WRITTEN BY SALLY HILLS-DAVIS CHILDRENS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST
As a children’s occupational therapist, I am always looking for new and creative ways to engage children in activities that promote the development of their fine and gross motor skills. I have found that one of the most effective and enjoyable activities to do with children comes from using balloons.
Balloons are a great tool to use in occupational therapy sessions, as they are not only fun and engaging, but also relatively inexpensive. The range of activities that can be done with balloons is virtually limitless, and can easily be adapted to fit the individual needs of each child.
Balloon activities can be done both in groups or pairs, as well as individually, making it an ideal activity for children of all ages. For example, for younger children, activities such as passing balloons back and forth, or playing catch with a balloon, can be used to promote the development of their fine motor skills, such as hand-eye coordination and grip strength.
Older children can enjoy more challenging activities such as dribbling a balloon between their feet, or passing a balloon between their hands while doing a jumping jack, can be used to challenge their gross motor skills. All these activities work to promote the development of their gross motor skills, such as balance, coordination, strength, and agility.
In conclusion, balloon activities are a great way to promote the development of both fine and gross motor skills in children of all ages. They are fun, engaging and can be easily adapted to the individual needs of each child.
Play catch with yourself. Hold up a balloon and hit it up in the air and catch it or hit it off the wall and catch it.
Play freeze. Hit the balloon up in the air and freeze in a position. Move to the next position once it is caught.
Create a balloon target. Hang a paper plate or hula hoop and the goal is to hit the balloon into the target.
Basic Balloon Activities (Great for any age child, in groups, pairs or individual sessions)
Work on control. Hits or taps must be consistent, even in height and force.
Count how long can you keep the balloon up without it touching the floor, walls or ceiling.
Use only 1 hand. Tuck one hand into a pocket and only use the free hand, forcing crossing midline.
Switch hands. Alternate hands for each tap. Then do 2 taps with the right, then 2 with the left, continue until drops.
Play with a partner and take turns hitting the balloon straight up in the air. Repeat trying to hit it across to your partner.
Make a simple racket with paper plates and complete all above activities. Have players decorate balloons with letters, numbers, and shapes in