Friday, April 28, 2017

5 Reasons to Use Rubrics for School Based Therapists

5 reasons to use rubrics for school based therapistsRubrics are an excellent tool for school based therapists to utilize throughout the school year for ongoing assessment of a student’s skills.  A rubric is a scoring guide to judge performance on a specific task. A skill is broken down into different components and a numerical value is given to each component. The performance is then scored by totaling the sum of the numerical values.

Here are 5 reasons why you should use rubrics for school based therapists:

  1. A rubric informs the individual of what is expected of a task.  It clarifies step by step what is required for proficiency.  The student will know all the steps that are needed to complete a task.
  2. It provides a standard to assess the quality of how a task is completed.
  3. The score on a rubric can determine if changes (improvements or regression) have occurred over time. It is a great tool to use after a long weekend, absences or school vacation to determine if regression has occurred to justify summer services.
  4. It can help increase the consistency of scoring.  Instead of documenting minimal, moderate or significant progress, you can document an actual score to have a more quantitative measure.
  5. Use a rubric to compare the abilities of a student with a peer to determine if the student’s skills are functional.

Need some examples?  You can download some free rubrics:

  1.  Dressing Rubric – Putting On and Taking Off Socks
  2.  Overall Personal Hygiene Rubric
  3.  Meal Time Rubric – Using a Spoon
  4.  Mobility Rubric – Walking in a Line
  5.  Overall Handwriting Rubric
  6.  Proper Positioning for Keyboarding Rubric


For a limited time, you can also download free Scissor Skill Rubric today.  It’s the perfect tool to have on hand to measure baseline performance as well as progress over time.  You’ll have a way to quantify performance in this area and to show that your scissor skill strategies (and the child’s hard work) are paying off.  This is all to get ready for the launch of The Scissor Skills Book on May 1st.

5 Reasons to Use Rubrics for School Based Therapists

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

10 Reasons Why Children Should Exercise

10 Reasons Why Children Should ExerciseAccording to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids ages 8-18 now spend, on average, 7.5 hours in front of a screen for entertainment each day, 4.5 of which are spent watching TV.  That figure doesn’t even include the time they spend on the computer at school for educational purposes or at home for homework.  With the increase in sedentary time, it is even more important today that children get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day.  Here are 10 reasons why children should exercise:

  1. Improves cardiovascular endurance and heart health.
  2. Improves respiration and breathing.
  3. Improves muscle strength.
  4. Increases flexibility of the muscles.
  5. Prevents fractures, encourages bone growth and protects against osteoporosis.
  6. Prevents obesity.
  7. Impacts brain power.
  8. Increases self regulation skills.
  9. Associated with improved cognitive skills including executive functioning, attention, memory and verbal comprehension.
  10. Improves self esteem and attitude.

And of course, exercise can be FUN!


CDC. Screen Time vs. Lean Time.  Retrieved from the web on 4/27/17 at

Rasberry, C. N., Lee, S. M., Robin, L., Laris, B. A., Russell, L. A., Coyle, K. K., & Nihiser, A. J. (2011). The association between school-based physical activity, including physical education, and academic performance: a systematic review of the literature. Preventive medicine, 52, S10-S20.

collection images brain breaks

Brain Breaks Collection includes 15 titles to get kids moving throughout the day!  Get the entire collection for 50% off.  The collection includes the following titles:

Mini Movement Breaks

Monster Movement Transition Cards

Roll Some Fun

Imagination Action Journeys

Brain Breaks for School

Brain Breaks for Winter

Brain Breaks for Valentine’s Day

Brain Breaks for Spring

Brain Breaks for Summer

Brain Breaks for Fall

Brain Breaks for Halloween

Brain Breaks for Thanksgiving

Brain Breaks for December

Birthday Party

Ninja Brain Breaks


10 Reasons Why Children Should Exercise YTS

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

5 FREE Positioning Handouts

5 free positioning handouts from Your Therapy Source

As pediatric therapists, we are well aware that children need to have stable and strong proximal muscles of the trunk and shoulder girdle in order to use the distal muscles in the fingers and hands.   When we observe in classrooms, we frequently see positioning of children that could use modification.  Perhaps you modify the desk and chair and off you go to see the next student.  Teachers and parents can benefit from informational hand outs to provide visual images and written reminders of proper positioning at school at home.  Here are FREE positioning hand outs (keep in mind Positioning for Scissor Skills is available this week ONLY):

Download sample pages from Handwriting Stations

Proper Posture for Handwriting – this freebie includes a positioning poster for handwriting along with a few sample handwriting practice pages.

Proper Positioning for Keyboarding Freebie from Your Therapy Source

Proper Positioning for Keyboarding Rubric – Here is a free rubric on the proper positioning for keyboarding from the Keyboard Rubrics digital download. School based occupational and physical therapists are frequently involved in evaluating positioning needs in the schools including computer stations. With more and more children spending countless hours in front of a computer screen, proper positioning is essential to prevent long term complications with posture or overuse injuries.

Positioning for Play Your Therapy Source

Positioning for Play – Most of the time during play, children will move in and out of positions frequently which is wonderful. When children are in one position for a longer period of time, there are some general guidelines based on the position of the child.  This hand out provides suggestions for positioning during play in supine (back), prone (belly), sitting and standing.

Scissors SKills Freebie 2

Proper Positioning When Using Scissors – This free poster provides a one page color OR black and white hand out for proper positioning when using scissors.  Only available for FREE for the week starting 4/24/17 to celebrate the new Scissors Skills Book which will be available on 5/1/17.

work-station-positioning-and-keyboarding-skillsWork Station, Positioning and Keyboarding Skills – Young children and students continue to spend more and more time keyboarding for written expression. Whether it be at home before children are school aged or sitting long hours typing away throughout a child’s educational career or even as adults, the work station must be set up efficiently to allow for proper positioning while keyboarding.

5 free positioning handouts from Your Therapy Source pin

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

3 Strategies to Help Children with Anxiety

3 Strategies to Help Children with Anxiety

Anxiety can be very difficult for children resulting in considerable stress with negative consequences on daily living skills.  Many children with co-morbid conditions such as autism spectrum disorder or intellectual disabilities are at greater risk for anxiety.  Parents, teachers and children can learn strategies to help deal with anxiety.  The strategies to help children with anxiety can be proactive, communicative and reactive.

Proactive strategies:  The goal of these strategies is to prevent the anxiety from occurring.  Some suggestions are using visual schedules, talking and explaining, relaxation techniques and physical activities.

Communication strategies:  It is important to help children develop self-management, self-regulation and social interaction skills.  Strategies in this area focus on encouraging children to identify their emotions and forming a controlled emotional response.  A visual scale can be used to help children to identify emotional states.  Here is an example of a visual scale to determine if a child is ready to work.

Reactive strategies:  In order to manage anxiety once it already has occurred try distraction, quiet time, calming techniques, having fun and comfort strategies.

What is your best strategy or suggestion to help children with anxiety?

Reference:  Gobrial, E., & Raghavan, R. (2017). Calm child programme: Parental programme for anxiety in children and young people with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 1744629517704536.

Visual Supports for Self Regulation and Classroom Participation

Visual Supports: Schedules, Self-Regulation, & Classroom Inclusion

Designed by a school based occupational therapist, Thia Triggs, this color coded visual support system is suitable for your children with autism, emotional behavioral disturbance, intellectual disabilities, ADHD, communication disabilities, and more.  Pictures are cute, engaging, and easy for children to understand.

Visual supports for self-regulation can be pivotal in implementing an IEP in the least restrictive environment. This digital download includes 283 visuals.  FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION.

3 Strategies to Help Children with Anxiety pin

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Monday, April 24, 2017

5 Activities to PREPARE Children for Scissor Use

5 Activities to Prepare Children for Scissor use 2

Children are interested in scissors at a young age and begin to start testing them out.  Scissor use actually requires a high level of skill in the fingers, hands, arms, shoulders and even the hips for stability (read more on that here).  Most children are proficient with scissors by early elementary school.  Here are 5 activities to prepare children for scissor use or help them to improve their scissor skills:

  1. Puppets:  Grab some hand puppets or make some.  Children can practice opening and closing the puppet’s mouth which is similar to the skills of opening and closing scissors.
  2. Finger Rhymes:  Teach child finger rhymes to practice open and closing the fingers and stabilizing the arms.  The Fantastic Fingers® Fine Motor Program provides instruction for 60 songs and games to get the hands ready for fine motor success.
  3. Squeezing Activities: Practice squeezing water out of small sponges, squeeze tweezers or tongs to pick up small objects or squeeze a stress ball.
  4. Play Dough:  Squish, roll, squeeze and pinch play dough for open ended, hand strengthening fun!  If the child is low tone or has decreased muscle strength in the hands, check out The Hand Strengthening Handbook for more ideas.
  5. Bilateral coordination activities:  Perform activities where one hand is stabilizing while the other hand is moving – activities such as using a fishing rod, using a hand mixer, stirring ingredients in a recipe, hammering a golf tee into Styrofoam, etc.

On May 1st, the Functional Skills for Kids team will be launching The Scissors Book.  This book was written by the same team that brought you The Handwriting Book.  For this week, you can get a FREE printable packet of cutting practice sheets: 17 pages of Cut and Paste Puzzles, 7 pages of Scissor Cutting Strips and printable template of a Scissor Skills Puppet Craft.

scissors skills freebie week one


Looking for more scissor activities?  Here is a collection of three activity downloads for scissor practice.

Scissors Bundle from Your Therapy Source

  1.  Cut, Create and Play Reproducible Scissor Activities for Children includes (40 pages) of 23 scissor and fine motor activities for young children. Each of these activities are ready to go.  Just print, copy, cut and create craft projects and games to play.  The activities promote the development of scissor, fine motor and visual skills by encouraging practice with cutting snips, 1″ – 3″ lines, paper in half, straight lines, rectangles, squares, angles, curves and circles.
  2. Cut and Fold – This download is great to encourage fine motor skills while creating fun puppets, games, stationery and more. Children will love the simple cuts and folds to create the toys.  Available in color and black and white.
  3. Tangrams for Kids – Tangrams are chinese puzzles that consists of 7 pieces of a square. The children can cut and arrange the 7 pieces to match the pictures. Included in the download are 10 tangram puzzles to cut and piece together with 3 levels (easy, medium and hard).

Regular retail price for these three titles is $14.97.  When you purchase the bundle the 30% off sale price is only $10.47!

Order the Scissor Skills Bundle.

5 Activities to Prepare Children for Scissor use

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Wishing You a Happy Mother’s Day Fingerprint Craft

Wishing You A Happy Mother's Day Pictures 2

As a mother of 6 children, I happen to LOVE homemade Mother’s Day crafts.  I also love anything that has a child’s fingerprints, hand prints or a drawing on it.  I created the Wishing You a Happy Mother’s Day Fingerprint Craft template so the children can simply press their finger prints on to the paper to give Mom an adorable keepsake (see below for the download).  Not to mention, children will get some nice practice in for fine motor skills, visual motor skills and tactile input.

Wishing You A Happy Mother's Day 3

All you have to do is print the Mother’s Day Fingerprint Craft template and start adding fingerprints.  If the child doesn’t want to use his/her fingerprints, sponge painting works well too.

Wishing You A Happy Mother's Day 2

If you want to add in some oral motor skills, you could drop some paint on the paper and blow it across the page using a straw (see here for an example of this).


Looking for more Mother’s Day activities?  Check out Mother’s Day Movement Cards and Games.

Mother's Day Movement Cards and Games

Looking for more Fingerprint Fun?  Check this out!

Fingerprint Fun

Enjoy and Happy Mother’s Day!

Wishing You A Happy Mother's Day Pictures


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Thursday, April 20, 2017

What is a Growth Mindset?

What is a Growth Mindset

What is a growth mindset?  It was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck who explains mindset as a self-perception or “self-theory” that people hold about themselves.  For example, it is believing that you are smart or not smart, good athlete or bad athlete, good at knitting or stink at knitting.  This type of mindset can have a profound effect on learning achievement and skill acquisition.

Carol Dweck explains mindset further comparing a fixed  mindset to a growth mindset.  According to Dweck, “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”   In comparison, Dweck explains that “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

Overall, her research revealed that when students learned through a structured program that they could “grow their brains” and increase their intellectual abilities, they did better. In addition, having children focus on the process that leads to learning (like hard work or trying new strategies) fosters a growth mindset and its benefits.

The way we respond to students learning effects how they learn.  One of the examples Dweck provides is instead of simply responding “Good effort” when a child is trying to learn something new but struggling, try responding “The point isn’t to get it all right away, the point is to grow your understanding step by step.  What can you try next?”

A growth mindset is not just about effort.  Students need to apply effort of course, but they also need to discover new strategies and ask for help when needed.   This helps students to face challenges head on and understand that setbacks occur on the path of learning.


Dweck, C. Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’. Education Week. Retrieved from the web on 4/20/17 at

Hidden curriculum (2014, August 26). In S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from

Growth Mindset Curriculum

Growth Mindset Curriculum: This Growth Mindset curriculum, created by Thia Triggs, school based Occupational Therapist, includes 5 units that will help you to support your children in developing a Growth Mindset  FIND OUT MORE.

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