by Stacy Menz, DPT, Board Certified Pediatric Clinical Specialist
One of our OT’s was so excited last week to show us the new activity she was doing with a few of her kiddos. She had just started it so she hasn’t had time to embellish it for pictures and make it look pretty! Also, we had to wrangle one of our other OT’s in for the picture because no kiddos with photo rights were available at that time.
Basically she has a few kiddos who are working on balance, visual motor control and letter recognition. So, in order to combine all three she has them standing on a spot (their feet aren’t allowed to leave the spot) and throwing the ball at whatever letter she calls out. She currently has capitol and lower case letters because the kiddo this set up was for is working on being able to tell the difference.
When she showed me, I immediately loved the idea and came up with all different variations. As the kiddos’ balance improves you can have them stand on one foot, or on a balance board or a balance disc. You can have them work on maintaining stability in other postures such as high kneeling (like pictured) or half kneeling or staggered stance. I also thought it could be used for numbers or colors as well and the ‘pictures’ on the wall could be adjusted depending on the child’s visual needs. For instance, the white on white may be too challenging for some kids.
In addition to the learning and balance, it also helps kids with throwing and eye-hand coordination. They have to be able to throw the ball (you can have them do overhand, underhand, two handed overhead, chest pass) and they have to be accurate with their throws. It also assists with auditory processing because as the therapist calls out the target they have to figure out what they are hearing and then translate it to what is in front of them.
Another variation of this could be letter bowling. You could have bowling pins with letters/numbers/colors on them and the child would have to work on rolling (which can be a hard skill to learn) the ball to knock over the correct pin or hit the correct target taped low to the ground.
How else have you used this idea and what skills have you worked on?
Featured Guest Columnist: Stacy Menz, DPT, Board Certified Pediatric Clinical Specialist
Stacy, Starfish Therapies’ founder, is a pediatric physical therapist with both a Masters and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Boston University and is a board certified pediatric clinical specialist. She stumbled into this field when she realized she would get to play with kids all day long! In reality, she loves making a difference in the lives of kids and their families. In addition to doing rehabilitative work with kids, she also promotes overall wellness and prevention of developmental delays through education. Stacy is actively involved in her professional organizations and is on the editorial board of Impact, the publication of the Private Practice Section of the APTA, and serves on the education committee of the Pediatric Special Interest Group for the California Physical Therapy Association. Stacy and her colleagues are also actively involved in research and have an article submitted for publication.
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