Starfish Therapies

April 17, 2017

Hand and Foot Play

Hand and foot play is an important part of a child’s development.  So is bringing the feet to their mouth (unfortunately I didn’t get a good picture of that!).  So what are some of the reasons it is so important?

  1. Hamstring stretches – They just spent 9 months cramped up in the ‘fetal’ position. This means their knees were flexed and in close to the body. By reaching for their feet they are beginning to perform hamstring stretches that will help to lengthen the muscle.
  2. Core strength – By lifting their feet up and reaching with their hands, they are working their abdominal muscles which will help to develop their core strength. You try lifting both your feet up and reaching with your hands. Its not easy work on those abs!
  3. Midline – You can see in the pictures that they can bring their hands and/or feet to midline which helps to increase their awareness of where midline is.
  4. Body awareness – Hand and foot play allows your baby to explore their body and the various parts of their body. They begin to realize that their feet are attached to them and that their hands and feet can work together.
  5. Exploration – Once they are participating in hand and foot play, you will probably see them putting their feet in their mouth. This is how babies explore. They put everything in their mouth, including their own toes!
  6. Movement – As you can also see in the photos lots of movement is happening. He isn’t just lying flat on his back holding his feet. He is rocking back and forth, dropping one foot, picking it back up again, etc. This helps to create building blocks for movement and cause and effect. If they end up on their side, what do they have to do next?
  7. Self-soothing – When they are engaged in play with their feet, or putting their toes in their mouth, they are also able to self-soothe. This can help with sensory regulation.

If your child isn’t doing this, you can help to encourage them.  Gently bring their feet up towards their hands. Maybe help them to put their hands on their feet and try to grasp them. You can make a game out of it by playing peek-a-boo behind their feet so that their feet are in midline when you are ‘hiding’. You could also do ‘This little piggy’ while you have their feet up in the air and count each toe. You can play ‘patty-cake’ while holding their hand and feet together and bringing them to midline for each ‘clap’.

What are other ways you have encouraged hand and foot play?

July 18, 2012

Stacking Cups

Stacking cups can be a great activity for many skills including motivation for gross motor skills!

  • Visual motor skills – you can vary the size of the cups, the color of the cups or even the weight of the cups to provide different input and make it easier or more challenging
  • grading of movements – if the child puts the cup down too hard the whole tower may fall over so they get to practice regulating their force
  • accuracy of movement and body awareness – when reaching to place the cup the child can work on accuracy.  They get immediate feedback if they aren’t accurate because they can knock the whole tower down or the single cup they are placing could fall off!  In addition, if they walk right into the tower they will receive immediate feedback as well.
  • squatting – you can have the cups on the floor so the child has to squat down to pick up the next one and then stand to place it on the tower.

Once the tower is built you can practice rolling balls, throwing balls, riding on a scooter to crash into the tower and then start all over again!

Crashing can be used as an activity to increase arousal or to work on self regulation.
What other ideas do you have?

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