Fall is upon us, parents. We know what that means: pumpkins, leaves, and cinnamon spice…arts and crafts and everything nice! Even here in Florida, where the seasons aren’t so noticeable, we can still help our kids have fun with fall, while practicing those key skills that they learn in OT. Here are a few fun fall arts and crafts and other activities!
Leaf Cutting – Bilateral coordination, hand strength, fine and visual motor coordination
What you need: Children’s safety scissors, leaves
In Florida, we don’t have many colored fall leaves in September, but we have a few…and you can use them for a fun fall activity. Collect newly fallen leaves from the trees and have your child cut along the veins of these leaves with child safe scissors. This activity will help to promote the use of two hands working together, eye-hand coordination, fine motor control and precision, and strengthening of the intrinsic muscles of the hand. Once your child masters cutting along straight paths or lines, he or she can move on to a more challenging activity, like the one below!
Construction Paper Trees – Fine motor skills, hand strengthening, hand-eye coordination, bilateral coordination skills
What You Need: Brown, red, yellow and orange construction paper…and possibly a large poster board and a big brown marker if you want to make giant trees
If your child is a fan of cutting and has moved past cutting leaf veins, have him or her cut a trunk out of construction paper, and cut leaves in different fall colors and shapes to glue on to the top of the trunk. This activity can easily be adapted and graded based on your child’s skill level by having him or her cut out pre-drawn or printed leaves, tracing leaves or leaf stencils to cut out, or free-form cutting.
If you’re in a “go big or go home” kind of mood, you can make the trees as large as you want, with poster board as the trunk and extra large leaves. Have your child cut out a certain number of leaves each day, glue them on to the tree, and watch as the tree “grows” beautiful fall leaves. At the end, your child can be proud of the giant tree that he or she created! You can even pin the tree up on the bedroom or playroom wall!
Pumpkin Head – Gross motor coordination, core strength, balance
What You’ll Need: A long very thin rope, beanbags, a mini pumpkin
Walking along a rope and maintaining good posture takes core strength. If your child is lacking in this area, string a rope across the ground and tie it to two anchors to keep it straight. Have your child walk a straight line, heal to toe, without stepping off the rope.
To make it harder, put a beanbag on his or her head and have him/her try to walk the rope without letting the beanbag fall. If this is easy, try the ultimate challenge. Put a mini pumpkin on his/her head and have him/her walk while balancing that. Once your child masters all of these things, try laying objects on the rope and having him bend down to pick them up without stepping off the rope.
Make Apple Sauce – Proprioceptive input, hand strength, upper body strength
What You’ll Need: Apples, cinnamon, sugar, apple chopper, pot and kitchen mallet
Use a hand-held food chopper with a safety guard to cover the blades. Your child can use it to chop the apples. If he/she is strong enough to chop a full apple, go for it. If not, you can chop the apple into large slices that are more manageable, and then hand it to him/her to do the chopping. To mash the apples, allow your child to use a kitchen mallet. Ingredients like cinnamon and sugar will provide a fun sensory and olfactory experience too! Try Martha Stewart’s apple sauce recipe!
Peel Corn – Grip strength, hand-eye coordination, bilateral coordination
Your child can help you peel corn as a fun fall activity! Peeling the husks and corn silk requires a pincer grasp, builds strength, and encourages tactile sensory exploration. What to do with all of that yummy corn? Eat it! Have your child help you make a delicious corn-based food. Try cornbread, or just simple corn on the cob.
Fall Themed Play-Doh Pumpkins – Fine motor, sensory experience, bilateral coordination, and intrinsic muscle strength
What You’ll Need: Orange, green, and brown Play-Doh
Have your child make pumpkins of all different sizes. They will be able to practice rolling the dough, making the stems, and making the indented lines on the pumpkins. A large pumpkin can be as big as your child’s hand and a small pumpkin can be as tiny as a marble, if you think your child will be able to work with that size.
Football Pillow Jump – Gross motor skills, eye-hand coordination, proprioception, strength and balance.
What You’ll Need: Couch pillows and a football.
Celebrate the beginning of football season with your child by doing this fun activity. If your child is a football fan, have him/her pretend to be your family’s favorite football player. If you’re not a football family, the activity is still fun. Have your child throw a football at a goal (a pillow).
Line up other pillows on the floor and have her jump from pillow to pillow and throw the football at the target from each pillow. Space the pillows further apart for more of a challenge and bring them closer together to make it easier. The act of jumping while holding a football will help with balance, proprioception, and strength of the legs and core. You can increase the challenge of this activity further by having your child try the football pillow course in varying positions (on all fours, on high knees, moving backwards, or side-to-side) and can also explore tossing the ball in differing motor patterns (over hand, under hand, between the legs, from lying on bellies).
And it’s Fun!
The best thing about OT “homework” is that it can certainly be fun! What child doesn’t love doing art projects, jumping around, and cooking delicious food? These activities are not only great because they’re fall themed and will help your child develop important skills, but also because they’re easily adaptable and you can make them fit any theme that would interest your child. So, have fun, get creative, and help your child grow!
https://doi.org/10.1177/0269215514527596 (abstract only)
DISCLAIMER: Information published about one particular disorder does not necessarily apply to every individual who has the disorder discussed in this article. Treatments and therapies are highly individual and must be customized to the needs of each person to be effective. Do not make changes to your/your child’s treatment plan as a result of what you read in this article (or any content published by AASL) without consulting your/your child’s physicians and therapists. This content does not necessarily reflect the opinions of All About Speech and Language or its therapists. To understand the opinions and recommendations of your/your child’s AASL therapist, schedule an appointment with your therapist to discuss your concerns.
Tags: coordination, fine motor, gross motor, home practice, occupational therapy, strength