By Cammie Jones
As fall approaches, the cooler temps beckon us to head outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. A quick walk outside or just playing in the yard for most children is a perfect way to blow off some steam and have fun. However, if you have a special needs child this may not be as easy as opening the back door and shooing your child out. Below are some ideas to enjoy fall and all that it has to offer.
1. Leaf Piles
This is a great activity for any child. Rake piles of leaves around your yard and let your kids jump in them. Rake them again and keep on going for as long as your child (or you) want to keep it up. This is a great way to release some energy as well as providing some good old-fashioned fun for the whole family to enjoy no matter what the age. “While it may seem like a simple activity, leaf piles can help with body awareness while strengthening and developing muscle movement,” says Kelly from kellysthoughtsonthings.com.
2. Leaf Art Activities
Need to calm down a little after all the running and jumping in the leaves? Set up a table outside or in for an art activity. Gather a variety of leaves, get out some paper, glue and crayons and let your kids get creative. You can do anything from leaf rubbings and tracing to gluing various leaves on a piece of paper. Or, make an old hat that your child can parade around in for the rest of the day. Coloring and tracing are great ways to hone those fine motor skills.
3. Visit a Farm
In the CSRA, Steeds Dairy Farm comes to mind as a great place to take a group of kids on the weekend. This family-friendly farm is open Saturdays and Sundays for the public and is located in Grovetown, GA. You can enjoy a petting zoo, hayride, five-acre corn maze, jumping pillow, kiddie play area and more. This is a wonderful way to get your children out of the house and to experience the outdoors with a little bit of fun and education mixed in.
4. Plan a Treasure Hunt
Make a list of items that your child can look for and put them in a paper bag. Look for small objects that can be picked up with tongs such as small pine cones, acorns, sticks, rocks, etc. This is an out of the ordinary way to increase grip strength and precision, according to www.friendshipcircle.org.
5. Nature Walks
There is nothing better than taking a leisurely stroll on a crisp morning or afternoon. This can be close to home in your own neighborhood or you can get in the car and head to the river or a walking trail in your town. Make sure to bring water to stay hydrated and have a plan of what to look for when you begin. Check out the various plants, water features, animals and birds along the route. Let your child stop and check out something they may find most interesting. Be their guide but allow time to just explore. Take pictures that you can share and talk about with siblings or friends after your adventure.
5. Pumpkin Fun
Carving a pumpkin (with an adult’s help) is a great way to work those fine motor skills. Have your child scoop out the insides and separate the seeds which you can then bake for a healthy snack. Try “pumpkin bowling” using small to medium sized pumpkins. This is another great way to incorporate some heavy lifting and object manipulation skills by rolling and aiming the pumpkin towards a target. You can even set up an obstacle course and have your child race while holding a pumpkin around the course. This will help with motor planning and agility.
Many times cooking can be therapeutic for anyone, even children with special needs. Following a simple recipe, measuring and stirring, organizing as well as locating specific ingredients is a great way to keep your children busy. Find a good recipe that you think your child could master, shop for ingredients or have your child gather them and get to work. With some adult supervision, your child can make something and enjoy the end result. According to Brain Balance Achievement Center’s website, turning cooking into a sensory building activity is a good way to engage a child with ADHD or Asperger’s syndrome. Using various spices to create strong smells or showing your child the different textures of foods can help keep the attention of your child.
Each of these activities can benefit any child – special needs or not. So, gather some neighborhood pals for an exciting day of fall fun. End the day with a steaming cup of hot chocolate or apple cider and your own homemade baked pumpkin seeds and your picture perfect day is camera ready!
This article appears in the October 2018 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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