Springtime play and learning

Little girl blowing bubbles outside

While the cold, rainy days make you think you should check your calendar for when Halloween is coming, spring is really here. Soon a beautiful Michigan summer will follow. What a great opportunity to get outside and help your kids develop their motor skills under the guise of play. While kids all love their electronics, you’d be surprised how happy they are to go outside and play even the simplest of games.

Get out and play

  • Don’t sell short the importance of playing games like catch or kicking a ball; it helps build upper and lower body strength, eye-hand coordination and balance. You can mix it up too: Change the size of the ball you throw, or balance on one leg and see how long you can each stand before kicking the ball back.
  • Bubbles are great for kids and even school-age kids like them. Blowing bubbles builds oral motor and fine motor skills. The larger bubble wands are great fun for promoting running as you make bigger and bigger bubbles.
  • Kite flying is also wonderful for coordination and special time together.
  • Some more active ideas include roller skating and bike riding. Both activities are a fantastic chance to build strength, coordination, endurance and many happy memories. But don’t forget your protective gear — especially a helmet — for both you and your child.

Academics outdoors

  • If your child needs to work on more academic tasks, get out the sidewalk chalk to practice letters and math. Early learners respond well to large motor activities like drawing letters on the driveway as a way to learn letter formation.
  • Math facts can be called back and forth as you throw or kick a ball. When children have these types of sensory experiences combined with academics, they tend to have great recall and learning.
  • Speaking of sensory play, take advantage of the outdoors and enjoy messy play. Activities with shaving cream or Play-Doh (a carpet nightmare that looks so much better on your lawn) can build sensory and fine motor skills.
  • Fill a large storage tub with water and practice measuring and pouring to build coordination and math skills.

Other opportunities

As summer approaches here are some opportunities for children of varying abilities.

  • If your child struggles with handwriting skills, consider Beaumont’s eight-week summer handwriting program (for pre-writing, print or cursive). The program expands to 10 weeks during the rest of the year.
  • Have a picky eater? Try the Munchers and Crunchers group.
  • We also offer therapeutic swim programs, adapted martial arts, adapted dance, adapted yoga, and several sensory groups for children on the autistic spectrum.

Beaumont is proud to offer services in Macomb now, as well as our West Bloomfield, Royal Oak and Grosse Pointe clinics. Check out our website.

– Debbie Adsit, OTRL, is the Supervisor, Pediatric Rehabilitation at the Beaumont Center for Children’s Rehabilitation. She can be reached at (248) 655-5687.

My Inner Child Wears a Tigers Hat

Tiger Stadium at Michigan and Trumbull

Cropped image. Baseball Bugs, Wikimedia Commons.

I loved Tiger Stadium growing up. It was a slice of emerald goodness in a concrete grayness that only years of neglect can give you. One of the best feelings I remember while growing up was walking through the labyrinth of ramps, cresting to expose grass as far as the eye could see.

You felt like you were transported into a different world, if only for a few hours. I miss the old place, a lot of good memories. But as the legend Ernie Harwell would say, it was loooooooong gone before I had my first child.

My oldest never had a chance, she was going to be a baseball fan whether she liked it or not. Luckily for both of us she’s a huge Tigers fan. In fact, the only poster in her room is of her favorite Tigers player. Brings a tear to my eye.

When we head downtown to go see a game, I miss parking on someone’s front yard for $5, or having to walk across the footbridge, dodging oversized balloons and t-shirt vendors to get to the stadium. It added to the experience. Now, we park in a fenced-in lot, pass the peanut guys and go into the stadium after our tickets are scanned.

A lot has changed. Ferris wheels, sushi and full pizzas are the norm.

What hasn’t changed is the look on the face of a youngster seeing the field for the first time. I remember that look on my daughter’s face; it was a mix of excitement and awe. There aren’t many days that you can put that look on your child’s face, so you have to cherish those moments … but it’s also up to you to feed that feeling because that will only grow their inner-child that they’ll need when they’re adults.

My daughter only knows Tiger Stadium by what I’ve told her. She knows it was where I saw my childhood heroes play. But what she doesn’t know is most of the time I was sitting next to my Dad, or as she knows him, Poppie.

My dad and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye on everything growing up, but what father and son do? But we could always agree that spending a summer afternoon in the bleachers was time well spent.

I plan on spending a few afternoons this summer with my favorite Tigers fan in hopes that one day she will look back at our time knowing that our trips to the ballpark were much bigger than the game.

– Jim Pesta, Parenting Program participant and father of two girls