Hands Up for Handee Band!

adminconfidence, core strength, executive functioning, grasp strength, gross motor, group games, handee bandz, home activities, motor planning, organizational skills, self esteem, sequencing, social skills Leave a Comment

When I was Christmas shopping this year, I discovered this really subscription box that I had to get.  The Sensory Theraplay Box comes once a month and is chock full of some pretty awesome products.  Some of them are ones I have seen or already have but there have been more than a few that are new to me and I couldn’t be more excited about them.  One of the things I have been introduced to and have to share with you all is the Handee Band.  This is an awesome and totally affordable exercise program for children that is kinda perfect for those kids who might be taking a break from therapy over the summer but need to maintain some kind of home-based strengthening routine.

Let me tell you about the Handee Band.  It was created by a Los Angeles based occupational therapist, Francesca Avalli, who has years and years of experience working with children with a variety of learning disabilities.  It is intended for children between the ages of 3 and 7 years old and the goal is that they can independently exercise at home with this program.  The exercises are taught to kids from the different monsters created by Francesca.  Everything is bright, cheery and child-friendly.  This is meant to be something that once a child is comfortable with it, they should be able to do it on their own.  What’s nice is that they don’t have to do all of them….they should choose a few and do however many they can in about 15 minutes.  The exercises are intended to help a child do the following:
-increase core strength and trunk control
-increase upper extremity and grasp strength (which leads to improved fine motor and manipulation skills)
-improve endurance
-improve bilateral coordination skills
-improve motor planning and organizational skills
-work on following multi-step directions
-improves balance and coordination

All of the things mentioned above are important skills for preschool and school age children to help get them ready for academic skills.  For example, in order for a child to develop age-appropriate grasping skills, they need to core, upper extremity and grasp strength.  Also, for kids to be more independent for dressing and undressing themselves, they must have good balance and coordination, use two hands in a coordinated manner and follow multi-step directions.

Here is a small sample of some of the exercises:

Flamingo Hops and Frog Jumps-while holding the Handee Band tightly in each hand, take a deep breath, bend both knees and jump up and down like a frog 10 times.  For an increased challenge, jump on just one foot like a flamingo
Karate Chop-while holding the Handee Band tightly with two hands, stand up straight with arms at your side; raise arms high and straight above your head, take a deep breath and when someone yells “chop”, lower arms down until they are in front of your chest 10 times.
Row Your Boat-while sitting on the floor with legs straight out in front of you, wrap the Handee Band around your feet while holding the ends in each hand.  Start with straight arms while sitting up as tall as possible and bend your arms at the elbows before straightening your arms again. 

There are two kits to choose from The Handee Band Exercise Kit contains 1 Handee Band, an illustrated book with 15 different exercises broken down into 5 easy to follow steps, a spinner with all of the activities, a dry erase marker and checklist to keep track of progress and a sheet of stickers.  The book is a high quality book that can stand up making it easy for a child to see/follow the instructions.   What I like about this, especially when doing it in a bigger group of kids, is that with the addition of the spinner, you can make it more of a game and a chance for them to be leaders.  Each child can take a turn spinning the The Handee Band Exercise Cards Set is intended to be able to take with you/throw in your bag.  It comes with 1 Handee Band and 17 exercise cards stored on a reclosable ring for storage purposes.  This is perfect if you are going to be doing a lot of traveling but want to keep up with some kind of exercise routine with your children.

One of the nice things about the Handee Band program is that it can be done individually, with a friend or siblings or can be part of a larger exercise curriculum in classrooms or social skills groups.  I am actually going to be introducing an abbreviated version of this program to my kids this summer at The Meeting House.  So many of the children who attend my group are not only in need of working on increasing overall body strength but also need to work on following directions, staying with the group and doing what their peers are doing.  I believe that if they can master some of these fun exercises, they may be more motivated to try more challenging things throughout the afternoon.  Additionally, as they master each activity, their confidence and self-esteem increase. 

I am so excited to have found something like Handee Band to be able to recommend to the families I work with.  So many programs I have tried in the past get too clinical or therapeutic making it difficult for parents to follow-through on.  Finding something like this that can be implemented at home is like winning the lottery for me.  Do you have any awesome home-based exercises programs that you use with your kids or recommend to the families you work with?  I am only a click away love hearing recommendations from you all!



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