Now that the weather is warm, I find that I am spending as many afternoons as possible outdoors with my children. One of their favorite past-times is to make water balloons. Listed below are some of the therapeutic benefits of this fun activity suited for children of all ages.
To challenge your child’s fine motor coordination place the balloon on the tip of the pump, using the “pinch fingers” (thumbs and index fingers). To fill the balloon once it is in place, be sure that your child is using a thumbs-up position to squeeze down on the lever. (This is the same position that your child uses to hold scissors). Practice good “helping hand” habits, by encouraging your child to stabilize/hold the pump with his/her non-dominant hand while pumping and squeezing with the preferred hand.
If your child is working on following a series of multi-step directions, place him/her in charge of sequencing the steps of this task. For example:
1. Place the balloon on the tip of the pump
2. Pump 5 times
3. Squeeze to the count of 10
In order to facilitate eye-hand coordination, make a target out of chalk, spray foam soap, or a tree and have your child aim for the target when throwing the water balloon. At first, make the target larger. Gradually decrease the size to up the ante. Your child can also stand closer or farther from the target, depending on his/her ability.
Don’t waste the water! Once you get to the bottom of the pump, you can squeeze the water out to water a plant. Keep in mind that the heavier the bottle, the greater the challenge to strength.
Written By: Aviva Goldwasser, MS, OTR and Chaye Lamm Warburg, Director of POTS, DPS