Family Room Activities
There are many things you can do in the Family Room to make this space more of an Active Learning environment for your child. Since this is a place where the whole family gathers, you need activities that the child can do independently and also things that other family members can do with the child. Here are just a few ideas.
An Independent Activity Area
Independent play time is very important for all children. This is where they explore and experiment without interference from an adult. However, it is very important that SAFETY is first and foremost in your mind. Never give your child something to play with without some supervision. Check all materials to make sure there are not broken parts that might cut or small pieces that could be put in his or her mouth that could cause choking. If possible, locate this space next to an area where you typically sit or work so you can have your child in eye sight.
Playing with Other Family MembersWhen the family is gathered in the room, they can join in the child’s play. Their role will change based on what the child is able to do on his or her own. For example, a child who cannot reach or grasp yet, may need someone to simply hold an object near the child for them to interact with by touching, banging, scratching or licking. Some children will enjoy having you imitate the way they explore the object with a similar or identical object of your own. Depending on their vision and hearing, you may need to be in contact with the child’s body for them to become aware of your movements. Other children will enjoy playing simple turn-taking games centered around an object or toy. For example, taking turn shaking shakers made from empty bottles and dry beans or rice. Other children may be ready for constructive play such as taking apart and putting together, sorting, stacking, taking things out and putting things in containers. (See Cognitive Skills.) The adult or sibling helps to facilitate the movement the child cannot yet complete. For example, you might need to stack things like dominoes, blocks, or plastic cups and saucers for the child to knock over.
ThrowingThrowing things into containers is another fun activity that a child might enjoy with the help of others who can be there to replace the items that are thrown. Make sure the thrown object provides auditory feedback when the it lands inside the container. Here is a simple throwing activity using a laundry basket, cookie sheet, and coins. You could use a variety of small objects such as whole nuts, metal washers, dry sponges, pine cones, etc. to let the child compare the sound the various objects make when they hit the cookie sheet.
Laundry Basket ThrowIn this demonstration you see how a laundry basket can be adapted to make noise when objects are thrown inside simply by adding a metal cookie sheet in the bottom.
Kneeling, Standing, CruisingYou can also work on skills like pulling to stand, cruising, climbing stairs, rolling, crawling, and walking. There are many ideas for these activities that you can see in the Motor Development section of the Implementation tab of this website.
Objects on a Stair RailBelow Jessica McCavit from Penrickton Center for Blind Children demonstrates how a child who is coming up to kneeling might play with objects attached to a railing. This might also be an activity that a child who is sitting independently or starting to cruise could do as well.
CrawlingCreate tunnels, dens, forts and obstacle courses out of boxes, blankets, pillows and rugs encourage all of your children to play in the Family Room. Here are a few examples of these that Jessica McCavit created in her home.
Demonstration of Indoor Obstacle Course
Here is a video of Jessica McCavit playing on an obstacle course made from pillows, rugs and yoga mat.
Pull to Stand and Climbing Stairs
Children love stairs, and as much as it may frighten adults, they need opportunities to explore them. With adult supervision, when your child is ready to pull up or climb, spend time together on the stairs. Let your child take the lead in the exploration, but provide motivation for him or her to reach or try to climb by placing interesting objects along the stair treads. The adult’s role in this activity is 1) to be the “spotter” to keep the child from injury and 2) to replace or add new items that may be tossed off the stairs.
Pulling Clothing from Laundry Basket