Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bucket Therapy!

I stumbled upon a great therapy idea! It is great for physical and sensory therapy! I bought this purple bucket at Targ*t to store all of Zoya's stuffed animals in (okay really I thought it would be a nice place to throw all her toys that don't have a home and are laying all over the floor at the end of each day). Well Zoya wanted to climb in one day and so I helped her in. From there we started pushing her across the room really fast and then spinning her inside the bucket. She LOVED it. From there we found so many more great therapy ideas with the bucket! So cheap and fun!

So for these activities below you will need a round tub like this.
 The picture shows a 10 pound weight in the bottom. If you don't have one you could use a bag or two of potatoes or something else heavy. When we started these activities we did them without the weight, but today, after talking with our PT, I added the weight. I like the weight for several reasons.

First, it keeps the bucket from tipping over when Zoya tries to climb in and out of it.

Second, pushing and pulling heavy items is very good proprioceptive input to help children better understand and develop the concept of how much or how little pressure is needed to manipulate objects (thanks to our OT for teaching me all this!) Zoya has a very hard time grading movement. In other words, she has a hard time using the appropriate amount of pressure to manipulate objects. She is generally rough and not very gentle with her hands. I am coming to learn that this is not a behavior, but an inability to know how much pressure to use. If I give her a plastic cup that is too thin (like a disposable one) she will crush it because she is used to picking up her hard plastic cup or straw cup. We were working on her cheerio book the other day and she got the cheerio in the right hole and then would push it down so hard she would crush it. She didn't understand she needed less pressure than she would need for wooden puzzle pieces puzzle pieces.  

I threw some stuffed animals in the bottom so she wasn't sitting on the hard weight. A folded up blanket would also work well on top of the weight.

This is Zoya laughing after the spinning stopped! Spinning is such a great sensory activity! It gives so much input to the senses!

Pushing SOOOO hard! She does fairly well with the 10 pound weight but it is definitely hard work for her! You could start with 5 pounds if 10 is too much.

Another idea I had after asking the PT about "heel-toe walking" instead of flat foot walking....She suggested activities that would strengthen her ankles such as jumping on the bed or a couch cushion. I remembered I had this air seat in the basement (it was a ab-strengthening thing I used like a total of 5 times). It is awesome for balance, ankle strength, and sensory input because it has little spikes on one side! Holding onto the bucket gave her enough support without me having to hold her. She was bouncing up and down on the air seat.

We love this step stool from Grandma and Grandpa B. I fancied it up a little at Grandma's suggestion! This is great for stepping up into the bucket and then back down again. One of her PT goals is stepping up and down a 4" surface with one hand held (and ultimately walking up and down stairs).

She loves it when we pick the bucket up and swing her from side to side or twirl her around in the air. I recommend taking the ten pound weight out before you do it (I may or may not have tried to swing it with the weight still in it!)

Here is her face when the movement stops. She has a funny look on her face the entire time that she is swinging or spinning, then when it stops she cracks up.

More standing on the air seat.

She is telling me by saying and signing "ra-ra" which means round and round. We get a pretty darn good work out so it's a good thing there is two of us to take turns with the spinning! She just keeps asking over and over for more round and round! She would do this all night if we let her!

The bucket is also great for standing and sitting with control and sitting in the correct "criss-cross applesauce" or "ring sit" position. It is pretty impossible to sit in the awful "w-position" that Zoya loves since the inside of the bucket is too small.

Climbing in and out. Zoya can almost do this by herself! The bucket is just a smidge too tall still. But look how hard she is working!

Another way to incorporate sensory input is to pile some stuffed animals on top of her! I'd love to have some big bean bags or rice bags I could pile on top of her too...something with a little bit more weight to give even more input. Look at this sweet angel face! Notice her rosy red cheeks from working so hard!

This is so much fun that I didn't even realize we were doing therapy, Mom!

Climbing out...

More spinning...

These activities are also good speech/communication therapy. We make Zoya ask for more spinning or more swinging. She also verbalizes a lot while doing these activities! I read on another blog a great way to "cement" a learning activity is to do some physical activity afterwards, so this activity might be great to try after working on colors or numbers or a new sign or some other learning concept!

Anyone have any other favorite all-encompassing therapy activities they use with their kids?


  1. I LOVE this idea. I had one of those little squishy discs from cheerleading. Another thing I find kids love is those big blow up exercise balls. LOVE to bounce and it's really good for their core stability.

    Also glad it doesn't let her do the W sit. I've seen a lot of adopted kids do that because they don't have the core stability to do a criss cross sit.

    The only problem with an activity like this is that mom and dad are exhausted at the end! haha.

  2. Who knew therapy could be so much fun? Zoya is sure enjoying it, but don't tell her it's good for her :-) She is so cute and funny, I love to look at pictures and video of her enjoying life! Take care and keep up the good work.

    Sue M.

  3. I'm always amazed at the strength that Ms. Iz demonstrates around here but like Zoya has to learn which strength she needs for which task. This girl can whip a ball like any major leaguer. :) I dare say I've been clocked more times than I care to admit while doing the game ball attacks in the household where it becomes rather wild with two or three adults and one child. LOL

    Recently we purchased a wagon, Iz loves to climb in and out of it, since doing this I noticed that she is learning to do the stairs with one leg right after the other instead of one leg all the time. I was so thrilled when I saw her do it the other night.

    After watching the Wheeeee! blanket ride you were giving Zoya every time we do the blankets in the laundry that are ready to be folded Iz asks to get in for a swing but it doesn't last too long at all. She gets very nervous and tries to climb out. That one we haven't quite mastered yet. Zoya is a champ with it.

    We use to do the laundry basket spinning, she loves it.

  4. What great activities! The disc cushion is great - I use it alot with my little kiddos during their therapy sessions - it has so many uses!!! Fun is always an important factor when doing PT!!!! Looks like you have it down pat!