Play and Activities

Feel the Love and Grow with These Family Activities Geared Toward Child Development
Feel the Love and Grow with These Family Activities Geared Toward Child Development 1280 810 Thomas Chibucos

No two children are alike. Every child will develop at his or her own pace, and every child will have certain strengths and certain weaknesses. If your child is a bit behind with their gross motor, fine motor, or speech skills, working with a physical therapist can be helpful. But you can and should also enjoy activities at home that can help promote healthy development.

The best occupational therapy and speech therapy for children is usually play based. Here are a few simple family child development activities that you can do (at little or no cost) with your children to help them grow stronger and more confident in their abilities.

Drawing Rainbows and Racing Cars to Cross the Midline

Some children have a tough time crossing the midline. This means that they have trouble using the two halves of their body together. This is a skill that most children develop by the age of three or four. If your child could use some extra practice crossing the midline, get a big sheet of butcher paper or poster board and have them actually sit on the edge of the paper. Then, give them crayons or markers to make semicircles around their own body. The result will be a beautiful rainbow of color and great practice using their hands on both sides of their body. Be sure to get in on the fun as well with your own rainbow.

You can also practice crossing the midline by making a figure eight race track and running cars around it. You can use electrical tape or masking tape to make a small track on your floor, or use a wooden train set if you have one. By moving cars or trains in a figure eight pattern, your child will move their arms back and forth across the midline.

Playing Hand Games to Develop Fine Motor Skills and Language Skills

Plenty of nursery rhymes and children’s songs use hand gestures. Singing these songs with your children and doing the hand movements with them can help develop fine motor skills and promote better language skills at the same time.

Sing a few rounds of The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, and don’t forget to make rain trickle down your child’s face with your fingertips. Pat-a-cake is another favorite that parents and children can play together. You can also count off the ten little monkeys rolling out of bed on your fingers, or you can make up hand gestures for your child’s favorite song or lullaby.

Crawling Through Tunnels and Rolling on Scooter Boards to Build Gross Motor Skills

A nylon pop-up tunnel can be purchased for under $15, and scooter boards can be found for less than $20. These great toys can be used for all sorts of imaginative active play. Not only will your child (and you) develop important muscles and improve flexibility, he or she will have endless hours of fun in the process. Get on your scooter boards and pretend your living room is a raging river that you need to navigate together. Or see just how much fun your toddler has crawling through a colorful tunnel and playing peek-a-boo at either end. You’ll be blown away by the laughs and smiles.

Beat the Cold with these Excellent Child Development Activities
Beat the Cold with these Excellent Child Development Activities 1200 600 Triston Kee

We know that in the winter months it can feel like your options are incredibly limited in terms of play with your children. But resist the temptation to throw on a movie and call it a day! There are plenty of ways that you and your children can stay active while engaging in therapeutic activities at the same time.

Here at PTN, we believe in supporting development through play. An activity doesn’t need to be specifically designed by a therapist to benefit the development of your child. All sorts of play can incorporate learning, movement, body awareness, and social interaction. Here are some of our favorite winter activities.

If the weather permits, get outside!

If the sun makes an appearance, get your child bundled and head out the door.

  • Ice skate! If your child is a little older, take them to the local skating rink and practice those balance skills while having a great time scooting around. If skates are out of the question, you can also get on the ice in your snow boots and have fun trying to slide from side to side. Remember to make any falls as positive as possible by laughing and making it feel ok (and even fun) to fall down every now and then.
  • Throw snow balls! No need to have any fights. Rather than throwing snow balls at people, have a distance throwing contest, or practice hitting targets like fences or snowmen. Packing snowballs together is a great sensory activity, and throwing will build strength and coordination.
  • Go sledding! Even if you just have a cookie sheet or a trash can lid, sliding down hills can be a lot of fun and burn a lot of energy. Even climbing small hills can help build little leg muscles, and taking turns will help build those social skills.

Indoor fun for extra cold days and nights

When the weather forces you indoors, you can still have lots of fun playing pretend.

  • Stomp like monsters! Use blocks to build towers around the room, then stomp between them like overgrown monsters. Your child will love pretending, and he or she can even knock the towers down with their feet. This is a great way to stay active while practicing those big steps needed to make it through high snow. And building and rebuilding towers will improve those fine motor skills.
  • Put on a puppet show! Give your child finger puppets or a few stuffed animals and have him or her tell you a story using the puppets. Encourage a big imagination and help guide the story if your child gets frustrated or runs out of ideas. Just don’t take control – let them tell their story, and be sure to listen intently. You can also put on a show for your child. Take turns, and have fun with it!

For more winter activity suggestions or to learn about our therapy services, contact our team today!

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