Play Based Learning Tool

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Play based learning is a powerful tool! Today, we are discussing how and why a creative play that combines movement and visual processing skills impact learning and development. We’ll cover using learning and play with movement-based learning through play ideas using brain breaks. We’ll also share interactive learning opportunities that address motor, cognitive, social, emotional, sensory, and emotional needs.

This content is part of our week-long therapy giveaway event, where we are collaborating with brands to give you the opportunity to win various therapy items, toys, and games as a thank you for being here and a celebration of our profession and those we serve. This giveaway has now ended.

Play based learning ideas for kids

Play Based Learning

What is play-based learning, and why is learning through play important for kids? Why is it that children learn through play?

Play based learning offers many opportunities to advance on cognitive skills through the process of play. By using skills that the child is familiar with and confidence in, they can excel in learning concepts by simply playing.

While play offers the opportunity to build and advance on skills like motor development, executive functioning, problem solving, visual processing, and other areas. But play also offers situations to expand on self-regulation as well. By incorporating play into a learning experience, children get the chance to move. It’s a brain break built right into learning.

Learning through Play

Learning and thriving as a child, according to Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, a well-known child development expert notes that children require the “six C’s” in order to succeed. These are six attributes that must exist in order for children to thrive. Through that success comes learning. These aspects build on one another and allow function and success for the child. The six attributes for successful thriving are as follows:

  • collaboration
  • communication
  • content
  • critical thinking
  • creative innovation
  • confidence

By building these areas as well as using these attributes in learning opportunities, we give our children the opportunity to succeed in learning. Don’t these attributes sound like aspects of play? Through play, kids collaborate with others. They interact in play situations in games and pretend play. They communicate with peers or through self-talk. They participate in real-life situations and carry those situations over into play as they “chew on” things that occur around them in the real world. They might pretend to go to the grocery store, drive a truck, take care of a baby, or be a teacher. They see the content and practice it by playing. Play is a chance to practice and expand on critical thinking. It’s a chance to expand on attention, problem solving, working memory and other essential skills. Creative innovation happens during the play process and as a result, creative innovation. All of these skills happen through play and are essential for learning as well. When the processes are combined by true engagement in play AND learning, real skills can be developed and built upon. Play is a powerful tool for learning!

Learning through play allows the learning situation to become active and not passive. It allows us to take a meaningful part in the learning process rather than sitting back and soaking in information. Play offers the freedom to participate in meaningful learning situations that are memorable.

By adding movement, games, or play situations into learning facts, the connections between physical education, movement, breaks, recess, energizing activities, and improved cognition strengthen. In fact, movement can be an effective cognitive strategy to (1) strengthen learning, (2) improve memory and retrieval, and (3) enhance learner motivation and morale.

Movement and Learning in Play

Brain breaks are a buzzword in the schools. But the facts are that kids are receiving less recess time, increased demands in the classroom, and have less outdoor play at home. When those factors align, it’s a recipe for disaster. The thing is that movement breaks in the classroom, or “brain breaks” offer kids the chance to reset. They can help to prepare the nervous system for learning. They can also be done in between learning activities or combined with learning situations to support self-regulation while children are engaged in an academic or learning task.

Movement, standing up, stretches, yoga breaks, and activity are powerful tools! As noted in Teaching with the Brain in Mind, by Eric Jensen:

“These actions can raise a child’s heart rate (and as a result, blood flow) by as much as 5 to 8 percent in just seconds (Krock & Hartung, 1992). And finally, here’s a powerful research finding: evidence from animal studies indicates that voluntary exercise influences gene expression to improve learning and memory (Tong, Shen, Perreau, Balazs, & Cotman, 2001). This improved pattern of gene expression enhances many factors that support the encoding and transfer of data, synaptic structure, and the activity and plasticity of neurons. All of these processes facilitate learning.”

Play Based Learning Activities

So knowing all of this, how can we combine play with learning in the classroom to build concepts, practice math facts, memorize vocabulary words, practice comprehension, and other essential learning tasks?

Adding opportunities to move during classroom times offers just the freedom for the facilitation of learning, all while offering the means to move and get the child in the “just right” state of regulation for absorbing information.

One tool for offering learning through play is by using an open-ended means of combining learning with games and movement activity.

Learning Through Play Activity

Adding movement to classroom learning by using games and gross motor actions offers a brain break opportunity. Some ideas include those that incorporate gross motor movement into math when repeating facts. These allow whole-body games such as Simon Says.

Students can perform specific motions when math facts are true, and perform other motor tasks when math facts are false. Try asking kids to jump or do jumping jacks for an up and down motion.

Bounce a beach ball in a game or at a target to encourage eye-hand coordination while practicing facts or stating true/false responses.

Add upside down motions in the classroom for a calming activity or one that “resets” sensory modulation. Students can sit in their seat and reach under one side to place an object at the far side of their chair, putting their head in an inverted position. Try placing index cards with facts, spelling words, or statements into piles on each side of the chair.

Toss balls at a target with answers.

Add movement games and songs into learning with tunes like “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes”.

Bend over at the knees and place cards, post-it notes, or items into a target. Add over or under movements with specific answers or true/false responses.

Sit on a target and spin around to each as far behind as the child can to add rotary movements. They can place balls into a target as the answer. Make it part of a relay or timed response with a team as they answer questions.

PunkinFutz Play Space game

Use this PlaySet to build on learning in the classroom. The numbers can be assigned to answers or used in math activities. Add movement and play to learning by using the play set in gross motor activities, self-regulation and sensory modulation activities, motor planning, and emotional regulation activities, or other learning through play activities.

  • 1 PunkinPlaySpace
  • 3 Orange PunkinPitch Balls
  • 3 Blue PunkinPitch Balls
  • 1 Durable Vinyl Storage Pack

Play ANd Learn Play Space GIVEAWAY

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Play Based Learning Ideas

Some of the smartest and most creative folks I know are the readers of The OT Toolbox. I asked readers to tell me sensory strategies they personally love and use to address sensory modulation. Scroll through the comments…you might just find some new sensory strategies that will work for you! Hopefully we can learn from one another!

Then, scroll through the comments…you might just find some new learning through play activities that will work for you! Hopefully we can learn from one another!

234 thoughts on “Play Based Learning Tool”

  1. My kids and I love to play “search light”…they hold a flashlight while sitting on a platform swing and shine on “targets” …letters, colors, shapes, patterns. Big fun!

  2. Searching online for fun activities and science ideas that can be created with household objects. The latest was slime that my son loves to make but hates to play with

  3. Followed PunkinFutz on Facebook! I love incorporating play activities in my treatment sessions. The kids seem to love the “fishing game”, Mr. Potato Head (Classic!), and kerplunk! It’s so great when we can incorporate another friend in therapy to play as well!

  4. Play-doh and making imaginary food is always a big hit. It can work on so many skills (bilateral coordination , finger isolation, hand strength, etc!).

  5. Play-doh give us all we need to play based on learning and give us many opportunities to advance on cognitive skills through the process of play.

  6. We’ve been using milk crates for child led play and it has been a great learning tool! Strength, balance, physics, engineering, negotiation, symbolic representation… tons of STEM and all child led.

  7. I have bean bag scarves. We find lots of ways to play with these. Catching while jumping on a trampoline, grabbing while prone or supine on ball, catching in half kneel. I also have colored dots so we throw them on the correct color dot.

  8. The flying trapeze used to get into the ballpit is always a great smile filled activity. Following PunkinFutz on Facebook. Thanks for all the ideas!!

  9. Just posted at PunkinFutz. Thank You for introducing me.
    Boy do we need play! I love when I go in the classrooms and see so many more kids participating, smiling and taking risks because the activity involves play. The students love tossing the bean bags and throwing the beach ball as they practice academic skills.

  10. I just the scooter board to ha e students find all the pieces to play a game or bud a puzzle. Once they found the pieces we can play the game or. Build the puzzle.

  11. My kids love to play emotions charades. This helps them understand others emotions in real life situations and helps in understanding character development in stories.

  12. We love scavenger hunts! They are great fun for developing visual perceptual skills and building cooperation/social skills with friends!

  13. My students and I love to do pretend play with whatever material I put in my tactile box at school – if it’s moon sand we can build or “cook” with it, if it’s little pebbles we can use toy trucks to run a construction site, etc.

  14. I like to is small manipulative like erasers, Pom poms, etc for play based therapy tools. I love when the kids pretend they things like snowballs and build things with them.

  15. Jenga is a hit with our kids . In OT we use Wasabi tape on the blocks with familiar sight words to practice writing when it falls, they write them all. ?

  16. I use the child’s own experiences to build off to engage in play. For example, the 6-year-old I treat just took a family plane trip. We grabbed random items from his room and began reenacting his airplane experience while incorporating various emotional themes, social experiences, and problem solving.

  17. I work primarily in preschool so it’s all about play-based learning. I love all things Melissa & Doug, like their reusable stickers, Velcro food and puzzles. My most recent favorite is Hungry Cutters apple tree for scissor skills.

  18. Some of my favorite play-based learning is just leaving out a bunch of various building toys/materials and craft type materials and seeing what the kids decide to do! It’s a great way to initially learn about their interests and their skill level.

  19. I have been using puzzles with my daughter. She also likes playing with a balloon that has pictures of her favourite cartoon character on it. She looks at the different pictures and makes up stories about them.

  20. My students love all play based activities, as do I. It is so easy to add a learning component to play based activities which makes learning fun and that much more effective. I recently bought the Mega Hobermansphere and have incorporated so many different activities with it as the students climb in it and maneuver it from one end of the room to another.
    Love hearing others ideas and thank you for introducing me to Punkinfutz;)

  21. Playdough! This month was turkey/Thanksgiving themed, so we made pumpkin spice scented playdough to mold into turkeys and then various letters.

  22. My son loves his “bean box”. It’s a shallow box filled with dried beans and all sorts of containers with different size openings as well as several different scoops. He loves it!

  23. I enjoy obstacle-course based learning and escape room environments.
    Likewise, brain training! Ever stimulating as a form of play which encourages learning.

  24. Puzzle assembly after gathering the pieces prone on the scooter board. Hits so many targeted areas at once!

  25. I really like the hungry cutters pegcasso or any pegboard would work. My kids can play openly and Ive rarely had to prompt them other than modeling how to use the tools. We make patterns or follow designs if they choose but they work on so many visual perceptual and motor skills.

  26. Some of my students gravitated towards a rubber chicken that I have in my OT classroom. We built a whole story around the chicken and used it for many writing prompts, solving “secret codes,” scooter board activities and more.

  27. I like playing a fun song and simply dancing as a gross motor break. We practice imitating and just being silly.

  28. I love to have my students throw bean bags at a target or into a container while on a scooter board or on the swing while in prone.

  29. I love changing out the things in the play dough box. Rolling pins, craft stcks, lids, small blocks, jewels, along with the regular play dough cut outs encourages new play and language everytime we change it up.

  30. Majority of my time spent with kids is play-based because its so motivational for them and to sneak in learning opportunities in there such as adding fine motor games to obstacle course or adding letter writing to games. My favorite games are “pop the pig”, “sneaky snacky squirrel”, hi ho cherry-o”, and “jenga”.

  31. Using recycled items to make vertical surface boards like Velcro stacking nesting lids, ball drops with cups, water bottles, and toilet paper rolls have been big hits in early intervention to promote standing tolerance and hand eye coordination and many more skills!

  32. I work in a preschool and middle school. My little guys love playing there way through a three step obstacle course to complete a puzzle of their choice. Majority of them always pick the trampoline, tunnel, and wobbley bridge (balance board). With my older kiddos, I do not have my own space and the one I use is small unless I am in the classroom. These guys would benefit SO much from more frequent brain breaks so I am working with the teacher to incorporate them. Those guys love my yoga dudes picture cards and super hero gross motor cards. However this play set would be super fun to utilize during sessions within the space I have!

  33. One of the things I’m learning as an OTA student is how to incorporate play into all sessions. Recently I observed how to make an obstacle course more fun by adding the play element. We made the mat “water” so the student had to climb across the rock wall without falling in the water to deliver the fish (a bean bag) to the bucket. I love seeing the kids then add in their own stories to make it their own. This student made us be the sharks that were waiting in the water, it was a lot of fun!

  34. Matching uppercase and lowercase letters while using a scooter board, all types of crafts to work on fm/vp skills, my boys love the game rush hour traffic jam (vp, problem solving) hi ho cherry o and kerplunk for fine motor

  35. I have set up motor play stations in the OT room at some of my elementary schools. Since I travel throughout the district, on the days I am not in that school, teachers sign up to bring their classes. They rotate through stations incorporating movement while using flash cards to help with learning objectives. Their favorites are the spinning bowl, launching pads, trampoline ( great for skip counting) , and the “body” hopscotch.

  36. I enjoy adding movenet and a v ariety of sensory bins in between with finding letter or words to write. It s very motivational and students often create their own therapy or share ideas with me!

  37. Play-doh for finger isolation work, strengthening, forming letters, in-hand manipulation, and rolling to name a few. One tool for many different activities!

  38. I like taking board games and then adding a writing component to it, such as writing down questions before playing Guess Who.

  39. Building with blocks is one of my favorite play-based activities. So much science, math, language and art involved!

  40. I love to play board games that focus on memory, taking turns, reinforcing academic skills, etc during therapy sessions.

  41. Play is the secret to success with children of all ages. Being silly and focused in various games and pretending makes life fun!

  42. Bubble guns – excellent for hand strength, eye tracking and eye-hand coordination when you catch/pop the bubbles.

  43. I use large write-on/wipe-off dice and put letters or activities on each side to let the kiddos roll for what to do next.

  44. Wikki sticks! So many different ways to use them. Fine motor, tactile, handwriting. You can use them on vertical surfaces as well. So fun!

  45. I love using hole punchers to strengthen small hands; paunch out tires on a car; apples on a tree, gumdrops on a house

  46. Any old board game- modified for the child’s need. This helped them build the FM, GM, visual skill we were working on while also learning new games they could play with peers.

  47. All things play doh! Scavenger hunts for finding letters to practice. Scooter boards. Sensory hallway Paths!

  48. I enjoy adding different movements that kids can do when answering questions so their bodies can move and interact while learning. It works well for kids of all needs and abilities.

  49. Gotta love incorporating music and rhythm with clapping and beanbag games to work on proximal stability, bilateral and crossing midline skills – Fun and engaging while gradually increasing complexity.

  50. Lots of board games are great for many different areas such as visual perception, fmc, following directions, pacing with turn taking, and gross motor with games.

  51. I like toys that can be used in multiple ways: foam blocks, Color Code, Wikki Stix, therapy balls, playground balls. I also use blue tape a lot in my session (hop scotch pattern for gross motor play, peeling it off the wall while in quad position for upper body and balance, creating visual boundaries, letters, taping a chart on the wall to read while crawling/figure-8 walking, and so much more)

  52. I love puzzles and usually incorporate rolling, scooter boarding, climbing or using tongs to pick up pieces and travel to place in the puzzle board. Crafts are usually something my therapy kids are into which always involves B hand use, cutting or sensory challenges for them.

  53. I love hiding little themed trinkets in theraputty and watching my students pull, pinch, and have fun finding them, all while strengthening those hands!

  54. Travel Games:. Connect 4, Othello, Perfection,… all come in inexpensive travel sizes. The smaller pieces offer greater fine motor challenge and the compact size makes for easy travel – perfect for the school based therapist like me!

  55. We have a motor lab at our school to help incorporate play as well as movement breaks. I personally use games, obstacle courses, playdoh, and so much more in my sessions. I also love giving the students a couple of minutes of “free play” at the end of the session to explore, imagine and build confidence.

  56. One of my favorites is the play kitchen in our clinic. The kids love to “pretend” to be the grocer and shopper, and they love to “cook” the meals they shop for.

  57. Learning through play is the most effective form of learning. Experiencing joy, bonding and learning creates positive brain development. Physical games are great!

  58. Always looking for something new and fun to do with my students… and this looks so versatile even beyond what is tis designed for!

  59. Obstacle courses are a great way to work on a variety of skills in a fun way. I also love to use scooter boards or plasma cars during therapy sessions as well.

  60. I love using play-based learning for helping kiddos on handwriting, using strategies like racing cars through a maze on the wall or practicing letters to take turns in a game!

  61. Hungry hungry hippos – can discuss alert state (heightened with play), fine motor manipulation of marbles, in-hand translation, counting, …

  62. I use animal walks as a warm up and emotional regulation tool for almost all of my clients. There are so many ways to customize them!

  63. I attended a training on the SMART program and have incorporated into our school ever since. Every month I change out the ‘themes’ which include movement along with academic skills being addressed in the 4K/K classrooms. I also take in my individual students during their sessions with me.

  64. In my therapy room, I love to use marble tracks for play-based learning! My students can learn cause/effect, problem solving skills, they can create their own tracks or follow picture models for sequencing. Marble tracks are on a vertical surface so the kids are playing and don’t even know i’m looking at wrist position, pinching/grasp, bilateral coordination, midline crossing and depending on the challenge, core stability.

  65. We love doing tape courses/motor paths on the floor. Playing with a ball to encourage bilateral coordination, hand eye coordination and reciprocal movement. PLay-doh is always a hit and is a great way to address letters by building them and squishing them. Connect 4, mancala, frog hoppers and magna-doodles are always a big hit as well!

  66. we love to read and act out some of the character’s voices and mannerisms! it’s so much fun to watch the kids really get in tune with it!

  67. We love using Therapy putty to make a favorite item (food, animal, toy) and then having the other members of the group take turns guessing what we’ve made.

  68. I love doing games- and the kids love playing the games as a learning tool. I think my two favorite games are spuzzle and Curious George. I worked on so many different skills with these games and the kids have so much fun playing them. I also love playing with the train set- it works so well on weight bearing of one arm and crossing the midline.

    I also followed your page.

  69. I love Go Noodle for brain breaks! Also a sensory diet that includes movement. Sensory paths are super cool, too! I try to incorporate movement as much as possible.

  70. Play doh or putty is one of my favorite play activities. There are endless options with colors, materials, etc!

  71. Using sensory bins and hiding letters in it to work on processing tactile information along with letter recognition, building their name or sight words.

  72. I absolutely love to incorporate scavenger hunts into my sessions. So many areas that can be targeted within this activity, plus it is always fun which is an added bonus!

  73. I love using dramatic play with areas of interest to engage the children. For example a child had recently attended a birthday party, which they continued to think about. We pressed pegs into sand to create candles on a birthday cake, sang happy birthday wrote a birthday card, created a present out of found materials and tape, made invitations to the party, etc. This was a great fine motor session, but you have to listen and be flexible in your own plans.

  74. My most recent favorite is having the kids use the scooter board to grab large floor puzzle pieces from one side of the room to the other side of the room. I have them take two pieces at a time to challenge their problem solving skills – they love scooting back and forth to play this game!

  75. The kiddos love doing roll a monster or roll a sentence. I glued words or monster parts onto the sides of dice. We roll the dice and each of us draws the monster with whacky numbers of ears, horns, eyes, etc. or write the craziest sentence and then we compare them. Lots of laughs developing those fine motor skills.

  76. I love to incorporate tong use into EVERYTHING for hand strength and grasp….melty beads, sensory bins, board games, pompoms.

  77. so many of our students love puzzles or formboards, so we often incorporate all sorts of movement to obtain pieces, move to the formboard, place pieces – scooters, hops / skips / animal walks, rolling over ball or bolster…

  78. I love so many play based learning activities! Some of my favorites are build thing out of recycled opjects, play dough and clay to build and mold things, full body activity such as scavenger hunts, running to stand on shapes, colors, letters & so on, working with a friend to make their bodies make shapes & letters, turning our room into a theme such as a store or bakery then incorporating learning activities into that, and so many more!

  79. I love using play dough and theraputty for strengthening, in hand manipulation, etc. We make pizzas, snakes, tacos, and all kinds of food. We put in tiny treasures that are season specific – little apples, eyeballs, reindeer, hearts. I find that the slime charms are perfect for hiding in play dough or putty!

  80. I love playing “restaurant” with my kids. They work on writing while making menus and taking orders. We work on executive functioning skills like memory and attention while they remember and “fill” specific order of foods. They work on fine motor skills and balance while preparing small pretend food items and carrying dishes on a tray. They can play this game over and over and it is always new and always motivating!

  81. I use weighted balls to play simon says as a transition to/from therapy. The kids get some heavy work while working on concepts (right/left, behind, up/down etc).

  82. An item that is always a hit during my treatment sessions are pom-poms! We use them for grasping, color identification, sorting, fine motor, counting, reaching, direction following, the possibilities are endless!!

  83. In my sensory room, we play a lot of Candy Land. This is a game where the student learn how to follow a pattern or follow the rules/directions of the game! I glued velcro dots to each space to enhance sensory stimuli also!! It is a favorite in my room!

  84. We have really been into Jenga recently. We also have been just enjoying being out in the new snow we received over the weekend! Sledding is so great for our two boys with SPD!

  85. I love my game Let’s Go Fishing. It’s easy to grade – turn the game off so the pieces don’t move, use your hands instead of the fishing poles. I also love that it works on both fine motor coordination and visual perceptual skills. My kids love it! And I work on sharing and taking turns.

  86. I LOVE using Bal-A-Vis-X – a balance, auditory, visual, exercise program using sand bags and balls, and multiple mid-line crossing activities.

  87. We love rhythmic movement poses and games and are working to install a sensory path from the lunchroom to the playground door, too!

  88. Battleship! It’s great for visual scanning, sequencing, fine motor manipulation, problem-solving, and for kids who love competition. Who doesn’t want to beat their therapist at something!?

  89. My kids love play doh or therapy putty. We have the roller and molds so they can play and use their fingers. I just laminated some mats so they also get to practice making letters and shapes.

  90. Good old-fashioned free play, where kids learn to communicate, negotiate, anticipate outcomes, self-monitor, problem solve, and take risks while experimenting with future adult roles (e.g. mother, teacher, firefighter, cook) and developing sensorimotor skills. 🙂

  91. One of my favorite play-based activities is obstacle courses! My kids get to find puzzle pieces, crawl through a tunnel, and put the puzzle pieces away. They get to work on sequencing, motor planning, strengthening, and visual-motor integration all while having fun playing!. I also like to use whatever children are interested in. For example, I have many kids who love sensory bins so I will hide toys in there or puzzle pieces for them to work on grasp or visual-motor integration!

  92. I love obstacle courses. One child that I serve loves American Ninja Warrior so coming up with different obstacles for him to do is super fun. One of my favorite games is Feed the Woozle. All of my kiddos love that game. We also love cutting Velcro food and using different items to pretend to cook in the kitchen.

    **Liked on Facebook

  93. I love to use any play-based materials for building letters! Examples include play-doh, blocks, rubber band boards, chalk boards, and wikistix. I also love using scooterboards when space allows!

    **Followed on Facebook

  94. We love to play a scavenger hunt game, where they (I have twins) have a list/s to go and find 10 things, they can be actual items such as a blue flower or textured items such as find something with a smooth surface. It gets them talking, discussing, and it keeps them busy for a while :)!

  95. I use many different games in my therapy sessions. Two of the kids favorites are Pictureka and Qbitz used to build visual perceptual skills.

  96. My favorite play based activity is to play with baby dolls. There are so many fine motor activities that can be addressed by changing the dolls clothes, rocking it, or pretending to feed it. At the same time you can address imaginative play and social skills.

  97. I love board games that are engaging and fun games that I can translate into life concepts for emotional regulation while working on fine motor skills. Pop the Pig is one example. For the emotional regulation part, I talk to kids about how each burger we are putting inside the pig is just like the frustrations we encounter throughout the day. If we don’t let them out, we will eventually pop!

  98. I have children negotiate an obstacle course with a piece to a puzzle or a picture to match. At the end of the obstacle course, they complete the matching or puzzle activity.

  99. I love to use scooterboards while incorporating writing. I have kids look for letters (or whole words) using lettered bean bags. They scoot around to find them all and then write the word on the board.

  100. I use obstacle courses with a variety of tasks. It could include finding puzzle pieces, animal walks, crawling through a tunnel, balance tasks, walking over river rocks, tossing bean bags, and more.

  101. I think finding and hiding objects in my kids’ favorite. I personally enjoy being able to incorporate fine/visual and gross motor skills, like pig popper with targets.

  102. My clinic recently built a mud kitchen outside. My kids love it since they get to be hands-on with the whole process of digging the dirt, making the “cupcakes”, putting it in the play oven, and decorating with glitter, food coloring, shaving cream, etc.

  103. One of my and my student’s favorites is a game called Magna Force. It works on grading movement, grasping patterns, matching, and much more!

  104. I love to use bunchems, moon sand, and thera-putty when working with my students. I followed on facebook 🙂

  105. I love using play during therapy! I use a bowling set all of the time, I have been looking for new and inventive ways to incorporate play into my therapy sessions.

  106. Theraputty with letters of the plastic alphabet beads hidden in them and they have to write they letters they find, try to make words with the letters or string the letters. Puzzles are also great!

  107. My favorite play based activity is social/emotional jenga and social skills Candyland. These not only address sequencing but it gets the child thinking about themselves and how to express themselves.

  108. I love using games that incorporate yoga – like Red Light Green Light (yoga poses) and Musical Yoga Poses (play on musical chairs). I’m also a huge fan of scooter boards and scavenger hunts that incorporate fine motor and gross motor play.

  109. Board games! Candy land is one of my favorites. I like to change the color cards into movement activities, letters to practice, small tasks.

  110. My daughter loves pop the pig, perfection, and hi ho Cherry-oh! At OT she loves throwing the balls af the target while kneeling on the balance board.

  111. Some of my favorite play based therapy games include Connect 4 (travel and regular to work on different manipulation skills), puzzles, Trouble, and don’t break the ice games (I currently have a Minion version).

  112. We love to create monsters or paper dolls then role play with our creations, using our imaginations to take them on obstacle course journeys.

  113. I love using pretend food especially ones that you can cut open and put back together. Its good exposure to different foods and good to practice manipulation and bilateral coordination.

  114. Vehicles. I especially like the Lego cars because you can build on them and create a train. Kids have to manually move them around the room which is great motor work.

  115. I like to incorporate movement into our activities using sensory path, obstacle courses, “exercises”, roll the dice and pick a movement, yoga….It helps build my kids awareness of how to use their bodies and get the input they need to be “just right” for learning.

  116. My kids love all the new sensory items I received through a grant this year! The fifth graders on my hall will find an excuse to come to my room to get a quick sensory move. 🙂

    Lori Cleveland

  117. I’ve found it’s a challenge to motivate older students (4th and 5th) to engage in play based learning. The most recent success I’ve had is creating an indoor snow ball fight. Student’s write three positives things either about someone or anything, crumble it up into a ball and than throw at targets around the room or at each other (with rules).

  118. A lot of my kiddos love playing with playdoh. I have several different sets that do different things (make hamburger, dentist), and my kiddos love them. They are great strengthening and the kiddos get really creative. I love using the hamburger one with my feeding kiddos and the dentist one I use to talk about brushing teeth and even practice doing toothbrushing strokes with it! I recently bought some scented dough called Tutti Frutti! Playdoh is a simple tool, but has so many possibilities!

  119. I love playing the game Operation. It works on so many skills as well as creates a set up for imagination and story telling.

  120. I love working with kiddos there are endless possibilities for play in everyday objects I like the Recycling OT we use a lot of random things and use our imaginations I’ve learned so many new things from ideas kids have had! Clothes pins are one of my go-to “toys” to use in therapy.

  121. Ball or bubble games are fun. Am considering integrating lego-type blocks more, since seem to currently have several students that like these.

  122. I like to have several peers build an obstacle course together of items i have set aside, hurdles, spots, balance beam, and carry a ball through or take puzzle pieces to complete a puzzle on the other end. The degree of difficulty of the obstacle course may not be high but they negotiate what the sequence will be and walk through it themselves.

  123. I like to use sensory bins – they are so versatile. They provide a wide range of sensory input (beans, water beads, rice, corn kernels, flour, sand, water, etc) while working on vision, sensory, and motor skills (translation, grasp, strengthen hands/shoulders/core, supination/pronation, visual scanning, VMI, etc) by pairing tools (tweezers, clothespins, tongs, spoons, cups, funnels) with objects (alphabet, numbers, animals) to facilitate learning opportunities.

  124. I love using Jenga with activity / GM / FM movements written on the blocks. I have the students lie supine with forearms propped to poke out a block and it goes from there 🙂

  125. I love obstacle courses as a play-based way to target gross motor and visual motor skills. I also love the game Perfection! to address fine motor skills and visual scanning in a fun way!

  126. Love Doodle Dice for visual skills. I also like having kids make up their own games or teach me games that they like to play! Great for planning and social skills.

  127. Obstacle courses (especially those involving scooter boards) and games (Operation, Perfection, Simon, Don’t Break the Ice, etc.).

  128. I use a lot of different things… favorites are sturdy birdy; rush hr jr board version NOT ipad version; little cards and normal sized cards for go fish, war, uno; bubbles; ball activities; and of course puzzles .

  129. I love to use play-based learning activities that involve some competition, such as a race to write letters on a white board or a search and find for puzzle pieces.

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