By: Laura Donatello, PT, DPT
Update: With a stay-at-home order for all of Illinois in effect, I know parents and caregivers could use some ideas for energetic children more than ever. I updated my previous blog with some new ideas.
I know it is hard to balance the need for work and for child care at the same time, so just know you are doing your best!
This total body strengthening activity targets shoulder stability as a child pushes an object at or below shoulder height with straight arms, core to change direction, and lower extremities to power forward.
Push/Pull Activity Ideas:
- Hide some of your child’s favorite toys in a large open room. Have your child push a laundry basket around the room, and fill up the cart with toys. You can place toys at various heights, encouraging your child to stand on their toes, climb a couch cushion, or squat down to retrieve a toy. Pay attention to the type of flooring in the room. When using a plastic laundry basket, carpet will generally be more challenging to push against, and hardwood/tile will be easier.
- Have a race to see how fast he/she can push the basket to the end of the hall to retrieve a toy, and back. Races can be against siblings or parents, or be in the form of a relay race.
- Tie a string to the basket to make this a pulling activity.
The possibilities are endless with obstacle courses. You can encourage your child to help create, set up, and clean up the course. Maybe incorporate your child’s favorite play scheme; he/she has to navigate the course to place a puzzle piece in the puzzle, feed their favorite doll, or animal. You can add multiple activities together, or just focus on a few. There are many gross motor skills that can be incorporated such as walking, jumping, balancing on one foot, and hopping.
Obstacle Course Ideas
- Lay out couch cushions on the floor for your child to step on, jump over, or climb through. Maybe even jump from cushion to cushion.
- Navigate a hopscotch course made out of tape on the floor. This can be modified into many different patterns such as a few boxes in a row, column, diagonal, or in a traditional hopscotch pattern. Your child can walk, jump, or hop from square to square.
- Crawl or squat under a string tied across two chairs.
- Walk on a bubble wrap road, walk across a taped line, or both!
- Crumple up old newspapers and grab a laundry basket to play newspaper basketball. For a balance challenge, have your child stand on a cushion or one leg to make a basket.
- Cut a pool noodle into 26 pieces, put a letter of the alphabet on each piece and grab some string. Kids can practice putting words together, squat to pick up a piece, and go up on their toes to thread the noodle through the string.
Color Under the Table
Color Under the Table
Tape a piece of paper or coloring book to the underside of a kid’s table. Your child can color up from laying on the floor to work on strengthening their shoulder and trunk muscles!
Create a six-sided dice out of cardboard and tape. On each side draw or print out a picture of a different activity such as clapping, jumping jacks, running in place, jumping, heel raises, and dancing. You can also create another dice with numbers on each side to determine how many times or seconds to complete an activity for.
- Cosmic Kids Yoga is a website, app, and free YouTube channel where a narrator demonstrates popular yoga poses in the form of stories. Kids can follow along with the instructor on the screen as they narrate their favorite stories or movies in the form of yoga poses. You can access a free 2 week trial if you download the app, or type in “Cosmic Kids Yoga” into the YouTube search bar to access free videos!
- Go Noodle is another great free online resource to get kids moving! The website is full of videos including dance parties, yoga sessions, and games. The resources span a variety of ages, abilities, interests, and can be interactive to include siblings. Access Go Noodle for Families website through the link.
10 Popular Toys on Amazon Under $20
Here are some of my favorite entertaining, therapeutic toys used with a variety of ages.
- Beads are a great multi use toy you can take practically anywhere with your imagination.
- Bubbles are another perfect activity to incorporate into obstacle courses, pop in a variety of positions such as sitting or standing, or work on blowing them to control your breath. “Fubbles” are a personal favorite because they don’t spill.
- Paint in a Bag is a great sensory activity. Grab your favorite paint colors and squeeze them into a zip lock bag. Tape the bag to a table or the floor and watch your child be entertained with pushing the colors around.
- Spinning Toy is a fun way to work on gross motor and fine motor to spin the gears around the pipe.
- Pop Tubes are a fun, noise making, resistance toy your child can practice pulling in a variety of positions.
- Zoom Ball is a partner game to propel the ball along the string by moving your arms. It’s a great shoulder exercise even adults can feel the burn from!
- Squigz are little suckers that stick to a variety of surfaces. They’re great for sticking on mirrors and pulling off against resistance. The company Fat Brain Toys also makes Whirly Squigz that spin.
- Get ready to make cookies with the Melissa and Doug Slice and Bake Cookie Set. This pretend play set is the perfect toy for obstacle courses. The cookies come on a Velcro tray making this toy the perfect resistance activity. The frosting also Velcros to the cookie. Hide the cookies in an obstacle course or navigate over couch cushions to put the cookie on the tray.
- Top Bright Bird Feeding Game is a great fine motor activity. Play this game laying down on your side to use different muscles to feed the bird!
- Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog is another great fine motor toy to pull his spikes out and push them back in.
Whatever activity you choose, be sure to have fun with it!
For more information on Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley services, visit eastersealsdfvr.org.