Tag: holiday

Therapy Activities for Holiday Break

Therapy Activities for Holiday Break

Stuck at home with the kids during these Holiday weeks and looking for some entertainment ideas or ways to continue to progress their skills during all this down time? Look no further! Here are some therapy activities for holiday break!

  • Let the kids wrap up a small gift for their sibling. There are a few tips to make the unwrapping process by your child easier and more fun for everyone in our Gift Wrapping blog. 
  • Have your child remove tape from the dispenser, while you do the wrapping. 
  • Provide a line visual (can be a bit further than what you actually need to wrap) and have your child be the paper cutter. You can clean up the line later when the child is not around if need be.
  • Do the wrapping but show the child where you want them to place the tape pieces.
  • Have the child create their own ornaments for the tree with paper, hole puncher, and string/ ribbon to hang it.
  • Cut out a paper tree for the wall and have the child focus their attention towards decorating it. Include cutting string and taping it to the tree, making ornaments from paper to work on shape cutting, incorporating coloring, gluing, and stickers into decorating for some fine motor work. 
  • Set up a card making station for your child to create cards for presents to hand to teachers, grandparents, place on Secret Santa gift, etc. This is great to target folding paper, coloring, writing, adding stickers or working on gluing.
  • Have your child be the cookie cutter presser.
  • Require the child to utilize their thumb and pointer finger to lightly place sprinkles onto the cookies.
  • Make a scavenger hunt where the children have to listen to clues and search the house for tiny gifts.
  • Play freeze dance with Holiday music
  • Have your child make their own version of Elf On The Shelf by drawing, coloring, cutting and require them to hide it before they go to bed every night. In the morning, the parents have to find the kid’s hidden elf.

Try to allow your child full creative control on some of these open ended craft activities. This will give you time to focus your attention on other Holiday activities! Still looking for more ideas? Read our winter movement blog for more! Looking to get out into the community? Here are some fun ideas in the Chicago area.

If you notice your child having trouble with some of the fine motor or auditory processing skills listed in the above activities, don’t hesitate to reach out to BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy. We offer free screenings in Orland Park, IL and Aurora, IL.

Rebecca Brennan, OTR/L

Wrapping Presents for all Abilities

“Rocking (and unwrapping) around the Christmas Tree” – with Glee

green present

You’ve been plotting, planning, shopping and ordering fabulous holiday gifts for your little one. Now, it’s time to wrap up that pile of goodies! Here are a few tips to make the unwrapping process by your child easier and more fun for everyone!

  1. Use a single piece of tape while wrapping:

    Little fingers have a hard time pinching and pulling long edges of perfectly secured wrapping paper, make the wrapping/unwrapping process easier on both you and your child by securing sides with a single small piece of tape. The easier to unwrap, the less you have to help and the greater independence you foster in your child!

  2. Use festive bags:

    Avoid the hassle and frustration of unwrapping challenges all together by placing your child’s gifts in holiday bags! The ease of reaching in and removing their special gifts makes the moment more magical!

  3. Skip the wrapping, use a blanket, bag or box:

    Instead of wrapping presents, allow for an “unveiling” of gifts done by the child or parent with a “cover and lift” method. Simple placement of a cover leads to easy removal, decreasing the frustration of small eager hands without spoiling the surprise!

  4. Have toys and objects ready for use:

    The morning of a holiday brings chaos. The anticipation of gifts can lead to high tensions in the home. Make the moment more enjoyable for both of you by setting up toys or gifts ahead of time for prompt use. This means ditching the cardboard boxes, cutting through the tough zip ties, and inserting batteries (when required) before wrapping. Your child will delight in being able to promptly play with their new items while you relax and soak up the smiles!

  5. Scraps saved for learning:

    When the gifts have been opened and the bags, wrapping paper and tissue paper have been strewn about the room, collect the remnants in a box for later use. These various textures, colors and papers provide an excellent opportunity to work on skill building such as digging/finding, texture exposure, cutting with scissors, ripping/tearing, sorting, color identification, and other fun play and learning activities!  

Really let yourselves enjoy the holiday season by removing the stress of present unwrapping with these helpful tips! If your child is having difficulty around the holidays with motor skills for unwrapping and/or management of emotions or expectations impacting sleep, behavior or play, BDI therapists are here to help, offering free consultations for families all year round. We are wishing you the happiest of holidays!

Written by: Maggie Lord, MS, OTR/L



Turkey Time (as referred to by many of our kiddos) is just around the corner and it is either met with happy or anxious anticipation by children and adults!  A family member announces every Thanksgiving that this is her least favorite holiday because of how overwhelmed she feels with all the food options.  She says the anxiety starts weeks before the big day.  She has the ability to identify, process and express her anxiety related around a holiday.  Imagine, now, a child with the same feelings.  What might his or her anxiety look like?

Anxiety signs in kids:

  • Crying
  • Fleeing the table
  • Poor Sleep
  • Upset/outbursts more frequently or higher intensity than is typical
  • Irritability
  • Grimacing
  • Sweating
  • Yelling
  • Wide eyes
  • Gagging or vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Tense or jittery body
  • Frequent urination

So, what can you do to help make this time less anxious for your child?

How you can help:

  • Take the pressure off! No need to focus on or force the idea of sitting down for a large meal with relatives!  Keep it casual for your kid
  • Validate feelings of discomfort around the holiday
  • Brainstorm food avoidance strategies for use at the Thanksgiving table with your child
  • Interact with Thanksgiving foods without eating them
  • Talk about it- set expectations and boundaries for the holiday festivities
  • Take breaks from the commotion 
  • Turn the focus- make the focus of the holiday less about the food and more about family, crafting/decorations, gratitude, whatever is important to your family!
  • Engage in calming strategies throughout the month.  Examples of calming strategies include heavy work, deep pressure, auditory supports, movement strategies, deep breathing/relaxation strategies, tactile bins, lighting adjustments, and visual toys.  These strategies can be used around meal time and outside of meal time.

Turkey time can be a successful holiday for your entire family, especially if you identify and prepare for the day ahead of time!  If you’d like additional resources, please set up a free screening with one of our occupational therapists at BDI playhouse!

Written by Maggie Lord MS, OTR/L, and Jessica Keenan, MA, CCC-SLP/L, CLC