It's absolutely true! In addition to the many blessings Liam bestowed upon our family, he also expanded my thinking. I now find myself thinking in terms of fine motor skills, gross motor skills, expressive language, and receptive language. I research early childhood development topics and therapy ideas. So much more knowledge has come from his diagnosis!
I love to do activities with my kids and encourage learning in our home, but I've definitely been doing more since Liam was born. Whenever I decide to do an activity, I try to think of all the ways it will benefit him. Surprisingly, almost anything can become a therapy tool!
As many of you know, Liam receives Early Intervention services in our home. Every week, he gets an hour of occupational therapy, an hour of speech therapy, and an hour of physical therapy. He's truly doing fantastic, and is right on track with milestones and development!
Although I'll save it for another post, Liam just had his yearly Early Intervention evaluation and almost didn't qualify for OT anymore. The only thing that gave him a qualifying score was the fact that he didn't complete three tasks that he knows how to do during testing. Liam's amazing OT, whom we adore, said he reached all his goals, so now we're just going to refine his skills by making his tasks more difficult.
It was time to get creative!
After discussing ways to make Liam's therapy activities more difficult, I got to work creating fine motor Busy Bags using common, inexpensive household items. These Busy Bags are perfect for Liam's developing skills, but also perfect for keeping Lily occupied!
Almost every Busy Bag featured has multiple activities for different skill levels. They work so well for our family. Lily can keep busy doing the more advanced activities, while Liam develops his skills! Even Dylan and Lexie, my BIG kids, had fun with a few of these!
Crazy Loop Straw Threading Busy Bag
- Crazy Loop Straws
- Foam Beads
Have your child thread the foam beads onto the crazy loop straw. Bonus activities: Sort the beads into colors, sort the beads into shapes, and/or make a tower with them.
Pool Noodle Stringing and Stacking Busy Bag
- Pool noodle (Slice into 1 inch-2 inch pieces. Trust me, it's easy!)
- Piece of rope (Tie a large knot in one end.)
Have your child string the pool noodle pieces onto the rope or stack the pool noodles as high as he/she possibly can! This probably goes without saying, but always supervise your child while they're using the rope.
Straw Drop Busy Bag
- Small container with a lid (Punch a hole in the lid with a large screwdriver.)
- Plastic Straws cut into 2 inch segments
Have your child put the straws into the cup through the hole in the lid. For older children, make it more challenging by timing them!
Sponge Blocks Busy Bag
- Sponges cut into squares, rectangles, and triangles
Have fun building with sponge blocks! My kids LOVE this one! Have your child create a tower with the sponge blocks. Afterward, they can sort the blocks by color, then by shape.
Playdoh Busy Bag
- Small container of Playdoh
- Straws cut into 3 inch segments
Kneading Playdoh is great for strengthening the muscles in the hands! After a few minutes of kneading, place the straws in the Playdoh. Advanced activities: Create animals with the straws, create patterns using the straws, or write letters in the Playdoh by poking it with a straw. *We used dry pasta in the past for this, but I was afraid it would get crushed while being stored.
Wiffle Ball/Golf Ball Threading Busy Bag
- Wiffle Balls or plastic golf balls
- Pipe Cleaners
Have your child thread the pipe cleaners through the wiffle ball/golf ball. Advanced Activity: Make shapes by connecting the balls together using the pipe cleaners.
Paperclip Numbers Busy Bag
- Flashcards (punch a hole through the bottom corner of each card)
There are so many activities to do with this busy bag for all skill levels!
- Pick a flashcard and place that number of paperclips on top of the card.
- Count out the number shown on a flashcard using the paperclips and clip them to the card.
- Sort the paperclips by color.
- Make a bracelet by linking the paperclips together!
All of the busy bags can be easily stored in plastic storage bags and placed in a storage crate. We keep all of our Busy Bag Binders and crates on a shelf in the hallway, within easy reach. Saying "I'm bored!" is not allowed!
Lily and Liam are having so much fun with the fine motor busy bags that they don't even realize they're developing skills!
What are your favorite fine motor activities?
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