10 Ways to Play in a Motor Room

A play space is only a space.  It can lead children to play and learning opportunities, but the space itself is only an environment.  Parents can guide children and get more out of the play spaces through engagement techniques, such as small changes to the environment that spark ideas and activities for play. After a few months using our new motor room at home, I found that I needed to keep my children interested and engaged through regular small changes in our space.

To learn more about creating a home sensory and motor space, see my post here.

  1. Add a challenge.  Take a familiar task and make it just a little harder.  Obstacles on a balance beam or a target to hit while swinging.
  2. Rearrange the play objects.  It is amazing how just moving a toy or piece of equipment can make it interesting to children again.
  3. Add music.  Whether it is turning on the radio, playing a CD or mp3, or singing a song, children of all ages love music.


    Kid’s CD player

  4. Pretend play.  Baby dolls, super hero, action figure, cars- whatever your child loves, try using it in a new way in your play space.


    Pushing baby on the swing

  5. Invite a friend.  Everything is more fun with a new friend enjoying it.
  6. Play in your PJs (or a super hero cape, princess costume, or ballerina skirt).

    swinging in tutu

    Swinging in a tutu

  7. Have a bubble or balloon party.  I’ve yet to meet the kid who did love playing with bubbles and balloons.
  8. Have a contest.  How long can you spin without falling off?  Can you do the balance beam with your eyes close?  How fast can you do the hopscotch?
  9. Explore new ways to use old objects.  Encourage kids to try new ideas, give praise whether it works or not.  Resist the urge to correct them (i.e. “but that is not how rings should be use”).
  10. Act out a favorite song or story.  Take something your child loves and act it out.  For my child, it is nursery rhyme songs, but it could be a story like “The Little Engine that Could” or take off in a space ship like PBS’s “Little Einstein.”
Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.