April is Occupational Therapy (OT) Awareness Month. To increase awareness, I am having a drumming contest in music. Students have 30 seconds to play the tubano drum as many times as they can. One teacher sets a stopwatch while I count the number of times they hit the drum with one hand or two hands. Through drumming, they work on OT concepts of bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, and sensory processing.
Bilateral coordination is the ability to use both sides of the body at the same time in a controlled and organized manner. In drumming, most of the students used alternating movements of one hand at a time playing the drum while a few did the same movements of using both hands to play the drum at the same time. Being able to coordinate both sides of the body indicates that both sides of the brain are communicating and sharing information with each other. This is important in many daily activity tasks such as stirring food in a bowl, using tools that require two hands, cutting with scissors, and playing instruments.
Eye-hand coordination involves using the eyes and the hands to perform a task. It is the ability to coordinate body movements in response to what he/she is seeing. This involves catching a ball, drawing pictures, tying shoelaces, and building blocks. Through drumming, students kept their eyes on the drum to play. When some students played hard and fast, the drum moved and they had to keep their eyes on it and play a moving drum!
Sensory processing is what we take in through our eyes (seeing), ears (hearing), skin (touching), mouth (tasting), nose (smelling), and movement. Students may be over activated or under activated by certain sensory stimuli in the environment. Through playing the drum, they can calm themselves by playing hard and fast on the drum, which is heavy work for the upper body. At the same time, for other students, by playing fast they are increasing their level of alertness.
With two days left in the contest, here are the top players in each class:
A. Seals: 180 plays
L. Elephants: 130 plays
Bears: 102 plays
V. Busy-Bees: 166 plays
C. Wranglers: 178 plays
B.R. Ants: 182 plays
T. Mustangs: 202 plays
C. Heroes: 229 plays
With the elementary students, I focused on team spirit and had the class cheering on their peers. Boy, were they excited to hear each other’s scores and congratulating each other for good playing. Students who did not get along with each other where saying praises of their peers and even giving high-fives. They worked together to achieve a high total class score.