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4th of July Crafts to Develop Fine Motor Skills

5 4th of July Crafts to Improve Fine Motor Skills

Fourth of July is the perfect time to have your child create customized crafts in celebration of independence! Below are 5 ideas to build upon fine motor skills.

5 4th of July Crafts to Build Fine Motor Skills:

  1. Star-Spangled Flags: Gather red and white acrylic paint, blue construction paper, 10-15 popsicle sticks, glue,4th of July Crafts to Build Fine Motor Skills and glitter. After painting the popsicle sticks red and white and letting them dry, glue the backs together horizontally to make the stripes of the flag onto one full popsicle stick on the left (the flag staff) and two half pieces of popsicle stick on the middle and the right). Cut out a blue square and affix it to the top left corner of the flag. Use glitter and glue to create the stars. The older the child, the more precise you can encourage them to be when making the stars.
  2. Holiday-Themed Tissue Paper Crafts: Download a template of a flag or star and trace it onto a piece of white cardboard. For younger kids, plan out and label the placement of the colors to assist them in organization. For older kids, encourage them to create and measure their own template using a ruler. Gather red, white, and blue squares of tissue paper (can be precut or cut by the student). Have them place small amounts of glue onto the cardboard and then twist and glue or crumble the tissue paper on top. The end result will be a beautiful holiday themed craft they can showcase to friends and family.
  3. String Beads on a Pipe Cleaner: A great option for young children to promote pincer grasp and improve hand arch development. Can also work with string to create personalized and holiday themed necklaces and bracelets.
  4. Fourth of July Friendship Bracelets: Requires 3 arms-length sized pieces of of red, white, and blue embroidery floss, a piece of cardboard, and scissors. Locate a do-it-yourself, step-by-step instruction guide from the internet which will provide pictures and detailed instructions of several how-to-braid patterns. These patterns vary from easy to hard, so there are plenty of different options. This activity is great for hand strengthening, in hand manipulation, and fine motor coordination.
  5. Have Kids Practice Painting Each Other’s Finger Nails! This skill requires sustained attention as well as fine motor precision and control. Encourage your child to be creative and explore different colors and designs.


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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!

transition to summer

Transitioning from the School Year to Summer Break

Another school year is coming to a close before we know it. By this time of the academic year, your child has most likely become accustomed to his routine, the structure of the school day, the set-up of the classroom and the schedule of the day from breakfast to bed. Just as the beginning of the year was a hard change, the beginning of summer can bring its own challenges.

While children are excited for the beginning of summer break, many parents experience anxiety. This is because the school year provides nine to ten months of structured activities, allowing your child to build academic skills, executive functioning skills, and social skills. The summer, in turn, provides the perfect time to practice and perfect these skills.  With the proper preparation and planning, the transition to summer can be eased.

Here are a few tips to transition from the busy school days to the relaxing days of summer:

  1. Create a daily schedule: this can be visual or verbal, providing your child with the overview of the day. Thetransitioning to summer daily schedule can include the morning routine, daily activities, camps, a menu for dinner, and the bedtime routine. Providing this schedule helps to mimic the routine that the school day offers, allowing a child to process the idea of consistency. This can also assist in self-regulation and executive functioning skills, including attention, memory and sequencing. Implement the idea of a schedule during the last few weeks of school as to get your child accustomed to it as they separate from the school year.
  2. Plan play dates: Play dates are essential to childhood development. The planning of these social get-togethers can be easier during the school year as parents often see each other during drop-off/pick-up times or during school sponsored events. The planning can seem more daunting over the summer but make sure you keep in contact with the families of your child’s friends. This will allow a child to still feel connected to their school year and help to build excitement for the year to come. In addition, play-dates with same-aged peers allows for sharing of skills learned at school, the peer modeling of skill, and continued practice of social skills.
  3. Organize summer academic activities: The summer is a great time to look into library programs, create summer crafts that work on fine motor and executive functioning skills, and create children’s reading clubs. Just as the academic year is meant for brains to grow and blossom, the summer is an opportunity to build on those skills. Turn math problems into summer themed scavenger hunts, take coloring and writing activities to the sidewalks, read a book about a child experiencing the school year and encourage imaginative thinking, fine motor skills and problem-solving skills.

And remember, have some fun in the sun!

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!

Holiday Crafts

13 Holiday Crafts for Fine Motor Development

The winter holidays are finally upon us! Why not get in the spirit with these 13 craft ideas that also promote your child’s fine motor development?

13 Holiday Crafts to Promote Fine Motor Skills

  1. String beads onto pipe cleaners and mold them into various holiday symbols such as candy canes or wreathsHoliday Crafts
  2. Fold up pieces of paper and cut out snowflake designs
  3. Make a snowman picture by pulling apart cotton ball pieces and gluing them onto paper. You could also draw a snowman on the paper and have your child carefully secure marshmallows over the lines
  4. Create your favorite holiday image using pony beads and elastic cord. You can find free instructions for various patterns online so there are plenty of options for this one!
  5. Paint the ends of an acorn using a thin paintbrush. You can also use glue instead and cover with glitter
  6. Build a Christmas tree, menorah, or Kinara using popsicle sticks and glue. Decorate each stick however you would like using glitter, markers, stamps, sequins, crumpled tissue paper, paint, ribbon, etc.
  7. Create a window cling. This can be done using a craft kit or by following simple do-it-yourself instructions online. Your child can use a template as a guide or make an original design of his own
  8. Decorate holiday cookies using cookie cutters, frosting, sprinkles, or other small pieces of candy. Be sure to have your child help with baking preparation too for extra strengthening and skill development while stirring, scooping, and rolling out the dough!
  9. Similar to baking cookies, you can use play dough to work on many of the same fine motor skills. Use plastic play utensils and scissors to cut play dough apart, roll out large pieces using a rolling pin or the palm of the hand, and use fingers to roll small pieces of play dough into balls. Use play dough stamps and other molds to create your favorite holiday or winter symbols. For creations that you and your child are really proud of, bake them in the oven for a few minutes to harden the dough and preserve the shape
  10. Make your own ornaments. The options are endless with this one but some ideas are to decorate ornament balls, use cardboard cut-outs, or glue together felt pieces. Your child may also enjoy turning their baked play dough into a holiday ornament!
  11. Build a gingerbread house. This is a great activity for siblings to work on together as it allows for plenty of creativity and a variety of challenges for different skill levels
  12. Create a dreidel gift box using a printable template
  13. Make a holiday count-down chain. Cut out strips of construction paper and secure them into loops that link together. Make this a fun family activity by hanging the chain in a common area of your home and removing one link daily as the holiday approaches!

Click here for tips on the perfect holiday gift for motor development,

 

Young girl cutting paper

Spring Crafts For Kids

The official first day of Spring has arrived and Spring breaks are in progress!  The weather may be a little chilly, but here are some springtime crafts for your family to enjoy.

Crayon Critters – ages preschool to school age

This craft is a great way to have children use their imaginations…and to use up crayon pieces!
 
Supplies

  • Wax Paper
  • Bits of crayon
  • Warm iron (under adult supervision)
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Hole-Punch
  • Fishing line or yarn
  • Tacky glue (optional)
  • White paper (construction or copy)
  • Cloth (optional)
  • Black construction paper (optional)

Instructions

  • Create your pattern by drawing it on the white paper (draw it large enough to use up the entire piece of paper).  Some spring ideas:  butterfly, caterpillar, lady bug, bird.
  • Place a piece of wax paper over created pattern.
  • Sprinkle crayon shavings (sparingly!) on wax paper
  • Place another piece of wax paper on top of shavings and a blank sheet of paper or a cloth over that. Gently press down with a warm iron. The crayon will melt quickly.
  • Staple pattern to the crayon melted wax paper outside of the design area and cut out. This may be enough for the littlest crafters.
  • (Optional for older children) Create a black outline with construction paper for your critter to make it even more dramatic.  To do this, take a pencil and outline the critter on top of the black paper. Cut out holes or shapes in the black paper so the crayon design shows through.
  • Glue the black paper to the wax paper.  A little tacky glue will go a long way, so use a little at a time.
  • Punch a hole in the top of the critter and thread fishing line or yarn through to enable it to be hung in the window.

Egg Carton Wreaths – ages preschool to school age

At some point most of us will have an empty egg carton…instead of throwing it away, this is a great project to recycle it!

Supplies

  • Egg Carton (1)
  • Watercolor paints
  • Paint brushes
  • Cardboard
  • Tacky glue
  • Ribbon or yarn
  • Scissors

Instructions

  • Cut a ring (about 12″ in diameter) from a small piece of cardboard to be the base for the wreath.
  • Tear apart all the egg cups so they are individualized.
  • Make cuts in each egg cup to create petals.  (So it will have slits going all around the cup)
  • Decorate each cup using watercolors (or markers) to create all the flowers.  Feel free to add any other type of decorating technique  (glitter, feathers, pipe-cleaners, etc)
  • Use tacky glue to attach each flower to our cardboard ring.
  • Make a small hole in the cardboard base and use ribbon to hang.

Birdfeeders

Here is a great project that helps your child or teen feed the birds that have ended their hibernation and are ready or spring, just like us!
 Supplies

  • Toilet paper roll
  • Knife
  • Peanut butter (or shortening if there is a peanut allergy)
  • Bird seed
  • Paper plate
  • String or pipe-cleaners
  • Hole punch
  • Cheerios (or a cereal with a hole in the middle of each piece)

Instructions

  • Take a pipe-cleaner and bend one end bend one end (so the Cheerios don’t fall off), and thread the Cheerios on.  Make a loop at the top to hang it on the tree.
  • Use a hole-punch to make a hole at the top of your toilet paper roll.
  • Spread peanut butter or shortening on the toilet paper roll.
  • Pour birdseed onto a plate so you cannot see the bottom of the plate
  • Roll the peanut butter-covered TP roll in bird seed until it’s fully covered.

Options for hanging:

–Hang on the end of a tree branch.

–Put a string through a punched hole and hang it on a branch.

–Use the pipe-cleaner with Cheerios to hang on a branch

Bottle Feeder – for older kids

 Supplies

  • One- 1 liter bottle of soda
  • One- 2 liter bottles of soda. (bottles should have straight bottom sections, rather than curved ones)
  • 5′ of thick wire, at least 2mm gauge.
  • Sharp scissors or x-acto knife
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Paint (acrylic or tempera)
  • Paint brushes
  • Wooden spoons (2-3)
  • Bird seed

Instructions

  • Remove the labels and all glue.
  • Save the bottle cap from the 2 Liter bottle.
  • Cut the 1 liter bottle at roughly the halfway point between where the neck widens out and the bottom of the bottle. Keep the lower portion of the bottle.
  • Cut the 2 liter bottle at the widest part of the neck.  Keep the upper/neck portion of the bottle.
  • Cut a 1.5-2″ hole in the side of the smaller bottle, roughly 1″ up from the top of the feet,  no less than 1/2″ away from the top edge.
  • Test the bigger bottle (this is the roof) over the smaller bottle (main part of house) If the top section looks too big, trim the edges so that the top part is shorter and looks more like a roof.
  • Use the hammer and nail to add 2 holes, on opposite sides of the smaller bottle.   They should be 1/2″ away from the top edge of the bottle but not on the same side as the entry hole.
  • Next add four holes in the bottle cap not too close to the edge of the cap.
  • Paint the bottle pieces and let dry a couple hours or until no longer wet.
  • Cut two pieces of the wire (about 2′ long) and thread it through the top of the bottle cap.  Continue to threat the wire through the outside of the smaller bottle and then back up through the next hole. Repeat for the other side with a second length of wire.
  • Making sure all of the wires ends are even, overlap their ends by about 2″. Twist the ends together and hang!


Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy Your Very Own Body Pillow

Throughout the clinic, the options are endless as far as games to play, equipment to climb, and toys to use. With all the available choices, onebody pillow item continues to be a favorite of children of all ages and interests: the body pillow. For all of you craft-loving parents, as well as those (like me) who are “creatively challenged,” here are DIY instructions for creating your very own, personalized body pillow.

Step 1: Cut a large foam block into tons of little pieces varying in shape and size. Most pieces should be about four inches in diameter. Set these pieces aside for later.

Step 2: Next, choose a simple twin-sized duvet cover. Fill this cover with the foam pieces as full as you see fit. This will create the body of the pillow. Some kids prefer the pillows to be overflowing with foam pieces so that they can sit high up on top, while others prefer to sink into the crevices of a pillow that is less full. Once the foam is in the cover, secure it tightly by using the buttons and by tying the ends into knots.

Step 3: Once the body of the pillow is filled to your child’s preference and tightly secured, slip it into a second duvet cover. This is where you can add a personal touch by choosing a fabric that is your child’s favorite color, has her favorite movie character, or matches the interior decoration scheme in her room. Once again, make sure this casing is secured tightly to prevent the foam from escaping. A second cover also gives you the opportunity to wash the outermost layer of your new pillow without emptying the foam.

Step 4: Kick back and relax on your very own personalized body pillow.

Here at NSPT, we use the encapsulating body pillows for an endless amount of activities. At home, you can use the new comfort havens in a quiet place where your child can go to be by herself, calm down after an argument, or read a book.  She may feel a sense of comfort and ownership if she has a safe place that is designated as her own. The pillow can also be used for various activities that can provide your child with deep proprioceptive input to help her self-regulate. In the clinic, for example, we frequently use the pillow to help us create “Kiddo Sandwiches.” In this activity, the children lay on a soft surface under the pillow while their therapist “squishes” their bodies with quick and rhythmic pushes on the pillow. Kids really get into this activity and frequently tell their therapist what ingredient should be squished into their body sandwich next (e.g., cheese, turkey, or mustard).

Whether you use the pillow as a place to lounge, a self-regulation tool, or just a cool piece of furniture, it is sure to become a family favorite in no time. This is a great craft to save for a rainy day and a great one to get the whole family involved.

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7 Reasons to Attend NSPT’s New Bucktown Clinic Open house!

The Chicago Clinic has recently expanded to a new and improved space! We would like to celebrate and introduce ourselves by opening the doors to the community. We are so excited to share our new space with both our existing families and also hope to meet some new faces!

New Clinic Open House

  1. It is hard to find fun for the whole family, without paying a high price in the city. The open house is a FREE event that you can bring your family and friends to!
  2. There will be endless entertaining fun for your children of all ages, including a magician, face painter, balloon maker, and games.
  3. Kids will have an opportunity to explore their creative side by making various crafts!
  4. A sensory table will provide an outlet for the children to explore their senses while engaging with other kids and having a blast. There will also be Occupational Therapists to answer any questions regarding various sensory strategies and tools.
  5. Parents will have an opportunity to speak with experts in fields such as speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy, as well as counselors, academic specialists, and more.
  6. Learn more about North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s multidisciplinary approach to treatment.
  7. Check out the new state- of- the- art facility, with over 4,000 square feet of therapy rooms and equipment.

Event Details:

Date: Saturday, September 15th
Time: 11:00-2:00
Location: 1657 W. Cortland St. (corner of Cortland and Paulina; 1 block south of Armitage)
Chicago, Il 60622

For more information regarding this event please contact Lauren at 877-486-4140 or LaurenW@NSPT4Kids.com

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Developing Hand-Eye Coordination

Hand-eye coordination is the synchronization of eye and hand movements. It involves proprioception (knowing where your body is in space) combined with processing visual input. Any task that requires the coordination of vision and hand movements involves hand-eye coordination. Examples of hand-eye coordination include grasping objects, catching and throwing a ball, playing an instrument while reading music, reading and writing, or playing a video game.

Hand-Eye Coordination in Infants

There are many ways to encourage development of hand-eye coordination in a child. Just like any other skill, the more time spent doing activities that involve hand-eye coordination, the easier the skill will become. In infants, reaching and playing with objects and toys are great ways to foster development of hand-eye coordination. As they get older and are able to sit independently, you can play with balls, encouraging the baby to roll and corral them. Playing with blocks and other toys that involve putting something in or taking something out are also great ways for an infant to develop this skill.

Hand-Eye Coordination in Toddlers

With toddlers, continue to play with various sized and textured balls to develop hand-eye coordination. By the age of three, a toddler should be able to “fling” a ball forwards and catch a ball against their chest. To help develop his aim, you can practice tossing balls into hula-hoops or targets on a wall (start with big targets and get smaller as the child progresses and gets older). To practice catching with only the hands, start with bigger and softer balls (like koosh balls or bean bags). Progress to smaller and harder balls (like a tennis ball) as the child gets older.

Hand-Eye Coordination in 4 Year Olds and Older

Coloring and creating crafts is another fun and great way to develop hand-eye coordination. Some fun crafts to do include stringing beads or macaroni, finger painting, or playing with play-dough. When a child is four years or older, games that involve slight hand movements can also further facilitate growth in this area. Examples of these games are Jenga, Honey-Bee Tree, or Topple (all available at any toy store). Complex puzzles, Legos, or building blocks are other great hand-eye coordination activities.

Children who have poor hand-eye coordination often refuse or choose not to participate in activities that involve this skill. The activities mentioned above can be very beneficial in assisting these children in improving their hand-eye coordination. Some children struggle immensely with every-day activities due to poor coordination skills. These children may require extra assistance from an occupational therapist or a physical therapist.

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5 Developmental Benefits of Arts and Crafts

Kids love doing a variety of arts and crafts as an outlet to be creative and have some fun! Little do they know that it is so good for their development as well! Arts and Crafts Blog

5 Benefits of Arts and Crafts:

  1. Bilateral Coordination – Crafts such as coloring, drawing, cutting, all require your child to use both of their hands together. This skill is important in other areas including writing, tying shoes, typing and much more!
  2. Fine Motor Coordination – In order to draw shapes, cut patterns, and write, your child is required to use their fine motor coordination. These skills similarly translate to other areas of their lives including dressing and eating.
  3. Self Regulation – Crafts that require drying require waiting! This is a great lesson for your child to demonstrate self control and patience. Also, things might not go exactly as we hoped! Crafts are a great way to promote flexibility in your child. There is no right or wrong way in exploring one’s own creativity!
  4. Self-esteem Booster – Although we want to challenge our kids, it is also important to initially choose arts and crafts that are at your child’s skill level. Completing the crafts successfully will give them a great sense of accomplishment and pride. As you and your child begin to explore more crafts, you can add in more and more challenges.
  5. Bonding and Fun – Your kids will love spending time with you and creating something together!

Great craft ideas to do with your kids this winter season:

Snow Flakes

  • Start with tracing a circle on your favorite color construction paper
  • Cut out the circle
  • Fold the circle in half 3 times
  • Draw shapes from the edges with a pencil
  • Use scissors to cut along the designs
  • Carefully open your circle
Cotton Ball Snowman
  • Use glue to make three circles for the outline of your snow man. Fill in each circle with glue completely
  • Stick cotton balls in the glue circles to form your snowman
  • You can make this more of a challenge by using chopsticks, small tongs, or tweezers to pick up and place the cotton balls
  • Be creative and give your snow man a face and accessories (gloves, hat, etc.)
  • Colored glue
  • Googly eyes
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Felt

Cards for Friends and Family

  • Fold a piece of construction paper in half and decorate
  • Write your message in pencil and have your child trace
  • Attach a picture of your child
  • Use holiday inspired stencils and have your child trace onto the card
  • Use a variety of materials; markers, paint, colored glue, glitter, beads, scrap paper, magazines, buttons, and much much more!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes PlainesHinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

Meet-With-An-Occupational-Therapist

5 Fun And Easy Activities to Promote Speech And Language Development During Summer

Three Happy Children Coloring On Construction PaperSchool’s out, which means you have extra time to spend with your child. As you plan activities to fill the day, you might find yourself needing a few “tricks” to tie in learning with fun. Here’s a list of my top five activities to encourage speech and language development while still having a good time.

1. Create a summer scrapbook.

Take digital pictures or save ticket stubs and brochures from special summer outings, and glue them in a construction paper book after special events throughout the summer. Help your child write a sentence about each page. Where did you go? Who was there? What did you see there? Afterwards, encourage your child to share their book with family and friends.

2. Have fun with sidewalk chalk!

Winter is finally behind us and the sidewalks are snow-free, so enjoy being outdoors with sidewalk chalk. Draw pictures of summer words or different shapes. Play a listening game by encouraging your child to step on the pictures as you name them: “Hop to the sunglasses”, “Bear crawl to the sun!” or “Skip to the beach ball!” Read more

Arts and Craft Ideas To Improve Fine and Gross Motor Skills

toddler coloringToddlers learn about their world by using their senses, manipulating objects and experimenting.  Toddlerhood is marked by an explosion of development in all areas, including fine motor skills, or “hand skills”.  One fun way to promote fine motor skills every day (and on Valentine’s Day in particular) is through crafts!

Here is a short, craft-friendly guide to fine motor milestones:

  • Scribbling and making horizontal or vertical lines – 2 years old
  • Squeezing out glue – 2 years old (though squeezing out an appropriate amount of glue is a skill that will not develop until much later!)
  • Snipping with scissors – 2 ½ years old (with constant supervision!)
  • Drawing circles and a rough cross – 3 years old
  • Stringing large beads – 3 years old
  • Cutting on a line – 3 ½ years old

Unless you are hoping for updated living room walls, your toddler will need constant supervision, direction and demonstration throughout all of these projects.  When these tasks are completed, everyone’s heart will be warmed when you see your child beaming with pride at what has been created.

A few fun and simple craft projects to try with your toddler this Valentine’s Day:

  • Make a valentine for family members, classmates, or neighbors.  Young toddlers will be satisfied with simple tools such as finger paints or crayons.  Older children may want to add glitter, stamps, or stickers. Read more