Southpaw Enterprises
PawprintJuly 2011
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Loopy Island from Southpaw

Loopy Island  

This stand-alone ball game is lots of fun for your clients to play while they enhance their eye/hand coordination and tracking skills. Drop a colorful weighted ball into the hole at the top of the Island and watch it as it moves down and around through the transparent hose, offering noise and vibration as it moves along. Vertical section fits snugly into its oval base.

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Portable Itinerant Frame

Portable Itinerant Frame
Using the lightest, strongest material available, our Itinerant (ITN) Frame will fit in almost any area giving "on the go" therapists the first real portable suspension system on the market.

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Bubbles, Bubbles, EverywhereDeanna Maciole
Deanna Macioce, MS, OTR/L

Bubbles are an activity enjoyed by children of all ages.  In infancy, it is recommended as a great way to introduce visual skills and interaction between parent and child, but as you move along the growth span, bubbles can be used as a great simple outdoor play activity for toddlers and older children.  However, when you really take the time to fully examine the task of bubbles and different ways that they can be used, you can see why they make such a wonderful therapeutic activity.  Bubbles are not only an ideal way to address oral motor skills, but can be used for working on visual, fine, and gross motor skills, as well as core stability and bilateral coordination skills.  They are also a wonderful activity because they are quite simple; little equipment and cost, as well as you can take them just about anywhere.
As a therapeutic activity, bubbles are most obviously used as an oral motor activity because they work on blowing and mouth skills.  Addressing lip closure, oral motor musculature, and respiration skills, bubbles are great for those children who have oral dyspraxia.  For those who struggle with blowing from the wand, it works good to have an adult blow the bubbles, catch one on the wand, and then allow the child to blow it from there.  Once they are able to blow on their own, trying to catch the bubbles themselves helps with visual skills, as well as motor planning.  In addition, there are a variety of blowing apparatuses available on the market, both in stores and in therapeutic catalogs. Although we tell our children not to blow bubbles in their milk, spice up the oral motor activity by filling a large bowl with water and a small amount of liquid soap. and using a straw, have the child to blow into the bowl (be cautious that they don't suck in) and an avalanche of bubbles will appear.

Visually, bubbles help to address visual scanning skills.  As children try to use their eyes to follow the flying bubbles they are strengthening the coordination of their eyes, as well as improving their abilities to focus.  In addition, when a child blows from the wand themselves have them use their eyes to focus on the wand and watch as the bubble forms.

Once the bubbles are off and flying, having a child chase to pop the bubbles works on overall body coordination and gross motor skills.  Using their feet to stomp on the bubbles is a great way to add in the lower extremities, and the Gazillion Bump n Go Bubble Bug is an excellent toy on the market that keeps the bubbles low to the ground to work on this.  Shoulder, trunk and overall core stability can definitely be addressed with how you position your child.  If you have the child sit on a small chair, t-stool, or therapy ball and reach using an isolated index finger to pop the bubbles, you will be able to work on the key areas needed for fine motor activities, especially writing and scissor skills. Instead of using just an isolated index finger, having children use both hands to clap and pop the bubbles helps to pull in bilateral coordination skills.  Have them focus on keeping stability in the shoulders and elbows and this will help to strengthen the muscles of these areas, as well as allow them to have both hands meet up together.

For children with sensory processing concerns, as well as spectrum disorders, bubble activities are used as a way to encourage interaction and try imitative play.  And we can't forget that bubbles can also be used as way to work on attention and focus.  For children who are able to perform bubble blowing on their own, having them blow bubbles before table top work is a great way to get them to calm, settle and be ready to focus.

Please note that there are various ways to be creative with bubbles found in many of the resources on activities for sensory processing disorder, so take some time to explore all the fun that bubbles can bring to your home or therapy sessions. Therefore, when you are looking for an activity that can be adapted in a variety of ways, you don't have to look too far.