at-home therapy activities

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.

Outdoor Occupational Therapy Activities to Try This Spring
Outdoor Occupational Therapy Activities to Try This Spring 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

April is National Occupational Therapy Month and we are thrilled to start celebrating! Occupational therapy helps children and adults alike who have issues performing cognitive, physical, or sensory tasks, work towards being able to perform everyday tasks and activities on their own.

We’ve found that one of the best ways to work with your child on their occupational skills is to take part in activities as a family, and now that spring has finally arrived, it’s time to take some of those activities outdoors. As flowers bloom and the sun shines, we love to see our PTN families enjoy the nice weather, which is exactly why we wanted to share some fun activities that you can try this spring (and beyond) that your whole family will love – enjoy!

Rock Painting

Painting is a great way to work on your child’s fine motor skills.  To start, go on a nature walk and collect all sorts of interesting rocks. Decorate them with paint pens, chalk pens, or acrylic paints, depending on how messy you’d like to get. You can use Modpodge to seal your rocks so they last for seasons to come.  Once your rocks are dry you can add them to your garden or play hide and seek with them. 

Gardening

Gardening is an awesome family spring activity and provides great opportunities for messy sensory play, problem solving, and strengthening! Include your little ones in on the fun by asking them to help decide what flowers to plant and having them scoop and fill the containers.  Once the flowers are planted, use a spray bottle to water the flowers and grass instead of a hose. A spray bottle requires fine motor strength and coordination to operate. 

Hopscotch

Odds are you’ve tried hopscotch once or twice as a child, and for good reason! This is a wonderful activity to help work on your child’s balance and coordination while also helping them learn their numbers at the same time.

To begin, allow your kiddos to get creative by letting them help you draw a colorful hopscotch board using chalk. Drawing outdoors with chalk is a fun way to work on your child’s fine motor and handwriting skills.  When the board is complete, shout out a number that your child will need to hop to, and watch them hop, skip, and jump over to their number. Repeat over and over again until you’ve called each number at least once.  Wrap up the game by using your spray bottle to clean off the chalk from the sidewalk. 

Happy National Occupational Therapy Month!

Follow us on our social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) all month long for more occupational therapy tips, resources, and activities. 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.

Family Fun Activities to Try During National Play Therapy Week
Family Fun Activities to Try During National Play Therapy Week 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

National Play Therapy Week runs February 7th through the 13th and we are super excited to celebrate it! Learning through play is one of the most fun and effective ways to help your child work on their development, which is why we always incorporate play into our pediatric therapy sessions. When your child learns through play, they will be motivated to work toward their goals while also engaging in activities that will bring them joy and better their overall mental and physical well-being. 

If you’re looking for some ways to celebrate with your kiddos this week but aren’t sure where to begin, don’t fret.  We’ve put together a list of fun, family activities that you can try during National Play Therapy Week and beyond – enjoy!

Astronaut Scavenger Hunt: Put on your spacesuit and get ready to blast off! It’s time to save the universe in this outer space-themed scavenger hunt. Get together with your family and do your best to draw all of the planets, each on a separate piece of paper. Once you’ve finished, have your little ones go to their bedroom and shut the door – no peeking.

Hide each planet in different spots around the house where your child may have to crouch, squat, or go on their tippy toes to find. Now, explain to your kiddos that it’s their job to save the universe by finding and collecting each planet. They’re our only hope!

Pretend Bake Sale: Have your child round up all of their favorite dolls, action figures, or stuffed animals, and tell them that their toys will act as the customers for your pretend bake sale. Use fake money and divide it up between each one of your child’s toys so that they can use it to purchase some of the delicious goods that you’re about to bake. Then, decide on one or two items that you want to make, and get baking! Let your kiddos help add the ingredients, stir the batter, and decorate. Your child will love being able to “sell” their completed products to their pretend customers The best part? You get to eat all of the leftovers!

Create Rock Friends: Gather up your art supplies and create some colorful rock friends! This is the perfect play therapy activity to get those creative juices flowing. To begin, bundle up, go outside, and find some flat rocks that you can paint on. Then, wash any dirt off of the rocks, dry them, and get painting! You could make a ladybug, bumblebee, turtle, or simply glue some googly eyes onto the rock and paint a smiley face – the possibilities are endless!

Happy National Play Therapy Week! 

If you’re looking for some ways to spread the word about the positive effects of play therapy, the Association for Play Therapy has some incredible resources including images that you can share with your friends and family on social media. As always, if you think that your child could benefit from pediatric therapy, please don’t hesitate to contact us. 

New Year’s Resolutions – Ways to Work On Your Child’s Development Without the Pressure
New Year’s Resolutions – Ways to Work On Your Child’s Development Without the Pressure 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

Happy New Year from all of us at Pediatric Therapy Network! The new year is the perfect time to reflect on the past year while also setting goals and resolutions for the year ahead. The most common New Year’s resolutions that we typically hear from our PTN parents is that they would like to make more time to work on their child’s therapeutic goals in order to support their development, but struggle to find the time during their busy day to day lives.

2020 brought a new and unique challenge to this equation as work and school moved to virtual platforms and everyone was at home together.  Working from home while also helping your child with their virtual learning and therapy can be overwhelming – trust us, we get it! Parents have a lot on their plates, which is why the therapy team at PTN tries to provide therapeutic strategies that can be easily incorporated into families busy schedules. Believe it or not, many physical, occupational, and speech therapy activities can be incorporated into your daily routines, allowing you to work on your child’s development without the pressure. 

With that said, here are some of our favorite ways to work on your child’s development without becoming overwhelmed or stressed out:

Get Your Child Involved in Cooking Meals

There are so many opportunities for your child to get involved while you’re cooking!  Cooking together is a great way to help support your child’s development and they’ll love being your sous chef. Some ways to get your child involved include asking them questions about the food that you’re cooking such as, “what item is this?” or “what color is this?”, allowing them to help mix and measure ingredients, or having your little one grab the ingredients that you need – the possibilities are endless!

Burn Off Some Energy

During your next workout, get your kiddo involved and have them do their own “mini workout” in the process. One way to do this is to set up an obstacle course for them with items around the house such as buckets, pillows, and hula hoops, and have them try to beat their best time over and over again until your workout is complete.

Another option would be to turn on a fun music playlist or video that features fun songs for kids, and have a dance party together! The best part about this activity is that it will allow your child to burn off some of their energy in the process. 

Clean Up Around the House

We’ve found that little kids love to help with chores. It gives them the chance to feel grown up and they love the fact that they get to work alongside their mom/dad. Some easy tasks you can give them that include sweeping, wiping down the table, sorting silverware, feeding the family pet, vacuuming, or cleaning up their toys. Our favorite part about this activity is that it will take some stress off of you now that you’ll have an extra pair of hands to help.

Times are tough for many families right now, and the last thing you want to do is put more stress on your shoulders. After all, you truly are doing a wonderful job! 

Follow us on our social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) all month long for more suggestions on ways to work on your child’s development without the pressure, or feel free to contact us at any time. Our team of pediatric therapists are here to support both you and your child in any way that we can.

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