What are some ways to encourage your child’s development of skills outside of therapy? The following is a list of activities and games to help develop strength, coordination, social skills, and so much more.
Bilateral coordination is a skill that requires using both sides of the body at the same time in a controlled and organized manner. Difficulty with bilateral coordination may lead to difficulty with playing on the playground (i.e. difficulty climbing or running) and difficulty completing dressing tasks (i.e. putting on shirts or pants or buttoning and zipping up clothing). The following activities can help boost your child’s bilateral coordination skills:
Bear crawls, crab walks, frog jumps
Start marching in place. When your left knee is raised, use your right hand to touch your left knee. When your right knee is raised, use your left hand to touch your right knee. Now continue marching.
Playing Twister, Simon Says, or the Hokey Pokey are great for increasing body awareness as well as following directions
Climbing up and down playground equipment
Carrying grocery bags, throwing items into the trash, washing dishes, brushing hair, brushing teeth, and cleaning a table are all great for bilateral coordination as well as helping your child be more independent!
Sports (basketball, baseball, soccer, gymnastics, karate, cheerleading wrestling, etc.) will always be a great way to address bilateral coordination and strength
All of these activities are great for coordinating upper body and lower body movements, increasing body awareness, and strengthening the core, arm, and leg muscles. Make these fun by racing against a friend or use a few of these to create an obstacle course!
Visual motor integration, also known as hand eye coordination, is the ability to use our hands and eyes in a coordinated way. This skill helps us to write our name within lines, catch a ball, button buttons, or solve puzzles. Some activities that can help build your child’s visual motor integration skills include:
Catching and throwing (or playing hot potato)
If catching is hard, try starting at a very close distance, use a large ball, or use a balloon to increase processing time
Inset or jigsaw puzzles
Stringing beads or noodles to make a necklace
Scooping rice, sand, or beans into another container
Using stickers to “trace” letters of name
Lacing a shoe
Cutting out shapes
Folding paper to make a hat, boat, plane, etc.
Toys such as Legos, Lincoln logs, pop beads, mega blocks, and marble run
Messy play is great for children that may have difficulties with processing sensory information.
Some children may dislike certain foods or textures on their hands. It is important to never force these things onto children, but to expose children to new textures through play. Here are a few ways to engage in sensory play:
Play with a preferred toy in an unfamiliar food or texture (i.e. mashed potatoes, apple sauce, sand, shaving cream)
Draw pictures in or with shaving cream, paint, or sand
Create “sensory bins” with one type of texture (i.e. beans
Lastly, there are also several great games that help children work on social skills and interactions with peers. These games help to target turn-taking, sharing, socializing appropriately, and sportsmanship (losing or winning gracefully).
Board games such as Candy Land, Life, Chutes and Ladders, or Monopoly leave all things to chance and give each player an equal chance of winning or losing
HEDBANZ is a fun game where the players take turns asking one question each to guess what animal, food, or object is on their head
Pop the pig is a great game to address turn taking as well as color and number recognition
Red light/green light is a great way for children to work on impulse control and following directions