By: Laura Bueche, Occupational Therapist
Oh the weather outside is frightful, and we are going crazy indoors. Just because there is snow and ice on the ground, does not mean your child’s arousal level is any lower. On the contrary, it’s probably reaching a boiling point and you are looking for ways to get your kids the sensory stimulation and gross motor activity their little bodies are craving.
Getting your kids up and moving has a lot of benefits. The Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that children and adolescents engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days of the week, preferably daily. As an occupational therapist, I love physical activity because of the regulating aspects of proprioceptive input*, as well as development of coordination skills and strengthening opportunities.
*Proprioceptive input are sensations from joints, muscles and connective tissues that underlie body awareness. Input can be obtained by lifting, pushing, and pulling heavy objects, including one’s own weight. For example, climbing on a jungle gym, swinging across monkey bars, or pulling a wagon.
Why is it helpful? Providing your child with more proprioceptive input throughout the day can help them:
- Tolerate sensations and situations that are challenging
- Regulate emotions, alertness and increase attention span
- Reduce unwanted sensory seeking and sensory avoiding behaviors
- Handle transitions with less stress (sensorysmarts.com)
For more information about sensory processing check out the post, How Sensitive is Too Sensitive?
In these bitter winter months, it is difficult to get your kids the physical
activity they need. Here are just a few ideas for indoor activities to give you and your family a much-needed break from being stuck at home.
Ideas for Local Indoor Activities
- Rock climb at Vertical Endeavors, Glendale Heights
- Roller Skate at Lombard Roller Rink
- Go bowling at Pinstripes, Oak Brook
- Jump around at SkyZone, Elmhurst
- Climb and jump at Pump it Up, Elmhurst
- Swim at Grizzly Jack’s Indoor Water Park, Itasca
- Climb around the tubes at Enchanted Castle, Lombard
- Play basketball and climb at Monkey Island, Melrose Park
- Yoga for kids and teens at Elmhurst Yoga Shala
- Gymnastics during open gym at Gym Stars ETC, Addison
- Crash and Climb at Naperville Ball Factory
- Ice Skate at Seven Bridges Ice Arena, Woodridge
- Laser Tag at Laser Quest, Lombard
- Youth Basketball at Centre of Elgin
Ideas if You Can’t Leave the House
There is a crazy blizzard outside, what can I do with what I have at home? Here are some ideas to get kids some movement breaks when stuck indoors:
- Build a furniture fort by pushing and pulling furniture and cushions from around the house.
- Make an obstacle course by army crawling, jumping and doing jumping jacks to get to the finish line in record time.
- The floor is hot lava! We all know this favorite.
- Animal walk relay races: bear walk, crab walk, wheelbarrow, and penguin waddle across the room to roll the die of a board game or get stickers for a craft project.
- Jump and crash into a pillow pile or onto the bed.
- Jump rope with rhymes and songs.
- Squeeze, squish, and smash Play-Doh.
- Use a scooter, tricycle, or scooter board to propel through the house.
- Squish your kids in a pillow pile; making sandwiches.
- Swing your toddler in a blanket between you and another adult.
- Push a vacuum or mop, collect the garbage, wipe down the table, load the laundry, and push the laundry basket.