Here on the east coast, there are little glimmers of hope that Spring is actually on its way. Between the rainy days, there is warmer weather, flowers blooming and the sun is staying out much later at night. I am a big fan of seasons, even winter and the cold, and am always excited for a new season to begin. With each season brings new adventures. What I love about spring is that it allows more outdoor play and, at least in my case with my daughter, less screen time. For many of the kids I work with, the change from winter to spring helps with so many things. First of all, outdoor time means more running around in the playground, climbing, jumping, scooting, bike riding, etc.. All of this movement always leads to improved sensory processing, attention and focus and overall organizational skills in children. Additionally, kids show improved strength and endurance from being outside and moving around more often.
Recently, I was asked to write a blog for Friendship Circle on Outdoor Toys. The focus was on toys, games and other products that helped with the development of body strength, motor planning executive functioning and encouraged social skills. It's amazing how many great products there are out there that can be easily adapted to meet the needs and skill set of individual kids. As always, I try and find products that parents can find in local toy stores without having to shop in special needs catalogues. Be sure to check my Outdoor Toys post to learn all about them.
In addition to the toys I talked about in my post for Friendship Circle, there are a lot of great activities that you can do with kids. Using some of the products I discussed, you can make outdoor play more meaningful while hiding the fact that it is actually working towards therapeutic goals.
1. Go On a Picnic-my daughter loves our impromptu picnics in the park when the weather allows. You can make this a therapeutic activity by making a list and having your child help pack the basket you are taking to them park. This can help with executive functioning skills such as planning, and organization. Have your kids go around and take sandwich orders on a pad from family and friends and then they can help with making sandwiches and packing up snacks which helps with fine motor and visual motor/perceptual skills. Be sure to bring some fun activities to do with your kids during your picnic. Pack some bubbles, stomp rockets or other kinds of outdoor games that you can do as a family.
**FYI....some fast growing plants (for our not always patient little ones) are:
4. Scavenger Hunt-kids love a good scavenger hunt and I love that this activity can encourage social skills, teamwork and cooperative play for kids. Depending on the age of the children, you can make this as simple or as complicated as they can handle. For example, if you want them to find a flower you can tell younger kids to simply find a flower or make it more challenging for older kids by having them find a certain color flower. If the space you are having the scavenger hunt allows, try and add some gross motor challenges to help work on building strength, endurance and motor planning. For example, have them climb ladders on a swingset or lift garage doors to find things hidden.
Do you have some fun outdoor activities that you are your family enjoy during the nicer weather? I would love to hear about family traditions or activities that you suggest to the families that you work with. As always, I am always a click away and love hearing from you all.