Friday, May 30, 2014

Favorite Summer Activity | Ice Cube Painting {+ blog hop giveaway!}

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I'm so excited to be teaming up with a great group of therapy bloggers to share some of our favorite summer toys and activities! And a giveaway! We have each picked out our favorite summer toy or activity, and since we're a bunch of therapists, of course we'll be sharing how these toys can be used to promote development! Summer fun AND learning. That's what we're all about! Read on for more details about how to enter the giveaway. Wouldn't a $50 gift card to Amazon be a great way to kick off your summer?


Step One:  Use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card to purchase a favorite summer toy!
Step Two: Visit each of the 10 blogs below and COMMENT on their post about their favorite summer toy or activity.  Have you tried it?  Will you buy it?  Would your kiddos love it?  How would you use it? 
Step Three: After you comment, earn additional entries by "liking" each blog's Facebook page, straight from the Rafflecopter! (if they have a Facebook page).
***REMEMBER: You will only be entering the Rafflecopter ONCE ON THIS PAGE, not on every blog in the hop. The contest is open to anyone 18 years of age and older. Winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter and will be notified by email once entries have been verified (comments on each blog, Facebook likes on each blog). Please read full rules on the Rafflecopter before entering. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Giveaway closes at 12:00am June 6.

Participating therapy bloggers:

OT Cafe (that's me!) | The Inspired Treehouse | Golden Reflections Blog | Pink Oatmeal | Therapy Fun Zone | Your Therapy Source | Mama OT | | Playapy | Starfish Therapies | Playing with Words 365

My Favorite Summer Activity: DIY Ice Cube Finger Paints

Finger painting is such a fun sensory activity for kids and can be easily modified for those who are not quite ready to touch the paint. In the summer, finger painting with ice cubes is a great way to explore AND stay cool!

The best part about ice cube finger paints? They are so simple to make! All you have to do is fill some ice cube trays with your favorite finger paint. I fill mine about half way, because small cubes are perfect for small hands!

Pop them in the freezer for a few hours and you are ready to go outside and get messy!

For kids who aren't quite ready to touch the paint with their hands, never force them to do so. Just give them a paintbrush and let them explore at their own pace. If you're outside, you can use a stick, pinecone, or a leaf as your paintbrush! Have fun exploring with your senses this summer!

These finger paints can be made with any ice cube tray that you have at home, but if you win the Amazon gift card, you could pick out some fun ice cube trays. There are so many fun shapes to choose from: hearts, stars, and even hexagons, just to name a few. And I LOVE these little fish trays! Of course, the OT in me thinks these cubette trays would just be perfect for little hands.

**Amazon links throughout are affiliate. Thanks for supporting this blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 29, 2014

8 Ways to Play | Kitten Caboodle

When Educational Insights contacted me to check out some of their summer releases, the cat lover in me couldn't resist Kitten Caboodle. (Don't worry! If you're more of a dog person, Educational Insights also has a dog version of this game called Diggity Dogs). While these two card games don't scream OT, like some of the other games and toys that Educational Insights offers (Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel game, anyone?), they are still fun AND educational. What's not to love about that combination?
 Aren't these cats just the cutest?

Kitten Caboodle is a go-fish style card game. The object is to adopt as many kittens as possible by collecting cards that match the items pictured on the cat's card. So while your kids are busy having fun, they're also working on matching, sorting, counting, and turn taking skills!

As an occupational therapist, I tend to look at games through my "OT eyes." To me, a good game is one that can be adapted to work on a variety of skills and can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. If you're looking to get a bit more out of your game, here are a few more ways to have fun with your Kitten Caboodle game.

8 ways to play Kitten Caboodle:

Turn the cards into a game of memory!

  1. Play the old fashioned way! Best for kids ages 5 and up.
  2. Use the cards to play a game of memory.
  3. Trace the box and then draw a picture of a cat. Tracing is great for developing bilateral coordination skills!
  4. Want more tracing practice? Trace the cats too!
  5. For kids just beginning to write, copy the name of the cats onto a piece of paper.
  6. For older kids, use the cards and cats as sentence prompts.
  7. For younger kids, use the cards to practice matching and sorting.
  8. Use the cat cards to encourage speech. "Cooper wants a mouse, a bed, and yarn."

Where to buy your own game:

Kitten Caboodle is available on the Educational Insights website or Amazon.
If Diggity Dogs is more your style, you can find it here or here.

Connect with Educational Insights:

Twitter: @ed_insights

What other ways would you play Kitten Caboodle?  

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 Educational Insights and Amazon are affiliate links

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Behind the Scenes | Schoodles

Today I am so excited to introduce a new blog series, Behind the Scenes. In this series, I will be going behind the scenes with some awesome occupational therapists who are doing really cool and interesting work. Hopefully this will help answer some questions you might have, and maybe even inspire you to do bring your own OT idea to reality. To kick off the series, please welcome Marie Frank, OTR/L and Amy Wing, OTR/L, the creators of Schoodles!

Please tell me a little bit about yourselves. How long have you been an occupational therapist? What is your primary practice area?

Marie: I have been an OT for 18 years. I have worked in schools, with early intervention programs, taught at the local college and I am currently loving clinic based pediatric OT. My first degree was in horticulture. I keep asking myself if I should go get a geology degree. Animal, vegetable, mineral……….

Amy: I have been an OT for 14 years, working primarily in pediatrics both in the school and in the outpatient setting. I love the challenge and activity level of working with children. I also like helping families problem solve how to meet their child’s needs in a way that fits their parenting style and values system.

For readers who aren’t familiar with your assessment, can you tell us a little bit about Schoodles?

Schoodles is an observation based tool an occupational therapist can use to gather information about fine motor skills needed for school. It looks at both the skills themselves and the underlying skills needed to support fine motor work. If provides age levels for each of these skills and uses language teachers and parents can relate to. 

It also provides, we think, a great starting point for goal writing. It can be used on it's own for a fine motor assessment, as related services are not required to use standardized scores to 'qualify' children for services. It can be used in conjunction with standardized tools, we like the VMI, or it can be used as a screen.

We designed it for the lions share of the population we saw, children aged 3 to about 8, and we were purposeful about making it fun!  It is so easy to overlook some of the more simple observations of a child’s skill level, but is so important to really understanding a child’s abilities. This tool helps to focus all of a therapist’s observations into a streamlined report that identifies a child’s strengths and weaknesses.  Based on the observations surrounding the underlying skills needed to have good fine motor control, it is easy to target the basis of a child’s weaknesses and plan treatment activities appropriately.

How did you come up with the idea for Schoodles? Was it an “aha moment” or did it develop over time?

Marie: Schoodles was birthed from a frustration both Amy and I had at the inadequacy of the available testing tools. We 'found' each other at work and often spoke about how we would like things to be different. Using standardized tests, we were spending a lot of time gathering information that wasn't useful and was challenging for parents and teachers (and their therapists!) to associate with skills their children were struggling with in school. We decided to pull together a tool we ourselves would like to use and was easy for an itinerant therapist to lug around. We also did not want it to cost a lot of money, so we decided to put the pages in a binder and make them reproducible. Basically, we created what we wanted to use ourselves. At the time, we didn’t think a lot about marketing it or selling it, but were encouraged by other therapists to make it available as a retail item.

Once you knew there was a need for this type of assessment, how did you go from idea to reality? How long was the process? 

Marie and Amy: Haha! We thought it would take a few months. We ended up spending about 1 year and a half on pulling all of the initial pieces together. There was so much more than we realized. We had not only content, but design of the pages, fonts, artwork, banking, marketing, editing, how to receive payments, business entity issues. We also did a small scale test market by giving the tool to therapists we knew. They used the tool and gave us feedback to help us develop it into a functional assessment.

What is one thing you wish someone would have told you before you began developing Schoodles?

Marie: How much different the world of business, marketing and accounting, is from OT!! Amy and I sat with our mouths hanging open and stared blankly as the banker described our merchant account. Thank goodness our husbands are both in the business world (thank you Todd and Ged!!) We still receive help from both, but we have learned a lot and are both fairly savvy at this point.

Amy: One of the coolest things that I have learned along the way is that OT’s all over the world share the same frustrations and concerns that we had!  I have spoken to therapists from New Zealand to Egypt who look forward to using a simple assessment that gives good information that can easily be turned into functional goals and treatment activities.  

You shared with me that you are gearing up for another revision of Schoodles. What does the revision process look like and how often do you revise?

Marie and Amy: We are considering a 4th revision. We want this tool to be the best and most helpful tool it can be. Our current tool is great, we love it and we get nothing but great feedback, but we want to continue to improve. We are currently gathering information from therapists who are using Schoodles to see where additions could be made, and we are considering adding a clinical component, as we are both now clinical therapists.  

We would also like to add a sensory component to the new version. Insurance companies now want to see functional outcomes more than anything else. They want to know exactly what a child cannot do that would be a functional skill expected of their age. If therapists can show these needs and how they are able to support children gaining these skills that are critical to success in everyday routines, insurance companies seem more than willing to cover the services provided. We think this assessment tool does a good job looking at function and focusing in on increasing a child’s independence in these areas.

We revise every few years when we have new ideas we would like to include. It's really the great thing about having a product like this, we can continue to create and improve and offer something useful to our fellow OT's and the children they work with. We are guessing the revision won't be ready until 2015 given our work and play schedules.

Where can readers learn more about purchasing Schoodles? 

Check out for direct purchases. We are also in Acheivement Products and Therapro

 Amy and Marie, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your story with us! Occupational Therapists are always creating tools to make their lives easier and I love how you took Schoodles to the next level by creating an assessment that other OTs could use as well! 

Readers, Schoodles is now available as digital download! What a great option, especially for international orders. If you want to read more about how I use Schoodles, click here. I'll leave you with a photo of one of my favorite handwriting samples I received when using the Schoodles. 

P.S. Are you an OT doing something cool? If you'd like to share your story, please send me an email at AbbyPediatricOT {at} gmail {dot} com. I'd love to feature you in an upcoming post!

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Few Things

As we head into a holiday weekend, here are a few things that I think are worth sharing:

This documentary looks awesome.

As the school year winds down, take a moment to recognize the little things, in your students and your fellow educators.

A music teachers thoughts on the trouble with tablets.

Allison always comes up with the cutest activities to keep little ones busy and this one is no different.

Thank you Ellen for sharing a video of what great occupational therapy looks like. Yes, we play with kids all day, but we're working on so much more than just  play.

Now that I'm back in early intervention, I was so happy to this list of 25 fine motor activities using household items from Mama OT. What fun activities have you made using household items?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

OT Student Corner | The difference between COTA and OTR

As a follow up to last week's OT Student Corner, I thought I'd take a minute to explain the difference between an OTR and a COTA.

An OTR is a Registered Occupational Therapist. An occupational therapist can work independently and ca do all aspects of occupational therapy treatment, including completing evaluations, writing goals, implementing treatment, and supervising COTA's and OT students.

A COTA is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. A COTA must work under the supervision of an occupational therapist and can do many aspects of occupational therapy treatment, including implementing treatment, contributing to the evaluation process by implementing delegated assessments after competency has been demonstrated, and supervision of COTA students.

As discussed last week, an occupational therapist must obtain a Master's degree and an occupational therapy assistant must obtain an Associate's degree. Both occupational therapists and certified occupational therapy assistants can serve as leaders for the profession of occupational therapy through their state occupational therapy associations, as well as through AOTA.

For more information from AOTA, this is a link to the Guidelines for the Supervision, Roles, and Responsibilities During the Delivery of Occupational Therapy Services, which is an AOTA official document.

For further reading on this topic, check out these great posts by The Anonymous OT:
A "Who's Who" of Occupational Therapy &
The OTR/COTA Relationship

OT Student Corner is where I answer questions about the field of occupational therapy that I’ve received from students and prospective students. Have a question you’d like to see answered? Leave a comment below or send me an email at [AbbyPediatricOT {at} gmail {dot} com] and I’ll try to answer it in an upcoming post!
For more OT Student Corner posts, click here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Workplace Wednesday | The therapy bag dilemma

Ahhh...the therapy bag.

I recently went to a home visit as the developmental therapist was leaving. With a bag that was, no joke, almost as big as her.

I'm not a believer in bringing a bag full of toys with me to home visits. I used to do that. For years, actually. And I felt funny about it the whole time, but that's what everyone I worked with did. I was new to early intervention and I wasn't yet confident enough as a therapist to forge my own path.

But after leaving early intervention for two years, I'm trying to start fresh. Without a therapy bag full of toys and fun activities.

And it is hard.

It's just so much easier to walk in the door with a plan. To walk in with five toys that will target the developmental skills I'd like to work on that day.

I'm already finding myself slip up from time to time. I feel like parents want the bag of toys. And even expect it. But I regret bringing in a bag every time I do it.

So I'm trying. Trying so hard to let go of the therapy bag and the comfort that comes with it. I'll keep you posted on my experience of stepping outside of this particular comfort zone.

I have a feeling this will be a recurring topic here on Workplace Wednesdays. If you work in early intervention, what are your thoughts on the therapy bag?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Book Review | Retro Baby by Dr. Anne Zachry

Let me start this off by saying I am a huge fan of Dr. Anne Zachry, so when she contacted me and asked if I'd like to check out her book, Retro Baby for review, of course I said yes!

Dr. Zachry is an occupational therapist and child development specialist. Dr. Zachry's research focuses on tummy time, as well as the impact of baby gear on child development. I recently had the opportunity to hear Dr. Zachry present at the 2014 AOTA Annual Conference and her passion for educating parents and therapists about the importance of tummy time is inspiring! I found myself nodding and thinking "Yes!" to many of the things she said. I could feel the energy of the room elevate as she spoke.

Want to know the biggest piece of take-home advice I got from Dr. Zachry's presentation?

"Parents need to know that tummy time is safe and they need to know about the potential implications of not doing tummy time."

Yes! And that is where Retro Baby comes in as an excellent resource to help occupational therapists educate parents on the importance of not just tummy time, but also on cutting back on gear and getting back to the basics!

This is what you'll find in Retro Baby:


Chapter 1: How the Baby Product Industry Affects Your Child's Development - This chapter highlights common baby devices that are frequently overused.
Chapter 2: Set a Solid Foundation - Grow, Baby, Grow! This chapter reviews the stages of movement development that occur during the first two years of life.
Chapter 3: How Senses and Experiences Shape Your Babies World - This chapter covers how the sensory systems work, including the proprioceptive and interoceptive systems.
Chapter 4: Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe and Practice Tummy Time - This chapter contains research supported safe sleeping recommendations, as well as tips for engaging your baby in tummy time.
Chapter 5: Prevent Positional Skull Deformities - The combination of back sleeping, limited tummy time, and the overuse of baby gear is leading to an increase in positional skull deformities. This chapter contains tips on how to prevent these deformities.

The second half of the book contains developmental milestones for each phase of growth, toy tips, activities, and advice on common equipment.

Chapter 6: Building a Solid Sensory-Motor Foundation: Birth to 3 Months
Chapter 7: Enhancing Development with Retro Activities: 4 to 6 Months
Chapter 8: Enhancing Development with Retro Activities: 7 to 9 Months
Chapter 9: Enhancing Development with Retro Activities: 10 to 12 Months
Chapter 10: Enhancing Development with Retro Activities: 13 to 24 Months

Epilogue - The epilogue contains a great chart containing common baby devices along with the maximum time recommendation for each device.

As an occupational therapist working in early intervention, I'm actually not a fan of baby development books and I wasn't really expecting Retro Baby to be any different. I think these types of books tend to just stress out parents and give conflicting advice.

And then I opened Retro Baby and I couldn't stop reading! Retro Baby is the one book I would recommend to any parent! It is easy to read and understand, and not at all intimidating or condescending. The activities in the book are simple and effective. You don't need all of that fancy baby equipment-you just need this book! I frequently loan out my copy of Retro Baby for parents to read through, but I also use the book for myself! I love getting new ideas for therapy and these activities are perfect for an anyone working in early intervention.

Who should read this book? Parents and soon to be parents, especially those working on their baby registries! Grandparents, aunts and uncles. Anyone who works with babies or is going to school to work with babies, or those who dream of one day working with babies. Anyone who thinks they already know all there is to know about baby development.And especially, anyone who is tempted to spoil the babies in their life with all of the latest baby gear!

To get your very own copy of this book, you can find it on Amazon.

Connect with Dr. Zachry:

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own. Amazon links throughout are affiliate.

Monday, May 19, 2014

App of the Week | OverColor

If you like games like Rush Hour, then you will probably love OverColor. OverColor app is a challenging brainteaser that uses visual spatial reasoning skills.
There are five levels to choose from, ranging from what I would say is moderately challenging to extremely challenging.

Here is an example from the first level:

This is another one from the first level, showing you a step by step of how the pieces must be placed in order.

And here's an example from level five. As you can see, I haven't quite figured it out yet!

Close, but not quite! I like that there is not a timing component to this game, so you can just keep working at it until you figure it out.

I think if I was to use this game as a part of an occupational therapy session, I would cut out pieces to match the shapes on the app, so the child could physically manipulate the shapes to make the design. I'm not quite sure how I would do that, since the pieces are so intricate. Maybe print out screenshots and then cut out the shapes?

App Information:

Name of App: OverColor
Publisher: PopAppFactory Inc
Compatible with: iPad; requires iOS 5.0 or later
Price: $2.99

*Information was correct at the time of publication, but is subject to change, so please confirm prior to downloading. This post contains affiliate links.

 What do you think? Would you use OverColor as a therapy tool or is this game too challenging?

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Few Things

My thoughts this week are with those in the San Diego area affected by the fires. I am grateful to be far from the areas affected, but I know how much being near fires can affect day to day life. Even if you're not directly  in the line of the fires, the smoke in the air is such a challenge for those with respiratory challenges. I hope all of my San Diego readers are safe this weekend.

Here are a few things I stumbled across this week that I think are worth sharing:

An awesome study on teaching mindfulness to treat ADHD.

Love this idea for teaching kids how to use the right amount of glue.

"I had moments when I had to accept that my car may or may not still be outside the house when I was done with the session." Is Occupational Therapy Really a "Top Job of 2014"? by the Anonymous OT. As much as I love my job, I found myself nodding to so much in this post. 

This DIY cutting station is so cool!

With the school year winding down, it's time to plan for transitions from middle school to high school.

Did you know that May is Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month? Little Emily is such a fighter!

Visual Attention TherAppy is on sale! You've got one more day to pick it up for just $4.99!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

OT Student Corner | How to become an OT

I receive a lot of questions from students and prospective students about the field of occupational therapy. Since I'm not the best about responding to emails in a timely manner, I've decided to answer some of the frequently asked questions I've received here on my blog. This post is the first in what will hopefully be an ongoing series to answer reader questions about the profession of occupational therapy and OT school.

Today's question: "How do I become an occupational therapist?"

This is by far the question I receive the most, so I thought this would be a good one to start with. 

First you need to go to school. And then pass a national test.

Currently, to become a Registered Occupational Therapist (OTR), you must obtain a Master's degree in Occupational Therapy from an accredited school, and then pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam. Another option is to obtain an entry level Doctorate in Occupational Therapy prior to taking the NBCOT exam. A doctoral degree is not currently required, but may be in the future.

To become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA), you must obtain an Associate's degree in Occupational Therapy from an accredited school, and then pass the NBCOT exam.

Let's not forget about Fieldwork!

For all levels of OT education, the completion of Fieldwork is part of the curriculum. Fieldwork is the provision of occupational therapy services as a student under the supervision of an occupational therapist. This is where you get the majority of your hands-on training on how to be an occupational therapist. For Master's and Doctoral level education, Level II Fieldwork takes place in two 12-week rotations. Yes, that is six months of 40-hour clinical weeks! No, you will not get paid for this work, and no you will probably not have time to do any paid work during this time. Plan accordingly, but don't let it hold you back. Occupational therapy is consistently rated as a top job and a fast growing profession. For COTA's, I believe it is two 6-week rotations, but I don't know that for sure. For more information about Fieldwork, check out the AOTA website.

How to find an accredited occupational therapy school in your area.

To find an accredited school for a Doctoral, Master's or Associate's level degree, visit the "Find a School" page on the AOTA website.

One last step. State licensure.

Once you have your desired degree and have passed the necessary NBCOT exam, most states (possibly all states?) require state licensure. In my experience of being licensed in multiple states (okay, just two states), this usually only requires proving that you have graduated from an accredited school, passed the NBCOT exam, passing a background check, and then paying the licensing fee. Some states may also have a short test on rules and regulations related to occupational therapy in that state. This is based on my experience of licensure in California and Massachusetts. It may be completely different in other states, but I doubt it is drastically different. AOTA has a webpage dedicated to state licensure, including a page on how to get a license.

For more information on careers in occupational therapy.

Interested in a career in occupational therapy, click here for more information from AOTA.

Do you have a question about OT school? Are you currently and OT student and have a question about the profession? If so, send me an email [abbypediatricot {at} gmail {dot} com] and I'll try to answer it in an upcoming post!

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