Grasping large hoola hoops develops strength, bilateral hand use and opens up the chest, promoting erect sitting posture. Children also enjoy pretending that its a steering wheel. Gently helping the child to rotate the hoop as they drive their "steering wheel" helps to decrease muscle tone and increase range of motion. Yesterday, I used the hoops to toss over the large basket used for basketball. since the basket (which is on a stand) is fairly high, it was easy for them to succeed. The set up shown here is quite a bit more challenging and can be used with kids who have pretty good coordination. They can toss these large rings to land over the toy pony. I placed the pony inside a crate to stabilize it. This activity may be performed while sitting facing forward, sideways or backwards and if performed while prone over the horse's barrel like superman, they work on prone extension. The prone extension position strengthens the neck, shoulders and arm muscles.
Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L, author of The Recycling Occupational Therapist