Successful occupational therapy requires consistency and a lot of hard work, not only from the individual completing the exercises, but also from the person working with them. It’s crucial to make OT fun and interesting, so that all those involved want to STAY involved. While sometimes these exercises can be intricate and frustrating, other times it can be as amusing and simple as using things you can find in your junk drawer.
Occupational therapy exercises need to be regularly practiced at home, rather than just at appointments, and these 5 junk drawer items can make therapy time feel more like craft time.
- Ping Pong Balls
Ping pong balls can be used in many ways for occupational therapy, but asking an individual to hold the ball between their thumb and index finger, while making an “O” shape with their fingers, until the ball is under so much pressure it pops out. This is a great way to increase finger strength, as well as working on fine motor skills.
Not only do clothespins help fine motor skills by allowing individuals to practice squeezing the pins, you can also color coordinate the pins to help with visual motor as well. Pinching clothespins can help stabilize the individual’s ulnar fingers, all while helping them obtain skilled control of their radial fingers.
- Rubber Band
Rubber bands can be used in many occupational therapy exercises, but a unique, favorite is using it to help someone hold a pen, pencil or other writing utensil. Mama OT explains how it can help children gain stability while writing and learn how to properly hold a writing utensil.
Straws can be used for a number of creative and fun occupational therapy exercises. For helping individuals learn to blow threw a straw, try blow painting! Put a blob of paint on a paper on a flat surface and allow the individual to blow the paint with a straw, ultimately creating a unique masterpiece! Straws can also be used for cutting when an individual is learning how to cut small pieces.
Using tongs can help an individual strengthen their fine motor skills by practicing picking objects up with the tongs and placing them into a bowl or cup. To make the exercise a little more intricate color code whatever object you choose to use with the bowls (i.e. blue goes with blue, red goes with red).
Are you ready to make occupational therapy seem more like play time? Use these five things in everyday exercises to make the experience more crafty, colorful and all around fun!