Straw Weaving in 15 easy steps!

Want an innovative way to manage your children?
Try Straw Weaving.
This easy activity has an amazing ability to relax, quiet and focus even your most energetic students.
Used at break time, it helps return children to a ‘just right’ threshold.
Used at recess, it helps avoid the excitability that can build with unstructured play.
Used during instruction, it’s rhythmicity and repetition create a synergistic mental state that keeps hands busy but minds engaged.
It’s a healthy adjunct to behavior management and best of all… kids love it.
You’ll need:
5 straws (cocktail or regular)
5 15″ lengths of black yarn
1 long wire to serve as a needle
1 ball of yarn.
Now watch the video.  Enjoy!

Making a Thingie

Super easy.  Super cheap.  Super appealing.

Follow the slide directions.

This is a great way to correct the angle of your student’s pencil so that it rests in their first web space.

Let your students chose the color of their loop and the design of their bead, button or charm.  Everyone is going to want one.

The one caveat is that your students must leave them in the class before they go home or you’ll be making them everyday!!  preview5

Naked Walls

Tabula Rasa

The blank slate.
That’s the look we’re going for on the first day of school.
While many teachers work frantically to cover the walls of the classrooms before the school year begins, much of their effort is in vain. Children often never notice the colorful posters, let alone the instructive advice. It’s stimulus overload.
Proactive therapists can help teachers avoid the pressures to become interior designers. Instead, suggest that nothing be displayed until the information contained therein is properly introduced to the students and understood.
Then, with the children’s full attention and at their direction, hang each display one at a time over the course of weeks and months. A little to the right. A little higher or lower. Getting the kids involved in these decorative placement decisions builds their investment in the materials and the chance that they might actually access them when they needed.
Looking out for your teachers pays off in dividends. Who knows… one day you may have an informational poster of your own that you’d like your students to reference.

Centennial Vision

So proud to be an Occupational Therapist in 2016.

As we enter a new year, it is thrilling to see how our profession and colleagues are all striving to achieve the CENTENNIAL VISION. Consider this:

We envision that OT is a powerful…

More and more, OT services are recognized for their early and continued emphasis on function and participation, and its holistic appreciation of the mind-body-environmental-cultural-societal interconnectedness

widely recognized…

(See below.)


Yes, we are informed by the neurosciences, our knowledge of development, physiology, physics, behavior and psychology,


We are increasingly deferring to research to guide our clinical decisions.

and diverse workforce…

Look around you. OTs and OTAs today, in your schools, your local OT organizations and AOTA. Our therapists come from the broadest of backgrounds and bring unique insightful perspectives.

meeting society’s occupational needs.

Occupational needs? How does that apply to us therapists working within the educational system?

First, recognize that our society is the school system and our population is the children within them.

As far as their occupational needs, they are threefold. We are charged with helping children:

  1. Reach their educational potential
  2. Access their grade level curriculum
  3. Fully participate in the school environment

But there is that one clause, “widely recognized” that still eludes us. While consumers are increasingly pursuing Occupational Therapy services as the holistic solution to their complex needs, other providers are closing in on our domain.

Please, my friends. Do not be complacent and think that our Centennial Vision will realize itself. It is important that we protect this marvelous profession before others claim ownership of Activities of Daily Living, Leisure and related functional activities.

It is already happening.

Learn more from your state organization. Join your state organization. Attend AOTA’s national convention. We are a marvelous supportive and generous group. Let’s not become an irrelevant profession simply because someone else seized an opportunity to write into their licensure bill practice domains that have historically, empirically and conceptually been ours.

And let’s have a happy, healthy, productive, and widely recognized New Year, everyone.

Personal Exercise Charts

Savon's Exercise Chart

Shpilkas, n. [shpeal-kuz] (Yid. obs) shpeilkas, the state of constant movement; restlessness.

  1. A condition marked by an inability to sit or stand still.
  2. A source of endless exasperation to parents and teachers.
  3. A colorfully linguistic equivalent of more common psycho-educational

terms– hyperactive, sensory-seeking, impulsive, high strung.

While he always looked like he had to go the bathroom, it was determined that what Noah really had was shpilkas.

The treatment? More. More movement. More resistance. More repetitions. More variety. More intensity.

Personal Exercise Charts not only give children the outlet they need, they empower them to take responsibility, exert control and gain insight into their behavior. Assure the kids who may have previously gotten in trouble for being in perpetual motion, “You’re OK. You’re just a kid with a lot of energy. Let’s find a way to get rid of some of the extra energy that may be interfering with your work.”

Then, with the teacher’s knowledge and permission, hang the chart in a pre-designated spot and get ready to demonstrate the first rotation of exercises alongside them. First, note the month and date in the appropriate box. After each routine, have the child place a tally mark next to the corresponding exercise. If one series isn’t enough to satiate the child’s needs, do the entire cycle again.

Teachers may subtly suggest a round of exercises before any lesson, prolonged sitting period, group activity, etc., especially those that have been challenging in the past. Encourage children to advocate for themselves if they feel like they need a break. Once children recognize how ‘their own engines run,’ they begin making huge leaps toward regulating them. When that happens, heap on the praise.

Personal Exercise Charts should be checked and updated regularly. Increase the repetitions and vary the exercises.

Oh… and have fun.

Life After Video Games

Yes, there is more to life than that which ends at the tips of one’s thumbs.

Many kids today only know how to entertain themselves in front of a colorful monitor. Don’t get me wrong. I actually don’t have a problem with handheld interactive video games… to a point. It’s all about moderation. But unless kids are turned onto the options, they’re likely to continue ramping up their ‘engine levels’ through endless thumb work.

And sometimes, what they really need, is to learn how to ramp it down.

Want an alternative that can be done for hours, is productive, relaxing and positive?

Hope you’re sitting. You’re not going to believe this. It sounds too ‘Little House on the Prairie’-like to be true.

It’s crafts. Yep. I’m talking needles and yarn, loops and looms, beads and string, leather and lace.

The amazing thing is that kids don’t know how much they’ll like it until they do it. Especially those rhythmical ones whose repetitive motions lull the mind and body into a Zen state.

It’s been my experience that once kids are turned onto crafts, they invariably ask to do them again and again. They even like taking them out to the playground, working on them during recess and continuing on the weekend. From kindergartners to high school, hyperactive students to impulsive ones, those emotionally disconnected to others riddled with anxiety disorders. It’s a winning alternative for all.

Stay tuned for some easy, affordable and proven ideas.

Singin’ and Dancin’

Clearly, I’m not getting any awards for song writing. But this is the sound bite that the kids, teachers and I repeat over and over again. It’s memorable. It’s short and sweet. And it brings home the concepts like nobody’s business.

It’s THE RULES for Letter Size, and the one for Size One letters goes like this:

First, the hand motions. Poke the sky at eye level when you say ‘Top Line.’ Poke the sky at chest level when you say ‘Bottom Line.’ Then, imagine yourself twirling one finger skyward with the word ‘higher’ and spiraling downward with the word ‘lower.’ Lastly, conjure up your best hula dance as you flutter you arms in front of you… floating out to sea.

And a one, and a two, and one, two, three….

Size One Letters

They have to touch the Top Line.

They have to touch the Bottom Line.

They can’t go higher.

They can’t go lower.

And they can’t float in the middle.

Yes. I know what you’re going to say. Don’t quit your day job.

But you’ve never seen me dance!

Realistic, Fiscally Responsible and Embeddable Handwriting Program

0001q3The beauty in having a handwriting program that doesn’t rely on a set instructional time and/or a workbook for every grade for every student for every year is economy. It’s economy of cost, of time and of energy.

The Size Matters Handwriting Program was born of the realities facing all of us school-based Occupational Therapists.

There is no time.

There is no money.

And teachers are truly struggling to cover all the content needed to secure proficient scores on all the mandated state and national tests.

Unfortunately, research shows that handwriting is not a self-evident skill. It needs to be taught and it needs to be practiced. But practice in a vacuum is itself meaningless.

For there to be follow-through by teachers and carryover by students, the principles germane to legibility need to be do-able within the context of the already pressing academic schedules.

With a concept-driven approach to teaching and remediating handwriting, our mission to promote function and participation is exponentially easier. The Key Concepts are simple. The Rules are memorable. The Dice Game is fun. The materials are reusable. The Scoring is empowering.

The teachers who have always said that they believe in handwriting instruction but couldn’t figure out how to fit it into their day will say to you, “I can do this.”

This is not rocket science. But it is a new and different way of reaching the end goal. And it works.

More to come.

We’ve got some singing and dancing in our future!!