Snow in Fort Myers? Check Out This Cool Occupational Therapy Activity!
South Florida may not have real snow like our northern neighbors (though there was that one time back in 1977), but this cool occupational therapy activity for kids is just as fun – no scarves or mittens required!
Making fake snow is an excellent tactile activity that’s great for helping our pediatric OT patients practice important life skills. Kids can help with the scooping, measuring, pouring, and mixing ingredients – all of which helps with reach, grasp, and wrist rotation. It’s also great sensory engagement that can be tailored to help with critical thinking, social skills, and communication.
We opted to try it in a couple of our recent OT teletherapy sessions, but it’s easily replicated at our Fort Myers therapy clinics. We encourage parents to try it out at home for maximum carryover of important skills.
The cheap, easy-to-find ingredients needed for this faux snow craft are:
- Baking soda
- White hair conditioner
- A bowl or bin
- Some tin foil or newspaper to lay down (if you’re doing the project indoors)
Directions: Simply mix about 3 cups of baking soda with about 1/2 cup of white hair conditioner until it’s firm. (If you don’t have that much of either ingredient, just make sure you’re using quite a bit more of the dry baking soda than wet hair conditioner.) You can use a spoon or spatula, but we opted for the extra sensory input of mixing it by hand.
“Let your child problem-solve by determining if they need to add more wet or dry ingredients to the batch,” said FOCUS Occupational Therapist Krystle Lopez. “You’ll know the snow is mixed correctly when you can pick it up and form snowballs. It will even be cool to the touch – just like real snow!”
It will last a while too if you put it in a sealed bag or bin.
Be prepared for a bit of mess – but a ton of fun!
How Making Fake Snow Helps With Pediatric Occupational Therapy Goals
Lopez explained that in terms of motor skills/praxis, making fake snow helps with:
- Fine motor strength and activity tolerance.
- Fine motor dexterity.
- Bilateral coordination.
For social and play skills, have another child join in (all kids love this one!) and work on:
- Self-expression and communication.
- Imaginative play.
- Cooperative play.
For self-regulation and executive functioning practice, this activity targets:
- Sensory input (tactile, olfactory [smell], and proprioceptive impulse control).
- Attention and following directions.
- Perseverance to task.
- Planning and organizing.
There are many strategies our Fort Myers occupational therapy team uses to ensure the activity is more than just simple fun (though there’s nothing wrong with that either!).
For example, let your child open the containers themselves. That might be tough (and a little anxiety-inducing for you if you’re extremely mess-averse). What this helps teach them is perseverance. We don’t want them giving up too fast when something is challenging because we know there are many things in life they may need to work a bit harder at. Learning to persevere despite difficulties is important. This activity is a great way to keep kids motivated and continuing to try – because they really want to play with that snow! Help them talk through their frustration, and discuss ways to solve the problems they’re encountering. Remind them of the size of their problem if they start having a big reaction – and the strategies we practice in occupational therapy to calm themselves down (deep breaths, counting to 10, asking for a break, etc.). For kids still learning when and how to ask for help, this activity can be a great way to help them practice that.
To practice sequencing (first, second, next, then, last, etc.), go over the steps in the beginning – and then pretend you forgot something. They’ll need to use their walking memory to “help mommy/daddy remember.” If they ask questions, respond to them with your own question rather than simply answering. See if this prompts them to talk out the solutions on their own.
Arrange the environment to facilitate a skill you’re trying to work on. For example, if child struggles with social deficits, try bringing in a sibling or friend. Model appropriate emotions yourself. Encourage your child to engage in self-assessment (checking in on how their body/mind are doing, what they’re feeling, and what their body might be telling them in terms of what they need to feel calm and focused.)
If you have questions about other ways this specific activity can be tailored at home in a way that helps your child reach their goals, just ask anyone on your child’s dedicated OT team at FOCUS Therapy! We’re happy to help brainstorm fun, creative activities for at-home practice of these essential life skills.
FOCUS offers pediatric occupational therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.
5 Best Ways to Make Fake Snow, ElfOnTheShelf.com
More Blog Entries:
How Fort Myers Occupational Therapy Helps Kids, Jan. 2, 2022, Fort Myers Pediatric Occupational Therapist Blog