When helping children with limited mobility, special education teachers, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists and physical therapists – and other clinicians in school-based therapy jobs – are often on the lookout for activities to engage children. Whether making music or art, crafting or playing games, here are 8 activities you can include in your lineup.
Musical activities are ideal because they can be adapted to as little or as much movement as is possible with the child. Here are several ideas:
- Keep The Beat Here – Bright Hub Education (Twitter: @BH_Education) shares an activity called Keep The Beat Here. In this activity, one child starts to keep a beat by tapping on a specific part of his or her body. Other children in the group would then follow the action without words or discussion. It is then the therapist’s job to point to another child and have that child start keeping the beat on a different part of the body.
- Chanting – Chanting songs or rhymes offers special education teachers, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and other clinicians in school-based therapy jobs the opportunity to teach different skills – including memorization, repetition and pronunciation. Classroom recommends introducing instruments to the activity once basic words are learned.
- Musical Ball – A welcome change to musical chairs for children who are unable to participate, musical ball can be played by just about anyone. Ideal for use by physical therapists working with a group of children or by special education teachers, Musical Ball involves children passing a ball instead of switching chairs. When the music is stopped, the child holding the ball gets a point. The first child to 5 points wins. Thanks to Healthy Living AZ for this activity!
Arts and Crafts
Certain arts and crafts are a great way to enhance creativity in children with limited mobility:
- Toothpick Painting – This idea from Club Chica Circle (Twitter: @ChicaCircle) creates beautiful tie dye style designs using wooden shapes, decoupage, paint and a toothpick. It may be necessary to replace the toothpick with a larger object if the child does not have the dexterity to hold a small object like a toothpick. Consider the pointy end of a toothbrush or paint brush instead. This activity can be used by occupational therapists to improve fine motor skills.
- Sense of Smell Activity – Some children with special needs have fine-tuned senses – such as the sense of smell. Education.com offers the Sense of Smell Activity. The special education teacher or occupational therapist can set up the game in advance and have the child guess various smells. Alternatively, the child can create the containers – filled with strong smelling items like lemon juice, potpourri, coffee beans or pine needles – to test their friends and family.
Games – The following games can help develop key skills while having fun:
- Seated Obstacle Race – The Change 4 Life website includes this activity in its list of Get Going – Active Ideas for Disabled Kids. The children are given a straw, a few small dried peas or other light weight object, some water and a snack. The race involves blowing the small object off the table or tray, eating the snack and using the straw to drink the water.
- Tennis Ball Race – Another great activity suggested by Healthy Living AZ is the Tennis Ball Race. In this activity, the occupational therapist or special education teacher gathers the group of children into a circle. The first child receives the ball and is prompted to pass it to the next child in the circle. After the second or third child receives the first ball, a second ball, of a different color, is introduced. The object is to pass the second ball faster than the first so that one child ends up with both balls.
- Bocce Ball – This game is so valuable for children with limited mobility that it is included in the Special Olympics games! Children with a variety of disabilities can be play Bocce – including those in wheelchairs. Bocce involves rolling game balls near a target ball, called a jack. The person who gets their game balls closest to the jack wins. Learn more about www.disabledsportsusa.org/boccia (Twitter: @DisabledSportUS).
Serving the needs of children with limited mobility can be fun and exciting for those in school-based therapy jobs special education teaching jobs.
Are YOU aware of engaging activities that you have used to help children with limited mobility? If so, please share in the comments below!
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