As I mentioned in my previous blog about carving a pumpkin, there are so many fun as well as simple activities for occupational therapy that you may practice in the comfort of your own home. One such festive idea that many of our occupational therapists have been incorporating into their therapy sessions lately is “candy corn pick-up”. This activity helps to refine skills such as fine motor strength, visual motor skills, bilateral coordination and in-hand manipulation (e.g., to manipulate the clothes pins and/or move candy corn from palm to pincher fingers). Ideally, each of these skills will translate in order to help a child increase his strength for completing fasteners (i.e., snaps, zippers, buttons, etc.) as well as increase strength and endurance for handwriting skills. Below is a quick break down of the activity.
Candy Corn Pick-Up:
- Clothes pins, resistive clips and/or chopsticks
- Candy corn
- Holiday ice cube tray (available at Target or Amazon.com)
- Place the candy corn on a plate or in a bowl (in a small plastic pumpkin if you want to be really festive).
- Have your child pick up one candy corn at a time with his clip and then place the candy corn into one of the slots on the ice cube tray. The child’s dominant hand should primarily be used as this will help strengthen the hand used for handwriting activities.
- It is important to have your child use his non-dominant hand as well for this activity as the non-dominant hand is a helper hand for activities such as stabilizing paper during handwriting, cutting tasks and other bilateral skills, such as shoe tying.
- If you want to increase the challenge of this particular activity, call out a pattern for your child, such as “3, 5, 3, 2”. This pattern will serve as the number of candy corns you want him to place into the ice cube tray slots.
- Have your child recall the pattern as this will help improve auditory processing and memory recall.
- To better increase the gross motor aspect of the activity, have your child sit on a therapy ball, rather than a chair or having your child lay prone on the floor (i.e., on his belly). Both of these positions help improve endurance and trunk control.
Overall, it is extremely important for parents to remember that occupational skills can be easily incorporated into daily tasks, especially into fun holiday activities! If occupational therapy skills are only practiced once or twice a week in the clinic, the skills will not be transferred as easily across environments. The greatest gains are seen when occupational therapy skills are practiced every day at home! So pick up some candy corn and see how much fun hand strengthening can be!