Category Archives: General Blog Posts

Cutting Skills

Cutting skills are very important for a child’s fine motor skill development and often start at a young age.

Cutting skills are quite complex and it takes time and practice for children to develop and master this skill.

Using scissors correctly helps to:

  • Build hand and finger strength
  • Develop skills for fingers to work together
  • Independent movements of each finger
  • Increased hand and finger dexterity
  • Promote functional grasp
  • Increase focus and attention to a task
  • Promote bilateral coordination – necessary to hold scissors in one hand and hold paper in the other.
  • Promote eye-hand coordination – required when cutting along a line

Scissor skills can help build hand and finger strength, develop skills necessary for fingers to work together which is also required to promote a functional pencil grasp which can increase pencil control and overall handwriting.

Tips for Ensuring your Child is Using Scissors Correctly:

  1. Ensure your child is sitting appropriately on a chair and at a table (not slouching).
  2. Ensure thumb, index and middle fingers are through the scissor holes or thumb and middle finger with index finger on outside of scissors for support. There are different ways to hold scissors correctly depending on the scissors (see below).
  3. Practice action of opening and closing scissors prior to properly cutting paper.
  4. Ensure thumb is facing upwards when using scissors to cut paper.
  5. Encourage your child to hold the paper off the table with helper hand.
  6. Practice, practice, practice – start with practicing cutting straight lines and curved lines, progress to circles and spirals and basic shapes such as squares and triangles.

There are multiple different ways to hold scissors correctly depending on whether the scissors have round and oval holes. See photo below showing different ways to hold scissors depending on if scissors have 1 round and 1 oval hole, 2 oval holes or 2 round holes.

(OT Mom Learning Activities, 2019)

It is also important that left-handed children always use left-handed scissors as the blades are attached differently and impact the child’s ability to see the line or where they are cutting.

Scissor Skill Progressions:

  1. Learning to hold scissors (1.5 to 2 years old) – often using plastic scissors and opening and closing the blades using two hands.
  2. Opening and closing scissors (2 – 2.5 years old) – great time to practice with playdough and tearing paper.
  3. Once child has mastered opening and closing the scissors they can move on to snipping the paper.
  4. Snips paper moving forward (3 years old) – making snips in paper while moving scissors forward.
  5. Using helper hand (3 – 3.5 years old) – use of ‘helper’ / non-dominate hand to hold and turn the paper while cutting.
  6. Cutting straight lines (3 -3.5 years old) – moving scissors along a straight line, accuracy is still a work in progress.
  7. Cutting along curved lines (4 years old) – able to cut along a relatively wide curved line.
  8. Cuts circle shape (4 years old) – able to cut out circle shapes, accuracy is still a work in progress.
  9. Cuts square shape (4.5 – 5 years old) – a child can cut out a square shape.
  10. Cuts complex shapes (between ages of 5-6) – able to cut more complex shapes such as triangles and figures.

It is important to remember that these are approximate average age range to develop and master these skills. Some children may develop these skills earlier or later compared to the average age.

Tips if Your Child is Struggling with Developing Cutting Skills:

  • Use hand over hand assistance while your child is starting to learn this skill.
  • Use spring loaded scissors as this can help with the action of opening the scissors.
  • Highlight the line where child needs to cut so that this stands out for them.
  • Using play dough scissors and snipping play dough when staring to learn the skill.
  • Holding playdough / paper for child so that they can focus on opening and closing motion of scissors.
  • Modelling this action for your child to watch and then copy.

References:

Dena Bishop. (2018). What are the benefits of cutting with scissors for young children?  https://www.continued.com/early-childhood-education/ask-the-experts/what-benefits-cutting-with-scissors-22719

OT Mom Learning Activities. (2019). Scissor Cutting. https://www.ot-mom-learning-activities.com/scissor-cutting.html

Growing Hands on Kids. (2018). Scissor Skills Development Checklist for Ages 2-6. Retrieved from https://www.growinghandsonkids.com/scissor-skill-development-checklist-for-ages-2-6.html

The OT ToolBox. (2019). Scissor Skills. Retrieved from https://www.theottoolbox.com/scissor-skills/

If you feel that your child would benefit from Occupational Therapy sessions to work on cutting skills, please contact the Building Blocks Therapy Clinic for more information.

Carly Pettingill

DIR/Floor Time Play Blog

Tips for playing with your kids who are 5 and under based on the DIR/Floor Time Model

  1. Follow your child’s lead
    • This is the best starting place for interacting with your kids!
    • Following your child’s lead gives you insight into your child’s interests, what brings them joy and what is meaningful to them. If we follow the child’s lead, we can start on their level and then playfully, respectfully and joyfully build their play skills and ideas from there

  2. Join your child’s world, then pull them into a shared world to build their interactions and play
    • By starting with respecting your child’s motivations you have now been able to peak your child’s interest and using that interest you can pull your child into a shared world where you are interacting and playing together
    • Being in a shared world and interacting together you are able to more readily support your child to
      • Learn to focus and attend
      • Learn to take initiative
      • Learn to have empathy
      • Learn to have back and forth communication through gestures and words
      • Learn to be creative
      • Learn to problem solve

  3. How do we practically put these 2 together?
    • If your child is spinning around and around in a circle, join them! Then build a shared world by playfully stopping them in front of your face, engaging in eye contact and laughter, then continue spinning and playfully stopping them
    • If your child is pushing cars around on a track, join them with another car! Then create a shared world and shared experience through doing a new action with the car, crash the car using silly loud sounds or make it jump over the track, extending their play ideas, tolerance of others and shared interactions
    • If your child is having tummy time and manipulating toys in front of them join them on the floor! Start by manipulating the object (soft toy, block, mirror etc) they are looking at, using lots of fun and silly sounds whilst playing. Then hide an object and return it with a big surprised sound to encourage joint attention and a shared experience

Summary

  • The first point of call is to use your child’s interest and follow their lead. Be mindful that a part of entering your child’s world is tuning into their pleasures, joys, challenges, personality and differences and accepting their choice of play
  • We want to make sure the experience is full of joy and pleasure for both parties. If the play experiences in becoming stressful, consider taking a break and evaluating why the play experience in no longer being fruitful
  • Encourage a shared world by adding to your child’s interest and by using a high affect i.e. big facial expressions, noises, sounds effects and actions to peak their interest and engagement

References

  1. FLOORTIME: WHAT IT REALLY IS, AND WHAT IT ISN’T, By Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D.
  2. What is Floortime?
  3. DIR Floortime courses

The DIR/Floortime model has identified 9 development capacities that children need to master in order to have the right building blocks of play skills and to not push your child outside of their developmental capacity. If you would like to know more about these capacities, please refer to the references above.

COVID-19 Home Activities

DIY Indoor Activity Walk

Winter is fast approaching, but just because the rain and cold is keeping us inside, it doesn’t mean we can’t keep moving! Here is a list of components for creating an activity walk inside your own house! Feel free to chose as many or few as you like, based on how much space you have, and what materials you own. These activities develop skills including: Balance, coordination, midline crossing, proprioception, and other gross motor skills. For some extra engagement and activities, have your children colour in the pictures as you make the course!

Click here to download a copy of the templates.

Starting line:
Start with feet placed on the feet template
Print template 1 and cut (or have your children cut) out each letter and place (or stick) it on the ground. This will mark where to start your activity walk!

If you do not have access to a printer, simply draw and write a “START” and some feet to mark it.
You will need:
– Printer OR Textas
– Scissors
Lilypad Jump:
Jump with two feet onto each lily pad.  
– Set this activity up on carpet, with lily pads stuck down, or jump next to the lily pads to reduce the risk of them sliding out underneath on our jumps –
Print 4 copies of template 2 or draw some green lily pads.

Cut them out and place them a small jump apart from each other. This can move in a straight line or zig zag back and forth to conserve space
You will need:
– Printer OR Textas
– Scissors
Tightrope walk:
Balance across the tightrope! For an added challenge, place feet heel to toe  
Place a piece of string along the ground in a straight, or slightly curving line. You will need: String/yarn/rope etc.
Crab walk:
Sit down with feet on the floor, and knees pointing up. Use your hands to push and lift your bottom off the floor. Then move along in the direction of the walk
Print (template 3) or draw and cut out the crab and the arrow. Place them on the floor in the direction of the walk. You will need:
– Printer OR Textas
– Scissors
Spinning steps:
Step to each arrow, and then complete a spin in the direction the arrow is pointing
Print (template 4) or draw and cut out 6 spinning icons and place them in a windy line moving forwards along the curve. You will need:
– Printer OR Textas
– Scissors
Movement Challenge:
Complete the action on the sign!
Stick a sign of A4 paper to the wall (or pop it on the floor). Write a different challenge on each sign, for as many signs as you want/can think of. Some ideas are:
– 5 star jumps
– Jump on the spot
– Do a push up
– Push on the wall
– Do 2 squats
– Balance on one leg  
You will need:
– Textas
Finish line:
Finish and strike a winner pose! Hands up in the air, do a bow, give yourself a clap, whatever you like!  
Print (template 5) or draw the finish line and a star/trophy whatever you like to mark the finish! You will need:
– Printer OR Textas
– Scissors

Tummy Time Blog

Tummy Time is incredibly beneficial for your little ones! Michelle, one of our OT’s has put together this summary on Tummy Time with some tips and tricks on how to embed this into your everyday routine!

Toilet Training Blog

A few of our very talented therapists have worked together to create this blog with 10 tips and tricks to aid in the toilet training process!

Learning Towers

What are Learning Towers?

Learning towers are simple pieces of furniture that are designed to support children in their independence, and provide access to spaces and environments that they may have been previously unable to access. Some are adjustable to be transformed into tables, and others adaptable as your child grows. These are very safe stools for children, with an enclosed structure allowing toddlers to reach higher surfaces than they may be able to access on their own. They meet both mandatory and voluntary Australian safety standards.

Why are Learning Towers useful?

Children love getting involved in activities with the family, such as cooking, washing up and self-care. Learning Towers provide a safe way for toddlers to engage in these activities, controlling more variables. Some examples are:

  • You can moderate where your child is in the kitchen space. By setting up the learning tower away from stoves and other more dangerous equipment, your toddler can be involved in meal preparation activities, developing their self-care, fine motor, coordination and other countless activities, in a safe environment
  • Your child can engage in activities with you, and learn family traditions, food preparation ideas and develop a sense of responsibility and agency in the kitchen from a younger age. 
  • By engaging in more activities alongside your child, this provides more quality time and opportunity for bonding and developing social skills
  • The structure of the Learning Tower allows your child to give their full attention to the activity at hand, without needing to worry about slipping off a stool, or a chair falling over!
  • Getting children involved in the kitchen is great for supporting picky eaters! Evidence shows that when children cook with their parents, they are more likely to eat healthier food, and felt more positive and in control of their food intake (Van Der Horst, Ferrage & Rytz, 2014)

References:

Van der Horst, K., Ferrage, A. & Rytz, A. (2014). Involving children in meal preparation. Effects on food intake. Elsevier, 79(1), 18-24. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2014.03.030

Natalie

Occupational Therapist

Games to Play with Feelings Disks

Are you looking for some new creative ways to engage your child in conversations about emotions? Here are 10 fun game ideas created by our therapists using feelings disks. The feelings disks can be purchased here.