Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top posts of 2014

First off, I'd like to express a HUGE thank you to everyone who stops by my little blog and shares in this journey with me. While I'm not always the most consistent blogger, I truly love the blogging community and enjoy all of the experiences and opportunities that this blog has given to me over the past three years.

So, let's get to it! This list is a bit of a "greatest hits of 2014" for my blog. If you are a new reader, this is a great place to start. For my faithful followers, maybe you'll find a post that slipped by you or that you forgot about. Enjoy!

Top Posts Written in 2014:

 

8.  OT Approved Toy: 7 Etsy Shops for OT Approved Toys | Apparently I'm not the only Etsy lover out there. Yay for shopping small!

7.  OT Student Corner: The Difference between COTA and OTR | I receive a lot of questions from students and prospective students, and this is one that comes up a lot! Based on the number of views, it's a very common question!

6.  Celebrating OT Month: Books Written by OTs | OTs are a creative bunch and I love highlighting their work. I did several roundups to celebrate OT Month in April, including this one on books. 

5.  Favorite Summer Activity: Ice Cube Painting | This was my contribution to a summer blog hop hosted by the Inspired Treehouse. A bit cold for this activity right now, so maybe pin it for next summer.

4.  Workplace Wednesday: Last Minute Cancellations | I didn't really write anything groundbreaking in this post, but this is clearly a problem that lots of OTs are interested in figuring out.

3.  Celebrating OT Month: 8 Awesome OT Blogs | I couldn't do this blogging thing without the awesome community of OT bloggers. I'm so happy that this was a popular post this year.

2.  #OTLifeHack |  In July, AOTA ran a social media campaign to showcase modifications that OTs use, aka OT Life Hacks. I was so excited about this that I dug out photos from my archives and put together a post of my favorite OT Life Hacks.

1.  Celebrating OT Month: Apps Developed by OTs | Like I said earlier, I love celebrating the work of OTs. I also love checking out new apps, so this was a great fit for me. And the readers loved it, too! This was my most popular post of the year!

Top App Reviews:

This year I got around to updating my iPad apps page (which continues to be the most popular page on my blog) and sharing more apps. Here are the top five app reviews of the year. Interestingly, these might also be my five favorite apps that I reviewed this year :)

5.  Visual Attention Therapy
4.  Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame
3.  Awesome Eats
2.  Drawnimal
1.  Rush Hour {+Chocolate Fix} from ThinkFun

Top Toy Posts:

My new toy page was a hit with the readers this holiday season. I really enjoyed sharing some of my favorite OT Approved Toys. Here are the ten most popular toy posts.

10. The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game
9.  Spot It
8.  Mr Potato Head
7.  Wooden knob puzzle
6.  Robot Face Race
5.  Musical book
4.  Wooden lacing beads 
3.  Design and Drill Socket to Me
2.  Plastic rings
1.  Pop-up toy

In My Therapy Bag:

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of the bloggers who contributed to this series! This was really fun to put together and a hit among my readers. In case you missed any of them, I've got them all for you right here (in no particular order):

Margaret from Your Therapy Source | playground ball
Dr. Anne Zachry | buttons 
Lauren from The Inspired Treehouse | stepping stones
Christie from Mama OT | ping pong balls
Deborah from North Shore Pediatric Therapy | theraputty
Nancy from Miss Mancy | pop tubes
Cindy from Your Kid's OT | Earth paper
Liz from Brightsong | balls
Chanda from Pink Oatmeal | sidewalk chalk
Natalie from Beyond Basic Play | bubbles

Oldies, but Goodies:

Some of my most popular posts are from past years. I'm so happy to see that readers are enjoying digging into my archives (I should probably thank Pinterest for this). Here are some oldies that continue to be popular among readers.

5.  How to make an adapted board book.
4.  Ready to Print App
3.  How to make a slant board
2.  How to make a weighted pencil
1.  Tips for Teaching Shoe Tying 

 
Thank you again for your support! Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year!!

 

Friday, December 12, 2014

OT Approved Toy | Gravity Maze



Spoiler alert: I'm totally giving this game to my 10 year old nephew for Christmas. That's how much I love it!

I have long been a fan of ThinkFun Games, so when they recently reached out to me to see if I'd be interested in checking out one of their new games, I jumped on the opportunity! Gravity Maze is a solo play engineering-type game that challenges visual perceptual and visual spatial skills. I found just setting up the game to match the challenge cards to be a visual perceptual challenge! The challenge cards range from beginner to expert, and there are 60 challenges in total. The object of the game is to build a path with the towers, so that when the path is completed, the marble will drop from the start position to the target tower. This is a challenging and fun logic game.


Best for ages: 8 and up


Skills addressed: 

  • fine motor
  • visual perceptual
  • visual spatial
  • problem solving 

 

Other ThinkFun Games I love:

Like I said, I'm a fan of everything that ThinkFun makes, but some of my favorites are Rush Hour, Shape by Shape, and Bug Trails.

Did you know ThinkFun also has great apps for kids? You can check out a review I did of the Rush Hour and Chocolate Fix apps by clicking here

Where to buy:


You can find Gravity Maze at most stores that sell toys, including Toys R Us, Barnes & Noble, and Target. You can also purchase Gravity Maze on Amazon.

For more OT Approved Toys, be sure to stop by my Toy Page.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary Gravity Maze game from Think Fun in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not compensated for this post and all writing and opinions are my own. Links to Amazon are affiliate links

Thursday, December 11, 2014

OT Approved Toy | Oball

Oballs are a favorite of pediatric therapists everywhere! The holes make them great for reaching and grasping, and as baby grows into a toddler, the oball is great for learning to throw and catch. Natalie, a pediatric physical therapist who blogs at Beyond Basic Play, loves the oball, too!
 
Best for ages: newborn - 2 years


Skills addressed: 

  • reaching
  • grasping
  • hand eye coordination
  • visual tracking
  • auditory tracking
 

Where to buy:

Oballs can be found at most stores that sell baby toys. If you prefer, you can order them from Amazon.


For more OT Approved Toys, be sure to stop by my Toy Page and for more toy ideas for babies, check out Holiday Gift Guide for Babies and Mama OT's 15 Toys for Baby's First Year.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. Links to Amazon are affiliate links

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

OT Approved Toy | Kanoodle

If you've followed my blog for any period of time, then you are probably aware that I frequently partner with Educational Insights to offer honest reviews of their toys that I feel have therapeutic value. What you might not know is that I was a fan of Educational Insight toys and games long before they ever reached out to me for a partnership. So now you know the backstory to how I came to be a partner with Educational Insights.


Today I'd like to share the very first game I ever purchased from Educational Insights: Kanoodle. Kanoodle is a visual perceptual, strategy game that is fun for kids and adults. If you like single person strategy games like Sudoku puzzles, then you'll probably enjoy Kanoodle. Kanoodle consists of 12 pieces of connected beads, each a different shape and color. Use the included puzzle book to choose from over 100 2D and 3D puzzles, ranging from easy to difficult. As shown in the photo above, the puzzle book will show you where to place some of the puzzle pieces, and then it's up to you to figure out how to fit in the remaining pieces!


Best for ages: 7 and up



Skills addressed: 

  • fine motor
  • visual perceptual
  • visual spatial
  • problem solving

Where to buy:


Purchase Kanoodle on Amazon or directly from Educational Insights.

For more OT Approved Toys, be sure to stop by my Toy Page.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. Links to Amazon and Educational Insights are affiliate links

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

OT Approved Toy | Mancala

The OT in me loves mancala because it's such a fun way to develop in-hand manipulation skills.In short, in-hand manipulation is when you hold onto several items in your hand at one time and then move them out of your hand one at a time. That's exactly what you do with the beads in this simple, yet challenging strategy game!


Best for ages: 6 and up



Skills addressed: 

  • fine motor
  • in hand manipulation
  • counting
  • turn taking
  • planning

Where to buy:


I bought my Mancala game at Target for less than $10. I think you can generally find it wherever toys are sold, or you can always purchase Mancala on Amazon.

For more OT Approved Toys, be sure to stop by my Toy Page.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. Links to Amazon and Educational Insights are affiliate links

Monday, December 8, 2014

OT Approved Toy | Picture Perfect


Picture Perfect is another one of those toys that seems to be made for OT. Picture Perfect contains a plastic grid that is placed on top of a pattern. The plastic tiles must then be matched up to create a mosaic picture. This is a great way to challenge visual perceptual skills and eye hand coordination. You know what I like the most about Picture Perfect? Blank grids are included so kids can draw their own picture and then match up the tiles to create their own unique masterpiece.


Best for ages: 4-6 years



Skills addressed: 

  • fine motor
  • eye hand coordination
  • visual perceptual
  • color identification
  • matching

Where to buy:


Purchase Picture Perfect on Amazon or directly from Educational Insights.

For more OT Approved Toys, be sure to stop by my Toy Page.

Disclosure: This game was received complimentary of Educational Insights in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. Links to Amazon and Educational Insights are affiliate links

Friday, December 5, 2014

OT Approved Toy | Set


I'm on a roll with the visual perceptual games this week (Shapes Up and Blokus if missed them). I thought I'd finish out the week with one of my favorite visual perceptual card games. In the game of Set, 12 cards are dealt, as shown above. Then everyone visually scans the cards for a "set" of three, linked by combinations of sameness or difference. Once you get the hang of it, it's not as complicated as it sounds.


Best for ages: 10 and up


Skills addressed: 

  • bilateral coordination
  • visual scanning
  • visual perceptual

Where to buy:


I was lucky enough to get this game at a yard sale for 50 cents. If you're not as lucky, you can always purchase Set on Amazon.

For more OT Approved Toys, be sure to stop by my Toy Page.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. Links to Amazon are affiliate links

Thursday, December 4, 2014

OT Approved Toy | Blokus


If you like Shapes Up, then you'll probably like Blokus. This is another strategic game that challenges visual perceptual skills. Blokus is very similar to Shapes Up, except in Blokus, all of the players are using the same game board. That adds an extra challenge, because now you have to watch out for other players blocking you! The game ends when all players are blocked from laying down any more pieces.


Best for ages: 7 and up


Skills addressed: 

  • fine motor
  • visual perceptual
  • turn taking
  • planning

Where to buy:


Purchase Blokus on Amazon.

For more OT Approved Toys, be sure to stop by my Toy Page.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. Links to Amazon are affiliate links

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

OT Approved Toy | Shapes Up

Shapes Up is a fun visual perceptual challenge. Roll the die, choose the piece shown, and place it on your game board. Shapes of the same color can only touch at corners, so you must think carefully, but quickly, as your time can run out. The first person to fill their board wins!


Best for ages: 7 and up


Skills addressed: 

  • fine motor
  • visual perceptual
  • turn taking
  • planning

Where to buy:


Purchase Shapes Up on Amazon or directly from Educational Insights.

For more OT Approved Toys, be sure to stop by my Toy Page.

Disclosure: This game was received complimentary of Educational Insights in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. Links to Amazon and Educational Insights are affiliate links

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In My Therapy Bag | Dr. Anne Zachry

Today I'm happy to welcome Dr. Anne Zachry! Dr. Zachry is a pediatric occupational therapist with over 20 years of experience. Dr. Zachry has written for numerous online magazines, including Parents and Babble. Dr. Zachry has also published research in peer-reviewed journals, and has even published a book! Her book, Retro Baby, is a great resource for parents and professionals to help cut back on the use of baby gear and get back to the basics of play and development. She is truly an inspiration! Read on to find out a basic item that she always keeps in her therapy bag.

What's in my therapy bag?

Buttons! I always keep a small container of buttons handy in my therapy bag.

How do I use buttons in therapy?

Manipulating buttons is a great way to work the small muscles in the hand and improve eye hand coordination.

Picking up and placing buttons into a container requires in-hand manipulation skills. Imagine your hand is divided into two separate sides. The pinky and ring finger side is for stability. The thumb, index, and middle finger perform manipulation skills. It is important to be able to separate the two sides of the hand when it comes to fine motor skills.


As you can see in the photo below, I am stabilizing two coins using my pinky and ring fingers, yet I am still able to manipulate a quarter using my thumb, index, and middle finger.


In the following video, I am performing translation skills. When I pick up the buttons and bring them into my palm, this is called finger-to-palm translation. As I bring one button out to my fingertips at a time, while stabilizing the others in my palm, this is called palm-to-finger translation with stabilization. This is a great exercise for working on hand skills! A similar activity is to have your child put coins into a piggy bank. Another therapeutic activity is to stack coins or buttons.
video

video


Lastly, a fun visual perceptual activity is to draw patterns on a piece of paper and have the child place the buttons on the corresponding color or shape outline. This is also great for visual motor control and precision hand skills!
video

Connect with Dr. Anne Zachry:

Twitter: @AnneZachry
Amazon: Retro Baby

Be sure to check out all of the other great posts in this series to find out what must-have items therapists have in their therapy bags!!

Do you have an item in your therapy bag that you'd like to share? I'd love for you to share it in an upcoming post! Just send me an email, AbbyPediatricOT {at} gmail {dot} com for more information. Open to all therapists! You don't have to be a blogger to participate!
 

Monday, December 1, 2014

OT Approved Toy | Cyber Monday

It's Cyber Monday! Are you looking for deals today? I don't know the low down on all the online deals, but I can hook you up with all sorts of gift guides from therapists (and parents!). How does that sound? Here we go:

Pink Oatmeal | Stocking Stuffers to Promote Motor Development. Chanda, a pediatric physical therapist put together a great list of stocking stuffers to promote motor skills. I also recommend that you check out Gifts for Baby that Promote Motor Development.

Mama OT | 10+ Toys and Games to Help Kids' Pencil Grasp without Using a Pencil. I love this list from Christie of Mama OT. This is full of toys and games that help develop the fine motor skills required for handwriting.

Love That Max | Holiday Gifts and Toys for Kids with Special Needs: 2014. Ellen is the mother of a child with cerebral palsy and she always puts together a great holiday gift guide based on her personal experience, recommendations from other parents, and therapist recommended toys. Be sure to check out her gift guides from previous years, too!

Starfish Therapies | Toys, Toys, Toys! Stacy is a pediatric physical therapist and she has put together a great list of toys that will help promote gross and fine motor skills.

OT Mommy Needs Her Coffee | What's on Your List? An occupational therapist and mama to boys shares her picks for this holiday season.

The Inspired Treehouse | Gift Guide: Promoting Healthy Development in Kids. The ladies at The Inspired Treehouse put together a list of therapist approved toys to promote fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and sensory processing skills.

Mac&Toys | 2014 Holiday Gift Guide. Each year, Meghan, a pediatric occupational therapist, puts together the ultimate gift guide. This year was no different. Oh, and she writes about toys all year long, so her blog is always a good place to check when shopping for toys.

Golden Reflections Blog | 5 Tips for Buying Gifts for Children with Special Needs. Tips from an occupational therapist.

Sugar Aunts | Toys to Help with Scissor Skills Gift Guide. I love this round up of gifts from an occupational therapist with toys that help promote scissor skills. Also be sure to check out Toys to Help with Learning to Get Dressed and Toys to Improve Pencil Grasp.


Two Cyber Monday sales I do know about:

Therapy Fun Zone | All Therapy Fun Zone products are 15% off. This is a great time to stock up on great digital downloads!

Educational Insights | 15% off educational toys using promo code FRIEND15 through December 31. I'm not sure if they're having additional Cyber Monday deals, but I would be a bit surprised if they're not.

**Links to Therapy Fun Zone and Educational Insights are affiliate links.

Also, be sure to check out my Toy Page for more great ideas!
 

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