Pinwheels are a fun summer item to pick up in store to use during the school year. Why pinwheels? They are small, easy to use, and flexible for a variety of activities. Pinwheels can help to calm a child down, make them actively participate in a session, and are also fun to use. Look around dollar stores and the toy or seasonal sections of retail stores. Consider taking sessions outside, so the kids can walk, talk, and bring the pinwheel with them for an activity.
The beauty of a pinwheel is they have lots of sections. You can place words, pictures, letters, numbers, or anything else within a section. Since this may need to be changed up from group to group, you can use Velcro on pieces to attach which are laminated. One of the easiest ways to generically use a pinwheel in a session is to give each child a turn and have them make it spin. Then have them pinch it to a stop in a random section.
Here are some suggestions for different types of therapy sessions.
Speech Therapy– Use the word in a sentence. Give a word that rhymes with the one on a section. Say additional words which have similar start or end sounds. Sections could be easily changed to work on articulation, grammar, and pragmatics.
Occupational Therapy – Have different prompts on the pinwheel for fine motor practice. Snapping, writing a silly sentence with chalk, painting with water on the sidewalk, or something else. You can also use the pinwheel as a number to pick a random card with fun skills to work on randomly.
Physical Therapy – Put different motor movements on pinwheel sections. If the focus is on balance, have the majority be for that. Kids can run, jump, use their core muscles, and even dance. Think outside of the box to keep them moving and working on their own IEP goals.
Group Therapy – If groups are working on social skills, have prompts for different scenarios that can be practiced. Have random questions on sections that they must answer and then work on recalling what others say. Practice reciprocity by using the pinwheel to tell a silly story together. Spin it to get a random number of index cards to use within your group tale.
Be creative and make sections which work with whatever the children you work with are focusing on. With removable tabs on the sections, it is easy to change things as you need to. Another extension of this activity can be to make your own pinwheels. In addition to this, the pinwheels that they make can be taken home with instructions for families to extend the activity. Also consider putting key activity translations on a laminated sheet for multilingual families who will benefit from this.
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