As a School-Based Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA/L), the school closures have steered us in an unprecedented direction. we are doing our best to create at-home programs that are engaging and stimulating to our students, but also fun and easy for our parents to incorporate into their day with all of the other changes and uncertainty. One of the most requested ways we are asked to do this, is to suggest and recommend fun games parents can play with their children at home!
For those preK-1st graders, maintaining and continuing to work on their fine motor, visual motor, and visual perceptual developments along with getting enough gross motor movements daily, will be an important task.
Alphabet Marks the Spot
Alphabet Marks the Spot hits all of those areas in one fun game! The game is great for those who have multiple children in the same age range to play together and practice turn taking. Even for those who only have a single child working on the skills, it is a fun way to engage with your child, while working on gross motor skills and all of the visual motor & perceptual areas. An added bonus is that the game also works on letter sounds & spelling which is an emerging skill for our young learners!
From letter identification, color recognition, visual tracking and scanning, to visual perceptual matching skills – this game has it all! For those who do not have rote memory of the letters yet, you can always draw out the letter for them and turn it into a pure matching task. Blocking out some of the grid so that they are required to scan a smaller area, is a great way to adapt the game to varying skill levels!
Peg Friends Stacking Farm
Another fun game with simple setup that will entertain the little one forever is the Peg Friends Stacking Farm. This game works on a lot of the in-hand manipulation skills (finger isolation, coordinated palm/finger movements, etc.) while also challenging the kiddo’s visual perceptual matching, and body schema skills. Finding the matching head to body for each animal, putting them together, then placing the whole structure into the peg grid – it seems simple, but is a very skill loaded task for our little learners.
I always recommend adding a gross motor component to activities whenever possible, especially in times like these when we are all hauled up in the house. Placing the head pieces and the body pieces across the room from each other can make for a very fun relay game. Running across the room to find the matching piece, then running to another area of the house to place them in the pegboard. The little ones will be entertained for hours. To up the challenge, you can try placing the body piece in the pegboard first, then having them run to find the head piece from memory!
Alphabet Acorns is a fun way to work on opening and closing a container, as well as filling it with color matching items. For those who are already working on letter sounds, as well as upper and lower case letters, this is a great cognitive and motor planning task of completing the sequence. Find the objects that start with the letter on the acorn, place them in the container, and find the matching lowercase lid. For those who do not quite have the letter recognition yet, you can simply work on the color component by finding the objects of the matching color!