I thought it would be a fun to show you some of the activities that our kids do during their therapy sessions. Debbie, our Occupational Therapist, is a master at using toys to encourage the kids to try new developmental skills. She has been doing therapy through play with the kids twice a week since they were six months old, and they love her! It's so cute to watch them wait for her at the window or wave goodbye as she drives away.
While every therapy session is unique depending upon which kid she is working with, there is a core set of skills that all of the kids are working on right now. And since our kids have the attention span of gnats, most of the time she works with all four of them at some point during each session.
We recently got several sets of the Melissa and Doug Jumbo Cardboard Building Blocks for the kids to play with and they have been so much fun to use during our sessions! I decided to bring out the camera to document how we incorporate the same toy into lots of different exercises while still making it fun. It keeps the kids interested and also lets us have extended use out of our toys since we use them in structured and free-style playing.
We are always so glad to see the kids exploring new things! We keep our blocks out in the garage and bring them in periodically. The idea is that the blocks stay fresh and entertaining so that the kids find the novelty worth pursuing. They definitely have to work hard during their therapy sessions so sometimes a little bribery is helpful! The kids are a hoot when the blocks first come out! The first thing they do is take all of them out, and then a lot of times one (or more) kids will climb into the storage box and empty the last ones from the bottom. I'm all for encouraging exploration in a safe way and these blocks give them the opportunity to do that. They also provide a nice distraction from their need to explore the toilets, pantry racks, and electronic equipment (there is never any downtime here!).
Stacking is one of the skills that we are working on right now. Normally the kids need some coaching and assistance with balancing items, but I turned around to find that Elijah had built a tower all by himself without any prompts. Proud Mama! Then, of course, there's Caleb who much prefers to knock down every tower his siblings try to build rather than build any himself....we will keep working on it though!
Stepping up is one of the biggest developmental skills we are working on with everyone. The end goal is that they are able to walk upstairs and downstairs while either holding onto the banister or using one hand to hold Mommy or Daddy's hand. The kids would much rather crawl up and down though, so it's a process to convince them to give it a try. (Hey, if it ain't broke...) We work on encouraging them to take that first step up with no assistance by asking them to reach for a toy while stepping up at the same time. It requires them to balance and focus simultaneously. This exercise definitely asks them to "step" outside their comfort zone.
A couple of our kiddos struggle with clearing toys with their feet. Ellie and Caleb in particular try to walk around any obstacles in their path rather than navigate over them. These blocks are awesome for creating obstacles of different heights and widths. Much better than pulling pillows off of the couch since those aren't nearly as interesting to toddlers!
My sweet boys have very little core strength. Because of that, they do a lot of planks. Giving them something fun to hold on to makes it more enjoyable for them. The picture doesn't show it, but we ask them to use their hands to "step off" and then "step back on" the block. It takes a lot of control and strength to do that, and honestly, they hate it. Having something brightly colored does help to make it more interesting.
So if you ever wonder what we are doing on Monday and Wednesday mornings, now you know! We do a lot of variations of these exercises, but we try our absolute best to keep it fresh and entertaining. If you've ever done therapy yourself, you know it's not always pleasant. Thankfully, we are able to use toys to make it a little more interesting.
Also, consider this a head's up: someday I'm sure they will have their stacking skills down and my living room will be full of block forts and flying stuffed animals. You've been warned!
This post was sponsored by Melissa and Doug. Thank you for allowing me to sample your toys! This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.