With quarantine, the time we spend at home has certainly increased, and as such we have all needed to get more creative when coming up with ideas to keep children entertained. But why not do that while also developing new skills? With that in mind, we’ve create a list of at home activities to give you some ideas.
Working on sensory skills? Sensory bins are a great and easy way to do so at home! Simply gather a number of household items in a large plastic container and have your child play with the contents for some tactile input – include things such as cotton balls, uncooked rice or beans, shredded paper, coins, small toys, and whatever else you can think of!
You can also try having them make play dough, which is not only fun but also targets several skills, including their ability to follow directions and their vision, and may even serve as a way to emotionally regulate. To make it, combine 1 cup fine salt and 1 cup flour in a bowl, mix well, then add ½ cup water and knead until smooth – feel free to add food colorant for added fun, but make sure to wear gloves if you do.
Another fun possibility is playing Simon says – it can help target a number of skills, such as body awareness (jump 5 times), deep pressure (crawling through a small space or lycra tunnel), and even social skills (by having them direct you). Still looking for ideas? We have a list of 50 fine motor activities that can be done at home.
If you’re looking to work on some gross motor activities for physical therapy, look no further than daily household items such as couch cushions, pillows, towels and blankets, all of which can function as a mini gym when put together. Cushions and pillows can work as crash/foam pads, or be used for balance; towels and blankets, if not sliding, can work for paths, as a balance beam (when rolled) or stepping stones (when folded).
Using soft things ensures safety, because children bounce and fall, but also challenges their balance when standing on them. You can also help them practice a whole lot of skills by having them build their own obstacle course (teach them how to roll and/or fold the blanket, lay it flat or make it a triangle, for example). Another great option are animal walks (bear, penguin, cat, crab, snake, or you can pick your favorite animal and make one up)!
When practicing speech, you can try playing the alphabet game, but instead of moving through letters try focusing on a target sound and taking turns coming up with words that have start with it until one of you runs out of ideas (for example, when practicing /k/, you could say “cat”, “kite”, cookie, and so on).
Picture scavenger hunts are another fun idea – go through the house taking photos of things that start with your target sound, review them later (set a timer if you feel like It). You can even offer them a prize for saying the words clearly. Similarly, you could play flashlight hide and seek. If you have reading age children, tape up words around the house, then turn the lights off – have your child run around with a flashlight trying to find them, and read them aloud when they do.
Want to use that play dough you made before? Try picking words from a jar, then shape the dough into whatever you picked and have your child (or yourself, if it’s their turn) guess what it is – bonus points for using the words in a phrase after guessing.
You can also simply work on imitation (for words or phrases) and break it up with something fun, like blowing bubbles, playing with building blocks or puzzles, or even having you jump every time they practice their skill to see how many times they can make you do it in a certain time frame.
Looking to wind down after all that fun? Try having some snuggle time with books – pick books with pictures or words that start with the sound you’re working on, then have them either listen as you say them clearly or attempt to repeat after you.
If you have any tried and true at home activities that double up as therapy practice, feel free to share them with other parents in the comments below!