Working with kids is always an adventure and that’s why these jungle activities fit the bill when it comes to fun therapy activities for kids. Here, you’ll find jungle jungle crafts, jungle sensory bin ideas, and other ways to make a jungle them therapeutic. There are even strategies to use in teletherapy. If you feel like you are a jungle explore sometimes when working with children, put on your adventure hat, because we’re ready for some therapy fun!
This jungle theme is just one of the many therapy themes we have here on the website. These are themed therapy ideas that you can incorporate into your therapy sessions, add to a jungle preschool theme (or any age!), or use at home to help kids develop skills.
When it comes to serving children in the therapy clinic or in the classroom, there are a lot of things to remember when promoting development of functional skills and underlying areas like fine or gross motor skills. And, these considerations carryover to the home, too…Two of the most valuable things that I have learnt from providing occupational therapy services are:
1) that thorough planning is absolutely essential and
2) that the most effective sessions are fairly simple.
The outlines provided in this jungle theme therapy ideas are not prescriptive, set-in-stone templates. They are a framework to hang your own ideas and preferences on. Because sometimes you just need that little spark of inspiration to get you going.
Occupational therapy teletherapy, as with face-to-face therapy, there is no one size fits all. So it’s up to you to adjust your session according to you aims and objectives for each individual child.
Let’s step into the jungle and get some jungle themed activities ready for your littlest adventurers.
A fun jungle warm up or cool down is a fun way to start and end a therapy session, but there are other ways to incorporate jungle gross motor activities into a jungle themed classroom, lesson, or home activities:
- Use these ideas as a jungle brain break during jungled themed learning
- Use these whole body movements as a sensory break
- Work on motor planning and core strength
- Incorporate bilateral coordination and crossing midline
- Use as an emotional regulation tool
I am sure that you have realized that the first few minutes of an OT therapy session or teletherapy session are so important in setting the tone for the subsequent time that you will spend with the child. Take time to check in with the child that you are working with in order to get a sense of where they are at on that day.
This always helps me adjust my energy level and approach according to what the child needs. It’s a great time to introduce the theme of the session and incorporate gross motor activities as a way to “warm up”.
Jungle Animal Exercises
In order to introduce the Jungle Adventure ask your child what their favorite animal is. Talk a bit about what the animal looks like, where it lives, what it eats and why it’s the child’s favorite animal.
Then explore how their animal moves and act out that animal’s movement. This will lay the foundation for jungle exercises!
Prepare some animal pictures before the session – these can be printed or drawn pictures, flashcards, pictures from magazine or online pictures that you can screen share with the participant.
Present the child with a picture and demonstrate how that animal moves. Then set a timer for 30 seconds while you and the child perform the animal movement together.
Examples of jungle animal movements include gross motor exercises like:
- Move like a snake
- Jump like a frog
- Hop like a bunny
- Crawl like a lion
- Sway like an elephant
- Stomp like a hippopotamus
- Swing like a monkey
- Fly like a hawk
There are two main benefits to using gross motor exercises as a warm-up in therapy:
- The physical warm up is perfect for getting the child connected to the session and for helping to regulate the child if they have difficulties with focus and attention.
- The imaginary element of pretending to be an animal introduces the child’s language of play and brings the teletherapy session to life.
For more specific physical gross motor goals you can adapt the animal walks to target certain areas:
- Upper body strength
- Core strength
- Co-ordination between left and right
- Motor planning
- Bilateral coordination
- Crossing midline
- Changes in position
Animal walks are also an easy exercise to ask the child to practice on their own between therapy sessions to promote their progress in these areas.
Once the warm up is complete take a seat and catch your breath. You are still in the jungle but now you are going to look at the little creatures that live there.
Jungle Fine Motor Activities
This section of the session focuses on developing selective finger movements and finger strength with a jungle theme.
As you did with the animal walks in the warm up, select a number of insect pictures that you can present to your child during the teletherapy session. Allow the child to select a picture and then use your fingers to imitate the movement that the insect makes. Moving your fingers like an insect requires a little creativity and imagination! Examples of bugs that I have used in sessions included caterpillars, ants, spiders, butterflies, grasshoppers.
Demonstrate how the insect moves across your desk or along your arm and encourage your child to copy the motor pattern.
Adjust the demands of the motor pattern according to your child’s ability including more complex, selective finger movements to increase the demands on motor planning. Increase the amount of repetitions or distance the insect has to walk to increase the demands on finger strength.
For additional activities to develop fine motor skills have a look at these awesome animal themed paper folding activities.
Jungle Activities for Visual perception
Incorporating visual perceptual skills into the Jungle Adventure is easy. The activities that you select will target the specific skills that you are working on with the individual child.
- For eye tracking you can ask the child follow an animal figurine that you move across a desk, field of vision, or the screen in teletherapy services.
- Figure ground perception can be developed by working on animal themed I Spy worksheets.
- Visual discrimination can be encouraged by completing spot the difference worksheets.
I know you will have lots of tools in your box to develop the specific skills you are targeting and I encourage you to use the Jungle Theme to keep the child’s interest and motivation going.
Jungle Handwriting Activities
When handwriting needs to be incorporated into occupational therapy sessions, there are many ways to use a jungle theme in handwriting goals.
- Younger children are encouraged to write down the names of the animals or insects that we imitated in the beginning of the session.
- Older children will enjoy copying out animal themed jokes.
Try this Jungle Joke for copying:
What do you call a fly with no wings?
Answer: A walk!
Jungle Writing Prompts
For more handwriting activities, use these Jungle Writing Prompts. These cards are perfect for older students who are writing sentences and paragraphs, AND younger students who copy words.
The Jungle Writing Prompt set includes 54 jungle themed writing prompts, including 27 open-ended sentence prompts and 27 jungle themed words.
Perfect for older students writing in sentence and paragraph format AND younger students copying words, these printable cards can be used in so many open-ended ways in therapy sessions.
Jungle Sensory Bin
A jungle sensory bin is a fun way to incorporate many different goal areas. Start with a sensory bin material such as flour, dry beans, dry split peas, corn, rice, cotton, water, shaving cream, or shredded paper. Here are more ideas to create an easy sensory bin.
Then add items to your sensory bin:
- Jungle animal figures
- Fake flowers
- Fake leaves
- Cups and bowls
- Jungle animal images
Use the sensory bin to work on tactile exploration, motor skills, executive functioning skills, handwriting, and much more.
The word cards in the Jungle Writing Prompts set includes animal images with words that are perfect for laminating and adding to a Jungle sensory bin.
Well done! You have survived your Jungle Adventure and your children have had a blast. They were having so much fun that I am sure that they didn’t even notice that they were working on their sensory regulation, planning, gross motor skills, fine motor skills and visual perception. All in a day’s teletherapy work.
Contributor to The OT Toolbox: Janet Potterton is an occupational therapist working predominantly in school-based settings and I love, love, love my job. I have two children (if you don’t count my husband!), two dogs, one cat, two guinea pigs and one fish. When I am not with my family or at work I try to spend time in nature. The beach is my happy place.
Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.