4 Fun Outdoor Activities to Support Occupational Therapy Skills!

Fox Therapy Services • THE BLOG •

During these unprecedented times parents and caregivers have had to get creative in the ways they can support and teach children from home. It’s important to carry over skills learned in the clinic to the home environment to enhance a child’s potential for success. However, with warmer weather approaching kids may be less inclined to sit inside and work on these skills. At Fox Therapy, we strive to put the fun in FUNction, so we made a list of our favorite ways to address occupational therapy related-skills outside at home!

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Activity: Blast-off! 

*Skills Learned: Emotional regulation, hearing, sight, vestibular, proprioception


Materials: 

  • Playground swing or trampoline 
  • Crash mat (if handy and if appropriate)

 

A great way to wake up the body and get into the right zone for play, learning, and activities! Make a fun game out of blasting off to the moon with different movements such as swinging, jumping, or crashing using a playground swing or trampoline.

 

STEPS: 

  • Set up the swing/trampoline to prepare your child for different body positions (such as jumping or spinning)
  • Help child onto the swing
  • Give blast off directions! “Three….Two….One…..blast-off!” 
  • Have your child swing as high as they can, crash if safe, or spin/change directions as needed
  • Use this activity in small amounts to not overstimulate your child

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Activity: Nature Scavenger Hunt

*Skills Learned: Figure ground (distinguishing background from foreground), visual perceptual skills, attention, and following directions 

 

Materials: 

  • A bag or container to collect objects

 

A fun way to help your child explore nature and work on direction following and visual perceptual skills! You can upgrade or downgrade this activity if necessary such as searching for more or less of certain objects (10 pine cones instead of just 1).

 

STEPS: 

  • Make a list of objects for your child to find in nature (acorns, leaves, trash, pinecones, etc.). If appropriate, have them brainstorm with you! 
  • Set out on a nature scavenger hunt adventure! Search for and collect as many objects as you can that are on your brainstorming list. 
  • When you’ve finished, take out the objects and count how many you found on your list.

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Activity: Imagination Station

*Skills learned: imagination, attention, touch, sight, communication, problem-solving

 

Materials: *None*

 

A great way to boost your child’s imagination and creativity! Locate different objects in your environment from nature and have your child use their imagination to think of 5 different uses for that object. For example, a fallen stick could be used as a sword, a spoon for soup, a cane, or a baseball bat to play with! Fostering a child’s imagination can work on skills surrounding communication, flexibility, problem-solving and creativity in higher level skills.

 

STEPS: 

  • Collect 5-10 objects in nature and spread them out
  • Ask your child to list off 3-5 different pretend uses for the object 
  • Help your child develop ideas and give clues as necessary
  • Act out using some of the objects in their pretend sense!

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Activity: Outdoor Obstacle Course

*Skills learned: Motor planning, gross motor coordination, visual perceptual skills, sensory regulation, sight, attention, vestibular, proprioception, memory, planning/problem solving

 

Materials: 

  • Hula hoops (6)
  • Pool noodle (1)
  • A large board (a branch from a tree or a beam is great!)
  • Pre-made animal walk cards or phone app (ex: bear crawl, crab walk, elephant stomp, cheetah run)

Example Set-up: 

  • Set up obstacles a few feet apart
  • Place six hula hoops on the ground in a hop-scotch like pattern
  • Place a pool noodle at the end of the hula-hoops
  • Place large beam 10-15 feet away from the pool noodle
  • Place cards at the end of the beam

 

Directions: 

Step 1: Hop on one foot (or two feet) throughout hula hoops

Step 2: Put pool noodle in between your legs and pretend your riding a horse

Step 3: Gallop on your pool noodle horse to the beam

Step 4: Test your balance and walk over the beam (heel-toe, heel-toe)

Step 5: Grab an animal card! Act out the animal card you get to the beginning.

Step 6: Complete the obstacle course again until all of the animal cards are gone. 

 

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All of these activities are suggestions and can be modified based on your child’s needs! Outdoor play can be essential in developing a child’s reflexes, strength, and balance. Children learn how to step outside their comfort with simple activities such as climbing trees, playing in mud, and jumping off of obstacles that can compliment skills addressed in the clinic. For additional information or suggestions, please reach out to us here at Fox Therapy Services!

 

With warmth and gratitude,

The Fox Team

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