Fall officially began September 22, when day and night were of equal length and the sun appeared to cross the equator.
In addition to this being a terrific science lesson, it marks a wonderful time of year to provide your OT students with sensory input to help ensure continued success in school and at home. Try these activities to keep your students engaged as the calendar turns to autumn:
Ah, Fall Leaves
Remember when you used to jump in those neatly raked piles of colorful, crisp leaves as a child? Well, this time-tested activity hasn’t lost its attraction or its value. Try:
- Raking: Raking leaves into piles is great heavy work for children. It helps to provide proprioceptive input to their muscles and joints, which increases body awareness and strength.
- Playing hide and seek: Hide familiar objects in leaf piles and have children try to find them. This enhances tactile input and works on discrimination skills.
- Leaf rubbings: Have children create works of art by making rubbings of large leaves. Place each leaf under a piece of paper and have them color the paper, transferring the image of the leaf onto it. Students can use small or broken crayons to facilitate a tripod grasp.
How About a Nature Hunt?
Provide students with tongs or tweezers. Have them pick up acorns, pine cones and leaves. This will work on building grip strength and improving precision.
Progress with Pumpkins
Everybody loves fall pumpkins. Did you know that they also are great tools for building sensory input?
- Carve them: Have students carve pumpkins – with assistance, of course. This facilitates fine motor skills and provides a great wet tactile activity. Let children scoop out the insides and play in the mess. Picking out pumpkin seeds to toast helps to work on pincer grasp, while providing a healthy snack at the same time.
- Bowl with them: Bowling with pumpkins provides children with heavy work through lifting, as well as enhancing their object manipulation skills as they roll the pumpkins toward a target.
- Use them to race: Have students compete in a pumpkin race. Have them run through obstacles if desired. This will assist them with motor planning and agility, as well as vestibular and proprioceptive input.
Biking & Walking
Fall bike riding is an excellent way to provide children with movement. It also works on bilateral coordination and balance. In addition, try:
- Wagon pulling: This is a great form of proprioceptive input through heavy work. You can intensify this by placing items in the back of the wagon.
- A fall scavenger hunt: Make a list of common autumnal items and have children look for them. Have a race to see who can find the most objects. This works on both visual perceptual skills and discrimination.
Fantastic Finger Painting
Finger paint is a great medium to provide students with tactile input. Have students make tree trunks by putting brown paint on their palms and forearms and pressing it onto paper. They can then use various autumn colors to “finger print” leaves onto their tree branches.