Please note the information below is based on the Occupational Therapist’s opinion and is not a therapy program. The activities suggested are to increase awareness of how to stimulate play for natural development.
Through play children explore their own abilities and they are given the opportunity to put into practice the skills they learn on a daily basis. Whilst playing children use their imaginations and create stories which promotes their ability to recall information, sequence a number of events, think “out of the box” and problem solve. During the holiday I urge you to encourage your children to play outside, swim, run and jump. Unstructured play that takes place in the garden or park provides opportunity for children to use their imaginations. Structured play should also be encouraged, whereby children are guided through the process of different activities to create concrete end products. This can be done in the form of arts and crafts or constructing blocks/Lego. Always remember that play must be light hearted and not involve strict rules. The key element to play and learning is FUN!
Here are some activity ideas to facilitate during the holidays. I have given a few pointers as to how these activities work towards the facilitation of learning and development. Please adapt them to suit your child and their interests. Remember you don’t need fancy toys and equipment, as fun and play can be encouraged through the use of an imagination.
- Using your hands to mix the ingredients assists to develop in-hand muscle strength, as well as provides tactile feedback.
- Rolling balls of cookie dough using two hands facilitates bilateral hand use and arm strengthening.
- Squash the balls onto a tray using a fork to promote hand-eye coordination.
- Rub shaving cream on the side of the bath and using your finger draw lines/shapes or letters/numbers for your child to trace and then copy. This is a fun way to practice tracing and copying skills.
Assist with household chores:
- Encourage your child to assist with placing clothes pegs on clothing whilst hanging washing.
Water spray bottle:
- Fill a hand held, spray bottle with water. Make up a story whereby your child needs to “zap” or spray the plants with water. This pumping action facilitates in-hand muscle strength.
Clothes peg game:
- Give your child a box of clothes pegs and a paper plate. Encourage them to squeeze open the peg using “crocodile fingers” (the thumb and index finger) to place the pegs around the plate. This facilitates bilateral hand use, in-hand muscle strength and finger dexterity, as well as hand-eye coordination.
- Encourage your child to construct an obstacle course using objects in your home, they can place cushions on the ground to crawl over, a blanket to crawl under.
- You can give them a torch to use for light under the blanket. Constructing an obstacle course using their imagination promotes motor planning and organisational skills.
- Whilst the obstacle course is being constructed encourage your child to come up with a story to fit the obstacle course. For example: first crawl over the winding bridge and don’t fall in the river, to go visit the fairies hidden under the tent built with a blanket.
Lie on your tummy to colour in a picture on the floor:
- This promotes shoulder girdle stability and develops the muscles necessary for neck extension, this is essential for improved upright sitting at the desk.
Follow this link for a lovely article on play:
It is estimated that children from newborn age through seventeen years spend between 3% and 20% of the day playing, and all children play, with the exception of those who are severely deprived, malnourished, or severely disabled. There are so many benefits of play.
On behalf of the Therapy Team I wish you and your families a fun and play-filled holiday season!
HOD Therapy Department
Occupational Therapist (BSc OT (WITS) SI (SAISI) M.ECI (UP))