Sugar Aunts
I share a lot of crafts and activities here that are designed to help kids develop and build fine motor skills.  It's usually the preschooler who is working on pre-writing skill work and building a base for holding a pencil or using scissors, or the early elementary aged child who writes with an awkward pencil grasp and needs to boost hand strength.  

Sometimes, though, I'll get questions on how to help older kids develop hand strength and fine motor skills.  Children who are beyond the early grade levels and have aged out of the younger crafts and activities will love these garland crafts that are perfect for promoting fine motor sills and hand strength.

Use garlands as a craft to help older kids or teenagers build fine motor skills needed for pencil grasp and handwriting.

Garlands are a fun craft that can be used and created year round.  From parties to holidays, or any day, a garland is a nice way to boost self-confidence in a household decor item.  This makes garlands just the fine motor tool that can help older kids who are aware of their weaknesses and might be a little (or a lot!) proud to see their handiwork hanging on the stair banister.  

Try using these fine motor garland crafts with your teen or older kid!

This beaded garland is a great way to build fine motor skills.  Threading beads helps open the thumb web space, promote separation of the two sides of the hand, and work in-hand manipulation skills.

A craft that provides an opportunity for painting, cutting, and threading is a nice way to help kids establish and build fine motor skills. This Newspaper Leaf Garland does just that!

Kids can prepare for a party or celebrate the day while addressing bilateral coordination needs while making this balloon garland craft.

A wooden name garland would look great in a teen's room or hanging on a door.  Older kids can customize and create a woodworking project as detailed as they like.

Older children find coloring just as stress relieving as adults do.  This woodland animal garland allows teens to cut, customize, and create a garland using printable shapes.  Make this craft for a friend.

Teens can benefit from threading activities just like smaller kids do.  This fall leaf garland provides an age-appropriate threading task to create a fun fall festive home decoration.

Making yarn pom poms is a fantastic way to work on bilateral coordination, motor planning, and in-hand manipulation skills.  Allow older kids to make several pom poms to create a pumpkin pom pom garland.

Tying knots is a great way to help kids strengthen their fine motor skills.  This knot garland would look great hanging in a teen's room!

Older kids will love to head outside to grab some colorful leaves in order to create a fall leaf garland. While threading the leaves, they are addressing eye-hand coordination, tripod grasp, and bilateral coordination.

Teens can help prepare for a party or celebration by creating a garland like this new baby garland. Creating a pattern while putting the parts together allows for bilateral hand coordination.

Use garlands as a craft to help older kids or teenagers build fine motor skills needed for pencil grasp and handwriting.

Do you have an older child or teenager who needs to build fine motor skills? What are their favorite ways to work on these areas?

In this post, you will find an explanation of attention and behavior concerns that interfere with independence in self feeding and resulting meal time problems with kids.  

Attention and behavior during meal time functional skills are a vital importance to independence with independence in self-feeding.  The child with cognitive impairments or unsatisfied sensory needs can impact attention and focus leading to safety concerns, decreased independence, or limited coordination and functional ability to self-feed.  Behaviors can result in intentional or unintentional feeding difficulties. 

Attention and behavior and meal time problems, use these tricks to help kids with independence during meals.

The child who is limited in sustained attention or the child who is distracted by sensory needs or interference may be overwhelmingly unable to attend to feeding tasks. Likewise, children with behavioral tendencies may be seeing a satisfaction of other needs that therefore interferes with independence in self-feeding. 

Use these tips from an Occupational Therapist to help kids with attention, behavior, and meal time problems.

When attention of behaviors are impaired, there are many resulting problems that interfere with safety and independence during meals:

  • Impulsivity
  • Decreased concentration
  • Impaired memory
  • Poor judgement
  • Impaired direction following
  • Decreased initiation
  • Poor self-monitoring
  • Perseveration
  • Disorientation
  • Impaired problem solving
  • Slow or inefficient processing
  • Confusion

When a child presents with these problem areas, they have an impact on meal time.  Development of self-feeding is often times delayed and parents seek answers to help their child feed them selves independently.  The peaceful meal time is a sought after experience given that meal times are a time for conversation, reflection, and satisfaction.  When behaviors or attention limit a child's ability to self- feed, the meal time can then become focused on safety or become a stressful situation.

Other times, meals are a quick operation that needs to be completed in a timely manner in order to allow families to move on to the day's activities.  In these situations, meals need to be efficient and energizing. 

In both scenarios, a child with meal time problems secondary to attention and behavior can effect the family dynamic.  

Use these tips from an Occupational Therapist to help kids with attention, behavior, and meal time problems.

Consider the areas of meal time that are dependent on appropriate attention and behavior:

  • Tool use to hold utensils effectively or appropriately
  • Eye-hand coordination to scoop, poke, and cut food
  • Eye-hand coordination to bring utensils to the mouth without getting distracted 
  • Bilateral coordination to hold and use a knife and fork at the same time
  • Lip closure to maintain mouth closure on a straw while sucking and while chewing
  • Swallow control to initiate food propulsion
  • Rhythm of swallow and breath
  • Rate of eating/drinking
  • Ability to keep food in the mouth
  • Ability to tongue sweep to clear the mouth between bites
  • Visual attention (may be a concern for clients with a strong preference to one side)
  • Sensory needs that interfere with seating, including wiggling or fidgeting during meals
  • Food refusal
  • Playing in food, moving food around on plate, hiding food, throwing food
  • Eating only certain foods
  • Standing up to eat
  • Dropping utensils/spilling food or drink
  • Fidgeting and wiggling at the table
  • Talking with mouth full of food

Each of the above problem areas are concerns that may be a result of attention and behavioral issues. these patterns assume a typical oral motor and pharyngeal motor development.

The sensory variances related to attention provide distractors that interfere with attention and behavior during meal time.  In many of the examples listed above, the sensory needs or preferences of the child may impact meal time attention and behavior.  Strategies to address sensory-based attention and behavior concerns should address the child's sensory needs prior to and during meal time.

Use these tips from an Occupational Therapist to help kids with attention, behavior, and meal time problems.

There are suggested interventions that can help children with attention and behavior problems during meal time:

  • Orientation to time/place/person
  • Structured environment (such as a quiet room)
  • Redirection to the task
  • Allow for extra time during meals
  • Provide visual, verbal, and physical cues: These might include modeling, gestures, imitation, and cue cards.
  • Elimination of distractions
  • Limited number of choices
  • Offer one food at a time
  • Use simple and concise language
  • Consider meal times and medication times
  • Provide respect for food preferences
  • Bright colors or high visual contrast for place settings
  • Shiny utensils/dull colored utensils
  • Provide the biggest meal at various times- Typically dinner is the largest meal of the day in the US. Try providing more at breakfast or lunch and a smaller meal for dinner.
  • Clearly established mealtime rules and expectations
  • Expect that food will spill, messes will happen, and kids will not always be hungry. 
  • Request school lunches have accommodations added to the IEP if needed.

Use these tips from an Occupational Therapist to help kids with attention, behavior, and meal time problems.

Sometimes a simple visual or physical cue can help with strategies intended to help kids hold the spoon or fork correctly.  These are a few different visual and physical cues that can help kids boost attention while eating.  There are many adapted utensils out there (Read more on Your Kids OT's post today) that can help with attention during meals.  Try these DIY versions:

Use these tips from an Occupational Therapist to help kids with attention, behavior, and meal time problems.

Help Kids Hold a Spoon, Fork, or Knife with a Visual or Physical Cue:

For these ideas, I added a few different prompts right onto the spoons: a sticker, a pipe cleaner wrapped around the spoon, a bit of modelling clay, or a couple of rubber bands are inexpensive ways to bring the child's attention to help with just one concern that attention may impact during self-feeding.

It is important to remember that this list of suggested strategies does not include all interventions that may help kids with attention and behavior problems and resulting difficulties during meal times.  Knowing that every child is drastically different with temperament, environment, likes/dislikes, sensory needs, cognitive level, and motor skill, there are myriad interventions that can work to address needs.  What works for one child may not work for another. The trick with attention and behavior needs to to try one strategy and then another, sometimes in combination, to meet the needs of the child.  Consult an Occupational Therapist for best intervention strategies and plan of action for your child.

Stop by and see what the other bloggers in the Functional Skills for Kids series have shared to address Meal Time concerns.

Fine Motor Skills For Mealtimes  | Therapy Fun Zone

15 Tips for Picky Eaters | The Inspired Treehouse

Use these tips from an Occupational Therapist to help kids with attention, behavior, and meal time problems.

In this post, you will find calming bedtime relaxation stretches for kids and families, based on the popular children's book, Time for Bed. These activities are perfect for helping kids calm down before bed. 

Kids will love these bedtime relaxation stretches

Four kids can get a little wound up before bed.  All it takes is one rouge energy burst and you've got giggling kids bouncing from every surface imaginable.  

Couch cushions? check. They are jumping up and down.  

Running from room to room? Check. There's two of them chasing one another back and forth will the occasional knee slide across the hardwoods.  

Practicing the living room tumbling skills? Yep and check. There's one more doing somersaults across the room.

Why must they gang up on me with their endless energy during those exhausting pre-bedtime hours?

Secret Trick to get Kids to Calm Down Before Bed

Today, I'm sharing a great way to calm down the somersaults and hardwood floor stunts into relaxing bedtime.  One way that helps to get kids relaxed before bed is reading a great book.  When kids can listen to an engaging story that is read aloud, their bodies can't help but slow down.  

When books become part of a nightly bedtime routine, it is easier to get kids to realize that bedtime is coming.  

One great trick for helping with the transition from living room stunts to snugly blanket stories before bed are some relaxation stretches.

These bedtime relaxation stretches are a combination of relaxing yoga moves and heavy work that helps to ground the body through proprioceptive input to the body's sensory receptors in the muscles. 

Performing these relaxing stretches can help transition kids to a calmed state that allows for a better sleep.

This post contains affiliate links.

Bedtime Relaxation Stretches for Kids

We decided to use one of our favorite going to bed books, Mem Fox's Time for Bed

In the book, we hear a rhyming verse about each animal's transition to sleep.  It's such a beautiful book to snuggle up with kids during night time routines.  In fact, Time for Bed can easily become one of those books that you read over and over again.

We loved looking at the watercolor pictures in Time for Bed and picturing each animal as it got ready for sleep.  

To go along with the book, we tried some of these bedtime relaxation stretches. 

Grab your copy of the free printable here.

try these bedtime relaxation stretches for kids based on the book, Time for Bed.

To do these exercises, simply cut out the printable on the lines, and create a small stack of stretches.  Kids can do one or more of these relaxation stretches to calm down before settling in with the Time for Bed book.

Simply pull out a couple of the stretches and join your child on the floor to perform each stretch.  The stretches are designed based on the animals in the book.  

When doing the stretches, hold the stretch for 2-3 minutes while maintaining deep breathing.  

Bedtime relaxation stretches for kids can help with making bedtime easier.

As we all know, kids will be kids.  If your child is getting too wound up from the stretches (because sometimes the sleepy sillies take over and make concentrating on stretches and relaxing deep breaths nearly impossible!) simply put the stretches away and try them another day.

Try these bedtime relaxation stretches for kids to help with bedtime routines.

Your child will love doing these bedtime relaxation stretches with you and the whole family!

Easy bedtime relaxation stretches that will help kids calm down before bed.

Little Goose Stretch- Lie on the floor on your back, with your feet raised up on the wall.  Keep your knees strait.  Spread your arms out on the floor like a goose.  Bend and point your toes slowly.

Little Cat Stretch- Snuggle in tight!  Sit criss cross applesauce on the floor.  Bend forward at the hips and place your head on the ground.  Stretch your arms out on the floor over your head.

Little Calf Stretch- Grasp both hands together behind your back.  Bend forward at the hips and raise your arms up behind you.

Little Foal Stretch- Lie on your back and pull your knees in with your arms.  Hold the position and whisper about your day.

Little Fish Stretch-  Take a deep breath. Hold your breath in your cheeks and puff out those cheeks.  Slowly let out your breath with pursed lips.

Little Sheep Stretch-  Stand facing a wall and place your feet shoulder width apart.  Place your hands flat on the wall, shoulder width apart.  Push against the wall by bending and straitening your elbows.

Little Bird Stretch-  Close your eyes.  Think about your day and take deep breaths.  Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Add a "wing" component by raising your arms up high as you breathe in and lowering them as you slowly breathe out.

Little Snake Stretch-  Lie on your back on the floor.  Keep your legs strait and cross them at the ankles.  Place your arms over your head on the floor.  Cross them at the wrists.  

Little Pup Stretch-  Get into a downward dog yoga position.  

Little Deer Stretch- Sit on the floor with your legs strait. Spread them far apart and bend at the hips to touch one foot.  Hold it and then stretch to touch the other foot. 

Bedtime relaxation stretches for kids that are easy and calming.

Get the free printable here.

Try this tonight!  Do a few stretches and then snuggle up while reading Time for Bed!
These are the best bedtime books for reading to kids before bed.

MORE bedtime books that are perfect for reading before bed:

The Going-To-Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton
How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis
The Full Moon at the Napping House by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

You will love these Time For Bed activities from the Virtual Book club for kids team:

Try these bedtime relaxation stretches for kids.

One more thing! If you are into creative ways to extend and learn based on books, you will LOVE this resource! 50 activities based on books that address friendship, acceptance, emotions...This ebook is amazing and it is HALF off this week only!

Do you have a book that you remember reading as a child and LOVING? The Monster at the End of This Book is that one for me.  I loved this book as a kid. It is so neat to introduce my kids to books that I loved as a child and now, they are huge Monster at the End of This Book fans, too! Share this book with your kids and make your own Monster at the End of this Book Grover craft.

We love creating fun crafts and activities based on popular (and not-so-popular children's books and this is just one more creative children's book extension idea that you and the kids will love! 

Monster at the End of This Book children's book and Grover craft from Sesame Street

(This post contains affiliate links.) 

We decided to create a based on our lovable, furry old friend, Grover!  If you are new to this book or loved it as a kid, it's time to request it from the library, grab it on Amazon, or pull it out of your parent's attic and share the gem that is Sesame Street with your own kids.  Then grab some paint and make our own The Monster at the End of This Book Grover craft!

Grover Craft kids will love!

Besides the book being completely awesome, (I mean Grover tries to nail the pages together to keep the reader from reaching the end of the book!) it's a sure giggle inducer ask kids defeat Grover's every attempt at keeping us from meeting the monster at the end of the book

We have this book with a DVD that has Story Vision so that kids can use the remote control to "turn the pages" in an interactive manner.  The Monster at the End of This Book with Story Vision is a fun option and my kids have been enjoying watching the story play out.  But, the real-deal book is just so much fun. By the time you finish the book, your kids will be begging to read it again.

For our Grover craft, we used just a handful of materials:

Plastic fork

We used the technique we used to make the monsters in our Leonardo the Terrible Monster craft (which is another pretty fantastic monster book if you are on a monster kick!)

Monster at the End of This Book children's book and Grover craft from Sesame Street

To make the Monster at the End of This Book craft:

Dip the fork in blue paint.  Use it to make monster-y fur all over the coffee filter. Once the monster is filled in with love-able blue furry paint, add the eyes.  To make them, dip a large marshmallow into white paint. Then create the eyes by pressing the marshmallow onto the monster's face.  Create a nose the same way by dipping a marshmallow into pink paint and pressing it onto the monster's face. 

Monster at the End of This Book children's book and Grover craft from Sesame Street

Cut two ovals from the black paper and glue them onto the eyes.  Cut a mouth shape and glue it onto the monster's face.  

Enjoy your furry old Grover craft and get ready to read that addictive book again!

Monster at the End of This Book children's book and Grover craft from Sesame Street

More crafts and activites based on children's books that you will love:

 Big Red Barn puppets  


Handwriting accommodations for the classroom can help the child who has tried many handwriting strategies for improving legibility and written work.  Try these classroom accommodations to help with spacing, line awareness, and letter formation in written work.  These handwriting ideas can be used by educators, therapists, and parents across the curriculum in everyday writing tasks.  Try using one or more of the strategies at a time and combining techniques to meet the individual needs of the child.  

This post is part of my Easy Handwriting Tips series happening this month. 

Handwriting accommodations ideas for the classroom and written work

Handwriting Accommodations for the Classroom--Writing Strategies, Cheats, and Hacks

This post contains affiliate links.

  • Trace the baseline or worksheet lines with a bold marker.
  • Trace the baseline or worksheet with glue.  Allow it to dry for a DIY raised line.
  • Try raised line paper. Available in narrow rule or double rule.
  • Mechanical pencil for weak fine motor skills or proprioception issues.
  • Remove handwriting grade from requirements.
  • Don't require a handwriting grade.
  • Set appropriate lengths of time for completing written work.
  • Allow more time for completing written work.
  • Reduce written work requirements.
  • Allow dictation of written work.
  • Writing strip on the desk.
  • Erasable pen to provide less resistance on paper.
  • Graph paper for written work, spelling tests, and math problems.
  • Allow the student to type their spelling test answers.
  • Bold lined paper. Available in single rule or double rule.
  • Try a variety of pencil grips. Universal writing aide, the Crossover Grip, or the Claw may help.
  • Sky/ground paper. Try a DIY version.
  • Box and dot paper. Read about this paper here.
  • Green dot at left margin and red dot at right margin of the paper.
  • Flexibility with written work: use all capital letters or use printed work instead of requiring cursive.
  • Highlight answers on tests instead of writing the answer out.
  • Use a stamp or highlighter to mark multiple choice answers.
  • Divide tests into smaller writing portions.
  • Dictation/note taking app on tablet/iPad. Google Chrome's Read and Write extension is one idea.
  • Laminate worksheets or slide them into a sheet protector. Student can use a dry erase marker for answers.
  • Provide larder space for filling in worksheets. Try enlarging the page.
  • Use letter tiles to spell spelling words.
  • Handwriting checkpoints. Throughout the day, the students and teacher should encourage a self-check using a handwriting checklist.
  • Tape guide on the desk to help with paper position and consistent tilt or slant of written work.
Handwriting accommodations ideas for the classroom and written work

Try these handwriting tricks for better written work:

Use Toys to Help Kids Develop and Learn!