Month: April 2020

Life Skills to Teach your Child during Quarantine

Life Skills to Teach your Child during Quarantine

As parents, we have a unique situation which allows us to spend a lot of time with our children at home.  As an OT, I can’t help but think of it as a great opportunity to teach your kids some basic life skills, that will stay with them long past quarantine life!

  1. Cooking and baking. Kids learn best when they can use their sensory systems (hear, smell, taste, touch, sight) and baking and cooking entail all of them!  It is a phenomenal sensory opportunity, from dealing with new textures on their hands or face, new smells and tastes, tolerating loud noises…it covers lots of areas that could be hard for your child.  Other skills that are targeted with baking and cooking are:  using measuring cups (bilateral skills, math), stirring with spoon (bilateral and fine motor skills), following a recipe (time management, sequencing steps, reading), kitchen safety (safe vs. unsafe situations, being aware of potential hazards, how to use fire extinguisher, when to call 9-1-1), and cleaning up (how to hand wash and dry dishes, load dishwasher, etc.).  Not to mention it is a great way to pass time with a reward of food at the end!
  2. Carry on a conversation. As I child, I was horribly shy and would have benefited from some coaching.  Practice people within your family or maybe even over FaceTime.  Work on how to introduce themself, ask questions and wait for a response, eye contact, active listening, and how to politely exit a conversation.   You might be surprised how much a little bit of practice can make a huge difference in your child’s confidence in social situations.
  3. I am by no means a seamstress, but I can definitely sew a button.  Even if it is something basic, you may tap into an interest they previously would not have experienced.  Start small with tasks like, sewing a button, threading a needle and hand stitching two pieces of fabric together.  If you are more sewing savvy, trying making a pillow or maybe even making face masks for your family! Sewing targets fine motor and bilateral skills, executive functioning (sequencing steps, following a pattern, etc.).
  4. Not a glamorous task in the eyes of child, but great life skills!  Obviously, not every child can complete every chore due to safety issues and age restrictions, but again start simply for your younger children (put clothes in hamper, put dishes in sink, rinse dishes, put away toys, etc.) and more complex for your older ones (scrubbing shower, loading and unloading dishwasher, dusting, running the vacuum, washing windows, sweeping floors, etc.) .  Chore charts can be a big motivator for kids of all ages and help you get the chores done.
  5. Doing Laundry. This can entail a LOT of steps that target different skills.  For example, sorting clothes by colors (executive functioning), carrying laundry basket and loading/unloading washer or dryer (heavy work, sensory input), when to start and stop loads of wash (time management), folding clothes (bilateral skills and motor planning), and putting clothes away (organizational skills). Either have your child do a portion or complete all the steps, it’s never too early to foster independence and lend you some help on laundry day.
  6. Use tools (with supervision of course!). Using tools can be incredibly motivating for kids and help them feel great satisfaction by building and creating.  Again, using tools requires fine motor and bilateral coordination, eye hand coordination, safety awareness, and executive functioning. Again, keep things easy for younger kids (using a hammer/nail or screwdriver/screw) and maybe take on a full project for older kids (building a birdhouse, assisting in fixing the mailbox, etc.).
  7. Budgeting money. Help your child understand the value of a dollar and how to manage money.  Try activities like using a weekly allowance to “buy” preferred toys or activities.  Offer opportunities to make and spend money.  This will give them insight and help them learn how to count change, prioritizing wants, and truly understand that things come with a cost!

I hope you can take this extra time with your children to teach them some lifelong skills.  Check in with your OT for more suggestions on how to make your child more independent!


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Ideas for Brown Bear, Brown Bear


Model language for your child

-Read with the rhythm of the book

-Leave out words and have the children fill in words (after multiple repetitions) “Green frog, green frog. What do you ______? I see a blue _____. Looking at me.” Pause for a few seconds then fill in the words: “HORSE”

-Read and make statements to describe

“This is a duck, it is yellow, it says quack-quack”

Ask what questions – if they don’t know give a choice of 2, “duck or sheep”

-What color is this animal?

-What animal is this?

-What sound does it make?

-What does it eat?

Ask where questions -if they don’t know give choice of 2, “farm or house”

-Where does the animal live?

-Work on spatial concepts and vocabulary (in the water, up in the sky, in a nest, on top of a lily pad, in a barn)

Talk about animal characteristics (Expansion Expression Tool)

If they don’t know give a choice of 2, “fur or feathers”

-Group group: What group or category does it belong in? (farm animal or pet)

-Blue do: What does it do?

-What does it look like?: (describe size, shape of its body, color)

-What is it made of?: (fur, wool, feathers, hair, skin)

-Pink Parts: (legs, webbed feet, fins, eyes, beak, wool, ears etc)

-White where: where does it live?

-What else do I know? (fun facts/observations)



Expansion activities:

Color match sorting bears

Color match M&Ms, Fruit Loops etc

Counting and graphing

Print and copy letters

Starts with Letter

Brown bear snack – teddy grahams

Retell story

Make puppets with popsicle sticks or paper bags

Make your own brown bear book


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How to Encourage Your Child to Practice Their Speech and Language Skills at Home

Are you having trouble motivating your child to practice their speech and language skills at home? Your child’s speech therapist is likely assigning tasks to practice at home throughout the week to reinforce the skills they’re learning in therapy. Home practice can make a huge difference in their progress and usually means faster improvement. Speech therapy isn’t an easy fix and it requires a lot of hard work and consistent practice over many months or even years. Home practice does not have to be boring! Below is a list of applications, websites, and games that you can utilize to make home practice fun:

  • Applications
    • My PlayHome
      • Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
      • Price: $3.99
      • Description: My PlayHome is an interactive doll house game that contains a variety of male and female characters that can eat, drink, cook, shower, sleep, and so much more. Your child can explore every room in the house while enjoying the colorful and detailed illustrations.
      • How to use it:
        • Expressive language skills: Labeling actions and common objects, producing regular and irregular past tense verbs, answering wh- questions, describing picture scenes, telling how common objects are used, naming categories, producing he/she pronouns and regular plural -s.
        • Receptive language skills: Identifying common items, understanding verbs in context, understanding use of common objects, following directions, and understanding pronouns.
      • Why it works: My patients absolutely love this game. It is so fun and motivating- they don’t even realize they are working on a variety of language skills!


  • Articulation Station
    • Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
    • Price: Lite version is free, individual sounds range from $3.99 to $7.99, and full version is $59.99
    • Description: The application includes 22 different sounds and 6 engaging articulation activities to help your child speak and pronounce their sounds more clearly.
    • How to use it: Select the individual sound(s) your child is working on in speech therapy and practice at the word, phrase, sentence, or story level.
    • Why it works: The application is fun, colorful, and engaging. You can practice your child’s sounds through flashcards, matching games, rotating sentences, unique sentences, and stories. The activities are so fun that my patients often forget they are “working” on their articulation skills.


  • Websites
    • Home Speech Home
  • Link:
  • Description: Home Speech Home is a website created by two certified speech-language pathologists. This website offers a variety of activities and word lists to practice articulation, apraxia, language, and stuttering principles. In addition, speech and language developmental norms and an overview of various speech and language disorders are also included.
  • How to use it: I frequently utilize the word lists feature with my older patients. I select the specific sound(s) that my patient is working on and incorporate the words while playing their favorite board game or within conversation. You can practice their articulation skills at home with premade words, phrases, sentences, and stories.


  • Mommy Speech Therapy
    • Link:
    • Description: Mommy Speech Therapy is a website created by a certified speech-language pathologist. This website offers a variety of free articulation worksheets that include colorful pictures of your child’s specific target words, as well as helpful tips and tricks on how to increase your child’s speech and language skills at home.
    • How to use it: You can select your child’s specific sound(s) and print out the associated free articulation pictures, cut them into individual pictures, and play a variety of games at home. You can hide the pictures around the house and have a “scavenger hunt” and ask your child to name the pictures when they find them. You can print out an extra page and play Go Fish or a matching game with the pictures while reinforcing their articulation skills. The options are limitless!


  • Games
    • Guess Who
    • How to play: You can target a variety of language and articulation skills with this classic board game. Guess Who is great for working on he/she pronouns, asking questions, answering yes/no questions, producing grammatical forms (e.g. do/does, has/have), and articulation skills at the conversational level.
  • Hedbanz
    • How to play: Hedbanz is a fun way to work on naming categories, answering yes/no questions, turn taking, and articulation skills while your child guesses the identity of the card they’ve been dealt.
  • Simon Says
    • How to play: Simon Says is a quick and easy game to work on identifying common objects (e.g. body parts), following one-step directions, as well as directions of increasing length and complexity.

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Developmental Checklist

Is your child meeting their developmental milestones?