The stomp rocket is one of my favorite toys to use in therapy. Initially we started using it to encourage standing on one leg, but over the years we have come up with a plethora of ways to create therapy uses for it! Some of them are listed below:
Single Leg Stance – In order to step on the stomp rocket the kiddo will ideally have to pick up one of their feet while the other one stays on the ground. Because they have to pick it up higher than they would for taking a step during walking, they leave their foot in the air for a little longer, also allowing them to get a better stomp! Once our kids master the ‘stomp’ part we will have them hold it for a count of (pick a time) so that they have to start balancing on one foot.
Weight Shifting – Again, in order to pick their foot up to stomp on the toy, the kiddo needs to shift their weight onto their standing leg. Because they have to pick the foot up a little higher to clear the ‘stomp’ part its harder for them to do a partial weight shift.
Force Production/Regulation – Whether they are using the stomp rocket with their hands or their feet, they need to generate enough force (in a timely manner) to propel the rocket off the end of the stand. Some kids have no problem with this, however, some kids will take tentative steps or allow gravity to pull their foot down which doesn’t allow the proper pressure to generate for shooting the rocket off! A trick to give them some success in the beginning is to only put the rocket part way down so that less force is required to propel it into the air.
Visual Tracking - When kids first start to use the stomp rocket they often can’t attend to what they are doing and then watch the rocket go into the air. A lot of times they miss the actual rocket flying through the air. Because its fun to watch and the kids are motivated they will pretty quickly start to figure out (with some help from you) that they need to also pay attention to where the rocket is flying through the air. If you have them retrieve the rocket as well, it helps if they know where it has landed!
Sensory Input – We had a kiddo the other week who was loving the stomp rocket. He wanted to do it over and over again. His mom was amazed because he has really tactile sensitive feet, and he was doing this activity in bare feet. With that in mind, we adapted the stomp rocket to add different textures to it so that he would get input from different textures to the bottom of his feet while doing an activity that he really liked. Also, we changed the surface the stomp rocket was resting on. We put it a few steps into a grassy area so that he had to walk a step or two on the grass to get to it. You could easily make walkways of different sensory material as well as the overlays of sensory material to decrease tactile sensitivity or just to increase tactile input (can be used on hands and feet). Here are some ideas for sensory input to incorporate!
Jumping – Kids can practice jumping onto the stomp rocket to get a more powerful flight. It allows them to work on jumping forward, up and to a target (all of which can be challenging when done purposefully).
Hand Use – You can work on hand strength by having a kiddo squeeze the bulb in their hand to make the rocket go. You can also work on using an open hand by having the kiddo activate the stomp rocket by having to use a flat hand. They can crawl to it or bear walk to it or just sit and use a flat hand. You can also use this activity for upper extremity weight bearing and weight shifting.
Target Practice – You can also set up a target to try to aim the stomp rocket at and see if you can hit the target, whether with the rocket starting from the floor or the child holding it and pointing it at the target.
One more thing – they also make a bubble stomp rocket which should provide tons of motivation and other ideas such as finger isolation to pop the bubbles and running to chase them!
What are some of the things you have used the stomp rocket for?