Learning Through Play
Play is essential for learning at a young age. All of us learn through our early years of play that make learning easier as we age. The child who never engages in storytelling cannot develop their imagination and prepare themselves for excellent writing skills. The child who doesn’t sing and dance may have a harder time learning speech and remembering facts later on. Play has to be a part of a child’s day! You can use these techniques with your young patients during your sessions together and encourage parents to play with a purpose between sessions.
To improve gross motor skills:
- Pretend – be a duck, airplane, superhero, or anything else you can imagine
- Blow bubbles
- Roll down a hill
- Dance – line dances, Little Teapot, the Hokey Pokey are good options. Older children can have “dance battles”
- Balance beams – start out with string or tape and challenge to balance on it. Move up to planks off the ground in varying heights as balance improves.
- Create an obstacle course – create a situation in which they have to crawl, climb, walk, run, over, under, and balance. Time them as they get better and try to compete with their previous times.
To improve fine motor skills:
- Build with LEGOs
- Sewing – basic stitches with large needles, go finer as the child improves
- Weaving – don’t forget those old potholder looms!
- Beading – stringing large beads onto thread for bracelets gives the child a chance and Mom new jewelry
- Spooning marbles – move from one cup to another and challenge to get faster as the child improves
- Painting with colored water- move to paints as the child improves and gets older
- Play with homemade play dough
- Pattern making with different sized shells
Developing their creative aspect is fairly easy with just one simple fun activity, storytelling. There are a few ways to jump start this activity and it may take a little trial and error to find the one thing that a child resonates most with. You can try:
- Staring at the clouds to pick out pictures and tell about why they are there
- Cut out pictures and words from magazines and put them in a jar. Pull one thing out of the jar and tell a story about that word or picture
- Round robin – start a story with just one sentence and have your child add to it. Take turns until you have a nice long story that you have created together.
Play needs to be incorporated so that you can see incredible results and make speech therapy sessions that much easier.
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