Activities for Kids with Cerebral Palsy

Instructor: Felicia Landry

Felicia has a bachelor's degree in journalism and has been a writer for the past 23 years.

Cerebral palsy is a medical condition that results in muscle weakness or stiffness as well as balance and coordination problems. Discover activities geared towards children with cerebral palsy that teachers can incorporate into their classrooms and discover some of their benefits.

Hand Play

Because children with cerebral palsy often have trouble grasping objects and moving their fingers, hand play activities are beneficial. These activities can improve the child's pincer grasp, which involves using the thumb and index finger to pick up small objects. Some activities to improve this technique include picking M&Ms out of an egg carton, crumpling up pieces of tissue paper then throwing them around the room or breaking off small bits of play-doh then rolling it between the thumb and finger to form small balls. Games such as pick-up sticks or construction toys such as legos also have the same effect.

Learn more about fine motor skills with the lesson What Are Fine Motor Skills in Children? - Development, Definition & Examples.

Music Activities

While it is known that music has soothing qualities, it has additional benefits to children with cerebral palsy. Teachers can use music in the classroom to help students improve their social skills through participation in group performances. Students needing to work on language development can sing songs to increase their knowledge of words and vocabulary as well as their vocal ability. Finally, teachers can have students who are able dance to music to improve their mobility.

For some tips on how to incorporate music into your everyday curriculum, take a look at our lesson Using Music in the Classoom.

Physical Activities

Physical activity in children with this condition can increase muscle strength, agility and overall health. To make physical fitness activities accessible to children with cerebral palsy, teachers can make modifications to the equipment and the rules of standard games. This can include playing games with brightly colored balls that are larger and softer than standard balls. Teachers can also apply velcro to paddles and a beach ball to play catch with the students. This increases the surface area of the adhesive material, making it easier for the student to catch the ball.

To learn more about accommodating and modifying classroom activities for a variety of skill and ability levels, check out our chapter on Individual Differences in Children.

If you're interested in learning more about cerebral palsy, you can view the lessons Cerebral Palsy: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments. You may also want to explore specific effects that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has had on the classroom environment for students with disabilities.

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