All About Voice

With summer around the corner, I thought it would be a great time to remind parents about what it means to have a healthy voice! So many of the activities we choose to do in the warm weather can impact our vocal quality. Let’s start off by reviewing what is involved in having a voice.

How do we produce voice?: A person’s voice is a combination of respiration (i.e. breathing in and out) and phonation (i.e. making sound).

Two birds singingLet’s break it down even more! 
Respiration: Respiration involves taking the air in and out of your lungs. As the air travels from the lungs to the mouth, it passes the vocal cords (composed of both tissues and muscles). The vocal cords vibrate and this is called PHONATION!
Phonation: The sound that you hear when a person talks or sings.

Ways to maintain a healthy voice:

  1. Avoid talking in a funny voice – i.e. robot or monster voice
  2. Drink lots of water every day
  3. Avoid caffeine (e.g. pop, tea and coffee)
  4. Avoid clearing your throat or coughing
  5. Avoid yelling and screaming
  6. Avoid smoking and/or smoking environments
  7. Get plenty of rest!

Poor voice development can result from:

  1. Too much screaming, yelling, crying or laughing
  2. Excessive coughing and/or throat clearing
  3. Excessive loud talking and muscle tension
  4. Poor hydration

Warning signs of an unhealthy voice:

  1. Harsh or raspy voice
  2. Breathy voice
  3. Neck pain
  4. Body and voice fatigue

If you are concerned with your child’s voice, it’s important to talk to an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT). They can use a special instrument to look at your child’s vocal cords. He/she may then recommend contacting a speech-language pathologist, who can complete a thorough voice evaluation and begin speech-language therapy.

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Tips to Help Stay Cool over Summer

For most kids, summer means no school, staying up late, playing outside for hours, and going to the pool. It is essential to stay cool during these activities.

To help your kids and family stay cool over the summer, try these ten helpful strategies:

Children in the shade during summertime

  1. Clothing: Dress in light colors. Also, cotton fabrics can help you keep cooler, as well as clothing that fits more loosely.
  2. Hats: If you are wearing a hat, you can put cold water in it throughout the day and put it back on your head to help you stay cool.
  3. Beverages: Drink lots of cold water and be sure to stay hydrated. You can also drink sports drinks that have electrolytes in them. However, it is helpful to water down these drinks since they tend to contain a lot of sugar. Freezing water bottles and bringing them with you when you’re going to the beach or park ensures that you’ll have something cold to drink for hours. In addition, be sure to avoid caffeinated drinks. They can make you more thirsty and leave you dehydrated.
  4. Foods: During the summer, try to eat lighter and cooler foods. Many people do not feel hungry due to the heat; however, an empty stomach can lead to lightheadedness, especially in the heat. Munching on smaller snacks/meals throughout the day, like vegetables and fruits, can help cool you down.
  5. Time of the Day: If possible, try to plan activities during cooler times of the day, such as early morning or early evening hours.
  6. Common Sense: If it is just too hot outside, choose indoor activities, such as arts and crafts or board games. You can also plan to go to a museum or see a movie.
  7. Spray Bottles: Before going out to play, be sure to bring a spray bottle filled with cold water.  Spraying yourself can help refresh and cool you down.
  8. Fans: If you’re outside on a hot day, use a portable fan to help you stay cool. You could also attach it to your child’s stroller to keep him or her cool as well.
  9. Water: Outside water play is a great way to stay cool on a hot day. You can go to the pool, run through the sprinkler, or even have water balloon tosses.
  10. Seek Shade: When you are outdoors, make sure that there is shade nearby. Using shade from trees or bringing umbrellas or tents will provide relief from the sun.

Remember – when playing outside, stay smart and keep these tips in mind to help stay safe. Listen to what your body is telling you and keep cool. And finally, be sure to wear your sunscreen!

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Healthy Supermarket Shopping for Your Family

The first step to having a healthy diet for your family happens when you make a trip to the grocery store. Choosing what foods you put in the cart actually determines your child’s health, in a lot of ways.

Here are some tips to make grocery trips a healthy success

Make a habit and priority of going to the grocery store at least once a week.
This sounds basic, but what happens when you are low on food in the house? Often this means picking up fast food, random snacks, or making a meal out of chips. Also, cooking food at home is key to a healthy lifestyle. Research supports this, and also shows that families who eat together eat more fruits and vegetables. It’s also wonderful family bonding time and a place for kids to learn healthy eating habits from their parents

Here is a basic list of foods to get weekly for the family

  • Meats, beans, tofu, or seafood for main dishes
  • A variety of fresh fruit for side dishes and snacks, frozen fruit for smoothies, and/or dried fruit for snack.Mother shops for food with child at the supermarket
  • Vegetables to eat raw, like salad greens, carrots, tomatoes, celery. Vegetables to eat cooked like potatoes, onions, garlic, brussell sprouts, zucchini, squash, peas, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower.
  • Eggs (if your family eats them), for breakfast or to cook with.
  • Milk or milk alternative.
  • Cereal and/or oatmeal.
  • A jar of nut butter.
  • “Flavoring and cooking” items like sauces, dressings, olives, seasonings, cheese, olive oil, etc.
  • Whole grain bread.
  • Whole grain side dishes like pasta, quinoa, or brown rice.
  • The rest of your list can be the specialty items needed for new recipes or specific meals.
Make a list based on healthy recipes.

Keep a pen and paper handy for an ongoing list for the next grocery trip. That way if you come across a good recipe in a magazine or online, you can write down the ingredients needed. Some people find it helpful to create a “menu” plan for the week for dinners, and use new recipes throughout the week. A list keeps you focused and organized while you are in the store.

Be sure to gather plenty from the perimeter of the grocery store.

Picture a typical grocery store in your mind and how it is set up. The middle aisles draw you in, but what do you find there? What do you find when you walk the perimeter of the store? It is not random that most grocery stores are set up this way. The middle aisles draw you in, but mostly are filled with processed foods. The outer part of the store is where many whole foods are:  fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood. Don’t skip the produce section.

Organic or on sale? Reduced fat or regular? Local or best buy? 

There are many side by side options of every food product out there, making a grocery trip feel like a “Where’s Waldo” experience. My choice is to buy organic and local as much as possible. Reduced fat or regular depends on what you and your family needs as part of a healthy diet. I choose regular, as many reduced fat foods are loaded with sugar or other chemicals in place of the reduced fat.

Let the kids pick!

If you’re brave enough to bring the kids along to the grocery store (or maybe you don’t have a choice), let them pick from healthy options you have preselected. For example, give them a few breakfast cereal options and let them pick which one they want. Or bring them to the produce section and let them pick one fruit and vegetable each. This gets kids engaged in healthy eating, and if they picked it, they are more likely to be excited about eating it.

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Keeping Your Child With Special Needs Safe

How do I keep my child safe?
Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night screaming after a nightmare that my child wandered off and I never found him again.  Children with special needs have an even higher chance of wandering off. What do I do to keep him in my sight?
This week, we all read about Kahil Gray, the missing boy from Chicago with autism.  Kahil was found 3 days later, 26 miles from his home.  Kahil has autism and only speaks a few words.  Support for Autism symbolHis parents were lucky that someone spotted him days after he went missing.   What can be done to prevent losing our kids?

How to prevent your child from wandering off:

GPS tracking technology is often associated with fun gadgets and navigation for vehicles, but there are many potential security applications for this type of technology as well. Product and software developers have created a handful of tools to harness the power of GPS tracking for better safety and security, allowing parents to keep track of their children.

Here are some additional tips to keep the kids from wandering:

  1. Use a tracking/watch device that you can purchase.
  2. Download an app for your child’s iPhone so you can track the phone.
  3. Have the child memorize a plan if he is lost; keep a piece of paper with that plan and have the child practice handing it to people to help him.  He should have several copies of it with him at all times.
  4. Keep medical bracelets on kids that tend to wander.
  5. Alert police even before the child is lost so that they will keep an eye out for your child; many cities now keep a database on special needs children should they go missing.

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Homework Station Planning | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric occupational therapist explains techniques on how to setup the ideal homework environment for your child.  She will cover various techniques that will help kids to enhance their homework corner at home.

In this video you will learn:

  • What setup will help the child to concentrate better when doing homework
  • What materials to use to setup the homework station
  • Long term setup for the child when doing homework

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn

Today I’m standing with Lindsey Miller, a pediatric occupational
therapist. Lindsey is going to show us exactly what a homework
station should look like. Lindsey?

Lindsey: Today I’m going to show you what a homework station should look
like that will maximize your child’s ability to complete their

The first thing to keep in mind with a homework station is that
ideally you want it to be in a separate location from their
bedroom and from other things going on in the house so that they
know that when they go to this place, that’s where I do my

Another thing to keep in mind is the location of the desk. It
would be best if it was up against a blank wall so that there
are no visual distractions, no pictures or clutter so it can
allow them to really focus on what they’re doing.

Another consideration is the actual layout of the desk. You want
them to have just their homework and a pencil on the desk and
nothing else. We want to decrease the clutter so that they can
focus on what they’re doing. It’s also a good idea for them to
have their backpack nearby so if they need anything from their
backpack they can just grab it and use it right away rather than
getting up from their chair and going to a different room to
find other items they may need. Also, if your desk has drawers
it’s a good idea to put all of the materials that they may need
in the drawers, such as a calculator, a ruler, extra paper,
markers and things like that so everything is in one location.

They can also use a move-and-sit disc. This is just a circular
disc that they can sit in on their chair. It allows them to
wiggle around in their chair so if the child likes to move
around a lot they won’t have to get up and move around. They can
just sit in their chair and wiggle around. Also, when they’re
sitting it’s a good idea for them to sit with their hips, knees,
and elbows at a 90 degree angle because this will help them
write better, more efficiently, and a little bit easier.

Another thing to keep in mind is good lighting. You want them to
be in a room with good lighting so they can see what they’re
doing. If your child gets very distracted by noises, sometimes
it’s a good idea to use headphones that cover their ears and
play some calming music that will help them focus on their

Robyn: Thank you, Lindsey, and thank you to our viewers for watching.
And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of
mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To
subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit
our website at That’s

Bubble Beats for the Whole Family | Guest Blog

Guest Blog By Victoria R. Golden of Bubbles Academy

One of the comments we hear most often at Bubbles Academy is, “We love the music!” Families hear a wide variety of live and recorded music in all of our classes: we use songs to teach baby sign, to encourage language development, and to inspire interaction and develop social connections between students and families. Our music also plays a key role in gross motor skill development in toddlers (bouncing and wiggling those hips!) and core development in babies.

How We Choose Our Music:

We begin building our playlists by brainstorming a list of genuinely enjoyable songs. We draw from our own musical tastes, popular music, and world music, but we also like to be playful! We often draw inspiration from our curriculum, which fuses developmentally-focused activities with interactive audio-visuals, to create well-rounded thematic musical selections.

Ms. Victoria’s Top 10 Spring Music Picks:

  • “Wavin’ Flag” by K’Naan: we danced with flags to this great tune in our Sports-themed Creative Movement classes.bubbles academy
  • “Baby” by Justin Bieber: this is one of our all-time favorite “baby dance” songs!
  • “Folding Chair” by Regina Spektor: a great spring and summer song, this one will have your child trying to imitate the dolphin sounds she makes.
  • “Waka Waka” by Shakira: this song will get your blood pumping as you dance to Shakira’s take on a traditional African song!
  • “Mixing Bowl” by Kira Willey: we’ve been using this one in our Food curriculum as a parachute song- a very calming tune that babies and adults love.
  • “Fitted Shirt” by Spoon: great song to inspire children to dress themselves in the morning!
  • “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell: combine your child’s love of all things on wheels with Joni’s classic take on environmentalism!
  • “Up Up Up” by The Givers: another song we use for parachute time, its tune is guaranteed to brighten your day.
  • “Jungle Drum” by Emiliana Torrini: bring out the drums, bongos or pots and pans to jam along and practice matching rhythms!
  • “Mushaboom” by Feist: a toe-tapping classic!

Tips for Finding More Music to Enjoy With Your Child:

  • On our Bubbles Academy blog, The Bub Hub, we post a new video every Monday in our “Music for Talls and Tinies” column. Start your week off right with some rockin’ tunes!
  • Children’s television is becoming a savvy source for music that parents and kids can both enjoy. Tune in to Yo Gabba Gabba or Sesame Street, which have recently hosted contemporary musical artists like The Shins and Feist.
  • Talk to your friends! Personal recommendations are a beautiful way to find new music and make connections with your friends, and everyone loves to share their opinions on “the best music”!

Singing and dancing together builds strong connections between parents and children, and the right music can help create lifelong memories for your little music lovers. What music do you remember from your childhood? It might be different from today’s tunes, but chances are, the fond memories remain the same.

About the Author:

Victoria R. Golden is the Assistant Program Director at Bubbles Academy. She teaches Music, Art & Music, Bubble Step (Gentle Separation) and Bubble Bees (Independent Learning) classes. A self-taught guitarist, she has also studied music at American University in Washington, DC and at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. She hopes to see you soon at Bubbles!

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5 Infant-Friendly Places in the Chicago North Suburbs

As pediatric therapists in Glenview, Highland Park and Bucktown, we are always looking for child friendly places to suggest to our clients.  Below is a list of five infant friendly places for parents to try out with their kids!

Kohl Children’s Museum Kohl Children's Museum

2100 Patriot Blvd, Glenview IL

The Kohl Children’s Museum is the perfect place for children to play, explore, and learn. The museum has 17 exhibits, including exhibits which rotate so that every visit feels brand-new. Kohl is infant and young-toddler friendly as three unique specialized infant-areas are located within the museum exhibits so that parents may stay with their infants and young crawlers while keeping an eye on the older ones. Afternoon hours tend to be quieter, and likely provide an excellent place to bring the littlest of children. Nursing stations are provided to allow nursing Mom’s their privacy. Admission is free for children under 1, $9.50 for older children and adults.  They also do a great job of accommodating children with special needs.  North Shore Pediatric Therapy has worked with the museum in creating a walk-through guide which can be found here: Parent’s Guide 

AMC Sensory Friendly Films

AMC, partnered with the Autism Society has established a nation-wide program for children to experience sensory friendly films. Once monthly, 10am showings of current children’s feature films are screened in a family-friendly atmosphere perfect for small children, or children who find traditional theater experiences to be overwhelming. The lights are left on, the sound is turned down. Getting up, moving around and dancing are all encouraged! Your infant or young toddler will not be required to sit through an feature film, so your whole family can experience movie-magic together, without fear of being “shhhh-ed.” Check the website for local listings.

Nibbles Play Cafe

13 Huntington Lane, Wheeling IL

Nibbles is a café that serves up more than a great cup of coffee. Here you can get your caffeine fix while your child explores indoor play areas specially designed by early childhood professionals. An infant- area allows for early crawlers and walkers to explore in a soft and safe zone separated from older toddlers and children’s imaginative play and art projects. Adults and children under age 1 are invited to enjoy a day at Nibbles free-of-charge while admission for older children is $7.50 each, $3.75 for siblings.

Children’s Museum of Oak Lawn

5100 Museum Drive Oak Lawn, IL

The Children’s Museum of Oak Lawn features many exciting exhibits, and also boasts a Tummy Time exhibit just for infants and young toddlers. “Tummy time” is an important exercise for children’s early motor development (link to one of Bridget’s blogs?) and what better way to encourage your infant, than in a specially designed area for little ones to scoot and explore, belly down! Many children’s museums have rooms or exhibits dedicated to infants and toddlers, look into your local museum to find what they have to offer! Admission is free for children under one year, $6 for older children and adults.

Exploritorium in Skokie

The Exploritorium is a basement-level playground that offers a  infant play areas, a mock theatre, computer stations with educational computer games, water play, a large art area, and a two-and-a-half story climber with slides, tunnels, and swaying bridges.  Perfect for stir crazy children on rainy days. It’s also available for birthday party rentals.  Kids under 1 are free!

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