It’s Turkey Time!

The holidays present many wonderful opportunities for learning. In the spirit of Thanksgiving we’re busy incorporating turkeys into our sessions giving the children ways to work on their speech and fine motor, along with other skills in their time with us.

We have different variations turkeys hanging out with us this month. We’re talking about colors that we want our turkeys to be, how long their legs should be, what shapes we are using, how we should attach the various pieces of the turkeys together, and so on.

For our first turkey we used half of a paper plate, tissue paper squares, a construction paper circle, and construction paper for the beak and giblet. Depending on the age of the kiddo and the skill set that they have, we’ll let them cut out the different pieces needed; such as cutting the plate in half, the tissue paper into squares, and the construction paper into the shapes needed for the head, beak and giblet.

For our second turkey we used half a paper plate, construction paper for the body, head, eyes, beak, giblet and legs. We colored the feathers onto the edges of the plate, and glued the various body parts of the turkey to the plate. We worked on our folding skills with giving the legs a little dimension, and cut the ends for feet.

Both of these activities are really easy to do with the kiddos with only a minimal mess to clean up at the end, and covers speech, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, decision making, and creativity.

Skills Addressed with Carving a Pumpkin

Carving a pumpkin creates a great way for children to work on their occupational, physical, and speech-language skills through the use of a fun task right at home. Skills including gross motor, fine motor, visual motor, speech, social skills, decision making, bilateral coordination, imagination and creativity are all skills that are used while carving a pumpkin.

Choosing a pumpkin creates an opportunity for a child to use their decision making skills and their social skills. If they are given the opportunity to choose a pumpkin on their own it creates an environment where they not only will have to weigh the options of which pumpkin to pick, but they will also be using their independence to pick out their pumpkin, and to be confident in their selection. Picking out a pumpkin also allows you (or others) to have a conversation with your child to get them speaking. Language such as “shall we get the big pumpkin or the little pumpkin?” and, “Which one do you want?” gives children the opportunity to interact and describe which size and look of pumpkin they would like.  They are also given the chance to use their gross motor skills through this process by picking up pumpkins, pushing them around, and carrying them to the car.

After a child has made the decision on which pumpkin they would like to carve, they need to clean out the inside of the pumpkin. Tactile input can be incorporated by using their hands to clean out the pumpkin, as the guts are cold and squishy. Then bilateral skills and upper body strength can be incorporated by holding the pumpkin with one hand and using a spoon to scrape with the other hand. You can incorporate speech by asking them to describe how the insides of the pumpkin feel to them. Do they feel slimy or squishy? Are they cold or warm?

Fine motor skills are incorporated when drawing on the pumpkin to decide where to cut out for the eyes, nose and mouth. This also is another opportunity for the child to use their imagination and creativity, along with decision making. Depending on the age of a child you might want to do the cutting yourself and let them watch, but overall the end result will be that your child put to use many of their skills to get to the end point of carving a pumpkin, and they can be proud of the results too! 

It's Time to Play!

Summertime has started, and as the days become longer, the amount of activities that children are involved in become greater. From baseball to summer camps and classes, children are often times rushed from one activity to the next in an attempt to help them learn skills that are necessary for their development. However, in the midst of going from one activity to the next, children become stressed out and end up disengaged in the activities that they are immersed in due to the lack of downtime or free play that they are allowed.

Studies show that free play is the best possible way for children to grow and gain skills that are necessary for their development. It allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive and emotional strength. As a result of this, free play is very important at aiding in healthy brain development.

There are many things that children can learn through free play. The advantages of it certainly outweigh any disadvantage to free play that might be present.
  • Social Skills – When a child is engaged in free play, they often times will seek out other children to engage with them. They might turn the playground into a castle, and one child will be the king, and the other the queen. Through this process they will be acquiring the abilities to make decisions, collaborate, cooperate with others, control impulses and empathize.
  • Virtues – Sometimes while playing a child might run into issues with their puzzle piece not fitting the way they would like it to, or their stack of blocks might keep tumbling down. It is through these experiences that children learn perseverance, patience, temperance, contentment, persistence, and the list continues on.
  • Physical Development - Through free play a child is learning how to do things without being told how. Just like when your child learned to crawl and walk, free play allows him the chance to try new things. A great place to do this is at the playground and let them climb. This allows him to build their strength, coordination, a sense of body awareness in space and competence.
  • Self-Discovery – Free play gives kids the time that they need to be kids. They can write, think, build, draw, figure out what they like and don’t like, dream and most of all, use their imagination.
There are many ways that you can allow your child to have free play to learn and grow. Have playdates with other children, go to the park or spend time in your sandbox in your backyard, provide your child with a dress up box filled with costumes and props and let them pretend to be adults. Have a box filled with objects such as paper towel rolls, plastic bottles, scraps of yarn, fabric and paper and allow your child to build things with no pressure to have any sort of required end result. Encourage them to tell stories and sing songs and most importantly of all, allow your child to do what they do best, be a kid.

More resources on free play:

The Importance of Timers

A timer can be an important tool for success with daily activities and routines for children of all ages. A visual timer helps children understand the concept of time by allowing them to see the movement of time. This can be a good motivator as it allows a child to visually see an end to an activity or how long they must wait for a preferred activity. It can also assist with smooth transitions so the child knows when to expect a change in routine.

There are a variety of visual timer apps available for both apple and android products, which have an option for alarm sounds and the ability to choose the time duration. Some of these include: 

App TitleDeveloperPriceDescription
FlipsTimer.png AndroidFlip's TimerSpark DeveloperFree  Time elapses visually on 
a circular picture.
TimeTimer.png AndroidTime TimerTime Timer LLC$1.99  Shows elapsed time
on analog clock.
EasyKidTimer.png$1.00Shows elapsed time on 
analog clock. Customizable 
with ability to import 
pictures and descriptions.
KidsTimer.png AndroidKids TimerSkywiseFreeTime elapses visually on
a circular picture. Option
for visual to move 
 Children's Countdown.pngAppleChildren's Countdown - 
Visual countdown
timer for preschoolers
Fehners Software LLPFreeTimer uncovers a picture
as it counts down. Optional 
sound. Up to 60 
minutes of time
 kidscountdown.png AppleKids Countdown - 
Visual timer for preschool 
Idea4eFreeTimer uncovers picture as 
it counts down. 
Optional Sound
 ASDTools.pngAppleASD ToolsChestnut AppsFreeTimer shows digital and visual countdown. 
Able to select 
from  picture library or 
import your own picture.  
 TimeTimer.pngAppleTime TimerTime Timer LLC$2.99 iPhone, 
$4.99 iPad
Shows elapsed time on 
analog clock.
 Timer+TouchHD.png AppleTimer+ Touch HDSix Axis LLC$1.99Time elapses visually
on a circular 
clock-like picture

If you have any questions about these apps, or any other ways that the therapists at Pediatric Therapy Partners can help your child, please visit our website at

Tummy Time and Why it is Important

Tummy time is influential with helping your child develop the muscles they need for physical development in their early years. The American Academy of Pediatrics endorses tummy time, and has stated that it is important for infants to spend time on their tummy in short increments throughout the day since they spend so much time on their backs.

Infants need time on their tummy while they are awake to strengthen their head, neck and upper body muscles. Tummy time helps to build the strength and coordination that infants need to roll over, crawl, and reach for things. Tummy time is beneficial for all infants, including newborns. Although the length of time for tummy time for newborns is much shorter than for babies that are 3-6 months of age.

The benefits of tummy time continue beyond strengthening muscles. Tummy time also helps to reduce the risk of positional plagiocephaly, which is also known as flattened head. An infant’s skull is made up of several separate bones that eventually fuse together, but in infancy they allow for the child’s brain to grow. If an infant is spending a lot of time lying on their back, they are susceptible to having their head be molded into a flat shape. Infants that have a flat spot on their heads sometimes have to put more work into moving their head in certain directions, depending on where the flattening is, which causes them to use their muscles incorrectly and it can hinder their development and affect them their entire life. Cassandra Borlaug, MS, OTR/L from PTP notes that “Not only is tummy time important for a child's motor development, but also sensory and cognitive development. Tummy time promotes a better understanding of a child's position in space and body awareness, exposure to a variety of textures, movement of the head and body, and ability to see and look around.”

Sharon Drewlo, BS, OTR/L from PTP highlights that there are reasons other than gaining motor skills that it is important to engage in tummy time.  “Your baby is also getting exposed to tactile stimulation to the front side of her body when doing tummy time.  Instead of looking up at the ceiling when lying on her back, your baby can work on developing near point vision when on her tummy and gain a different visual reference to the world around her.” 

It is easy to incorporate tummy time into your everyday routine, especially if you start when your infant is a newborn. For newborns start with placing them on their tummy in your lap for a minute or two, or place them on your stomach or chest while you are awake and in a reclined position on a chair, bed, or the floor.
As they get to be older and more active, babies can be placed on their tummy on a blanket on the floor starting with short intervals of 2-3 minutes at a time and work up to at least 20 minutes of tummy time per day. Be sure to pay attention that your baby is not getting tired or resting their face while engaging in tummy time. You can also encourage your baby to move and interact with you by holding toys or by placing a mirror in front of them to get their attention, which will encourage them to lift their head and reach for things.

If you are worried that your baby is not properly developing and reaching their developmental milestones, give our sister company Early Intervention Partners a call to set up a free screening.

For more information on establishing tummy time, check out the following resources.

Winter Olympics and Learning

The Winter Olympics are only a couple weeks away! The Olympics are the perfect time to teach kids about all kinds of things. Not only can we teach them about parts of the world that are different from where we live, but we can also teach them about all of the different sports and the science and dedication that is involved with the preparation for each sport. We all have our favorite Olympic sports that we enjoy watching for both the summer and the winter Olympics and we can use those favorite sports as education tools for kids.

Starting with the location of the Olympics, kids can learn about the cultural aspects of where the Olympics are being hosted. This year the Olympics are held for the first time in Russia, in the host city of Sochi. Sochi has a population of 400,000 people and it is situated in Krasnodar, which is the third largest region of Russia.  The Opening Ceremony for the Olympics provides a glimpse into the culture of the location through the use of dance and other cultural aspects that are integrated into the ceremony.  Another part of the opening ceremony that is discussion worthy with kids is the parade of nations. You can discuss with kids beforehand different countries to look out for during the parade of nations, and turn it into a game. A possibility here is playing Flags of the World Bingo, where each of the kids has a card then when the flags go by the can mark it off on their bingo card.

When it comes to the actually events of the Olympics, you can talk through them with your child and help them to understand the rules of the different events. You can then help your child keep score of which country is in the lead to win the medals in each of their favorite events. You can even incorporate using motor skills by having your child write out the score board to keep track.

For more ideas on how to incorporate learning into watching the Winter Olympics, head on over to our Pinterest page to see ideas from books to read, games to play, and other fun activities for kids that are all Olympic themed. 

New Year's Resolutions

Does your family make a point to have New Year’s resolutions each year? The beginning of a year can be a great time to revisit old goals and create new goals that can help children to grow in various different ways; much like the goals that kiddos in therapy have. Here are some tips on how you and your child can create New Year’s resolutions that are kid friendly.

  • Talk with your child and discuss what goals they might like to achieve. For some kids, they might want to improve their reading skills and would like to have a goal of reading one book or chapter a day or trying new foods, but for others their goals might be a physical accomplishment that they would like to achieve. Remember to start with small goals so children won’t be overwhelmed by the aspect of working towards achieving their goal.
  • Have your child choose and write their goal down and post it somewhere that it is visible. Hang it on the fridge, or in another location where it will be looked at daily.
  • Be supportive and encouraging of your child’s effort to accomplish their goal. If they miss a day or two, tell them that is alright and that they can still work towards accomplishing their goal. Tell them how great you think they are doing, and set up some sort of reward for when they reach their goal.
  • Set resolutions for yourself and post them next to your child’s. This can be a conversation point by being able to discuss with your child what is working to achieve the goals and what isn't working, as well as how you and your child are feeling about the goals that have been set. By doing this you are also helping your child learn to keep someone else accountable.  
By setting New Year's resolutions with your children, not only will it give them something to work forward to, but it will also give them the opportunity to build valuable life skills. Are you unsure if the goals your child picked out are good goals for them to have, or are looking for some suggestions of goals? Talk with your child's therapist at PTP to see what they might recommend for your child.