10 at-home occupational therapy activities that can make a difference

While summer plans might look different due to COVID-19 this year, it's important that children still engage in simple activities that promote developmental milestones. Help your child work on fine motor skills and improve core strength. Encourage messy play.

Lurie Children's Occupational Therapists provide a list of therapeutic activities that will promote your child's independence and also help them develop life skills.

• Incorporate regular and frequent movement breaks: This can look different based on the age of the child, but some examples include log rolling, bear crawling, jumping up and down on a trampoline, and swinging.

• Create a letter bead necklace: For this activity, have your child find the letters of his or her name on letter beads. Hide their selected letter beads in Play-Doh and so they can work on finding them. Once they find all the beads, they can create a necklace!

• Find the cotton ball: Place cotton balls within a whisk, and have your child pull them out from between the wire loops. This activity can help promote fine motor skills and visual perception skills.

• Clean the windows: Fill a spray bottle with water and have them "clean" the windows! They can also spray a sponge with a spray bottle and then practice wringing out the sponge. Encourage your child to change their positions often - switching between standing, sitting and kneeling.

• Create a window decoration: You can create a fun decoration while your child can practice cutting simple shapes! With adult supervision, you can use a hole punch to punch holes along the perimeter and lace the shape to create a window decoration.

• Play "Row, Row, Row Your Boat": Have your child sit on the floor, facing either the adult or another child, each holding onto one end of a jump rope or onto each other's wrists. As both sing the song, one person leans back as the other leans forward and then the opposite, similar to a seesaw motion.

• Practice a kangaroo kick: To practice, you will need a large therapy ball or a similar-sized bouncy ball. Have your child lie on his or her back with two feet in the air, forearms resting on the surface. You can throw a large therapy ball toward the child's feet, encouraging him or her to kick the ball upward and back toward you.

• Play indoor limbo: Limbo isn't just a party game! Use items around your house, like a broom between two chairs, to play a round of limbo. Make sure your child leans backward in walking under the stick to ensure he or she is using the core abdominal muscles.

• Create a papier-mache pinata: To create a papier-mache pinata, dip strips of newspaper into a papier-mache flour/water mixture and place them on an inflated balloon. Cover the entire surface except for a small opening at the top and leave it to harden for at least 24 hours. Once it's dry, use the small opening at the top for popping the balloon. Paint and decorate the pinata, and fill with candy for a fun surprise!

• Make your own Play-Doh: Making play dough is not only enjoyable for kids, but it also addresses many important skills. Mix flour, water, salt, food coloring and vegetable oil together. Have your child participate in mixing using his or her fingers or a spoon. If your child does not like the feeling of touching the material, allow him to use a utensil, like a spoon, to help stir. Reassure the child by showing her it is safe to touch the messy items and keep a towel nearby to allow the child to wipe his or her own hands.

• Children's health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. To check out more information, please visit

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