Shake. Calm. Repeat.

Settle your mind as the glitter settles. . .


These “calming jars” can bring you peace (and are pretty, too)

so enlist the kiddos help:

  • Fill a mason jar (or for younger kiddos please use a water bottle) with equal parts of glycerin (from the drugstore) and warm water – or for a less expensive version, and something you may have in the cupboard, you can use corn syrup or for more of a lava lamp look you can use canola or avocado oil
  • Add a few drops of food coloring and the glitter and confetti of your choice
  • Close the lid and shake as needed


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Pincer Grasp Activities

A pincer grasp enables a child to pick up small items using their thumb and index finger. A strong pincer grasp allows children to be successful with handwriting, dressing, and many other life skills. The following are some fun ways to help develop a pincer grasp using items you can find around your home.

Incorporating these types of fine-motor activities into a child’s day can help develop strong finger and hand muscles. 

  • Coloring
    • Color with broken crayons; your child should only be able to use their fingertips.
    • Coloring while laying on their tummy so they can only use their fingers to color.
  • Play-Doh—pinch it, roll it into small balls, make long snakes.
  • Pick-up Party—pick up small objects with a tweezer or tongs, and place them in a container.
  • Laundry time—use clothespins, and encourage children to clip clothes. The resistance from the spring will help build finger strength.
  • Beading—use the pincer grip to slide beads onto pipe cleaners. As the child progresses the pipe cleaner can be replaced with a string.
  • Shaker making—place beads, dry noodles, or other small objects into an empty water bottle to make a fun musical instrument.
  • Pay day—place coins into a piggy bank.
  • Stickers—peeling stickers from a sticker book and placing them on themselves or onto paper to create a fun piece of artwork.
  • Snacking—place your child’s snack in an ice cube tray or small dish. This will only allow them to pick up their snack with their fingertips.
  • Bubble wrap
    • Pop large or small packing bubbles by pinching with thumb and index finger.
    • Place the bubble wrap on a hard surface, and pop the bubbles by pushing down on them.

 Amy McMahon, OT


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Fun Activities with Hula Hoops

Physical therapy activities to help encourage jumping skills, motor planning, body awareness, balance and strength are lots of fun with the use of hoola hoops.


Start by placing the hoola hoops (tape, Velcro, jump ropes, or sidewalk chalk can also be used) on the floor for a visual cue for your child, and enjoy the following activities:

  • Hop from one hoop to another.
  • Jump forward into the hoop, then jump backwards out of it.
  • Jump sideways into and out of the hoops.
  • Jump on one foot in and out of each hoop.
  • Bounce pass a ball to a friend using each hoop as a bounce target.
  • Toss a bean bag into the requested hoop.
  • Do animal walks into and out of one hoop to the next—such as bear crawl, crab walk, duck, frog, etc.
  • Take giant steps from one hoop to another.
  • Make a hopscotch pattern with multiple hoops.

These activities can be performed at several different levels of skill depending on the age of your child and their type of disability. To make the tasks more challenging, you can ask your child to perform two– or three-step directions to also build sequencing and memory skills. In addition, these activities can be played in combination with other games such as Captain, May I? and Simon Says.

Jill French-Graebner, PT


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Cutting Activities

Cutting Activities

Cutting up paint swatches

Children love to cut along the white lines of the paint chip cards and then you can give them a glue stick and a blank sheet of paper to create a picture or mosaic.


Colorful plastic drinking straws

Straws are fun and fairly easy for young children to cut through. This is a lot of fun because the straws make a snap when they’re cut, and they fly into the air causing lots of laughter. Once your straws are all cut up, you can string some yarn through the pieces to make a necklace.


Styrofoam meat trays

These are another fun thing to practice scissors skills on. Like the drinking straws, there’s a neat sound that comes along with cutting through the Styrofoam. Scissors slice through the Styrofoam easily, and the pieces can be used for crafting. Remember to wash your meat trays before playing with them.

Play Doh

Play dough is easy to cut through so it provides a great medium for little ones to get started with, and it is fun. You can give your child regular safety scissors for this activity, or you can use plastic scissors designed for cutting dough.


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Great Gift Ideas

When purchasing gifts for kids of all abilities this holiday season, consider “unplugged ” gifts that can help develop fine motor, visual motor, and gross motor skills while having fun at the same time!

• Silly putty, Play-Doh
• Balloons
• Coloring books, crayons, colored pencils
• Puzzles
• Books
• Pick-up sticks
• Board games
• Cards
• Hop scotch
• Toss across
• Balls of all kinds (Nerf, squeeze balls, textured balls)
• Lightweight scarves for dancing
• Beads and laces

Click below to share this list with family, friends, and anyone looking for great gift ideas. For more resources, contact Country Kids Pediatric Therapy.

— Amy Stirk, OT

Country Kids


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Six Transition Tactics

1. Give advance warning. You can’t expect kids to stop what they’re doing on a dime. And time is a blurry concept to toddlers, so “We have to leave in ten minutes” is not meaningful. If your child is engrossed in his play, but you need to take him with you, start preparing him in advance. Set a timer to ring five minutes before you want your child to get ready. Tell him that when the bell rings, it’ll be time to go. And while you’re waiting, say something like, “When you hear the bell ring, I’ll help you put on your shoes and put the puzzle away, and then we’ll get into the car and go.” When the bell goes off, reiterate that it’s time to get ready to go. If a timer isn’t an option (you’re at the playground, for example), use references relevant to your child: “I’ll push you on the swing ten times, and then we have to go.”

2. Develop rituals. To make transitions that involve separation, such as being cared for by someone else, the predictability of a set routine gives a child a sense of control and order. When dropping your child off at day care, you might give her three kisses and then ask for three in return, or read your child two books before walking out the door—whatever works to help your child predict what’s going to happen next.

3. Keep your language simple. Making your words brief can short-circuit power struggles. Rather than explaining why your toddler needs to come to the dinner table, try kneeling down right in front of her and whispering a one-word description of what she’ll be eating. All a child needs to hear is “soup” or “spaghetti,” and she’ll probably be happy to put the toys aside and move on to her next activity—mealtime.toddler parent sillouhette

4. Offer choices. Presenting your child with options gives him lots of room to cooperate. But don’t give too many, and make sure that the choices are not whether to comply, but how to comply. For example, don’t say, “Do you want to put on your shoes?” if “No” isn’t an option. Instead, you might say, “Do you want to wear shoes or sandals?”

5. Avoid making threats. Counting down (“If you’re not on your feet by the time I count to ten . . . “) or threatening a time-out doesn’t work because both back a child into a corner, putting him in a position of losing face. Either he has to back down, or lose your love and approval, which is a big thing to ask of a young child.

First, tell him in a calm voice that it’s time to go, using short, simple sentences. Put your hand on your child’s shoulder, or take his hand gently and guide him to where you want him to go. If you’ve given it your best shot and your child is still balking at stopping his play, try saying, “I can see that you don’t want to come along. I’m going to help you now. I’m going to pick you up and carry you.”

6. Get down to your child’s level. It tends to be very effective when you veer away from arguing and simply change your tone of voice. Rather than running after your child holding the shirt you want him to put on and telling him to be still, get down on one knee and lower your voice to a whisper. Tell him very softly what you would like him to do.

Helping your toddler learn to make transitions smoothly will pay off in the long run. It’s doubtful that he’ll ever grin broadly as he drops his toys into the sandbox and hops into his stroller to go home for a nap. But with patience and diplomacy, you can help him take a few steps forward.

Adapted from


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Music as a Therapy Tool

image001You may be wondering how something as simple as listening to specifically designed music can impact a wide range of activities, such as energy levels, mood, autonomic functioning, anxiety, learning, memory and communication – just to name a few.

Music that is individually implemented as a sound-based tool can be used within a Sensory Integrative Framework and in sensory diets when provided by a trained professional, most often an occupational therapist.  Music can be used throughout a variety of environments to enhance focus, attention, sensory modulation, self-regulation, spatial awareness, bilateral motor coordination, along with social skills and ability to complete daily routines.

There is research from many sources that demonstrates the impact of carefully selected music on auditory processing by providing specific sensory stimulation to impact the brain and its ability to affect behavioral and psychological states.  Examples of sound-based tools include: Therapeutic Listening, QuickShifts, and The Listening Program to name a few.

Sound-based tools are specifically designed for each child and must be implemented by a trained therapist while a child is participating in therapy as it needs to be continually monitored.

Lisa Stark-Jones, OTR, C/NDT


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Creating Bedtime Routines

If you want to: Consider these activity tips:
Establish a specific bedtime and a bedtime routine.








Select a bedtime that you feel is appropriate for your child based on his or her age and schedule, and be consistent, even on weekends and during vacations. If you have multiple children, you may want to identify different bedtimes to ensure you can help each one.

Establish a predictable, regular sequence of events to prepare for sleep and relaxation. Begin this bedtime routine about a half hour before.

If your child is able to talk, share reminders about when bedtime is coming, stating something like, “First we eat dinner, then we play, followed by taking a bath and putting on our pajamas. Then we read a story and get into bed to go to sleep.”

To reinforce the bedtime routine, encourage your child to be part of the process. Ask what step comes next; offer choices of books, songs, etc.; and suggest he or she put a favorite doll or stuffed animal to bed. Use a transitional item, such as a blanket or a soft toy.

Help your child relax to get ready for sleep.




Avoid exercise or TV immediately before bedtime because these can make children more alert.

As part of the bedtime routine, have your child pick up and put away toys. Reducing clutter can help the child focus on bedtime.

Turn off the TV and play soothing music during the bedtime routine, to help your child calm down and signal that bedtime is arriving.

Help your child feel comfortable for bedtime.







If a child expresses fear of the dark, make checking the closet or under the bed part of the bedtime routine. A nightlight can also help reduce these fears.

Dim the lights while getting ready for bed to help the child prepare for the dark and to reinforce that nighttime is for sleeping.

Think about sensory experiences: are pajamas or blankets itchy? Do the fabrics breathe? Is the room too warm? Too cool? Are the window coverings letting in too much light? Are there smells wafting in from the kitchen?

Support the child by saying things like, “I believe in you,” or “I know you can do it” in response to anxieties or fears that interfere with sleep. Overcoming a fear in a safe, supported environment can help the child gain confidence.

Ensure that your child is safe while sleeping alone.






For young children, help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by not putting items like blankets or stuffed animals in the crib. Minimizing stuffed animals in the bed of any child teaches that the bed is for sleeping, not for playtime.

If a child makes nighttime trips to the bathroom, place nightlights in the bedroom and bathroom.

Make sure there are no cords dangling from the blinds or other items that could be a choking hazard. If a child is at risk for falling or rolling out of bed, consider placing a large pillow on the floor to prevent the child from getting hurt. Use a baby monitor or intercom system to listen for your child’s needs.

Help your child become more independent in sleep.







Beginning at about 2 months of age, place a child in bed prior to being asleep so he or she can learn to fall asleep independently. White noise can provide comfort and help to drown out other noises. Sound machines, fans, or even aquariums can be used for white noise.

Make sure your child isn’t drinking soft drinks that contain caffeine during the day.

Older children should go to bed at the established time even if they don’t feel tired, so they don’t fall asleep in another room and have to relocate to bed. Encourage them to read in bed or read to them for a set amount of time to help them relax.

When old enough, the child can learn to make his or her bed.

Lisa Stark-Jones, OTR, C/NDT


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