The Must-Have Toy for Every Child

Toy of the Month: Mr. Potato Head

Toddlers love playing with the traditional toy so many parents played with as a child! Not only can you build a silly face, Mr. Potato Head helps teach body parts and facial expressions. For your older child, you can take it a step further and discuss the function of each body part.

Ask an Expert: Clinical Setting Occupational Therapy

How do occupational therapy services look different in a school than a clinic setting??

School-based occupational therapists observe, assess, and address the child’s strengths and needs within the natural school settings (e.g., classroom, lunchroom, playground) in order to support the student’s educational program. Services may be directed to the child and on behalf of the child in the school environment (e.g., training educational staff).

Hospital and clinic-based occupational therapists typically assess and address the child’s strengths and needs in a clinic setting in order to support participation in life activities. The focus in non-school settings may be more varied and may or may not address specific educational needs.

Craft Day: Paper Plate Bird Craft

This Paper Plate Bird Craft is so cute and easy.  It’s a great spring craft for kids to make!

For the paper plate bird craft, you’ll need:

White 9″ Paper Plates – 100 Count (or cardboard circle)

First fold the paper plates in half.  Put out a pallet of acrylic paints in assorted colours, and the kids can paint their birds however they wish. Next, we glued on the feathers, eyes and the beak.

For the tail, I grabbed several strips of the construction paper and I folded them in half, kind of fanning the strips out a bit, and we stapled those to the tail end of the birds.

Fold your bird back in half, and you’re done!

If your bird won’t stay folded, simply tape a piece of yarn or string to the inside, holding both halves of the plate together, while leaving about an inch and a half gap between them.

Now when you place your bird on a hard surface, you can “rock” it.


Rain Day: Splish-Splash!

Playing With Just Your Imagination:

Make the most of the rainy spring season – get outside and let kids jump, splash, and play in the puddles!  Encourage them to act like different water animals leaping from pond to pond, make “boats” out of items from nature to float in the water, or just have fun with some good old-fashioned puddle jumping!

Adding Therapy tricks to your Vacation!

Ask an Expert

We’re going on vacation, is there anything I can do to work on language with my child while we are gone?

Yes! In fact, the possibilities are endless! Almost anything you do can be turned into a language opportunity, from labeling things you see in your new environment, to bringing portable activities along with you. Here are some specific examples that are good for airplanes, cars, hotel rooms, or wherever you may find yourself on vacation!

  1. Books: Books contain endless opportunities to encourage language development through pointing to pictures, imitation of words, labeling pictures, etc. Bring favorites or new ones to engage them.
  2. Crayons and paper or coloring books: These can be used for labeling pictures or colors, requesting (“more,” “help,” “all done,” etc.), using imagination to create open dialogue and promote exchange of language between you and your child.
  3. Songs and Fingerplays: Use songs they already know or teach them some new songs and fingerplays to practice imitation of words and actions, e.g. “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” “Wheels on the Bus,” etc.
  4. Scavenger hunt! Wherever you are, there are bound to be opportunities for you to have your child look for something specific (such as an animal or car), something a certain color (if they know them), or other things in your environment. Have them imitate sounds, words, etc. or modify for whatever their goals are.
  5. Use your imagination! Whatever the trip entails, there are always ways to encourage language. Don’t forget to label what else you see throughout your trip to give them a language model of these new and exciting things in their environment!

April’s Featured Learning Toy

The Elefun Busy Ball PopperScreen Shot 2015-03-30 at 9.58.19 PM

The Elefun Busy Ball Popper by Playskool is a wonderful toy for engaging in joint attention, teaching turn taking, as well as promoting early language use. This is a great tool for teaching cause and effect, as your little one takes a turn putting the balls in and watching them pop back out! Encourage your child to request “more” verbally or through sign language before taking another turn. (*Therapist tip: You can turn the switch to off in between turns so that your child has to communicate with you for it to work again!)You can also support their expressive language use by adding words to your play: “Pop! Pop! Pop!” “Ready, set, go!” or “Go ball!”


One Large Cardbord Box can be…. anything!

Playing With Just Your Imagination:

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 10.03.08 PM

If you give a kid a cardboard box he’ll want…nothing! That is because a cardboard box (preferably big enough for them to fit in) could be anything! A house, a barn, a racecar, a spaceship, the perfect hide and seek hideout? They could transform into a robot or superhero, a princess in her castle or stuck in a tower, etc. The box becomes whatever your child wants it to be, which elicits fun and imaginative play for hours on end!

Upcoming Community Events in April

Mr. Hippity Hop at Loyola Park

Introduce your child to Mr. Hippity Hop, a giant white rabbit, as they search for plastic eggs among the toys, and receive a prize.  Free. Ages 1 – 5 years.  Saturday, April 4th 11am – 12noon.

Animal Enrichment Workshop at Lincoln Park Zoo

Your child can create edible piñatas, willow balls, wreaths and other enriching items that will entertain the cats, gorillas and rhinoceros that call the Lincoln Park Zoo home. Free for children under 3 years; $5/non-member; $4/member.  April 11th 1 – 3:30pm

Tunes with Tim at Kid’s Island

This interactive music class is not only fun, it’s an essential component to young children’s development of social, physical, creative, and cognitive skills.  $12/Child. Ages 1-4 years. Tuesdays @ 11am in April.

Story Time at the Botanic Gardens

Stop by for nature-themed stories and activities Monday mornings in the Lenhardt Library! Ages 2-5 years.  April 6th 10 – 11am.

Ask an Expert: Language Development

Will using sign language prevent my child from speaking?

No, when your child is able to speak, he or she will. In fact, using signs may do just the opposite and help your child to learn to speak faster. Using signs allows your child to have access to words using all senses. Your child can hear the word, produce the sign and see the object all at the same time. The child will also begin to associate the need to produce a word with achieving a desired result. This plants the seed for further language growth while building your child’s confidence. Finally the use of sign language is a GREAT way to reduce frustration. Your child will have a way to communicate his wants and needs while he is still learning to talk.