Putting the FUN in functional! For the month of July, Dr. Bassem has come up with 8+ ways to get your kids up and moving, while also working on some important gross motor skills!
Excited for another fun summer? So are we! We’ve put together a list of fun, easy, and enriching activities to do together with your child, all while incorporating physical therapy techniques and insights. Get creative with the below activities- and if you ever need any additional help — please reach out to our staff at Leaps and Bounds all summer long!
1) Animal walks - Bear crawls, penguin walks, kangaroo hops, crab walks, and flamingo stands are all fantastic, dynamic exercises that strengthen the full body and improve coordination in children.
• Bear crawls are great for strengthening the arms and legs in unison while improving coordinated movements of the extremities and promoting core stability. Bonus points for the scariest bear roar!
• Penguin walks, walking while keeping the toes pointed to the sky, are a great exercise to strengthen the lower legs and ankles. And this is especially great for kids who show any tendency to toe-walking.
• Kangaroo hops, standing on your tippy toes and jumping forward, are another great activity that challenge dynamic balance and promote leg strengthening, this is especially beneficial for kids who show a tendency to walk with their toes in or toes out.
• Crab walks, starting on your back followed by lifting yourself so that only your hands and feet are touching the ground is a great gross motor challenge that exposes children to using their muscles in a way they may not be used to. This activity improves coordination and strength of the full body.
• Flamingo stands, while standing up tall, lift one leg and balance it against the standing leg, now try to hold this position as long as possible. Notice if your child has any difficulty standing on one side compared to the other.
Now head to the zoo or aquarium to see how close your animal walks are to the real thing!
2) At the playground, your child can improve their coordination, strength, and core muscle endurance as they climb ladders and cargo nets and play on the monkey bars. Hop on the swings to increase proprioceptive input in all planes of motion. Climb UP the slide before making your way down to strengthen the upper extremities and core. Visiting a playground is a classic way to keep your child active, while promoting safe social interaction with other children!
3) In the water: swimming is an amazing activity that promotes sensory integration, motor planning, coordination, spatial awareness as well as cardiovascular health. Make swimming fun with your child by incorporating games such as tag, follow the leader, Marco Polo, mermaids, or make up your own games! If your child seems increasingly apprehensive about going in or out of water, reach out to one of our therapists as this could be a sensory processing disorder that needs a little extra support.
4) Riding a bike is an essential summertime activity that also helps your child develop their leg muscles. Riding a bike just around the neighborhood or down the boardwalk will help elevate their exercise endurance and cardiovascular ability along with their coordination and balance. And if your little one is having any difficulty or fear with getting on a bike for the first time, reach out to our office as we offer bike learning classes!
5) Playing with a ball! This is a timeless and simple activity that will help improve hand to eye coordination. Some ideas are: throwing and catching, kicking, and bouncing, but feel free to freestyle and come up with fun new games that your child will love! Throw a football, kick a soccer ball, bounce a handball, and even embark on a new adventure together like juggling (pro tip: practice juggling with plastic bags first).
6) Sidewalk Chalk: Playing with chalk promotes new sensory experiences while working on colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. Draw a hopscotch board (and other doodles) and work on single leg hops, draw a line and work on balancing, or draw an obstacle course and incorporate other elements, such as walking along a narrow line without losing balance and stomping feet on spots drawn on the ground.
7) Kids yoga: Yoga is a great way to wind down after any of the other summer activities you have planned. Find a nice spot (the beach, your backyard, or just the living room) and pull up a short YouTube video to follow or craft your own routine. The benefits of yoga are plentiful for kids and adults alike, including: improving focus, flexibility training, breathing practice, and muscle recovery. And keep an eye out for one of the Leaps and Bounds Yoga classes happening this summer near you!
8) Building a fort: Spending more time outdoors during the summer is awesome, but it is also important to take a break indoors. Watching a movie or having story time inside a fort made with blankets and pillows can help reduce and integrate sensory input, spur creativity, and allow your kids to reset their minds and bodies alike. Bring puzzles or Legos inside the fort to have an equally cozy and stimulating activity.
Consider a scavenger hunt! This can be incorporated into most of the above activities and can help keep your child remain focused and eager throughout the exercises. Consider writing riddles to get your kids thinking or hide treats for a simpler approach. This can be both an outdoor and indoor activity (for those rainy summer days!)
Planting flowers is an enriching activity that you can work on together with your child. They can connect with their community and earth by sowing seeds and watching their creation grow over time. It’s great for the younger kids to develop motor skills in a fun and different way!
As always, if you have any concerns regarding your child’s development, please reach out to our office to speak with one of our licensed physical therapists.
Welcome to the Leaps and Bounds Blog page where you can find helpful parent information, tips and other topics of interest. Check back monthly for new entries and be sure to send us a message if there are any topics you'd like to learn more about!
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