Let the games begin! | Play It Forward Therapy

Let the games begin!

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July 29, 2021

Kids will love these Summer Olympics Activities designed to help kids improve coordination, balance, strength and fitness.

All of these Olympic crafts and games were designed by pediatric occupational therapist Jessica McMurdie OTR/L to help kids get active and exercise in a creative and playful way.  Plus, these activities offer other benefits and practice for executive functioning skills that involve organizing materials, sequencing steps, sustained attention and following directions.

You can use these Olympic inspired activities all year round to help develop your kids’ overall coordination, strength, fine motor and gross motor skills. First, set up the room with various Olympic Event stations.  Use the Event signs to designate each station then “Let the games begin!”

This FREE Olympic Games packet contains the following templates

  • Olympic event signs
  • Olympic Obstacle Course (color/cut/paste worksheet)
  • Athlete Schedule worksheet
  • Olympic Memory Game
  • Mini Basketball template
  • Archery Target template

Get Your FREE Templates: CLICK HERE

Make your own Olympic Rings Sculpture:   This Olympic Ring Sculpture was created with aluminum pie plates,  acrylic paint and hot glue!  Another idea to add Olympic spirit to the room:  Paint a large white posterboard to welcome the athletes.  Use 2 different sized plates or bowls to trace and color in the iconic overlapping rings.

Plan A Winning Olympic Events Schedule

Color, cut and paste your way to a winning “Olympic Events Schedule”. Or for a simpler version, use the “Athlete Schedule” worksheet to choose your top 5 favorite Olympic events.  The kids at the clinic created their schedules then headed to the Olympic Stadium (therapy room and hallways)  with all of the various Olympic Events set up.   

Check out the video to see how we used these worksheets to help support our young athlete’s fine motor skills, sustained attention, sequencing and direction following.  Click the video below.

Go for the Gold! Medal Craft

The Olympics wouldn’t be the Olympics without gold medals!  Check out this video for easy, paper craft medals to award your young athletes.

ARCHERY

Hit the Bullseye Archery Game

Description: There’s something really satisfying about shooting arrows and target practice This archery game is especially fun using these Olympic colored target and homemade arrows.

Benefits:  This archery game focuses on fine motor grasp, particularly targeted at simulating a pencil type grasp on the arrow.  It requires kids to slow down, stop and focus to sustain their attention while aiming for the bullseye.

Supplies

  • Target printable
  • Jumbo straws 
  • Scissors
  • Tape

How to Play Archery

  1. Tape the target onto the wall about eye level
  2. Cut the tip of each straw into a point like an arrow
  3. Stand 3 feet away.
  4. Check your finger grasp.  Practice keeping your wrist in neutral.
  5. Throw your arrow.  
  6. How many points did you get?

Pro Athlete Archery Tips:  The key is to make sure that the child is holding the arrow properly.  The movement should come from bending and straightening the elbow while keeping the wrist neutral.  If the child flexes the wrist too much, the arrow will go straight towards the ground.  The key is to bend the elbow backwards, extend your arm straight and try to keep your fingers pointed towards the target upon releasing the arrow.  Easier said than done, but that’s why Olympians practice so much!

 

BASKETBALL

Slam Dunk It! Basketball Game and Craft

Description: This mini basketball game and craft is easy to make and fun to play.  Download the FREE printable basketball court and hoop template to create your own game.

Benefits:  Mini basketball is a creative way to practice eye hand coordination, grasp, cutting skills, two hand use and patience during practice!

Supplies:

  • Free Mini Basketball Printable CLICK HERE
  • Small 3 oz cups
  • Black permanent marker 
  • Tape
  • 8” wooden bamboo skewers 
  • Foil or paper scraps

Directions

  1. Cut out the basketball court and backboard(s)
  2. Make the net: Draw criss cross diagonal lines on the cup with a permanent marker
  3. Attach the post:  Carefully poke the skewer into the bottom of the cup.  Secure the inside with tape if needed.
  4. Tape the net/cup: onto the paper backboard.
  5. Make the base:  Make a cylinder shape of playdough or clay and poke the other end of the skewer to stabilize. If you don’t have playdough, tape the post to the wall ust above the table top.(or another stable object such as the back of a tissue box).
  6. Make the basketball:  Tear off a small section of aluminium foil.  Scrunch it into a small ball.
  7. Toss the ball into the basket.

Pro Athlete Tips:  Basketball is all about technique.   Hold the basketball between your thumb, pointer and tall finger.  To help with your aim, Look with your eyes and aim for the backboard. Use wrist action to help get a nice arc as your ball flies through the air.  Start close to the basket on the court.  Gradually back away to see if you can shoot the basketball from the end of the court.  Try playing in different positions such as sitting at a table or lying on the floor on our stomach with our court in front of you.  Don’t give up, keep on trying!

CLICK THE VIDEO FOR HOW TO MAKE IT

Soccer

Description: The most exciting part of a soccer game is kicking the ball to score a goal!  This Olympic activity focuses on making goals using DIY goal posts made from PVC pipes.  Click HERE to read the article on how to make your own.

Benefits of Soccer  Kicking a ball requires a combination of good balance (one leg stance) and core strength to keep your body upright.  Eye foot coordination is also important for making solid contact with the ball.  Motor planning is also involved to plan where you want the ball to go and taking action to make it happen.  Soccer is also important for developing body awareness in terms of how hard to kick the ball depending upon how far away the goal box is.

Equipment/Supplies:

  • Soccer ball or playground ball
  • PVC pipe goal post or turn a laundry basket on it’s side against a wall for a goal.

How to play soccer

Soccer Drill Warm up:  Practice kicking the ball while it’s directly in front of you.

Let’s make a goal!:

  • Place the ball several feet in front of you.  Run towards the ball and kick it into the goal.
  • Have another player roll the ball towards you.  Kick it into the goal.

Pro Athlete Soccer Tips:  Beginners may need to hold onto a wall for additional balance support while kicking a stationary ball.  Next work on kicking the ball without holding onto the wall for support.  Finally, try rolling the ball to the child to kick the ball into the goal.

CLICK THE VIDEO BELOW TO WATCH

TENNIS

Balloon Tennis Game

Description:  A balloon plus a racket is the perfect “match” for this tennis game. Kids always “love” this game and it’ll “serve” them well. Here’s why…

Benefits of Balloon Tennis:  This Olympic tennis game is a great way to practice visual tracking, eye hand coordination and early ball skills because balloons move much slower than a ball. 

Supplies

  • Store bought paddle ball rackets 
  • Balloon

How to make your own tennis rackets:

  • 2 sturdy paper plates
  • Masking tape of duct tape
  • For the handle use a flat rubber spatula or a cardboard paper towel roll tube
  • Marker
  • Draw lines vertical and horizontal lines on the paper plate for the “strings”
  • Tape the spatula or paper towel roll tube onto the plate/

How to play

Hold balloon out in front of you.  Grasp the knot of the balloon between two fingers.  Hit the ball to your partner and continue hitting the balloon back and forth.

Pro Athlete Tips

To make it easier, suspend the balloon from a piece of yarn or string and dangle it in front the child. Or toss the balloon to the child. For an easy way to serve, hold the balloon pinching the knot.  Hit it towards your partner with the racket.  For more challenge, toss the balloon up in the air first, then serve it to your partner.

Gymnastics

Description: Walking on a balance beam or a line on the floor

Benefits of Balance Beam Activities

Balance beam activities help kids develop overall body coordination, improve balance and body awareness.  Practicing balance beam activities helps prevent falling and supports practice for walking on uneven or narrow surfaces.  The following Balance Beam routines encourage kids to slow their bodies down, practice motor planning and following directions.

Equipment/Supplies:

To make the balance beam, use a wood 2×4. Or use a strong piece of tape such as 2” wide masking tape or duct tape to make a line on the floor at least 10 feet long.  Did you know that  an actual balance beam measures 4 inches wide and 16.4 feet long?

How to play the Balance Beam Event

Warm up:  Walk in a heel toe, heel toe pattern with your hands on your hips or extended out to the side for balance.  Next, side step laterally across the beam.  Then try walking backwards. Walk tip top across the beam and if you fall off, get right baqck on!

Balance Beam Routines

#1- Walking forwards and backwards: Walk back and forth along the length of the beam, pivoting on at each end to turn around.

#2-   Bronze Medal Balance: Balance on one leg (Tree pose with opposite foot at the ankle or knee level).

#3- Silver Warrior: Balance on one leg and lift the opposite leg straight behind you (Warrior 3 pose)

#4-  Gold Medal Dips: Do lunges across the length of the beam.

#5-  Obstacle Course: Put small items or stuffed animals on the beam. Walk across the beam stepping over each item.  Next, walk across and pick up the items to toss into a container at the opposite end of the beam.

Pro Athlete Balance Beam Tips: Use your arms for balance by keeping your hands on your hips or extended out to the side.  See if you can balance without looking down at your feet.  Keep your eyes focused straight ahead.

Rowing

Description:  Rowing is a team sport!  Staying in rhythm with your team is important for smooth sailing.

Benefits of rowing

Rowing with your partner helps core strength, especially targeting abdominal muscles.  This activity also helps with hamstring stretches too.  Holding onto each other’s hands and pulling provides tactile and proprioceptive input.  Working with a partner is great practice for social skills too and working together.

Equipment

  • A fellow athlete or friend.
  • Mat or carpeted surface

How to play 

Grab a partner and sit facing each other with legs extended in front of you. Knees should be slightly bent. Reach forward to hold the other person’s hands.  Work together to row your boat by leaning backwards and forwards.  You can count your strokes as you glide across the water or chant “stroke, stroke” to help keep you and your partner in sync.

Pro Athlete Rowing Tips:  Keep your knees slightly bent.  Avoid pulling too hard on your partner’s arms.  Your rowing movements should be smooth and comfortable and not cause discomfort.

SWIMMING

Swim to Win 

Description:  The races are starting soon at the Olympic pool! 

Benefits of Swimming: These exercises specifically target core strength which is the trunk, back and abdominals.  Alternating movements helps with sequencing and bilateral coordination.  Prone exercises (lying on your stomach) and supine exercises(lying on your back) also support reflex integration.

Equipment

  • Mat or comfortable surface

How to play Swim To Win

Practice up to 5-10 repetitions 

Swimmer’s Warm Ups

  • Swimmer’s Breaths: Lie on your stomach.  With your arms extended straight in front of you, raise your chest off the floor.  Inhale as you go up.  Exhale as you go down.  Do 3x.
  • Flutter Kick Warm Up: Lie on your back with legs straight:  flutter kick your legs up and down.
  • Backstroke Warm Up: Standing up, alternate moving your arms backwards in big circles.  (Stand behind the child for safety when balancing upright)

“On your marks, get set go!”

Push off:  

  1. Curl up into a ball and holding your knees into a tuck position.  Keep your chin tucked to your chest. Hold for 5 seconds. Listen for the “Ready, set go!”
  2. Kick your legs out straight and raise your arms behind your head.  Hold for 5 seconds.   Roll over to glide face down (prone position).

Glide:

  1. Lie on your stomach with arms outstretched in front of you.
  2. Keep your arms straight.  Inhale and raise both arms together slowly moving them up and down.  
  3. Raise your legs off the floor at the same time. Exhale.
  4. Continuing breathing while gliding through the water for up to 5-30 seconds seconds

Gold Medal Stroke:

  1. Lie on your stomach with your arms extended straight in front of you.  
  2. Alternate lifting opposite arm and leg at the same time.  Switch sides.
  3. Repeat 10-15x.

Pro Athlete Swimmer Tips:  Don’t hold your breath while doing these exercises. Remember, swimmers need to take regular breaths to keep up their endurance.  

TRACK AND FIELD EVENTS

  • Javelin Throw Game
  • Discus Toss Game

Benefits:  Javelin and discus focus on upper arm strength and eye hand coordination. 

Equipment

  • Colored tape (Masking tape, painters tape or duct tape)
  • Discus Toss: Use various soft, small weighted balls ranging from 1lb-5 lbs.
  • Javelin Throw:  Use a pool noodle cut in half and cut with a pointed end.  Or use a cardboard wrapping paper roll with a cut pointed end.  Decorate with colorful duct tape to increase durability and make it colorful.

Directions

Cut 4 pieces of tape into equal lengths, each one measuring about 3 feet.   Place each piece of tape on the floor a distance of 2 feet apart like the rungs of a ladder.  The farthest section is gold medal level, the middle section is silver medal  level and the closest section towards the athlete is the bronze medal level.  Depending upon the child’s level of ability choose a starting point. 

How to Play

Throw the javelin or discus as far as you can to see which level it lands in.  The farther your throw the better the medal!

Pro Athlete Javelin Throw and Discus Toss Tips:  You can easily increase or decrease the challenge by changing the distance to be thrown or changing the weight of the ball.  For discus, practice tossing the ball with both hands.  Next practice tossing it with one hand.  

ON DEMAND TRAINING

Here’s what you’ll learn in The 3 Essentials For Telehealth Success:

✅ How to tackle the tech (for non-techies).
✅ How to captivate your client’s attention and keep them engaged!
✅ Tips for getting your parents and caregivers on board (especially if you wish they were more involved).

You’ll walk away from this training with 3 specific steps to immediately feel more prepared and confident before your next telehealth session… pretty cool right?…so if you want a few secrets to feel more confident and competent when it comes to your online practice…

CLICK FOR DETAILS!

On Demand Training | AOTA Approved!

Here’s what other’s have to say about the training…

“Jessica made the introduction to telehealth less intimidating to me. I can now breathe and move forward.” ~ Stephanie OTR/L

“Jessica’s course made me feel more positive and comfortable about telehealth practice. It was practical and actionable; I can use Jessica’s suggestions right away.”  ~ Kelli OTR/L

“I just finished watching your course and loved every minute of it! The lessons are very informative and engaging.” ~ Sabrina COTA/L

“The telehealth resources were a hit, so I plan to keep on using them even though I’m back to working with kids in person.” ~  Suzanne OTR/L

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