Category Archives: Activities

RAPPER SNAPPERS AKA POP TUBES in purple, red, green, and blue

Therapy Activities On A Budget: Rapper Snappers

Rapper Snappers are a multi functional therapy tool perfect for creating fun, budget friendly therapy activities! In this post, Physical Therapist and creator of the ABCs of Movement, Laurie Gombash, PT, M.Ed, shared five different ways to use Rapper Snappers (also known as Pop Tubes) as a therapeutic tool.  Be sure to check out her video below!

Demonstration of rapper snapper activity:  pulling a pink rapper snapper open

Arm Strengthening

Place hands on either end of the Rapper Snapper and pull! Work with the arms overhead to target shoulder strength or work with arms away from the body to target core strength. Target different muscles of the upper body  by pulling in different directions. Try holding the rapper snapper in one hand, at hip level, and using the other hand to pull up and across the body. Alternatively, hold the rapper snapper at shoulder level and uses the other hand to pull down and across the body.

Pro Tip, using the fingers to scrunch the Rapper Snapper back to size is great for finger strengthening!

Self Regulation

Rapper Snappers are a fun way to learn about self regulation.  Help kids visualize concepts like fast breathing or rapid heart beat by opening and closing the Rapper Snapper rapidly. Alternatively, demonstrate slow or rhythmic breathing by slowly pulling apart  or closing the rapper snapper.

Pro Tip, the sound made by the Rapper Snappers as it is opening and closing provides great auditory feedback!

Demonstration of rapper snapper activity:  squeezing a pink rapper snapper closed

Fine Motor & Motor Planning 

Looking for a fun and engaging activity? Use Rapper Snappers to make a marble run!  Bend and twist the Rapper Snapper to make a maze, drop the marble in, and let it run through.  Using two or three fingers to grasp the marble and inserting it into the Rapper Snapper’s narrow opening is a great way to get the small muscles in the hand working.  Planning a successful maze for the marble to run through takes planning abilities!

Pro Tip: This activity can be done holding the Rapper Snapper and moving the marble through or you can use Velcro or other adhesives to adhere Rapper Snappers to a wall or other vertical surface. 

Demonstration of rapper snapper activity:  blowing into a pink rapper snapper

Oral Motor

Shape the Rapper Snapper like a smile and try to imitate it with your lips, now flip it upside down to make a frown!  Purse your lips, give a big blow, stick out your tongue!  There are so many ways to use a Rapper Snapper to help build and strengthen oral musculature! 

Academic Skills

Use the Rapper Snappers to build shapes, letters, and numbers. Connect multiple Rapper Snappers for bigger numbers or shapes. Work as a team to build a giant letter on the floor!  

Rapper Snappers are a small, easy to transport, budget friendly tool that can be used across multiple settings and to target a variety of treatment goals making them the perfect tool when creating therapy activities on a budget!

Watch the Video!
My Motor Mats movement path, boy completing a crab walk on a black motor mat

Making Time for Movement Breaks

There is no doubt that movement is an essential part of the learning process but finding the time for movement breaks in an already packed school day can be hard.  However, with the ever growing body of research linking movement to academic performance (Petrigna et al, 2022)  finding the time for movement breaks becomes essential. So, how do you move? Here are some quick ways to add a little extra movement to the day: 

Add Extra Movement Opportunities Into Transitions

Movement paths (sometimes called sensory paths or motor paths) offer great opportunities to build in movement breaks during naturally occurring transitions, like changing classes.  The simple addition of movements like hopping, balancing on one foot, or turning in a circle offers an enriched movement opportunity that activates different sensory channels helping the brain get ready and be more receptive to upcoming learning activities.  

Add Movement To Academic Lessons

Reach those kinesthetic learners by incorporating movement into academic lessons. Readily available activities, like the ABC’s of Movement cards or the Drive Thru-Menus makes this easy to do!  Teaching literacy skills? Use visuals from the ABC’s of Movement to add an ‘Alligator March’ to letter A concepts or the ‘Penguin Waddle’ to letter P concepts.  Practicing spelling words? Try spelling each word while performing Angels in the Snow from the Drive-Thru Menus Body Challenge Exercises.

Don’t Just Take A Break, Take A Movement Break

During the school day there are naturally occurring breaks, such as transitions or when students finish up at different times. Fill these moments with meaningful movement opportunities. Use cards from the Move Your Body Fun Deck to add motor movements to transitions. The fun deck offers easy to grab, quick visuals with a variety of different movement activities; pick three for the day, display them on the board, and do each one a few times between activities for a quick brain reset! Use the Minute Moves or Focus Moves Bundles to establish Movement Routines. The Bundles are designed to provide easy-to-do, evidence-based routines to enhance academic skills. Another option is the Year of Mini-Moves for the In-Sync Child, which offers a weekly schedule of different movements that can be easily incorporated into the day.  

Create Accessible Movement Spaces

Getting outside often offers a plethora of opportunities for movement breaks but for the student who has gross motor challenges the opportunities can be limited.  Having a variety of activities available will help ensure students of all abilities are able to access movement opportunities.  For students who have difficulty with standard catch and throw ball games, offering alternatives like Magicatch, Beanbags, or Pezzi Activa Balls offers inclusive approaches.  For students who have difficulty accessing standard playground equipment, the availability of  parachutes, bubbles, or movement based games like Trunks can provide alternative movement activities at recess. 

Movement is a critical component of the learning process that can get overlooked during a busy, academic filled, school day.  Building movement breaks into already existing routines and schedules can help students move and succeed! 

Petrigna L, Thomas E, Brusa J, Rizzo F, Scardina A, Galassi C, Lo Verde D, Caramazza G and Bellafiore M (2022) Does Learning Through Movement Improve Academic Performance in Primary Schoolchildren? A Systematic Review. Front. Pediatr. 10:841582. doi: 10.3389/fped.2022.841582.

Tips for Back to School Success

The transition from the relaxed summer schedule to the more structured school schedule can be tough for everyone involved. Here are some tips for making the transition back to school, a little easier.

Add Structure Back Into The Schedule

Schkidules a visual schedule used to help transition to back to school, blue board with picture icons depicting daily tasks and yellow board depicting stars earned

As the long days of summer start to wind down, slowly adding more scheduled events into the daily schedule will make the transition into a fully scheduled school day much easier. This could be as simple as a set time for breakfast or adding in a scheduled chore time during the day. Try using SchKidules to make a daily visual schedule.  The easy to use magnetic schedule lets you slowly add in more and more structured activities to the daily lineup and it is in a similar format most kids will see in their classrooms. Once the school year gets going a weekly schedule will be a great way to keep track of school activities and extra curriculars.

Practice Important Self Help Skills

Green dinosaur Busy Bee Lacing Sensory Activity showing lacing through loops numbered one to five used to prepare fine motor skills needed for back to school

Kids will be expected to do many of their daily self care activities independently or with minimal assistance once they return to the classroom. Lots of practice at home will help kids be ready for this! The resource Self Care With Flair is a great way to teach children important skills like handwashing, putting on coats, and managing their clothing in the bathroom. The Busy Bee Sensory Activity Plush is helpful for practicing the fine motor skills needed for these tasks like lacing, tying, zipping and buttoning.  Pro Tip for kids who have not yet mastered shoe tying, replace standard laces with elastic shoe laces for a slip on and go option.

Get In Tune With Sensory Needs

Cover of the product Sensational Fun a card deck of sensory based activities.  used to discover sensory preferences for back to school success

Every sensory system is different, figuring out the particular needs for each system will help kids start off the school year on the right foot! Riding the bus may be hard for kids who have difficulty with loud noises or who struggle with motion sickness. These students may benefit from sensory tools for the eyes and ears. The cafeteria may be especially difficult for students with aversion to certain smells; these students may benefit from fidgets that calm and organize an over responsive sensory system. Students who are not use to early mornings or who are use to afternoon naps may benefit from fidgets that help alert or wake up the under responsive sensory system.   Sensory based activities such as playing with floof, scented dough, or any of the activities found in Sensational Fun will help give insight into sensory needs.

Refresh Academic Skills

The box and game board for the game Colorama with red green yellow and blue game pieces in various shapes used to teach colors for back to school success

 The summer slide happens but there are many ways to keep academic skills sharp. For a fun refresher try learning games. Novenops offers a quick refresh on sentence structure, Letter Treasure Hunt is great for a review of letter concepts, and Colorama offers  a crash course on colors!

Planning ahead for the first day of school can help students make a smoother transition back into the academic year!