Living in lockdown certainly comes with its challenges. We’ve all needed to adjust to a new and sometimes not so comfortable normal as we try to balance housework, our jobs and caring for our families.
Keeping little ones stimulated is essential for their physical, mental and sensory wellbeing. Just as your little one needs to eat, so too does he need to move, touch, see, hear and smell for the sake of his growth and development.
Unfortunately, if you do not provide the space for your little human to receive this sensory input, he may find inappropriate ways of getting this crucial sensory food - such as by pulling and hanging on you!
Finding stimulating activity ideas may seem like a daunting task for an already overwhelmed parent, but luckily, our homes no matter what the size provides all the necessary opportunities (and equipment) for stimulating fun. With minimal effort, you can transform your home into a sensory play-heaven. You will all be much happier and calmer for it!
Children need to stimulate their proprioceptive system. This body position sense is vital for balance and core strength but also nourishes their sensory system. Look for opportunities for rough-and-tumble play with jumping, bashing, crashing, falling and rolling.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
The bed (if you don’t own a trampoline) is the best place for this kind of sensory play. Are your children allowed to jump on the bed in your home? If not typically, you may decide to relax this rule during lockdown and get your little ones jumping!
Rough and tumble play with mom and dad is great for big proprioceptive meals. Pillow fights, rolling around on the bed or building pillow mountains to climb and crash off, will meet your child’s need for bashing, crashing, falling and playing.
If jumping on the bed is not allowed, collect cushions and pillows of different sizes and pile them up in the corner of a room. Then watch how your little one loves diving into and crashing off of this pillow mountain!
A single duvet cover works well to make a crash bag. Fill it with pillows, cushions and soft teddies then pretend your little one is in the washing machine and shake him all about on the bed while he lies in the duvet cover.
A good time of the day for bash-crash type play is between 3 and 5pm, just before the bedtime routine. You will notice that around this time of the day, your little one is seeking this kind of input. Follow his lead and create more intense play opportunities for proprioceptive stimulation.
Children need to move more than adults do because their vestibular or movement sense is still developing. Swinging provides the most intensive vestibular input but rocking, walking running or even lying on a couch with your head down while looking at the ceiling is great.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Do you have a skateboard in the house? They are a great way to get moving if you do not have a swing. If not, you can use a large blanket or towel or even pop your little one into your laundry basket! Lying on their tummies or on their backs, give your child a hula hoop or rope to hold onto while you pull him along.
If you have an exercise pull up bar that extends into a doorframe - you could use this to hang a swing for your little one - just be sure to test it by having a swing on it yourself before letting your child swing on it.
If all else fails - tie a large blanket or sheet around a table and let your little one climb into this hammock to hang and swing in. Place some cushions or a mattress under him so that he doesn’t get hurt if he flips out accidentally!
Obstacle courses are something children love at all ages and it’s an activity that can grow in complexity as your little one develops. Being able to navigate obstacles in a course will help your little one’s developing motor planning skills, and they’re so easy to set up. Use your dining room table and chairs, couches and laundry baskets to create an obstacle course for your little one to move over, under and through.
Stairs are an excellent piece of equipment to strengthen arms, legs and trunk. They can be used to encourage crawling, single-step climbing and eventually using alternating feet. They are also great for jumping off when you can keep a careful watch.
The playful affordances are all around you in your home. It’s fantastic what you can do with everyday furniture and items to get your little one moving, bashing, crashing, playing and most of all - having fun!
Want more activities and ideas?
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