August Activity Checklist

Make the most of your summer with fun actvities from Country Kids pediatric occupational therapist Molly Markland:

  • Walk on your tip toes all the way around the house.image005
  • Draw a line with chalk and try to walk on it like a balance beam.
  • Put on a button down shirt, and practice buttoning and unbuttoning the shirt.
  • Try and do 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups and 10 jumping jacks.
  • Draw a picture of where you live.
  • Play hide and seek with a grown up.
  • Play jump rope.
  • Play catch with a big wet sponge.
  • Practice writing your name; make it more fun by doing it with chalk on the driveway.

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July Activity Checklist


You can have a summer of fun trying these activities from Country Kids pediatric occupational therapist Molly Markland:

  • Run through a sprinkler or a hose.
  • Play catch with a water balloon.
  • Draw a picture of a rainbow with sidewalk chalk.
  • Wash a car or a bike with a bucket of soapy water.
  • Try to gallop or skip around the yard.
  • Blow up the balloon and see if you can keep it in the air for 10 hits.
  • Blow bubbles and then try to pop them with your pointer finger.
  • Pretend to fly around the yard like a butterfly.
  • Cut a straw into small pieces and then string for a necklace.

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Deadline to Register for Sensory Handwriting Summer Camp is July 21

When: August 14, 15, 16, 2017 (Mon., Tues., & Wed.)

Time: 9:00 – 11:00 AMCountry Kids Logo final

Ages: 5 through 9

Minimum Participants: 4 Maximum Participants: 8

Fee: $100.00

Registration: Call (920) 339-0700 by July 21, 2017

Purpose of Group: This is a perfect camp to give your child a jump start for handwriting success with the return of school soon approaching. Children will improve handwriting through fun, engaging activities at this camp.

Goals of the Group:
● Build confidence for handwriting
● Improve pencil grasp
● Improve hand strength
● Improve hand dexterity
● Improve fine and gross motor skills

Leader of Group: This camp will be led by an OT trained in Handwriting Without Tears using a developmental multi-sensory and fun approach to writing.


June Activity Checklist

Have a great start to you image002summer with these fun activities from Country Kids pediatric occupational therapist Molly Markland:

  • Make a hopscotch with chalk on the driveway.
  • Roll like a log in the grass.
  • Make a necklace from dental floss and Cheerios.
  • Build a sand castle.
  • Go down a slide three times in a row.
  • Walk backwards across the yard.
  • Go to the library.
  • Blow bubbles and try and pop them with your finger.
  • Cut out pictures from a magazine.
  • Draw a picture of your favorite animal.

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How does Hippotherapy Influence Walking?

Walking, or gait, is a complex pattern of movement that gets us from one place to another. Our bodies are passengers on our lower limbs which consist of multiple joints and muscles. Did you know that selective control and modulation of 57 muscles in the lower limbs is required for controlled gait?

In addition to controlled muscle action, in order for us to walk in an efficient and coordinated manner, several additional prerequisites are required. We need range of motion in the soft tissue to allow the limb to move forward; we need alignment of the body segments to keep our center of mass over our base of support. We need strength in each muscle as it is required to activate and hold. We need mobility in the joints of the ankle and foot which provide a rocker to move the body forward and also provide shock absorption as we step.

All of these things happen within our musculo-skeletal system as we walk, and yet we are not conscious of them. The movements are automatic and efficient, unless we have a disruption in any of those prerequisite factors. A disruption such as those we often see in people with cerebral palsy, or low muscle tone, or hemiplegia, to name a few.

If there is insufficient range of motion to gain full hip or knee extension, one cannot completely straighten the knee to make heel contact during an initial step. Immobility in the heel cord limits the ankle’s ability to move within full range and propel the lower leg over the foot. Weakness in the musculature might mean one cannot sustain weight on one limb long enough to progress the opposite limb forward.

Additional factors that affect gait include functional sensory systems, balance responses, and motor learning that enable us to activate our muscles in response to and in anticipation of environmental stimuli.

Physical therapists have an enormous amount of expertise in the normal development of gait and are able to analyze the components of movement to determine treatment plans.

How can Hippotherapy help?
Hippotherapy is an adjunct form of therapy that can support the gait-oriented goals of the physical therapist. The movement of the horse impacts the movement of the rider in a manner that is similar to the gait cycle. EMG studies have shown that riding activates the muscles in a sequence similar to muscular activation during walking. However, the impact of hippotherapy goes beyond this.

Hippotherapy proAliyah victory low res for emailvides a multi-system impact on the rider. The position on the horse relaxes tight muscles in the lower extremities, while the constant three-dimensional movement requires an instant and continuous response from the rider causing an increase in strength and control over time. The  horse is moving through space, which alerts the visual and vestibular systems which are closely tied to posture and movement. Additionally, the proprioceptive, tactile, and kinesthetic systems are activated, all of which help improve awareness of body position in space and assist in functional motor responses.

Isn’t it amazing that one horse can do all of that? Perhaps the primary influence of the horse is to create a fun and engaging experience for the rider. Fun and meaningful activities are known to have more longlasting influence on learning, including motor learning.

We see better posture, better standing, and better walking after hippotherapy.

In order to maximize it’s impact, hippotherapy is and should be a part of a comprehensive therapy program including physical and occupational therapy. At Exceptional Equestrians we are beginning to collect objective data on the impact of hippotherapy on gait using our gait analysis system.

Lisa Kafka, OTR, HPCS
Diane McInnis, PT

Handwriting Tips

Should I be concerned about my child’s handwriting?

This is a common question asked by parents of school-aged children.  There are so many factors that go into being able to write, such as posture, attention span, fine motor coordination, and visual-motor skills to name a few. Handwriting is being introduced in school as early as pre-K. Typically, all of these skills have not fully developed yet! Here is how you can start at home:

Writing should be introduced in a fun way!  Start with sidewalk chalk, creating lines and circles in shaving cream with your finger, finger paints, and writing with Q-tips and water on construction paper.

Little hands should use little tools. 

  • Ditch the fat pencils. It’s hard for a child to wrap their fingers around them. Short golf pencils are great for beginners.broken_crayons_by_pumai
  • Ditch the new box of crayons. Break the crayons at least in half, and peel off the paper. This prevents holding with the fist and encourages children to hold the crayon with their fingers.
  • Ditch markers. Pencils and crayons provide more resistance on the paper so that the child can have more control.

When should I become concerned about my child’s handwriting?

  • Seek advice from your child’s teacher and attend parent teacher conferences. In addition to getting verbal advice, look around the room at student’s work on display and see what kind of work all the students are producing.
  • Some red flags that may indicate that your child needs additional help with handwriting during or after kindergarten:
    • Your child switches the hand with which they hold a pencil or crayon.
    • Your child has difficulty writing their name.
    • Your child had difficulty using two hands together for tasks such as cutting or stringing beads.
    • Your child has difficulty holding a pencil in their fingers.
    • Your child consistently writes from right to left, writes letters upside down, or reverses most letters.

What does “additional help” mean?

  1. Talk to your child’s teacher to see what strategies they are using in class and provide extra assistance at home. Sometimes there are volunteers or teacher assistants that can provide additional assistance for your child in school.
  1. Talk to your pediatrician about your concerns.
  1. An Occupational Therapist (OT) is trained to work on developing skills needed for handwriting. These services can be provided at school if your child qualifies for service and if their difficulty is impacting their education. OT can also be provided on an outpatient basis if they have physical difficulties also impacting their daily living skills.

Contact Country Kids at (920) 339-0700 if you would like more information, have questions, or would like to know if your child would benefit from an occupational therapy evaluation.