By: Stephanie Conley PT, DPT and Maddie Keppel PT, DPT
Painters tape is an inexpensive way to provide guided play activities for your children inside or out! See our top ten ideas below!
1. Tic Tac Toe
Create a tic tac toe board with painters tape! You can use stuffed animals, colored cups, bean bags or silverware as game pieces. The game can be played while in a deep squat, in half kneel or tall kneel. It can also be played by separating the pieces and board. Have your child run, skip, hop, move like an animal to go and get the piece prior to each move.
2. Four Square
Four-square does not have to be just an outdoor recess game. Painters tape can outline a four-square court of any size inside and can be played with a soft or bouncy ball. If you only have two people to play with, try and move between the boxes as playing.
Use painters tape to create a maze on the wall or the ground and provide children with toy trains, cars or small craft balls to move throughout the maze and get to the end! Encourage children to play in a squat or tall kneel position while doing this to help strengthen their hip and leg muscles.
4. Target Toss
Can’t play Corn-hole outside? No problem! You can use painters tape to outline a target on the ground and children can see how many bean bags or stuffed animals they can toss into the target. If one target gets boring try targets at different distances. For older children give the targets a number value and create a game. Children can practice math by adding the point values and keeping their own score.
5. Tightrope Walks
Creating a “tightrope” with painters tape can be done with one long piece and the child can walk one foot in front of the other on it. A tightrope can also create a path around the kitchen or between rooms. Just make sure not to fall off!
6. Ball Targets
Targets are a great way to help work on ball skills both catching and throwing. Try a small soft ball on a wall target. A higher target for overhand throwing and a lower target for underhand. A shape on the ground can be used to bounce a ball in and catch. When a child is learning to catch, timing can often be challenging. When they are bouncing the ball, the timing is easier because they control when they drop and catch. You can also encourage a child to bounce the ball in the shape as many times as the shape's sides (i.e. triangle = 3x) or have them stand to the side and say "triangle" as they bounce it in the triangle or "square" and they bounce it in the square.
7. Spy Game
Imagine you and your child are spies and have to navigate a laser security system. Use the painters tape across the wall like hurdles for the obstacle course. As well at different angles from the wall to the floor and from wall to wall. By creating a web of painters tape the child will have to crawl, step and slide through without touching any of the tape and continue their spy mission.
Who said hopscotch has to be just a summer activity?! By using painters tape a hopscotch outline can be created inside. We recommend doing it down a hallway or in an open space to leave room for jumping. Hopscotch helps develop motor planning and coordination skills by completing jumping and hopping patterns.
9. Heavy Work Course
Use the painters tape to create a pattern along your wall. Then give your child a ball and ask them to trace the pattern with the ball. If you have a weighted ball (2-3 pounds) this activity will provide tactile stimulation as they move along the track. Either way the child is working to coordinate the ball and follow the pattern along the wall.
10. Obstacle Course
Taping painters tape between two walls make perfect hurdles to step and jump over. In the video you can see two examples of different heights. It can also be used to outline stepping stones or create balance beams for an easy indoor obstacle course. Obstacle courses help children develop safety awareness, depth perception and understanding of where their bodies are in space.
By Stephanie Conley PT, DPT and Maddie Keppel PT, DPT
As the holidays approach, finding a gift for your child is probably high on your list. With a society that is focused on technology, it can be challenging to find a gift that captures your children’s attention and encourages them to move. Technology has a place, but don’t underestimate the power of simple toys and engaging with your child in play!
In general, any age appropriate toy can be used as a gross motor motivator. For example, play a board game with your child kneeling at a low table or buy a large foam die and throw it to the next player when it’s their turn. If your child is allowed screen time, consider sitting or standing on a moving surface, like a dynadisc or balance board, to engage more muscles than their fingers.
To help our parents and caregivers, we’ve put together a list of our top five gift ideas for gross motor development in different age categories. Enjoy!
**Please note links are provided as suggestions only. We do not receive any compensation when you purchase these suggested products.
Pre-teens and Teenagers
If you have questions, comments, or concerns about your child’s gross motor development, please reach out to us in the comments below!
Nina Berault PT, DPT and Jessica Yoon PT, DPT
As a nation, we are more sedentary today than ever before. Less than 30% of adolescents meet national physical activity recommendations (CDC). Pre-dating the COVID-19 pandemic, there were several contributors to this change in societal behaviors. Physical education and athletic programs received less funding, and the constant temptation/educational requirements to use electronic devices grew exponentially. These are obstacles to physical activity that typical children face, and may have a more significant impact for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Does your child with ASD resist movement in various forms? Do you have difficulties implementing a routine for exercise? Not to fear! We call you to think about daily activities your child already performs (or helps you perform) as a form of daily exercise! Below are two lists of activities that can be performed daily/weekly with household items.
Sneaky ways to work on strength:
Sneaky ways to work on balance:
By: Nina Berault PT, DPT
Our children spend much of their time performing sedentary activities (i.e, writing, typing, attending to a teacher's lesson, and reading). Typically in the classroom, our children assume a "short sit" position in their chairs- their bottoms supported by a surface and lower legs folded over the side. Too much time spent in this position may result in restricted hip mobility, tight hamstrings, and weakness in the neck and back to name a few things. Home is the perfect environment to switch things up. Below is a list of several positions children can assume when reading, writing, playing video games, and more!
Prone on elbows: Recruits scapular (shoulder blade), cervical (neck), and thoracic (upper back) musculature to hold the head and shoulders off the ground. Sensory input is given to the core as the belly pushes down into the floor.
The child must recruit core and hip musculature to achieve and maintain midline position (counteracts the rotation in the trunk as a result of the hip position).
Half kneel: Narrow base of support in this position allows for recruitment of the core and glutes. Quadriceps are also used to maintain balance! Child learns to align ribcage and pelvis.
By: Nina Berault PT, DPT
We have all played the comparison game. Little Susie walked at 10 months- why is my son still crawling at 14 months? My niece is unable to roll over, but my nephew was sitting independently at her age. To add fuel to the fire, it is enticing to google search or scroll through social media to discover what's "typical" in childhood development. Consider the following prior to sounding the alarm.
SKILLS THAT SHOULD BE OBSERVED...
Birth to 3 months
GENERAL WARNING SIGNS
Nina Berault PT, DPT
In the modern world, our babies tend to move from container to container (carriers to car seats to backpacks, etc) with little independent movement in between. This certainly has implications for development of gross motor skills in the future. Check out the strategies below to ensure that your baby develops a strong core to take on the world!
TUMMY TIME !!! (begins at birth)
Let's get ROLLING!!! (start at 3 months)
General Core Strength and Sitting Balance (> or = 5 months)
By: Nina Gallelli PT, DPT
It is common for children ages 2-4 to be apprehensive when ascending and descending stairs. This may be the case for several reasons including balance deficits, strength deficits, fear of heights, etc. In addition to speaking with a licensed physical or occupational therapist, try the suggestions listed below!