show. Have them use the words first, next, then, and last to give at least four steps. Build the craft yourself and see if the directions are clear enough to be followed and encourage your child to clarify communication breakdowns if needed.
  • For a child working on speech sounds: Create a phrase that the child must use for each part of the craft. For example, a child working on ch can say,” I chose the ____.” A child working on /g/ can say, “I got a ____.”

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Sensory Tips for Crowded Holiday Spaces

The holidays are a festive, fun and exciting time to celebrate with family and friends; however, they also bring about a plethora of sensory stimuli everywhere you go! Between the sights, sounds, smells and crowds our senses are overloaded with the spirit of the holiday season. For some people, particularly children with sensory processing difficulties, this time of year can cause stress, anxiety and uneasiness. blog-holiday-sensory tips-main-landscape

In addition to increased environmental stimuli around the holidays, typical routines are thrown off due to breaks from school and travel plans. Children with sensory processing difficulties benefit from a schedule that is predictable, so they know exactly what to expect and how to plan for new or different sensory experiences.

Below are 8 sensory tips to help make the holidays and crowded holiday spaces more enjoyable for your whole family:

  1. Prepare your child for the various events that he will experience over the holidays including specific parties, shopping events or travel. Give explanations of where you are going, what you will do there, what he may see, hear or smell. This will help him to know what to expect at these different places without being worried.
  2. Practice! Before going to various holiday events or places, practice. Stop by the mall with your child for a few minutes a few times before the holiday season, spend time at family or friend’s houses that will be visited over the holidays or visit the airport a few times ahead of your travel day. Giving your child an opportunity to experience these places when they are not as crowded will help him be successful during the busy times.
  3. Use a visual calendar that identifies daily activities over the holidays so your child feels comfortable with their winter break routine. Review each day’s events prior to leaving the house, so your child can better prepare himself for what to expect.
  4. Review pictures or videos from the previous year’s holiday events to remind your child of the sights, sounds, smells and crowds he will experience.
  5. Be prepared! During over stimulating situations your child may benefit from sensory strategies such as headphones, ear plugs, sunglasses, weighted objects or a favorite toy. Be sure to be prepared with these items during crowded holiday events. These strategies will help decrease the intensity of environmental stimuli.
  6. Be proactive! If you see your child becoming upset or overstimulated, find a place to take a break from the situation (bathroom, car, quiet hallway) and help him calm down.
  7. Arm your child with strategies ahead of time to help him through a situation where he feels he is becoming upset or overwhelmed. Strategies such as deep breathing or counting to 10 may help decrease anxiety. Encourage your child to let you know when he feels he needs a break.
  8. Talk to family members and friends about the difficulties your child may have and educate them on how they can help.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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10 Festive Activities to Get Your Family in the Holiday Spirit

You’d have to be crazy to say you live in Chicago for the winters, but you’re not crazy to say you love the holiday season in the city. From light parades to ice skating rinks, there are plenty of blog-holiday-activities-2-main-landscapeholiday activities to help get your family feeling festive.

Here is a list of 10 holiday activities around the city for a classic Chicago holiday season:

  1. Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. Christkindlmarket is an open-air, European holiday market in Daley Plaza featuring traditional art, handmade gifts, German foods, beer, hot spiced wine, choirs, and carolers. Free admission!
  2. The Great Tree at Macy’s Walnut Room. Expect to wait to get a table in the Walnut Room. You can see the Great Tree from the eighth floor of the store.
  3. Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park. ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo features millions of holiday lights, ice carvings, music, carousel rides, train rides, food, and gift shopping. Free entry.
  4. Ice Skating at Maggie Daley Park. Admission is free, but skate rental is $12 during the week and $14 on the weekend. The ice ribbon will be open through the first week of March.
  5. Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier. Festival Hall at Navy Pier becomes an indoor Winter WonderFest for the holidays, with music, carnival rides, and entertainment. Expect crowds. Free entry.
  6. Shopping on Michigan Avenue. View the festive lights, people watch the tourists and get some shopping done before stopping for a delicious holiday lunch at one of the city’s many restaurants in the area.
  7. A Christmas Carol. The Goodman Theatre’s annual holiday production of the Charles Dickens classic enters its 39th year with seasonal charm intact.
  8. Christmas Around the World. View more than 50 trees and displays at the Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World exhibit, a Chicago tradition since 1942. Each tree is decorated by volunteers from Chicago’s many communities, representing their diverse culture and holiday customs.
  9. Morton Arboretum Holiday Lights. Parents and children alike will love the 50 acres of vibrant LED lights that are hung on the Morton Arboretum’s vast treescape, creating a kaleidoscopic winter wonderland. This year’s “Illumination: Tree Lights” is wowing audiences already; it’s absolutely worth the drive out to Lisle.
  10. A Charlie Brown Christmas. With The Peanuts Movie introducing Charles M. Schulz’s characters to a new generation of kids, Emerald City Theatre and Broadway in Chicago bring the classic TV special about the true meaning of Christmas to the stage.

We wish you a happy holiday season and a happy new year!

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snowy day

5 Great Ideas For Snowy Day Fun

Let it Snow! Let it snow! Let it Snow!

Here are 5 great ideas for snowy day fun:

  1. Build an igloo or snow castle. Most kids have built a typical snow fort before, but not many have attempted snowy day funan awesome igloo! Start by bringing out some empty boxes (cheap plastic shoe boxes work best.) Pack the boxes with snow, and then flip them upside down to create bricks. Form a circle of bricks and start stacking with an overlap. Don’t forget to leave a door! Or if your kids prefer something a bit more palatial, try digging out some of those old beach toys. Buckets and castle molds work great in snow too!

*Advanced tip: To make an even more amazing igloo fill some plastic containers with water dyed your favorite colors using food coloring. Leave the containers overnight to freeze. Now you have amazing colored bricks to use as “stained glass.” Or you can go crazy and build your whole igloo out of colored bricks, but I recommend you skip to #2 instead.

  1. Snow Art: Fill a spray bottle with water and dye it with some food coloring. Kids can spray it on the snow for instant art (or to decorate their new igloos!). **Food coloring will stain clothing so be careful!
  1. Feed the Birds: Have kids gather pine cones, and when you need a break inside the house you can work on some treats for our feathered friends. Here are two easy ideas:
    1. For older kids, use a needle and thread to create a long garland of popcorn and/or cranberries.Tie a loop of ribbon or string to the top of a pinecone.
    2. Cover the pinecone in peanut butter (get in all those nooks and crannies!) and have kids roll the pinecones in birdseed.

*When you’re all ready to go back out, use your new creations to decorate trees or bushes in your yard.

  1. Tic-Tac-Snow: Draw a giant tic-tac-toe in the snow and uses sticks (x’s) and pinecones (O’s) to play. (or play hopscotch! It’s much more challenging in the snow.)
  2. Batting range: Have kids practice swinging at snowballs for some explosive fun.

Enjoy the snow while it lasts!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

5 fun holiday break activities

No Video Games Allowed: Five Secrets to a Successful Holiday Break

I cannot tell you the number of times that I have heard parents say that the kids are getting bored and that they (the parents) are at their wit’s end…two days into the much-anticipated (and dreaded?) winter break. There are only so many times you can watch Frozen or play Minecraft before everyone loses it! So, what if for this winter break we start a new tradition…in the form of an “unplugged” winter break? The following is a list of five non-television and video game-related activities that are bound to keep the kids entertained, their brains active, and you sane!

Five Activities for a Successful Holiday Break:

  • Go Local: Whether it is the children’s museum or that exhibit at the aquarium you have been meaning to visit, 5 fun holiday break activitiesmake the trip! Many of the museums offer special discounts on specific days or may even have special events going on for children during the break.
  • Indoor “Laser” Obstacle Course: Hang up yarn from one end of the room to another multiple times until the yarn crosses over itself. Put “prizes” on one end of the room and try to make it from one end to the other while not coming into contact with the yarn. For added fun, turn it into a race against time, or add furniture for more obstacles.
  • Top Chef©_ Children’s Edition: This may be messy…but well worth the fun! Set out a number of ingredients and have kids mix and create new dishes. Set up a “judge’s table” and let everyone try the masterpieces and vote on the best dish!
  • Indoor Scavenger Hunt: Make a list of random items (or things that you have lost if you are really trying to make the hunt efficient) and award point values for the various items. If you live in a neighborhood with lots of children, make it a block event!
  • Camping Out – Inside: Unless you are fortunate enough to be in a warm climate, or you want to brave the cold, try setting up a tent (made of blankets or otherwise) in front of the fire place. Have a camping-inspired dinner of hot dogs, beans, and S’mores! All the fun of camping WITH running water? Sounds like a win to me!

Want to get out of the house? Check out our Winter Break 2015: Chicago Family Activity Guide.

chicago 2015 holiday activity guide

Winter Break 2015: Chicago Family Activity Guide

Ahh the Holidays! It really is my favorite time of year. I love all the traditions, music, and the Holiday spirit! This can be an especially fun time when you share it with little ones. I love to see the joy on their faces as they experience a bit of that holiday magic! That is until they are faced with boredom and cabin fever, then no one is happy! Luckily there are plenty of options for holiday fun for all ages in the Chicagoland area. There are too many options to name, but here are a few good ideas to get you started for a fun holiday break with your family.

Holiday Lights

Okay, okay. Maybe I’m stating the obvious a bit here. Holiday Lights are probably the first thing that jump to your mindchicago 2015 holiday activity guide when looking for a great winter weather activity, but read on all the same. Maybe there are some new options to consider.

Morton Arboretum – Lisle, IL – I pass this location every day during my commute, and I always get excited when the lights start to go up. This is certainly one of the most beautiful displays I’ve seen. They do offer events for young children, but this may be a better option if you have older kids who would enjoy this more than the blinking cartoon displays at other locations. This seems a bit more “classy.”

Zoo Lights – Chicago, IL or Brookfield, IL – This is a great evening outing for the entire family. Zoo lights are even better than most light shows, because you can see animals, and participate in other activities as well. Just bundle up, and be prepared for a bit of walking. I recommend you bring a stroller or wagon. Even if your little one is at that “I wanna walk by myself” age, you may want to bring the stroller as backup.

Holiday Trolley Express – Carol Stream, IL – This is a great somewhat indoor option that can help you avoid sensory overload or cranky fits from frozen fingers. The Carol Stream Park District offers a festive trolley ride to enjoy some of the beautiful light displays in the area, followed by some holiday fun.

Christmas Around the World – Museum of Science and Industry – This is a fabulous option, not only for great light displays, but also for tons of other fun stuff to do. Museum of Science and Industry sets up beautiful trees with decorations from around the world. Check their website in advance, because they also offer free holiday concerts or other events. When I went last year there was a Russian Children’s Choir performing holiday classics in Russian. It was beautiful, and a nice relaxing retreat from the hustle and bustle of the museum.

Santa Claus

Ho! Ho! Ho! Again, I’m probably stating another obvious one here. Everyone knows you have to visit Santa at Christmas time! But what if your child can’t handle the sensory overload of a busy shopping mall or wait in the long line without a meltdown? Don’t worry. Santa doesn’t just sit at the mall all day! He likes to get out and meet kids at Holiday parties or pancake breakfasts. Here are some other Santa alternatives.

Breakfast or Lunch with Santa – Check your local listings. Many park districts, Boy Scout troops, or even rotary clubs offer pancake breakfasts with Santa for a reasonable amount. I even found one in Rolling Meadows that is free if you bring a canned food donation. Sit back and enjoy a nice breakfast with your family, and wait your turn to meet Santa in peace. Sometimes he may even have a chance to come over to your table and greet you!

Holiday Express – Again, check your local listings. I started to look at all the options, and there were too many to type! Almost every park district seems to be offering a fun “Polar Express” type outing this year. Enjoy a nice holiday train ride (Hooray, another indoor light show option too!) to the North Pole and meet Santa. Many of these train rides are also a pajama party like in the movie, and offer hot cocoa or other goodies.

Hannukkah Fun

Hanukkah oh Hanukkah! There are lots of fun ways to enjoy the Festival of Lights in the Chicagoland area. Here are a few of the most exciting suggestions I found.

Menorah Workshop – select Home Depot locations – enjoy Hanukkah snacks while you learn to make your own menorahs!

Hanukkah Concerts – There are many options out there for concerts as well, but I recommend you look into the one at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

Hanukkah Happenings – Vernon Hills, IL – raffles, crafts, photos, dreidel spinning, and more!

Hanukkah Party: A Special Time for Families with Special Needs – Northbrook, IL – I couldn’t have been more excited when I heard about this! This is a great opportunity for some of our own families from here at North Shore Pediatric Therapy to get together and enjoy the holiday. Celebrate with music, games, a candle lighting, and the Hanukkah story.

Indoor Alternatives

Candy and Craft activities – check your local park district, library, Home Depot, craft store, or candy store. Many are offering free or inexpensive classes to make candy, holiday cookies, ornaments, or holiday decorations.

Doll Tea Party (with Fancy Nancy) – Arlington Heights Park District – I went to many Doll Tea parties as a girl, and I loved them! Let your little one dress up like their doll for extra fun.

Holiday movies – many of the small local theatres offer a free or $1 screening of holiday classics. Check with your local theatre for more information.

Frozen® party – Heller Nature Center – Highland Park, IL – Let it go! Let it go, and let the kids go have a blast. This sounds like a ton of fun. It makes me want to braid my hair and hug a snowman, but unfortunately this ones for kids only. Darn it!

Grinch’s candy cane hunt – Park Ridge, IL – Why wait until Easter when you can have a candy cane hunt right now?!

See, there is no reason to get the Winter blues! There are plenty of exciting options out there. For more great ideas check out Oaklee’s Guide or Chicago Kids, or check with your local library and park district. Whether you stay in, or go out, enjoy your holiday season. Happy Holidays!






a recipe for speech and language

A Holiday Cookie Recipe for Better Speech and Language

It is largely recognized that the holiday season is a lovely, yet chaotic time of year. During this busy time, being with family often takes precedent over the speech and language homework sent home by your child’s speech-language therapist. Why not combine a holiday tradition with speech-language homework?

Use this recipe for extra language and speech reinforcement while decorating cookies this holiday season:

  • 2 cups of basic concepts: While adding ingredients give directions emphasizing the understanding of a recipe for speech and languagequantitative concepts, such as all, some, one, both. For example, “Add both cups of flour” or “Put on some red sprinkles and some green sprinkles.” If this is too advanced, you can always get extra practice with counting. You can count the cups of ingredients or the number of cookies.
  • 1 teaspoon of adjectives: Adjectives or descriptive words can easily be targeted during baking. You can talk about ways to describe the cookies that you are making, e.g., “Look! You made a big cookie and your sister made a small cookie,” or you can give directions including adjectives, e.g., “Decorate the long tree cookie and I’ll decorate the short tree cookie.”
  • 2 tablespoons of vocabulary: Like with any activity throughout your day, it is good to try to introduce your children to new vocabulary or reinforce the vocabulary they are already using. Vocabulary categories that are easily targeted during cookie decorating are: colors, shapes and nouns. For example, “Do you want to make the tree, snowman or ornament?” or “What colors did you use on your cookie?”.
  • Mix in turn taking: Turn taking is a great social skill to practice at home with siblings or friends. Take turns putting in ingredients, mixing or putting on candies to decorate. Appropriate turn taking can be used by kids when playing games with peers and during conversations.
  • Stir in requesting: Have your child exercise his or her expressive language skills by requesting for items. Depending on their skill level a carrier phrase could be used, “I want ______” or the request could be in question form, “Can I have the _______, please?”. Once your child is successful at making simple requests, work towards expanding the utterance, making the request longer, (e.g, “I want the red frosting”).
  • Bake for following directions: Baking holiday cookies makes for the perfect set up for your child to practice following directions. First start with simple one step directions, “Put on white frosting”. To continue to improve your child’s receptive language you can advance to first/then directions, “First put on white frosting, then put on green sprinkles”.
  • Let it cool with articulation practice: Throughout the whole baking/decorating process, articulation (speech sounds) can also be targeted. As an adult model, you can provide the correct productions for your child emphasizing the target sound. (e.g., What cookie do you like?, Look at my cookie!”). If your child is at the stage in speech therapy where they can practice saying their target sounds, work on using them during the activity. For instance, if you were working on “s” or s-clusters you could practice using the sound to describe what you see “I see a reindeer” or when taking about the steps to baking “Stir in the flour”.

Throughout your cooking baking experience keep in mind that the activity should remain fun, keeping the speech-language practice with in your child’s abilities in order to keep frustration low. Enjoy this recipe for ideas of ways to target speech and language! Happy Holidays!




sensory strategies for a happy holiday season

Sensory Strategies for a Happy Holiday Season

Melodious songs fill your rooms, the aroma of scented candles waft through the hallways, oven timers ding from the kitchen and everyone feels a bit overwhelmed by all the preparations being completed in every nook of the house! The holiday season brings joy, excitement and family time. It also brings with it enough sensory stimulation to last you until next December! Whether it be tactile, olfactory or auditory stimulation, the holidays bring with them a copious amount of sensory information. Holidays can be a tough time for children who have sensory processing difficulties. Just remember, like any other time of the year, there are strategies to help with sensory sensitivities during the holidays.

Prepare your child for a holiday party and other family get-togethers with these sensory strategies:

  1. Create a visual schedule. Include the big details of the event, including dressing up for the get together, thesensory strategies for a happy holiday season commute to the event, expected activities and the friends/family that your child will get a chance to play with. A visual schedule is a great way to prepare your child for the types of sensory experiences they are about to have.
  2. Upon arrival to your holiday destination, help orient your child to the new space. Take a little tour of the venue, pointing out the bathroom, a quiet room and a play space. If you are familiar with the venue prior to arrival, make a map of the space and have your child put their favorite stickers on the areas that seem safe!
  3. If your child is has auditory sensitivities provide him with head phones or ear plugs to help dampen the sounds in his environment.
  4. Holiday parties provide adults with a bountiful feast but can leave children with squeamish looks on their faces. Encourage your child to try something new if the opportunity exists; but if the textures and smells seem overwhelming, have her preferred snacks hiding in your purse.
  5. If your child has tactile sensitivities to clothing, allow them to be comfortable. The holidays can be the time to bring out your best party attire, but that doesn’t mean your child needs a skirt filled with tulle or a bow tie. Allow your child to choose his holiday outfit based on preferences and tolerable textures. Those casual clothes may raise eyebrows, but that’s nothing to worry about as long as you know your child feels safe!
  6. If your child is movement-seeking, encourage a movement break as needed. Use gross motor activities like jumping jacks, dancing or toe touches!
  7. Holiday parties can be filled with the smells of candles, cooking and other guests’ perfumes. Allow your child to bring a comforting object from home, whether it be a familiar blanket or stuffed animal that has the scent of home and provides a sense of safety.

Remember that the holidays are a time for fun, for you and your children! Making the environment more sensory-friendly can enhance your child’s fun and create positive and lasting memories!






Easy Activities to Help with Cabin Fever

While winter has over-extended its stay, but your kids do not need to go “stir crazy”!  Here are some easy activities that can be done with ages 3 years and older. The best news is that most of the supplies can be found in your home or can be purchased for a very cheap price!

Kool-Aid Playdough

Ingredients:
• 1 1/4 cup flour
• 1/4 cup salt
• 1 pkg unsweetened Kool-aid packet
• 1 cup boiling water
• 1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Directions:
Step 1:  In a bowl, mix flour, salt, and kool-aid
Step 2: Stir in water (ADULTS should do this step!)
Step 3: Stir in oil
Step 4: Mix with a spoon and let it cool for a couple minutes
Step 5:  Knead with hands for about 5 minutes (you may need to sprinkle a little more flour if mixture is sticking to hands)

The playdough will take on the color of the flavor you chose and will smell like it too!  It can be stored  in a plastic baggy for months.

Popsicle Stick Craft Ideas

These sticks are sold in large boxes so you are able to make multiple items…the finished product also makes for great gifts!
Here are some ideas of what can be created:

• Picture frame
• Jewelry box
• Pencil holder
• Keepsake box
• Bird house

Ingredients:

  • Box of popsicle sticks (there are two sizes, thinner and thicker sticks)
  • Glue (Elmer’s glue can be used, but a tacky glue is recommended)
  • Misc. decorations: crayon, marker, paint, glitter, felt, cardboard, construction paper, etc.

Directions:

Step 1: Decorate sticks with misc. supplies.  If using paint or glitter, let sticks dry.
Step 2: Use a dime-size of glue on each end of the sticks when building your creation.
Step 3: Let the creations dry over night.     

Building Beans

Ingredients:

  • Large dried beans
  • Bowl of water
  • Strainer
  • Wooden toothpicks

 Directions

Step 1: Soak the beans overnight in the bowl of water.
Step 2: Strain the water off the beans.
Step 3: Stick a toothpick in one bean.
Step 4: Continue sticking beans and toothpicks together to make a structure.
Step 5: When finished, let the bean structure dry overnight.

Here are some other items that you can try:

  • Build a structure with marshmallows and toothpicks
  • Build a structure with soaked dry peas and toothpicks
  • Build a structure with fresh peas and toothpicks

Sun-catchers

Ingredients:

  • White Glue
  • Food coloring
  • Toothpicks
  • Plastic lids (Lids from tubs of yogurt, hummus, sour cream etc.)
  • Hole Punch
  • String

Directions:

Step One: Pour a generous amount of glue into one of your plastic lids and swish it around to cover the entire inner surface.

Step Two: Put one or two drops of each color of food coloring around the glue.

Step Three: Take a toothpick to swirl the colors around in the glue. Stop swirling before the colors get too combined or the final result will be muddy and brown. This is an exercise in restraint!

Step Four: Let dry. As the colors settle they will continue to expand and create a tie-dye effect. Depending on how much glue you used, the sun-catcher will take one to three days to fully dry. You will know it’s ready when the edges start to peel off the lid.

Step Five: When fully dry, peel the sun-catcher off the lid, punch a hole through the top, add a string, and hang in a sunny spot.


 

6 Health Benefits of Basketball for Children

Ever wonder which team sport keeps boys and girls busy no matter their age, skill level, or the season? I recently had the opportunity to watch one of my clients play basketball with his middle school team, and it was so rewarding to see him transfer skills we worked on during physical therapy to the court.  Basketball is a high-intensity, high-agility activity that teaches children coordination, concentration, and cooperation.

6 Health Benefits of Basketball:

  1. Endurance: As with any high intensity sport, there are many cardiovascular benefits of basketball.  Between bouts of running, jumping, dribbling, and bouts of rests, kids are participating in total body interval training without even realizing it. Interval training boosts aerobic capacity, energy levels, and metabolism, which in turn helps kids concentrate more in school.
  2. Motor Control: The ability to control our limbs in space may come naturally, but being able to pass and shoot with precision during a basketball game takes special training and repetitive practice.  Performing drills on and off the court with a basketball enables children to grade their muscle forces, control the position of their bodies in response to an opponent or a pass, and plan out successful movement sequences.
  3. Ankle Stability: All the agility training, cutting back and forth, multidirectional running, pivoting, and turning within a basketball game are great ways to challenge our lower body muscles and joints, especially the structures surrounding our ankles.  Organized basketball teaches kids safe and successful ways to block, pass, steal, jump, and run without hurting themselves or others.  Ball sports such as basketball are great for reinforcing kids’ balance reactions and balance strategies and prevent future injury.
  4. Balance/Coordination: As with most team sports, basketball requires upper body coordination, total body coordination, and hand-eye coordination. Dribbling, catching, passing, and making baskets require planning, precision, and quick reactions. Walking backwards, turning, or running while dribbling a ball and at the same time paying attention to other players is a challenging but interesting exercise for coordination and body awareness.
  5. Agility: Basketball is a fast paced sport where athletes have to think fast on their feet and respond quickly to plays that could change momentum and direction at any minute.  Young athletes are working on mental drills in addition to physical techniques. Basketball enhances children’s agility due to the swiftness needed to dodge other players and make aggressive plays.
  6. Social Skills: The great thing about team sports is the level of discipline and communication needed for success at the games. Young athletes learn from an early age how to work in a team atmosphere, pay attention to others, and respond accordingly. An athlete needs discipline to attend practices and pay attention to the rules of any game.  Team sports prepare children for necessary social interactions later in life.  Through these sports, children understand shared responsibility, team work, how to deal with triumph and defeat, all of which are applicable throughout life.

Click here to read about the health benefits of another fun winter sport: hockey!