Categories
Gross Motor Activities Sensory Activities

Top 5 Activities for Children this Summer?

Parents have been asking me the same question over the past 2 weeks…Where do I sign up my child for the summer? What is the best camp or activity to involve them in? So I figured I would post my favorite Summer activities for children along with benefits of these activities to help you pick the best activity for your child.

You may want to sign up your children in a camp specializing in these activities or find classes in your community where children can try more than one of the following. I also recommend these throughout the year. I like when children can be involved in activities as part of their natural routine (when possible) rather than through conventional therapy.

My Top 5 Activities for Children:

1- Swimming:

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I love recommending swimming for all its benefits. The water is a calming to the body. It is great for children that  need to work on core strength and bilateral coordination. Furthermore, the buoyancy of the water and its resistance provides a non- weight bearing medium to strengthen without hurting joints.

Living in Miami, many of my families have a pool. I recommend it as part of a weekly routine especially for children that need calming! (make sure you give them an activity to do not just splash around)

There are swim camps in our area. You can choose between formal swimming lessons to work on core and coordination or recreational swimming so kids can have fun in the water (my favorite 😉

2-Gymnastics:

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This is one activity that I highly recommend for children that require more body awareness, coordination, strength, flexibility and balance. I find that boys and girls really enjoy gymnastics. I believe the teacher is key. I like working with a local gymnastics teacher that works with children with special needs at a regular studio. The combination of one-on-one classes and group class is best!

3-Team Sports:

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My favorite thing about team sports is the social interaction and camaraderie that children get to experience. Many times I have to work on specific skills with children in my OT sessions so that they can then get involved in a specific team sport. (Talk to your OT about the sport you would like for your child so that you can build skills for improved participation). I like team sports for the obvious gross motor skills that children will work on. But as part of a team, I also like that children have to pay attention to other kids’ body language and that they build s sense of teamwork.

4-Arts-n-crafts:

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This is a great way to work on fine motor skills as well as express creativity with no right or wrong! This is wonderful for self-esteem (: Through crafts children strengthen little muscles of the hand that help improve dexterity and fine motor skills.

5-Martial Arts:

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I like to recommend martial arts for children that need to improve attention, body awareness, balance, coordination and graded motor control. This activity works on gross motor skills but in a more disciplined/organized way. This requires children to pay attention and pay attention to their body movements and positions. This is great for children that do things too fast, need to slow down their motor output or need to learn to pay attention.

 

Categories
Gross Motor Activities

10 ways Blue Painter’s Tape

1- Tic tac toe: I’m a huge fan of tic tac toe. It’s a great motor planning/problem solving game. You can use bean bags or 2 different colored items to play.

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2-Sticky Spider Web: I saw this on handsonaswegrow.com and thought it was such a great idea! I adapted it to meet OT goals. First, i gather magazines and I ask the children to make balls by crushing the  paper (this works on hand strength) I write numbers 1 to 10 on the web of tape. Kids pick a card with a math problem and they throw the newspaper ball on the answer!

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3-Mazes: I’ve used this as a spider web or you can create a Maze on the floor., place foam letters in the maze. Children have to spell specific words. You can also have children kick a ball or a bean bag along the maze for eye-foot coordination!

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4- Figure 8 fishing: create the number 8 with tape. place puzzle pieces in each of the circles. Have children walk along the 8 (great whole brain integration activity) when u say freeze they stop and pick up a fish.
You can do this with foam letters or numbers. Ask children to pick up the first letter of a word OR solve a math problem and pick up the answer.

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5- Don’t steal my shape: I make a rectangle on the floor using tape. I place shapes on either side of the rectangle. One child stands in the box while the other is outside the box and tries to steal his shape.

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6-Musical x: kids really love this game. Just like musical chairs. I make x’s on the floor with blue tape. I put on the music and kids dance around. Once the music stops they have to find an x to stand on otherwise they leave the game. Continue until the last man standing!

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7- Letters on floor and kids lay on it: this is a great group activity to introduce letters.

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8- Balance Beam: Make a simple straight line or curved or zig zag and have your child walk on it different ways ex: tip toe, forward heel toe, backwards, sideways, grapevine etc..

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9- Paint a design: this is great for kids with very low fine motor skills to create wonderful art. Make a design with blue tape on a foam board (available at craft stores) For instance you can create beautiful chevron pattern or star beams. Have your child use paints or markers freely to paint the entire surface (who cares how it looks) once it dries and you remove the painters tape it will create a beautiful painting. Kids looove peeling the tape too! (Great for pincer work)

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10- To facilitate cutting: great way to teach cutting on the line. Place tape along a shape and tell children to cut on the road. The blue tape is a great visual and the thickness of the tape facilitates cutting. Thick stock paper can be expensive s o this is a great way to thicken paper to cut.

Categories
Gross Motor Activities

Magnetic Coin Rainbow Pick-up

Here is another wonderful activity that I like to do with a magnetic wand and bingo chips. Kids love the magical effect of the magnet 🙂 it never gets old!

Therapy corner (skills addressed):

Core strength/Coordination: The use of a scooter board is great to work on skills such as bilateral coordination. The reciprocal movement that children do with their feet in sitting or with their hands in prone (on the tummy) to maneuver the scooter works on bilateral coordination of the upper and lower extremities. Furthermore, using a scooter board helps strengthen core muscles. In prone, children work on strengthening their lower back muscles and neck extension muscles. While in sitting, the abdominal muscles are being used (especially when I asked children to hold their arms above their head).

When working on fine motor skills it is important that your child learn how to use both sides of his hand simultaneously and in a coordinated manner. In a nutshell, you want the first 2-3 fingers of the hand (which includes the thumb aka the radial side of the hand) to do the work/movement while the last 2-3 digits of the hand work as stabilizers (aka. ulnar side of the hand).

This activity also works on:

Nesting Skills (i.e. picking up small items with fingers and placing them in the palm of the hand)

Retrieving Retrieving (i.e transferring small items from the palm of the hand to the tip of the fingers)

Graded finger movements: I noticed that with children who are a bit “rough” with their fingers, it  is challenging to place the coins gently on the page without disturbing the other coins. This is what we call graded control. In other words, how much force to be used for different tasks. For ex: opening up a drawer filled with rocks does not require the same amount of force as opening a drawer of feathers 🙂

You will need:

  • Scooter board
  • Magnetic wand (available at MissMancy’s SHOP)
  • Different colored bingo chips (available at MissMancy’s SHOP)
  • Print out of rainbow (I got this one on line at: Making Learning Fun)

The Activity:

Spread out all bingo coins across the room.
Ask your child to lay on his tummy over the scooter and place the wand next to them on the scooter board so that both hands can be used. Note: you can also do this activity with your child sitting on the scooter board to work on other muscles (refer t

Name a color and ask the child to pick up all coins of that color using the wand.

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They then come back to the table and place the coins on the rainbow .

I like to use this part of the activity to work on in hand manipulation skills. This can be done by asking your child to hold all the coins in one hand and place them one by one on the rainbow    By  using fingers from the same hand to ” wiggle” the coin out. (Retrieving skills)
Continue until all coins are found and  placed on the rainbow.

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During cleanup get your child to work on nesting skills by picking up one coin at a time with the same hand and putting the coins away after every 8-10 coins they’ve picked up.

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I usually like to go the fun way and have them clean up the rainbow with the magnetic wand!!

Categories
Gross Motor Activities

Scooter board Rainbow Game

Therapy Corner:

This activity is so much fun! It is colorful, happy and can be adapted to meet sooo many OT goals!

The use of a scooter board is great to work on skills such as bilateral coordination. The reciprocal movement that children do with their feet in sitting or with their hands in prone (on the tummy) to maneuver the scooter works on bilateral coordination of the upper and lower extremities. Furthermore, using a scooter board helps strengthen core muscles. In prone, children work on strengthening their lower back muscles and neck extension muscles. While in sitting, the abdominal muscles are being used (especially when I asked children to hold their arms above their head).

This rainbow activity requires minimal cutting skills. Children simply have to cut along a straight line. For younger children I ask them to cut one sheet at a time. However for older children, I stack all colors of construction paper for this activity and ask them to cut out a strip. This strengthens hands and also requires more advanced bilateral coordination skills (holding all the sheets and still cutting along a straight line)

You Will Need:

  • Scooter board
  • Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Violet Construction Paper
  • Scissors
  • Stapler

The Activity:

Ask children to cut along a straight line for each of the colored construction paper to make 1.5 inch wide strips.

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Then have children cut each colored strip to be shorter than the previous color in the following order: Red is the longest, then orange, followed by yellow, green, blue and the shortest one will be violet.

Spread out all the colored strips in the room (make sure to place them in random order)

In prone on the scooter: ask children to use arms only in a reciprocal manner  to maneuver the scooter to get one strip at a time from longest to shortest. Make sure that your child places the strip of paper on the scooter before bringing it to you, that way he can still use both hands to move the scooter.

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In sitting on the scooter: ask children to move feet with reciprocal leg movements to pick up one strip at a time from longest to shortest. Make sure that when your child brings back the strip, that he holds it above his head (to tilt the pelvis correctly and activate abdominal muscles)

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Once all strips are gathered and that your child has arranged them in descending order,

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put all strips together, line up the edges.

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Then staple all edges together on both sides. This will make a rainbow!!!!

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Categories
Gross Motor Activities

Skeleton Hands Scoop

You Will Need:

  • Skeleton Hands (I got these at Target , they are for serving salad!)
  • Koosh Balls
  • Scooter board
  • Container (I use a Halloween basket)

I love using the scooter board for various activities, especially if I see children at home where equipment is not available. For this activity, my goal was to work on bilateral coordination skills (both upper and lower extremities)

I begin by laying out koosh balls at one end of the room, and place the “target” basket at the other end. I ask children to sit on the scooter and pick up a koosh ball using the skeleton hands. Once they pick it up they must hold on to the koosh ball without dropping it and “walk” while sitting on the scooter across the room and into the basket.

Important things to keep in Mind:

  1. Look for quality of movement and execution.
  2. Picking up a ball using the skeleton hands will work on upper extremity coordination.
  3. Ask your child to stay sitting on the scooter and walk across the room, with reciprocal leg movements. This works on lower extremity coordination. Do not allow your child to advance the scooter board by scooting.
  4. Also very important, make sure your child holds the skeleton hands overhead. This ensures that if your child lacks core strength to complete this activity smoothly, (i.e. they slouch) the raising of the arms will provide what we call an anterior pelvic tilt and eliminate slouching so that we are strengthening the correct muscles!
Categories
Gross Motor Activities

Spider Maze

I saw this maze on No Time For Flash Cards Blog and thought it was such a great idea! I decided to kick it up a notch and plug in as many “OT skills” I can combine into this game to make it fun while working on many important skills.

You Will Need:

  • Painters Tape
  • Ghost cut outs
  • Grabber
  • Sight words/Spelling written on index cards (I used flash cards here)
  • Koosh Balls (the ones I used all Holloween spiders)

Begin by creating a spider web using the tape.

Ask your child to begin at the top of the web and ask them to walk on the blue tape and pick up a specific koosh ball that you indicate by using the grabber. They must stay on the blue lines the whole time (this works on balance and coordination) and use the grabber t o pick up a koosh ball and make their way out of the web (this works on hand and finger strength)

If they cross a sight word card, they must pick it up and read it . If they read it correctly, they may continue along to get to their koosh ball, otherwise they start over from the beginning (with a group of children, it would then be the next child’s turn).

If they cross a ghost they must pick up the sight word, look at it for 10 seconds and then spell it. Again, if they spell it correctly they continue on their way.

You can also use this for handwriting. Just ask the child to pick up the card that they cross and write it on a dry erase board or paper as they reach their destination.

 

The kids really loved this activity! And also loved to peel the tape. I asked them to make a big ball out of it! You would be surprised to see that this sticky medium can be challenging for some children! It takes motor planning to form the tape into a ball!