Occupational therapists like to encourage children of all ages to move their bodies, especially their hands and fingers. Without realizing it, children can work on a range of skills in a fun and natural way.
Some of the benefits include:
- body awareness and visual spatial awareness – proprioceptive feedback to muscles, skin and joints, position in space, left / right consciousness, bilateral coordination, eye / hand coordination
How far is my arm from me?
How far are the others?
How far can my fingers move?
In which direction can they move?
Can my left side move independently to my right?
Can they move simultaneously?
Can the left arm and leg move together?
Can my left arm and right leg move together?
Can I move my arm over my body?
Can I fix my eyes on moving body parts?
Can I work all these movements with my eyes closed?
- motor planning – connect the brain to the body in what the body does, speed, sequence, coordination
Can I order to organize my body to perform certain steps and sequences?
Can I coordinate them with a verbal instruction or a song?
Can I do this by copying someone else?
Can I follow a group?
- sequencing and memory – linked to engine planning, it considers how the steps are ordered and stored
Can I do the steps in the order in which I am supposed to do it?
Can I remember the streak by myself?
Can I remember after the modeling stopped, the next day or next week?
Do I need verbal and visual prompts to help me remember? Do I need someone to help me physically organize my body?
- fine motor movements – Isolated or coordinated movements, development
Can fingers move individually or together?
Can some fingers be hidden?
Can I develop the arches of my hand?
Can my thumb be in opposition?
Can I move, move my fingers without looking at them?
1. Finger Rhymes and Songs. I loved singing with my kids when they were babies, toddlers and preschoolers. I was accused of being a “musical work that works” because I would randomly put in the song. I know it doesn’t come naturally to a lot of new parents and you don’t have to be a great singer, but I think it’s extremely important. Nursery rhymes and songs, especially in the early years … in addition to all of the things I mentioned above … can help bond and connect between parent and child, language development, cognitive concepts (such as learning numbers, forms and letters).
For Telehealth OT, you can sing and model the actions for your child. You can also play a song via a platform like Spotify to let you sing and do the actions. I’ve gathered some of my favorites so you can play on your own devices or share with your families. Let me know if you want me to demonstrate some of these rhymes and songs!
Read and print —> 42 favorite nursery rhymes and songs.
Spotify Playlist —> YKOT Spotify Action Songs
Lot of preschool rhymes —>YKOT shop Preschool Rhyme Printable Bundle.
Hand and body movements when singing are not limited to small children. Older children may want to compose their own dance or movement to music or use their bodies to make music. There are many great You-tube videos that encourage movement. Learn more —> Brain breaks for children.
The2. Heavy work for little fingers. It was a series of finger movements that I gathered a few years ago to help prepare the fingers for fine motor activities or handwriting. These movements include:
- Fingers grow
- Thumb Wars
- Finger Tip Touch
- Pinch and pull
- Piano Press
- Dancing fingers
For Telehealth OT, you can model these actions so that your child copies them. You can also share the pdf on a screen share or send it by e-mail to your families to print it.
Watch —> Heavy work for Little Finger You-tube Video.
Learn more —>Heavy work for little fingers.
Printable version —> YKOT Shop Heavy Work for Little Fingers printable.
3. Spin the wheel: This wheel was created at Decide the wheel and I entered a series of bodily movements. My goal is to cross the middle line and I can share it via my “screen sharing” function on my telehealth platform (Coviu). I turn the child’s wheel on my screen, I read the action and the child can perform the action. Sometimes I need to model the action or the parent / guardian can also help the child. For older children, I incorporate two or three movements in a sequence to remember and execute.
Note: if you read this in my newsletter, you will have to go to my websiyou to access the wheel (click on the small logo decide the wheel at the bottom right and this will take you to see the wheel on its own page).
You may prefer not to use the wheel but to perform a series of “Simon said” movements or your own motor diagrams to copy. Children will also love creating motor patterns to copy.
Watch —>Play the You-Tube Wheel video.
During OT telehealth, I share the you-tube video on my screen and we watch the steps together. I often need to pause the video and give my own even slower version of the steps to be copied by my OT child. It is a very good way to work on motor planning, bilateral coordination and memory in particular!
5. Finger aerobics.
I created this simple page of colored dots which I use for “finger aerobics”. You can create one yourself or download my version for free —->Printable free finger aerobics.
I used it to encourage positioning of the wrist (flat on the table), pointing with the index finger while folding the other fingers, crossing the center line, visual memory and various finger movements. This requires good visual attention and you can adapt it to be as hard or as easy as you want.
This printable page could also be used with small manipulatives like coins, tassels, plasticine, buttons! You can ask your child to place them on certain colors, to move them as a group. keep a few in their hand while they drop one at a time.
Watch —> Finger Aerobics You Tube Video
Let me know what your favorite hand and finger games are!