“Green” therapy ideas for recess!

Recess has been a frequent topic of late in the literature, and nearly everyone can agree that recess is important to child development and school participation. Recess can be an excellent time for children to practice the skills they have been learning in therapy. Physical activity, problem solving, social interaction, sensory input, the possibilities are endless!

Here are some fun ideas to encourage students to use what they have learned in OT, PT, and Speech, or to re-energize an end of year therapy session. As an added bonus, all of these activities have a “green” component!

Bubble snakes – This is a great way to reuse those water bottles (and old socks!) and provide students with oral motor input!

Snake bubbles!

Fizzy sidewalk chalk – Made of safe ingredients you may already own, students can draw a hopscotch pattern, obstacle course, road to travel, or letter and shapes. A great way to practice gross and fine motor skills outside in a social way, this activity is even more fun when the squirt bottle is added to create the fizz!

I Spy – Update this game with an old pair or sunglasses, or reuse the disposable 3d glasses from the movie theater. Take the lenses out, and whoever is wearing them needs to follow the clues provided by his peers to find the secret item!


Local Pediatric Conference – Next Week!

Next Thursday, May 2, Nemours/DuPont Hospital will be hosting a day long conference. Presenters will include physical and occupational therapists, including Debbie Thorpe, and Jane Case-Smith, and topics will include Adaptive Fitness and Recreation, Vision and Concussion, and Re-entry to School Following Brain Injury.

The deadline to register is tomorrow, April 26th. It is $140 for professionals, and offers PTs .675 CEUs (pending). Check it out and register here!

Happy Earth Day!

Today is Earth Day! Holidays are excellent for adding a little fun to any therapy session. Here are some resources for ideas and materials for incorporating a little “green” into your therapy week!

Speech and Language Therapy
A speech therapist at the blog, Speech Room News, has collected a number of free, Earth Day activities here. She provides a short description and photo of each. Several of these activities address fine and visual motor skills as well.
Another free Earth Day activity packet can be found through Crazy Speech Therapy’s Teachers Pay Teachers store. (Blog, store
Barnes & Noble has compiled a list of Earth Day books for children – link.

Occupational Therapy
Ripping paper, including junk mail – A great activity for hand strengthening and a heavy work break. Sorting times for recycling – Can address many areas of performance, including vocational skills and following directions
Folding donated clothing – Self care, sequencing, and so much more!
Also, check out some of the Earth Day worksheet ideas an SLP has listed here, there are a few craft and handwriting activities on her list!

Physical Therapy
Reusing materials is a great way to celebrate Earth Day! These two bloggers (links here and here) repurposed cans and cardboard boxes to create a large version of the popular game Angry Birds.
Also, many schools have, or are building gardens, on their campuses. Gardening is a great opportunity to address many areas of physical performance, and can support students working on navigating terrain safely, building activity tolerance, and strengthening core muscles.

What are your favorite Earth Day activities? Do you have a favorite book, craft, or game that is appropriate to the holiday? Can you think of a “tried and true” therapy activity that could be made a little greener?

Accessibility App and Website


AbleRoad is a free website and app (available for both Android and Apple devices) that is designed to help persons with disabilities, including physical, cognitive and visual/hearing disabilities, access the community.

The positives:


Able to search/sort by type of business and type of disability.

Client-focused – reviews are written by users.

Easy to review with star scale.

Yelp! reviews are included with the businesses included in the app/website.

The negatives:

I searched for businesses near Conshohocken, PA, and came up with a number of businesses, but no AbleRoad reviews. AbleRoad is an app that relies on “crowdsourcing”, or public input, to enhance the information included in the app. This is a relatively new app, and so as more people use it and contribute, the more effective a resource it will be.

Overall, AbleRoad could potentially be an extremely valuable resource for our students and their families, as well as classes that go out into the community. Therapists can help spread awareness of the app and website, and support this useful project!

New advances in AAC voices

This story from NPR, discusses the work being done by a Northeastern University speech scientist. Rupal Patel is working to create more representative, individualized Text-to-Speech output for assistive technology users. There are examples of this more personalized voice that you can hear in the NPR story. More information about Dr. Patel and the Communication Analysis and Design Laboratory can be found on their website. The research project is called VocaliD, and Tim Bunnell from A.I. duPont Hospital for Children is listed as a collaborator, which may be an awesome opportunity for local students who use Text-to-Speech technology!

The Importance of Feedback

As therapists, we are constantly providing our clients with feedback, whether it is cuing a student for form when engaged in exercise, or helping a teacher incorporate a visual cue for a student’s targeted sound. An article published on the New York Times website, titled “You’ve Been Doing a Fantastic Job. Just One Thing …”, discusses recent research regarding how to be more effective with feedback. Most people use a “sandwich” method, where the critique is presented following a positive remark, and is followed by another positive comment. However, the researchers found that the recipient of the critique would not necessarily perceive that improvements were needed. What was found to be more effective was providing specific, unemotional, feedback. The article also talked about a technique utilized by Pixar employees called “plussing,” when suggestions were added to a positive remark, using non-judgmental language, such as “and” and “what if”, instead of “but.” It can be difficult to provide, or receive feedback, but by keeping our guidance specific and praise appropriate, we can continue moving towards the goal of improving ourselves and our students.

Celebrate April – OT and Autism Awareness Month – with free CEUs!

Autism awareness ribbon. The puzzle pattern re...
Autism awareness ribbon. The puzzle pattern reflects complexity and different colour and shape represent diversity among people with the condition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Until April 30, 2013, there is a free 1 hour, CEU course being offered at TodayinOT.com! The course is titled “Sensory Processing in Autism”, and is available here.

For physical therapists, TodayinPT.com is currently offering two free CEU courses, Working with an Interprofessional Team and Interpreting Statistical Reports of Tests and Measurements. Both free offers expire May 13th of this year.

And for SLPs! There is a new course available at LinguiSystems, titled Intervention Programming for Nonverbal Children – also free! Check it out here.