Christmas time is hectic and busy for grown-ups but our children can become bored quickly when on holiday break. I encourage my clients and my own children to limit screen time and be creative. Children of all ages learn skills through engaging in play. When children are not asleep they are learning about their environment through various play activities. Completing the tasks of building blocks, working a puzzle, and drawing pictures will yield skills and build connections in the brain that the child will use throughout his lifetime. This year I’d love to help you with activities that fill fun and functional requirements for your child.
We created BORED cards to help you immediately….just download, print, laminate and cut! Awesome OT approved activities right at your fingertips!
1) Practically every home has Legos or a set of Tinker Toys. Create models for your children and ask them to duplicate your creations. You can provide complex models or simple ones for younger children. Using the hands and eyes together involves visual-motor skills. They are important for everything from writing to self-care tasks. This task can be switched so that children create models for parents to follow. PS: They now sell PINK building blocks for girls!
|My son’s tree creation!
2) Pool noodles are commonly found at dollar stores and are super cheap. Their possibilities are endless. Children can jump over them as part of an obstacle course. They can be cut in half and taped or velcroed to the wall. Kids can create a water maze by arranging the position of the noodles on the wall. Another use for them is as limbo poles if they are help up either by chairs or older friends. Kids can either play limbo with them OR crawl under them in the quadruped (crawling) position. This helps to build core muscle strength which will later be used for completing school tasks seated at the desk. Also, cut in half, pool noodles can be used as balance beams for young kids. Walk in bare feet to make this task easier.
3) The feel and ID game is one of my favorites! You can buy one OR create your own. Grab any two items in your home that are the same and add one of each to a paper bag. Place the second set in a line in front of your child. Ask her to feel the items in the bag and using only her hands to feel, find the matches. This skill called “Stereognosis” is valuable. This is the ability to perceive and identify objects by using only the sense of touch. It’s the same one we use when we reach into our purse to feel for our lipstick or wallet!
|Match items I found in our home.
4) Remember that heavy work is calming. Include activities and chores such as moving chairs, picking up and placing dirty clothes into a basket and carrying the loaded basket into the laundry room, or vacuuming. They are great ways to encourage children to help to prepare for the party. Using a push broom is great for older children as they sweep up snow or fallen leaves to clear a path for holiday guests.
5) Punch holes into Holiday cards with a one-hole punch. Here’s an example of one to purchase for older children. Gather up ribbon, string, or twine and lace the holes. The results can be quite pretty and could be given as gifts to family and friends! When children use their hands together (bilateral integration), they build skills used throughout their lifetime. Additionally, while holding the string, kids refine fine motor skills. For additional fine motor work, use red and white pipe cleaners/chenille stems and show kids how to twist them together to create candy canes! Make an example for them and watch them fall in love with this activity!
6) Create Geoboards out of golf tees, sticks, small pencils, and hair-pins. Use Styrofoam as the base and encourage kids to pound or use hand muscles to push the items into the board. Now, add colorful rubber bands to create shapes such as stars, polygons, and more! Use colored bands for more interest. We had all of these items in our home and didn’t have to purchase a thing!
|Geoboards from Amazon
7) Use paper, pillows, small tents, boxes to create a sensory hideout! Often children feel overwhelmed during the holidays and busy times. Add pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals to give kids the cozy feeling. Adding Lycra fabric in which kids can roll up and wrap themselves in adds awesome proprioceptive input. My kids love having a flashlight in their cozy space.
BINGO is a great game for kids of all ages! Here’s a link to free Christmas BINGO printables from our friends at Gift of Curiosity. We use Christmas colored Pom Poms, holiday themed erasers, colored blocks, even M&Ms! The game of BINGO is great for building social skills, active listening, fine motor, and visual-perceptual to search the card and find the desired picture.
With a little creativity, many activities can be fun and therapeutic! Be creative and use objects found in your own home or at the dollar store to keep the budget low. Play with your child and the memories you make together will last a lifetime!
Parents……be sure to purchase The Pocket Occupational Therapist for Caregivers which contains info on dressing, bathing, SPD, fine/gross motor skills OR the Special Needs SCHOOL Survival Gui
de which contains everything school-related (IEP/504 plans, accommodations, ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD) to read if you have time off for the holidays! You won’t be sorry. Both books are PACKED with information and creative ideas to help your child in daily live, with tantrums/behavior, school help, and SPD explanations and tips