Home OT on a Shoestring – Part 1

Ok, so your child has maybe had a block of OT, or they are on a break from OT sessions, or they had some experience with OT’s and you saw some gains from this experience? Whatever the case, OT activities and ideas don’t have to be limited to the clinic! At OTFC we often give children and families home activities to support the areas addressed as challenges for their children, outside of the clinic.

There are so many games, toys, apps and resources out there that can be purchased to support children beyond the work they do in the clinic. At OTFC we are fortunate to have fantastic facilities to work on sensorimotor aspects of development, and with the experience of our OT’s, the clinic is a great place for children to explore and develop.

However, not everyone has suspension equipment, trampolines, foam equipment and an OT on hand each day!! As such, our newest regular topic of discussion will be ‘Home OT on a shoestring’, to answer the question, how can you continue to make gains at home, through basic everyday things?

Part 1: Pegs 

We will kick off this topic by looking at Pegs. These are by far one of my favourite simple home resources to use for early fine motor development, both academically (writing, drawing) and functionally (dressing, eating).

How they can help:

  • Hand and finger strength – The strength required to pull back a peg is hard for many young children, so using a peg is an easy way to increase hand and finger strength.
  • Hand endurance – In addition to strength, the longer a child can hold a peg in their finger, the better the finger muscles get at enduring tasks, which is very important for academic and functional fine motor tasks.
  • Pincer grasp – encourages the faster, accurate and automatic movements of the thumb and first finger. These are important for feeding, dressing, functional fine motor tasks and handwriting.
  • Early tripod grasp skills – as mentioned, the pincer grasp is required to be able to appropriately form a tripod grasp for early academic fine motors skills, such as crayon and pencil skills.
  • Developing muscle tone – although often debated, muscle tone has been shown to develop and increase, and working on activities using pegs can further increase the intrinsic and extrinsic hand muscles of the hand.
  • Motor accuracy – The accuracy afforded by a more mature grip can further be strengthened by using pegs to increase the skills of using the hands and fingers
  • Finger isolation – Given the size and shape of pegs, they are in a great position to work on isolating the movements of the thumb and index finger, strengthening those muscles to support academic and functional fine motor skills.
  • Lateralisation and hand preference – Placing pegs in the midline, and encouraging children to work on developing and strengthening a hand dominance, particularly for writing and fine motor tasks
  • Crossing the midline – Communicating both sides of the brain by crossing the ‘invisible’ line that divides the hemispheres. This further supports hand preference.

Activities to try: 

  • Spelling games (writing letters on pegs, and matching them to letters or words on a board/page)
  • Maths games (labelling pegs with numbers, adding them up, taking the away, and working on counting skills)
  • Peg Races (who can place the most pegs on a rope in a period of time, or who can place the pegs on fastest)
  • Guess Who (a great way to work on language, problem solving, reasoning and fine motor skills)
  • Pretend clothes (drawing clothes, cutting them out, then grabbing some pegs and placing the clothes drawings on a piece of string attached from one chair to the other)
  • Animal activity (e.g. turn pegs into animals that have to go around and ‘eat’ food (pom-poms, beads) in the water, then bring it back to their home for the family)
  • Or just simply helping mum or dad peg clothes on the line!

We will continue to look at how basic house items can be used to help support areas of sensorimotor development, at home, to further the gains worked on during OT.

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