FUN Ways to get the "Wiggles" Out from an Occupational Therapist's Bag of Tricks!

FUN Ways to get the "Wiggles" Out from an Occupational Therapist's Bag of Tricks!

5 Tips to Get the Wiggles out when Stuck Indoors!


Spring is sooo close! However, this time of year can be that tricky time when the excitement of snow is over, it’s too rainy or muddy to go outside, and well, let’s face it, the kids are just bored! Therapists often use a trick called “Heavy Work” in order to help regulate minds and bodies. This work allows the child to get their much-needed chemicals to calm their neuro system and allow for a quiet activity and maybe even give you some peace for a little while! Below are some ideas that you can organize fairly easily that have proved time and time again to work for me as a Mom and an Occupational Therapist seeking movement to “get the wiggles out”.

  1. Go on a Scavenger Hunt- This does not have to cost a thing! Use zip-lock baggies or small plastic containers and hide the items all over in a room or throughout the house. Ideas for items may be pieces to a game, a puzzle, “secret” messages, items to complete an art project, or whatever else you can find at home. Honestly, the kids do not care! The fun for them is in the hunt!  As a therapist, we kept plastic Easter Eggs available for use all year long. We may hide small trinkets, and practice words to write or spell. They bring all the items to a designated area and then we open together. Kids received the movement and motivation they needed while we got improved participation and attention.   You can add things like (15 jumping jacks, 10 sits ups, find something that is red in your room, bear walk down the hallway and back, stay up an extra 10 minutes, an extra snack, etc..) you get the picture!  Add some surprise fun stuff in there along with the “Heavy Work”.


  1. Obstacle Course – Get creative and find a puzzle or building project with 10-15 pieces (or more).  Put pieces at the beginning of the course with the expectation that they will take one piece at a time to get to the end where the project can be completed. The mission will be to complete the puzzle or building project. I’ve even used crayons on one end with a “Paint by Number” on the other end.  Use items to create the course with what you have including couch cushions, going under or over end table, jumping from one hand towel or paper plate to another, masking tape on the floor (walking the plank), yarn maze. Do a search for ideas on indoor obstacle courses for kids and you will get a ton of ideas!


  1. Stairs!! – Do you have a set of stairs?? Perfect!! Get a game with pieces such as Connect 4, Pop the Pig, playing cards, memory, you name it and put part of it on the top of the stairs, and the rest downstairs.  Find a way to incorporate part of the game upstairs and part of it downstairs.  For example, in the game of memory, split the pairs with one picture at top of stairs and the match to it at the bottom.   10 – 15 trips up/down stairs will have them begging for some quiet book time!


  1. Dance Party – Check out Youtube and search for Pinkfong dance alongs! There are all kinds of them, but I like that these seem simple enough to follow and add a variety of familiar songs to kids.


  1. Muscle Corner – Are the kids getting at each other throats? Been there!!! Provide a muscle corner in which the child gets to choose…time out or muscle corner?? Muscle corner may be a series of pictures of 4-5 exercises that they must do in order to get out 😊 Examples could be wall sit entirety of singing abc’s, 15 jumping jacks, tap with your hand a sticky note that is just out of reach 20 times, crab walk down the hallway and back, complete a superman pose for 30 seconds. Trust me, the frustration in them with their sibling will melt away!


It is always good to have some tricks up your sleeves when it comes to kids “showing out” when they have excess energy.  Make a copy of this and refer to it when the thought of pulling out your hair seems more realistic than not.  I’ve been right there with you. Let me know what works for you!

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