outdoor activities

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.

Spring Play Therapy
It’s Time to Spring into Action!
It’s Time to Spring into Action! 1200 600 Triston Kee

The cold of winter is finally melting into the warmth of spring, and the transition couldn’t have come sooner! Your kids have probably been bouncing off the walls inside, so it’s finally time to get outdoors and enjoy some fun play therapy that will get them moving.

Here are a few of our favorite outdoor activities for speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy for kids.

Marco Polo – This is a classic version of tag in which the person who is “it” has to keep his or her eyes closed. To find the other kids, he or she yells out “Marco!” and the other kids have to respond, “Polo!”

A great way to simplify this game and make it a little less frustrating is for the “Polo” children to stay in one place. This makes them much easier to find, and it allows the game to get switched up more often, which keeps everyone happier and safer. Be sure to play this great sensory game in an open space free of tripping hazards, and always have adult supervision.

Scooting around the driveway – A fun way to practice balance skills is to hop on a balance bike, sit on a skateboard, or bring those roller boards outside and scoot around the driveway or the basketball court at the park. Draw lines with chalk to make “roads,” or follow the lines already drawn on the basketball court to add some imagination to your scooting.

Outdoor gymnastics – An open patch of grass is all you need to practice gymnastics with your children. With toddlers, you can lay down and practice rolling around on the grass. With preschoolers, you can show them how to tuck their heads and do a somersault. Your preschooler might even be ready to give hand stands or cart wheels a try (with your help, of course)!

If you make it out to your local playground, give the monkey bars a try, or even do a flip over a low bar. Both you and your little one will get a great, playful workout.

Tummy time under a tree – With your littlest little ones, getting outside for tummy time can be a great change of scenery. If your baby hates tummy time, he or she might tolerate it better when there are grass and flowers to touch, smell, and look at.

Remember to bring a blanket with you and set up under a shady tree to protect your little one from the sun. Baby will also love looking up at the leaves, birds, and swaying branches when you flip over.

For more tips on how to engage in play therapy with your children this spring, contact the PTN team today. Our Chicago occupational, speech, and physical therapists are always here to help!

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

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

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

If the weather permits, get outside!

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

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

Indoor fun for extra cold days and nights

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

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

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

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