One of the developmental skills that we have identified as being a current concern for Ruby due to her SPD issues is the ability to cross her midline.
In simple terms this means that she is having some difficulty reaching across the imaginary line down the middle of her body with her arms or legs to perform simple tasks…she finds it difficult to ‘crossover' basically. She tends to swap hands rather than reach across her body to perform an action.
This can also mean that she sometimes gets halfway through an action and then stops and swaps hands because she won't reach and cross over the body. She is also yet to display a dominant ‘worker' and ‘helper' hand although we are slowly making progress in this area.
Sometimes she will have something in both hands and needs encouragement to put one item down to continue or start another task. ..i can see she wants to do something (e.g a puzzle) but she has a puzzle piece in both hands and is not sure how to pick up another piece or make a new space for one she already has. She needs to put something down before she can complete her tasks. This can really frustrate her so it is important that i try to include some simple activities to encourage her ability to crossover her midline.
If she continues to have difficulty with this skill it can lead to issues later on with reading, writing and coordinating the fine and gross motor skills used in everyday activities.
Because she is only 2.5 my aim is to just try and encourage her to use the right and left side of her brain and coordinate her body as often as possible with some simple yet fun activities. Even if your child isn't having trouble crossing their midline they are still fun toddler activities that will help to strengthen this important skill!
These are just a few of our favourites so far but there are so many ideas out there for kids of all ages…i will leave a few links to pages i have found helpful at the end of this post.
Ruby loves to fill boxes and pack up at the moment so i placed the box of dinosaurs on one side of her and an empty cardboard box on the other side…she had to reach into the dinosaur box , pick one up and then reach across her body to place them into the empty cardboard box without changing hands to complete the task. Note the other hand being used to stabilise the box.
She had a lot of fun with this activity and never knew she was practicing an important skill!!
Tara really enjoyed driving her cars through the ‘squishy mud' so it was a fantastic sensory experience too.
It is a fantastic sensory activity, one which challenges Ruby as she is not to keen on the slippery texture of the foam.
One of our most recent activities was some painting on the garage doors. I simply filled a few buckets with some bright water paint and added a few different paintbrushes…i varied the length of the handles and the thickness of the brushes.
Brooksie 55 says
Hi Jode – Thank you for sharing your many useful and fun activity ideas for toddlers. I’m always looking for new challenges for my 2.5 yr old.
I wonder if you could share with me your recipe for cellmix for the figure-8 racetrack bag? I’d love to try that out.
Jodie Clarke says
Hi Rachel…thanks so much for your lovely words! There really is no cell mix recipe…that’s why i love the stuff! You purchase it as a powder and then all you do is add some water and whisk…need to leave it to sit for about 10 mins before using as it thickens. Here in Australia it is sold as cell mix or mix-a paste….there may be other variations too. It’s texture is a little slimy so it makes a great sensory tool!
holly paulson says
I love the activity ideas!!!! I am an occupational therapist and I want to mention that crossing midline should be developed by the age of five. It is great to be proactive with crossing midline skills though. Also, when Ruby is doing these activities, it is important that she doesn’t shift her trunk when she is reaching. Shifting or rotating her trunk when reaching across her midline is a compensation and she won’t actually cross her midline. Sitting behind her and stabilizing her shoulder of trunk can help with this compensation. I love parents that are proactive and complete activities at home to increase development of skills 🙂
Jodie Clarke says
Thanks Holly…i actually meant to write about the midline skill being developed by age 5 as i don’t want readers to feel it needs to be fully developed by 2yrs so thanks for pointing that out!!
Thanks also for the shifting of her trunk advice…i hadn’t been told that so it is good information and i will go back in and edit the post as soon as i get a chance!
So appreciative of the time you took to comment and make these suggestions…thank you so much!
reading your adorable blog all the way over in Collingswood, New Jersey,USA–You are doing an AMAZING job my friend!! I am also an OT and can appreciate all the effort and creativity you are putting into your every day with your family, they are truly blessed to have such a dedicated mom by their side!
I love magnet play, and have had alot of fun with children when i used poster board and a magnet on a paint stick held under the poster board to guide objects that are on top (such as cars, dinosaurs, colored magnet chips,anything you can glue a small magnetic dot to that is interesting to your child) you can guide your object through a street, through tropical terrain or just following a straight, wiggly or loopy line. The complexity can be as simple as free movement (this can decrease frustration for younger children)and as complex as following the letters of their name…start simple and keep it fun for your child and you will have a magical time
Jodie Clarke says
Thank you so much Carolyn…wonderful to hear that an OT was pleased with my activities as i was a little worried as i am by no menas a professional…just trying to adapt what we learn in early intervention visits!
Absolutely love your magnet idea…i am going to set up a simple version for the girls and see how it goes…thanks so much for sharing, i love to try new ideas!!!
I think I’ve said this before but you are so much fun! My oh my, I need to do more thing with my kidlets. What you’re doing for your girls is so important and so, so special. I’m sure they will turn back to you and thank you for their wonderful childhood (with educational and developmental purpose). I love reading what you’ve been up to. I wish I could come more often but it’s really crazy at the moment. Can’t wait until it settles down some. I miss my fave blogs!
Jodie Clarke says
Penny…you do such wonderful activities with your kids so no need to feel like you need to do more Missy!!!
Thank you for your kind words though…some days i wonder if the activities are worth all the effort and then we visit a specialist and get positive news about how Ruby is progressing…as well as Tara and i know it is. The smile on those faces is woth the planning too! Completely understand about the time factor…don’t ever feel pressure to visit…i think we are all in the same boat my friend xx
This is such an important thing… and so cool to have lots of playful ideas to gently encourage it.
We are currently working on this skill with our 9 year olds… they don’t struggle to cross their midline, but their reading skills do not correlate with their spelling and handwriting which we think is due to ‘left/right brain disconnect’ which is related and helped by crossing the midline. For us it is things like learning to juggle and various ballet moves to encourage it.
Julie Kirkwood says
Jode, this is such a great post! Not just applicable to toddlers, I think. Helpful to kids of any age who struggle with crossing the midline. Pinned to my SPD board. Thanks for sharing these great ideas!
Scott and Susan Smith says
These ideas are great for our 2 1/2 year old who had a stroke at 3 months old. She is doing great but prefers her left hand. We are always trying to do activities that take two hands. Thanks for sharing!!
Kate - An Everyday Story says
Our OT suggested a midline work for Jack too. Lke Ruby he would use both hands simultaneously or one hand and seem to become confused as to how to do something. Our OT had us hold him around the hips while he worked on bilateral coordination/midline activities. He has a weak core and so she wanted to make sure he wasn’t moving his core while doing the activities. It is hard to get them to use the one hand isn’t it? Jack needs a lot of reminding too.
Very useful thanks i will try with my son
The Monko says
utterly brilliant ideas, Goblin would love the figure of eight driving and the car washing. Thanks for sharing
New reader and instant fan. This is totally random…. My dd initially misdiagnosed with sensory deviations, not full SPD. Turns out, wrong. Took her to a developmental eye doc and turned out the whole midline etc issue? Vision related. Glasses to correct issues and vision therapy, and instant changes. Just wondering if you checked out that angle. I had specifically asked her ot to check vision midline and she thought it was fine, but she didn’t have the eye doc knowledge. Just saying… What if.
Jodie Clarke says
Thanks so much for your kind words Irene! So interesting that you just left this message as i have been meaning to get Ruby’s eyes checked for the past few months, there is something going on there i’m sure. So glad it made a difference for your little one…you have given me the push i needed…thank you!
Pam Paulus says
For sure have Ruby’s eyes checked by a developmental optometrist! She is not too young! A good eye doctor can do an exam on a 6 month old! I am a vision therapist and work with kids who have vision disorders and you would be amazed how vision problems can masquerade as other things! @ Irene, so glad that your daughter is benefiting from vision therapy. It can do amazing things! Good luck to all and great job on the blog!
I’m a volunteer with a charity preschool. May I copy some of your pictures and instructions (eg the figure of 8) to distribute to my staff to hopefully inspire them to move away from plastic stuff? Your help would be much appreciated.
Daniela Escobar says
This is great! Very informative and fun!
[email protected] Little Bookcase says
So many fun, easy ideas here that are going to make a world of difference.
Jackie(My Little Bookcase) says
Hmmm! I thought I commented on this earlier today.
I love the posts- great for kids who don’t ever crawl but bum shuffle instead too.
Hello- my son is 18m old and his sensory issues are mostly food related. He seeks out intense flavors and gets overwhelmed and ticket quickly at Mel’s time and doesn’t eat. We were hospitalized and Ina feeding tube and now working with a neuro chiropractor who brought up the right brain weakness regarding my son and have some exercises to do with him. We are struggling to get him to gain weight so I am searching everywhere to find ways to help his brain make the connections and support his sensory seeking. I would love any resources yiu may have about this specifically. I am very interested in the brain building exercises you mentioned. Thank you