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6 Household Items You Can Use To Work On Your Child’s Gross Motor Skills

With increased time in our homes due to the pandemic, parents and therapists alike have had to get creative with entertaining and working with their kids.

Here are 6 household items that you can use to work on your child’s gross motor skills including balance, strength, coordination and ball skills:

1. Laundry Basket

Laundry baskets are very versatile household items that you can use to work on different gross motor skills for different age groups.

  • Babies- A laundry basket is a safe way to work on independent sitting for little ones by providing boundaries. If your child needs more support, you can load the basket with pillows.
  • Toddlers- Use the laundry basket to encourage your child to push and pull in a tall kneel. This exercise is great for core strengthening and can help your child progress to walking.
  • Kids- Loop or tie a jump rope or similar item to the laundry basket and have the child pull and work backwards. To make it more difficult, add heavy items in the basket. This is a great exercise to strengthen your child’s hamstrings.
  • Kids- Have one child sit in the basket while you or a sibling pulls or pushes. Try different positions such as a tall kneel or high kneel position in order to improve core strength and balance.
  • For all- Create a ball pit for the child to play in! Ball pits are good for strengthening muscles when getting in and out. It also is a great sensory play activity

2. Pool Noodles

  • Toddlers- Lay the noodles down and have the child step over them to improve single leg balance. This is good for younger walkers that need assistance navigating obstacles and it develops stair climbing skills.
  • Kids- Have the child jump over forward, backwards and sideways over the noodle to practice jumping and for leg strengthening. To increase the difficulty level, have them jump with one leg instead of two.
  • Kids- Use the pool noodle as a balance beam. This is a challenging activity since pool noodles are round. To modify for greater ease, cut the noodle in half lengthwise.
  • Kids- Loop the pool noodle in a circle and tape it together. Use it as a target to have your child throw a ball through in order to work on ball skills.

3. Couch Cushions/Pillows

  • Babies- Use pillows or cushions to prop the child up into a sitting position or a kneeling position to improve core strength.
  • Babies- Stack the cushions to help your child work on pulling to stand at a support surface.
  • Babies- Encourage your baby to crawl over pillows in order to improve core strength and endurance.
  • Kids- Create an obstacle course with the cushions to walk on to improve ankle strength and balance.
  • Kids- Create a crash pad with the cushions/pillows in order to practice jumping into them.

4. Plastic cups

  • Kids- Place plastic cups in a triangle around your child. Have your child lift his leg and tap each plastic cup to practice single leg balance.
  • Kids- Place plastic cups in a pyramid and have your child aim and kick a ball to knock over the plastic cups. You can also do this to practice throwing at a target.

5. Balloons

  • Babies/toddlers- Use a balloon to work on independent walking. Have the child hold on the balloon and move it to encourage them to take steps. This is more challenging than using a push toy or cruising.
  • Kids- Place the balloon on the ground and have the child gently tap the ball with their feet. This is good for coordination as well as balance.
  • Kids- Practice catching the balloon with hands or use a cone to catch it.
  • Kids- Tie a balloon to a ceiling fan and encourage the child to hit it with opposite hands. This is good exercise for hand eye coordination. To make it more difficult, have your child stand on a cushion.

6. Masking Tape/Painters Tape

  • Kids- Tape a line on the floor and have the child walk like on a tight rope. This exercise is good for balance.
  • Kids- Put tape across a hallway at different heights. Have the child step over or crawl under the tape for a good balance and strengthening exercise.
  • Kids- Tape a line on the floor. Have the child jump over forward, backwards and sideways over the line on the floor to practice jumping and for leg strengthening. To make it more difficult, have them jump with one leg instead of two.

-Alexa Bachmann, Physical Therapist

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Karrie Swan LaRock

My 11 year old son has dyslexia and has made noticeable gains in working At LLA THERAPY. Katie is strong in her approach toward him and also keeps him comfortable enough to perform well. We will continue visiting both the Fairlawn and Hudson offices and recommend them highly.

Ron Monroe

My 9 year old just completed about 9 months of weekly speech sessions (due to his stuttering) with Matt Hagge at LLA and we are thrilled with the experience and results. What I thought might be a negative (what kid really wants to go to speech class?) was made very positive by Matt, and my son never hesitated or complained when we talked about class. He really enjoyed it and really took what Matt taught him to heart. His speech has been greatly improved and we definitely recommend LLA. Thank you so much!

Heather Dougherty-Pantoja

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Terri Apgar

I cannot say enough good things about LLA Therapy. My daughter was a client of Teal Simmons’ for approximately 2 years and was just released from speech therapy! She was diagnosed with Apraxia in 2015 and worked with Teal twice a week. Through Teal’s application of PROMPT therapy, my daughter had age-appropriate speech after one year. All of the staff we interacted with at LLA were absolutely wonderful. They really care about what they do and making sure your child achieves their goals.

Kelli Geisler Davisson

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for my son as well as my family! My son always asks, "When can I go see Ms. Jeannine again, is it Monday??" He has also made huge gains in only 5 months! I would highly recommend LLA and have already shared my experience with friends looking for services!

Victoria Hansford-Price

We are so grateful for our Speech Therapist Ms.Teal. We have seen a great improvement with our sons confidence and communication abilities since we have started "Prompt" therapy. What we love the most about LLA and Ms. Teal is that Kohl feels comfortable and relaxed which has played a critical role in his progress. Thank you Ms. Teal for all you have done.

Laura Lee Hogsett

They have helped in numerous ways. Speech, OT and behavioral. I've had numerous compliments on my son's progress thanks in very large part to LLA. I would recommend LLA before I recommend our local children's hospitals, though they are good, they don't have the staff that LLA does.

Amy Furukawa

We had a great experience with Matt Hagge at LLA! Our Middle School age son was becoming very conscious of his voice, which is nasal due to a cleft palate. Matt helped him to better form his sounds and project his voice in a way that makes the unavoidable nasality less noticeable.Our son is more confident and outgoing & even took on a speaking role in the church play. Matt has the perfect personality to relate with our son, and we would recommend him to anyone needing speech therapy services!

Jessica Havalotti

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for our daughter. I would highly recommend LLA. Miss Grace was so amazing and I can't believe how quickly our daughter showed improvement. Thank you!
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