My husband says I am a borderline hoarder. I like to think of myself as a resourceful recycler!
I find things. I look for things. I attach meaning to things… Part of being an occupational therapist is being a good observer. Not just of people… but I also observe things and places. You see an empty parsley container, I see a place to load and unload tiny pegs for fine motor skills. You see an ice cube tray, I see a place to place objects so kids have to use the thumb side of their hands to develop grasp. “Mary, why do we still have this old quilt your mother left here months ago?” To which I reply, “I want to sew it up and make a giant crash pad for the OT room!” “A what? A crash pad?” ugh, he’ll never understand my profession.
So I go on adventures… One stop is the thrift shop. But you can go to dollar sections of stores, garage and yard sales, or even hint to your best friends to “keep this stuff around for me once your children outgrow it” (I really want my friend and neighbor’s jumparoo when the kids grow up- I’ve got my eye on that!)
My latest adventure at a thrift shop was a big hit! I found a box of sight words. In foam. Foam. Oooooooo the tactile pleasure of foam. Squishy foam. And an entire set of dry erase boards with lines on them to write the words!!! Oh sweet discovery!!! I brought my $3 purchase home with such feelings of happiness, as if I discovered the Holy Grail!
I also recently was given large pieces of paper to write on. I mean 4 foot long pieces. They are called “sentence strips.” I do not say “no” to offers of potential tools given to me by the way. Hence the hoarding reputation.
I can do so many things with my discovery, you name it. But for the purposes of this blog, I’ll tell you what we did this particular session. I plopped a pile of foam words in front of students. And said, “what can we do with these words? How about we try to make a sentence. The challenge is to make a sentence with just those words, no other words, and write them on a huge sentence strip.”
First: students love a challenge and it’s fun (motivation)
Second: it’s different. it’s a new way of doing a writing task (novelty increases attention through release of good neurotransmitters)
Third: it’s tactile or touch based (hitting more learning centers and making it appealing)
Fourth: it’s on a large piece of paper so motorically it’s more rewarding (more visual and motor involved which results in better focus/attention to form the letters)
Fifth: I can go on and on and on…
The results were amazing. A few pix captured here shows the joy these students felt when finished. This was the most significant writing sample for a particular student in a long time. He is still talking about it. His work was presented as the best writing of the week in OT.
So go shopping at thrift shops, go browsing at yard sales, check out the things at the dollar section of stores, look in the toy closets of your friends’ houses (uh-oh, okay maybe that last one is a bit socially inappropriate)! Be a resourceful recycler!
Mary Adolf 🙂