Language Apps for the IPad

IPads can be a very motivating way to work on some communication skills with your preschooler.  If you have access to an IPad at home, these are just a few suggestions for apps you might try:

 

  • My Playhome: can be used for expressive language by having your child talk about/answer questions about/describe what is happening in the picture or can be used for following directions by asking your child to do specific things within the scene

 

  • Fun with Directions-Lite: a motivating format to follow various directions such as “touch an animal you can ride” or “give the girl something to sleep on”

 

  • Kindergarten.com: offers a variety of apps that target specific concepts such as:

            * Actions

            * What Doesn’t Belong

            * What Goes Together

            * Animals

            * Class (i.e.Which one is a kitchen item)

           * Nouns (i.e. show me the lettuce)

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Fun Hand Strengthening Activities

Fun Hand Strengthening Activities for Preschoolers

One of the best ways we can prepare our preschoolers for fine motor success is to make sure they have adequate strength in their hands. Sufficient hand strength is one of most important foundational elements to developing proper grasping pattern for coloring, utencil use, writing etc. So, I have included a list below of fun ways you can “trick” your little one into strengthening their hands!

Almost all types of arts and crafts type activities as well as playtime with small and/or resistive manipulatives will work to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the hand.
Here are some ideas:

  • Spray bottles : clean chalk board, water plants, squirt ping pong ball off golf tees, spray colored water into snow, melt ice cubes with spray bottles in sensory table (you can freeze small plastic items such as bugs in ice cubes to make it more fun!)
  • Rip Paper: tear construction or newspaper into strips for paper mache projects, or small piece for mosaic or art project
  • Pinching tissue paper: small square of tissue paper can be pinched and glued onto picture to make 3-D artwork.
  • Crumple paper into balls: using whole hand, make “snowball”, or crumple into ball to throw at a target or in trash can (start with 2 hands for crumpling , progress to using only 1 hand at a time to crumple)
  • Tweezers / Tongs: pick up and sort small items such as mini erasers or pompoms into ice trays
  • Clothespins: use to pick up and transfer small objects such as pompoms or cotton balls; hang up items such as artwork or mittens along a clothesline weight string
  • Coins/Buttons: practice flipping coins or buttons over (without moving to edge of table); feed coins, poker chips or buttons into piggybanks or slots
  • Resistives: theraputty, clay, playdoh: Hide small items such as beads or coins and retrieve; roll into small balls (using finger tips ideally) then squish the “grapes” using thumb and index finger; encourage pinching, rolling, squeezing and pulling apart
  • Animal walk races: weight bearing on the hands is another great way to promote proximal stability and strengthen the hands. crawl like a bear or a crab, squirm like a snake or jump like a frog.

In addition to direct hand strengthening activities, it is also helpful to provide lots of opportunities for play/work on vertical or angled surfaces. The vertical surface work helps to develop wrist extension and promotes optimal positioning for thumb/finger opposition which are both important for proper fine motor development.

Some vertical surface ideas:

  • Make pictures using small stickers
  • Chalkboard work – use chunky chalk or small piece of regular chalk, or “paint” with water
  • Felt board with moveable piece to make a story/picture
  • Wooden puzzles
  • Magnadoodle
  • Light bright

Supporting Language at Home Through Books

Reading preschool age books to your children is a great way to support language growth! Here are some ideas for what you can do while reading age appropriate stories:

– ask basic wh-questions about the story such as “What is the girl/boy doing?”, “Where is he/she going” and even higher level questions such as “How do you think he/she feels?”, “Why do you think he/she is ____?”

– have the child identify (point to) certain vocabulary (pictures in the story) and label (ex: “What is this?”)

– after the story have the child tell 2-3 events that happened in the book

– sequence the events (ex: first he/she did ___, then he/she did  ___)

If you can find ways to incorporate books into your everyday routine here are some great age appropriate stories to read:

Predictable Books (those that are repetitive and easy for children to figure out what comes next)

– Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See

– Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

– The Very Hungry Caterpillar

– Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear

– Good Night Moon

– 5 Little Pumpkins

– The Napping House

– Where’s Spot?

Story Books (stories that have a more detailed plot)

– Where the Wild Things Are

– Peter’s Chair

– The Snowy Day

– If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

– Rainbow Fish

-The Mitten

– Corduroy

– Caps for Sale

– The Cat in the Hat

– Are you my Mother?

Why Should I Stop My Child From W Sitting?

 

What is W Sitting?

W sitting is a position in which a child sits with their bottom on the floor, knees bent and legs splayed outward.    

Why should W Sitting be discouraged?

The W sitting position may be very obvious, but it can also present subtly.  At first glance it may appear that the child is sitting on their legs, but a closer look can reveal that they are actually W sitting with their bottom on the floor and legs bent back on either side.  Sitting in general requires activation of the core muscles (muscles of the back, abdomen, and hips).  W sitting is a stable position requiring little effort.  This sounds like a good thing, right?  Actually it is not.  It is important for children to use their core muscles when sitting to build the strength necessary for developing gross motor skills and the postural control to sit upright without becoming fatigued.  W sitting is often a compensatory mechanism for weak muscles and decreased stability.  Poor core strength and stability can impact coordination, fine motor skills including handwriting, visual perceptual skills, as well as the ability to smoothly and effectively use ones eyes when reading, writing, and looking at the board.  This position also places undue stress on the joints of the hip and knee which can over stretch the tendons and ligaments at the joint.  Think of W sitting as a locked position that restricts mobility and is a lost opportunity for building the endurance and strength of the muscles vital for smooth, coordinated and effortless movement.  It should be noted that in some cases a child may W sit due to orthopedic issues.

What can I do?

In the short term encourage your child to sit in alternative positions.  These can include long sitting (legs out stretched in front), tailor sitting (crisscross), heel sitting (making sure feet are tucked under bottom and that bottom is not resting on floor), side sitting, high kneeling and half kneeling play to name a few.  If your child has difficulty sitting on the floor in these alternate positions due to decreased core strength, try placing them in sitting with their back supported against a wall, sofa etc. to provide some additional support.   To address W sitting in the long term it is critical to address and build their core strength and stability.  Core strengthening can be done through fun activities so that the child will not realize they are “exercising”.  It is important for the child to enjoy the strengthening activities in order to participate long enough to gain the benefits from the task.  Please refer to my previous post from March 2013 titled Core Strengthening Activities for a list of fun home activities.  It should be noted that occasional W sitting is not cause for alarm, it is when a child’s preferred sitting position is in the W position that it should be addressed.