I am revisiting one activity I recommended a few weeks ago because of how beneficial this position is for improving sensory, body awareness, strength, vision, attention and engagement. If your child has trouble sustaining this position for ball play, allow them an alternate activity while lying on their belly (play-doh, coloring or even an educational game on the iPad if they won’t do anything else). Aim for 5 minutes and try to complete a couple times every day over the next week.
To provide touch pressure to body from floor
To increase back and neck extension strength
To develop arm strength
To develop good eye tracking (roll ball)
SPRAY BOTTLE GAMES
Trigger-handled spray bottle
Bucket of water for refilling bottles
Targets-playground cement, beach ball with shaving cream, bubbles.
Line up your children (if siblings want to participate) and give each child one spray bottle. The children use the spray bottle to draw letters, shapes and numbers on the cement. If you child has difficulty drawing something specific, just work on the act of spraying water on the sidewalk.
Place a beach ball on top of the bucket, 5 feet for the children. Draw a happy face, number, or letter on the ball with shaving cream, and have the children take turns squirting the water at the beach ball until the cream is washed off.
Have the children spray a stream of water to pop bubbles blown by the parent.
Bissell, Julie, M.A., OTR, J. Fisher, M.A., OTR , C. Owens, OTR, P. Polcyn, OTR. Sensory Motor Handbook. A Guide for Implementing and Modifying Activities in the Classroom. Therapy Skill Builders Copyright 1998, Sensory Integration International.
Activities are to be completed with parent supervision at all times for safety.
Deep pressure; “These sensations often help to organize a child who is overly sensitive to touch or who exhibits hyperactivity or distractibility in situations where tactile input causes irritation to the child. I have listed some activity suggestions.
Wrap your child up in a blanket like a “taco.” You could also use a yoga mat or towel for this activity. Give them big squeezes once he or she is wrapped up. Make a game out of this using language like “Ready, Set, Go,” “Go, Go, Go, Stop,” “Roll, Roll, Roll, Squish” for example. This can also be a turn taking opportunity between siblings or with you as the parent. Use simple language like “My turn,” “Your turn”, “His turn.”
Squish between two pillows like a “hamburger.” You can give additionally deep pressure by putting on “toppings” like ketchup, mustard, cheese, pickle and so on.
Have your child lay on the floor and roll a large ball (exercise balls work best) over most of their body.
Deep pressure massage using lotion as tolerated
Give bear hugs often
Vestibular and Proprioceptive Activities; Some children enjoy excessive doses of movement, while others may be very sensitive to any type of body movements, including car rides, swings, tilting head back in the bathtub, so cautiously observe your child during any of these activities and discontinue if your child appears to not enjoy the stimulation.
Rocking in a rocking chair
Jumping on a trampoline
Climbing outdoors or indoors on old furniture or stairway (with supervision)
Hikes in the hills
Rolling over an exercise ball with assistance (on belly or on back)
Hand over hand practice of shapes or lines
Drawing letters and numbers in sand or shaving cream
Cut a slit in a plastic food container and practice putting coins in
Stacking blocks (if you do not have blocks, use anything in your pantry)
Helping your child go “upside down.” You can lay them over your lap or lay off the couch to give them inverted input. This is the strongest type of movement input you can give a child, so only do for 10 seconds at a time. This is also very stimulating for the eye muscles, so you may notice your child blinking or closing their eyes.
Bouncing-large balls, old mattress or old couch cushions
Proprioception (Joint and Muscle Input); This kind of sensation is very calming and organizing for the nervous system. This system helps our body’s know how to move, how much force to use for things like putting on our socks and shoes and coordinating our body in space. The video link to follow is a good explanation of this system. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2iOliN3fAE
Stair climbing/sliding– bumping down on bottom
Crawling-through tunnels or boxes on all fours, or under chairs
Silly animal walks– crab, bear, slithering like a snake, frog hop
Squishing between pillows or blankets
Hanging-from adult hands or trapeze bar
Tactile (Touch Input); The kind of sensation allows us to feel with our skin. This system is very important for everything we do with our hands.
To increase body awareness through push-pull activity
To develop upper body strength
To promote standing balance
To provide touch pressure input to hands during weight bearing
To increase upper back extension strength
To build arm strength
(Smooth surface such as wood or linoleum are best for this activity. I have kids go under chairs or “bridge” to give them a reference of how to move in this position. This may be difficult for your child, so build tolerance for being on tummy to start, which is very important for building strength).
FINE MOTOR ACTIVITIES
Massage the hands prior to dressing, eating or completing fine motor activity to get your child ready for the task. If you can feel your hands, your hands will work more efficiently.
Provide your child with a chewie or similar oral activity to keep the mouth busy while the hands are learning.
Have your child practice cleaning up after himself or herself.
Promote independence in self care.
Use spray bottles, playing cards, blocks, puzzles and containers to practice opening/closing of the hands and manipulating the pieces with their small muscles.
Bath time- bubble bath, crayon soap, back scrub brushes
Foam soap or shaving cream- draw, blow
Sticky play- tape, contact paper, painters tape
Kitchen time- mixing tasting, smelling, washing up
While playing with tactile materials, you can practice drawing shapes, letters, drawing faces, drawing a person, etc with your child. Talk about what you are doing and encourage them to engage in the play with you or with a sibling. References: Building Bridges Through Sensory Integration. Yack, E, Aquilla P and Sutton S. Future Horizons 2002
Parent Activity Suggestions; 20+minutes recommended daily. These activities are especially important for children who have fine motor concerns, learning difficulties, attention deficits and language delays. Children who have not spent enough time practicing “developmental movements” (tummy time, playing on belly, rolling, belly crawling and crawling) are likely to struggle with formal learning later on at school. These activities are highly encouraged to improve the foundational skills needed for academic learning.
Weight bearing on the arms; lay and play on tummy
Rolling; body completely straight with arms above head and going both directions
Army crawling on slick surface with bare feet
Crawling on hands and knees (over and under furniture, through an obstacle course, tunnel, doing relay races)