Let’s Play with the ElastaBlast!

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We hope you have been having as much fun as we have, welcoming your preschoolers for the new school year.  The Elastablast has been a fun non-threatening way for our young children to begin to work cooperatively together as we sing Raffi’s The More We Get Together and learn each other’s names. We have also been using Raffi’s Wheels on the Bus to teach our new preschoolers the actions we like to use with the Elastablast. You can watch our attached YouTube video to see those actions. We pair the actions with a visual e.g. wheels, wiper,horn, window,driver, placing one visual behind each child’s back. At their turn, they show the visual to their friends and then together we do each action, working on core strength, body awareness, upper body strengthening, sensory processing and so much more.

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Research continues to emphasize the importance of optimizing early brain and motor development through movement in young children and the Elastablast is such a motivating way to work on critically important foundation senses. Movement stimulates the senses which build critical connections in the brain. Children with touch/tactile issues are drawn to the soft,cuddly fleece covered band, wrapping their hands around it with their thumbs under, developing the rounding and arching they need for hand development.

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Using the rebound qualities of the band to pull back and sit up activates the vestibular system and works on that important internal sense of balance. Body awareness is developed with all the great feedback to muscles and joints with each and every movement of the band.

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So much sensory learning happening, in addition to working on social interaction, language and cognitive skills. We can all work together to meet early childhood standards, but we must do it with movement as that is how young bodies are wired…the body teaches the brain!  Have a great school year and check back next month for more ideas for your Elastablast. To order a band or for  more ideas about using the Elastablast, go to our website at: http://www.letsplaytogether.org and learn more about our handbook entitled Let’s Play with the ElastaBlast: Facilitating Preschool Friendships for Children of ALL Abilities . Have fun and tell your preschool teachers to like us on facebook.

 

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Welcome to the New School Year!

We hope you have been having as much fun as we have, welcoming your preschoolers for the new school year.  The Elastablast has been a fun non-threatening way for our young children to begin to work cooperatively together as we sing Raffi’s The More We Get Together and learn each other’s names. We have also been using Raffi’s Wheels on the Bus to teach our new preschoolers the actions we like to use with the Elastablast. You can watch our attached YouTube video to see those actions. We pair the actions with a visual e.g. wheels, wiper,horn, window,driver, placing one visual behind each child’s back. At their turn, they show the visual to their friends and then together we do each action, working on core strength, body awareness, upper body strengthening, sensory processing and so much more.

ElastaBlast Actions

Research continues to emphasize the importance of optimizing early brain and motor development through movement in young children and the Elastablast is such a motivating way to work on critically important foundation senses. Movement stimulates the senses which build critical connections in the brain. Children with touch/tactile issues are drawn to the soft,cuddly fleece covered band, wrapping their hands around it with their thumbs under, developing the rounding and arching they need for hand development.

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Using the rebound qualities of the band to pull back and sit up activates the vestibular system and works on that important internal sense of balance. Body awareness is developed with all the great feedback to muscles and joints with each and every movement of the band.

DSC00686

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So much sensory learning happening, in addition to working on social interaction, language and cognitive skills. We can all work together to meet early childhood standards, but we must do it with movement as that is how young bodies are wired…the body teaches the brain!  Have a great school year and check back next month for more ideas for your Elastablast. To order a band or for  more ideas about using the Elastablast, go to our website at: http://www.letsplaytogether.org and learn more about our handbook entitled Let’s Play with the ElastaBlast: Facilitating Preschool Friendships for Children of ALL Abilities . Have fun and tell your preschool teachers to like us on facebook.

 

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Spring activities with the ElastaBlast

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If you were stranded on a desert island with twenty preschoolers, what one toy would you want to have with you? Laura and I would want to have our ElastaBlast! The strength, stretch and rebound qualities of the ElastaBlast create a very motivating experience for a wide range of young learners. If you were to peek in on us this beautiful spring month of May, we would be sitting on the floor in a circle with the ElastaBlast singing Raffi’s song, Take A Walk Outside. On our “walk” with our kids and the band we would find a snake named Jake, a squirrel named Earl, a pal(pup) named Hal, and a duck named Chuck. The children delight in having these four animal photos behind their back; as we pause the music for each verse they have a chance to find each animal and then throw it in the middle of the circle in a special container. Each verse uses a different movement so the children are strengthening their core, learning vocabulary, waiting, and having a great time playing together. On another May day you can find us using the Elastablast while we are all standing around it in a circle.We love Raffi’s song, Everything Grows. We begin in a squatting position and then slowly stand and grow. And then the children love to step backwards making the band grow bigger, or take tiny steps as they slowly move in together to say hello to their friends.  The possibilities are endless!  To order a band or for  more ideas about using the Elastablast, go to our website at: http://www.letsplaytogether.org and learn more about our handbook entitled Let’s Play with the ElastaBlast: Facilitating Preschool Friendships for Children of ALL Abilities . Have fun!

 

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Minnesota Early Intervention Summer Institute

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Once again we started out our summer heading up to St. John’s for the
2014 Minnesota Early Intervention Summer Institute on June 12-13, “Evidence
Based Practice for Working with Young Children and their Families.” We have been
attending for many years now, both as participants and presenters and we find it
an amazing time for connecting and networking with early childhood colleagues
and friends from across Minnesota, and a great time for learning and visioning
for young children and their families. We are so grateful for this Minnesota
resource available to all of us. This year we presented on Integrating Movement
and Play into Preschool Curriculums to Promote Learning for ALL Children and we
want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated in our session.

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Our session was filled with movement breaks and the enthusiasm and positive
energy and ideas from our participants made the two days a great time of
learning how to integrate movement and play into all the routines of a child’s
preschool day. Of course we had a lot of fun with our number one toy choice: the
Elastablast!

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Be sure to bring your Elastablast with you this summer to the lake
or on a picnic or include it as a game at your preschooler’s birthday party. It
could also be a summer school highlight as it is always a hit! If you would
like more information on strategies for planning successful movement activities
read our article at:

http://physical-therapy.advanceweb.com/Features/Articles/Integrating-Movement-into-Preschool-Curriculums.aspx

Those of you who know our work know we are passionate about the importance of movement and play for young children…it is how they are wired to learn! So have a wonderful, play-filled summer with those you love and be sure to spread the word to your friends to visit our website and like us on Facebook at Let’s Play Together. Have a great summer!

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Yoga for Kids

Yoga is one of our favorite motor activities for young children. We like to incorporate Yoga into the preschool day, whether it is used as a calming activity after gym time or as a movement activity in the classroom. Yoga can have immediate and long-lasting benefits by helping to increase body awareness, improve strength and bilateral coordination, and promote focus and attention. Again we set a structure by giving each child a small mat, dimming the lights, and playing Yoga music. This sets the framework, and without words, gives children the structure they need to be ready to participate in a variety of postures such as butterfly, candle, table, and tree. In addition to an adult modeling each pose, we have large visuals of each posture. You can make your own visuals or there are many inexpensive yoga cards for children on the market. We use small round bath mats for our yoga mats. The children love it and it begins to set the foundation for a life-long skill.get-attachment.aspx-16

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Knit Tube Tunnel

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In addition to a traditional tunnel with rigid sides, we also incorporated a knit tube tunnel into our obstacle course this week.  The knit tubing provides good proprioceptive input into the child’s muscles and joints as they crawl through this fun stretchy fabric.  Since they can’t see very well in the tunnel, they must rely on their own body awareness to motor plan their way through the tunnel.  The ribbed knit fabric can be found at most fabric stores and requires no sewing.  Make the tunnel as long as you like, and gather up the fabric on the ends to make it shorter for younger children.  The tunnel is light-weight, inexpensive, and easy to transport, which makes it a fun motor activity for school or home.

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Pinning Clothespins on the Turkey

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When we are planning obstacle courses in the gym, we always incorporate some fine motor tasks along the course too.  Here the children crawled under the arch and then stopped and picked a colored clothespin and matched it to the same color feather on the turkey.  What a fun way to strengthen the small muscles of the young developing hand and to work on beginning to develop the skilled side of the hand which includes the thumb, index and middle finger.  This skilled side of the hand will later be used for holding crayons, markers, and scissors.  This activity also works on the readiness skills of matching colors and learning color names in a fun and motivating way!  The turkey was cut out of tagboard and then laminated for durability.  Small clothespins can be found at Creative Kidstuff and Ikea.

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Pumpkin Obstacle Course

We love to use a variety of items to set up fun, motivating obstacles…and what could be more fun than stuffing a giant pumpkin! An obstacle course is a versatile motor activity that can be structured in any setting. Every Thursday, we transform our gym into a fun obstacle course that all the preschool classrooms at our school can use.
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Obstacle courses provide children with a natural, organized way to learn basic movement concepts, while also gaining strength, using the two sides of their body in a coordinated manner, and improving balance skills. Children move in, out, up, down, under, and over to learn concrete spatial concepts while also developing motor planning skills. We always have an activity or “goal” for moving through the obstacle course. This past Thursday the children crumpled up paper to stuff our giant pumpkin. This adds more structure and meaning to the course, while also working on important hand development skills.
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Adding this fine motor component also helps the children stay organized and learn to take turns. We always have a student demonstrate how to go through the course. For example, on this day the children start by jumping with their feet together and apart on a hopscotch mat (some of the older children can hop and jump), then crawl up a wedge and roll down, walk across the “spooky bridge” or uneven squishy surface, crawl under the yellow arches, walk across the balance beam, and step up and jump down on each of the stepping stones. We also have a large red ring that we called the pumpkin wagon and two children crawl together inside to make it move.  Both children and staff enjoy moving to upbeat music such as Bev Boss’s “Pumpkin Vine” song.  When the activity is done, we gather the children and do a pumpkin yoga pose, which helps everyone calm their bodies so they can transition quietly back to class.  Obstacle courses are so much fun!

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Free Webinar

Imagining the Possibilities: Universal Design in Your Preschool Classroom

Session Level:  Beginner/Intermediate

Speakers: Mary J Sullivan Coleman, pediatric occupational therapist and Laura J Krueger, pediatric physical therapist

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Series Overview: Let’s look at what universal design looks like in a preschool classroom, whether we are setting up art tools that are accessible for ALL children, or engaging in a movement activity. We know that movement and engaging play is critical for the development of the young child and we will talk about a variety of fun ways to do that with ALL the children in your preschool classroom. For Back to School we will show you how to use our Box Art to create a school bus and then talk about ways of involving children of many different developmental abilities in this one activity. We will give you an overview of our curriculum which can be paired with any curriculum you are already using in your programs. And together, we will get excited about all the possibilities for the new school year. Come and join us for some playing and learning together!

Following the session participants will receive:

  • A certificate of attendance
  • A 10% discount on any AbleNet Assistive Technology products

To register for Mary and Laura’s Webinar go to the Ablenet website at the following link:

https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=s0ixdus99701

 

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New Web Site

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Following a great trip this spring to McCook, Nebraska for a one day Play & Learn training, we started working on updating our Let’s Play Together web site. We believe a picture speaks a thousand words, so we specifically wanted the site to be much more visual. Therefore, we’ve added more photos and video clips of our “kids in action” showing the importance of movement and meaningful play for all young children. Another big change is that you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. So, with the help of our amazing web designer, Adam, the NEW site is now live at letsplaytogether.org.

Check it out and be sure to “like” us on Facebook.

Best wishes for a very play-filled summer!

Laura and Mary

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