These creative and budget-friendly DIY games and activities for kids are the perfect additions to this school year’s supply list!
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The final third of the summer is always a time for me to get organized for the upcoming school year. I compile my student folders, get my printable therapy planner all set up for the year, and take inventory of equipment. I also hunt for some cool new toys to add to my therapy bag to keep things new and fresh as the school year rolls on.
This year, I am being frugal! At our non-profit, The Treehouse, we’re always coming up with creative activities and supplies on the cheap. This year, I am channeling that creativity into my school therapy bag to create some DIY games and activities and am going to show you how to do it too!
First step, visit your local home improvement store. Here is a fabulous list of items you can get for free or very low cost that will leave the kids on your caseload super impressed with your ingenuity!
DIY Games & Activities for Kids Using Hardware Store Finds
We LOVE rope! It is so cheap and such a versatile prop for gross motor skill building. Place a length of rope on the floor and use it as a line to walk on – squiggly or straight, tie it between two end points and have a child use her hands to pull herself along on a scooter, make it a jump rope, or play a good old fashioned game of tug of war!
3 || Paint Samples
The possibilities are endless for DIY games and activities using this free hardware store supply! Check out Pinterest for some fabulous ideas like using hole punches to strengthen little hands, using the white lines between the colors for cutting practice, or even for a matching game on scooters. Here are our favorite ways to use paint samples to build fine motor skills and strength.
4 || 2X4 Piece of Wood
The easiest DIY balance beam you could ever dream of. Have the kids color it with some Sharpie Markers for some extra pizazz! Check out this fun balance beam learning activity.
Set kids loose with some Kwik Stix and let them decorate a pair of these freebies to make some awesome clapping sticks that are great for bilateral coordination, auditory processing, midline crossing, body awareness and more!
Rubber bands are super cheap and can make awesome DIY fidget toys! And don’t underestimate the hand strengthening power of these stretchy little guys! Try wrapping colored rubber bands around popsicle sticks to create patterns or use them with geoboards to make shapes and designs!
Use them to pick up craft pompoms or other manipulatives and sort them by color. Or try writing letters on each clothespin and then clip them onto index cards to spell out words and names.
These are a great little hand strengthening tool! Cover some toy cars with shaving cream and then use the spray bottles to create a car wash! Or try washing windows, tables, or using them for other chores for kids!
Yep, they actually sell empty paint cans at a home improvement store. We love to turn a pair of these into walking stilts. Drill a hole in each side of each can, add some rope and challenge kids to use their motor planning skills to get from one place to another.
HINT: Put some shelf liner on the bottom to keep them from slipping on a hard floor or use them on carpet!
Use these to create a ninja style obstacle course with your rope! Suspend the rope and have kids go over and under it to challenge their motor planning and body awareness and to get some awesome work on all fours as they go. BONUS: Leave them up and no one will ever notice, or take them down without leaving a mark!
This stuff is amazing for fine and gross motor play. Tear tiny bits and place them all over the floor or table top and have kids pick them up piece by piece to create their own tape collage. Or, create an obstacle course with lines to walk on, X’s to jump on, dots to hop on, etc. Try this fun balance game that can be made into all different shapes and designs!
We’re pretty sure that if you spent the same amount that you’d spend on the items above at a home improvement store, you wouldn’t even come close to being able to create the wide variety of activities we have listed here!
We hope we’ve inspired you to think outside the box! Anything to add to this list? Please share in the comments below!
You'll get a FREE copy of printable mini-workouts designed by pediatric therapists to help kids conquer their goals!
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