The other day I did an autumn arts and crafts project with all of the students on my caseload.
Every. Single. One.
Kindergartners as well as fourth graders.
Very often we hear about the problem of a “cookie cutter therapist.”
Meaning—a therapist that does one thing with every single student, regardless of their goals or deficit areas.
A lot of people have a problem with this and so do I—sometimes.
I might sound like I’m contradicting myself because I said I’m OK with doing the same activity with every single student, but here’s the thing:
Two of an occupational therapist’s best and greatest qualities are creativity and flexibility. Teachers have this gift, too!
Every single child has different goals— so tweak that activity to work for them!
Change it Up!
Here are some ways to tweak this simple fall craft:
- For really weak fine motor skills, take one piece of tissue paper in each hand. Hold the student’s hands up in the air like a “Y”. Crunch the tissues into little balls without using his other hand or his chin or even his belly to help with the crunching.
- To work on mid-crossing midline; place the paper to the other side of the student’s body. Put the helping hand on vacation (meaning behind his back). His dominant hand has to crossover in order to glue on the leaves of the tree.
- My student with weak grip strength had to use a clothespin to pick up each tissue ball and place it on the tree.
- My student with really poor scissor skills had to cut the tissue before he crunched. He also cut a piece of green construction paper to make grass for the bottom of his picture.
So—if you were a random person standing at the door of my occupational therapy room, you’d see every student come out with a picture of a tree with different colored fall leaves on it.
It might look like I’m doing cookie cutter therapy, but I’m not.
It’s OK to Re-use an Idea
My point is—give yourself a break! It’s OK to do the same or similar activity with different students.
Just use your creative mind to tweak it to work for that student and the needs of that student.
For teachers, this may mean creating groups of students who will complete the task in a different way. For example, the red table will use clothespins to pick up the leaves, and the blue table has to crunch with two hands in the air in the shape of a Y.
Once you give yourself permission to do one activity with all the kids; you’ll see how easy it is to change it up.