Starfish Therapies

May 5, 2015

Motor Groups and RTI

Motor Group

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month and Speech Language Literacy Lab has organized this blog hop with multiple professionals to discuss RTI.

Being a physical therapy provider in the school district does not always provide the opportunity to become involved in Response to Intervention (RTI).  We were lucky enough to be involved in with a school district that allowed us to get involved to help address the motor needs of children at the pre-school level.  We were finding that there were a lot of referrals to physical therapy because some kiddos were not at the same gross motor level as their peers.  While a lot of the teachers implemented gross motor time, they often felt unsure if what they were offering was optimal for the kids they had in their class.  We were able to go in and support them with gross motor groups in the classroom, where the teacher is actively involved and can ask questions about why we are doing different activities, how they can carry those activities over, what else we would recommend for common challenges they were noticing with their kids, and it allowed us to have eyes on all the kids and offer suggestions to the classroom as a whole if we noticed certain skills were at various levels of mastery for the kids.

What has been great with this is the teachers are feeling empowered and supported when they do motor groups every other day of the week that we are not there.  They also have a person to talk to for their questions about motor development and if something is concerning or not.  Most importantly it opens a line of communication between the teachers and us as the physical therapists.  My experience in the school system has been that if a service provider and the teacher and teaching staff can have great lines of communication, the children benefit even more.

Besides these benefits as a therapist and teacher, the students get one extra set of eyes on them as they move through a period of time in their life that is ripe with gross motor development.  At that age, play is where they do their learning and interacting with their peers that sets them up for each successive school year.  While it may not look important whether or not a kiddo is able to keep up with his peers in play, it is a critical part of each child’s development and by implementing structured motor groups, we are setting the teachers and the students up for success.

On a different note, in terms of actual physical therapy services provided for kids, we have found that it has cut down on the number of referrals that were occurring just because the teachers weren’t sure how to help the child.  For children like this we were finding that some education to the teaching staff on how to best support the child would make the difference and they were able to continue to progress with their peers.  The motor group allows us to be proactive in providing teaching staff this support so that the children benefit sooner!


Please be sure to check out the other blogs that have participated in the Blog Hop on RTI for May’s Better Hearing and Speech Month:

Here is The Schedule (Links may take you to the author’s site as opposed to directly to their blog since this post is being published at the beginning of the month):

5/1/2015 Kick Off to Better Hearing and Speech Month!

5/2/2015 RTI for the R sound! Badger State Speechy

5/3/2015 Response to Intervention in High School– A Journey from Abject Frustration to Collaboration and Student Success Stephen Charlton Guest blogs on Speech Language Literacy Lab

5/4/2015 Technology and RTI  Building Successful Lives Speech & Language

5/5/2015 Starfish Therapies

5/6/2015 Orton Gillingham Approach & RTI  Orton Gillingham Online Academy

5/7/2015 Evidenced-based writing that works for RTI & SPED SQWrite

5/8/2015 RTI/MTSS/SBLT…OMG!  Let’s Talk! with Whitneyslp

5/9/2015 RtI, but why?  Attitudes are everything!  Crazy Speech World

5/10/2015      Consonantly Speaking

5/11/2015 Universal benchmarking for language to guide the RTI process in Pre-K and Kindergarten      Speech Language Literacy Lab

5/12/2015 Movement Breaks in the Classroom (Brain Breaks)   Your Therapy Source

5/13/2015 How to Write a Social Story   Blue Mango LLC

5/14/2015 Some Ideas on Objective Language Therapy    Language Fix

5/15/2015 Assistive Technology in the Classroom  OTMommy Needs Her Coffee

5/16/2015 Effective Tiered Early Literacy Instruction for Spanish-Speakers Bilingual Solutions Guest blog on Speech Language Literacy Lab

5/17/2015 Helping with Attention and Focus in the Classroom   The Pocket OT

5/18/2015 Vocabulary Instruction  Smart Speech Therapy, LLC

5/19/2015 An SLP’s Role in RtI: My Story Communication Station: Speech Therapy, PLLC

5/20/2015 Incorporating Motor Skills into Literacy Centers   MissJaimeOT

5/21/2015 The QUAD Profile: A Language Checklist  The Speech Dudes

5/22/2015 Resources on Culturally Relevant Interventions  Tier 1 Educational Coaching and Consulting

5/23/2015 Language Goals Galore: Converting Real Pictures to Coloring Pages  Really Color guest blog on Speech Language Literacy Lab

5/24/2015 Lesson Pix: The Newest Must-Have Resource in your Tx Toolbox Speech Language Literacy Lab

5/25/2015 AAC & core vocabulary instruction Kidz Learn Language

5/26/2015 An RtI Alternative Old School Speech

5/27/2015 Intensive Service Delivery Model for Pre-Schoolers   Speech Sprouts

5/28/2015 RTI Success with Spanish-speakers     Speech is Beautiful

5/30/2015 The Importance of Social Language (pragmatic) Skills guest post on Speech Sprouts

5/31/2015 Sarah Warchol guest posts on Speech Language Literacy Lab

October 28, 2014

Some Game Ideas with a Halloween Theme

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 7:00 am
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In case you need to fill some time between school and trick or treating or just want to provide some new activities for your child to explore instead of hearing them plead for just one more piece of candy, here are some ideas!

1. Play Freeze with Monster Mash: Put on everyone’s favorite Halloween tune and call out a position they have to freeze in each time you pause the music.  For example, standing on one foot, bear position, crab position, or roll up like ball, etc. It’s up to you how long to have them freeze and challenge their core muscles and balance in different positions.

2.  Pumpkin Play: If you are done with your pumpkins for decoration (and they aren’t too rotten), you can let your children explore different ways to play with them.  With smaller pumpkins, you can play bowling.  You can use any objects around the house for bowling pins, such as empty plastic bottles with a little rice in the bottom.  If they want they can even decorate the pins to go with the halloween theme.  Another idea would be to play ring toss using pumpkins that have longer stems.  You can cut rings out of cardboard or maybe you have rings from another game that you can take out and toss over to the pumpkin stem. I’m sure once you get started playing with pumpkins, your kids with think of a few to add to the list!

3.  Spider Web Challenge: Using painter’s tape, you can make a spider web on the floor inside or outside and mark off a clear start and finish.  If you have any plastic spiders around for Halloween, place them in the holes of the web scattered around or you can make spiders out of paper.  Ask your child to walk along the web (tape) while picking up the spiders along the way.  This challenges balance to walk on a narrow line as well as by having to reach down and outside the base of support for the spiders without stepping off the web.


If this sparks your creativity and you come up with other fun Halloween games we would love to hear about it! Happy Halloween!

October 22, 2014

Toys, Toys, Toys

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 7:02 am
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It’s almost that time of year again! Time to brave the crowded malls and search for the perfect gift for the children we love. One of the biggest questions we get as pediatric therapists, is what can we get them that will help their motor skills. For those of you still searching, here is a list of ideas of toys and games that are not only great gift ideas, but can also help your kids develop their fine and gross motor skills while playing.


1)   Baby Einstein Play Gym: For your newborns. A play gym is a great way to encourage play and exploration while laying on their back or their tummy. While lying on their back, different items can encourage children to kick and reach overhead or across their body to eventually encourage motor skills like rolling. The play gym can also encourage tummy time, which will help build neck and trunk extensor strength, scapular stability in their shoulders, endurance to further progress their motor skills towards getting onto hands and knees and crawling.
2)    Play tent with a tunnel: Tents with tunnels can encourage crawling and bilateral coordination. Crawling through the tunnel into the tent will allow your child to practice weight shifting and using a reciprocal crawling pattern, build their core strength, develop the arches in their hands, and play in quadruped and tailor sitting in the tent.
3)    Push Toy: A push toy is a great gift for a kiddo who already pulling to stand and cruising and starting to explore learning how to walk. You can try the shopping cart and wagon type push toys if your child likes to transport their toys with them or once that converts to a sit and ride toy if they just can’t wait to get on that bike.
4)    Learning Table: A learning table is a great toy for way to encourage your child to get upright. You can practice playing in a tall kneel, a ½ kneel, or pulling to stand through a ½ kneel and standing. The lights, songs, numbers and letters on the tabletop provide motivation for your child rise to a new level and begin working on upright motor skills. You can place it against a wall or in a corner if your child needs a little more stability or in the middle of the room if they are learning to stand with a little less stability.
5)    Hippity Hops: A ball with handles is a great way to help your child build coordination, balance, and strength. You child will have to use their core and leg strength in order to bounce and maintain their balance while hopping on the ball. A hippity hop can also provide great vestibular and proprioceptive input with the bouncing for the kiddos who are seeking out more sensory input.
6)    Sturdy Birdy by Fat Brain Toy Co: This game is a fun and exciting game to work on kid’s balance, coordination and core strength. If your child is having trouble with single leg balance tasks such as skipping and hop scotch, this game provides them with the opportunity to work on this task. By balancing on one leg, not only are they practicing the motor task, but they are building strength in their hips and core musculature that will allow them to continue to progress in their gross motor development.
7)    Step 2 Folding Slide: This slide is a perfect toy that can be used in doors or out doors. It allows your child to build leg strength and core strength and develop the skills necessary to walk up stairs. Climbing up the ladder provides kids with practice of the same motor pattern and strengthening of specific leg muscles that are used to walk up stairs, with extra support from the rails. Sliding down the slide can also help build core and trunk musculature to maintain or improve postural control and balance.
8)    Super Skipper: The super skipper is a great way to help your child practice timing and grading of jumping skills. By jumping to different songs at different speeds, kiddo’s can develop their jumping skills to progress to more advanced gross motor skills, such as hop scotch and jump roping.
9)    Giant Piano Mat: This is a fun way to practice more jumping skills and balance activities. Your child can work on single leg balance, single leg hopping, walking on tiptoes and jumping while building their creative and musical skills. This is also a great way to work on coordination skills. With prerecorded songs, your child can practice specific steps to a song.
10) Sensory stepping stones: Each stepping stone has a different texture that will provide new tactile input to your child’s feet or hands by crawling, walking, jumping or hopping onto each stone. Not only can kid’s work on their balance and gross motor activities, but they can also get sensory input.
11) Scooter board or skateboard: This is a great way for kiddos to work on upper extremity, core and trunk strength. Your child can lie on their belly on the board as they use their arms to pull themselves along the floor. Not only are they using their arm muscles but also engaging their core and trunk extensors to keep their head and body up on the board.
12) Side walk chalk: Sidewalk chalk is a great tool to work on all sorts of gross motor activities. You can draw a hopscotch grid to work on single leg hopping, coordination and balance. If the kiddo is not comfortable with single leg hopping yet, try practicing the hopscotch with two feet. Have them practice jumping with their feet apart and then feet together to work on coordinating movements, then once they have mastered that pattern, slowly practice switching from two legs to one and then one legs to two. You can draw different items on the ground and practice jumping on them or create a start and finish line of a race to work on running. The visual cue of different colors or drawings on the sidewalk can help kiddos focus better on the task that they are attempting.
13) Nubby ball: This is a great way to work on ball skills, such as throwing, catching and kicking. The texture can also provide sensory input to those kiddos who are seeking more tactile input as well. The increased tactile input could also help their awareness when attempting catching and gripping. For more advanced kids practicing ball skills can be great for single leg balance and coordinating movements of arms and legs. As kids get older, they can begin to build interests in certain sports.
14) Kinetic Sand: It feels like sand, but is not nearly as messy to clean up. Kinetic Sand helps improve tactile awareness, and fine motor skills. Kids can squeeze it and shape it to build different items and let their creativity bloom. The feeling of the sand can provide children with new tactile input that can decrease stress and allow for improved exploration to different tactile surfaces. The squishy material can also help improve fine motor skills, allowing kids to build their hand musculature and gripping techniques by forming different size structures.
15) Constructive Eating plate and Utensil Set: For those picky eaters. The 3-piece utensil set includes a bulldozer pusher, front loader spoon and forklift fork with textured handles that are easy to grip. The plate has ramps and parking spaces for food and utensils. This is a great gift to help engage children with their eating, as well as work on their fine motor skills of gripping and grasping and using their utensils to access food.


Happy Shopping!

July 18, 2014

Playground Play

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 6:47 pm
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Playground Play

I was browsing through instagram a while ago and saw this great photo (above) of my friends’ son playing.  It immediately reminded me (not that I needed much reminding) why I love playgrounds for kids!

Besides just giving kids the opportunity to run around, play and explore, when I am working with a kiddo at a playground I am almost never at a loss for things to do.  Depending on their age and skill level, here are just a few things you can do with kids at a playground:

  • Climbing –  There is climbing for all ages (even the non walkers).  You can use stairs to go up and down, although on a play structure its always easier to get kids to go up, much harder to convince them not to go down the slide!  Stairs can be crawled on or walked on.  For the walkers there are generally railings that allow early walkers to practice with some stability or for the more advanced they can try it without hands!  There are also almost always an array of ladders to climb.  What’s great about playground ladders is they come in all shapes and sizes.  There are standard ladders, there are twisty ones, there are rope nets, even ones I like to call rainbow ladders.  With this large variety kids get a chance to practice their motor planning and problem solving with regards to navigating the ladder.  To summarize, climbing is great for glut (tush muscles) and core strengthening, working on reciprocal movements and motor planning/coordination.
  • Monkey Bars – Monkey bars or even the bar above the slide (like in the picture above) are great for hanging on!  Kids can work on their shoulder/shoulder blade strength and stability – which help improve their fine motor skills, as well as their core strength.  When they begin to traverse monkey bars they learn how to generate momentum and movement while maintaining stability.  It also gives kids an opportunity to play around with different grips and get immediate feedback for strength and control.  Lastly, kids can play with acrobatics and hang upside down and pull themselves up so they are sitting on the bars.  All of this helps body awareness, problem solving, coordination, etc.
  • Swings – Swings are not only fun, they let your child increase their vestibular input, work on the coordination of their legs and trunk moving to keep the swinging motion going, and core strength.  Not only are kids excited when they learn how to make themselves swing, but it also means less time for you to stand around and push them!  In addition, just learning how to get onto the swing by themselves takes balance, coordination and problem solving.  For the little kiddos being pushed in the swing, they are getting opportunities to work on head control and trunk control during movement.

What are your favorite things about playground play?

May 30, 2014

Favorite Summer Toy: Hula Hoops (Blog Hop and Giveaway)

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 12:41 pm
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The Inspired Treehouse  –  OT Cafe  –  Golden Reflections Blog  –  Pink Oatmeal  –  Therapy Fun Zone  –  Your Therapy Source  –  Mama OT  –  Starfish Therapies  –  Playing With Words 365  –  Playapy


Hula hoops are a great summer time (or anytime) toy.  Now don’t automatically assume it means you need to know how to ‘hula hoop’ in order to play with them.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m terrible at ‘hula hooping’ however there are a ton of other ways to have fun with them.

Hula Hoop Paths

Movement Through Space – If you get a few hula hoops you can line them up in a row and you can practice locomotor skills through them.  Start simple by having kids walk through each one.  Next can be running through them.  Add in some jumping and hopping as well.  To get more complicated you can create movement patterns similar to hopscotch where they have to jump in one then hop in the next one or skip hoops as they run through them.  You can also do side stepping and leaping.  I like this activity because it works on movement through space with the child being aware of their path.  They also have to coordinate their movements while remembering a pattern/instructions.  If you have enough hoops and kids, you can even make it into a relay race!

Visual Motor – Hula Hoops also make great targets.  You can set them on the ground and use it as a visual for bouncing a ball in.  This could be done by yourself with dribbling skills, or using a tennis ball to practice bouncing and catching.  It can also be used with a partner for bounce passes and having to bounce the ball in the hoop before your partner gets it and bounces it back.  You can keep score for how many times you each get it in the hoop!  Also, you can use it as a throwing target.  If you have a tree you can hang it from a branch and practice throwing balls through it or being really tricky and getting a frisbee through it (my frisbee skills are about as advanced as my hula hoop skills)!  If you don’t have a tree you could prop it up against a support or leave it flat on the ground and try to throw or toss an object into or through it.  If you are leaving it on the ground you could use chalk and add rings inside of it and try to toss bean bags in.  Each chalk circle could have a set number of points and you could see how many points you get (similar to darts or ski ball).

Body Awareness – Some other fun ideas to use a hula hoop for are as a jump rope and as an actual hula hoop.  For jump roping (yes, even adults can still do it – I tried it today) you hold onto one edge of the hula hoop and swing rotate it so it swings over your head and then you jump through as it comes back down to your feet.  Similar to a jump rope you have to be aware of where your body is as well as rhythm and coordination but with the hula hoop its a closed loop so you have to know where your head is as well as your feet.  For actual hula hooping (is that even a word?) you can do the traditional version around your waist/hips but you can also experiment with other body parts such as arms, legs and even your neck.  It allows kids to know where the parts of their body are and focus on how they are moving and controlling that one area such that it is isolated to get the movement they want.  What’s great about the hula hoop is they are getting immediate feedback.

Some other fun ideas:

  • Team work activities where you have two or more people in the hula hoop and they have to move across space together (similar to a three legged race).  You can make the trek as complicated or simple as you want.  To add to the difficulty level you can blindfold all but one of the people so they really have to work as a team.
  • Hula hoop rolling.  You can place the hula hoop on its edge and see how far you can roll it, or who can roll it the furthest.  You can also draw chalk lines and try to keep it rolling on the line for as long as possible.
  • Extra large ring toss is always fun.  If you have stumps or other outdoor items that work well as a post you can try to use the hula hoop as a ring to get around it.

What are some of your favorite activities with a hula hoop?

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April 20, 2014

Sidewalk Chalk

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 4:18 pm
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sidewalk chalk

With the weather getting nicer, you may be looking for some outdoor activities.  Sidewalk chalk is a great tool that is limited only by imagination. Just think of all the things you can do with it. Besides drawing pictures in your driveway, sidewalk chalk can be valuable tool when working on improving your child’s motor skills, the most obvious one being practicing their drawing and writing skills. But they can also strengthen their arms through weight bearing, work on their balance, learn to visually track, improve their jumping skills, and learn sequencing with a little help from this outdoor favorite. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Drawing on the ground – in order to draw on the ground, your child has to sit or lay on their belly on the ground. This means that they’ll likely be bearing weight on their non-dominate hand the entire time they are drawing and strengthening that arm. If you feeling adventurous try challenging them to draw with their non-dominate hand.
  2. Draw hopscotch on the ground – they can practice jumping together and apart in order to complete the hopscotch or hopping on one foot as their skills develop.
  3. Draw a “balance beam” on the ground – they can practice walking on the line without stepping off. If they get good at walking forward, try walking backwards or sideways. You can also try making a squiggly line.
  4. Draw a racetrack for them to ride their bike/trike, or sit and ride toy around – this will make them visually follow the line while riding in order to stay on track.
  5. If you get bored with all of these, try drawing an obstacle course and putting them all together – you can draw bases to hop between, a line to walk across, a hopscotch to jump through, and even hand and foot prints to do animal walks on.

And don’t forget all the fun you can have washing your daily activates away so you can draw new ones tomorrow! What else have you done with sidewalk chalk?

April 9, 2014

Making Use of the Junk Drawer

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 9:00 am
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Wait don’t throw that away! Our junk drawers can hold some quick and easy fine motor and visual activities for our kids. Let’s get creative with what we unknowingly have in our possession already. Here are some great ideas and activities to do with 3 things that may be in a junk drawer:

Rubber band:

  • Place the rubber band on the index finger and thumb and have them open their fingers against the resistance of the rubber band. They can also put the band on their thumb, index and middle finger to work on strengthening the tripod grasp as well.
  • Stretch the rubber bands over blocks and paint the bands for a fun stamp.
  • Stretch the rubber bands around a small white board and hang the board up or leave flat on the table in front of child. They can place anything under the bands to make their own picture. Animals, crayons, or any small item that’s available. Picking up the bands works on pincer grasp and they have to use two hands to both hold the band and place the item under. Hanging the board up would also work on reaching with bilateral hand use.


  • Make a chain of paperclips or undo a chain of clips. This works on motor planning, bilateral hand use and finger dexterity skills. You can pretend its fun jewelry after putting it together as well.
  • Hang a paperclip from a string and add a balloon to the paperclip. You can adjust the height to play different visual and gross motor games with this. Up high you can try hitting the balloon with your hand. Or use a bat or stick to make it trickier for those that have more visual difficulties. You can also have the kids jump and try and hit the bottom of the balloon with their heads. Bringing the balloon low they can work on kicking. They also can lay on their stomachs or backs and try and hit the balloon with their hands or feet together to work on flexion and extension strengthening.


  • Sorting games: you can sort the different kinds (rubber, metal), as well as the different sizes. Painting them different colors, can give them another way to sort them as well.
  • Place the washers in different spots and make a game out of collecting the washers. Give them an unsharpened pencil to walk with in one hand and they have to go around and collect the washers to place on the pencil. Increase the difficulty by having them collect in a certain pattern. This is great for eye-hand coordination, bilateral hand use and visual tracking skills.
  • Play a toss game. Taking a paper cup and placing it a small distance from your child you can play a tossing game in standing, sitting, on their belly, etc.

Next time you empty out that junk drawer, get creative and explore the different uses of everyday items that are found in your home. Your kids will love it!


March 26, 2013

Guest Blog at Embrace Your Chaos on Obstacle Courses

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 5:44 pm
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balance beam2

I’m so excited to be a guest blogger at Embrace Your Chaos today.  The post is about all the great ways to play using Obstacle Courses.  Please hop on over and check it out!

What are your favorite obstacle courses?

February 8, 2013

Marbles and Water

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 12:00 pm
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I was perusing Facebook the other day and I saw my friend post that she put some marbles in her son’s bath and it resulted in hours (ok maybe an exaggeration but probably lots) of fun.  I loved it as soon as I saw it and in fact told her I would probably use it for a blog idea.  She said that she had gotten the idea for the marbles from one of my previous blog posts (I love when life happens like that).

If you are doing this you need to make sure you are supervising the marble and tub time with your kids.  Just think of the sensory input they are getting.  They can feel around for the marbles with their hands or their toes (as mentioned in my post).  They can try to pick up as many as they can or just one at a time.  You could also have funnels or other containers that they can practice putting them into and then pouring them out of.  You can use different colors and have them search for the colors and sort them, or have them count a certain number of marbles and see if the can do it faster with their hands or their feet or their right or their left.

Who else has used marbles in the tub and what did you notice in the process?

January 9, 2013

Play This, Not That

I am so excited to have Dana from Embrace Your Chaos guest posting here today!  She is a mom and an occupational therapist and has some amazing ideas and great things to share so make sure you check her out at Embrace Your Chaos.  I hope you enjoy her post here as much as I did! (PS – I included the photos)

Just as there are better choices for the foods that we eat, there are also better choices for the types of things our kids play.  Some salad dressings are better for us than others, some brands of chips are better than others, and even some fast food burgers are better than others.  In just the same way, some board games are better for development of your child’s skills, some organized sports are better for our kid’s gross motor coordination, and even some video games benefit our kids more than others do.


As adults with tons of responsibility and long lists of “to dos,” we tend to forget about why play is so important for kids.  Some of us get caught up in running errands and in the things we have to get done while some of us tend to over-schedule our kids, both resulting in less time to engage in play with our children.  Play is a vital part of a child’s life for many reasons.  It develops creativity and social skills.  It provides a natural context for the child to learn and problem-solve.  It motivates kids to challenge their gross and fine motor skills.  The list could go on and on.  While it is our responsibility as adults to go to work, pay the bills, and clean the house, it is a child’s primary responsibility to learn and grow through play (while also helping to clean the house from time to time).


It is even more important in our current society that we, as parents, encourage our kids to play.  With growing expectations at school, entailing more time at the table and more homework, and with the growing fascination of electronics, our kids are engaging in play less and less.

Corbin - Construction

With all types of play, including electronics, there are some choices that are better for encouraging development of our kids’ skills than others.  When thinking about play, consider these factors:

  • What are the sensory experiences?  How many sensory systems does the activity incorporate?  Does it get the child moving, exploring, and touching?  Also consider if the activity is too over-stimulating, which many video games tend to be.
  • What are the physical components?  Does the activity challenge the child’s coordination, balance, strength, and/or endurance?
  • What are the social opportunities?   Does the play activity provide opportunities for turn-taking, sharing, group problem-solving, or conflict resolution?
  • What are the cognitive aspects?   What are the opportunities for problem-solving, for following multi-step directions, for learning to sequence, and for learning other concepts and ideas?
  • What are the fine motor and visual motor components?  Does the activity work the small muscles of the hands?  Does it develop the manipulation skills needed for a good pencil grasp? Does it encourage the eye-hand coordination skills needed for handwriting development?  Does it improve the fine motor skills needed to manipulate fasteners, tools, and other small objects?

Some of these components may be more important for some kids than others.  Some children may need more opportunities to build their gross motor skills while other kids may be struggling more with their social skills.  It is ALWAYS important to give a child opportunities to create and choose his or her own play activities; but, there are also times when it is appropriate to provide direction to ensure their play tasks target the areas that will benefit them.  Take video games for instance.  The Wii will provide a greater challenge to your child’s coordination and gross motor development than the X-Box.  “Mother May I” may engage more cognitive and sensory-motor skills than “Tag.”  And gymnastics may provide more calming and organizing sensory input for your child than soccer.

corbin cake18

Most of all, don’t forget the importance of all types of play.  And remember that play is one of the best ways to foster your child’s development and target the skills your child needs.  When thinking about how to best encourage your child’s skills through play, remember these different components to find those activities that provide your child with the “just right” experiences and challenges!

Be sure to check out Embrace Your Chaos’ “101 Ways to Play” series to find great play activities and learn more about how play can foster your child’s development!

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