Are your children getting antsy? Are you missing your favorite PT and OT? While we are all staying healthy there are simple things you can do at home to have fun, work off some of your child’s energy and best of all help their motor development!
For children not yet sitting:
Children NEED movement! Roll across the bed to the right and then to the left several times till the giggles abound. If your child is hesitant of movement roll them slowly one time each way and increase as they tolerate and enjoy the movement.
Put blankets and pillows in a hard square or rectangular laundry basket (or one of the many Amazon boxes we all have) and lie your child down and move them side to side, forward and back and around in circles. Make sure you spin to the right AND to the left stopping in between briefly.
If your child is light enough, lie them in a sheet or blanket and with the help of a friend or family member, swing them.
TUMMY TIME, TUMMY TIME, TUMMY TIME! Yes, it is important! Kids love to look at their beautiful selves in the mirror so put a small mirror on the floor or bed while they are on their tummies. If this is hard for them roll a small receiving blanket and put it under your child’s chest to help them lift up higher. Lie on YOUR tummy on the floor facing them. YOU are their best motivator and toy. Sing and be silly!!
For children who are sitting, but not yet crawling:
All of the above activities still work for your child. They can now sit up in the box or basket while spinning to help improve their core strength and balance.
Use that empty diaper box or Amazon box with toys on it and help your child play while kneeling.
If your child is starting to get on their hands and knees sing silly songs and encourage them to rock! Row, Row, Row Your Boat works well for this. Be silly and think of more lyrics!!
Row, row, row your boat
gently down the stream,
Mommy’s going crazy now,
listen to her Scream.
The above movement activities are still fun and good for them!
Make a crawling obstacle course! Put folded blankets, rolled towels and pillows on the floor for your child to crawl over! If you have a big box, open at both ends and let your child crawl through it! Good luck keeping up!!
All the movement activities listed above will still be fun and good for development.
Make obstacle courses for walkers
Using pillows, fold a towel or blanket to a balance beam shape (a long rectangle 4”-8” wide”), stepstools, big textbooks, different sized boxes with some soup cans inside for stability for different sized steps, pile pillows on the floor to make a mountain and climb up to the sofa or bed. Do you have bubble wrap and other textured packing materials? They are really fun to walk on with bare feet!!
Most of all have fun, be silly, laugh and love! This too shall pass!! We miss you too!!
Take time to talk about the pictures and ask questions of your child. What do you think is going to happen? Who is doing what? Where are they? What are those? Do we have some of those? What do you think is going to happen next?
You don’t have to read the story word for word.
Make your own books. Make up stories about your child, your family and pets. Use family photos or draw simple stick figures; download pictures from the Internet.
Here’s a great website for guidance on reading with a young child:
Kids on devices as we all find ourselves at home is pretty much inevitable. The positive to that is that they can actually be a wonderful resource!
The following apps can help the child who is learning about cause and effect; all that is required of the child is to touch the screen for something to happen:
Furry friend: a free app, the child meets Leonard, a monster who will repeat what you and laugh when you ‘tickle’ him! The child can tap any part of his body for a reaction, and choose from images of objects below to see how he reacts to them (which further works on visual perception as the child has to scan left to right with their eyes to select a picture to touch).
Fireworks Arcade: a free app; all the child needs to do is touch the screen for fireworks to go off, with sizzle noises and all! The child can also work on pressing and dragging in this game to draw a long stream of fireworks across the screen.
Apps for fine motor development
In these apps, the child will be working on reaction timing, visual perception, and motor control:
Dexteria Jr- 3.99- This app has a variety of levels to work on touching targets (non-moving and moving). Harder levels include having to pinch the target using the index finger and thumb.
Fruit Ninja– a free app; the object of the game is to use your index finger to slice fruit with a fast, linear motion. Targets move fast, which targets a child’s reaction time, and some targets explode if you touch them (which works on the child’s visual discrimination between objects).
As you now know, Easterseals programs and community-based therapies are closed until March 27th in correspondence with the school district and state policies regarding the outbreak of Covid-19.
In the meantime, if you find yourself at home looking for therapeutic games or activities for your child, here are some ideas of things to do while keeping everyone healthy and safe.
Make a sensory bin by putting dried beans or rice in a tupperware bin with other small objects/figures like the ones here. Have your child dig through and name what they find.
Make slime with your child. Here is a recipe with items you might have. If you don’t have those ingredients, make “Oobleck” with cornstarch and water.
Tape pieces of paper together and create a mural with your child using paints, crayons, or markers.
Work on sorting shapes: Put tape on the floor in the form of different shapes and have your child sort objects from around the house into piles according to shape. Or, have your child sort small items by color into muffin tins. If you have a printer, here is a free printable that targets the same skill. (If your child is able, they can cut out the pictures with help!)
If you have access to a printer, print some worksheets and have your child name pictured objects, practice making circles and Xs, and work on visual attention with search-and-find or connect-the-dots worksheets.
Bake cookies with your child. Talk about and name the ingredients, help your child measure the ingredients and count scoops. Here is a simple cookie recipe with ingredients you might have around the house.
Go on a scavenger hunt around the house. Work on vocabulary for different rooms of the house, furniture, clothing, appliances etc. Run around and see who can get to each item first.
Read, read, read! With the books you have, read to your child as much and as often as they will attend.
Preschool Learning Games
Zingo: Have your child name and match the pictured objects. Practice saying “I got a [object]”, asking “Do you need a [object]?”, and answering Yes/No questions in response.
Pop The Pig: Roll the dice and match the color burger to the color on the dice. Practice recognizing and naming numbers 1-4 and then counting the target number when you press down Pop’s head.
Zimbbos: Work on saying “[color] + elephant” and fine motor dexterity as you stack elephants.
Uno Moo or Uno: practice matching and naming colors/animals or matching colors/numbers.
Memory Match games: flip over two cards per turn and say if they are the same or different. If they’re different, flip them back over. If they’re the same, you got a match!
If you have a deck of cards and your child is able, teach them to play Go Fish or a modified version.
Stay safe, and don’t be afraid to get creative with your child during this trying time!
My client, Trey, and I went to the Germantown Cricket Club (GCC) for some of our physical therapy sessions over the summer. Trey enjoys coming here with his family to use the playground, fitness center, or swim in the pool. One of the ways I try to keep physical therapy fun and interesting for Trey is trying new sports and activities out in the community. The indoor tennis courts at GCC are the perfect space to escape the heat and humidity for exercise during the summer months. During our therapy sessions, we focused on speed and agility training, in addition to spatial and body awareness – all important components to playing tennis! We used visual, auditory, and kinesthetic feedback to enhance Trey’s learning experience when performing various tennis drills. Trey and I had so much fun playing on the tennis courts this summer in our all white uniforms!
I always love pairing a fun book with a sensory activity to get kids excited about speech therapy, and any ocean themed book will work! Stories that are repetitive are much more engaging for children, because they can feel confident about what’s coming next.
This book, Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck and illustrated by Valeria Petrone is an awesome repetitive story that keeps kids engaged with vibrant pictures and words that kids can learn quickly.
Skills to Target:
– Ocean themed vocabulary
– 3 – 4 word utterances
(e.g., I see a __)
– Pragmatic skills like waving “hi” and “bye” to the animals
– Various speech sounds
– Syllable pacing (Turning books into a songs helps kids follow and sing along!)
And… For the Sensory Activity!
Once we finished reading our ocean story, I let the kiddos find different sea creatures in a variety of sensory bins. They were able to find and label the various sea creatures they saw in the story. We also talked about the different kinds of textures and feelings in each bin (cold, rough, squishy, wet etc.).
From left to right, I used sand, water with blue food coloring, and water beads or Orbeez (you can get these on amazon or at Target).