Making Creative Play.... Therapeutic
Deanna Macioce, MS, OTR/L
We often find that many of our children we see in the treating arena of sensory processing concerns lack imaginative and creative play skills. In this case, as parents, therapists, teachers or anyone else that interacts with these children, we tend not to even bring it into our interactions and therapy sessions. It is true that often times these children work best with direct, concise instructions. However incorporating creative play can be both fun and therapeutic for these children, giving them an opportunity to connect to you.
With your standard therapy equipment, it is not hard to make a pirate hunt, a jungle adventure, or princess themed obstacle course. Balance beams and tunnels are tree logs to walk on or crawl through, bridges to cross and underground passages. Balance boards, bolsters, and rockers make great boats to travel down the river, and avoid the sneaking crocodile by using the trapeze swing to cross the river overhead. Rock walls and climbing ladders allow you climb the mountain or scale the castle wall in an effort to save the princess. And do not forget the 'jewels' using beanbags or small balls to capture and toss or activities. Weighted balls are also a great way to incorporate some heavy work to find the treasure and hide into the 'barrel' treasure chest. These are just a couple of ideas to spark your creative juices.
At Southpaw, we have taken some of the guesswork out of being creative. Our Hot Dog
sets are a great way to add some fun, creative play while providing proprioceptive input. Set up an activity of having a picnic or going to ball game. Having the child obtain the pieces not only addressed heavy work, but also works on sequencing skills. And the best part, the finished product is a nice, yummy way to get some calming before doing more refined tasks.
Put together a garden or farm themed activity using our new Weighted Wheel Barrow
. Not only does this item add some heavy work to your therapeutic activity, it also incorporates bilateral coordination, balance and spatial negotiation. With the option of 1 or 2 front wheels, children of all sizes and skill levels can enjoy being "Old McDonald".
What child does not enjoy playing store or racing around a shopping cart. With our Weighted Shopping Cart
, available in two different heights, children of different sizes can participate in fun, therapeutic play. Having a picture or word-based shopping list that the child has to follow works on sequencing, direction following, and independent work while getting in some heavy work, bilateral coordination and proprioceptive input. Expanding this play into how they have to achieve the items (ie. wheelbarrow walk, crab walk, etc) and then doing some categorizing expands the therapeutic benefits of this single piece of equipment.
The Linear Glider Tent
offers an ideal 'small' space with the additional vestibular input. This tent can be made into a camping themed activity with the child going through a checklist to gather the materials for an activity to be done in the camping tent, such as finding the matching pieces to Velcro (separatable) food and then having to put it together. Ideally used for calming, this item allows you to think outside of the box and bring imaginative play into your therapy session.
So, now is the time to get out of your rut and make therapy creative and fun again, and let the world of Southpaw
help you achieve this.