June 30, 2015

Water Play!

Summer is here…the birds are chirping, bicycle bells ringing, and children are squealing…the sounds of summer have finally arrived. Along with summer come the high temperatures and hopefully some backyard fun!

How can a parent encourage learning and outdoor fun for the kids? What if you want to keep cool? You’re in luck! There are hundreds of wonderful activities that combine sensory play and a little science, but we have narrowed the selection down to a few winners:

1) Ice Boats
This fun and unique activity allows for a cheap way to spend the day letting the little ones race their ice boats around while they slowly melt into bright fantastic colors.

2) Ice World
The activity brings the arctic world to your own backyard. This ice world sets the stage for a creative atmosphere where the imagination runs wild.

3) Magic Ice
Notice a theme? This gem of an activity brings the world of a laboratory into the safe summer outdoor experience. Using the same method of the baking soda and vinegar volcano, the magic ice bubbles and stews as the vinegar hits the surface of the baking soda filled ice.  

4) Good’ol Water balloons.
Not only are they a summer classic, but they can serve as fine motor practice for the kids! Under-fill the water balloon slightly and stretch out the base of the balloon and have a water balloon tying lesson. This activity will increase their fine motor skills as well as reduce the time it takes to tie all those suckers!!

June 22, 2015

The Effects of Technology

Now-a-days technology has become integrated into every nook and cranny of the lives of the IGen… that’s the new title for the current generation of youngsters. I-phones, I-pads, Tablets and gaming devices are in the hands of most young people today. What are the benefits and what are the down sides?

Research shows that children who use social media cites extensively have a shifted perspective on the world around them. They tend to have less of an internal drive and more of an external drive. For example, they now ask questions like “how will other people perceive me?” and “how can I make those perceptions positive?” Some undesirable implications of this can relate to self-promotion, a decrease in empathy and excessive impression management. To name a few.

However, don’t throw the mallet through the screen just yet.

Social media cites allow the bonds of friendship to span vast amounts of space and countless years beyond where they would if the internet didn’t exist. Social events cycle through news feeds along with the promotion of things like disease prevention activism and community service opportunities.

Positive implications of all of the above can be healthy self-expression, closeness with far away family members, increased participation in charitable activities and increased awareness of social gatherings & current events. To name a few.

A Kaiser Foundation study shows that the young spanning from 8 – 18 use technology over 7 hours a day on average!* Research shows that this is an excessive amount of time. Also, it is suggested that parents stay involved and confirm that their child is making constructive choices and garnering the positive results listed above.

When it comes to the complex management of “screen time” with your pre-teens and teens, there are multiple schools of thought regarding the fine point details. However, what every researcher can agree on is that what’s needed is BALANCE.


June 8, 2015

Critically Important Play

There’s common knowledge circulating through the vast network of parents that support the idea that play is an essential part of a child’s development. But have we ever stopped to think about what those benefits actually entail? Studies specifically focusing on the effect of play in children support the claims that play aids in developing social skills, complex problem solving skills, and increased attention in class. “Engaging in play serves a critical role in young children's social, affective and cognitive development.” (Jeffrey M. Halperin, Ph.D) This time of imaginative play give the child an opportunity to explore the recesses of their mind and express it to the world.

Imaginative play doesn't only aid the child in expressing themselves, it also aids in parent-child relationships. When a parent chooses to partake in the imaginative world of the child, the parent is blessed with being able to see what is inside their son or daughter’s mind. This then allows the parents to guide and suggest what is moral and immoral in a safe playful atmosphere. So, the next time you see your kid building a fort out of blankets, or crafting a rocket-ship out of Legos, roll up your sleeves and dive on in to their world of imagination. 

June 2, 2015

Fine Motor Skills

Do you remember the first time you showed your mom or dad how you can tie your shoes all by yourself? There’s a lot more going on than just a boosted ego for a kid when they are able to tie their own shoes. Believe it or not, the ability to tie a shoe relates to the level of fine motor skill a child possesses. But why is that so important?

During the summer it can be tough to get kids to keep up their fine motor practice when the great out-doors call their name. However, the need for continual practice proves vital for a child’s confidence as well as their success in the academic world. Fine motor skills ranges from the ability to button a shirt, typing on a keyboard, to writing and drawing. As I’m sure you may know, getting a kid to sit down and write an essay during the summer is like trying to give a cat a bath. So how can a parent bring the fun to an essential part in a child’s development? Here are a few helpful hints:

Fine motor skills and creativity combined! - http://therapyfunzone.net/blog/fine-motor-wiffle-ball-creatures/

Try Painting a little flower with a tiny sponge! - http://therapyfunzone.net/blog/painting-with-tiny-sponges/

Have some free wall space? Try a marble maze! - http://therapyfunzone.net/blog/wall-marble-maze/

While we are still on the marble craze, try this! - http://therapyfunzone.net/blog/game-made-with-golf-tees-and-marbles/