As an occupational therapist, you’re able to work and have fun at the same time. Sometimes, your work requires you to be creative and use items that are readily available in your surroundings. Or, you have a patient/parent that wants to practice fine-motor activities at home but doesn’t want to break the bank on special tools. Fortunately, there are tons of household items to use in occupational therapy. A while back, we put together a list of a few DIY occupational therapy tools for kids. But, here’s an updated list of things that are probably lying around your house that can be more useful than you think.
Household Items to Use in Occupational Therapy
Pillows, Cushions, and Blankets
These 3 items can be used to create obstacle courses for kids struggling with gross motor skills and muscle development. Crawling, jumping, and climbing through the obstacles can help with balance coordination as well as endurance. You can even use masking tape or duct tape to create a course.
Dry Spaghetti and Cheerios
Place the dry spaghetti standing up straight, in a base made out of playdough, Styrofoam, or anything else that will secure the dry noodles. Have your child try to put the Cheerios on the spaghetti almost like threading with a string. It can be difficult not to break the spaghetti but offers great hand-eye coordination help. You can even use beads instead of Cheerios if you would prefer, but Cheerios might be safer for littler ones.
Yarn is one of the household items to use in occupational therapy that can be very versatile. You can use it to create a “laser” course for kids to crawl through to help with gross motor skills development and balance. But, you can also use yarn to help with fine motor skills. By working on threading yarn through beads or buttons, their hand dexterity and strength can be improved.
Balloons and Fillers
To help with sensory processing, balloons and other household items can be very useful. Filling balloons with playdough, flour, beans, and rice provide different textures for kids. You can use any fillers that you have lying around the house, so get creative!
Chip Clips and a Plastic Container
Any type of chip clip and plastic container will do. Have your child practice squeezing the clips on and off the rim of a plastic container. Don’t forget to encourage the use of their fingertips instead of squeezing with their palm or the side of their thumb.
Colander and Pipe Cleaners
This one can keep kids busy for quite a while and is great for patients or children who aren’t entirely ready for lacing beads or buttons. A colander and pipe cleaners can be found at the dollar store. Putting the pipe cleaners into the holes of the colander provides a fun challenge for kids and also facilitates hand-eye coordination. Encouraging children to hold the pipe cleaner with their fingers pointing down instead of in a fist will allow them to practice hand movements instead of turning their arms.
Okay, so you might not have these lying around the house, but they’re great for creating sensory bins. You can fill a small container with these and place toys inside such as magnetic letters, toy cars, and other small items for them to find. Water beads can even be fun household items to use in occupational therapy for adults!