Bilateral integration refers to the ability to use both sides of the body during an activity. BI includes the ability to cross mid line, work at mid line with one hand while the other hand stabilizes the project. Mid line in an imaginary line that is drawn through the center of the body from head to toe. Without BI an individual would only be able to use one side of the body at a time. BI is necessary to learn to read and write as one has to cross mid line of their body when both reading and writing.
Activities to Promote Bilateral skills
Simultaneous hand motions:
Coordinated differentiated hand motion:
Encourage coloring on small pieces of paper. One hand must stabilize the paper or it slips all around. Also do paper/pencil work on the wall, this forces the child to hold the paper or else it falls. Especially do fun visual motor activities like mazes, dot-to-dots, coloring.
Use of other household tools such as tongs and tweezers to move objects such as pom poms, cotton balls, marshmallows, small toys. Drop the items into a container held by the non-dominant hand.
Legos or other building toys. The non-dominant hand must stabilize the object, as the dominant hand puts the new piece on.
Tool use such as hammering or using a screwdriver. Working on a wood working project provides many opportunities to use both hands.
Lacing cards, hand sewing or plastic canvas projects encourages the use of both hands. Lacing cards can be made of thin cardboard with a hole punch. Use long shoelaces, or yarn with the end stiffened with tape or blunt tapestry needles and yarn. Burlap can also be used for lacing, with the advantage that it needs no hole punching.
Tracing over templates is a good activity. One hand performs the motions and the other must stabilize the template.
Activities to Promote Mid line Crossing Skills
Cars on a large path. Draw the path on a large piece of paper to put on the floor. You can even have your child help you decorate your "city." Putting masking tape down on the floor also works to mark a road to drive on, just be sure to get those turns in. Your child will tend to take his weight on his non-dominant hand as he crawls and move the car with the dominant hand.
Painting on large paper or chalkboard. The paper is big enough when so that when it's centered in front of the child, with the sides extended to either side of the child’s body so he must reach either way to fill it.
Practice ball skills reaching across the middle of the body. Have a couple waste baskets on either side of the body to aim at. Use the dominant hand. If you don't know which hand is dominant, have the child consistently use one hand for a set of balls and then switch and try the other hand. For activities to help with the development of hand dominance see: "Activities to Encourage Hand Dominance"
Stamping with ink-stamps on a large sheet of paper using the dominant hand to hold the stamp and using the non-dominant hand to hold the stamp pad.
Play flashlight tag. In a dimmed room, lay on your backs and have the child follow your flashlight beam projected on the wall with his own flashlight.
Turning a steering wheel in a large arc. Some play structures in parks have steering wheels to play with.
Wash the car
Pick-up games Place objects to the child’s right and a container on his left side, so that he must reach across midline to drop objects into the container. Put your hand in front of the child’s non-dominant hand, as needed, to block his using it for reaching objects. Also, a variation of this is to have the child hold the container in his non-dominant hand and drop the objects in with his dominant hand. Manipulatives that can be used are: pom poms, pennies, paper clips, marbles, pegs (they can have made inexpensively by cutting them from a thin dowel), and chips from games. Try using a yogurt container with a hole cut in the lid to size for the object used. Yogurt containers are a nice size for the children to hold.
Scooping games--use a plastic basin and covering the bottom with an item such as beans, salt, or rice. Have your child hold a laundry scoop in his right hand and move the material across the body to a small container on the left side of the basin. Then try using two laundry scoops one in each hand to scoop the material. Fill up containers on opposite sides of the body in an X pattern. Alternate hands, then moving the hands in unison.
Use an animal grabber, salad tongs or snow ball maker to pick up small balls, bean bags or jacks placed on the dominant side and have the child reach across midline to drop the objects into a container on the other side of the body
Encourage your child to participate in swinging, bouncing and rough housing. These activities increase the child’s body awareness and in turn helps the development of midline crossing.
Sometimes, have the child lay on his tummy and reach for objects placed to his or her non-dominant side. Doing puzzles on the floor works well for this activity. Be sure to spread the pieces out to both sides.
Play games with your child, have him side sit supporting himself with his non-dominant side for part of the time. He is keeping his non-dominant hand still to support his weight and using the dominant hand to move objects.