at-home therapy activities

3 Occupational Therapy Activities to Try Out This Spring
3 Occupational Therapy Activities to Try Out This Spring 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

April is Occupational Therapy Month, which is such a special time for our entire team. Occupational therapy is an instrumental part of helping children learn and grow, and it can significantly help those who have difficulties performing cognitive, physical, or sensory tasks. To kick off this year’s celebration, we wanted to share 3 occupational therapy activities you can try out with your little ones this spring. These activities will help your child work on their skills and allow you to spend quality time together. Enjoy!

1. Wash the Farm Animals 

Creating an adorable farm animal-themed sensory bin for your little one is very simple. First, grab a container, an unused toothbrush, small plastic farm animal toys, and Oreos. Next, crush the Oreos into a small bowl (this will look like mud), fill the container with water, and get ready for some fun! Your child can roll the animals around in the mud to get them dirty, and then use their fine motor and gross motor skills to clean each animal using the water and toothbrush. You can also have your kiddo work on their speech by asking them to name each animal and make the sound of that animal.

2. Make Paper Flowers

To make some beautiful paper flowers, you will need printer paper, tissue paper, glue, and crayons. To begin, have your child draw a flower on the paper without drawing the petals. Now, have your little one use their fine motor skills to carefully rip the tissue paper into petal-sized pieces and glue each of them onto their flower. Once they’re done, have your child use their speech skills to identify the flower’s color and size.

3. Outdoor Moves

For this final activity, you will need some paper, markers, and a good imagination. Start by cutting out 10 squares, and write down a different movement for your child to perform on each one. For example, you could write, spin around, reach for the sky, hop like a bunny, etc. Place each piece of paper face down on the grass, ask your child select one square at a time, and watch as they use their balance and gross motor skills to perform each move.

Happy Occupational Therapy Month!

Follow us on our social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) all month for more occupational therapy tips, resources, and activities. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us anytime 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.

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.

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. 

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.

Easy Activities That Allow Your Child to Work on Their Speech Therapy
Easy Activities That Allow Your Child to Work on Their Speech Therapy 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

One time of the year that is very near and dear to our hearts is Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM). BHSM is celebrated each May, and helps bring awareness to common communication disorders, as well as the challenges that people with these disorders face daily. Spreading the word about BHSM is crucial as it can help families recognize that their child is struggling with their speech and language development. Once they realize this, they can better understand what their child is going through and get their little one the help they need.

If your child is experiencing challenges with communication and you want to help work on their skills at home, we have some easy speech and language activities to share with you. These activities are simple and a whole lot of fun for your little one to partake in:

Alphabet Search: Now that the weather is warming up, it’s time to bring your child’s speech therapy outside! Head out to your backyard or go on a walk with your little one. Now, look around and try to find objects that start with each letter of the alphabet. For example, maybe you see an apple tree for “A”, a bus for “B”, a cat for “C”, etc. Work together and try to find objects for as many letters of the alphabet as possible!

Feed Your Monster Friend: Get ready to be creative for this next activity! First, gather some paper, kid-friendly scissors, and a box of crayons. Next, have your child draw a silly monster friend on one sheet of paper, and 5 of their favorite foods on another sheet of paper. Once they’re done coloring, your little one can carefully cut out each food item, and feed them one at a time to their new friend. Be sure to ask your child to describe the color and shape of each food, and then have them explain what they enjoy about that specific food item.

Find the Match: The last speech activity to try at home is to create your own matching game. Cut a piece of paper into 12 squares, and work with your child to draw 6 pairs of matching animals on the squares. While drawing, have your child describe what the animal looks like, and even ask them to make the sound of that animal. Flip all of the squares over so that you can’t see the animals, and mix the pieces of paper up. Finally, have your child flip two squares over at a time until they match each animal pair.

Happy Better Hearing and Speech Month! If you want to do your part and help spread the word, be sure to use #BHSM in your social media posts all May long, and share the materials found on the ASHA website. Keep an eye on our social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest) as we continue to share activities, useful tips, resources, and so much more! As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time to discuss if your child would benefit from pediatric therapy.

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.

Stress-Free Ways to Incorporate Therapy Into Your Daily Routine This New Year
Stress-Free Ways to Incorporate Therapy Into Your Daily Routine This New Year 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

From our PTN family to yours – Happy New Year! We have enjoyed working with each of our PTN families this past year and are looking forward to working with you in 2022 and beyond. We understand that the last few years have been a whirlwind full of uncertainties, but we are extremely hopeful for the new year ahead.

To help start off the new year on the right foot, we wanted to take some of the stress and pressure off by sharing some ways that you can easily incorporate your little one’s therapy into your daily routine. Parents are some of the most incredible people in the world and will do anything to help their children succeed. Unfortunately, parents tend to forget at times that they need to take care of their well-being, too. Our hope is that these ideas will help take some of the stress off of your shoulders, while seamlessly allowing you to work on your child’s therapy goals during some of your day-to-day activities:

Take a Trip to the Grocery Store

One way to incorporate your child’s therapy goals into your daily routine is to take them along with you on your next trip to the grocery store. As you walk up and down the store aisles, have your child help to identify, label, or count items that they are placing in the cart, and ask them to describe each item. For example, if you are purchasing some apples, ask your child to describe the color of the apples and then proceed to ask them if they like apples. Finally, give your child some information about the item. In the case of an apple, you could tell them that they’re nutritious and will help make them grow big and strong! Handwriting goals? Have your child help you write out the grocery list ahead of time. 

Sort Laundry

Even if we (as adults) may not like doing laundry, you’ll be surprised at how much your child will enjoy sorting it! Have your little one sit down with your clean laundry pile, and ask them to sort it for you into piles by the color of the clothing item or by the type of clothing item. Another fun thing that you can do during this activity is to ask your child what part of the body each article of clothing goes on and then have them describe their favorite pieces of clothing!  Work on your child’s motor planning and strength by having them climb in and out of the laundry basket.

Get Ready For Bed

Get your child involved during their bedtime routine. First, ask your little one what pajamas they would like to wear and have them help you put them on. Ask questions about their pajama choice, including the color, if they’re soft, and what characters or objects can be seen on the pajamas. Have them practice stair-stepping by offering them a step stool to climb in order to reach the sink when brushing their teeth.  Another thing you can do is have your child pick out what book they want to read for their bedtime story. While reading the book, ask them questions about the book, and then discuss how your child felt about the story at the end. Your little one will love being able to have a say during their nighttime routine.

We know that 2022 will be an incredible year and hope that these activities will make it easier (and less stressful) for you to work with your child on their therapy throughout the day. 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 both you and your child in any way that we can. Here’s to an incredible year ahead!

Ways to Work on Your Child’s Development Using Their Favorite Stuffed Animal
Ways to Work on Your Child’s Development Using Their Favorite Stuffed Animal 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

Stuffed animals truly are one of a child’s best friends. They comfort your little one in times of need, allow them to express themselves, are an excellent travel buddy, can help them fall asleep easier, and are the perfect playmate. Stuffed animals are one of the most special things in the world to a child and can help them grow in so many ways. We know that children have a special attachment to their furry friends, and considering that National Teddy Bear Day is on September 9th, we wanted to honor their special friend by sharing some ways for your child to work on their development using their favorite stuffed animal. From fine motor skills to speech development to balance and everything in between – your child will love getting to use their favorite stuffed animal to work on developing their skills. That said, here are some of our favorite ways to work on your child’s development using their favorite stuffed animal:

Stuffed Animal Rescue: Find a spot around your home and hide your child’s stuffed animal (make sure it’s in a place they can reach). Then, tell your child that their favorite stuffed animal has gotten lost and they need to be rescued by a superhero! Allow your little one to run around with a makeshift cape and search for their furry friend. Once they locate their stuffed animal, consider switching roles and have your child hide their toy for you to find.

Obstacle Course: In this activity, your little one will need to hop, skip, and jump through obstacles to get to their stuffed animal. Time your child each time they run the course and see if they can beat their time! Even though there are so many fun and creative obstacles that you could come up with, here are some of our favorites:

  • Jump from one hula hoop to another
  • Throw a ball into a bucket
  • Spin around three times
  • Crawl under a jump rope that’s attached to two chairs
  • Do your best dance move

Once your child has completed each obstacle, have them grab their teddy bear and yell the word “done.” This indicates the end of the course and lets you know when to stop the timer. 

My Favorites: Get your child talking to their furry friend by sharing some of their favorite things. Sit in a circle with your child and their stuffed animal, and then proceed to ask your child what their favorite things are. For example, you could ask about their favorite color, food, activity, book, animal, song, and game. Now, have your child answer with their favorites as well as their stuffed animal’s favorites. Once you’ve run out of questions, have your child ask you about some of your favorite things.

What Am I: If your child has more than one stuffed animal, gather each toy and place them all in a bin. Place the bucket of toys in a different room where you can’t see, and then proceed to sit in the living room. Have your child go to the bucket and pick out a stuffed animal one at a time. Once they’ve made a selection, have them run back into the living room and act out the type of animal they chose. Your little one will make movements and sounds of that animal until you can correctly guess the right answer. Repeat until they’ve acted out all the different animals.

Be sure to keep an eye on our social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest) all month long as we share additional activities that your child can do with their favorite stuffed animal friend! 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.

3 Fun Activities to do At Home With Your Kids This Summer
3 Fun Activities to do At Home With Your Kids This Summer 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

June 22nd marks PTN’s 11th anniversary, and we can’t wait any longer to get the celebration started! We are thankful for the opportunity to serve all of the wonderful families in our community over the last 11 years. We are looking forward to working with each of our incredible PTN kids, families, and therapists for years to come. All month long, we’ve been sharing some of our favorite at-home activities on our social media pages and wanted to keep the celebration going by sharing some more with you right now! Here are three fun activities to do at home with your kids this summer:

Animal Moves

Your kiddos are going to love this silly activity. Grab five pieces of paper and ask your child to draw a different animal on each one. Once they’ve drawn their masterpieces, go outside, and flip each paper upside down so that you can’t see them.

One at a time, flip each drawing over and then have your child perform the action that matches the animal on the page. For example, you could have them flap their arms like a chicken, hop like a frog, roll around like a pig, gallop like a horse, or move their trunk (arm) up and down like an elephant. Once you’ve gone through each animal, add more animals to your pile and repeat!

Hula Hoop Jump

Get up and get ready to move with this next activity. Grab five hula hoops of any size and bring them outside. Place each hula hoop on the ground right next to each other in a straight line or zigzag pattern. Next, using chalk, write one number in each hula hoop, starting at one and ending at five. Finally, have your child jump from hoop to hoop in numbered order or if your child doesn’t know their numbers quite yet, simply ask them to jump from hoop to hoop!

Cup Kick

Our final at-home activity that you can try with your kiddos is cup kick! Gather up some plastic cups and place a different colored sticker on each cup. Then, go outside and put the cups next to each other a foot apart with the different colored stickers facing your child. Give your little one a small ball that they can easily kick and get ready for the fun! One at a time, shout out the different colors of the stickers and have your child try to knock the cup over with that sticker on it by kicking the ball at that cup. Keep shouting out colors until all of the cups have been knocked down, and repeat!

Thanks for celebrating our 11th anniversary with us! We had so much fun sharing these ideas with you, and hope that they keep you busy all summer long. For more at-home activities you can do with your child, follow us on our social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest). We share activities, tips, resources, and so much more. If you have any questions about your child’s development, please don’t hesitate to contact our team. We are happy to help support your child and family in any way that we can, and remember, you’re always at home with PTN.

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