Structured group play activities at home can provide valuable opportunities for children with autism and speech delay to practice social interactions in a familiar and comfortable setting. Here are some structured play activities that can be used at home:
Pretend Tea Party:
- Set up a pretend tea party with dolls or stuffed animals. Assign roles (host, guest) and take turns serving tea, snacks, and engaging in polite conversation.
- Create an indoor obstacle course using cushions, tunnels, and other household items. Children can take turns navigating the course while giving each other encouragement and support.
- Sit in a circle and have each child contribute a sentence or phrase to create a collaborative story. This activity encourages turn-taking and creativity.
- Involve children in simple cooking activities like making sandwiches, decorating cookies, or assembling pizza. Each child can take on a role in the kitchen, such as chef, sous chef, or server.
Arts and Crafts:
- Engage in art and craft projects where children work together to create a shared masterpiece. They can take turns adding their unique touches to the project.
Indoor Scavenger Hunt:
- Create a list of items to find around the house, and have the children work together or in teams to locate each item.
Build a Fort:
- Encourage children to collaborate in building an indoor fort using blankets and cushions. Once it’s complete, they can enjoy some quiet time inside their fort with books or toys.
- Play a structured game of musical chairs, focusing on turn-taking and following instructions. Use child-friendly music to add to the fun.
- Choose board games that promote social interaction and teamwork, such as “Chutes and Ladders,” “Candy Land,” or “Uno.”
- Pick a scenario or theme, such as going to the doctor, and have each child take on a different role in the play. This encourages social interaction and cooperation.
- Create a dress-up box with costumes and accessories. Children can take turns choosing outfits and role-playing various characters.
Sensory Play Stations:
- Set up sensory play stations with different materials like sand, water, or playdough. Children can explore these stations together, sharing their experiences and discoveries.
LEGO or Building Blocks:
- Collaborate on building projects using LEGO or building blocks. Encourage children to work together to create structures or scenes.
- Host a cooking challenge where children are divided into teams and must prepare a dish with specific ingredients. This activity promotes teamwork and problem-solving.
Movie or Story Time:
- Choose a favorite movie or storybook and have children take turns selecting and watching or reading. Afterward, discuss the plot and characters.
When planning these structured group play activities, consider the interests and abilities of the children involved. Tailor the activities to their needs, and use visual supports or social stories to help them understand the rules and sequence of play. Structured play at home offers a supportive and enjoyable way for children to build their social skills and have fun with peers.