Okay, so it doesn’t have to be PB&J (aka peanut butter and jelly) sandwiches but that’s the example I’m going to use because that’s the example my OT gave me, and because its what I lived on as a kid (it was a sad day when my mom would mix up my strawberry jelly and my brother’s grape jelly). I love this idea because I think there are things that are beneficial for fine and gross motor here but also it works on self help skills as well.
I know in the beginning have a kiddo make their own lunch is probably a time consuming thing that will make more mess and involve more work for you. But, if you think of it as therapeutic and learning time then the extra time may be worth it!
Here are a few of the benefits of making a PB&J sandwich:
- First, there is planning and sequencing involved such as what needs to happen first, what do I need to have to make it and figuring out the steps that go with it. You could make a picture diagram for the kiddo that can understand and have them try to follow the directions. Or even better, have a velcro board with the steps lying in front and the kiddo gets to organize the steps on the velcro board and then see how they did when they try to follow the directions in the order they laid out. (This sounds like such a better plan then when I used to have to write instructions for assignments in grade school on how to do something)
- Second, they get to work on opening the jars which involves grip strength, motor planning, and bilateral coordination. The child needs to be able to stabilize the jar with their helper hand, grip the lid with their other hand and motor plan how to turn the lid while stabilizing the jar.
- Third, there is removing the peanut butter and or jelly from the jar and transferring it to the bread. This involves hand-eye coordination, some upper extremity strength (especially for the peanut butter), bilateral coordination for using a helper hand. They also get to work on using some isolated wrist/forearm movements. If they are really good at this you can challenge them on this step and the next step to use their opposite hand.
- Fourth, when they are spreading the ingredients on the bread it takes hand eye coordination, bilateral coordination with the helper hand stabilizing while the other hand coordinates spreading the peanut butter and/or jelly.
- Fifth, they get to practice hand-eye coordination while putting the two slices of bread together!
You can make the activity even more fun by using cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the bread which will add to the upper extremity strength required.
Enough time spent practicing this self-help skill and your kiddo can be a full time helper!!
What other ideas have you tried?