at-home therapy activities

4 Fun Play-Based Activities to Try With Your Child
4 Fun Play-Based Activities to Try With Your Child 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

International Play Therapy Week is just around the corner (February 4th through February 10th), and we can’t wait to get the celebration started! Playing with your child is the best way to work on their developmental skills while enjoying some fun and laughter together as a family. This year, in honor of this wonderful holiday, we wanted to share some fun activities you can try with your child. We just know that you’re going to have a blast trying out these activities with your little ones!

Make Sock Puppets

One great activity is to make sock puppets with your child! Start by grabbing some clean white socks and colored markers. Now, both you and your child will need to draw hair, faces, and clothing onto the socks to make some sock puppet friends! Once you have finished making your sock puppets, place them onto your hands, and use them to talk to each other and come up with a funny story.

Play Hi Ho! Cherry-O

Hi Ho! Cherry-O is a fantastic board game to try with your children. To play, take turns spinning the spinner to find out how many pieces of fruit you can put in your basket or how many pieces of fruit you will need to put back. The first person to fill up their entire basket with fruit wins! Celebrate by snacking on something healthy, or work together to set up a cozy indoor picnic.

Create Paper Art

Another fun way to engage in play with your child is to create paper art. First, grab a piece of white construction paper and a variety of colored construction paper. Next, have your child rip up small pieces of the colored paper and glue them onto the white paper to make a fun and creative piece of art. As a bonus, make your own paper art alongside your child, and then try to guess what each other made!

Become a Superhero

Help your child transform into a superhero by giving them a cape and a mask, and ask them to come up with a superhero name and superpowers. Next, hide some of their favorite toys around the house and tell your child it’s time to save the day! Your little one will then have to reach up high or bend down low to rescue their toys and bring them to safety.

Happy International Play Therapy Week! Follow us on our social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) all month for toys we love, activities, and more! 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.

Stress-Free Ways to Incorporate Your Child’s Therapy Into Your Daily Routine
Stress-Free Ways to Incorporate Your Child’s Therapy Into Your Daily Routine 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

Parents work so hard to juggle numerous hats. Between going to work, taking care of your little ones, and managing everything else life throws your way, finding time to work on your child’s therapy goals can be challenging. That’s why we always recommend you try to incorporate your child’s therapy into your daily routine. In doing so, not only will you be able to reduce your stress, but you’ll also get the opportunity to help your child improve their developmental skills. Our hope is that fitting your child’s therapy into your everyday life will make it easier on you and take some of that added pressure off your shoulders. 

Have Your Child Help Clean Up the House

Asking your child to help you clean up the house teaches them the importance of helping others and gives them a sense of responsibility. Here are some easy ways to incorporate therapy into your cleaning routine:

  • Have your child bend down to pick up their toys and toss them into a basket.
  • Ask them to sort laundry into bins and then push the laundry bins across the room.
  • Have them climb up onto a chair or step stool to help you wipe down tables and counters or wash some dishes.

Work On Your Child’s Skills During Bathtime

Bath time is an excellent opportunity to work on your child’s fine motor and language skills. If you’re interested in incorporating your child’s therapy into their bath time routine, here are some activities you can introduce to your child that we know they’ll enjoy:

  • Incorporate nesting cups into your bath routine. Have your child practice pouring water from one cup into another cup or stack them on the side of the tub. 
  • Place different colored ducks on the edge of the bathtub and ask your child to count them and identify the color of each duck.
  • Make art together! Draw on the bathtub walls using bathtub markers. 

Read a Bedtime Story Together

When your little one is ready to go to sleep, perform their nighttime routine, let them choose a book, and tuck them into bed. Then, as you read the book, stop occasionally and ask your child to identify different objects on the page. Once you are done with the story, ask your child some questions, such as how the story made them feel and what their favorite part was.

Here are some wonderful book recommendations that you can enjoy reading with your little ones.

Happy New Year from Pediatric Therapy Network! Keep an eye on our social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) all January long for more recommendations on stress-free ways to work on your child’s therapy during your daily routine. We will also be sharing tips, activities, resources, and more! Also, please don’t hesitate to contact us anytime to discuss if your child would benefit from pediatric therapy. We’re here to support you and your kiddos in any way we can.

Let’s Celebrate National Physical Therapy Month With Indoor Spots to Move and Groove
Let’s Celebrate National Physical Therapy Month With Indoor Spots to Move and Groove 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

October marks a special time here at PTN. Not only are we excited for fall activities with our kids and families, but we also get to spread awareness of National Physical Therapy Month. This is a time when we recognize the importance of physical therapy and also express our gratitude toward the physical therapist (PTs) that make a difference in other people’s lives. At PTN, our physical therapists work tirelessly to help children and their families develop, grow, and move together. 

This month, we are thrilled to feature one of our very own team members, Katie Siegel, PT, DPT.  If you follow our social media accounts, you’ll see tips and insights from Katie shared throughout the course of the next few weeks because she is our October Featured Therapist. In this blog, we wanted to include Katies’s list of places to go with your children as the weather gets cooler. These destinations are Chicago-based and present so many opportunities for fun and learning. Have a look:

Purple Monkey Playroom:  located on Western Avenue, the Purple Monkey Playroom is, “a bright, nurturing destination for young children, parents and caregivers.”  This destination has been the recipient of multiple parent choice awards and has 1,500 sq feet for children to explore.  While kids are playing, parents can have coffee and enjoy wifi. It’s a great spot for giving children some supervised independence while they play and even make new friends. You can learn more about the Purple Monkey Playroom by visiting their website: https://www.purplemonkeyplayroom.com

Fit City Kids:  this center is located on Lawrence Avenue, and its mission is to, “drive fitness through fun!” Featuring basketball courts, obstacle courses, and other heart-pumping physical activities, Fit City Kids is a great destination if you want to move and have fun while participating in fitness. There are also several camps and classes. If you’re curious about Fit City Kids, you can learn more here: https://www.fitcitykids.com

Itsy Bitsy Play & Café:  this is a “cafe + coworking space with playcare for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers located in the north side Chicago neighborhoods North Center and Lincoln Square.” If you need to get some work done, but are dealing with restless kids who just want to play, move, and have fun, the Itsy Bitsy Play & Café might just be the ideal place to go when it’s cold outside. Parents can work, and kids have access to a natural inspired indoor playground and more. If you’d like to better understand what Itsy Bitsy Play & Café has to offer, visit:  https://www.itsybitsyplay.com/

As a Chicago parent, there really is no shortage of indoor places and activities to escape the colder months that naturally come along with Fall and Winter. We hope you learned of a new spot by reading our blog today.  If you have other places you like to go with your children when the months get cold, let us know in the comments section below! 

Stuffed Animal Activities to Try on National Family Day
Stuffed Animal Activities to Try on National Family Day 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

With September comes two of our favorite holidays – National Family Day and National Teddy Bear Day! Having a caring and loving family is extremely important when it comes to a child’s development, as it allows them to work on their skills in a supportive environment. Further, stuffed animals are also an incredible support system for kids, as they are a source of comfort for many children during therapy and in challenging times.

A child’s family and their favorite stuffed animal play such a pivotal role in their development, which is exactly why we love celebrating these two holidays throughout the month of September. For this year’s celebration, we wanted to share some activities that you can try together as a family. Not only do these activities allow you to enjoy some quality family time, but they also incorporate your child’s favorite stuffed animal and work on developing your child’s fine motor skills, gross motor skills, balance, and speech. 

Ready to get started? From having a stuffed animal race to participating in a stuffed animal freeze dance and more – here are some great stuffed animal-based activities that your family can try on National Family Day and beyond.

Have a Stuffed Animal Race

Get ready to burn off some energy with a stuffed animal race! To begin, you and your child will need to come up with some obstacles they can complete while holding their favorite stuffed animal. For example, your little one can walk across a tape balance beam, stack three blocks on top of each other, and toss their stuffed animal friend into a basket. Time your child and see how long it takes them to complete the course, and then have them try to beat their time during their second run-through!

Paint Your Stuffed Animal Friend

Another great activity your little one will love is painting their favorite stuffed animal friend. Gather some paintbrushes, paint, and paper, and get ready to be creative! Set your child’s favorite stuffed animal in front of them where they can see it, and ask them to paint a picture of their furry friend. Once they are done and the painting has dried, sit down with your little one and have them use their imagination to create a story about their stuffed animal!

Try Stuffed Animal Freeze Dance

The final activity we recommend trying is stuffed animal freeze dance! Turn on some of your child’s favorite tunes and get ready to move. Your child will need to show off their favorite dance moves while holding their stuffed animal friend. But they’ll need to be careful! From time to time, you will need to pause the music, and your child will have to stop dancing and freeze. If your child can successfully freeze each time the music stops, they win!

Stay tuned and follow our social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) all September as we continue to share fun activities, tips, toys we love, and so much more. Further, 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.

Fun in the Sun With Outdoor Therapy Activities
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The weather is warming up, and summer is just around the corner! This can only mean one thing… it’s time to have some fun in the sun with your little ones! Being able to spend some time outside as a family is so special, and believe it or not, there are many fantastic outdoor activities that work on your child’s developmental skills. Whether you’re looking to run around and burn some energy, cool down with water play, or enjoy what nature has to offer, we have you covered. Ready to get started? Here are some of our favorite outdoor therapy activities that allow your family to have some fun in the sun:

Water the Plants: An excellent way to cool down in the hot sun is to have your child help you water the plants using a spray bottle. Walk around the yard with your little one and have them use their fine motor skills to squeeze the spray bottle and water any flowers and trees that they see. To incorporate your child’s speech, talk about what you’re doing and ask them to try and describe what the plant looks like, such as what color it is, how tall it is, the shape of the plant, etc.

Nature Scavenger Hunt: This next activity is one we always recommend families try out during the summer months. Start by grabbing a piece of paper and writing down a list of 5-10 things your child will need to find outside. For example, you may ask them to find something green, a small rock, a flower, etc. Now, your child will have to run around and use their gross motor skills to perform actions such as bending down and reaching high in the sky to collect the objects on the list. Once they’ve found everything, consider rewarding them with a refreshing treat.

Summertime Relay Race: Get ready to burn off some energy and get moving with a summertime relay race! With this activity, you’ll need to set up some fun obstacles that you and your child will have to complete. For example, you could have your child challenge their balance by having them jump over a sprinkler or walk across a chalk-drawn beam. They can even practice their fine motor skills by squeezing a squirt gun to try and hit a target. The possibilities are endless!

Beach Sensory Bin: If the heat becomes too much and you want to bring the fun inside, you and your child can make a beach sensory bin together. Start by gathering a container, some graham crackers, a pack of blue jello, and any small sea animal toys you have. Now, ask your child to use their fine motor skills to crush up the graham crackers to make sand, and let them assist you in making the blue jello to use as the ocean. Finally, pour the “sand” into one side of the bin and the “ocean water” into the other, and watch as your child uses their imagination to play for hours on end.

Follow us on our social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) all month for more fun in the sun activities, tips, resources, and more! Additionally, 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.

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
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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.

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