700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Playing Games with Kids to Build Visual and Motor Skills

Apr 15, 2020
Family of 3 playing chess

Families are spending more time at home with limited access to new toys and activities. During this time, it is important to keep kids learning and working on their play and fine motor skills.

There are many ways to use the supplies and toys you have in new ways to encourage the development of imagination, turn taking, finger control and strength, problem solving and handwriting. Doing meaningful, new activities can be helpful for the whole family.

Try to complete just 1-2 new activities per day (or week) and build a routine. Adjust the suggestions for your child’s developmental level, interests and your family’s priorities.

Deck of Cards

  • Use a deck of cards to play childhood favorites like Go Fish, War, Solitaire, Hearts, or Old Maid.
  • Make your own deck of cards using index cards, the inside of cereal or pop tart boxes once empty. Be sure to monitor children when they are using scissors.
  • For older children, use sight words or spelling words from school to make or use as flashcards or deck of cards to play Memory or Go Fish. 
  • For younger children, use shapes or color cards to play games or simply use for sorting or matching to improve color or shape recognition.

Board Games

  • Get old board games out of your closet in order to focus on fine motor, direction following, turn taking, and visual skills.
  • Build puzzles together to work on visual and spatial skills (right/left, up/down, top/bottom). Place stickers, pictures, or spelling words on the backside of old puzzle pieces to add new interest to a familiar puzzle.
  • Make board games using paper, poster board or the back side of wrapping paper to play Tic-Tac-Toe. Make your own chess or checkers board, or draw a “race track” to play with  toy cars. Older kiddos can make up their own games on the paper and write down rules on note cards or scrap paper. 
  • Modify the games you have to encourage new skills. For example, when playing Candy Land make different rules for every color the child lands on (for example: purple - write your name, orange - do jumping jacks, blue - hold a yoga pose, green - do a math problem, yellow - say something nice about the person sitting next to you).
  • Make your own BINGO board using your child’s sight or spelling words from class.
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Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Margaret Bassi, OTR/L
Occupational Therapy

Margaret Bassi, OTR/L works with children with a variety of disabilities, including fine motor, sensory and rehabilitation. She is passionate about helping children build independence and reach their full potential.

Kari Meeks
Kari A. Meeks, OT
Occupational Therapy

Kari A. Meeks, MOT, OTR/L, is licensed by The Ohio Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Athletic Trainers Board. She is a developmental occupational therapist who completes homecare services throughout the Columbus area, as well as outpatient services at the Hilliard Close to Home Center.

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Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center

700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.