As we face down long stretches of time quarantined into our houses, I'm hearing from a lot of parents that they need a start point for bored kids. Unstructured time is great for building the foundations to executive functioning skills, but what if your child needs a little help to get going? Give them one of these open ended challenges and see what happens! These prompts are probably best suited for second grade and up. Show off a picture of your child's finished project in the comments.
This one is a simple activity that can be a powerful regulator. Grab a party blower and some army men, plastic figurines, or lego guys and set them up around the floor. Have one sibling be the destroyer, who gets to army crawl around and knock down the figures with his or her party horn, which the other sibling sets them up as quickly as possible. Then they swap positions. You can make it more physically challenging for the sibling setting them back up by saying they can only bend down on one foot to pick them up, or they must do one frog jump for each figure "rescued".
Did this work in your house? Did you find it easier in a small space or a larger space? Drop us a note and let us know!
Sock wrestling is great for rainy days when kids still need rough and tumble play. The concept is all the members of the family have on socks, and you try to steal as many as possible from everyone else before time is up. Winner has the most socks at the end. I usually pair the 5-4-3-2-1 mindfulness activity at the end of this rough and tumble play to help everyone come back down.
What house rules did you end up using? Drop us a note in the comments and let us know what works for your crew.
I'm sure some of you have seen this picture going around Facebook:
Take a bowl of water, a straw, and add a little dish soap, then use this game to bring kids with anxious energy down to a calmer place with the long breath out. (Activate the parasympathetic nervous system). This activity is best on your belly, but I demonstrate kneeling.
Drop us a note in the comments and let us know how it worked for your family. Did you notice a difference in energy and behavior afterwards?
Parents and kids alike can join me for this 8 minute calming mindfulness activity.
For today's activity you will need a straw, two bowls, and some small treats like cheerios or m&m's. (Please supervise children when dealing with objects small enough to choke on). Strong suck is regulating and can help calm an overresposive nervous system.
Let us know in the comments if/how your child's behavior changed after this activity.
I cut this in half for my video, the full recipe makes two loaves.
Easy French Bread (aka-kids can do it all except the oven)
5 cups of all-purpose or bread flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 and 1/4 cups water
Mix dry ingredients, then add water. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise for 12 to 24 hours.
About an hour before you're ready to bake, put the dough out on a floured surface (more flour than I did, as you can see mine stuck to the board) and form the log shape about 12 inches long. Let it rise for about an hour, at the halfway point turn the oven to 450 degrees and place your pizza stone inside to get nice and hot. (I haven't tried it without a pizza stone, but I would imagine you could do it on a cookie sheet). Brush water on the top and transfer to the pizza stone, let back at 450 for 30 minutes. Take out and enjoy your fresh bread !!!
What recipes are you trying with your children? Drop a note in the comments and let us know how this recipe turned out for you, or other great recipes we can explore during our isolation to flatten the curve.
Peaceable Kingdom's cooperative game Engineering Ants is a great game for small groups (2-3 students) and a really good fit for twice exceptional students who are good with their hands but struggle with games that require cooperation or extended attention. The sweet spot for age is second through 4th grade. This is a game that students will play multiple times, but not typically in a row.
This game is centered around the concept that the ants need to invent gadgets to avoid a series of obstacles while they outrace the anteater. There are three ants that need rescuing around the board and the players roll a dice with numbers or an anteater head on it. If you get the anteater, he moves closer to the ant hill (if he makes it there you lose as a group). If you get a number, you move that many spaces- but watch out for obstacles like snakes, spiders, or poison ivy! If you hit an obstacle you must create an invention to get over, under, around, or through.
You can make your speech therapy friends happy and have each player explain their invention and convince the other players that it is the appropriate solution for the obstacle. Or, if you are working on self regulation with peers you can have each player add something to the invention, then pass it on. The therapist gets to be the final say on if the invention would work in that scenario.
I have thought about replacing the cardboard and plastic pieces with real items like Lego wheels, springs from pens, batteries, string, etc for my older students. What would you include in an invention kit? Tell us in the comments.
This game says only available at Target, but as with most things, you can purchase it on Amazon if you click here (affiliate link- meaning if you buy through this link we get a small profit at no extra cost to you).
Ms Amy has 10 years of experience as an OT and believes in educating the community to empower parents and teachers to recognize the difference between typical and atypical development and sharing creative ideas to facilitate age appropriate skills. She wants to be a resource for children and families of all abilities.