Halloween Games with an Occupational Therapy Angle
One of my favourite times of year is Halloween, it’s a great opportunity to encourage dress up and practice the very functional skill of dressing by a motivating costume of your child’s choice. This can also really help stimulate your child’s play skills and encourage lots of role play.
It is also a great time to experience lots of sensory input, collect leaves and acorns, get lots of practice on your scooter and bicycle before the winter weather really sets in. Here are a few simple Halloween games to help develop fine motor skills, and keep little ones busy during the mid-term break
Masking Tape Mummy
Draw the outline of a body on some card and cut out. Younger children may need this step done for them. Rip strips of masking tape and place on the ‘Mummy’. Tearing is a great bilateral task (use of two hands together), and really strengthens pincer grip which is important for holding a pencil, managing zips and buttons, using keys etc. Talk about different language concepts while completing e.g. body parts, short/long strips of tape.
Spider Web Basket
Thread a basket with white wool to create the spider’s web, younger children may need help with this. Place plastic spider rings (available in pound shops) in the basket and use tweezers or clothes pegs to collect them. If they find this too difficult reduce the amount of string used in the web. Even if your child is using their fingers to collect the spiders it is still a great fine motor exercise. This is a great way to develop problem solving, eye hand coordination, and pincer strength. Be sure to count how many spiders you catch to include some numeracy skills.
Spider Web Plates
Punch holes around a paper plate, great for developing hand strength. Have your child paint the plate in your favourite colour and leave to dry. Paint the child’s hand black and create a spider hand print, great for tactile input. Thread with white wool or string to create the web, place some tape on the bottom of the string if required to give your child more control. Threading is a great exercise for bilateral skills, pincer grip, eye hand coordination and attention and concentration.
For any children with sensory processing difficulties, the American Occupational Therapy Association has published some great tips to help children enjoy Halloween and engage in the festivities with their siblings and friends.
by Ellie Forsyth
Ellie Fosyth is a Paediatric Occupational Therapist with over 10 years experience working with children with disabilities. Ellie has undergone further training in Sensory Integration, Feeding Difficulties, Lamh, Handwriting without Tears and Assistive Technology.
Ellie is a Senior Occupational Therapist at The Down Syndrome Centre where she works on a one to one level with children who have Down syndrome. She also runs various Occupational Therapy groups including Pre-Teen Group, School Readiness, Sensory Play, Handwriting and Seasonal Workshops. You can find out more about Occupational Therapy here.