At home activities to do with your kids from @ABAmomlife

April 24, 2020

Hi, I’m Melissa! I’m a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with over a decade of experience working with children and a master’s in Exceptional Student Education. I’m also a mom of two: one five-year-old boy and an almost three-year-old girl. Being a BCBA has definitely influenced my parenting style and I’m all about learning through play. Many principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) can be utilized to make parenting easier. That’s something I’m passionate about sharing and why I started my Instagram account @ABAmomlife. It provides ABA strategies and easy learning activities as a resource for parents and practitioners. 

Melissa D.

BCBA and mom of two (@ABAmomlife)

Hi, I’m Melissa! I’m a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with over a decade of experience working with children and a master’s in Exceptional Student Education. I’m also a mom of two: one five-year-old boy and an almost three-year-old girl. Being a BCBA has definitely influenced my parenting style and I’m all about learning through play. Many principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) can be utilized to make parenting easier. That’s something I’m passionate about sharing and why I started my Instagram account @ABAmomlife. It provides ABA strategies and easy learning activities as a resource for parents and practitioners. 

I’m so excited to partner with AnswersNow to share three fun activities you can try at home with your child/ren.  Some of the skills targeted in these activities include fine motor skills, sensory play, scanning, sorting, independent play, creative play, task completion, bilateral coordination, following directions, problem solving, and more. Many of the activities I share can be easily adapted to different developmental levels, tied into different themes, and have plenty of opportunities to work on increasing language skills. Work with what you have and what your child is interested in. 

Of course, always supervise as needed, especially with kiddos who mouth objects. Also, if these are new activities, your child will probably need more assistance from you initially and can become more independent with more practice. You know your child best, so do what works best for you! 

Moon Sand Animal Rescue & Sort: This is a bit of a “kitchen sink” activity, meaning it is a bunch of different mini activities combined into one super awesome mega activity. 

Materials: moon sand (8 parts flour + 1 part baby oil + an optional drop or two of food coloring), an assortment of animal figurines, two bins, and “rescue tools” (spoons, scoops, toy shovels, whatever you have). If you don’t want to do moon sand, feel free to substitute any kind of sensory material, like regular sand, packing peanuts, kinetic sand, paper shreds, etc. 

Setup: Bury animals in the bowl/bin with the moon sand and place a bin on each side. Fill one bin with water, leave the other dry. Give kiddo tools to rescue the animals and sort them by land or sea. If that’s not applicable, you could sort them by big/small, herbivore/carnivore, whatever makes sense for what you have and your child’s developmental level. Hype it up that the animals need your child’s help, encourage making animal sounds, ask questions, and have fun with it! 




Painting with Marshmallows: Sometimes introducing novel materials to familiar play can make magic! The sky is the limit with this type of activity. We have been doing a lot of arts & crafts since being home during quarantine and my kiddos were starting to get bored with their usual materials. 

Materials: paint (I prefer washable for easy cleanup, also a taste safe paint is a great option if your child may try to eat the paint/marshmallows), an egg carton (or actual paint palette if you want to be fancy or a paper plate if you want to be low key), marshmallows (cotton balls, q-tips, balled up tissue/toilet paper, etc. could all work), and a surface to paint on (paper, canvas, a cardboard box, etc.) Optional: clothespins or toothpicks for holding the marshmallows. My kids just held them with their hands, but feel free to add a tool to avoid sticky fingers. For the first attempt, I wanted to give them some structure and asked my toddler what she wanted to make. She decided on a rainbow, so I made a quick rainbow outline with crayon, showed her how to dip the marshmallows in the paint, and dot the paint onto the paper. Great opportunity for learning colors and how colors mix together. 


She was enthralled with the process and kept at it until her rainbow was complete. Providing some hand over hand prompting and gradually reducing the prompts helped her learn how to do this skill quickly and complete it independently. 


Dot Sticker Letter Match: This is a great basic activity that you can tweak to suit your child and can be used to target tons of different skills, from matching identical items, different items like upper to lowercase letters, filling in a missing letter, and so on. For example, my son was working on filling in the missing letter, while my daughter worked on matching letters. 


You can write your own targets on paper or print off already made ones. There are a ton of free resources out there for printables. No need to reinvent the wheel! You could also place the target matches all around the room/house to turn into a gross motor activity and scavenger hunt. 

Materials: round colored label stickers, paper, a marker/Sharpie. 

Setup: Give instructions and help as needed. 

Pro tips: use a laminated sheet for easy correcting/redoing and peel the backing off the sticker sheet to make it easier for little hands. Peeling the backing first can transform this from an activity that requires parental assistance for every step into an independent activity! 


This is one of my favorite quiet activities to set up when I need a coffee break or to get some things done around the house. 






I hope you’ve found these ideas helpful. For more activities and behavior strategies, be sure to follow @ABAmomlife. 

For more autism parenting support, download the AnswersNow App.



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