First, let me talk about one of toys that does a lot more than just bring extra challenges to the exercise ball. One of the best investments we have made, and by investment I mean we spent about 10 dollars, was the Fisher Price Brillant Basics First Blocks. Rick put this on the top Christmas gift listso maybe this made it under your tree. It’s a basket of blocks with a shape sorter top. Why is this such a good investment? Well, it has helped us work on a variety of Noah’s fine motor skills. Granted we aren’t using this box in the videos or pictures, but we use it all the time at therapy and at home. There is obviously more than one way to work on a skill.
Fine Motor Skills
7 Types Of Grasps
The first action was simply grasping these blocks in his hand. Your child will advance through various grasps.
- Palmar Grasp: the entire hand wraps around an object, with the palm of the hand picking up the object.
- Ulnar Palmar Grasp: object held on the ulnar (pinky side) side of the palm using fingers on that side of the hand
- Radial Palmar Grasp: object held in on the radial (thumb side) of the palm using fingers on that side of the hand
- Raking Grasp: flexion of the radial fingers (closest to the thumb) to bring the objects into the palm (like a rake)
- Radial Digital Grasp or Tripod Grasp: using the thumb and first two fingers (index and middle)
- Inferior Pincer Grasp: using thumb to push object against index finger
- Pincer Grasp: using tips of thumb and index finger
The size and rim on these blocks will allow him to work on all of these grasps, Noah is currently at the ulnar/radial palmar grasp and will on occasion use the radial digital grasp. Knowing where your child is with grasping will help you figure out what to feed them, which toys are best, and other ways to interact with your child.
While you advance through grasps you’ll also work on releasing objects. We have worked on releasing in general, as well as into the box. I am not quite sure that Noah realizes he is putting the blocks in the box as we chase his hand around so he has perfect aim. Eventually we will use the sorter on top.
He knows what’s in this box now and he gets very excited when we bring it out. He has even picked a favorite color as he will drop them all for a red one. He likes to remove the blocks from the box until there are none left. Then we put them back and repeat. His favorite way to empty the box is to simply dump it over. It is highly efficient.
We also work on banging the blocks together, which helps with coordination and stability. We have talked about stability in the core but we are now starting to work on those shoulders and hands. Noah will bang his own blocks, but we also hold blocks out for him to bang. He thinks it is pretty awesome to make noise that way.
One other thing it helps us work on is transferring objects from hand to hand. He has not quite mastered this, but we will hold a block out, he will grab it, we will hold another block out on the same side and expect him to transfer the block to the other hand to grab the new block. He usually drops the block to grab the new one, but occasionally it makes it to the other hand.
Encourage all of these actions by cheering them on. You will also need to do the activities first to show them what you expect. This is probably the first time we saw Noah mimic us. We would bang blocks, then he would, and we would erupt into loud cheering. It never fails that his version is way cuter than ours.
Taking the Ball to the Next Level
So how do we combine the blocks and ball for the extreme workout? Well, you do all of the above exercises except on the ball. Noah works on his stability which not only includes core, but also shoulders and hands as mentioned. So we entice him with the blocks and he reaches out to each side working multiple muscles to obtain the blocks. While he is reaching out, he grabs blocks, puts blocks in the box, takes them out, bangs them and then he returns to the middle. We also work on transferring as mentioned above. Any skill you work on while he is sitting on the ground you can translate to the ball to take it to the next level. I feel like I am advertising a fitness method on tv 🙂
It is obviously a two person job to do this as you cannot hold your child on the ball as well as hold blocks out for them. I am usually helping out during our sessions. But today you get a glimpse of one of our new therapists as she helps out. Yes we had to say goodbye to another occupational therapist, but we are already excited about our new one based on our experience with her so far.
P.S. These blocks are also our dogs favorite chew toy, so guard them from your pups.
Have you taken any of your previous therapies to the next level? What is your favorite toy to work on fine motor skills?