Children feel better and grow stronger when they feel the joy of
movement. This is especially important for children who have
physical limitations. Here are some fun ideas to help you begin
your day of physical play.
Create a hide-and-seek dressing game. Pin an exercise to several
pieces of your children's clothing, such as flap your arms like a
bird 20 times, climb up and down the stairs two times or dance
across the room for five minutes. Hide the clothing around the room
and have your child find them, do the activities and get dressed in
Get out a sturdy rope or rolled up beach towel or sheet and have
your children play tug of war. Draw a line with tape and put
pillows around for kids to fall on. Start with traditional tugging,
but then mix it up a bit and have them tug to the left, tug to the
right, tug up high over their head and down low towards the
Morning play activity
Make an inside or outside obstacle course. Here are some fun
examples: In one corner of the course have your child roll dice to
determine how many seated or standing jumping jacks to complete, in
another corner have them draw a playing card to determine how many
times they have to touch their toes and in another have them roll
like a log while singing, "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." Other ideas:
crawl through tunnels (you can use boxes), walk like a wheelbarrow
(you hold their legs up off the ground, and they walk on their
hands) and teach them to do the crab walk (legs and arms bent with
hands and feet on the ground, tummy up towards the ceiling). Part
of the course can include a large ball to bounce, roll, throw or
spin around with. The Rib-It-Ball by Bill and Bud Inc. is a good
choice. It is multi-sensory and has ribs to grab.
Afternoon play time
Start a pickup game. Bring some sports equipment like baseballs
and bats to the park and find other children to join in a baseball
game. Start with the bases close together and gradually move them
farther apart to encourage walking/running longer distances. If
hitting a baseball with a bat is a challenge, try the ESPN Better
Batter Baseball by Fisher-Price/Mattel.
Time to refuel
With your focus on being physical, use lunch to reinforce
healthy nutrition. Plan a lunch with protein, fresh fruits, nuts
(if your child can tolerate them) and don't forget to sneak in
Late afternoon playtime
Get ready for an Olympic skating competition. Gather up some old
shoe boxes and have children step into their "racing skates" and
glide across the floor in a skating motion. Encourage them to swing
their arms to get that full bilateral body motion. Fun Slide Carpet
Skates by Simtec takes this idea a step farther.
When it is time to wind down, talk about the day and have your
child set goals for the next physical day of play. Learn what they
liked and disliked to hone in on activities that reward them
physically and emotionally.
With so many toys to choose from, picking the right ones for a
child with disabilities can be difficult. That's where AblePlay,
created by the National Lekotek Center, comes in. Its independent
toy reviews and ratings help parents find the best toys to match
their child's abilities and interests. Search for AblePlay-rated
toys at www.ableplay.org.
Deidre Pate Omahen is a mom, a Chicago Special Parent
advisory board member and director of programs at the National
Lekotek Center in Chicago.
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