By: Stephanie Harrison Cruz, OTR/L – SER of Puerto Rico, Ponce
Due to the current situation that the world is experiencing, we are called to stay in our homes to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Due to this, most of us have had to adapt to a different work, academic and social reality. Despite the quarantine, we are encouraged to, as far as possible, continue with our activities of daily life, roles and routines, all in the same environment, our home. Parents and children around the world have suddenly found themselves in a new situation where outdoor entertainment options, such as parks, cinemas and/or museums, are reduced. With limited options for outdoor activities, some parents may be concerned about how they will be able to keep their children occupied educationally and recreationally while in lockdown. Staying busy is essential for people's health and rehabilitation. Therefore, as an Occupational Therapist in the pediatric area, I would like to share with you a list of fun activities that can be carried out at home to promote the skills of children during this period.
fine motor activities
- Use the clay to make small balls with your fingers. Then pick up the balls with tweezers or fingers and place them in containers (eg cupcake papers). You can challenge the activity by using a variety of colors to match colors.
- Use dry pasta (macaroni) to make necklaces with thread or shoelaces. In addition to promoting fine motor skills, this activity also encourages the use of both hands.
- Color figures of different sizes. You can stick the paper on the wall and in this way you work on the strength and movement of the arms. You can also use crayons of different thicknesses and sizes to promote proper grip.
- Cut out lines, shapes and pictures of animals and paste them on paper. 3-year-olds can usually snip back and forth, but not continuously. 4-year-olds can usually cut out straight lines, curves, and circles. From the age of 5 onwards they can, as a general rule, cut out squares, triangles and figures. During this activity, the father/mother is encouraged to guide the child manually and provide the necessary assistance for safe handling of the scissors.
- Paint using brushes or hands with non-toxic paints. Painting is an excellent visual-motor activity which encourages creativity and in turn fine motor skills.
- Use a hole punch to make drawings or geometric shapes. This activity helps increase the muscle strength of the hands. Provide a paper with a variety of traced shapes and ask the child to make holes following the linear patterns.
- Card games promote hand muscle skills, especially when turning cards, shuffling them, and dealing them.
- Travel version board games (“travel games”) have smaller pieces which help to mature prehensile grasp pattern skills.
- Place coins inside piggy banks or in containers that have the appropriate opening. This activity helps in the development of manipulation of small objects.
broad motor activities
- Throw balls into laundry baskets. You can modify the activity by color coding the baskets and telling the child which basket to shoot at. This way you not only promote hand-eye coordination skills, but also encourage color identification.
- Play ball kick. You can change the activity by placing a target point on the wall. This activity encourages foot-eye coordination.
- Perform simple choreography to encourage awareness of body parts and following postural commands.
- Use a broomstick and place it vertically at an appropriate height to encourage the child to walk under it by bending backwards. This activity (limbo) helps to strengthen the abdominals.
- Place large letters or figures on the ground and tell the child which one to jump to. Encourage him to jump on both feet and then on one foot. This activity will help you develop balance.
- Do a simple routine that promotes exercises like wall push-ups, jumping jacks, wheelbarrow walking, and sit-ups.
With these examples we can see that there are countless activities that parents can do with their children at home. I encourage you to look for ideas and modify them according to the needs of each child. Let's take advantage of this time to continue developing children's skills in a fun way at home while providing quality time.
Danto, A. & Pruzansky, M. (2016). 1001 Pediatric Treatment Activities: Creative Ideas for Therapy Sessions, Second Edition. Thorofare, NJ: SLACK Incorporated
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