Balance is the ability to hold your body upright and steady without falling down! Balance is a significant component of child developement and relies heavily on core strength and the vestibular system.
- Standing like a flamingo and different animals.
- Ladder bridge: Place a ladder on the ground and challenge your child to walk across. To advance the skills, place the ladder slightly above the ground or at an angle.
- Yoga (see Yoga card game)
- Stand and walk across couch cushions and other unstable surfaces around the house.
- Freeze dance: challenging the body's ability to move freely and suddenly stop helps develop balance.
- Tightrope walk: use a jump rope or string to create a line for the child to walk on. Start sideways, then advance to forward and backwards heel-toe walking.
- Keeling on 2 knees or 1 knee/foot and hitting a balloon back and forth.
- Single leg toe taps on block towers, cones, stools.
- Outdoor obstacles: Walking on logs, rock paths, curbs, ect.
- Around the house: Look for natural opportunities during the day for your child to lift or push heavy items. For example, the child can help carry in the groceries, take the milk in and out of the fridge, pick up and move cans of soup, or push a laundry basket across the room.
- Rough-housing: This is an under-appreciated activity! Rough-housing requires co-contractions of the joints and core and the use of balance reactions.
- Airplane: The parent holds the child’s hands, places their feet on the child’s tummy/hips, and lifts them up to fly. The parent can count or sing a song to see how long the child stays up.
- Wheelbarrow walk: Hold the child’s feet and have them walk on their hands. It helps to have a visual cue of “walk to Daddy.” to encourage the child to complete the task. This activity can also be done as a handstand, walking feet up against the wall instead of being held by the parent.
- Statue: The child holds different positions as a “statue” while the parent gently tries to “knock over” the child. Positions can include kneeling, half-kneel (start in kneeling, lift one left up and put one foot on the floor like you are standing up), standing, standing with eyes closed, standing on a pillow or cushion with eyes open or closed. Again,the parent can count or sing a song to see how long the child stays up.
- Surf Board: Have the child stand on a pillow or sofa cushion and play catch, hit a balloon, or pop bubbles. Counting to 10 repetitions of an activity will help to keep some children engaged.
- Obstacle courses: Create an obstacle course that includes climbing over, under, and through things. A concrete tip is to use visual cues such as getting a piece of the puzzle, go through the course, and then place it in the puzzle.
- Scooter games: Square gym scooters can be used in a variety of ways. The child can lie on their belly and use their hands to move, they can sit on the scooter and ride with feet, or they can keep their knees on the scooter and propel with their hands on the floor.
- “Rock and Rolls”: Have the child sit with knees curled up and arms wrapped around legs. Have them rock back and then sit right back up. The child can also do “egg rolls” in this position rocking side to side.
- Animal walks: Some examples are crab walk, worm wiggle, bear walk on hands and feet, stand on one foot like a flamingo and move like a turtle with a pillow as a shell. Take turns choosing the animal and then do the walk together. You can also print out animal pictures or use animal toys to choose an animal if the child would benefit visual choices.
- Build A Bridge: Have the child lie on their back with their knees bent and feet on the floor. The child will then lift their bottom up off the floor. Roll a toy car under the bridge. Remind the child to keep the bridge open!
Motor Planning Activities
Motor Planning refers to the ability to think of and perform infamiliar and complex bosy movements in a coordinated manner. Motor planning also include the ability to organize and sequence the actions correctly.
- Encourage your child to use their words to explain their movements.
- Play simon says
- Animal walks
- Jumping jacks
- Making shapes and letters with your body (use mirror)
Bilateral coordination is the ability to use both sides of the body at the same time in a controlled and organized manner. This can mean using both sides to do the same thing, as in pushing a rolling pin, using alternating movements such as when walking, or using different movements on each side, such as when cutting with
scissors while holding and controlling the paper with the other hand
Children learn to use both sides of their bodies in stages. Given two objects, they may bang them together. Later they learn that they can keep one hand still and while the other moves Eventually they achieve the higher level skill of being able to use both hands at the same time but each doing hand
and something different, such as holding a book with one Children turning pages with the other.turning pages with the other.
Being able to coordinate both sides of the body is an indication that both sides of the brain are communicating and sharing information with each other. Having good bilateral coordination allows the hands and feet to work well together. This is important for accomplishing many daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs, playing musical instruments, stirring food in a bowl, using tools that require two hands and having full visual awareness of the environment. A child with poor coordination of both sides of the body may have difficulty controlling one hand while the other hand is doing something else. Two handed, or footed, tasks are challenging and difficult to accomplish. There may be an uneven focus, such as when cutting, concentrating on the hand that's using the scissors and being unaware of the other hand that has to control and move the paper simultaneously.
Simple Symmetrical Activities
- Blow bubbles and reach with both hands to pop them
- Pull cotton balls apart, glue on paper to make a picture
- Tear strips of paper, paste on paper to make a collage
- Squeeze, push and pull on clay, putty, play doh or modeling foam
- Pull apart construction toys (Duplos, Legos) with both hands
- Roll play doh, putty or clay with rolling pins
- Percussion toys: symbols, drums (both hands together), etc.
- Play with a toy Accordion
- Pull apart and push together crinkle tubes
- Play Zoom Ball
- Penny flipping: line up a row of pennies, start flipping with each hand at the far end until they meet in the middle
- Penny flipping: line up in an oval, start at the top with both hands and flip pennies simultaneously until hands meet at the bottom
- Jump rope
- Ball play: throw and catch with both hands together
- Bounce a large ball with 2 hands, throw or push a ball with 2 hands
- Drum or Bongos: with both hands one at a time (reciprocally); try to imitate a rhythm
- Ride a tricycle or bicycle
- Air biking: while on your back, raise your feet up toward the ceiling and pretend you're pedalling a bike
- Walking, running, skipping, swimming
- Play follow the leader hopping on one foot, then the other; then 2 to 3 times on each foot, alternate repetitions and feet; add arm
motions to increase the challenge
- Juggle scarves
Activities that require different skill sets for each hand
- Cut out all types of things with scissors: cut straws and then string up pieces for jewelry, cut play doh or putty, cut up greeting
cards and make a collage, cut styrofoam packing peanuts
- Spread peanut butter, or any spread on crackers, frost cookies; be sure to hold the cracker or cookie still
- String beads to make jewelry
- Coloring, writing, drawing: be sure the other hand is holding down the paper
- Trace around stencils: the helper hand holds the stencil down firmly while the other draws around the stencil