Occupational Therapists know that playful, theme-based activities are so important to keep kiddos engaged while building skills! Holidays (including St Patrick’s Day) are an easy way to build in themed activities that are meaningful and fun and that inspire participation in activities that may otherwise feel challenging. Themed based activities are also a motivating way to encourage exercise! At KidSHINE, our OT team LOVES to connect exercises to themes and stories!
When planning activities at KidSHINE using our novel EXERSHINEkids philosophy of merging OT and high intensity exercise, we focus on creating exercise stories related to child friendly themes. That way, we’re able to target core strength, shoulder stability, endurance, bilateral coordination, crossing midline, sequencing, visual motor integration and more (while also providing proprioceptive and vestibular input to target sensory processing), all in one comprehensive and fun activity!
Excited to try this with your kiddos, but not sure where to start? Check out some easy to implement ideas for St Patrick's Day from our clinic to yours!
At KidSHINE, we made shamrocks with specific weight bearing or high intensity exercises on them and created a shamrock exercise path to a pot of gold. Some of our favorite exercises for our shamrocks are burpees, plank taps, and mountain climbers, which are all exercises that work core muscles, promote shoulder stability and also provide calming sensory input too!
You can grade the exercises by ability level and by sensory target area (prop, vestibular, both). Depending on how much exercise and input your kiddos need, you can also have kiddos roll a dice to see how many reps of each exercise they need to do before moving to the next shamrock!
When kiddos reach the pot of gold, they can add to the rainbow chain! We also encourage kiddos to write on a vertical surface and draw their own leprechaun, rainbow, or gold coins! Dry erase crayons provide good feedback and resistance on a white board, and you can encourage midline crossing and balance by having your kiddo do this activity while standing on a BOSU ball (blue side less of a challenge than the black side) or even while standing on a non-slip pillow or couch cushion!
Try this with your kiddos this week! What do you notice- is this activity targeting all of the goals you need to target? Is your kiddo calmer after this activity? Can you think of other themes that engage your kiddos to participate in skill building activities? Hint- sometimes the best way to engage a kiddo is to ask them what themes are most meaningful to them! Stay Tuned! More to come!
Stay Strong and SHINE ON! :-) Amy
P.S. If you’re a therapist who is inspired by exercise and you're loving these creative ideas, check out www.exershinekids.com to learn more about how you can become trained and certified in our novel and eclectic EXERSHINEkids POWER Bootcamp Program! And if you are a parent on the North Shore, MA area, check out www.kidshine-ot.com to learn how you can start the process for OT or Bootcamp classes for your child!
Dr. Amy Wheadon, OTD, OTR/L is a licensed and registered Pediatric Occupational Therapist, the owner of KidSHINE LLC in Rowley, MA and Amesbury, MA and the creator of the evidence-based EXERSHINEkids POWER Bootcamp Program. Follow us on facebook at kidshine.ot and exershinekids and on instagram @kidshine.ot and @exershinekids to learn more about our programs!