5 Activities to Promote Language Use in the Car

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How much longer? Are these commonly heard phrases in your car? It’s summertime and a road trip is just around the corner.

Learn 5 activities for car rides that are not only fun, but a great way to encourage language skills on the go!

  1. I Spy: “I spy with my little eye…” Use this game to target the following skills:
    • Articulation: See if you can find objects, restaurants, stores, etc. that begin with the sound your child is working on in speech therapy.
    • Receptive language: Ask your child to find 5 items outside the car that belong to a certain category. For example, “Can you find 5 different animals?”
  2. Story Time: Making up silly stories can make for a fun ride! Ask your child to make up a story using ideas, activities, or characters he sees out the window. Be sure the story follows an appropriate sequence of events. This activity can also be a team game. Each person in the family takes turns adding a sentence to the story!
  3. Camping Trip: This is a game to get the whole family involved in your child’s language development. The game begins with one person saying, “I went on a camping trip and I brought…” The frist person states an item that begins with the letter A (apple). The following family member repeats the phrase and adds his own item beginning with the letter B (“I went on a camping trip and I brought an apple and a bouncy ball”). See how far down the alphabet you can get while you target auditory memory, attention, and phonemic awareness!
  4. Clue: This game is great for targeting receptive and expressive language!
    • Receptive Language: Tell your child you are thinking of an object. Provide “clues” (function of the object, category, attributes, etc.) to help them figure it out!
    • Expressive Language: Now it is your child’s turn! Let your child provide you with clues and see if you can figure out what object he is thinking of.
  5. Rhyme: It is rhyme time! Take turns picking a word. Work together or make it a race to see who can find the most objects outside the car that rhyme with the chosen word!

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Tips to Get a Child to Try a New Food | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a registered dietitian provides strategies to help your child to try new foods.

In this video you will learn:

  • When is it recommended to offer a child a new food
  • How many exposures to a new food before we expect a child to eat it
  • How to make a child feel comfortable with trying new foods

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
Ackerman, and I’m standing here today with Stephanie Wells, a Pediatric
Registered Dietician. Stephanie, can you give us three tips on how to get a
child to try a new food?

Stephanie: Sure. The first tip would be that you want to offer the new
foods in a low pressure situation. Offer them foods at the table or on
their high chair, and consistently offer them a new food, maybe once per
week. Don’t pressure them to try the new food, but just offer it to them
and encourage them to try it, and let them sort of come around to it. Just
remember that research shows that it takes a child 8 to 15 exposures to a
new food before they might actually eat it.

The second tip would be to have them help pick out a new food that they
might want to try. And they can do that at the grocery store or the farmers
market. And also get them involved in actually preparing the food.

The third tip would be to be a good role model for your children, in terms
of eating the types of foods that you would like them to eat. It can also
be really effective if they eat in a setting with their peers. So if they
have cousins or a play group where they can eat together, and if they see
other kids eating those types of foods, then they will be more likely to
want to eat it themselves.

Robyn: All right. Well, thank you so much for the tips. 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
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

The Benefits of Increasing Therapy Over the Summer

Summer is the time of the year when children engage in more free play and physical activity. Therefore, summer is the perfect time of the year to improve upon skills that children need in order to be active, successful, and independent children!Little girl jumping a rope

Here are some of the best reasons to consider starting therapy or increasing the number of therapy sessions for your child over the summer:

Maintain and improve skills for school – Since school is out for the summer, it is important that children do not lose the fine motor, problem-solving, planning, and organizational skills (and more) that are necessary to be productive students at school. Although summertime is a great time to provide opportunity for free play, it may create academic issues for your child once school starts back up if he or she does not engage in challenging tasks  during their 3 month break from school.

Practice physical activities, such as bike riding, climbing, and jumping rope – During the summer, children are often playing outside for hours on end. It may become noticeable that your child is not keeping up with their peers. Activities with which you may notice some difficulty are often when children have to coordinate their arms and legs, such as jumping jacks, climbing the jungle gym, and learning to ride a 2-wheeler. By participating in therapy over the summer, therapists can address these specific concerns in order to help your child stay up to speed with their friends while performing these activities.

More availability over the summer – Since your children are out of school for the summer, they may have a lot more time and availability during the day to participate in more therapy. Summer camp and extra-curricular activities often only take up part of the day, so there may be more times you are available to schedule therapy appointments. Furthermore, although camp and extra-curricular activities are great options for staying active, they do not necessarily offer the same therapeutic benefits as therapy.

Provides structure to their day– Oftentimes, summer can be a season of unstructured play time in which children can do anything they would like. Sometimes the choices are so overwhelming that this can often lead to hours of playing video games, watching TV, and other sedentary activities. Therapy can provide structure to your child’s day to make them feel like they are being productive by spending their time doing valuable tasks.

Opportunity for peer interaction outside of school – Once school is over for the summer, some children may only spend their time with the same friends every day. Therapy sessions can provide the opportunity to make more friends in the clinic and learn how to engage in social situations with other people.

These are just a few of the many benefits that therapy can provide to your child over the summer! By making your child more actively engaged in goal-directed activities, you are setting your child up to be productive students the following school year and active children during the summer!

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Exercise Hydration: What is the Right Beverage for my Child?

With so many sports beverage and enhanced water products on the market, it’s good to know when they are actually useful. Many of these products have an ingredient list quite similar to soda, which is not something you typically would give your child or athlete after a workout. However, there are circumstances where nutrient and electrolyte replacement is very important for children and teens.

Child drinking a glass of water

Carbohydrates are an important nutrient to replenish because glycogen is the fuel which gets used up from muscle and liver stores during physical activity. Electrolytes, specifically sodium, potassium, and bicarbonate are important for nerve conduction and respiration. Some amounts are expired through sweat and given off with heavy breathing that comes with intense physical activity. For these reasons, carbohydrates and electrolytes need to be “replaced” after intense, continuous workouts lasting longer than 60 minutes, and can be achieved with electrolyte replacement beverages. This would apply to long distance runners, college or elite athletes in training, and swimmers, soccer, or basketball players who are doing continuous intense cardio training for more than an hour during workouts.

However, for most people hitting the gym for an hour or so, or kids playing in team sports or outside at the playground, nutrient and electrolyte replacement can be achieved from eating a normal, well-rounded diet. Eating a balanced meal or snack within an hour after physical activity is sufficient in this case. Drinking additional sports drinks will only provide extra calories and sugar (or diet sweeteners), and often artificial food coloring.

Use this table as a guide:

Commercial (or homemade*) electrolyte replacement beverage

  • Intense continuous physical activity lasting an hour or more such as running; drink 16-32 ounces of electrolyte replacement beverage. 30 grams of carb should be consumed for every 60 minutes of intense continuous cardio, within 30 minutes of activity. Electrolyte replacement is important if intense physical activity is in extreme heat, when sweating is excessive.

Chocolate milk (carb + pro + electrolytes)

  • College or elite athletes in training for several hours per day who need a quick, small meal + electrolyte replacement during or after long workouts lasting several hours. These athletes should consult with a dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition.

Coconut water

  • Natural electrolyte replacement beverage; high in potassium and lower in sodium and sugar than commercial electrolyte replacement beverages. Appropriate for moderate-high physical activity with sweating, such as spinning class, kickboxing, “boot camps”, outdoor sports in heat with continuous cardio 30-60 minutes, etc.

Water + well-rounded diet

  • As needed during and after any level of physical activity. This is all that is necessary for low or moderate physical activity such as playing outside, playing team sports, hitting the gym for 30-60 minutes, etc. A rule of thumb is 1 oz water for every 2 lbs body wt (50 oz/day for 100 lb person) daily. Increase as needed in heat or more strenuous activity.

*Recipe for homemade electrolyte replacement beverage, from Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup orange juice (not concentrate) plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 1/2 cups cold water

  1. In the bottom of a pitcher, dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water.
  2. Add the juice and the remaining water; chill.

Recipe makes 1 quart.
Per 8 ounce serving, recipe provides: 50 calories, 12 grams carbohydrate, 110 mg sodium, 43 mg potassium.
Compared to original Gatorade per 8 ounce serving: 50 calories, 14 g carbohydrate, 110 mg sodium, 30 mg potassium.

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Stability Ball Exercises

The stability ball is a simple and easy piece of equipment to work into everyday exercise for your child, ranging from infant to teenager.  Stability balls can be bought at most sports stores, cost only about 20 dollars, and last for years.

Below are some fun activities to follow along with your kiddos to see improvements in core strength, posture, and shoulder stability:

Age: Infant

  • Simply sitting your 2+ month old infant in supported sitting on the stability ball will help his posture.
  • Placing your 2-8 month old on their tummy on the ball. TLittle girl rolling on a balance ballhis is a bit more challenging then pure tummy time as they have to push up through their arms on a cushy surface, helping build strong back and shoulder muscles.
  • At 4+ months, you can lean the ball/baby to the left side and watch your infant “right” their body up toward the middle. Practice to both sides. This will help their muscles on the sides of their trunk that are important for crawling.

Age: 1 year-5 years

  • Bouncing your child up and down gently on a ball will help both their core strength and vestibular system.
  • Bouncing the ball back and forth by lifting it above your head while keeping your and your child’s tummy muscles tight helps build great core and shoulder strength.
  • 3+ years, have your child practice dribbling the ball for increased hand-eye coordination and motor planning.

Age: 5 years +

  • Sit-ups:With either
    • your child’s hips and knees at a 90 degree angle from each other or
    • holding your child’s feet down, practice crunches to build abdominal strength.
  • Push-ups: With feet on floor and child in a plank position, they can practice push-ups with their hands on the ball. An adult may need to hold the ball stable so it doesn’t move.
  • Practicing chest passes (like in basketball) is great for chest strength, motor planning and overall stability.

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Tips to Overcome Shyness | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric social worker explains ways to help your child overcome shyness.  The following strategies are helpful if a child may have issues communicating with others and who is afraid of public.

In this video you will learn:

  • The natural approach to shyness
  • 3 Tips to overcome shyness
  • How to help a child understand shyness

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
Ackerman, and today I am sitting here with pediatric social
worker, Michelle Winterstein. Michelle, can you tell us what are
some three tips to overcome shyness?

Michelle: Yes, Robyn. Many children of all ages suffer from shyness. The
three tips that I would most recommend would be the first thing
is to identify what’s causing the shyness. By knowing the cause,
you can better determine what approach to take in helping your
child better get along with others.

The next thing would be exposure, exposure, exposure, whether
this be taking your child to the grocery store when you go or
family events. The more they’re exposed to, the better.

And the third most important thing I would suggest would be to
be a role model for your child. Show your child that you’re
comfortable interacting with people and that you know when it’s
needed to be assertive. Along with that, if you ever see your
child struggling or in need of some extra attention or a push,
be there to help your child.

Robyn: All right. Thank you so much. Those are some wonderful tips,
and thank you to our viewers. 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 LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

“Love, 15, 30, 40, game”- Why Tennis is a Great Summertime Activity for Children of All Ages

Tennis provides an excellent opportunity for your child to get outside and practice a wide variety of skills, such as sportsmanship, turn-taking, eye contact, and ball skills.  Tennis is a great partner activity, as it can be played with one player on each side of the net (singles) or with two players on each side(doubles).  Similarly, players can be rotated out, which works on waiting and patience, if there are more than 4 children who want to play with one another.

How Tennis Improves Your Child’s Muscles, Motor Skills and Coordination:

  • Muscle tone: Tennis is a sport which requires constant quick muscle responses to move towards the ball. The child must stabilize her trunk and arm muscles to hold the racquet and hit the ball.Children at the tennis court
  • Hand-eye coordination: The player must keep her eyes on the ball (tracking the ball on the court) in order to keep the game going (a rally) and have the best chance of scoring points. Ideally, the player is able to throw and catch a ball consistently to have the greatest success, as playing a game of catch without the racquets is a prerequisite skill to maintaining a rally.
  • High energy: Tennis is physically demanding, as the player must be constantly moving during the tennis match to keep up with the ball and protect her side of the net. This requires the player to have a good amount of endurance, strength, and breathing control.
  • Muscle grading: The player must be able to determine the appropriate amount of force needed to hit the tennis ball when the ball is moving, in order to return the ball to the other side of the net. For instance, when serving the tennis ball to begin the game, the player will need more force to hit the ball a longer distance, as the server is required to stand behind the baseline (farthest back). On the other hand, when the player is rallying the ball, she may want to hit the ball softly, to place the ball in a spot which will be challenging for the opponent to get to.
  • Sensory: Tennis is usually played outdoors. Therefore, many sensory components are involved. For instance, the outdoor smells (e.g. grass, sunscreen, bug spray); the feel of the ball (e.g. fuzzy/rough; can get soggy/dirty/muddy if it falls into a puddle); and the environmental noises (e.g. insects, airplanes, others nearby, traffic). The player is required to take in all of these sensory components, while also staying focused on the task at hand.

Overall, tennis is a great sport for any age:

Tennis can provide both a cardiovascular and a strength workout, as the player must chase after the ball and protect her side of the net, while also stabilizing and manipulating her racquet.  Tennis is a perfect sport for families to play together, and an easy way to work on sportsmanship and social skills with same aged peers.  If you have any concerns about your child’s ball skills, hand-eye coordination, or bilateral skills, or any other skills mentioned above, please reach out to your child’s occupational therapist or physical therapist for further support and collaboration.

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When Friends Are A Bad Influence on Your Children | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode a Licensed Professional Counselor provides tips on what to do if our children are influenced badly outside of the home setting.

 In this video you will learn:

  • When a parent should discuss bad influences with the child
  • How to best approach the bad influence situation
  • What is the best way for the child to handle the situation

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
Ackerman, and today I’m standing here with Marnie Ehrenberg, a
licensed professional counselor. Marnie, can you give us some
advice on what to do when our children are hanging out with bad
influences?

Marnie: Sure. I think it’s a topic that comes up a lot across the age
groups, and I think it kind of depends on the age, but for older
kids, I think that your first step should not be to say, “You
can’t hang out with that person.” I think that that makes that
person really desirable. I think that talking to your kids about
how to make good decisions is really important, and as well as
reinforcing that you have your own family rules, and if another
person they want to hang out with doesn’t follow those kinds of
rules or jeopardizes that, that they need to learn how to say no
and how to end it.

I think giving them a chance to be able to make those decisions
on their own and see if they break any rules is important. And
then at that point, then you can decide if you’re at the point
where you’re going to forbid them to see somebody. But I think
it’s important to talk about how your family works and how other
families work and keep that integrity in your home.

Robyn: All right. Thank you so much, Marnie. And thank you to our
viewers, 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 LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

Tips for Summer: Making Swimming Fun!

Swimming is a great activity for a hot day that provides entertainment and exercise. Swimming helps children develop strength and coordination, and is considered an important life-saving skill. As a former child swim instructor, I have met many parents who struggle with a child who is afraid of water.

Here are some tips on making swimming fun and encouraging your child to enjoy the water

  • If your child is afraid of water, ask him/her why. Many times, children don’t like it when they can’t see the bottom of a lake or pond. Start in a shallow pool with clear water.
  • Play games while sitting on the steps. You can play “drums” on the water, hitting the surface with your hands and making big splashes. Work your way down the steps, deeper and deeper.Mother with child at the pool.
  • Blow bubbles in the water. If your child doesn’t want to put his/her face in the water, use a straw to make bubbles. You can pretend you’re fish or sing a song underwater. Or you can have competitions to see who can hold their breath the longest.
  • Fetch sinkable toys from the bottom of the pool. There are colored rings, boats, and other objects that are available for this purpose. This will encourage kids to submerge their whole bodies and help them figure out how to move in the water. You can start shallow and move deeper.

Once your child is feeling more comfortable in the water, there are plenty of games you can play to make pool time more fun and encourage exercise and gross motor play

  • Marco-Polo
  • 1-2-3-Trophy: Make up different ways of moving your legs while doing a handstand in the water. For example, the “trophy” handstand involves keeping your legs straight, while the “scissor” handstand involves scissoring your legs back and forth. See how many you and your child can think of!
  • Water basketball: Floatable basketball hoops or hoops set up at the edge of the pool are great.
  • Water volleyball
  • Jumping Simon-Says: As one person is about to jump in the pool, someone has to yell out what kind of jump they have to do (cannonball, pencil, star, etc). The jumper has to quickly make that position in the air before they hit the water.
  • Races: Race from one end of the pool to the other, or race to collect sunken objects.
  • Shark-Attack: For groups of 3 or more, one person plays the shark, who turns his/her back to the pool. The other people have to make it from one side of the pool to the other without being tagged by the shark. If the shark thinks the others have started swimming, he/she can jump in and try to tag them.
  • Monkey-in-the-Middle

Swimming is a great outdoor activity that promotes exercise and gross motor development. Use these tips if your child doesn’t enjoy swimming or is afraid of the water.

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Farmer’s Markets in the North Shore

It’s farmer’s market season! If you have ever tried farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, you know that you can taste the difference between them and those that are frozen, canned, or even sitting on produce stands in the grocery store. Going to a farmer’s market is a fun family activity that provides kids with a different way to experience fresh food. Often, farmer’s markets will have live music, arts and crafts, and of course, lots of tasty food to sample.

Mother at a Farmers Market location

I am often surprised at how affordable produce is at farmer’s markets. Taking just $20 out of the weekly food budget will buy a sack full of fruits and vegetables. My toddler loves coming to the farmer’s market with me. She can’t believe all the colorful fruits and vegetables within her reach.  I always let her choose one piece of fruit to munch on as we stroll along. I think there is something fascinating to kids about seeing all of that food outside on display under the sun, with so many people and kids and pets everywhere at the same time. It is really a great opportunity to get kids interested in fresh fruits and vegetables. The other perks are supporting local farmers, enjoying the community, and spending time having a healthy family outing.

Kids can learn so much about food and where it really comes from at a farmer’s market. I will never forget speaking to elementary schools with a basket of vegetables and quizzing kids on each one. Believe it or not, the kids often could not correctly identify a tomato, cauliflower, eggplant, and most surprisingly, a whole carrot with its leafy top. I realized that in today’s world, kids identify carrots as the little 2-inch long oblong orange things in a baggie. And they see tomatoes as ketchup or pizza sauce. And some never see cauliflower or eggplant at all.

Kids will grow up eating the kinds of foods they are exposed to and offered regularly. It is your choice as a parent what foods your kids are exposed to while they are in your care. Make trips to the farmer’s market a part of your summer routine. Maybe by fall, your kid will be asking for you to pack those fruits and veggies in their school lunch!

Some Farmer’s Markets in the North Shore Area:

Deerfield Farmer’s Market. Saturdays 7AM-12:30PM at Deerfield Road and Robert York Avenue.
Evanston Farmer’s Market. Saturdays 7:30AM-1PM at University Place and Oak Avenue.
Glenview Farmer’s Market. Saturdays 8AM-12PM at Wagner Farm, 1510 Wagner Road (Opens June 23rd).
Northfield Farmer’s Market. Saturdays 7:30AM-12PM on Happ Road across from New Trier’s freshman campus.
Ravinia Farmer’s Market. Wednesdays 7AM-1PM on Dean Avenue between Roger Williams and St. James Avenue.
Wilmette French Market. Saturdays 8AM-1PM at the Village Center.

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