Happy OT Month!
Hi, we’re celebrating OT month by sharing daily activities that can be done at home. Thanks for visiting!
#1: Pinch Me
Use clothespins, tweezers, or tongs to pick up small objects such as pompoms, cotton balls, or beans and drop them into a container. To make it more competitive you can draw a line on the container as a “goal” for how far to fill it. This game encourages your child to learn to isolate his thumb, index and middle fingers as well as improve hand strength!
#2: Cool Down Cubes
Utilizing plastic colored ice cubes, write down different calming strategies on each ice cube (i.e. count to 10, take 3 deep breaths, do a puzzle, color, etc). Store the ice cubes in a container in your freezer and have them choose a cube (calming strategy) when you feel as though the child is getting too frustrated or upset with a task.
#3: Mom’s Helper
Have your child engage in heavy work proprioceptive play by “helping” with household chores. This can include tasks such as carrying heavy grocery bags (laundry detergent is a great choice!), moving wet laundry from the washer to the dryer, carrying laundry down up and down stairs, pushing a vacuum, and cleaning up their toys by pushing an empty laundry basket to each toy and placing it inside – pushing the basket to the correct spot when they are done.
#4: Blow Paint Monsters
Allow your child to pick a preferred color of paint. Place a glob of paint onto a large piece of paper and let the child make designs by blowing the paint with a straw. Once the paint is dry place complete the monster by gluing or drawing 2 googly eyes, arms and legs.
#5: Animal Walks
On index cards, draw or place a picture of an animal from a magazine with a corresponding animal walk on them (i.e. waddle like a penguin, hop like a bunny, fly like a bird, slither like a snake, crawl like a crab, walk like a bear). Have the child pick a card and replicate the animal movement for 1-3 minutes or have a race together to the finish line.
#6: Basketball Challenge
Have your child use both hands to tear and crumple different types of paper into small “basketballs and take turns throwing them into a bucket or bowl. You can grade this activity by using different types of paper as strength improves (tissue paper, magazines, construction paper, card stock, cardboard)
#7: Egg on Your Face
Take plastic eggs and draw different emotion faces (eyes on the top half and mouth on the bottom half). Have the child create different emotions with the eggs by matching a top with bottom half. Together talk about that emotion and practice imitating the expressions on the eggs.
#8: Sensory Backpack
Fill a child-sized backpack with items to generate calming input outside of the home. Familiar, smooth, and soft, squishy items are best for sensory over-responsivity. Whatever you and your therapist have found is helpful of your child. Plus, as a bonus, the weight of the backpack itself provides some nice regulating input.
#9: Hungry Frog
Using a party blower, create a frog face out of construction paper. Place a piece of double-sided tape on the end of the party blower. Cut out little flies and scatter them on the table. Have your child use the party blower to pick up the flies and see how many flies the frog can eat.
#10: Scooter Board Races
Have your child prone or seated on the scooter board, using either their feet or their hands to move across the floor. Add an extra challenge by picking up different objects on the way or have them weave in and out of obstacles. Don’t have a scooter board? Try using a pillow or large ball instead!
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11: 10 Little Pom-poms
Place 10 cupcake liners with numbers 1-10 written in them in an arch in front of your child. Have the child use tongs, chip clip, clothespin, or any other grabbing device to place the appropriate number of pom poms in each cupcake liner. Cotton balls can be substituted for pom poms.
12: Feelings Matching Game
Create different feeling cards and make 2 of each feeling. Shuffle the feeling cards and then lay them face down. Have your child take turns flipping over two cards until they find a match. In order to keep the match, the children must share what makes them feel the emotion written on the card. The players with the most matches win.
#13: Taco Time
Have your child lay in the center of a a fuzzy or heavy blanket. Roll them up tightly in a blank to make the “taco”. Ask them what toppings they would like on their taco and use firm pressure to pretend to add cheese, salsa, lettuce and so on. To add vestibular input, with another person pick up the blanket and swing the blanket gently. You can also pretend to make burritos, hot dogs and other foods.
14: Silly Faces
Use a chart or flash cards to prompt a child to make silly faces. These can include but are not limited to: tongue tip to chin, tongue tip to nose, open mouth, stick tongue out, smile, show teeth, fish face, puff cheeks out, and pucker face. Use a small mirror to show them what funny face they made. Have a competition to see who can make the silliest face.
15: Alligator Alley
Scatter some “islands” or “boats” across the floor (use pillows, stuffed animals, books, etc.) and have the child jump from one island or boat to the next without falling into the “water.”
16: Make it Fit
Use common household materials such as a colander or container with a plastic lid. Take turns putting spaghetti into the colander or popsicle sticks into a lid with a slit. Use your imagination!
17: “Inside Out” Fun
Use the different characters of the movie “Inside Out” to help identify what your child is feeling. Laminating them and placing them on a keyring is an easy way for them to keep the cards close by.
18: Textured Handshake
Using a poster board draw 10 different hands on the board. Using 10 different materials, ranging from feathers to sandpaper and everything in between glue little samples of the materials onto the hands. Ask the child to feel the different materials and describe what they feel like and if they like it or not.
19: Penguin Ice Races
Place cubes of ice with pictures of penguins on top of each one in the middle of a baking sheet or flat surface that can get wet. Using marshmallows have them help you make an igloo for the penguins. Using a straw take turns blowing the ice penguin to its home.
20: Balloon Volleyball
With a parent or other adult, have the child toss a blown up balloon back and forth between one or two other people. If the child is alone, see how many times the child can hit the balloon before it falls to the ground to earn a point If they need an extra challenge tell them to do a motor task (ex: jump 3 times before hitting the balloon or spin in a circle) before continuing. First person to get to seven points is the winner.
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21: Coloring Magic
Use broken or small crayons to encourage a crayon grasp. Coloring on a vertical surface such as an easel or paper taped to the fridge also encourages more mature grasps. Try coloring over different textures such as bumpy concrete or sandpaper to provide additional sensory feedback.
22: Take a Deep Breath
Breathing deeply is a great way to regulate and calm! Pretend to blow out candles on a cake or smell flowers. Count to five as they inhale and again as they exhale, slowing down their pace of breathing.
23: Getting Nosey
Different smells and flavor can be either alerting or calming. For example, mint, menthol, pine, citrus and eucalyptus are all alerting smells. Need to calm down? Rosemary, lavender, jasmine and vanilla are all calming scents. Put a drop of essential oil on a cotton ball and place inside an empty prescription bottle or have your child smell actual citrus or herbs.
24: Snowballs Relay
Place a container of cotton balls in front of each team and an empty container at the end of the table, creating a start and finish line. Use a straw to suck and pick up a cotton ball and place it into the container on at the end of the table. Once all cotton balls are in the container at the end of the table that team is the winner!
25: Tape Shapes
Using painters tape, create different shapes on the floor 5-8 inches apart from each other. Have the child animal crawl or jump to the different shapes on the floor. To make things more interesting, use a spinner or puzzle shapes in a bag to tell them what shape they have to go to next.
26: Hungry Hungry Tennis Ball
Using an old tennis ball, cut a slit in the middle for a mouth and glue on 2 googly eyes. Have the child open the tennis balls “mouth” by squeezing it and pretend to eat different items placed on the floor.
27: Storm Trackers
This activity helps children understand what triggers their anger and what they can do to calm themselves. Create a cloud on a white piece of paper, have the child say or write something that makes them angry or upset. Make raindrops around the cloud listing what activities make them calmer and lightning bolts listing things that could make them angry.
28: Hands Free Painting
Does your child hate to get his hands messy? Place some paint in a gallon size Ziploc baggie and tape it to the table or a window to “paint” and make colorful pictures. Using their index finger they can draw shapes or designs without ever touching the paint.
29: Growing Caterpillar
Make a caterpillar out of construction paper circles with the first circle being the head. For fun you can add eyes and pipe cleaner antennas. With your child make a list of foods they already like to eat, writing each one on a circle and making the caterpillar grow. Each time they add a new food to their diet the caterpillar gets to grow again.
30: Bubble Foam
Mix 2 parts water to 1 part bubble bath. To make rainbow bubble foam add a little food coloring then whip it with a hand mixer on med-high for one minute. Allow the child to play with their hands in the foam. Hide different animals or objects in the foam and have the child search for them. You can also use dish soap or laundry detergent instead of bubble bath