When we’re away from school or work, we spend a lot of time at home. Home is a comfort zone for our kids, and there are several ways to incorporate and continue occupational therapy at home.
Therapy play does not require you to buy expensive toys and gadgets. There are several inexpensive, commonplace items and toys that you may already have in your home that your child can use in a multitude of ways to support child development skills such as strength, fine motor coordination, finger prehension and manipulation, and hand-eye coordination, to name a few.
Here are some ideas for using these objects for sensory, gross motor, and fine motor play.
· Push and hide beads and buttons and then find them.
· Use kitchen items such as forks, spoons, and potato mashers to squish and poke patterns into the dough.
· Push birthday candles or toothpicks into the dough.
· Roll into hot dogs and cut using a plastic knife.
· Roll into small grapes then squash them by pinching or smashing with isolated fingers.
· Use cookie cutters or shapes from toys around the house.
· Hide plastic toys within the beads in a bin for a treasure hunt.
· Use large kitchen spoons, bowls, cups, and measuring cups to practice scooping and pouring.
· Get messier by adding shaving cream in the bin with beads.
· For a less messy play approach, put some water beads in a balloon with a funnel for a squish ball.
· Challenge the core and prompt upper body movement and strength by reaching up while lying on the tummy, sitting on a stool, or standing on a large pillow cushion.
· Get into the hands and knees position or lay on tummy and encourage popping bubbles with alternating hands to build strength through the whole body.
· Use two hands together to clap and pop bubbles this way.
· Work on finger isolation to point and pop bubbles.
· Have older children blow and then try to catch a bubble on the wand.
· Play balloon volleyball using your hands.
· Start a game of balloon tennis by taping a ruler to a paper plate to be a tennis racket.
· Tie a balloon to a string and tape it up between a door frame for batting.
· Try catching a balloon in a mixing ball or, for more challenge, a plastic funnel.
· Peel and put stickers on body parts (cheek, nose, hand, for example) for your child to pull them off and put on a sheet of paper.
· Have your child peel and match stickers already on a page.
· Randomly place stickers on a paper. Practice coordination skills to scribble and color on top of the sticker. Older children can practice circling stickers.
· With Yard Sale stickers, draw shapes, letters, numbers on them. Draw the same shapes, letters, or numbers on paper. Have your child peel the sticker and put it on the matching item.
Squeezing Objects with Water Play
You can often find these common items in your home. Use food coloring to decorate water. Try mixing them up to create new colors. Also, throw them in the bathtub to mix up the fun.
· Water guns
· Squeezable water toys
· Turkey baster
· Medicine dropper
· Washcloth and sponges for wringing
-Lucy Lowe, MS, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist