By: Meghan Davidson-Palmer, M.S., OTR/L ~ Child and Family Development
Keeping kids occupied during quarantine can be challenging, but it can also be an opportunity to mix things up and try some fun new activities. See the list below for some of my favorite activities. These activities provide sensory input which is important to add into daily routines to help break up more structured, demanding activities such as school work. These activities also address a variety of other skills, including fine and visual motor skills, coordination and motor planning. I recommend starting small by trying to incorporate one new activity a day.
Play-doh®: Provides tactile input while also working on fine motor skills
– Roll out with a rolling pin, then use cookie cutters to make shapes.
– Mold play dough into different shapes.
– Hide small toys or beads in the play dough for kids to find (you can also do this with therapy putty for additional resistance for hand and finger strengthening).
– Make your own playdough! There are several homemade playdough recipes out there, many of which require only water, flour and salt (some also add oil): Here is one. If you’re looking for something that is closer to Play-doh®, try this recipe (it has a few more ingredients and steps but should last longer).
Sensory bins: Fill bins or buckets with dried beans, rice, pasta or kinetic sand (you can use anything really!)
– Children can explore the bins with their hands for tactile input.
– You can play I Spy with the toys/objects hidden in the bin to address visual perceptual skills.
– Use tweezers or tongs to pull out the hidden objects for fine motor strengthening.
– Hide letter or number magnets in the sensory bins to work on letter and number recognition.
Obstacle courses: These are a fun way to work on coordination, balance and motor planning using items found around the house. Add stations to build in fine and visual motor skills (e.g., pick up a crayon/puzzle piece at one station and color a picture/add to the puzzle at another).
Animal walks: These are a great way to provide sensory input and work on gross motor coordination, balance and core strength at the same time. Examples include bear walks, frog jumps, bunny hops, and lizard crawls (just to name a few). If you search for animal walks for kids online, other ideas will pop up. www.toolstogrowot.com has some great resources for animal walks as well.
Scavenger hunts- Hide toys, letters, pictures, etc. around the house or backyard to address visual memory, visual scanning, working memory, and attention.
Keeping a routine is especially important during quarantine to help provide structure and a sense of normalcy. Visual schedules can be very helpful with this. This can be especially helpful for children who have difficulty transitioning between different activities. Having something familiar and predictable can be calming during this crazy time. www.teacherspayteachers.com has some great visual schedule resources (as well as a ton of other great resources – I recommend checking them out!)
Tools to Grow OT: this website has some great resources. You need to subscribe to have access to all resources but there are a ton of great free resources too! If you’re not already familiar with this website I highly recommend you check it out!
OT Plan is another good resource- it offers activity ideas based on the skill area you select and the materials you select.
Meghan Davidson-Palmer is an Occupational Therapist at Child & Family Development. Just because families and clients may not be able to physically attend sessions in office, doesn’t mean that therapy has to stop! In fact, going without intervention for prolonged periods will delay progress and could lead to regression and further delays in acquisition in skills. Our Occupational Therapists at Child & Family Development are ready and excited to provide Virtual Office Visits to clients to make sure they stay on track and continue to build foundational skills! Contact our office to get started today.
Child & Family Development
11940 Carolina Place Parkway, Suite 200
Charlotte, NC 28134