Fine motor skills help students develop and strengthen the small muscles in their hands, fingers, and thumbs to complete tasks such as writing, cutting, buttoning, zippering, and many life skills. The development of fine motor skills are important for completing tasks throughout our daily lives. It is very important for students to have the opportunity to work on these skills every day. Each morning students unpack and walk over to the fine motor station to choose from a variety activities based on classroom themes and season. These activities are a great way to regulate and engage students as well as strengthen some of these skills. They are also highly motivating and can be done individually, with a peer, or small group. It is also a great way to spend down time in the classroom.
5 Fun Springtime Fine Motor Activities
2. Easter Egg Sorting
3. Yarn Wrapped Tulips
4. Egg Counting Hole Punch Activity
5. Rainbow Patterning
Sam Losurdo, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
Watching the Oscars, we saw many talented actors recognized for their great work. It got us thinking... Although daily life does not dole out awards, it is important to recognize the accomplishments from small gains to major milestones in our children/students to even ourselves! Celebrate the Children's core value is to "celebrate" the child. But how do we do that on a daily basis? How do we empower our children by building their self-esteem? How do we do this for ourselves as caregivers? How do we keep a positive outlook with our glasses half-full or better yet knowing we will have the opportunity to refill it?
It is important to nurture our children but also ourselves during this journey. From the Nurtured Heart Approach by Howard Glasser, here are a few ways we can give recognition to our children:
1. Active Recognition also described as "Kodak moments" - providing a verbal snapshot of what you observed. (i.e., "I see you...”). Catch them in the moment!
2. Experimental Recognition also described as "Polaroid Moments" - providing verbal feedback of what you see and what it says about the person. (i.e., "I see you... and what that shows me is that you are ...")
3. Proactive Recognition also described as "Cannon moments" - recognizes the rules not broken. (i.e., "I am impressed that you ... instead of ..... That really takes control to make a choice like that!").
4. Creative Recognition- creating success by building the environment for the child to start succeeding! This sets a culture of building and supporting the process while the child learns to get to the end goal. Start with simple doable tasks (i.e., "I need you to do...." then recognize).
We thank the Nurtured Heart Approach in broadening our positive self-esteem toolbox which builds a person's "inner wealth". We are thankful for our dedicated parents who collaborate and advocate for their child's needs. We would like to challenge all the caregivers, staff and parents including ourselves, to nurture a child's heart as well as their own heart! For our nurturing caregivers who model advocacy on a lifelong mission of supporting their child with the goal of empowering their child and believing in them, we hope these tools become an everyday resource. Each day, practice the above tools of recognition on your child and self. As we reflect, although the Oscars are a great accomplishment, the inner wealth gained from our supportive community that we have had the pleasure to work for has enriched us so much more!
Resource: Nutured Heart Approach- Howard Glasser-
-Student and Family Support Services, Celebrate the Children
National Random Acts of Kindness Day will be celebrated on February 17th. This is a wonderful day to take time to show others your appreciation, or just show you care to random strangers. This is also a nice time to teach children about compassion for others without the expectation of receiving something in return. There are many ways to show your kindness:
It is always important to remember that the act itself is not what truly matters, but rather the intent behind the act.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” (Aesop)
Happy National Random Acts of Kindness Day!
-Michelle Rehse, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
Most children love to play in the snow this is a wonderful opportunity to engage with your child. Aside from building a snowman, having a snowball fight, or going sleigh riding there are so many other activities you and your child can take part in and create new memories and experiences.
I hope you are able to enjoy some of these activities with your child in these long cold winter months and create some new memories.
Tara Dolan, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
Obstacle Course - Use couch, cushions, pillows & blankets and encourage your child to climb over under and through to go on scavenger hunt. This promotes motor planning, postural stability, and visual spatial and fine & gross motor skills.
Sledding - Pull your child on a sled. Provides movement and works on core stability. You can also have your child pull you on the sled. This is great way to provide heavy work.
Building a Snowman - Rolling large snowballs is another way to provide heavy work to the body. Add as many body parts as possible and asking your child to identify body parts. You also add a hat, scarf, boots and mittens.
Snowball Target Practice (indoor and outdoor activity) - Have child crumple up old newspaper or recycled paper and have a “snowball fight”. This promotes hand strengthening, eye hand coordination, visual spatial and encourages playful interactions.
Occupational Therapy Department, Celebrate the Children
"It’s not unusual to hear Nicholas Brahm singing a song for all the woods to hear when he’s hiking. He’s not picky with his song repertoire. It could be Jingle Bells (in July), or a car commercial jingle he’s heard on TV or a heavy metal Kiss song. Whatever pops into his eleven-year-old head. He memorizes every jingle and song he hears and feels moved to express himself when he hikes. Yet he has no other functioning speech.
Perhaps this is Nicholas’s way of expressing the joy that he feels while on the Trail, in the woods. Singing is sure-fire proof that one is a happy soul, for he has no other way to express himself verbally. Singing makes Nicholas’s father, Rick, thrilled because Nicholas is autistic, and out here, on the Trail, Nicholas shines the brightest. And so, the New Jersey Sussex County family returns to the A.T. again and again."
The concept of "mindful parenting," may seem out of reach in our fast-paced, technology driven society, however, there are particular elements that are crucial to our children’s emotional development which can help to strengthen our ability to co-regulate and connect with our children. Mindfulness is not another task that we make time for in our already busy, hectic schedules, rather it’s a way of being and connecting with our children.
As Daniel Siegel explains in his book Parenting from the Inside Out,
"Mindfulness is at the heart of nurturing relationships. When we are mindful, we live in the present moment and are aware of our own thoughts and feelings and also are open to those of our children. The ability to stay present with clarity within ourselves allows us to be fully present with others and to respect each person’s individual experience. No two people see things in exactly the same way. Mindfulness gives respect to the sovereignty of each person’s unique mind. When we are being fully present as parents, when we are mindful, it enables our children to fully experience themselves in the moment. Children learn about themselves by the way that we communicate with them. When we are preoccupied with the past or worried about the future, we are physically present with our children but we are mentally absent. Children don’t need us to be connected all of the time, but they do need our presence during connecting interactions. Being mindful as a parent means having intention in your own actions. With intention, you purposefully choose your behavior with your child’s emotional well-being in mind. Children can readily detect intention and thrive when there is purposeful interaction with their parents. It is within our children’s emotional connections with us that they develop a deeper sense of themselves and capacity for relating."
A question that we often hear from parents is, "How do I teach emotional regulation to my child?” This starts with us as parents. It's important to be in tune with our own emotions because our children learn emotional regulation from us. It is also important to take it easy on ourselves, we can be our own worst enemies. With the concept of mindful parenting, comes a lot of controversy. Mindful parenting is sometimes viewed as another stressor or unattainable expectation that can lead to parents striving for perfectionism. However, being mindful doesn’t mean being perfect. It is accepting all of our emotions within ourselves so that we are able to recognize and accept any negative or challenging thoughts we may be experiencing and reframe them accordingly. We are going to be stressed from time to time, but it's crucial that we are cognizant of what we are experiencing and consider how we need to reframe our emotions. Focusing on self-care is key because we want to model healthy coping skills. As we become more aware of our own needs through the practice of mindfulness, we become better at understanding and addressing the needs of our children, as opposed to becoming reactive to surface behaviors. Parents who are supportive and validating of their child’s emotional experiences, and do not match their child’s negative affect with their own negative affect promote healthier emotional development. As we are all on our own personal journey of life, adding mindfulness practices will enhance our quality of interactions with ourselves and our children.
Siegel, D.J. & Hartzell, M. (2003). Parenting from the inside out. New York: Putnam.
SFSS Department, Celebrate the Children
Play is a vehicle for growth, learning and development. For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), play can be difficult. To help enhance and develop your child’s play experiences, here are some tips, benefits & strategies used to engage children with ASD.
Understanding the characteristics of play:
Play allows children to:
Parent tips/strategies to engage & enhance positive play experiences for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder:
Most of all HAVE FUN!!!!
-Jacqueline M. DiJoseph, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
First, I would like to announce that my wife and I are expecting our second child this coming February! With this exciting news comes familiar feelings and questions we both experienced with our first child: Can we handle this? What will the expenses be? Who will this child end up growing up to be? Parents unwillingly and sometimes uncontrollably have pre-existing expectations for their child even before holding them for the first time in the hospital. We forecast who and what they will be, almost like how a coach game plans for a sporting event even before the first play has occurred. However, in life as in sporting events, things can change in a blink of an eye that sets our voyage on a completely different course.
As I was navigating through social media a few months ago, I came upon a video by a man named Jason Hague. Jason is a pastor, writer, and blogger who has a busy life full of many of the same things we keep busy with as well. He also has a son with Autism. In his video, Jason reads a poem to his son which gives a glimpse into the inner world of their relationship. Without going into the whole video, the most important aspect to take away is something we should all share as parents with children, whether typical or on the spectrum; they are works of creation that we need to show unconditional love and acceptance. Please visit jasonhague.com and watch “A Reflection of Aching Joy” (A poem for Jack).
-Joe DeVore, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
October is National Physical Therapy Month and as a profession we are celebrating the change of seasons and establishing new habits. As we “Move Forward” we encourage everyone to create their own playlist to staying healthy. Small changes make a big difference.
Here is our short playlist:
1). Choose water as a drink- Eight, 8 ounce glasses of water is the recommended daily amount.
2). Eat more fruits and vegetables- The USDA recommends 1-2 cups a day.
3). Pick Healthy snacks- choose a granola bar instead of a candy bar, choose air popped popcorn instead of buttered, choose yogurt instead of pudding.
4). Turn off the Electronic devices- The average 8 year old is on a screen for 8 hours a day exceeding the American Pediatric Associations recommended 2 hours a day.
5). Be more physically active- 60 minutes of physical activity is recommended per day.
-Physical Therapy Department, Celebrate the Children
Contributions to this blog are made by Celebrate the Children's highly talented, interdisciplinary team and wonderful families.