Spice Shaker Activity

By: Paige Troutman, OT Graduate Student
University of Tennessee, Memphis

Posted in Fine Motor Skills, Fun Activities, Speech and Language Skills

Fabric Box Activity

Created by: Paige Troutman, OT Graduate Student
University of Tennessee, Memphis

Posted in Fine Motor Skills, Fun Activities, Speech and Language Skills

Animal Container Drop

Created By: Paige Troutman, OT Graduate Student
University of Tennessee, Memphis

Posted in Fine Motor Skills, Fun Activities, Speech and Language Skills Tagged with: , ,

7 Strategies to Encourage Language Skills During Play

By: Liz McMahon, MA, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

Talking with children is important for language growth and development.   How we talk to them is just as important as the words we say.  For young children and those with language delays, we want to make sure that we aren’t placing too many demands or too much pressure on them to talk.

Children need to hear language in order to learn it.  This helps them pair the word with the object or action.  For example, we need to talk about what they’re seeing and doing.  Here are a few different strategies you can do that don’t put pressure on children, but do encourage language development.

1).  Parallel Talk –  This is when the adult describes what the child is seeing, hearing or doing.  For example, while playing with blocks, you would say:

“You have blocks.  You put blocks on top.”

2).  Description – This is when you provide words to describe the objects your child is playing or interacting with, touching or seeing.  An example would be:

“It’s a car.  Red car.  Red car goes fast.”

3).  Self Talk – This is when you talk about what you are doing while your child watches.  Make sure you use short phrases.   An example of self-talk would be:

“I’m brushing my teeth.   Toothpaste on toothbrush.  Brush teeth.”

4).  Repetition – Children learn by repetition, so don’t be afraid to play with some of the same toys.  You can always change the size and shape of the objects you’re playing with to make it more interesting and/or change your voice and intonation while playing.

5).  Follow Their Lead – It’s important to follow your child’s lead. Offer choices and play with toys they’re interested in.

6).  Pause – Children need time to process what they’ve just heard.  Pause for several seconds and give them  a chance to respond to your statements.

7).  Encouragement – Children with speech and language delays need modeling and praise.  Encourage any and all vocalizations and communication attempts.

While using these techniques, you are providing great language stimulation.  Just be careful not to go too overboard.  They don’t need a play-by-play on every little item or action.  Just provide good basic information and use single words or short 2 or 3 word phrases.  If you are concerned about your child’s speech development, consult with their pediatrician and ask for a referral for a speech and language evaluation.

References:  Oh Say What They See: An Introduction to Indirect Language Stimulation Techniques by Educational Productions

Posted in Early Intervention, Play is Important, Speech and Language Skills, Techniques and Strategies Tagged with: , ,

Grab ‘n Go Yarn

by: Paige Troutman
OT Student at UT Memphis

Posted in Developmental Activities, Fine Motor Skills Tagged with: , ,

Fine Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome

by: Paige Troutman, OT Graduate Student
University of TN Health Science Center
Department of Occupational Therapy & Brightsong, LLC

Posted in Down Syndrome, Fine Motor Skills, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

Giant Shape Matching

by: Paige Troutman, OT Graduate Student

Giant Shape Match Activity

Posted in Fine Motor Skills, Fun Activities, Gross Motor Skills, Play is Important, Speech and Language Skills, Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,

Celebrating Handwriting Skills on National Handwriting Day

By:  Jennifer Henderson, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist
Brightsong, LLC

Handwriting is an important “occupation” for most children. However, handwriting development does not begin when a child starts school. It actually begins at a much earlier age.

Handwriting Development

Handwriting Table

Tips to Encourage Handwriting:

  • Work on vertical surface activities (on mirror, wall, wipe boards, felt boards) to encourage optimal wrist positioning.
  • Use regular sized crayons or even broken crayons (after you are sure the child has reached the developmental age where they won’t put them in their mouths).
  • Practice activities on prone or on all 4’s to strengthen hands, arms, and trunk.
  • Encourage child to perform 2 handed tasks (banging toys, zoom ball, accordions, pushing carts, rolling large balls).
  • Practice sensory play in a variety of tactile media such as noodles, pudding, finger paints, cotton balls

When To Seek Help:

Consult an occupational therapist if you have any concerns regarding your child’s handwriting development, including:

  • Little to no interest in coloring or drawing at 3 years and above.
  • Using 5 fingers or fist to hold writing utensil past age 5.
  • School-age child complains of hand pain or fatigue following handwriting tasks.
  • Very slow or messy handwriting compared to peers.
  • Difficulty with the use of fork, spoon, scissors or dressing skills over age 5. 
Posted in Fine Motor Skills, Handwriting Tagged with: , ,

Fun with Sensory Bins

by: Jessica Oppenhuizen, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist, Brightsong

Sensory bins are a great tool to have around the house for a variety of reasons. Not only do they provide calming input and encourage children to tolerate and identify a variety of textures, but they can promote speech and encourage fine motor development as well. It is easy to change out the items in the bin and re-introduce it for play that is long lasting and changes with the seasons (or by the week!).  The following includes a variety of options for a sensory bin with specific suggestions for a fall themed sensory bin. You can easily substitute both the base of the sensory bin as well as the items within the bin depending on your child and their preferences.

Suggestions for the “base” of the sensory bin:
Various dried beans
Assorted dry pasta

Suggestion for fall themed sensory bin:
Popcorn kernels
Leaves / Artificial Leaves
Small pinecones
Miniature pumpkins / Artificial pumpkins

Suggestions for items to mix in (the possibilities are truly endless!):
Small plastic animals/bugs/figurines
Magnetic letters
Pom Poms

How to encourage fine motor development with a sensory bin:
In order to provide an additional challenge to the sensory bin, include a fine motor utensil (tweezers, tongs, chop sticks, measuring cups, spoons, magnet wands, etc) and encourage child to pick up items from the bin using the fine motor utensil or use measuring cups/spoons to scoop items into other containers without spilling. This is a great, fun way to work on feeding skills indirectly as well!

How to encourage speech development with a sensory bin:
Encourage children to name items when they retrieve them from the bin. You can focus on different colors, letters, shapes, etc. and have children name them when they are retrieved. You can also count items from the bin and talk about “in” and “out” when scooping/removing items from and back to the bin. Children can also talk about how the items feel (soft, rough, etc.) when touching different textures.

So, gather some great fall items and have fun!

Posted in Fine Motor Skills, Holidays, Sensory Processing, Speech and Language Skills Tagged with: , ,

Sensory Slime


Posted in Fun Activities, Play is Important, Playtime Connections, Sensory Processing, Uncategorized Tagged with:
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