Spring is officially here and the warmer weather has all of us itching to get outside! There are lots of skills to be worked on while enjoying the great outdoors. Think like a therapist and get the most out of your play with these fun ideas:
This classic game is perfect for working on counting, turn-taking, jumping on one foot and motor planning! It is also easy to change the rules to meet your child’s goals. For example, instead of numbers, you could write target words in each square to sneak some articulation practice in.
Speaking of hopscotch, sidewalk chalk opens endless possibilities to work on fine motor skills, visual motor skills, copying pictures, letter formation and arm strength. Kids can choose fun colors and when the work is done, they can spray away the chalk with a hose!
Tossing a ball back and forth actually takes a lot of hand-eye coordination and core stability. Take your game up a notch by asking your child to name items in a category while you play.
Look no further than your local playground to give your child a comprehensive workout! Monkey bars and other climbing equipment allow children to increase strength, coordination, and balance. Swings offer sensory input which can be organizing and have a calming effect for later in the day.
Core stability is key for riding scooters and bikes. Additionally, riding toys strengthen bilateral coordination and visual motor skills. Learning to ride a bike also let’s children learn to follow important social rules.
Nature is filled with so many different textures and colors. Take a walk through a nature center or even around your own neighborhood and see what you can find. Expand vocabulary by describing how things look and feel, or practice observation skills by playing a game of “I Spy” as you walk.
If you think about it, working in the garden is a total sensory-motor experience! Dig, scoop, pinch, pull and pat. Don’t be afraid to get dirty! 🙂
Learning games with rules is an important life skill. I especially like Freeze Tag because it allows children to practice keeping their bodies in control, following auditory directions, and tolerating frustration.
A lemonade stand is an awesome way to help your child practice conversation and social skills! Plus, making lemonade (or another easy treat) is a great way to work on following directions.
Bubbles never get old- no matter what age you are! Practice those oral motor skills by having a bubble blowing contest, or practice gross motor skills by jumping to pop the bubbles!
Don’t let a rainy day stand in your way of having fun! Jumping in puddles and feeling the rain fall can be an amazing sensory experience.
Did you know that research shows that just 15 minutes of outdoor time can improve a child’s behavior for the entire day? Outdoor play has also been shown positively impact attention and social-emotional stability. And guess what- the same applies to us adults too! Access to nature has been linked to improved mood, mental acuity and energy levels. So make it a priority to tuck the screens away and get your family outside as much as possible. Happy Spring!
-Elizabeth Clark McKenzie, MS, CCC-SLP