Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

May 20, 2016

Occupational Therapy: May Around-The-House with Melissa Petcu


Melissa Petcu MS OTR/L, occupational therapist at the Midtown office, emphasizes that pediatric occupational therapy is all about “the job of living”. Families can capitalize of events and activities already happening around the house to facilitate development and improve skills. In May, she shares:

“Last month a friend talked me into trying Burn Boot Camp. We‚Äôre both post-baby and it‚Äôs about time to be bikini body ready, right?? So I tried a couple of weeks of 5:30 am workouts and loved it. I quickly decided that I loved sleep more, especially with an 8-month-old that still wakes 3+ times a night.  I‚Äôm still trying to find my groove with exercising‚Ķ”

While our children don’t really have to worry about being bikini body ready for the summer, there are ways to work on strengthening the core and upper body that can easily be worked into play and daily routines. Here’s a few ideas:

Core strengthening activities

  • Sit-ups
    • Use toys to increase interest and endurance
  • Super man catch/throw
  • Foot pass
    • Lay on back hold pillow, ball or other object with feet, then pass to partner‚Äôs feet
  • Blanket pull
    • Sit or lay on blanket and have sibling or parent pull with sheet or rope

Wrist and Shoulder Strengthening activities

  • Critter Walks
    • Bear, crab, and wheelbarrow
    • Crab soccer
  • Watch TV in prone prop
    • Lay on stomach, propped on elbows
  • Heavy Lifting
    • Carry, push, pull laundry basket, groceries or other heavy items
  • Sheet Tug-of-war
  • Chores
    • Yard work, sweep floors, fold laundry, wipe down dinner table, clean windows/mirrors or assist with dinner prep
  • Vertical Drawing
    • Draw or write on an easel, tape paper to wall or draw with shaving cream on side of tub

Hand strengthening activities

  • Pop beads
  • Legos
  • “Mr. Money” tennis ball
  • Cotton Ball Races
    • Squeeze a syringe (infant bulb syringe, turkey baster) to blow cotton balls in a race
  • Arts and Crafts
    • Hole punches, scissors
  • Play dough or putty
    • Homemade recipe


  • String cheerios on a dry spaghetti noodle
  • Make a dry pasta necklace by stringing different shaped pasta on a string
  • Use a baster to fill muffin tin or ice cube tray with colored water
  • Use tweezers to put small pom poms into ice cube tray
  • Put pipe cleaners through holes of a colander
  • Weave ribbon on a kitchen extension rack

OCULOMOTOR activities

  • Use straws to complete games such as blowing a pom poms across the kitchen table or sucking a bingo chip long enough to hold it on the end of the straw and then place in a container


  • Follow a recipe to make home-made play dough or something yummy 
  • Pour water, dry rice and dry beans into different containers
  • Use different kitchen tools such as a masher, dropper, fork or plastic wrap to paint


  • Flip bean bags with a spatula. You could even make the bean bags with dried beans!

An occupational therapist provides practical suggestions for parents and caregivers as part of a home program.