Starfish Therapies

June 7, 2017

Apps for PT and Kids

jump jump froggy
Its always fun to find new apps to use with kids. They like the variety and its nice to challenge and engage them in different ways. Here are a few that our therapists have found recently! We’d love to hear what apps you have been using!
Physical Therapy For Kids (By Preferred Mobile Applications LLC) $6.99
The Physical Therapy For Kids App was created by a yoga instructor and a Physical Therapist to aid pediatric physical therapists in working with their patients. This app has fun images to provide as visuals for 56 different exercises that help kids practice gross motor strength, balance, and coordination activities. Select a picture and tap it repeatedly to see the animation of the exercise.
Recommended for children ages 3-12
Jump Jump Froggy (By Timothy Charoenying) Free
This app features four fun activities: Jump up, 30-second speed hopping challenge, sit-ups, and push-ups. Fun animations come to life with each activity; the on screen action is a direct result of the player’s engagement in the activity. Kids can play to beat their high score and there is a multi-player mode so kids can compete with their friends and family.
Recommended for children of all ages
Super Stretch Yoga (By The Adventures of Super Stretch LLC) Free
This fun app created for kids provides an interactive experience for doing yoga.
Using storytelling, animation and video examples, kids can practice 12 different yoga poses (there are videos of children performing each pose). You can go through all the poses at once or choose 1 pose to do at a time and repeat as often as you like.
Recommended for children 3 and up
Toca Dance Free (By Toca Boca AB) Free
This is a fun app help kids practice motor planning and coordination. It is available as a free version. In this app you dress your dancers and choreograph a dance.  Then a video is made of the completed dance.  Kids can watch and learn the dance created and can pause the video or repeat parts to practice at their own pace.
You can even choreograph movements like squatting, jumping or crossing midline to work on certain PT goals.
Recommended for children ages 6 and up

October 24, 2012

Guided Access on the iPad

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 12:00 pm
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I don’t know how many of you let your kids use your iPad and then find that they have navigated to something completely different than the app you set them up with, well it happens to us at work all the time.  In fact, they manage to navigate through the iPad in a way I still have yet to figure out!  Well the new iOS6 has something called guided access which will stop this from happening.

Apparently you just have to follow these steps: settings > accessibility > guided access

Now let your kids enjoy the apps without wondering what they are getting into!

PS – Just for full disclosure, I have not tried this feature yet as I have not updated my software but my coworkers have tried it and think its great!


May 3, 2012

The Power of Kids to Influence Us!

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 12:00 pm
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So, I am always amazed at what good enrollers kids are.  They do it naturally.  Yes, we have our agenda that we want to get through to them however their agenda always manages to sneak in as well.  For instance, I use a lot of different motivation techniques, especially for my 5-7 year olds and as a result I now find myself hooked on Smurf Village and Zombie Takeover (not from my choosing but because its what works with our kids).  As if I didn’t have enough to do on my ‘off’ hours, I am now monitoring Zombies and Smurfs because if I didn’t the kids would notice.  For instance, I walked into the clinic today and the first question out of my 7 year old kiddo’s mouth was ‘Did you get the Zombie Cheerleader yet?’.  We also have intense discussions about what crops we should plant on the Smurf Village based on time left in the session.  I know these sound like silly games but they are amazingly motivating for the kids.  You’d be amazed at what a child will do in order to harvest the next crop or feed a zombie.

In addition to being motivating for the kids it also works on finger isolation and precision for pointing.  They get to learn limits (they are not allowed to spend Smurf Berries) and we can talk about do we want to earn more XP’s to get to a higher level faster or more coins to be able to add things to the village.  In addition we work on standing balance, cross body reaching while having them tap on the screen, and visual attention while doing gross motor tasks to name a few.  They also get to talk about strategy in terms of what is most important to do first and prioritize on each game, its great to see their reasoning skills.

I am sure there are a ton of other games out there like these although I don’t know if I want to know about them because I don’t think I can handle overseeing another set of creatures on a daily basis – my Smurfs and Zombies are keeping my hands full!

March 28, 2012

FitQuest Lite – An App for Reaction Time Practice

Your Therapy Source told me about the Free app FitQuest Lite by JogHop and I downloaded it and then tried to figure out when I would use it.  It actually worked great for 2 kiddos that I work with that are completely different in terms of presentation.  One of the kiddos has Developmental Coordination Disorder and we work a lot on timing of movement that is self generated, that is cued, that is reactionary to something happening to the environment as well as the coordination of that movement.  The other kiddo has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and we spend a lot of time working on bilateral hand use, standing balance, anticipatory balance control and reaction time.  By using this app I was able to work on all of these things.  They get the visual cues of the squirrel running down a path (whose movement is generated by the kiddo’s movement) and then have to react to the obstacles that come along the way.  This can include jumping over a snake or ducking to get away from an eagle.  In addition to the visual cues I have been able to vocally tell them when to jump or duck or whatever the task is requiring.  As they practice and get the repetition and are able to anticipate when to move to get the desired result and time the motion so that they make it over the snake, they need less and less verbal cues.  Their timing and reactions improve as well as their anticipatory reactions where they can plan a movement and their body knows what it needs to do in order to maintain their balance for that action.  For my kiddo that has spastic quadriplegia CP we didn’t do the leg motions as much but used the bilateral hand use to generate the movement.  He was able to make it jump by lifting the phone up, and duck by bringing the phone down.  The squirrel was able to move down the path by him shaking his arms slightly.  It was a great balance tool and really helped his bilateral hand use.

All in all this is a great app that’s free and can work on anticipatory reactions as well a timing, balance and bilateral hand use!

February 27, 2012

StoryKit – Making My Own Gross Motor Adventure Story

I love books.  I often use books in therapy as motivation to have kids reach up to turn a page or do something in order for me to read the next page.  I even used a book that one of our OT’s had adapted and made it into a gross motor activity.  That being said I haven’t found many books that I can use to facilitate gross motor activities (I would love any suggestions if you know of any out there).  So I finally decided to make up my own stories that could include gross motor activities.  So far I have only made one story but I have a ton of ideas for other stories.

I was about to download Pictello which will allow you to use photos to make a talking book.  The cost of that was 18.99 which I would have paid in order to make these stories (ideas) floating around in my head but then I noticed StoryKit which was free!  I figured this was a great way to play around with the idea and then I could always switch to Pictello if I wanted to.  The only slight disadvantage is that StoryKit is only on the iphone (although you could just expand it on your ipad) wheras Pictello is on both the iphone and ipad.

StoryKit even let me upload the story so I could email a link to someone else.  I thought I would share my first story with you (its not very creative but you can get some ideas for how you can do it).  My thoughts are that the reward/treasure at the end is another ‘fun’ activity that the kiddo likes to do but is still working on their skills.

For some of our kids I also thought this would be a great idea to get them to help me create the story with the activities they are doing and it can be motivation for performing the task.

I definitely feel like other disciplines can use this too in order to work on the skills they want to practice but I was so excited that I can finally make my gross motor story books!

January 30, 2012

Using Apps in PT


Okay, I’ll admit, I have app envy for the OT’s and SLP’s that have these great apps that they can use for their therapy sessions.  I keep checking out all the apps that I see recommended to see if I can figure out how to modify them for use in PT.  So far the best way I have figured out how to use them is for motivation and then also for exercise selection.  My favorites to use are below:

  1. Make Dice – This one is my new favorite now that Spinnerz is no longer available.  It lets you customize your dice and add as many dice as you want so that you could make one with activities and another one with numbers so it will tell you how many of each activity the kid has to do.  (The OT I work with got excited about making dice with letters on it so that the kiddo could roll the dice to figure out what letter they have to work on.)
  2. Mad Libs – This app was fun to use with a slightly older boy who understood that we were working on making a fun story and I got to explain the different types of words to him.  We are working on walking without an assistive device so every time he took 10-15 steps we got to do another word.  It fills in the smiley faces to show you how many words are still left so the kiddo also has a visual for how much longer until the story is finished.  It was the longest and farthest I have ever had this kiddo walk without complaining!
  3. Time Timer – This one is a little pricier if you get the ipad version but you can get the iphone version and just enlarge it.  Its a portable alternative for that classic red timer that gets used in a lot of therapy sessions.  I use it for kids who want to know how long they have to do an activity or for those who I am trying to increase their endurance or just their ability to stick with one task for longer periods of time.  Its great because you can change the sounds so that the kids get a sound when the time is up as well as a visual.
  4. Any-O-Meter – It is basically a meter that you can adjust by tilting the ipad.  You can create your own meters for whatever you are having the kiddo work on.  If you are working on step length you could have one that says big step on one end and small step on the other end.  You could play hide and seek with an object and have the kiddo crawl, tiptoe, run, skip, walk to find it or even go over, under, around and up obstacles to find it.  For this one you could use a hot/cold meter.  It can be a lot of fun!  If you have a kiddo with the right personality and you are working on mastering a skill you could use the preset awesome-o-meter and rate them after each trial (this one definitely takes a kiddo with the right personality though)!
  5. The Button – When I saw this I wasn’t sure if it would be of any use to us since we don’t currently have speech therapy and it may be cumbersome for some of our kids to have to program in the lines everytime we wanted them to say something.  Well, I was looking for a way to entertain one of my kiddos while we were working on reaching in sitting for trunk control and posture so I pulled this out and we had a blast for the rest of the session using it.  He had to reach up with two hands to touch the button and he would pick someone or something and I would write a message that the button would say when he pressed it.  I haven’t seen him laugh so hard in a long time.  Especially when we said one of the cat’s was a dog or that one of our therapists liked broccoli.  And he couldn’t wait to push it to see what it said next.  So you could probably use this for a kiddo that you want to repeat things over and over so that each trial they could push the button.  We had a blast although my personal favorite was when the button said ‘Stacy is the greatest’.
  6. Spinnerz – I have already touched on this one in How to Make Therapy Fun – Ways to Motivate Past the ‘No’. I just can’t resist posting it because it was so great and I hope someone will find another custom spinner that is as versatile.  Unfortunately it still seems to be off the market and I have looked for some other custom spinners but have not had much success with them being as versatile as this one.  Anyone who has found a great custom spinner please share!

I will keep you posted as I continue on the search for PT apps!  Please share any you use.

December 3, 2011

Motor Smart Toys and Tips

Pizza Party

Melissa and Doug Pizza Party Play Food Set from

Food Cutting – There are some great toys out there by Melissa and Doug (and probably others) that let kids have a pizza party or a birthday party with pretend food and practice cutting it as well as putting it back together.  It involves velcro which works on hand strength, cutting which works on activities of daily living, pretend play, and imagination.  They also have pretend foods in other categories such as fruit!

Spinnerz – This is a twist on the magic eight ball.  You can customize it to make your own options.  Its a great way to engage kids and get them to do fine or gross motor skill!  Your Therapy Source gives some great ideas for making lists.  We all know kids love anything that involves using the iphone or an ipad!  It does involve some work because you have to go in and customize the options but you could make it a group activity and have your kids come up with some ideas too!

Movement and Dance – We have been doing a movement and dance class and bought a few CD’s to support us in the class and keep it interesting for the kids.  They have been great! I have even used them with kids not in the group.  I am generally sweating at the end of the session and have even had sore muscles!  Kids get to work on following instructions quickly, gross motor skills, strengthening, endurance, body awareness and rhythm.  A few of the ones we have been using are:


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