At Home Therapy

Celebrating International Play Therapy Week With At-Home Activities
Celebrating International Play Therapy Week With At-Home Activities 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

February 5-11 is International Play Therapy Week, and we cannot wait to celebrate! Children thrive when they learn through play, and in fact, it’s been proven that people learn best from experiences that are joyful and that connect play to their lives. Additionally, play therapy is an excellent way to have some fun with your kiddos while also working on their therapy goals in the process. Ready to get the party started? From building a wooden block house to playing stuffed animal doctor and more – here are some at-home play therapy activities that we know you and your little ones will love.

Superhero Search

Your child’s stuffed animals are missing, and it’s their job to find them! First, you will need to go around the house and hide each stuffed animal (make sure they are in places your child can reach!) Now, it’s time for your kiddo to be a superhero and save the day! Your little one will have to use their balance and gross motor skills to crouch down and reach up high to save their furry friends. Once they’ve found each stuffed animal, switch roles and have your child hide the stuffed animals for you to find!

Stuff Animal Doctor (we recommend the Doctor’s Kit Play Set from Melissa & Doug for this activity)

For this activity, your child will have to use their gross motor skills to treat their stuffed animal using items from the Doctor’s Kit Play Set, while also utilizing their speech to tell you how their patient is feeling. If your child says that their stuffed animal is scared, this could indicate that your little one may be afraid of going to the doctor. In this case, you can explain to your little one why going to the doctor isn’t scary and that doctors are there to help people feel better.

Build a Wooden Block House

For our final play therapy activity, you and your child will need to work together to build a wooden block house for their toys. Have your little one use their fine motor skills to pick up the blocks and carefully stack them on top of each other, and once the house is built, they can use it to play pretend with their toys. Furthermore, you can work on your child’s speech by asking them to identify each letter or number on the blocks.

Happy International Play Therapy Week! Be sure to check out our social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest) all February long as we share activities, toys we love, and so much more. If you would like to discuss if your child could benefit from pediatric therapy, please don’t hesitate to contact our team. We are here to support your family and child in any way that we can.

3 Ways to Work on Your Child’s Therapy Without the Added Stress
3 Ways to Work on Your Child’s Therapy Without the Added Stress 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

Parents are some of the hardest-working people in the entire world. You wear so many different hats and are always trying to juggle your home life, work, and for some of you, school. But in reality, finding time to fit everything in can become overwhelming and could ultimately lead to you being stressed out.

To help take some of that pressure off your shoulders, we wanted to share some ways that you can work on your child’s therapy without the added stress. Believe it or not, there are many different ways to incorporate your child’s therapy into your everyday routine. Our hope is that you are able to use some of these ideas in your daily life so that you can work on your child’s therapy without worry.

Do a Family Workout

Partaking in a family workout with your kiddos is an excellent stress reliever. To begin, grab some blank pieces of paper, and work with your child to brainstorm some exercises (jumping jacks, pushups, etc.). Write down each exercise on a different piece of paper, lay them on the ground, and let the fun begin! Your child will have to use their balance to bend down and select an exercise, then you and your little one will have to use your gross motor skills to complete that exercise! Repeat until you’ve completed the whole workout!

Prepare Lunch Together

Another way to incorporate your child’s therapy into your daily routine is to prepare lunch together. 

First, have your child use their fine motor skills to stack and build a tasty sandwich. Once that’s complete, gather a few more items that you will enjoy for lunch (cut up fruit or veggies, fruit snacks, etc.) Now, allow your child to utilize their speech by asking them questions about each item. For example, you could have them identify the color, texture, size, and shape of each item. Finally, sit down and enjoy your nutritious and delicious meal together!

It’s Clean-Up Time!

Whenever it’s time to clean up around the house, get your child involved! Have your little one start in their bedroom or playroom and ask them to put their toys away. They will have to use their balance to bend down and pick up the toys, and then carefully place them back in their rightful place. If the toy is soft enough, encourage them to use their gross motor skills to throw the toy back into the bin. Other things your child can do to help you clean are drying dishes, wiping off the table, or even sweeping. If you want to make this something that you and your kiddos do regularly together, you could even consider making them a chore chart!

Happy New Year from all of us at PTN! Follow us on our social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) all month long for more suggestions on stress-free ways to work on your child’s therapy during your daily routine, as well as great tips, activities, resources, and more! As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time to discuss if your child would benefit from pediatric therapy. Our team is here to support you and your child in any way we can.

Toy Takeover 2022 – Supporting Local Stores and Sharing Toys Your Child Will Love!
Toy Takeover 2022 – Supporting Local Stores and Sharing Toys Your Child Will Love! 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

We hope you’re ready because it’s finally time for one of our favorite parts of the year… Toy Takeover! Each holiday season, our PTN therapists do their research and come up with a list of some fantastic developmental toys that we know your little ones will love. Not only will these toys help your child work on developing their play skills, but you can even purchase some of them at local toy stores around the city.

For Toy Takeover 2022, we wanted to highlight three fantastic toy stores that could really use your love and support this holiday season – Timeless Toys, Building Blocks Toy Store, and Emmerson Toys, Gifts, & Hobbies. Shopping locally helps our city thrive, and these stores will really appreciate your business.

Toy Takeover 2022 List:

Stacking Music Set (Shop Local)

This awesome toy comes with instruments such as a xylophone, drum, rattle, and scratchboard and is sure to keep your kiddos entertained for hours on end. Your child will have to use their balance and coordination skills to create some awesome music and march to the beat. Then, once you and your little one have made some fun beats, have them work on their speech and language skills by creating some silly lyrics!

Infantino Sensory Balls, Blocks & Buddies

One of our favorite toys to make the Toy Takeover list this year is the Infantino Sensory Balls, Blocks, & Buddies set. This set comes with a whopping 20 pieces, all of which can be used to help your child learn colors, shapes, animals, and textures. Your child can also work on their fine and gross motor skills by stacking the blocks or throwing the balls into a basket!

SmartMax My First Safari Animals (Shop Local)

Get ready to get a little silly with the SmartMax My First Safari Animals! Your little one will have to use their fine motor skills, animal recognition, and matching skills to put the cute creatures back together. Once your child has successfully matched all of the animals, let them show off their goofy side by creating their own animal combinations!

LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket

Challenge your child’s imagination and pretend play by having an indoor picnic! Your little one will have to use their fine motor skills to carefully place the food into the correct hole and use their speech to describe each food’s color, shape, and size. Another great feature of this toy is that the picnic basket speaks and will ask your child to feed it a specific piece of food. 

Wooden Beehives (Shop Local)

The final toy on our list is colorful and a whole lot of fun to play with. Incorporate fine and gross motor play as well as speech and language skills all in one!  Your child can practice gripping and pinching the wooden tweezers and return each bee to its matching hive. Then, have your child work on their counting and color recognition, or encourage them to stand up and stack the hives on top of each other!

From all of us at Pediatric Therapy Network, happy holidays! To see what other toys made our 2022 Toy Takeover list, follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest), and be sure to sign up for our newsletter. All December long, we will be sharing more toy suggestions, fun tips, resources, and more!

National Physical Therapy Month
5 Ways Physical Therapists Help Children Grow Stronger & Happier
5 Ways Physical Therapists Help Children Grow Stronger & Happier 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

Every day, we perform physical tasks like going up the stairs, taking a drink of water, and even walking.  These are basic movements that we do not give much thought to because we do them all the time.  However, if you are a parent of a child who has a delay in development or an injury, you know all too well that these “simple” tasks can present some very frustrating challenges.  These are just a small sampling of tasks that pediatric physical therapists (PTs), like the therapists on the PTN team, help families with each and every day.

This is why we feel it’s important to recognize and share that October is National Physical Therapy Month.  During this month, we get to not only celebrate the importance of movement, but also the many dedicated PTs out there who make a big difference in the lives of the patients and families they work with.  With this theme in mind, we want to touch on a few very important ways our team of physical therapists can help your child develop,  achieve incredible physical milestones, and have a better quality of life!

  1. Get Stronger through Physical Play:  it will probably come as no surprise to you that kids learn a great deal through play.  This is why, during therapeutic sessions, our PTs spend time engaging in activities and games that allow children to have fun while doing physical exercises.  From activities centered around balance, to games that involve using movements and motions that allow your child to strengthen their bodies, play is a great way to help children get stronger.
  2. Moving on Up:  when working with children, our physical therapists will focus on improving movement and mobility.  PTs working with an infant may help parents with tummy time so their child can practice motions and strengthen core muscles.  Other times, our physical therapists may teach kids and families stretches that improve their flexibility, allowing the muscles and joints to bend and move.
  3. Balancing Act:  physical therapists are often called upon to work with young children to improve their balance and coordination.  Sometimes, kids struggle with getting their bodies to move in a coordinated and functional manner which can present challenges with completing everyday activities.  This could prevent a child from being able to do more complex physical tasks as they get older.  By working with a PT and going through thought-out therapeutic exercises and treatment, kids can improve on their coordination and ability to balance, too.
  4. Growing Gross Motor Skills: rolling over, raising arms, pulling up, crawling, and walking all fall under the gross motor skills umbrella.  As you can imagine, these skills are imperative as they allow kids to move freely and do some pretty fun things, like running and jumping.  When children face developmental challenges with gross motor skills, a PT can be of great assistance.  Physical therapists help children learn how to use the larger muscles of their body by incorporating therapeutic techniques that increase both their strength and coordination.
  5. Finessing Fine Motor Skills:  think of all the things you do each day that involve the use of your fingers and hands.  From gripping a cup to take a drink, to writing, your fine motor skills are called upon so you can function through daily life.  Pediatric physical therapists work alongside our OT team to help children improve their fine motor skills through a vast array of structured, therapeutic activities that may include reaching and weight bearing activities to improve shoulder strength or ball play like throwing at a target or playing a game of catch. Each of these fun activities allow children to practice and refine their fine and visual motor skills and improve their dexterity.  

We hope you enjoyed learning more about the many ways in which PTs can help your child improve their physical abilities.  Remember that even though the exercises and activities may just seem physical in nature, your child is slowly working on building their confidence and inner strength too!  This is why so many of the physical therapists on our team often tell us that their jobs are hugely rewarding.  

National Physical Therapy Month!

Celebrate National Teddy Bear Day and Stuffed Animals With These Fun Learning Activities
Celebrate National Teddy Bear Day and Stuffed Animals With These Fun Learning Activities 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

Each year National Teddy Bear Day is celebrated on September 9th. This is one of our most beloved holidays because we know how important stuffed animals are to children. Stuffed animals can turn bad days into good days and help soothe your little ones in their time of need.

To kick off the celebration this year, we wanted to share some fun therapy-based games that include your child’s stuffed animal. These activities can be done together as a family and will allow you to work on your child’s developmental skills. Enjoy!

Hide and Seek: Get ready to go on a hide and seek search! Move around the house and look for a spot to hide your child’s fuzzy friend. Try to hide it in a place where your child will have to use their gross motor skills to find it (in a high or low place, for example). Then, send your child off on their hunt! If they are struggling to find where you hid their stuffed animal, they can work on their speech therapy by asking you questions to help them find it. For example, they could ask, “is it in the room where we eat dinner?” or “is it in the room where I sleep?”.

Guess the Stuffed Animal: If your child has multiple stuffed animals that they love, this is an excellent activity for you to try together. Place the stuffed animals in a row in front of you and your child. Now, ask your child to use their speech and language skills to describe the features of one of the stuffed animals. They could describe the color, shape, texture, size, etc. Now, you will try and guess which stuffed animal they’re talking about. Once you guess correctly, it’s time to reverse roles, and you’ll now have to describe a different stuffed animal to your child.  

Stuffed Animal Fashion Show: The last activity you can partake in with your kiddos is having a stuffed animal fashion show. First, gather some craft pipe cleaners and design colorful clothing for their stuffed animal. Your child will have to use their imagination and fine motor skills to bend and twist the pipe cleaners into some fun fashion pieces. They could make glasses, hats, bracelets, and so much more. Once the outfits are complete, have your child walk their stuffed animal down the runway and show off their creations.

Want even more ideas on how you can help your child play, learn, and grow by using stuffed animals?  Check out our social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest) throughout the month of September as we’ll share even more ideas and imaginative activities. 

How to Incorporate Therapy Into Your Child’s School Routine
How to Incorporate Therapy Into Your Child’s School Routine 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

Believe it or not, sending your little ones back to school is just around the corner (trust us, we can’t believe it’s that time of year, either!) This means that it’s time to start getting all of your child’s school supplies ready and start preparing them for their school routine.

Transitioning from summertime fun to going back to school can be tricky, and you may find it difficult at times to fit in your child’s therapy. But we’re here to tell you that it’s actually quite simple to incorporate therapy into your child’s everyday school routine. From doing yoga to using a bedtime chart and more – here’s how to incorporate therapy into your child’s school routine:

Do Some Morning Yoga: Participating in a family yoga session each morning is an excellent way to work on your child’s balance and coordination. Take 5-10 minutes before your child goes to school and follow along with a family-friendly yoga video. This will allow you and your child to spend time together doing a healthy activity and set you both up for an excellent start to the day.

Give Your Little One a Healthy Snack: If you send your child to school with a snack or lunch, be sure to pack them an orange or clementine. Why, you may ask? Well, once your little one is ready to eat, they’ll have to carefully peel the fruit, helping them develop their fine motor skills. Plus, they’ll get to enjoy something nutritious and delicious!

Ask About Your Child’s Day: Incorporating speech therapy into your child’s schooltime routine is as simple as asking them about their day. While you and your family sit down for dinner, ask your child to describe three things that happened during school and how each of those events made them feel. You could even ask your child questions such as their favorite part about school, what they enjoy doing during recess, and one thing they learned that day.

Use a Bedtime Chart: Our final tip is to utilize a bedtime chart. Write down all the things your child has to do before settling into bed, and hang that chart somewhere your child can reach. Then, have your child perform each of these tasks each night, and once they are complete, they can peel off a sticker and place it onto the chart! This will help them become familiar with their bedtime routine while working on their gross motor skills in the process.

Happy back to school! Check out our social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest) all August long as we share back-to-school tips, resources, and more! As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time to discuss if your child would benefit from pediatric therapy. Our team is here to support you and your child in any way we can.

Ways to Use Technology to Work on Your Child’s Therapy
Ways to Use Technology to Work on Your Child’s Therapy 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

Summer is just around the corner, which can only mean one thing… Your little ones are out of school and are back at home during the day! While it’s great that your kiddos will be around the house more, it also means that you’ll need to find ways to keep them entertained while also working on their skills in the process. A wonderful way to accomplish this is to utilize the technology around your house. Though we should try to monitor our children’s screen time, technology in small doses can be extremely beneficial and will help keep your little ones entertained. 

From watching educational videos to partaking in family workouts and more – here are some excellent ways to use technology around your house that work on your child’s therapy:

Find Videos on YouTube Kids: YouTube Kids is full of educational videos that will help your little one work on their skills. With YouTube Kids, you can feel comfortable knowing that each video is specifically made for kids and are age-appropriate. Some of our favorite types of videos on the platform include:

  • Fun musical videos that your kiddos can dance to
  • Simple crafts that your child can make
  • Kid’s yoga videos that work on your child’s physical therapy
  • Cute nursery rhymes your child can sing along to

Print Out Pictures: Have your child sit next to you and search for a cute page full of fun objects. For example, you could search for cartoon animals, flowers, or houses. Print out the page, and have your child use their fine motor skills to color each object. Once they’re done coloring, they can cut out each object and use them to play pretend!

Play Games During a Video Call: Set up a time where your child can call up their loved ones (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) and have them play fun games during the video call. Some game ideas that are fun for the whole family include:

  • 20 questions
  • Simon Says
  • Charades
  • Pictionary

Partake in a Digital Family Workout: One final way to use technology to help work on your child’s therapy is to partake in a digital family workout. Look online for family-friendly workouts, and select one that looks like you and your little ones will enjoy. Make the workout fun by playing upbeat music in the background, and reward yourselves afterward by eating a delicious and healthy snack!

Follow us on our social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) all month long for more awesome ways to work on your child’s therapy using technology. We will also be sharing tips, activities, resources, and more! As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time to discuss if your child would benefit from pediatric therapy. Our team is here to support both you and your child in any way that we can.

Use Everyday Household Items During These Playful Occupational Therapy Activities
Use Everyday Household Items During These Playful Occupational Therapy Activities 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

Occupational therapy (OT) can be highly beneficial for your child. This is especially true if your little one faces sensory, cognitive, or physical challenges. OT is essential in helping your child learn and grow, which is why we look forward to celebrating Occupational Therapy Month each April. This month-long holiday provides the chance for us to share some helpful occupational therapy related tips, toys, resources, and activities. In honor of OT Month this year, we wanted to share some occupational therapy  activities that are fun and easy to do at home. The best part? These activities utilize items that you can find around your house! From constructing a sensory bin to making food necklaces and more. Here are some engaging, playful activities that use everyday items in inventive ways:

Make a Sensory Bin

Making a sensory bin from items around your house is an activity that your child is sure to love. They can help you decide what will go into the bin, and when the construction of the bin is complete, it’s sure to keep your kiddos entertained for a long time. One easy bin you can create is a “beach day bin.” Fill it with some brown sugar (sand), a bowl of water (the ocean), gummy bears (beachgoers), and some spoons (shovels). Your child will love pretending like they’re spending the day at the beach, and they can even shape and mold the brown sugar to create a brown sugar sandcastle!

Build a Blanket Fort and “Go Camping”

This activity is perfect for pretending like you’re camping in the wild in the comfort of your own home. Start by running around the house with your little one and collecting as many blankets as possible. Bring them into the living room, grab a few chairs, and make your fort! Help your child reach up high and tie the blankets onto the chairs, or tuck them into the couch cushions. Now, partake in some fun camping activities such as telling campfire stories, singing campfire songs, or consider even making some smores in the microwave!

Create Food Jewelry

One last OT-based activity you can try using items around your house is to create some delicious food jewelry. Find some string or yarn, and then gather food items that you can use to make your jewelry. Some ideas include noodles, round cereal, pretzels, or candy with a hole. Have your child carefully place each item onto their string one at a time, and then help them tie it to make a necklace or bracelet. When you’re all done, you and your little one can wear your jewelry and even sneak in a few bites!

Happy Occupational Therapy Month! Follow us on our social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) for more occupational therapy tips, resources, and activities. If you’d like to discuss if your child would benefit from pediatric therapy, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team is here to support children and families in any way that we can.

Bedtime Tips to Help Your Child Fall Asleep More Easily
Bedtime Tips to Help Your Child Fall Asleep More Easily 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

Ensuring that your little ones have a sufficient amount of sleep each night is crucial as it can play a huge factor in their learning and development. Though, we understand that getting your child to perform their bedtime routine is not always the easiest task. Children often get fussy, like to get in and out of bed, and may ask to stay awake “just a few minutes longer.”  We know it can be difficult, and that’s why we wanted to share some of our favorite bedtime tips that will help your child fall asleep more easily. We hope that these tips will make your little one’s nightly routine go a whole lot smoother, and take a little bit of stress off your shoulders.

Give Your Little One a Nightly Bath: One of the first things you may want to incorporate into your child’s nightly routine is bathtime. Not only is taking a bath fun for children, but it can also promote relaxation and you can work on your child’s therapy goals by playing with waterproof toys such as these farm animal bath toys. Ask them to identify each animal one at a time and have them make the noise of that animal. Your child can also work on their hand strength by squeezing the cute toys to shoot the water out of them!

Read a Bedtime Story: Reading your child a bedtime story is an excellent way to help them relax each night. While reading, have your child work on their speech skills by asking them to identify specific colors, animals, and objects on the page. Then at the end of the book, you can continue the conversation by asking them what they enjoyed the most about the story. Our favorite part about this tip is that it allows you to spend some time snuggling your child while also helping them feel calm and relaxed in the process.

Trade Screen Time For an Activity That Promotes Relaxation: Tablets, phones, and computers all emit blue light, which interferes with sleep. So instead of handing your little one an electronic device at night, have them partake in an activity that promotes relaxation. You could have your child listen to calming music, work on their fine motor skills by drawing a picture, or suggest that they play pretend with their favorite stuffed animal.

Get Into a Routine: Try to put your child to bed at the same time each night and perform a consistent bedtime routine with them. For example, if you want your child in bed and asleep at 8:00 PM, you may want to begin their bedtime routine at 7:00 PM to ensure that you can fit in all of their bedtime tasks (taking a bath, putting pajamas on, brushing teeth, reading a story, etc.) Get your little one involved and excited to perform their bedtime routine by making them a task chart and getting a sheet of colorful stickers. They can then practice their fine motor skills by peeling a sticker off the sheet and placing it next to each item they’ve performed that night.

Happy Sleep Awareness Week! You can find more great resources and learn more about Sleep Awareness Week by visiting the National Sleep Foundation website. Be sure to keep an eye on our social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest) all month long as we share helpful tips, resources, activities, and more! As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss if your child would benefit from pediatric therapy. Our team is here to support both you and your child in any way that we can.

Celebrating Play Therapy Week With Some of Our Favorite Play Therapy Activities
Celebrating Play Therapy Week With Some of Our Favorite Play Therapy Activities 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

This year, Play Therapy Week is February 6th through February 12th, and we are ready to get the party started! Playing is an excellent way for your little ones to work on their therapy goals while also having a ton of fun in the process. There are so many unique activities and games that you can try at home that will help your children work on various skills, and learning through play also gives you the chance to spend quality time as a family. Ready to have some fun? From playing balloon volleyball to stuffed animal storytime, here are some of our favorite play activities your whole family is sure to enjoy:

Play Balloon Volleyball: Place two chairs 3 feet apart and tie a sheet to both chairs to make a “volleyball net.” Next, blow up a balloon and get ready to play volleyball! Hit the balloon high up into the air to your little one and ask them to use their balance and coordination to try and hit the balloon back. You can either keep score or simply play for fun! Another great thing about this activity is that you can get the whole family involved and play in teams of two or three!

Get Creative With Play-Doh: Get ready to shape, mold, stretch, and roll Play-Doh into some fun objects and shapes. Take turns picking an object to sculpt with your little one, and then do your best to make that item. This activity will give your child the chance to work on their fine motor skills while expressing their creativity in the process.

Stuffed Animal Storytime: Ask your child to grab one of their favorite toys and come up with a story about that toy together. To get the story started, you could ask your child questions such as what the toy’s name is, where the toy lives, what the toy likes to do, etc. Then, if you and your child are feeling up to it, write the story down in a cute book and have them draw the pictures! 

Make Stepping Stones: Gather up some throw pillows around your house, bring them into the living room, and tell your child that you’re going on an adventure! Place the pillows randomly from one end of the living room to the other, but make sure that they’re close enough so that your little one can step from one pillow to the other. Now, ask your child to carefully step from stone to stone without touching the lava (the floor). If they can successfully make it across, move them a little farther apart, and have them try again!

Be sure to keep an eye on our social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest) all month long as we continue to share more fun activities. We’ll also be sharing helpful tips, resources, and more! As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time to discuss if your child would benefit from pediatric therapy. Our team is here to support both you and your child in any way that we can.

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