Thursday, October 25, 2012

Home Style Fine Motor Exercises

Boo has become increasingly disinterested in maintaining his fine and gross motor skill exercises. I suppose after two and a half years of these exercises he's getting tired of them. However, taking even a week's break causes a very noticeable decline in Boo's abilities. So, we continue his exercises...only in abbreviated forms to appease Boo. That means I need to supplement these exercises in ways that don't seem like exercises. Here are seven ways I've found that are least so far.

Knead bread dough. Boo loves homemade yeast bread and I make a couple of batches of bread, cinnamon rolls, hotdog or hamburger buns, pita bread or doughnuts weekly. (No we don't eat them all. We share.) Boo helps me knead and sometimes shape the dough. The kneading process is great for strengthening his hands and wrists. Shaping is better for fine motor skills and memory. Just how are we shaping the dough?

Cleaning mirrors, windows and smooth surfaces. Using a homemade spray cleaner and a soft cloth, Boo cleans the bathroom mirror, window, front door and bathroom sink. This mimics some of the arm circling exercises, gives some finger exercise guiding the cloth around faucets, window panes and operating the spray trigger and memory of what needs to be done.

Memory of what should not be done is important too. It's also why I only use homemade cleaner. The first time Boo cleaned the bathroom mirror, I glanced at him and noticed him spraying his face...deliberately. He thought he'd clean his glasses without taking them off. So, now Boo only uses water, white vinegar and a few teaspoons of castile soap for safety.

Turning photos over without dragging them to the edge of the table. We have a collection of photos of children, grandchildren and Boudreaux that Boo likes to see. I put them in a stack upside down on a rectangular cloth. Boo then lifts one, looks at it and usually talks about it for a while. Then places it in a separate pile on the cloth. This gives intermittent fine motor exercise.

Talking about the photos helps with verbalization on days when he's not interested in talking. Boo absolutely doesn't need to be induced to talk about family or his cat. It also helps stimulate his memory.

Preparing a fruit salad with melon balls. Boo loves fruit salad; but because it usually raises his blood sugar, it's a treat. Making melon balls using a melon baller is an awesome fine motor exercise. It uses both his fingers and wrists. Boo will vary hands as he tires. So, as an added bonus, this will exercise both of his hands. And we have a fruit salad for the next day. He's usually managed to eat enough melon while making balls that we have to wait a day to eat the salad.

Wind yarn around a small water bottle. This isn't a strictly necessary job. The skeins of yarn I buy are easy to use without rewinding. However, winding the yarn mimics arm circles. Once again, as he tires he naturally uses both arms. Boo couldn't seem to grasp how to make a ball with the yarn. So, he winds it around an empty water bottle instead.

Hanging and buttoning shirts. Confession time: I don't iron unless forced to do so. Some of Boo's flannel shirts do have to be ironed. They're so soft and require that he button himself; so, they're well worth the effort. Usually I hand Boo a plastic hanger and then a shirt. Most of the shirts he wears daily are polo type shirts. So he has to slip the shirt over the hanger and button the top button. On really good days he may hang five or six shirts. Other days, two shirts are a struggle.

Putting change in various banks. Somehow, I end up with lots of change. If I don't have much change, I ask for change at several stores to have enough for this activity. I cut a slot in several water bottles to make banks that are unbreakable and easy to open. All our change is placed in a bowl. Boo sorts the coins and puts each in the appropriate bank. This definitely uses fine motor skills.

This activity uses a certain amount of logic. Surprisingly to me, this has been an issue for Boo some days. He simply can't remember how to sort the quarters, dimes, nickles and pennies. At times, I'll separate the coins into two bowls. One bowl has pennies and nickles. The other has dimes and quarters. Generally this is enough to enable him to finish the sorting process.

Bonus activity: Connecting nuts and bolts. Boo picked up a small container of nuts and bolts when I was looking for a screw driver recently. I didn't notice that he kept the container instead of putting it back with the tools. Boo has enjoyed pouring the nuts and bolts onto a plastic tray and picking up the nuts and bolts and connecting them to each other. Other times he'll unscrew them and put them back in the original container. Wonderful fine motor exercise and sorting activity. I guess using nuts and bolts makes it a manly activity.