An OT Minute- Fun Activities with Household Items to Support Your Child's Development
It’s Emily again with Growing Healthy Children. I’m back with another idea of how you and your child can play with simple items around the house to support foundation skills of development.
With these easy activities, you will be addressing many areas that will help your child in their daily lives and in school- all while having fun!
Today we are playing with playdoh! This is a classic and popular item for lots of kiddos, but “how is it therapeutic?”, you may ask- there are SO many ways this simple toy is beneficial, so let’s take a look together. I don’t know about your child, but my toddler loves to make pretend food with her playdoh. What a great life skill, right? Well, let’s see how making “food” with your child can also be developmentally supportive.
Let’s make pizza!!
When we think of making pizza, let’s consider the steps.
First, we have to roll out the pizza dough. Rolling requires bimanual skills- This is when we are using both of our hands at the same time. We can work on using both hands doing the same thing at the same time, such as rolling, pressing, or squeezing the dough.
Toppings- Here’s where we can have them roll small balls and pinch them to make pepperoni, cut up “veggies” with a plastic fork and knife, and spread the toppings over the pizza.
This requires more bimanual skills, with both hands working together, but doing different things at the same time. For example, one hand holds the dough, while the other hand cuts with scissors or a knife.
It also involves hand strengthening- Any time your child is squeezing, pulling, pinching, flattening, or pressing the dough they are working the muscles of the hands. Encourage them to use their index and thumb to pinch while the other fingers are tucked into their palm; this is called the pincer grasp and is a fundamental fine motor skill.
Finally, we also get crossing and working in midline- Midline refers to the center of the body, so we want to create opportunities for your child to work both in the middle of their body, and crossing over to the other side. Anytime you can incorporate reaching across the midline, you are helping your child integrate the two sides of their body.
Slice the pizza- Play is an excellent way to introduce cutting with a fork and knife in a way that is safer and playful. Encourage your child to use tools like scissors or fork/knife in front of their bodies with both hands.
Serve the pizza- Have the plates spread around the table so your child has to reach across to serve each slice.
Bonus: Sensory fun! All kiddos (and adults, for that matter!) have different preferences about what kinds of sensory input they enjoy. Any time we can find a playful way to experience our sensory world, we are more likely to enjoy the experience. Pay attention to your child’s reaction to feeling, seeing and even smelling the playdoh. If they aren’t sure about it, don’t force it. They may prefer to interact with it using a tool, such as utensils, sticks, tongs, anything really! Allow them to wipe their hands, cover up the item, or even move it aside. We want to respect their reaction and provide safe and playful ways to experience their world!
I hope that these ideas help you look at playdoh through a new lens. Get creative and see what your child comes up with on their own, follow their lead. Remember: If you’re having fun with your child, then you’re doing it right!
Be sure to check out the video that accompanies this blog on our YouTube Channel! Stay tuned for the next episode where we will discover all the wonders of CLOTHES PINS! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPQEhBU7i9c&t=10s