The early stages of a child’s life are some of the most impactful years, especially for development. Studies show that most American children typically spend up to seven hours a day in front of a screen, which causes a child to be inactive for a huge part of their day. Encouraging purpose-driven play with children can help build their developmental learning and tune up those fine motor skills. HOOT for Kids gives a few fun and exciting ways on how to put a purpose behind everyday playtime activities.
Activities such as pushing, pulling, jump roping, climbing and ball skills strengthen the large muscle groups. Build an obstacle course, grab a ball or see who can jump the highest on a trampoline. Active play challenges balance and coordination, improves strength and endurance and allows your child to develop body awareness. So grab a ball, Hula Hoop and a Frisbee and head outdoors!
Follow that Light!
Parents can bring a new meaning to the game of tag by turning down the lights and playing flashlight tag! Turn the lights down and shine a flashlight at the wall in a random pattern by moving the light up and down, side to side and in loops. This fun activity encourages eye-tracking skills by following the light as it moves in all different directions. The older child will enjoy trying the same activity without moving their head as they follow that light.
These fun games help strengthen lips and promote awareness of the face. Activities such as blowing through a straw to see if your child can move a small piece of tissue forward, blow bubbles or play an imitative game of “Do what I do” with your tongue in front of a mirror: “stick out your tongue,” “move it side to side” and “all around the lips.” Bring out a variety of horns, whistles and harmonicas. Older children can learn to whistle and blow up balloons.
Get Messy with Playdough
Get messy and stock up on the playdough! Children can strengthen fine motor muscles while having fun. Use dry stamps to press in dough or push in small pegs for them to discover and retrieve. The older child will enjoy rolling it out with both hands to resemble a snake and cutting it into small pieces by snipping. This also provides valuable sensory input and sparks creativity for pretend play.
Not only is purposeful play instrumental in early child development, but it also gives them ways to stay active and creative. For more ways to incorporate purposeful play, be sure to follow HOOT for Kids on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Now get out there and have some fun!
Lisa Cummings OTR/L
Director of Fun, Co-Founder & Mother of Four
Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Sensory Integration and Praxis Test Certified (SIPT)
Each HOOT for Kids blog represents our point of view but should not replace diagnosis and treatment from your own doctor or therapist.