Changing Colors: The Blog of Spectrum Pediatrics

Archive for the ‘Play’ Category

March 21, 2017

Bike Riding 101

By Colleen Donley, PT, DPT

Here are a few tips to remember while picking out a bike:

  • Kid’s bike sizes are determined based on the wheel size, not the seat height- wheel sizes include 12, 16, 20, and 24-inches.
  • A child should be able to dismount and straddle the frame while standing flat-footed.
  • When riding, the knees should not be scrunched up under the handlebars or straight out at the lowest position. There should always be a slight bend in the knee.
  • There are different types of brakes- rear-coaster brakes and hand brakes

Before you get into the standard “big kid bike,” there are different styles to help get your child prepared. Here are some explanations of different styles to help you choose where to start and which is right for your child.

  • Pedal and push bikes let your child sit on the seat with their feet on or off the pedals while you push them along. As your child gets accustomed to the feel of movement on the seat and begins to push the pedals on their own, you can gradually fade out how much you push them along. Most of these bikes come with removable handles to convert into a toddler bike.
  • Tricycles have three wheels and serve as great starting points to help your little one develop the coordination to pedal. Moving the pedals requires moving the right and left leg in a reciprocal manner, a skill that many children actually have to learn! Kiddos steer tricycles by using the handlebars only and not by leaning their weight to one side or the other.
  • Balance bikes have no pedals. They let your child develop their sense of movement, momentum, and balance while learning how to steer without the added complexity of a pedal. Many like balance bikes as a first step as they allow the child to keep their feet on or close to the ground for extra stability while they learn to control their body on the bike.
  • Training wheels have become more of a contentious point as the popularity of balance bikes has grown. Training wheels widen the base of support in the back of the bike to eliminate the need for balance while your child masters the coordination of moving the pedals and steering. Many say that training wheels teach the child how to unbalance the bike, as the child will lean their weight against the outer support of the wheels. Then when the training wheels come off, the child has to unlearn to lean against this leverage. So for a child that has already mastered balance on a balance bike, it might be worth skipping the training wheels.

Before beginning to ride, don’t forget the helmet!! Be sure to get the right size by measuring the circumference of your child’s head one inch above the eyebrow. A properly fitting helmet should be placed on top of your child’s head and remain in place as they shake their head yes and no. Head out to an open parking lot or empty tennis court to give your kiddo lots of open space to explore and experiment with speed and steering. Have fun!

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March 21, 2017

Trick of the Trade from Jamie Hinchey, MS, CCC-SLP

Welcome Spring: Picture It!

Now that it’s spring, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the nice weather! As a speech therapist I am always looking for fun and creative crafts to do during my therapy sessions. I love when the seasons start to change, especially from winter to spring. This is a great time to work on sequencing and concepts during my therapy sessions. This “Picture It” craft uses a trick of the trade we have talked about previously: cameras.

For this activity you will need:

  • A camera (on phone or your “old school” camera)
  • Colored pencils or crayons
  • A large piece of white construction paper

With spring, usually comes beautiful days outside. Before going outside, it is helpful to talk to your child about the different seasons and explain now that winter is going away, spring will be next. By using these sequence words (first, next, then, etc.) you can work on time concepts with your child. It may be helpful to talk about what spring means and what you might start to see outside as the seasons change. A book can also be a great way to introduce new concepts, there are a lot of books focusing on spring or outdoor activities. See our previous post on spring books here!

Once you have gone over this with your child, take them outside and take a picture of them in the environment. This could be in the flowers, under a tree, laying on the grass, or at the playground. If possible, print out your picture and use it when you start your “Picture It” craft. If you are unable to print it out, have the picture out so your child can reference this. Ask your child to identify what they see in the picture and draw their own picture of what “spring” looks like to them. To challenge your child, you could also talk about what you might hear or taste on a nice day! This craft can target all areas of development. For fine motor skills, have your child draw with different types of writing utensils or even cut out pieces of paper and glue. For gross motor and attention, work on your child sitting in a specific spot at the table or floor and attending enough to complete the activity. For language development, have your child tell you about what they did outside or retell what happened in a book you may have read about Spring! There are so many fun crafts, but try to use the beautiful Spring weather as a way to get your child outside!

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March 21, 2017

Everything Sprouts in Spring: What makes a good book?

By: Brianna Craite, MS, CCC-SLP

Recently, the therapists at Spectrum Pediatrics had a discussion on “What makes a good book?” We know how important book routines are to develop strong early literacy and pre-reading skills. Books can also help foster hand eye coordination while turning pages. You can practice supported or independent sitting while reading.

Walking into the book section in any store or browsing the library can be overwhelming with the wide selection. Here are a few things our therapists’ thought of especially when looking at the pictures that may ease your search:

  • Bright simple pictures
  • Pictures that include early vocabulary themes like body parts, animals, toys etc.
  • Pictures “tell the story”

As children get older we suggest books with words or phrases that repeat to practice early literacy skills. Check out the list below and you’ll see some of my book choices for the upcoming spring season!

Toddler

Board books are easy for early readers to turn the pages. It is important to look for interactive flaps, bright colors, and spring vocabulary. As a speech therapist, I often recommend that parents label the pictures they see in the book while allowing their child to explore the interactive parts of the book. Using books with interactive flaps can help increase your child’s attention on the book.

Preschool/Kindergarten

While looking for books for preschool age, focus on books that have repetitive words such as I see Spring. The repetitive words are great for early readers. The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle is one of my favorite books for Spring. After reading this book, try planting seeds of your own for an interactive activity to go along with the story! And Then it’s Spring by Julie Fogliano is a great book for early readers, especially when focusing on teaching the concept of changing seasons. Spring is Here by Will Hillenbrand is a wonderful book for introducing spring vocabulary and learning about friendship!

Enjoy your books!

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March 15, 2017

Technology Tuesday: Hello Spring

We found an app that we had to include in our “Everything Sprouts in Spring” series! The “Hello Spring: Preschool Games” mobile application is available on both your phone or iPad. This app is a great way to “Welcome Spring” with your child. The free version of this application allows you to explore the different things you may see out in nature when spring arrives. This includes growing trees, blossoming flowers, and a rabbit that helps guide your child around the screen. By using your finger to point to different areas on the screen, your child can help the rabbit feed baby birds, give water to the flowers, and help dig with a shovel to grow food in the garden. This is specifically designed for preschool and kindergarten children. For $2.99 you can buy in-app purchases that allow your child to design different animals (bees, birds, etc.), learn about where fresh produce comes from, and take care of baby birds to help them grow.

To learn more about the app or to purchase it click here!

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March 6, 2017

Trick of the Trade from Tracy Magee, MS, CCC-SLP

Blankets

This object is in everyone’s house, but it is not usually considered a great tool for learning – a blanket! Surprisingly, this item can provide lots of opportunities for language and movement. Here are a few ways we use a blanket at Spectrum Pediatrics:

1. Regulation – We all have our own unique ways to help ourselves cope with the sensory information that we are receiving in our daily lives. Swinging in a blanket is a great way to help calm a child that might be overwhelmed. The blanket creates a safe cocoon and the linear movement is very beneficial in helping a child overcome too much sensory input.

2. Movement – Kids can make the blanket into a parachute-type game with holding the corners and moving it up and down. Kids can have the blanket “pop” balls out the top or kids can go under the blanket when it rises up.

3. Language – A blanket can provide hours of entertainment for receptive (listening/comprehension) and expressive (speaking) language.

  • Receptive: Practice prepositions with a doll or other object. For example, “Hide the dog under to blanket, Put the doll on top of the blanket.” You can also work on following directions to play the parachute game (“Make the blanket go UP! Make the blanket go DOWN!”)
  • Expressive: Have your child hop on the blanket for a ride, and he/she must tell you where to go. (“Take a right, Go left, Take me to the kitchen!”) Try to work on the concepts of “fast” and “slow” while going for a ride.

These ideas are just the beginning! Talk to your therapist about other ways to use this simple object to create some wonderful learning opportunities!

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February 22, 2017

Tips for Improving Your Child’s Communication

At Spectrum Pediatrics, we often find ourselves talking to parents about small changes they can make during their daily routines to help build their child’s communication skills. Two of our speech therapists are sharing four of their all-time favorite tips for parents. Check out the video below to hear Jamie and Krystina discuss these tips and explain what makes them so important and how to build them into your everyday routine!

Stay posted for more helpful videos on tummy time and feeding behaviors at mealtimes!

February 6, 2017

Trick of the Trade from Tracy Magee, MS, CCC-SLP

Yoga

Lately, I have been doing yoga with many of my clients, and I have found that it has many benefits for speech and language. Here are a few reasons you should try with your kids today!

1. Attention and Imitation – These skills are necessary to develop verbal speech skills. A child needs to be able to look at someone and copy movements in order to copy lip movements and words.

2. Comprehension – A child must focus on the verbal instructions being given to follow along with the yoga “flow” and assume the correct positioning. This skill helps with processing language and learning new words.

3. Breath Control – Yoga focuses on breath. The deep breaths in and out that are required help a child learn how to control his/her breathing. This is important for controlling breath when producing sounds, too. Deep breaths are also a great way to help kids learn how to stay calm and “regulate” their bodies and emotions.

Some yoga resources that are great for kids are:

  • GoNoodle – available for FREE on their website or on the AppleTV app
  • Yoga Kids by Kirsten Hall
  • Once Upon a Mat… Starring Jessie Forston
  • The Kids’ Yoga Deck: 50 Poses and Games by Annie Buckley

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January 20, 2017

Trick of the Trade from Ashley Glasser, MS, OTR/L, CEIM

DIY Play Gyms

Out of all the toys and devices out there, especially for newborns and pre-crawlers, one of my favorites is a baby play gym or mat. They come in various shapes and sizes: colorful mats with two arches and multiple dangling toys or one simple wooden arch with two toys. No matter which one a parent chooses the benefits are endless. They help to promote cognitive skills, reaching and grasping, head turning, body turning, sensory stimulation, etc.

Recently I was working with a family where we decided the child would benefit from practicing overhead reaching so that he could strengthen his arms as he lifted them against gravity, in addition to working on the accuracy of his reach and expanding his play beyond mouthing (he could learn to bat, shake, turn, etc.). What better way to work on this than through the use of a play gym! Problem: the family doesn’t yet have a play gym. Solution: let’s create one!

If you haven’t purchased a play gym, don’t fret. A piece of string or rope tied between two pieces of furniture will do the trick for now! In the moment two adults sitting on couches facing each other worked just fine. A rattle was strung onto the string and the adults held the string over the baby while he laid on his back on the floor. Within seconds the baby immediately reached up for the rattle, batted at it, and pulled it down to his chest. Exactly what we wanted! A little ingenuity and the child is already developing new skills that will benefit him immensely.

Note that care should be taken in regards to what you decide to put on the string – be mindful of choking hazards for babies that are reaching and mouthing. And always monitor, but also have fun!

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December 18, 2016

Trick of the Trade from Jamie Hinchey, MS, CCC-SLP

Coloring Books

As a speech therapist, I often find myself working on various activities with children such as puzzles, reading books, or building blocks. Recently, I have been using coloring books in my therapy sessions and I have found that it is a great way to incorporate language and other goals! I start with having the child choose which page from the coloring book if this is a new activity for them. Once the child chooses a page, I will tape the coloring page to the table to eliminate the distraction of picking up the paper off of the table. Choosing one page also allows you to target attention as this will help the child focus on the one task that they are supposed to be working on. I will target receptive language skills by giving verbal or visual directions, depending on the child’s developmental level. For example, “Color the airplane blue and the little girl’s eyes brown”. If you have a younger child you can keep the directions more simple such as “Pick the purple crayon”. If you are working on expressive language goals, have your child comment on what they see in the picture or expand on their phrases when they label. For example if your child points and says “airplane”, expand with “Wow that airplane is in the sky”.

Our occupational therapists also love to use coloring books within therapy since this is a fun and simple way to target pencil/crayon grips for children of all ages. Although this is technically a fine motor task, if your child has trouble sitting in a chair or attending to one activity, use this in a visual schedule or have a timer available. This way, your child can complete the task, but also see what might be next or how much time is left. We often use large coloring pages, but a blank piece of paper is also fine to help build your child’s creativity!

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December 15, 2016

Feeding Friday: Holiday Food Play

Christmas is a season of celebration, gift giving, celebrating family and faith traditions, and food. For picky eaters, non-eaters, and those struggling with their weight, it can become so much about the food that everything else can be pushed aside. Here are a few other thoughts:

  • Giving food as gifts allows kids to see the nurturing side of food. This may be especially helpful for kids who have always found food to be a task.
  • Giving food that kids helped make or serve allows kids to feel pride in their work and get their hands dirty without the pressure to eat it, especially if it is for someone they like to please, such as a teacher or grandparent.
  • Making food platters or gifts is a good together time activity, while also preparing for a party or crossing a name off the shopping list. Making fun foods together allows children to be messy and creative without pressure to eat.
  • Making more than one type of food allows all foods to be seen as fun – fruits, vegetables, cookies and snack foods can all be fun, creative and festive without the pressure of “good food” or “bad food.” It is ok to have some of each, don’t feel pressured to make them all healthy, or all decadent.
  • The time together allows you to talk about what a “treat” it is to work together. Reminding both of you that not all “treats” are something you eat.
  • Making treats can target all kinds of strengths or areas that need help: touching new textures, cutting, rolling, sorting, making designs or patterns, picking up small objects, or counting. There are many ideas to cover each one of these skills.

Here are some ideas to get you started. Roll up your sleeves, clear an area that can get a little messy and have fun! For more resources on these fun food activities check out our Pinterest board here! For other sites with some helpful tips check out this website or here!

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