Starfish Therapies

July 2, 2017

Crossing Midline

twister yoga

Crossing midline is the ability for your hands, feet, and eyes to move across your body. Being able to cross midline is an important skill for children to develop as it is needed to complete everyday tasks such as, putting on shoes, reading, writing, and ball skills. Crossing midline includes visually tracking. Visually tracking includes your child’s ability to move their eyes across midline without moving their head, which is an important skill for reading. Being able to cross midline allows for your child’s brain to make connections from one side of their brain to the other. Children who have difficulties crossing midline typically do not have a dominant hand, may often lose their place while reading, and may have difficulties throwing and catching a ball.

Here are some fun activities that you can incorporate into your child’s playtime to encourage crossing midline:

  • Popping bubbles: Blow bubbles and encourage your child to reach across their body to pop the bubbles. Make sure that your child pops bubbles with both hands.
  • Drawing figure eights: You can have your child draw figure eights on a piece of paper or for some added fun have them draw figure eights in shaving cream
  • Bean bag games: Have your child reach across their body to grab a bean bag and then throw the bean bag at a target. Make sure your child is using both hands to grab bean bags.
  • Windmills: Have your child stand with their feet a bit wider than shoulder width, have them try to bring their opposite hand down to touch their opposite foot. Repeat this exercise 10 times on each side.
  • Play twister: This is a great game to encourage your child to reach across midline with both their hands and their feet.
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February 10, 2012

Balloon in the Air

  

In our group this week we decided to challenge the kids a bit and add in hitting a balloon back and forth to each other.  We even felt a little ambitious and had a second balloon ready to go just in case we could add two into the mix!  Boy were we over ambitious on that thought!  I had realized some of the benefits of hitting a balloon with your hand back and forth (or even just with you trying to get it) but it wasn’t until I watched these kiddos try to grasp the concept that I saw all the skills they were working on.

Visual Tracking – The kiddos had to follow where the balloon was going so they could be ready if it came to them.  This involves following the balloon with their eyes to see where it was going.  We often had to provide extra cues to help with this.  We would say their name and we would point to the balloon as it was coming to them.  When one of the adults hit the balloon we would say the kiddo’s name that we were hitting it to to try to help them follow it and be ready.

Hand Eye Coordination – This was challenging.  They had to not only follow the balloon by visually tracking it, they then had to time and motor plan how to hit the balloon when it came to them so that their hand actually connected with the balloon.  We found that many of the kids had a hard time with the idea of batting it with their hand because they wanted to catch the balloon (this is when it may be handy to use a fly swatter or tongue depressor attached to a paper plate).  And when they did make contact with the balloon they had to try to bat it back into the air and towards one of their friends.

Motor Planning – I already mentioned the motor planning involved with batting the balloon with their hands but they also have to plan out how to move their bodies so they can get to the balloon and hit it up in the air again.  This involves timing, balance and body awareness.

Balance – For some of the kids they got to practice their ability to anticipate a movement and maintain their balance before, during and after the movement.  With one of the kiddos who has a hard time maintaining standing balance when asked to do a task, we practiced it a few times and he went from losing his balance every time he hit the balloon to being able to remain standing!  For one of our older kids that we work with we actually used it as a balance activity and had her stand on an unstable surface while she had to hit the balloon back and forth with another person.

‘Ball’ Skills – All of the younger kids initially wanted to catch the balloon and then throw it.  We had to spend some time breaking down the task and ‘teach’ them to hit the balloon with their hand when it was coming towards them.  This was a whole change for them because usually they are asked to catch a ball which is a different set of skills than hitting it away with their hands.

Counting – We decided to make it a ‘game’ to keep their interest so we were trying to see how many hits we could get before the balloon hit the ground.  During this game the adults tended to hit the balloon more but the kids were all counting out loud with each hit, allowing them to work on 1:1 number association.

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