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Start your Camp Day the Right Way

Now that the school year is coming to an end, camp is on the horizon. For your child that means a long, tiring day of camp and often a longer bus ride. Although much of the day is play and fun, it is also very demanding. We have included several ideas to help get your child’s day start in a way that will help him remain calm, alert, and organized.

Waking up the right way will set the tone for the rest of the day. Slow, even, total body contact for calming and self-organization and is a great way to get the ball rolling.

  • Perform slow, rhythmic total body pillow squishes lasting 10 seconds each.

  • Tightly roll child up in blankets like a “hotdog,” give a few total body pillow squishes, and roll out of blanket.

  • Make a “sandwich” using pillows and blankets. Every time you add an “ingredient,” squish it on the sandwich with your whole body to make sure it sticks!

  • Play “Hide and Seek” using pillows and blankets. Crawl under, over, and in between them.

  • Ask for big hugs

  • Give slow, even bear hugs.

  • Give slow, even back rubs or massages.

  • Use an electric toothbrush.

Eating a smart breakfast with healthy foods is important to get the day started. Choosing foods that “feed” your sensory system will keep you feeling good at the beginning of the day.

  • Eat chewy foods such as granola bars, bagels, peanut butter, etc. to facilitate calming.

  • Eat crunchy foods such as cereal, apples, nuts, graham crackers, etc. to facilitate alerting.

  • Drink liquids through a straw (curvy ones or a few straws taped together are even better) or sports bottle top to facilitate calming.

  • If your child likes yogurt, have him drink it through a straw to facilitate calming.

  • After breakfast make a “bubble mountain” by pouring water with dishwashing liquid in a dish basin and blowing through multiple, or long and curvy straws.

Resistive activities (proprioceptive activities) that also provide some movement through space (vestibular input) are “grounding” and organizing because they incorporate “heavy work." Engaging in these types of activities can ease the transition to a long camp day.

  • “Push out the wall”: Have your child stand facing the wall with two open palms on the wall. Take two small steps backward and challenge your child to imagine making the room bigger by pushing out the wall.

  • Jumping on a trampoline or mattress. Count to 20 or sing while jumping.

  • Soft, gentle bouncing on an inflatable therapy ball.

  • Jump on a “Hippity Hop” ball.

  • Play Tug-of-War with a jump rope. Try it in sitting, on the knees, and in standing.

  • Wall handstands: Place hands on the floor, support body weight on open palms, and lift up feet as high as possible so toes are touching the wall. Make sure the back is not arched.

  • Do laps around the house jumping with both feet together. Make a starting point and a finishing line.

  • Wheelbarrow walking: Elbows should be slightly bent. Practice walking forwards, backwards, and sideways.

  • Play with riding toys such as wagons, pedal cars, and tricycles.

  • Play catch with a weighted ball (”medicine ball”).

Written by: Aviva Goldwasser, MS, OTR and Chaye Lamm Warburg, MA, OTR, Director POTS

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