Five fun games for chil­dren to get back to the ba­sics of play

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Deb Hop­per

Chil­dren nat­u­rally love to play games. Play is the ‘oc­cu­pa­tion’ of chil­dren and is how they learn the best. Even though this comes nat­u­rally for chil­dren, in the past few years TV and other screens (tablet/phone games) have stolen large por­tions of time pre­vi­ously spent on play and learn­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. Some­times these games and ac­tiv­i­ties, re­quir­ing ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion by the child, are thought of as be­ing ‘bor­ing’ or even too chal­leng­ing as they do re­quire a lit­tle more con­cen­tra­tion and so­cial interaction for chil­dren than the im­me­di­ate feed­back that screen play gives. How do we en­cour­age chil­dren to get back to ba­sics and ‘play’ in a su­per duper fun way? Here are five fun games to try. En­cour­age their use as they will im­prove learn­ing and so­cial skills giv­ing you and your child some special time to­gether.

1. Cre­ate an ob­sta­cle course. This can be tai­lored to any age and can be inside, on a deck, ve­randa or out­side. The process of cre­at­ing the ob­sta­cle course de­vel­ops the skills of ‘ideation’ or com­ing up with new ideas or vari­a­tions on gen­eral and spa­tial plan­ning. So many chil­dren strug­gle to come up with new ideas these days and hav­ing to cre­ate some­thing from scratch en­cour­ages their imag­i­na­tion and cre­ativ­ity. Also, mak­ing up a course with pil­lows, chairs or ta­bles inside or planks of wood, rope or chairs out­side en­cour­ages the use of our gross mo­tor strength or co­or­di­na­tion.

2. Pic­tionary is a great game for en­cour­ag­ing turn tak­ing, cre­ativ­ity and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. It can be fun yet very chal­leng­ing for some chil­dren who find writ­ing or draw­ing dif­fi­cult. This gives some as­sis­tance and break­ing down the task can be help­ful and sup­port­ive.

3. Pul­leys. Rig­ging up some pul­leys and rope in the back yard, over a tree branch, or off a deck is guaranteed end­less fun and prob­lem solv­ing. Chil­dren just love hook­ing up buck­ets of sand, wa­ter or food to pull into the cubby house or onto the deck. Let them go for it and then come out with morn­ing tea that they need to fig­ure out how to ‘hoist’ it over a ‘river’ into the cubby house.

4. Pa­pier Mache. This is a great mul­ti­sen­sory craft for mak­ing fun and cre­ative struc­tures, such as a piñata with con­tents inside that can then be dried, painted and then used at a party. Tear­ing the pa­per en­cour­ages fine mo­tor ma­nip­u­la­tion skills, dip­ping into glue and stick­ing is a very sen­sory task and

paint­ing and dec­o­rat­ing is just fun and cre­ative.

5. Crafts and origami are fun ways of hav­ing some time with your chil­dren, as well as time where they can be set up for more in­de­pen­dent play while you get din­ner. Set it up on the is­land bench or din­ner ta­ble so you can chat to your chil­dren while they do the crafts and to be a re­source when they need help. These are great for re­fin­ing cut­ting, draw­ing, pen­cil grip and fine mo­tor ma­nip­u­la­tion skills. Origami is also fan­tas­tic for cre­at­ing logic and prob­lem solv­ing dif­fi­cul­ties and for fol­low­ing writ­ten in­struc­tions for older chil­dren.

Chil­dren learn the most when they are re­laxed and hav­ing fun which in­volved less ‘in screen’ time. Keep things sim­ple, aim for cheap, reusable and re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als and en­cour­age them to let their imag­i­na­tions go wild!

Deb Hop­per, Oc­cu­pa­tional Ther­a­pist, au­thor & work­shop pre­sen­ter. Deb is pas­sion­ate about em­pow­er­ing par­ents and ed­u­ca­tors to un­der­stand the un­der­ly­ing rea­sons of why chil­dren strug­gle with be­haviour, self-es­teem and sen­sory pro­cess­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. As a prac­tic­ing, Oc­cu­pa­tional Ther­a­pist, she un­der­stands the daily strug­gles that chil­dren, par­ents and teach­ers face. Deb is the co-au­thor of the CD

Sen­sory Songs for Tots, and au­thor of Re­duc­ing Melt­downs and Im­prov­ing Con­cen­tra­tion: The Just Right Kids Technique. Deb is avail­able for clinic & phone/Skype con­sul­ta­tions (02 6555 9877) & can be reached on her web­site.

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