Hide and Find

By Christine Marchant

As a Child Development Facilitator (CDF), you are expected to have a million ideas and toys in your toolbox. Many people think everything has to be pretty, shiny, perfect, new, etc. But in reality, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on supplies. You need to look at what you already have and make a list of at least 5 different ways to use each item or game. Make a list of every goal each item can be used for. 

The basic goals can be:

  • Short/long term memory
  • Keeping the conversation going
  • Creating a curiosity in peers and environment
  • Paying attention to details
  • Expanding language
  • Taking turns
  • Independent play

I recommend picking up each of your toys, games, items, etc., looking at it, and after deciding what goal you can use it for, detail how you will use it. There are five things that I always ask myself:

  1. Why are you doing this?
  2. When are you doing it?
  3. How will you do it?
  4. Where are you going to do this?
  5. Is it a safe/appropriate activity ?

If you can answer all of these questions, you will know it is a good, safe, and appropriate activity. If you can’t answer all of those questions, put the activity on the shelf or in the box that has all of the “I’ll save this for later” items.

Everything you do as a CDF must have a purpose and you must be able to explain to anyone what you are doing and why. This keeps you on the right track for staying true to your goals and makes writing your notes SUPER EASY. This also makes it easy for you to explain to the adults about what you are doing and why. When the adults you are working with know why you are doing the activity, they get more interested in the sessions and goals. When the adults involved with the child are interested, they become your support system and will become involved with the sessions.

Hide and Find


  • Short/long term memory
  • Language
  • Independent play
  • Paying attention to details
  • Fine motor
  • Predicting
  • Creative thinking 
  • Problem solving
  • Keeping the conversation going
  • Social-emotional learning (SEL) (the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success”)


  • Place out 10 party hats/boxes/containers
  • Place 5 pairs of matching items (e.g., animals, shopkins, pet shop, pictures of items, etc.) in each different container 
  • You and the child each take a turn to pick an item and put it under a party hat/box/container
  • When the items are “hidden”, take turns trying to predict where to find the matching items
  • Each person chooses an item from the container and picks where they think the match is. If it matches, keep it. If it doesn’t match, put it back and try again. 
  • When the child is feeling confident, start to fade yourself out.
  • You fade out by encouraging others to take your turn, then fade out completely.

Sit back and enjoy the experience. You can play this with a group of children or one to one with your child. Smile and show your interest in the activity.

Be genuine with your interest and feelings. The children know if you are genuine. When you are genuine, the children will enjoy the sessions and the activities you have provided. Laughter and eye contact increases and the child’s enjoyment and desire to participate in the activities also increases. When they are having fun, they are learning and achieving their goals faster.

Enjoy the experience.

Read More

Ring Toss

By Christine Marchant

As a Child Development Facilitator (CDF) we need to be quick to respond to the child. We need to pack light, yet have at least 5-10 different activities or games in our bag. We need an extensive collection of activities and toys. This doesn’t mean that we need to spend a lot of money on our supplies. I had a toy store in my basement because I LOVED my toys and games. 

I had up to 8 clients on my caseload a year. This made me aware of what I own and when to use it. I was practicing COVID health safety long before COVID. I was always careful to not cross contaminate my clients. Each client and each location had their own bag, backpack, or duffel bag. I had several duplicates or versions of every popular activity or game. That way I didn’t worry about wiping each item as the child used it–saving so much time when I was pressured to rush to the next client. Every 2 weeks or school break, I would empty all the bags, clean out the scraps, broken, ripped items, disinfect everything, and leave the stuffies or papers on the shelf for several weeks. I stored my supplies according to the target goals. All of my supplies were from the dollar store, thrift store, or homemade. 

Ring toss is a popular activity that is EASY to make. I found MANY different versions of it. When I go to the thrift stores, I look for anything that can be converted to the activity. A variety of different sizes and textures. I found cheap ring toss games. Quite a few times I created my own from some games that I converted. Here’s a few versions I had:

  • Real ring toss games
  • Pipe Cleaners (Great Occupational Therapy (OT) activity. Letting children create their own ring toss activity gives the child a wonderful sense of accomplishment and reaches most of your goals. Children are more engaged and interested in the sessions when they participate and enjoy creating it.)
  • Yogurt Container Lids (Lids of every size and colour are awesome! Use a sharp pair of scissors to start the cutting. Alternatively, let the child use their child safe scissors to cut the centres out. The lid centres are quite thin and make it an easy OT activity to create rings. These are also awesome with a ball of wool or string when you have them wrap the disk with it to change the colours and to add weight to it.)
  • Cut Different Shapes (Use different colours of construction paper and cut out the centres and laminate them. Children love to make these. They’re light and it’s a wonderful way to hit multiple target goals.)
  • Twister (Has rings in the game. They are blue, red, green, and yellow and are great for teaching the basic colours. I also use them for teaching the zones of regulation where the target poles or bowls have the zones on them.)

I like to have several sets and switch out the games after 3 sessions. This keeps the activity the same yet different.

Ring Toss


  • Paying attention to details
  • Understanding and acceptance of instruction
  • Problem solving
  • Language stimulation
  • Fine motor development
  • Keeping the conversation going
  • Taking turns
  • Becoming aware of other’s struggles and needs
  • Offering help to others
  • Self regulation


  • Place the poles, bowling pins, or bowls a foot away from you and the child (my favourite was this tall green plant that waved, swerved, and rolled away). The players stood on their knees or feet and tried to toss the rings onto the target.
  • Stand or kneel beside the child. Never send the child to a spot away from you.
  • Place the rings in front of the child.
  • Allow them to pick them up and look at/explore them
  • When they are satisfied, show the child how you hold the ring and say “toss” as you toss it. Let the child toss the rings
  • They may go crazy! They’ll throw them EVERYWHERE and wear them on their head, lick them, bang them, stand on them, sit on them–let them go through this necessary phase. (Do not reprimand them or threaten to take away the activity)
  • Explain the only rules you have are: (1) do not hit a person and (2) do not throw it at the walls, tv, windows, etc.
  • After the child has calmed down, take turns gently tossing the rings
  • After the child is confident, move the target another foot away
  • Once the child understands the rules and expectations, start to fade out prompting
  • Encourage the child or others to take your turn, then back out of the activity and smile, laugh, giggle, etc., when they land on the target or miss it

Be genuine with your reactions and enjoy the experience. Always keep the child beside you. If you place the child across from you, there’s WAY too much space between you and the child which might put you in the position of chasing. DO NOT chase—EVER!

Keep the child beside you and you guide their arms and throws. If they are wild, put your arm around them to guide and support, and to quickly react when they decide to whack you in the head! If you do your due diligence and always prevent the behaviour, you’ll never lose control of the child or activity. 

I found out over the years of experience that this is definitely the activity that will set off impulsive behaviour, dashing, throwing, spinning, and running around the house. MANY times the child will start whacking me in the forehead. Do not discipline the child. Gently push the hand away from your body, downward, and remove the ring from his clutches. Explain the rules, tell him he has one more chance, and then remove the ring and clean up the activity.

This behaviour only happens with the most difficult cases. 90% of the time, it’s a fun, pleasant activity. I mentioned the extreme example because I found this activity is a HUGE trigger for kids and I don’t want you to be caught by surprise. It’s a complete shock when it comes out of the blue with no warning. There’s something about ring toss and bean bag toss that will trigger impulsive behaviour in pretty much any child.

Plan for prevention and you never lose control of the activity. Keep the goals in mind. Landing the rings on the poles can be a goal but it does not need to be the only goal.

Be genuine with your smiles and encouragement. Enjoy the experience.

Read More

What can we do with the slow moving child?

By Christine Marchant

Ever have a child that just moves SO SLOW? I’ve had a few slow moving children over the years. They are very intelligent and soft spoken, always logical, and have very good reasons for going slow and will explain it if you take the time to listen. 

When I received the contract to work with this child, he was stressing the adults because when they tried to speed him up, he would go even slower. The adults were becoming frustrated because they had a class to run and a schedule to follow. A little sloth refusing to go faster tends to throw everything and everyone off. He was getting the reputation of being defiant. They tried tons of visuals: the good old first/then, reward boards, consequences, the frowny/happy face, etc., but were stumped.

This was a tricky case. I observed him for two weeks. He was EXTREMELY slow moving. At arrival, it took him over 30 minutes to take his jacket and shoes off, put it away, put on his indoor shoes, and sign in. The Occupational Therapist (OT) and I tried starting his day with “body waking up” exercises. Each child is different, and each goal is different. At this point, the child has weak muscles and stamina. This child started with wall pushes–we only did 15. It’s important that we model the activity in the correct way. It’s also very important that we do not over-tire the child, and we keep the child happy and engaged. We then went marching down the hall. At this level, we only did 15 marching steps. After the marching, we did 5 frog hops. Frog hops are intense–at this point, we have peaked the “body waking up” and now we start to bring the child back down. A tip is to NEVER end the activity on the way up or at the top. Always bring the child back to the acceptable social level before re-entry to the classroom. We did the bear walk for a short distance. The final activity was the teddy bear pass game. This calmed the body and brought the body to a calm state, ready to go to the classroom. 

We continued this activity every day. As the child’s stamina grew, we increased the length of each activity. We only increased the numbers by a small amount. When we reached 100 wall pushes, 100 marching steps, 7 frog hops, and doubled the distance for the bear walk, we were ready to move up to another level. These numbers sound like a lot but, in reality, it’s not. They fly through it. At this point, we changed one component to each activity and dropped it back to the original number. We did it this way because keeping the routine the same but adding to each activity helped to teach the new skill: 

  • The wall pushes now have a clap between each push
  • The marching now has the hands cross the midsection and tapping the opposite knee
  • The bear walk is now the crab crawl
  • The frog hops are now bunny hops
  • The donkey kicks/frog hops/bunny jumps/kangaroo hops were repeated 7 times
  • The teddy bear pass now has each person pause-count 1-2-3 at each passing point

We did this until we reached the maximum number. When this new benchmark was reached, we again changed only one component to each activity. The number again, drops to the original number. 

  • We did half of the pushes with one hand, then switched to the other hand
  • The marching now has one hop on the first leg and a hop on the second leg 
  • The kangaroo hops now have a word as they jump, animals, vehicles, transportation (this gets the processing faster)
  • The crab walk became the seal crawl

We kept it up until the child was able to finish the routine in under 10 minutes. We monitored him to see if there were any changes. We did this the whole school year, which meant that we had a lot of variety, but with the same expectations. Some of the activities were:

  • Wall Pushes (Stand away from the wall and drop the body towards the walls, with hands spread apart. Lightly bounce back.)
  • Marching (March, with legs lifted straight and calm. Keep legs lined in front of the body.)
  • Soccer Kicks (Child sits on bum and bends their knees. Adult rolls the big ball towards the child’s feet. The child kicks outwards and continues this 5-10 times.This is a very intense exercise and should not be over used. The soccer ball rolls down the hall. You can use different sizes of balls!)
  • Pencil Rolls (You can use those flat gym mats, or just the floor. The child lays on the floor like a pencil. Roll the child 10 to the left, then 10 to the right. The child may want to speed through it. Roll SLOW! The goal is to regulate the body, not to get to the end as fast as possible. Do the maximum of 10 at a time.)
  • Teddy Bear Pass (Stand with two people back to back. The toy can be anything–we have even used a scrunched up paper towel. Have the child look up to the ceiling while passing the “teddy bear” to the partner. The partner then bends down and passes it between their legs. Have the child bend at the hip, reach between the legs and take the toy. Go SLOW! This is to regulate the body–not to go as fast as possible! NEVER go more than 10 passes. It’s goal is to go slow and calm the child down, so they are ready to re enter the classroom or activity.)
  • Bear Walk (Walk on hands and feet with bum in the air.)
  • Crab Walk (Walk on hands and feet with belly facing up.)
  • Snake Crawl (Entire body is on the floor, belly-down. Use your arms to pull your body along.)
  • Noodle roll (Lay 4-5 pool noodles on the floor and use your hands to pull your body along. Take the noodles from the back to the front as the child rolls along.)
  • Frog Hop (Hop like a frog.)
  • Donkey Kick (With hands on the floor, kick high to the sky with bum high in the air.)
  • Ball Chase (Crawl after a ball.)
  • Thomas Pick Up (Use pictures of Thomas the Tank or any favourite characters. Walk down the hall dropping the photos face up in a zigzag pattern. You can use any of the body movements to get to each photo and touch it. And go as fast or as slow as you wish.)

By the middle of the year, the “slow moving child” was noticeably stronger and faster. This transferred into the classroom. He really enjoyed the one to one attention. The energy sparked up from this quick 10 minute exercise every day and actually kept him moving until the midway of the class. The days we missed the exercise session, he was sluggish and off task, with low body tone. We supported the child by adding another exercise session at the midway point of the classroom program. This was not a full session. Just a top up, outside of the classroom. 

I hope this post gives you some ideas for managing your slow moving child. There’s a million reasons why the child is slow moving. We never assume we know the reason. The biggest goal we have is to keep the child’s dignity and confidence intact. Don’t do any activity that the child doesn’t want to do, and don’t allow the child to get out of control. If the child doesn’t want to do the activity, just switch it to a different activity that serves the same purpose. If you don’t remember which activity serves which purpose, ask your OT. Each activity serves a purpose, some will activate the brain and muscles, some will regulate the body, while some are used to coordinate the hand and eyes, etc. If you’re new to this, be sure to ALWAYS ask your OT for guidance. Like any activity, it can go astray if not used correctly. 

Have fun! And they will too! 

Read More

Responding to “Bad Behaviour”

By Christine Marchant

We’ve all been in this situation. We are the Child Development Facilitator (CDF) for the child that is constantly hitting, biting, kicking, snatching toys, having meltdowns, etc. The teachers and assistants and even the other children are constantly on the lookout for little Bobby and his “negative” behavior. Any screaming or crying or disrupting behavior, it’s little Bobby! You noticed that it’s always little Bobby. He’s ALWAYS in the middle of the fray and ruckus. He’s guilty every single time! He’s always the instigator and always the only person everyone points to. He’s ALWAYS disruptive and badly behaved.

You’re exhausted and tired and out of solutions.

So, now that you have tried all of the obvious solutions, try this solution: STOP!! 

STOP trying to solve their problem! 

STOP running into the situation, assigning blame, and dragging out the accused! 

STOP assuming that little Bobby is guilty! 

STOP assuming little Bobby is the problem. 

Now spend the next week observing. Keep your eye on little Bobby EVERY second of the session. Not to rush over and “catch him being bad” but to actually see what is going on. Don’t run over to the situation—keep watching them. Count to 30 in your head BEFORE you bolt up and run over. Now, keep your eye on them. Watch little Bobby’s hands and body language for his reaction. Continue to count slowly to 30 in your head as you silently and casually walk to the situation. If little Bobby starts to grab, pinch, hit, etc., you silently and quickly scoop little Bobby up into a toddler hold (exactly as I call it, like you’re holding a toddler with the child on your hip, using your arms to gently hold his arms down against his body). Smile and say calmly “What’s all this fuss about boo boos?” EVERYONE will start yelling at once! Little Bobby will start to kick anyone close by. You are the adult. You’re taller than them and you just quietly walk away from the group. When you are in the clear section, you give little Bobby that gentle jiggle we instinctively give to every toddler we have in our arms. Little Bobby will take the cues from your body language. Walk around or rock back and forth and jiggle little Bobby and say “It’s ok, it’s all done. One and done folks. We’ll discuss this later. Continue playing.”

This immediately diffuses the situation. The other adults will immediately start lecturing you about how WRONG you are!!

They will immediately try to assign blames and punish everyone involved. Don’t let them intimidate you. Just smile and continue to hold and rock little Bobby. Let the other adults deal with the situation. You just continue to hold and jiggle little Bobby. You’re not comforting him and giving him the idea that it was okay to beat on his friends. What you are actually doing is keeping him from attacking his peers and causing more negative behavior and disruption. Keep your body calm and a calm expression on your face. When the adults have calmed down and the children have calmed down, you assess little Bobby’s body language. If he’s calm, carry him to an isolated location and pull out a book to read. 

This will get the other adults all upset with you and they’ll tell you that you are WRONG!! You’re rewarding him for his behavior, etc. I’ve taken SO MANY “dressing downs” for using this technique. I just shrug and keep a pleasant expression on my face.

Now that little Bobby is calm, you don’t discuss anything about the situation. You say, “Bobby, you are welcome to join your friends when you use calm hands and a gentle voice.” Then model exactly the behavior you are expecting. You join the children and play the way you expect little Bobby and all of the children to play. Using gentle hands and a kind voice. Don’t boss the children around or become the entertainer. You play as if you are a child. This shows everyone involved how we expect everyone to behave.

An example of this. My little Bobby has spent September, October, and half of November being in this situation. By the time they called me in, this poor child was having complete meltdowns maybe 3-5 times a day. Every time there was an activity transition or even if the class had a few free minutes of no attention from the adults. 

His meltdowns consisted of attacking his peers, body checking peers like bowling pins, running over to a group of children, snatching a toy, and running away, etc. This was very disruptive and created total chaos in the classroom. The adults’ response was to wade into the fray, pluck little Bobby out and sit him in time out, then calm everyone down. It looked very grim by the time I showed up. By using this calm, toddler carry method, within two weeks, the classroom management went from total chaos and frustrated adults, to calm transitions and no one was yelling at little Bobby anymore.

I was very fortunate that this classroom TOTALLY embraced my method immediately!

The adults had been watching me for a few years and requested to have me in the room.

Not all adults are open to this way of responding. That’s why I model my methods instead of talking about it. I wait for the first two weeks and watch how the teachers are dealing with this issue. Then, as they get used to me and I see they are open to new information, I will explain what I’m doing as I am doing it. This gives the adults the chance to watch as I explain and they see the immediate results. As the year goes by, and I see the adults are doing what I’m modeling, I will invite them to join me and I support them as they try to use the skills. I find that I have the fastest positive results with the children when I work with adults–supporting them as they learn the skills I’m modeling,

This method can be used during in-home sessions as well as the classroom. I described using it in the classroom in this post, but I’ve used it in the home. It’s basically just a formula I perfected, then I adjust it to the situation.

Don’t forget to be genuine and calm when you pick up the child. Never be rough or do it in an aggressive manner.

Calm body = calm child

Remember to smile and enjoy your child. Look for positive things they’ve accomplished and always be genuine with your emotions. Smile and enjoy them and they will sense it and enjoy you too!

Read More

Working with the Team

By Christine Marchant

As a Child Development Facilitator (CDF), we are expected to just magically know what the therapists mean when they are writing the goals. Therapists tend to use words that we have never heard before. You will work with many different styles of therapists. If you don’t understand what the therapists are saying or you don’t understand why they are asking you to do something, just ask them. This will not make you look stupid or incompetent. 

I know SO MANY aides that nod and smile when the therapists tell them what to do. They feel intimidated by the therapists and are scared to show them that they don’t really know what they are being asked to do. I would be working with an aide, either from my own company or from a different company, and I would watch them struggling to follow the instructions. These ladies would be doing things that are SO wrong! Or SO weird and inconsistent. Finally (because I can’t stand it anymore) I would ask them—what are you doing?!?!

The aide will either dismiss me because they believe that the privacy act prevents them from asking for help or they actually think they know what they are doing. The privacy act doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help in understanding what you are expected to do. It prevents you from using names or other ways to identify the specific person. That’s why I refer to all of my clients as “Little Bobby”. I don’t disclose any personal information. I am explaining this because people are confused about what they are allowed to discuss.

If you are not sure, or even if you are sure that you know what the therapists are expecting you to do, talk to them about it. If you repeat to them what you are understanding, they can correct you or explain exactly what they are expecting. This doesn’t make you look weak or incompetent. By asking questions about the goals and how you are expected to teach the child these goals, you build a bond with the therapists and a trust.

The next most important thing to ask is “why”. Why are you doing this? Why do you respond this way? You need to know why you are doing something so you can transfer the information to other areas. If you just do the one or two examples the therapists have given you, you will not be as successful as you can be if you take that information and apply it to other activities and goals.

An example of this is when the OT had me have the child do dinosaur stomps down the hallway. The child quickly became bored with it. If I didn’t know why we were doing this activity, I would have either made him continue or I would have thought “Well it’s not important, let’s drop it”. I had asked the OT “Why are we doing this activity?” The OT said it was important to tense the muscles and release the muscles in a controlled manner as this wakes up his body and activates the brain. I asked the OT if there were any other activities we can do to accomplish the same thing. The OT gave me two other activities to get the same results.

Another really important thing to ask the therapists is “when”. When do I do this activity? This is really important because the time and the order that we do things will really affect the results. These are important questions to ask all therapists. The team must work together and understand that all the areas are equally important. If the CDF doesn’t know or is doing things incorrectly, the job will be frustrating and actually not satisfying. If you are feeling confused or frustrated with the expectations of you, it will affect your efforts and results.

Don’t get too confident either. A little knowledge can make you feel like a pro. This will make you less likely to ask questions and accept the information.

Ask “why”, “when”, “how”. Then always ask the therapists to model what they are expecting you to do. Not all therapists will be happy about it. I’ve had some therapists that are not happy with my questions and will shut me down immediately. They have the “do what I say” style. Other therapists are happy and open to sharing their knowledge and will happily model their expectations. If you are working with the “do what I say” style of therapist, don’t be intimidated or discouraged. Just google EVERY word you don’t understand. Read EVERY article on everything you are asked to do. Then, when you see the therapist, share the stuff you learned. They will either tell you to stop or will suddenly get very happy with you and will correct you or expand on the knowledge.

The more knowledge you have, the more confident you are. Always remember to have fun and be genuine with your feelings. When you are having fun and showing your excitement and modeling having fun—your child will too.

Read More