Guest Blogger: Ariel Walukonis, MS, OTR/L
I’ve done a guest blog post before focusing on fine motor and sensory activities to do at home, but I thought I would target some fun activities to do at home that are working on some more “non-traditional” occupational therapy skills (it’s actually what we do ALL the time but might not be something you’d think about if you hear “occupational therapy”).
Animal walks are an easy and fun way to work on upper body strength, core strength, postural control, and coordination. Bear walks, crab walks, wheelbarrow walks are just a few staples that most kids are familiar with, but think outside the box! Slither like a snake, army crawl, bunny hop.. Or even let your kids try to come up with their own! I like to use animal walks to transition throughout the house or as relays with siblings!
Obstacle courses are great “catch all” activities to target a wide variety of skills! Motor planning, body awareness, upper body and core strength, ideation.. the list of skills could go on and on. I love to start building an obstacle course with the boys and then let them help use their imagination to finish putting it together. Some staple components we put in our obstacle courses are:
- Stepping stones (you can use pillows!)
- Crawling on the couch
- Jumping off the couch
- Animal walks (see above)
- Crawling through tunnels
- Fold a blanket long ways to make a balance beam
You can make a scavenger hunt as easy or difficult as you want to tailor it to the age of your kids! Scavenger hunts are a great choice to work on visual scanning, attention, and executive functioning. Coming up with a theme can help you get started when creating a scavenger hunt! Some fun ideas are:
- Sensory (find items of different textures)
- Colors (find items of certain colors)
- Shapes (flat or 3D)
- Backyard (find 3 rocks, something that grows, etc)
- Nature (get outside and go on a walk!)
- Senses (smell, touch, sounds)
This is by far my FAVORITE activity to do in an OT session with kids-- the kids like to help out in the kitchen and when you let them choose the food, they are highly motivated and engaged throughout the activity! Baking is another one of those “catch all” activities when it comes to working on a variety of skills. Just to name a few: bilateral coordination to manage packaging and stabilize a bowl while mixing, visual motor skills to scoop and pour ingredients, strength as they mix ingredients by hands, executive functioning skills to develop a plan and follow directions throughout. Sure, baking can get messy with kids, but there’s no better way to incorporate some sensory fun and enjoy a tasty treat at the end!
If you have any questions about how to modify activities for a specific age or “what the heck is motor planning?”, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about your child’s development or how occupational therapy might help your child and family!