The air is brisk, the leaves outside are changing colors, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. It is officially autumn, and your children are well into their second month of school. Although the weather may be getting cooler, it is not time to stay indoors yet. Here are some fun outdoor activities to simulate your children's senses, strengthen their muscles, increase body awareness and sense of body position in space and improve fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination.
Gather leaves into big piles with your hands to experience their crunchy texture, and strengthen the hand muscles. Alternatively challenge core strength by using use a small rake or broom.
Separate the leaves by color, size, or shape.
To increase body awareness, run and jump into the leaf pile; have a race to see who can jump the farthest; and play Hide and Go Seek.
When you are done, gather the leaves into large trash bags and push them to the bottom. Halloween trash bags are the most fun!
Stretching, weight and resistance stimulate body awareness and the sense of body position in space, so:
Stretch, and reach up high to pick as many apples as you can.
Carry those heavy baskets of apples to the car and then into your home.
Separate the apples by color or size.
Use the apples to make homemade apple pie or applesauce. Churn out the applesauce with a food mill.
Scrape out a pumpkin to strengthen the hands.
Have fun feeling the “insides” of the pumpkin with your hands.
To sharpen the sense of touch, hide toys inside the pumpkin, reach in, feel the toy and guess what it is. No peeking!
Save the seeds to bake or roast. To practice fine motor skills, lay out the seeds one by one, placing each seed on a dot that you make on parchment paper.
Carve a Jack-O-Lantern on the lines that your child draws. It may be a bit lopsided, but it's all theirs!
Go to the closet, pull out an old pair of jeans, a button down shirt, funky socks, sneakers, and a funny hat and gather some straw. Get ready to strengthen your hands and upper body.
Fill the jeans and shirt with straw to make the body.
Draw a face on a small garbage bag and fill it with straw to make the head.
Break up some straw and stuff mismatched socks and stuff them into old sneakers
Add a funny hat and admire your work!
To strengthen the hands and practice eye-hand coordination, collect different shape leaves.
Put each leaf under a piece of tracing paper. Peel the paper off of a crayon and rub the side of the crayon over the paper to create a leaf design.
Take your children to different playgrounds. Variety and novelty are key to improving motor planning skills.
Move in all planes. Climb and swing on the monkey bars and tire swing; slide down the slide (and climb up if no one else is in the way). Balance on ledges, balance beams and stones. Keep moving so you don’t get too cold!
To rev up endurance and challenge motor planning, play on a variety of riding toys such as wagons, pedal cars, and tricycles. Set up obstacle courses with bags of leaves, traffic cones and big bold chalk.
For those Rainy Days
Mix and knead dough with your hands, then roll it with a rolling pin to make cookies.
Push leaf shape cookie cutters of various shapes and sizes into the dough with your fingertips to make cookie cutter cookies.
Pumpkin Play Dough:
To strengthen the hands and stimulate the sense of smell, add orange, red, or yellow food coloring to white Play Dough. Knead.
Add pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg. Knead.
Store in an airtight container so you can play with it again.
Be creative and enjoy the season!
Blog written by Rachel Romanoff, OTR and Chaye Lamm Warburg, DPS, OTR