As COVID-19 cases in the U.S. rise foreshadowing a formidable second wave, another round of quarantine during late summer and early fall does not seem too far-fetched. Especially with different forms of therapy and summer classes canceled, it can be hard to keep any child occupied and stimulated during the summer months. To help make use of the gift of family time that quarantine gives us, I have put together a list of ten easy and cheap activities specifically tailored to small children on the spectrum that will keep their curious minds stimulated and alert over quarantine.
+Staring Contest: This one sounds so simple, but it is effective! Maintaining eye contact with others can be a challenging task for many autistic children. By making this childhood classic a regular competition, your child will be having fun while improving his/her eye contact skills!
+Emotional Charades: Instead of the traditional categories of movie titles and animals, this version of charades is just with emotions! With a scratch piece of paper, make small cards that both the picture and word of the emotion. For example, for the "sad," write the word "sad" and draw a face with a tear on it 😢. The rest of the rules are like the traditional game of charades. Playing this game often can improve your child's social skills in no time!
+"How would it feel to be ______ ?": The next time you read a book, ask your child what it may be like being the main character of the story. Take turns and for the first few times, you go first to give examples for your child. This activity will make your child think more in another person's shoes and will definitely help social/communication skills!
+Sharing Time: Yes, this may seem strange to do it in your own home, but the benefits are still reaped even if done in your own living room! Have everybody in your family take an object from around the house and speak a couple of sentences about the object's significance. Then, ask your child to take any object (like a toy) and talk about it for his/her "share time". This activity will improve your child's communication skills and prepare him/her for similar school activities too!
+Emotions Matching Game: Using a scratch piece of paper, make 'word' cards and 'picture' cards. On the word cards, write the actual word of the emotion (example: "happy"). On the picture cards, draw out a face displaying the matching emotion (example: for "happy", draw a smiley face 🙂 ). Cut out the cards and place them on a table. Mix them up and ask your child to match the words to the right emotion. This fun game will help your child recognize different facial expressions.
+Ice Painting: This activity works better on a hot, sunny day! In an ice cube tray, put a few drops of different colored food coloring in each compartment (the more food coloring you put, the better the results; you can also put acrylic paint). Pour water and freeze the night before. The next day, sit outside and drag the ice on a piece of paper!
Bubbles: If you do not have a bubble wand at home, no problem! You can easily make them with dish soap and use your hands as the wand. First, wet your hands. Next, put a lot a dish soap on your hands and rub them together. Then, blow and have fun! You might not get the same circular bubbles as you would with a wand, but you and your child will have loads of fun playing with soap!
Sensory Box: A homemade sensory box can help your child explore different types of textures in a comfortable setting. In a large container (like a cardboard box or a large bowl), pour at least three cups of rice (enough to cover the bottom by at least half an inch). Next, place different types of small objects like pompoms, lentils, and caps. Then, your box is complete! Let your child have fun experiencing different types of textures!
+Slime: Slime can be a fun way for your child to explore different types of touch in the kitchen itself! This is a link to a slime recipe without borax.
+Mystery Smell Game: Your child will have a great time exploring his/her sense of smell with this activity! In small containers (like jam bottles), pour different scents. For example, in one container, you can pour a small bit of vanilla extract, lemon juice, vinegar, etc. Next, cover the container with a paper towel and put a rubber band/tape to secure the opening. Then, ask your child to identify each scent!
+ Activities from friendshipcircle.org
+ Activities from waterford.org
+ Activities from kids-konnect.com