Porch, the home services platform, reached out to Therapro for help with their latest article, Safeguarding Your Home Daycare: What Experts Have to Say. The question posed to the Therapro team was: How can home daycare providers utilize therapeutic and educational resources to enhance sensory experiences and cognitive development for children in their care? Therapro’s team of experts had a lot to say on this topic! Read our latest post to see what Therapro shared and be sure to check out the full article for additional information!
Home daycare providers can greatly enhance sensory experiences and cognitive development for children in their care by incorporating therapeutic and educational resources from Therapro, among others. In this post we are covering several strategies and Therapro resources that can be used to enhance these experiences.
Sensory-Focused Environments: Creating sensory-focused environments within your home daycare is a great, all-around way, to enhance sensory experiences. This can be accomplished simply by utilizing sensory tools, like fidget toys, or sensory integration equipment like therapy balls. These resources can stimulate children’s tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular senses, promoting sensory exploration and integration.
Sensory Bins: Therapro offers various sensory bin materials, like mini animals or sensory beads. These bins can be customized to match educational themes and provide opportunities for tactile exploration, improving fine motor skills and cognitive development.
Fine and Gross Motor Activities: Tools like therapy putty,sensory beads, and balance boards. are examples of therapeutic resources that can be integrated into activities to enhance sensory experiences. For instance, swap therapy putty for traditional playdough activities to bring in grounding proprioceptive input. Add a balance board to traditional circle time activities to add vestibular stimulation that can increase alertness.
By integrating therapeutic and educational resources into your home daycare setting, you can create an enriching environment that fosters sensory experiences and cognitive development for the children in your care.
Fine motor skills are vital for many functional activities like zippering our coats, writing our name, and opening lunch containers. In this post we will take a dive into fine motor skill development and explore toys and activities that are appropriate for every skill level.
Fine motor skill development begins with the simplest hand movements; reaching, swiping, and gross grasp. As development progresses things like visually guided reach, purposeful release, and a better ability to hold medium and small sized objects develops. Poking, pointing, and the ability to use the thumb and first fingers to hold small objects are major milestones during this period. For children at this developmental stage activities that support the growth of the proximal muscles (core and shoulders) are important because it is these muscles that will support later fine motor skills. Activities that are done while on the tummy and activities that involve pushing and pulling are great choices at this stage.
The next stage of fine motor development is marked by the ability to begin to use simple tools like crayons, scissors, and spoons. Activities like the Smartmax games and Lock Boxes are still great choices but now simple arts and crafts, lacing, and building activities can also be enjoyed. These increasingly more complex activities will lend to the development of the hand skills that are needed for greater independence with self care activities like feeding and dressing.
The next stage of development is marked by the ability to complete tasks that require the separation of the two sides of the hand; the ‘power side’ and the ‘skilled side’. The power side of the hand is what we use when we engage in activities that require strength like opening a jar; actions like squeezing a toy or playing in putty or playdough are great ways to develop these muscles. The skilled side of the hand is what we use when we engage in activities that require refined movements like writing, tying, or fastening a button. To develop these muscles we must engage in activities that predominantly require the use of the thumb and first two or three fingers; actions like winding the small knob on a wind up toy, using the first fingers to grab, grasp or manipulate objects, and using one finger to push a button or lever are all great ways to develop these muscle. The development of the separation of the two sides of the hands is important for academic and self care tasks.
Hallmarks of this stage of fine motor skill development include the skilled coordination between the two sides of the body and a mature pencil grasp. Games like Froggy Feeding Fun and activities with Wikki Stix or Playdough are still great but now activities that require refined skill can also be introduced.
Choosing activities that are developmentally appropriate will ensure not only engagement but will also promote continued fine motor skill development.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!