The Recycling Occupational Therapist: Hundreds of Simple Therapy Materials You Can Make

The Recycling Occupational Therapist: Hundreds of Simple Therapy Materials You Can Make

Barbara Smith’s book The Recycling Occupational Therapist: Hundreds of Simple Therapy Materials You Can Make is saving the planet’s resources by reusing common household throwaways. At the same time her creative ideas are saving therapists, teachers, special education staff, vocational instructors, and parents hours of research time finding activities and supplies for the individuals under their care.

Everyone knows about the limited teaching and healthcare budgets making the procurement of therapy products and special needs teaching supplies most difficult to obtain. Author Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR  has a great solution, make homemade therapy tools by following the detailed instructions in her book, The Recycling Occupational Therapist: Hundreds of Simple Therapy Materials You Can Make.

How This Book Is Organized

Barbara Smith has 154 telephone book size pages filled with well-organized, educational, therapeutic, and fun activities made from every day materials we usually throw away. The spiral bound book has the activities presented in a cookbook fashion, with a brief description of the material or activity, a list of the needed recycled materials, construction directions, and suggested uses and adaptions.

About the Activities

The activities and therapy products are divided into three categories:

  • Fine Motor Activities
  • Gross Motor Activities
  • Sensory Activities

The activities were first designed for adults with developmental disabilities; however they may also be appropriate for clients or students of all ages, with or without developmental delays.

All young children at home, in early intervention programs, and in preschool programs can benefit from these activities to develop fine and gross motor skills.

The author’s goal was to develop activities that are fun and will motivate the student. Many activities are rich in sensory stimuli to increase the pleasure of doing them.

The activities are also graded; they can be made easier or more difficult depending on the abilities of the participant.

Many activities can be done from various positions; standing, sitting, lying prone, or while using a weighted blanket, rocking or being rocked in a chair…

The activities all have a definite purpose to help in an individual’s development and many increase prevocational and social skills.

 Examples of the Materials Needed

The author clearly lists all the supplies you should gather to make her handmade creations. Most of the supplies you need will be common household recyclable objects and a few tools. Once the therapy tools are made they can be reused many times and you can add or change a feature in your handmade tool to address other needs or vary the level of difficulty. You only need the will to carry this through, a little elbow grease, and items like the following.

  • Simple Tools like leather shears, sharp scissors, heavy duty hole punch, hand drills and bits …
  • Purchased supplies like Velcro, Duct tape, Masking tape, balloons, adhesive vinyl…
  • Recycled materials like clear soda bottles, plastic bottles of shampoos, detergent…

Features of the Book

This resource book for parents and professionals was done with care and took a lot of planning. Barbara Smith’s attention to detail and her creativity shines through on each page. When I was studying to be a teacher, we had to pass in complete, point by point lesson plans that were complicated and time consuming. My teaching professors would be pleased with Barbara Smith’s meticulous Activity instructions.

Users will appreciate the comprehensive, 4 page Table of Contents. An index is not necessary because of Ms. Smith’s descriptive activity titles on these pages.

The detailed activities with illustrated steps for greater clarity have adaptions to the activity to allow clients/students with different physical and mental challenges to execute it well. This frames them for success and hence greater enjoyment of the activity.

Included are Appendixes filled with Games for Groups, Gross Motor Games for Groups, and Quiet Activities for Relaxation Groups with variations of these games.

Leaving no stone unturned, the book ends with a handy Glossary.

Nothing is crowded. Users will love the wide margins and the fact that each new activity starts at the top of a new page. There are lots of blank spaces to write comments to help you the next time you use this activity.

The Recycling Occupational Therapist: Hundreds of Simple Therapy Materials You Can Make by Barbara Smith is the book needed by the staff of all schools, day programs, and community adult programs. I can see how useful it would be to homeschoolers, Scout and Guide leaders, and parents who can have as much fun fabricating the activities with their child/group as playing them. What better example to instill in those in our care the wise use and reuse of our resources. The old saying, “Waste Not, Want Not” is also true today.

About the Author

Taken from Barbara Smith’s web site: I have worked for over twenty years developing activities for children and adults with developmental and learning disabilities. It all began after graduating from the State University of New York at New Paltz with a B.A. in English.

After working with developmentally disabled adults in community residences, day habilitation centers and sheltered workshops, I realized that the field of occupational therapy would offer opportunities for professional advancement and creativity.

While working as an occupational therapist at the Hogan Regional Center in Danvers, Massachusetts I observed that many of the activities designed for children were not appropriate for the aging population of developmentally disabled individuals. Yet, these individuals did not possess the motor and cognitive abilities to perform activities designed for adults. The solution was to make my own activities and the cheapest way to do so was by using common household recyclable objects such as soda and laundry bottles, card-board boxes, rubber bands and newspaper.

The activities were so successful I decided to put them into print and thus, my writing career had begun with the publication of The Recycling Occupational Therapist: Hundreds of Simple Therapy Materials You Can Make.

Read our interview with Barbara Smith here.

Read our review of From Rattles to Writing: A Parent’s Guide to Hand Skills by Barbara A. Smith, OTR/L here.

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This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.
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