Tent and Tunnel City

Create as many tunnels as possible to create an enclosed world to explore. Take fabric tunnels that can be bought at the store and connect them to more tunnels that you make yourself. You can make tents and tunnels by using sheets connected to the couches, large boxes with one or both ends opened. Set the tunnels up in a confined space so that they are not tempted to run around the tunnels, but are made to crawl through the tunnels. Explain and demonstrate how to crawl through the tunnels and tents. Use animals or cars as enticements to crawl through the tunnel to get the toy. Many teachers and parents have found that their child has increased attention inside the confined space of a tunnel.

Tricycle/Bicycle Course

Create a fun obstacle course for your children to make their way through. You can create a series of activities such as a pretend gas station, mailbox to mail letters, stopping at the grocery store for groceries. You can create obstacles with cones, the laundry basket, tires, etc. You can also create a pathway and direction for them to go through using tape to outline the pathway. Make sure that you make it clear that there is one particular area that the children get on and off the tricycles.  You can vary this activity by creating the mail to put in the mailbox before starting tricycle obstacle course (mail paper snowflakes, mail envelopes with numbers and letters, mail index cards with stickers on them). This activity helps work on your child’s sense of direction, following multi-step directions, leg strength pedaling and visual motor skills following the pathway.

Matching Hearts

Cut out hearts in a variety of sizes and colors and then cut them in half. You may want to laminate the hearts for increased durability. Put half of the hearts up on the wall and then the other half on the other side of the room. Put sticky tape or velcro on the back of the heart so that it can stick to the wall. Direct your child to take half of the heart and then find the matching half on the wall, sticking it to the wall. You can increase the difficulty of the task by adding gross motor exercises and following directions by saying, “Get the red heart and jump like a kangaroo all the way to the wall and then find it’s match”, or “Grab a little heart and gallop all of the way to the wall and find the matching heart”. If the child makes incorrect matches encourage them to keep trying with words like “Good trying, how about this match instead?” and demonstrate for them the correct match. You can also use this activity to put apples on the tree, facial features on the face, animals in the forest, berries in the garden, etc.

Bubble World

Get a bowl full of bubble mixture, a bubble wand, and a fan. Instruct kids on what you want them to work on. For example: clap the bubbles, pop with your pointer finger, follow the bubble with your eyes only, grab at the bubbles. Try putting on fun, upbeat music and see the pace of the children change with the music as they pop the bubbles. This game will help your child work on bilateral coordination if you have them clap, finger isolation if you have them use their pointer finger, and visual motor skills if you have them track the bubbles with their eyes. Also fun to do outside in the yard, barefoot to encourage tactile input by stepping on the grass.

Learn to Listen with Stop and Go

Help your child learn to listen by playing Stop and Go with music. When the music is playing the child moves around dancing, walking on tip toes, galloping, etc. When the music stops they have to stop their body and freeze. You can have them stop and stand in place or stop and sit on the ground. Vary the game by changing what they do when they are moving (wiggling lik a worm,frog hops, walk backward) and what they do when they sit (sit, lay on your tummy, sit on your hands)

Body Awareness Sticker Game

Help your child identify their body parts! Have your child lay on a large sheet of paper, larger than themselves.  Trace around the child’s body so that you can see the outline of the body including head, arms, hands, legs, feet, and torso. Draw a face including eyes, nose, and mouth into facial area. Tape the paper outline of the child’s body to the wall. Seat child in front of paper and give them a sticker one at a time while asking them to put the sticker on a specific body part. For example, “put the sticker on the nose”. You can make the activity more challenging by giving more directions such as, “hop on one foot and put a sticker on the arm body part”. You can continue this activity until the figure is covered in stickers. You can use a different variety of stickers and use fun movements in between getting the sticker and getting to the paper such as crawling, rolling, walking on tip toes, stomping. Adapt by having the child put stickers on their own body parts, on body parts of stuffed animal, or on body parts of small drawing of person.

Hide and Seek

Choose a theme such as cars or animals. Children will move around the room and pick up  plastic cones or cntainers to find hidden items. Tell or show the child what item or category (ex. animals) you want them to find. You can also make picture cards with the hidden items on them. Make the game more sensory and have the child crawl, jump, hop, or roll around the room to find the items.

What do OT’s look for when they say that they are looking at sensory information?

  • Tactile input informs the brain about touch, pressure, vibration, pain, and temperature. The tactile system consists of a protective or defensive mechanism to protect the body from harmful stimuli and a discriminative mechanism which provides the brain with localized, precise information which facilitate the ability to recognize and differentiate qualities such as size, shape, texture, density, and temperature of objects without visual input.
  • Vestibular input informs the brain about head and body position in relation to gravity, balance, and accelerated and decelerated movement. Vestibular information tells the brain where one is in relation to the surface of the earth, if one is still or moving, the speed at which one is moving, and the direction in which one is moving. An efficient system provides an individual with adequate muscle tone, gravitational security, postural control, balance, motor planning, automatic, smooth and coordinated movement, bilateral coordination, visual-spatial processing, and emotional security.
  • Proprioceptive input informs the brain about body position and movement. It tells the brain if, when, and how the joints are flexing, extending, pulling, or being compressed. An efficient system provides an individual with a physical sense of self (body awareness), which is the foundation for the psychological sense of self-awareness. Proprioception promotes motor control, motor planning, quality of movement, and economy of movement.