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A Bit Of OT Magic

3 At Home Activities From A Wolf Occupational Therapist

At Wolf, our Occupational Therapists are often also seen as magicians. With their expertise and creative spirits, our OTs are able to take everyday items and create unique and fun activities for our students that help strengthen skills needed to succeed and thrive in school and beyond.

But the magic doesn’t just have to happen at school, it can also be done at home! In honor of April being Occupational Therapy Month, we sat down with Katrina Karpeichik to share 3 at-home activities you can do to help your child target 3 specific OT skills.

Fine Motor  

Fine motor skills target the small muscles of the hand to help build strength and dexterity. This skill translates to many school and at-home activities like writing their homework down, tying their shoes, and even buttoning their shirt while getting dressed. With many Complex Learners struggling with weaker hand muscles, this is a critical skill to focus on!

For our fine motor activity, all you need is some tweezers or tongs and some small items like small erasers, pom poms, or even pieces of cereal. With the tweezers, have your child pick up one item at a time and move it to another pile or container. This movement emphasizes using your index finger, middle finger, and thumb which are the same fingers you use to help hold a pencil!

As your child begins to get better at this activity, feel free to add in some more difficulty. Have your child sort by size, shape, or color. This will help them also work on visual perceptual skills as they learn to think about what pile this piece will belong in while controlling the movement. 

Visual Motor 

Visual motor skills work on coordinating the information your eyes take in and translating that information into an accurate motor movement. These skills are what you use while reading, copying off the board or even throwing a ball and playing catch. When your child struggles with their visual motor skills, this would be evident both at school and at home. But to help you enforce the work our incredible OTs do at Wolf, we have a great activity for you to try at home.

For this activity, all you need is a cereal box (or any kind of snack box) and some scissors. Cut the box into 4-10 pieces (depending on the age and skill level of your child) and before you know it you’ll have a DIY puzzle that your child can work on putting back together. Once you’ve created the puzzle pieces, feel free to store them in a Ziploc container for easy access at home or even a fun activity to bring on a road trip!

As your child gets older, have them cut the pieces themselves and even challenge them to create smaller pieces to make the puzzle more difficult. 

Sensory Exploration 

Sensory exploration taps into all of the different senses by taking in all of the input around us and making sense of this. With many Complex Learners struggling with sensory processing and other sensory needs, this is an area that most Complex Learners could work to strengthen. If your child struggles with this you might notice them, being aversive to different textures, feeling overwhelmed by certain sounds, only eating certain foods, or struggling to take in visual information (like locating their red shirt in their closet). At school, these students might struggle to locate their materials and appear clumsy and easily distracted as they struggle to sit still. 

For this activity, get outdoors for a scavenger hunt of the senses! Come up with specific items for your child to feel, smell, and see like finding a flower to smell, listening for a bird, or feeling the texture of sand or grass on their feet. While this is a great activity to do together as a family, encouraging your child to get outside and have unstructured time in nature can also be incredibly beneficial. Whether they’re heading outside just to play and explore or taking the dog for a walk, even spending 20 minutes outside a day can make a huge difference for all of us – so be sure to get outside with your child! 

By having your child work on these OT skills at home with these fun and easy activities, you’re helping these skills become natural to your child and really strengthening their ability within these areas! 

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