Learning with Games at Home

Written by Deb Hopper

Published in


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Children naturally love to play games. Play is the ‘occupation’ of children and is how they learn the best. Even though this comes naturally for children, in the past few years TV and other screens (tablet/phone games) have stolen large portions of time previously spent on play and learning activities.
Sometimes these games and activities, requiring active participation by the child, are thought of as being ‘boring’ or even too challenging as they do require a little more concentration and social interaction for children than the immediate feedback that screen play gives.
How do we encourage children to get back to basics and ‘play’ in a super duper fun way? Here are five fun games to try. Encourage their use as they will improve learning and social skills giving you and your child some special
time together.
1.   Create an obstacle course.
This can be tailored to any age and can be inside, on a deck, veranda or outside. The process of creating the obstacle course develops the skills of ‘ideation’ or coming up with new ideas or variations
on general and spatial planning. So many children struggle to come up with new ideas these days and having to create something from scratch encourages their imagination and creativity. Also, making up a course with
pillows, chairs or tables inside or planks of wood, rope or chairs outside encourages the use of our gross motor strength or coordination.
2.   Pictionary is a great game for encouraging turn taking, creativity and communication.
It can be fun yet very challenging for some children who find writing or drawing difficult. This gives some assistance and breaking down the task can be helpful and supportive.
3.   Pulleys.
Rigging up some pulleys and rope in the back yard, over a tree branch, or off a deck is guaranteed endless fun and problem solving. Children just love hooking up buckets of sand, water or food to pull into the cubby house or onto the deck. Let them go for it and then come out with morning tea that they need to figure out how to ‘hoist’ it over a ‘river’ into the cubby house.
4.   Papier Mache.
This is a great multi-sensory craft for making fun and creative structures, such as a piñata with contents inside that can then be dried, painted and then used at a party. Tearing the paper encourages fine
motor manipulation skills, dipping into glue and sticking is a very sensory task and painting and decorating is just fun and creative.
5.   Crafts and origami. 
Craft and origami are fun ways of having some time with your children, as well as time where they can be set up for more independent play while you get dinner. Set it up on the island bench or dinner table so you can chat to your children while they do the crafts and to be a resource when they need help. These are great for refining cutting, drawing, pencil grip and fine motor manipulation skills. Origami is also fantastic for creating logic and problem solving difficulties and for following written instructions for older children. Children learn the most when they are relaxed and having fun which involved less ‘in screen’ time. Keep things simple, aim for cheap, reusable and recyclable materials and encourage them to let their imaginations go wild!


With so many uncertainties in the world and with childhood and adulthood anxiety on the increase, it’s my mission to reach out and support as many children and adults who suffer from anxiety as I can. This mindfulness meditation that includes a script and an audio mp3 about finding your safe place is one tool that I share with you.

Meet Deb Hopper

Hi! I’m Deb, an Occupational Therapist with over 22 years experience in Mental Health and Pediatrics. I love working in private practice and seeing results with my clients AND having the flexibility to be creative in education packages like this. I live on the beautiful Mid North Coast and LOVE walking the beach with my labradoodle Daisy most mornings. I’m a wife and mother of two teen boys.. never a dull moment between family and work, and I love every minute!

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