Summertime S’mores Making!- OT style

summertime s'moresBelieve it or not, a weekend camping in the mountains has so much to do with occupational therapy skills. Especially when we bring the age old favorite dessert: S’mores! A camping adventure for your kids can provide many opportunities for executive functioning, fine motor, and sensory experiences. Grab your tent, summertime s’mores supplies, sleeping bags, and sunscreen to prepare for an awesome learning opportunity in the woods!

How can all of these skills be incorporated into such a simple activity?

Your therapists at MOSAIC are here to share all the secrets! You’ve survived the dreaded packing sequence, loading the kids up, and the drive to your favorite camp spot. As you pull up, you hear one of the kids shout, “MOM/DAD LET’S MAKE S’MORES.”

Bingo, the perfect opportunity to introduce some activities for therapeutic skills.

Your kids have gathered firewood, they’ve reached into the food box to gather the supplies, and now just need the fire started. In a few simple steps of gathering supplies, the kids have unknowingly used their automatic executive functioning skills! A big word simply meaning that your kids were able to think of the supplies they needed independently and initiate the steps to create their favorite summertime s’mores snack. Without skipping a beat, they knew to unwrap the graham cracker first, place the chocolate on the cracker, and then roast the marshmallow. This is a multiple step sequence of skills completed independently by your child. While things may have been messy at times, and your child may have dropped their chocolate in the dirt, they had the cognitive flexibility to fix the problem and keep the assembly of their chocolate treat moving!

So where does fine motor fall into summertime s’mores making?

The kids have reluctantly sat down at the fire and are ready to make a s’more! They’ve collected the bag with marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate. To open the bags, your kids must have the finger coordination and finger strength to rip down the side without spilling all of the pieces on to the ground. Then the assembly! Your child may unknowingly use a variety of grasps to manipulate the graham cracker and chocolate. An OT often calls these a lateral pinch, a three jaw chuck, or a pincer. Your child will also have to pull the marshmallow off the s’more stick without crushing the perfectly golden (or burnt!) marshmallow. This is called grading pressure. Your child’s brain was able to tell their fingers not to pinch too hard.

Okay, reality hits, and your child has struggled to get the whole marshmallow off of the roasting stick. It’s now been squished too hard and the marshmallow has smeared the sticky substance all over their hands. They abandon the task at hand and immediately seek out a washcloth to clean their hands. We have now collided with sensory processing! Your child was able to sense the uncomfortable feeling on their hands but struggles to tolerate the sticky marshmallow. While most people don’t enjoy sticky marshmallows on their hands, the ability to recognize the uncomfortable feeling and problem-solve how to clean it, is a great example of your child’s regulation skills!

Your occupational therapist at MOSAIC can help break down nearly every skill. This can help you understand why your child may be having difficulties with simple, everyday tasks such as making a s’more.

Even if you aren’t camping, you can make “summertime quarantine s’mores” at home. Additionally, for more fun summer activities, check out our Summer Activities to fend off Boredom.