For younger children, playing and learning are often the same thing. Play is especially important for developing social skills, developing gross and fine motor skills, and stimulating the mind.
At school, children are provided with many opportunities for play: learning centres, recess, phys-ed, etc. With children learning at home, play time is still just as important.
I have put together a table below of simple activities that can be done from home that require few materials. I have also included the occupational therapy reasons for why I recommend these activities. That said, any activity that promotes social interaction and physical movement can be beneficial!
|Go outside: if possible, play in a yard or on a driveway||It’s important for children to get fresh air and going outside can be a great way to burn off energy. Remember to practice social distancing when outside. When re-entering the home, wash hands with soap and water.|
|Build a pillow fort||Fosters creative play & imagination. For smaller children, lifting and moving large cushions is great exercise!|
|Pass a balloon back and forth, without letting it touch the ground||A social activity that promotes hand-eye coordination and visual tracking.|
|Simon says||A social activity that promotes listening and following directions.|
|Put together a puzzle||Can be done as a social activity. Promotes visual scanning and problem solving.|
|Play with playdough||Can be done as a social activity. Great exercise for the hand muscles!|
|Involve child in cooking from a recipe||Social activity that promotes independence, following directions, literacy, and numeracy!|
|Play with Lego/Duplo or other blocks||Can be done as a social activity. Promotes creativity and fine motor skills!|
|Colour pictures||Promotes fine motor skills. The smaller the crayon, the better it is for promoting a good pencil grasp in young children. Colouring can also help children express their feelings during times of anxiety.|
|Animal walks||Can be done as a social activity. Have children walk around a room as different animals: slither like a snake, hop like a bunny, walk on all fours like a bear, stomp like a dinosaur, etc. Great way to burn off energy and develop gross motor skills!|
|Stretching or Yoga – there are lots of YouTube videos to help with this, like Cosmic Kids Yoga||Stretching can be good for improving range of motion and balance and can also be calming/relaxing.|
|Shape search – show the child different shapes and then have child hunt within a room for those specific shapes||Promotes visual scanning – moving your eyes to look for information.|
|I Spy||Great social activity that promotes visual scanning and taking turns.|
|Sewing – can be done with just needle, thread, and some old rags||Sewing can be great for children who are ready for more challenge for developing fine motor skills. It can also be an outlet for creative expression!|
|Floor is lava – the floor is unsafe lava. Designate certain spots on the floor, like cushions or pillows, as safe islands. The objective is to jump from safe spot to safe spot to get across a room.||This game can be great fun and easily adjusted for difficulty level. It’s great for improving balance and agility!|
|Limbo – hold out a broom handle and have the child limbo underneath it.||This can be made progressively more challenging and is a great way to target balance, coordination, and core strength!|
|Egg on a Spoon – balance an egg (can be a plastic Easter egg or a hard-boiled egg) on a spoon and try to walk across a room or yard without it falling off.||Great for targeting balance and coordination.|
|Hide and Seek||A great social activity that involves visual scanning, numeracy (counting before seeking), turn taking, and memory!|
|Make paper airplanes||Can find instructions online or have the child come up with their own design. Can be a social activity, see whose plane flies farthest. Great for developing fine motor skills and throwing skills.|
|Origami paper frogs – just need paper in square pieces, google “origami paper frogs” for lots of websites that give instructions||For children who are ready for more challenge with fine motor skills. Origami promotes following directions. This can be done as a social activity and the paper frogs really do jump!|