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Every person uses their fine motor skills every day to pick up their glasses, change the channel on the television, and get ready in the morning. Fine Motor Skills are the skills used when you move your hand to do an activity.  They involve the small muscles of the hand, and are necessary for performing most of the tasks in life.  There are a lot of body movements that can be used to help in the development of fine motor skills, and some of these include weight bearing on the hands, postural control and shoulder stability, and muscle strength development.  There are also many little parts and nuances of fine motor skills, some of which are; development of the arches of the hands, the thumb and its webspace, separation of the 2 sides of the hand which helps with in-hand manipulation, bilateral integration, and the development of hand and finger strength.

In-hand manipulation is the ability to move objects around in your hand, and there are three components.

  • Translation:  The ability to move an object from the palm of the hand to the finger tips and back to the palm.
  • Shift:  The linear movement of an object between the fingers such as moving your fingers up and down the shaft of a pencil.
  • Rotation:  The movement of an object with the finger around one or more of it’s axis, such as when you spin a pencil around with your fingers.

Handwriting is a big part of fine motor skills, as well as Scissor Skills. You can also read about the fine motor skills that are specifically needed and used for handwriting.

You can check out a list of development of milestones for fine motor control as well.  This is just a guide to help you see if there are any problems.

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10 Fun Ways to Incorporate Writing into Therapy

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When I am working in a school, I have so many skills that I would like to work on, but I also need to make sure that practice of writing fits into our therapy session. I have heard many people talk about doing warm up activities before their writing activities, but I have a tendency…

20 + Small Manipulatives for Fine Motor

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When looking in my therapy bag, there are a few things that I always have with me. For higher level fine motor work, I always like to have small little manipulatives and some Training Chopsticks. I have posted about these items before, but they really are a great go to item that works on the…

A Bunch of Bee Themed Activities

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To work on pencil control, it really is great to do activities where you are having to control your pencil.  For this I use pencil paths, pencil adventures, circles, and coloring. I really enjoyed using the flower honeycomb activity that I made for doing circles, and I wanted to have some more activities that would…

A cute skeleton activity

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I found a blog post about printing out a skeleton onto magnet paper and then putting it together onto a magnetic door.  Here is a cute Skelly the Skeleton from the toymaker.com, to print out and use in Halloween activities.  I think that I may print it out and have the kids cut it out…

A Fun and Motivating Way to Practice Writing

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So you have a child that needs to work on writing, but is not really that motivated. He can come up with his own sentences, but avoids writing. How do you make it interesting so that he will participate? For kids that are capable of writing multiple sentences, one fun activity that I do is…

A Fun Summer Buttoning Ice Cream Cone

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I have been working on a bunch of different buttoning activities and thought I would share the ones that I made this week. I made some bananas that you can unbutton from the bunch, an ice cream cone to button the scoops on, some pancakes with syrup and butter, and some eggs that you button…

A peek at a game I have been working on

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This is a little peek at a new clothespin game that I have been working on. I love the new design.

A smaller munchy ball pet

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For some little hands, the Munchy Ball is a little too big, and a bit hard to squeeze but it works on so many great skills.  I have searched for smaller balls to use, but have not had any success in finding ones that would work. When working with one of my students, I really…

A Tree Made From A Pool Noodle and Pipe Cleaners

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This was kind of a spontaneous activity. I had pool noodles, and I had pipe cleaners that I was planning to use to thread the letter beads onto, so I stuck the pipe cleaners into the pool noodles to make a tree. The tree worked beautifully to thread the beads onto, and the pipe cleaners…

Acorn cutting, tearing, and painting

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I love cutting activities that then include other skills, like tearing paper, writing, and q-tip painting.  I have done many different cutting activities, and here is a quick and easy fall cutting activity that can be done in different ways to work on different fine motor skills. We have some acorns to cut out, and…

Activities to Encourage Fine Motor Skills

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This is a guest post by Erica L. Fener from Progressus Therapy. Running out of ideas for fun ways to practice fine motor control? This kind of exercise doesn’t have to be a chore for kids. Fine motor skills are used to make precise movements, such as zipping a zipper or picking up a penny…

An Activity/Game Challenge Using Crazy Cubes

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I am proposing a challenge to all of you creative therapists and parents.  I found these funky little toys called crazy cubes while perusing the toy aisle at Target.  If you have kids you may have seen the commercials.  There is a little ball inserted in the top of the cube, and when you push…

App review: Ready to Print

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I got a chance to try out the app Ready to Print over the weekend.  This app just recently came out, and I have wanted to try it out, but sadly, I do not own an iPad.  I hope to remedy that fact as soon as I have some money saved up for it, but…

Back to school Tran-Quill writing kit giveaway

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Some people have started back to school, and others will be starting soon. We are starting back this week, so I thought that it would be the perfect time to share some information about the Tran-Quill writing kit, and to give one away to one lucky reader. The Tran-Quill kit has a vibrating base, with…

Balancing Balls on Golf Tees

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I have a new activity for my bouncy balls to participate in. I stuck five golf tees into a piece of rigid Styrofoam, and then had kids balance the bouncy balls onto the tees. You can increase the challenge by holding multiple balls in one hand, and putting the balls on the tee at the…

Balancing Bugs on a Leaf for Fine Motor

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Here is a cute little activity that combines in hand manipulation with fine motor control to place objects in just the right place. I made some leaves, printed them on cardstock, and laminated them to give them more strength. Then I balanced the leaf on a little cube. It is like the leaf is floating…

Ball Push-ins

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I really like using push-ins as an activity, but have usually used buttons to push into a slot. For an easier, more basic push in activity, I used balls to go into a see through container so that the kids could see the ball drop into the container. I used a tennis ball container because…

Base Paper

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When I do a cutting and gluing activity, I like to squeeze in some writing too, so I made this base paper that I use to glue the project onto. There is space on that right side of the paper to glue the craft, and then lines on the left side to write a little…

Battleship to work on fine motor skills

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The mini travel games really challenge fine motor skills because the pieces are much smaller than the full size games. I love the connect 4 to go game, so I had to try out the tiny Battleship Travel Game as well. The little pegs are very, very tiny, so they can be great for someone…

Beginning of the year Writing

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It is the beginning of the school year, and to have a fun and interesting thing for the kids to demonstrate some writing skills, I made an About Me page. It is a basic little page for the kids to write some of their favorite things, such as favorite food, game, animal, etc. I can…

Big mouth creature for feeding pom poms to

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You can put manipulatives into any container, but when you make the container into a creature that is hungry, it makes it so much more fun to do the work. I saw this cute little creature on Pinterest, but it originally came from a blog called The Preschool Experiment.  He was so easy to make,…

Big Mouth Creature with clothespin to open the mouth

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I saw these Big Mouth Critters on a blog called Whimsical Publishing, and thought that they were so cute, and that it would be a great activity for some of my students to do. Some kids need the challenge of following the folding directions and trying to make the creature themselves, but others have trouble…

Bimanual Task Stencil Tracing on a Board

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Getting both hands to work together can be fun, and if you add a vertical surface, then you are able to really get some good bimanual practice. A great way to work both hands is to trace around a stencil on a vertical chalk board or white board. You have to hold the stencil/picture up…

Blokus

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I really want to pronounce this game Bloke-us, but I think that it is pronounced Block-us. Anyway, to the game. I bet everyone else has heard of and played this game before, so what rock have I been hiding under. This game is awesome for O.T. I got the “to go” version at Target ,…

Bouncy Ball Hand Skills

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Bouncy balls. Gotta love em. They come in all sizes, and as their name suggests, boy are they bouncy. They are very engaging to kids and they are fun in so many ways I love this activity because you can be so concrete with your directions. Hold the blue ball with your finger and thumb….

Bouncy Balls are Great for Therapy

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I love using bouncy balls in therapy, and use the small balls for in-hand manipulation as well as catching them in cups when they roll off of the table.  I use the balls in cups when I evaluate a child as it gives me a good idea of the student’s motor coordination as well as…

Bug Splat Race Clothespin Games

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I was searching for small rolling toys to use in a game and I came across these Cars Micro Drifters. They didn’t work for the game I was looking to use them for, but they were the perfect size and have a roller ball under them, so they move exactly the way I wanted them…

Bugs In a Jar Craft

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I started this craft thinking it would be so cute to cut out bugs and glue them onto a bug box like you caught the bugs.  This morphed into a jar, because a jar is see through, and a bug box is not.  It then morphed into a full game with clothespins and everything, but…

Bugs With Tongs

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Spring is here and bugs are fun. I found these bug boxes at the dollar spot at Target, and they had packages of bugs too. I put the bugs into a pop up tunnel, and had the students crawl in, get a bug with tongs or pinch clips, and bring it out to put it…

Build Me a Castle

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No therapy gym should be complete without some legos and duplos. They are the quintessential fine motor activity. If you follow a pattern or design, they are good for developing visual perceptual skills as well. Even without making something specific, it is fun to see how tall you can build before it gets wobbly. As…

Building Animal Faces With Shapes

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I have been working with several kids who have visual perceptual problems, and they have a hard time with some of the simple tasks. I am working on getting back to basics with them so that we can build on it. I wanted to have them put together shapes to make objects, and I made…

Building with Toothpicks and Gumdrops

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I saw this on a preschool activity site, and saw a lot of therapy potential in it. You can have a client build their own designs and structures, or you could have them copy a design that you show them. This is a good activity that incorporates playing with food, and fine motor skills. You…

Button Push Ins

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When working on buttoning skills, there is a progression of skill mastery. Pushing buttons or coins into a container is the first step. Putting coins into a piggy bank slot is the easiest, and then pushing buttons or coins into a recycled butter tub is the next. One reason using the butter container is good…

Button Snake

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When learning to button, it is easier to button large buttons on fabric that you are holding rather than fabric that is on your body. In order to practice this skill, I made a “button snake”. It is a very simple activity of squares of fabric with button holes in the center. I then stitched…

Button turkey to practice buttoning

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It is time to get dressed and those buttons aren’t going to button themselves. It’s hard you say? How about we practice buttoning on something that is fun. I created this little button turkey with feathers that you can button on. He has six rainbow colored feathers that button onto the back of the turkey…

Cake Pops, a cooking activity with sensory and fine motor

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I have seen these cake pops around the internet, and they look so cute.  I thought that it would be fun to have a holiday party and decorate cake pops.  Instead of a cookie party, we would do cake pops.  As I was making them, I was thinking about the therapy involved.  You could only…

Can we practice handwriting without a pencil, please?

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Let me start by saying that I’m probably one of the few pediatric occupational therapists who needs help with arts and crafts!  No, seriously!  I am so thankful for the many wonderful websites and blogs whose authors share some of the most incredible activity ideas with me!  And, Pinterest?  Well, I’m not really sure what…

Car Mat for Pre-Writing

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Young pre-school kids love playing with cars, and they are developing a whole slew of skills while they are playing. It is the perfect activity that is simple, can be self-directed or adult influenced, and every part of the activity works on a skill that is needed in life. When you play on a car…

Car Wash

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When the weather is warm, it is always fun to play in the water. Here is a fun activity that has water play, with some self-care skills and fine motor skills all mixed into one activity. When washing your hands, you use visual perception and motor planning to see and physically scrub the dirt off…

Cardboard Marble Maze

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Here is a low tech visual perceptual marble maze made out of a cardboard box and some straws. This one is fairly simple, but it can be useful for those who have trouble with motor coordination as well as visual perception. I used a cardboard box and some large “Smoothie Straws”. I glued the straws…

Catapult Birds

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Last week we made catapults out of clothespins, so this week we used those catapults to play a game and work on writing. I made a target to shoot pom poms at, and use the pom poms as birds that we shoot with the catapult (kind of like angry birds). Inside the target, there are…

Catch a Cloud and Pin it Down: Cloud Activities

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I found this book called Cloudination at the AOTA conference, and it was such a simple and unique idea that would work well in some therapy situations. The book has pictures of clouds, and you draw what you see in the clouds with a dry erase marker. The book is simple, but has potential for…

Caterpillar

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Here is a post submitted by a reader: This is a good activity for drawing circles, handwriting, and cutting, as well as pattern recognition.  I created a “caterpillar head” print out and have the kids each color and cut out the head. Then, they choose three colors of construction paper to use to make the…

Chopsticks

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Mature and refined grasp patterns, as well as in hand manipulation, require use of the small finger muscles, and they use the two sides of the hands separately. It can be challenging learning how to coordinate the pinky finger side of the hand separately from the index finger side of the hand.  Similar movements are…

Citrus Orchard Play Dough with Printable

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Winter in Southern California is orange season, and the smell of citrus is just wonderful.  I made an orchard play dough mat and made some orange and lemon play dough to go along with it.  To make the experience even better, I added lemon essential oil to the yellow play dough and citrus/orange essential oil…

Clay Writing Board

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Have you ever wanted to add resistance for strengthening the writing muscles of the hands? Writing in clay is a perfect way to do this. This week we made letters out of clay/playdoh, and had the kids write letters on a clay tracing board. I used a little chalkboard that I got from oriental trading…

Clothesline Matching

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A simple and fun activity for young kids is hanging play clothes on a clothesline. This activity happens to be great for targeting fine motor skills, finger strength, and visual perception. It is a lot harder than you think to hold clothes up to the clothesline, get it in the right position, while pinching open…

Clothespin Flower Game

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It is time for spring and flowers, so how about a new clothespin game where you have to build the flower petal by petal and use the clothespin to hold the petals onto the flower. There are several different ways to play the game.  The most simple way is to shoot the flat marble down…

Clothespin Games

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I have been working on some clothespin games for at least six months now. I wanted to have a board to attach clothespins to, but to have the option to play several different games. I went through a lot of trials and errors before I came up with my current solution. I was trying to…

Clothespin UNO

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  The ultimate Occupational Therapist stand-by, pinching clothespins. Man can that be boring. How about playing a card game along with pinching?   The clothespins hold the cards, so you have to pinch high, pinch low, pinch left, pinch right. Don’t have too much fun playing the game that you forget to make them use…

Clothespin Uno revisited

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I have created my permanent clothespin UNO board, and had my daughter help me paint it and put the Velcro on it. I used $1.00 wood craft frames from Michaels so that when pinching the clothespins it will be easy to do because of the hole. Take out all of the frame parts, including the…

Cloud Dough

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I have seen cloud dough posted about on the internet, so I decided to give it a try and see what it was like. It is a mix of flour and oil. The amount of oil is small enough that the dough does not feel wet, but it is enough that the dough can be…

Coban on a weighted pencil

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When I was working on making weighted pencils, I bought some Coban (or generic Coban) to try out on the metal coupling nuts.  I didn’t try it because the craft foam worked so well.  I was reminded that I had the Coban, and so I tried it out on the weighted pencil and it works…

Color matching velcro block fine motor toy

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I love all of the recycling activities that the Recycling OT does, but I am not as good at saving items to recycle.  I used an empty tennis ball can, and put colored duct tape stripes on it in the colors of the items that I wanted to attach to it. I then put velcro…

Color Pop Game For Fine Motor and Writing

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The color pop game is a great game that incorporates quite a few skills within one game. Some of the skills used in the game are fine motor, visual scanning, writing, counting, and finding coordinates on a chart. I use either colored porcupine balls or different colored pom poms as the popcorn in the game….

Coloring and Cutting Heart Bugs and Caterpillars

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Last year I made some really cute heart butterflies, and wanted to increase it by having other bugs to make too.  They make cute little valentine love bugs. The bugs are very similar to the heart butterflies with the same template shapes, but changed in order to look more like ladybug type of bugs.  You…

Coloring and Cutting Shapes for a Picture

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For this activity, we are incorporating very simple coloring and cutting of easy shapes. Then you can put those shapes together to make a pretty picture to take home. Two simple designs to choose from are a flower or a butterfly. With the flower, you have a circle for the center and ovals for the…

Coloring at a higher level

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Coloring pictures is good for hand strengthening, and visual motor skills. I have some coloring pages that will challenge anyone’s fine motor skills and visual motor/visual-perceptual skills. These are called altair designs, and I have a book that my mother gave me from when she was an art teacher. As you look at the designs,…

Confetti Eggs

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Confetti eggs are one of the most fun and best selling games at the fall festival at my kids’ school. The confetti eggs are regular raw eggs that are emptied, filled with confetti, and the hole is covered with tissue, and then painted. The kids buy the eggs and then break them over each others’…

Connect 4

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An Occupational Therapy clinic can not function without this game. That may be an over statement, but Connect 4 certainly does work on a lot of OT skills. You have to pick up the checker-like pieces and reach up and slide them into the slots at the top of the game. The goal is to get…

Connecta Straws for Fine Motor and Visual Perception

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I had heard years ago about using straws and connectors, and I think that someone had mentioned using regular straws and the connectors for drip tubing from home depot. Well I tried the drip tubing connectors, and they don’t work with regular straws. They are too small for regular straws, and they are very hard…

Cootie Catcher (Fortune Teller)

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Any square piece of paper can be made into a Cootie Catcher. Fold two corners together and crease firmly. unfold.  Then fold the other two corners together and crease again. Fold each corner point into the center. flip it over and fold all four of these corners into the center. Under the inside flaps, you…

cootie catchers

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Today we did cootie catchers.  I spent some time making a template.  I will upload that with pictures and directions tomorrow.

Cootie Catchers re-visited because I love them

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Cootie catchers are great fun for kids to play, and they lend themselves very well to the learning environment. I use them in order to have kids work on writing within small designated spaces, and they can be used to work on counting and review. I have re-vamped my cootie catcher templates to include some…

Covered Cup for Stereognosis and Sensory Play

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Stereognosis is the ability to use your fingers to feel and know what you are holding, without seeing what you are holding. It is always hard to get kids to feel and find objects without looking. You can put up a barrier, but they always try to peek. This cup is a great idea to…

Crack the Code Visual and Writing

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When you have kids that need a higher level of challenge for visual scanning, visual perception, and writing, it can be hard to find activities that are difficult enough for them to do and that give enough of a challenge. I want to work on visual scanning on the board to search and find the…

Craft Jack-O-Lantern using pins and face parts for fine motor skills

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I was in a speech therapist’s room this week and she had a foam craft pumpkin with foam jack-o-lantern face parts stuck on using velcro.  This was cute, and I was just going to show pictures of her pumpkin, and then I found some foam face parts at Michaels.  I pinned those parts on, but…

Crayola Model Magic

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I love Crayola Model Magic as a type of modeling clay, but I love it more because it has many other uses. As a modeling clay, it has more resistance than play-doh, so it requires more strength to pinch and poke it. It air dries, and is very light once it has dried. I have made…

Crazy Cubes bowl and write

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I put out a challenge a couple of weeks ago to have people send me ideas of ways to use Crazy Cubes in therapy.  They just seemed to lend themselves perfectly to therapeutic activities, but I wanted more than just what I would come up with.  I was going to compile all of the ideas…

Creating Reusable Activities

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A lot of the time, I will go to see a patient/student/client, and will create an activity right there on the spot.  I don’t always plan ahead too much.  When I want to do that activity again, I make it up again.  This is mostly with pen and paper activities.  Putting them in this blog…

Creature / Monster Drawing and Writing

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Lately I have been wanting to do my sentence memory copying activity with the kids that I am working with, and decided to modify it a bit to add monsters / creatures. I have used the monster drawing type of activity that I did in the Roll a Creature game, and added sentences to remember…

Cursive Clubs: Moving Handwriting from Fine Motor to Functional!

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There’s no question that cursive handwriting has taken the leading role on the stage of forsaken fine motor skills.  Its glamour has paled and its loops have sagged, that’s for sure.   Cursive debates have been making their rounds throughout the country.  But notwithstanding their clamor, the curly cues have retained their share of the billing. …

Cute Christmas Tree Crafts

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I have had a sad lack of holiday crafts here, so here is a quick post to show some pictures of some cute Christmas tree crafts that I saw in a classroom today. The first one is made out of painted paper plates and then decorated. The next one is green triangles that are graduated…

Cute felt piggy bank with button slot and zipper

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In my constant quest to find new and fun ways to work on fine motor skills, I made an adorable little piggy bank out of felt. He has a little slot to put money or buttons into with a zipper in the back to take the money out. The kids enjoy putting money into the…

cute fine motor toy via Karen at Days of Our OT Lives

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Thanks Karen for making me spend money.  This cute little Stretchy Mice and Cheese looked like such a great fine motor toy that I had to buy it.  It is truly adorable, and great for working on those fine motor finger skills.  The little mice go inside the cheese, and it is a challenge, and…

Delicious Sensory Peanut Butter Play Dough

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When working with kids who have food aversions, I work on having fun with food items. To make this delicious peanut butter play dough, I put the ingredients in a bowl and let the kids mix it all together. If you have a concern about peanut allergies, you can use sun butter instead of the…

Delicious Strawberry Play Dough

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When working with kids who have food aversions, I like to do some fun activities with food that provide some of the sensory experience of food, but in a fun atmosphere without the required eating of the food. I want the fun item to be edible though in case we can get some tasting of…

Dexteria App Review

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Most of the apps that I have been using lately have been for me improve my productivity and paperwork, or as a reward for a student at the end of the therapy work. That being said, I recently tried out the Dexteria App to see what it does and how I might use it. There…

Different sets of Munchy Balls

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I posted a few weeks ago about the games that I have made to play with Munchy Balls (tennis ball heads).  Most people make their own balls, but many people would rather have them ready to go, so I have included some different packs of Munchy Balls in the shop alongside the digital download of…

Digital Piggy Bank

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I love using money in therapy, since it provides lots of opportunity to work on fine motor skills and visual perceptual skills. I had a little client that had a great time putting coins into this digital piggy bank. The benefit of this bank compared to a regular bank, is that in order for the…

DO occupational therapists DO handwriting?

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A guest post from regular contributor Katherine Collmer. Now therein lies the question!  What exactly DO we do with handwriting?  When I was a new pediatric occupational therapist, I found that question to be both disturbing and intriguing.  It disturbed me on two levels.  First, that I didn’t really know if we did?  Second, why…

Dominos

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When playing dominos in therapy, we don’t usually play the game of dominos . Instead we line them up to knock them over. Lining the dominos up on end requires fine motor precision in getting them to stay in place. It also takes eye hand coordination and visual perceptual skills to get the dominos lined…

Doodle Track Car follows drawn lines

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I ran across this little car on Amazon called the Doodle-Track Car .  You draw a black line, and it has a sensor that will follow the line.  I thought that this car would fit into my road theme, and kids would have fun drawing lines for the car to follow.  I modified my road…

Drawing flowers and cutting

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I often as a basic skills task have  my students draw flowers, color them and then cut them out.  It is a task that I can have most of my kids in therapy do and then modify it for difficulty and change things if I want to work on one specific thing.  Sometimes it can…

Dreidel Games

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The blog at Pediastaff was looking for some therapy games that have a connection to Hanukkah, and I have been making a bunch of games lately. My son was thrilled to help me create a board game using a dreidel to determine the spaces you move. I made a game board that would fit with…

Easter Egg Writing Lines

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Easter is almost here so here is an Easter activity.  It includes practice writing lines, coloring, cutting, and writing.  You can choose a simple grouping of eggs to practice lines on and then color.  It also has a place at the bottom of the picture to write some sentences.  The second choice is  eggs to…

Easy Clothespin Board made with Hot glue and sheet protector

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This week as I was driving to work, I came up with a way to make the clothespin frame for the games using much more accessible supplies. I had thought of this one before, but thought that it might not work, and might be too difficult, but I was wrong. It works well, and it…

End of the year favorite activities

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The end of the year is here, and it is time once again to sum up the year and post a list of my favorite activities of the year.  As I look through the activities I find that I am surprised that it was only this year that I did those activities.  Time does fly. …

Fabric Marble maze

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I have seen fabric marble mazes in catalogs, and decided to make my own as I have a lot of fabric sitting around from other projects, and I am not too bad on a sewing machine.  I was even helping with a children’s sewing class, so thought that they would be able to try making…

Fabric Marble Maze with metal marble and magnets

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Last year I made a fabric marble maze, and created a pattern that can be downloaded to make your own. When I was having my button pizza, sandwich, and oreos made, I decided to have the marble maze made as well, and it is available in the shop. It is made on a soft fleece…

Favorite Summer Toy: Six Water Play Tools for Fine Motor Skills

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A group of therapist bloggers have gotten together to share what our favorite summer toys or activities are.  This post is about my favorite summer toy, which is playing with water via squirt guns and other water tools.  In order to see all of the other favorite summer toys, you have to go to each…

Feature Friday: Puzzle Board

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I really love the activities that they come up with at the adaptions 4 kidz blog.  Here is another one.  It is for a vertical puzzle board.  Basically, you put flannel over a piece of foam core, and small pieces of velcro on the back of puzzle pieces.  That way you can put the puzzle…

Feed the Animal Fine Motor Activity

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I always love the fine motor activity of putting objects into a hole or slot, and it makes the task more fun and engaging when you are pretending to feed an animal. Plastic deli containers or yogurt containers are perfect to cut a mouth or slit into and draw on a face in order to…

Feed the Mouth Ball

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I have seen this activity in several places, and decided to try it. It is a tennis ball with a mouth cut into it. You squeeze the ball to open the mouth, and feed objects into the mouth. First, you take a new, clean tennis ball and make a slit in it using an exacto…

Felt Christmas Tree

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Here is a fun little Christmas activity of decorating a Christmas tree with felt ornaments. I got a styrofoam cone from the craft store and wrapped green felt around it. I then cut out some ornament shapes from different colored felt. You could glue the green felt onto the cone, but it actually stays well…

Felt Pizza to Work on Button Skills

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I have a client that needs to work on buttoning skills, and I found that I do not have many buttoning activities that are appropriate and fun for older kids. When I heard another therapist mention that the pepperoni pizza buttoning activity is her favorite, I searched the internet and came up blank. I therefore…

Fine Motor and Letters With Munchy Ball

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I wanted to use the Munchy Ball in a new game with letters so that we could practice writing and build fine motor skills and hand strength at the same time. I started with just cutting foam squares from different colors and writing letters on them.  I also made a color dice by sticking colored…

Fine Motor Coordination Speed

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We talk a lot about doing fine motor activities and there are a lot of them available. Another aspect of motor ability though is the speed of the motor response. I can see a student’s motor response speed when we play the game with the balls and cup. I roll small bouncy balls across a…

Fine Motor Pet Feeding

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Animals are great fun for kids and can make it motivating to work on skills. I don’t have any real animals to work with, so I made some pet store animals for the kids to feed, use clothespins, and practice some writing. The activity is simple and cute. First you roll the dice to determine…

Fine Motor Requirements For Handwriting

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What exactly are the fine motor movements that are used in writing? In a mature dynamic grasp, the fingers do the majority of the work, but the whole hand is required in order to stabilize and provide strength for the activity. The most important muscles for efficiency when making the actual pencil movements, are the…

Fine Motor Skills – Why Ask Why?

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Today we hear from a seasoned Occupational Therapist named Stacie Erfle, MS, OTR/L. She is the creator of the Fine Motor ABCs book. A quick Google search will lead to endless possible activities to build fine motor skills. Pinterest is full of imaginative activities to get kids creating with their hands.  In this digital world,…

Fine Motor Skills For Mealtimes

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From the beginning stages of a baby learning to pick up a piece of puffed cereal and feed itself, to an older child cutting vegetables to help prepare food, there are a variety of fine motor skills that are used and needed during meal times. In fact, self feeding is a great way to work…

Fine Motor Skills with Kbeu

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I have an interest in inventing, which is a long, unrelated story, but it brought me to this new fine motor activity. I was web surfing at a mom inventing website where I am a member, and I ran across another member who has this fun product that works on fine motor skills. The activity…

Fine Motor Skills With Torn Paper Pumpkins

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Here is a great activity that is worth doing every year. I love having kids tear paper because it really makes them work hard with their fingers and work on those fine motor skills. I have had kids cut out pumpkins and create a jack-o-lantern face on them. Today we are going to tear colored…

Fine Motor Wiffle Ball Creatures

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This is a fairly open ended activity that works on fine motor skills, motor planning, visual perception, and planning in general as you try to make creatures and structures that will stand up. I used practice golf balls that have the holes in them and some pipe cleaners. I wish that I had brought some…

Finish the Holiday Pictures – December Edition

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There is a new item in the store from Your Therapy Source.  It is called Finish the Holiday Pictures – December Edition, and it is an activity to work on visual perceptual skills and copying pictures, with a December theme.  It includes 20 pictures of patterns to copy with a December holiday theme.  There are…

Fireworks Coloring to Practice Writing Lines

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Fourth of July is this week, and what better way to practice writing different types of lines than drawing fireworks.  You can make fireworks out of different colors, and make squiggly lines, straight lines, curly lines, circles, and spirals. You can use colored pencils to color the fireworks.  I recommend that you use broken crayons…

Fishing for letters

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To work on a combination of skills, I made some fish with letters on them, added some pipe cleaner to make it metallic, and made some fishing poles out of pipe cleaner and magnets.  Fishing is a great way to work on bimanual hand skills, fine motor skills, visual perceptual, and motor planning.  I used…

Fizzing Fine Motor Rocks

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I have seen people playing with foaming dough, and decided it would be fun to see what would happen if Munchy Ball was foaming from the mouth. The foaming rock food is made simply by mixing baking soda and water into a paste and making little balls out of it. You then have to let…

Flower Bouquet

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Here is an activity to make a paper flower bouquet. I created some flower templates, but my daughter said that they were too hard, so I simplified them, and these ones are much easier. You could print the template one time onto card stock and then have the student trace it onto colored paper and…

Flower Garden Fine Motor and Visual Motor Challenge

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I was looking for an activity that would give a good challenge to the visual motor system as well as challenge fine motor control. I wanted quite a bit of visual motor reaching and grasping while in prone. In one school that I work in, I have access to suspended equipment, which is rare, so…

Flower Pollen Honeycomb Fine Motor

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I was working with some kids the other day, and we were coloring flowers, working on holding the pencil in a good grasp, and getting some good strokes of the colored pencils, and one little guy was not able to move his fingers independently while he was coloring. I had him do some small circles…

Flower Writing Lines

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Spring is here and it is time to brighten things up with flower activities. I created a craft to draw on the flower petals, cut them out, and then glue them onto a paper.  The petals have light lines to trace with zig-zags, loops, lines, and circles. I also included a page that you just…

Foam and duct tape pencil case

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This craft is to make a pencil case out of a sheet of craft foam and duct tape. It is very quick and easy to do, and it is not messy. It does take some skill to put the duct tape in the right places. We used colored duct tape from Michael’s to make it…

Foam Dice Cubes

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I have been using dice a lot in therapy, and playing games with letters to have kids work on their writing, so I wanted to combine the two, and had some other games that use dice, but I wanted to make my own dice with my own stuff on them (more on that later). I…

Foam Mosaic Pictures

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I have been brainstorming to come up with fun activities that work on strengthening the fingers for fine pinch and tripod grasp. Using pinch clips with craft foam pieces was a natural direction to go as they worked well with the sentence copying activity. I started to cut ½ inch cubes of the thicker craft…

Free Standing Wall Marble Maze

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I love marble runsfor a variety of reasons, and have posted about many different kinds. There are the plastic free standing ones that you put together, there is the fabric marble maze, and there was a wall mounted marble run, and the cardboard marble maze. Needless to say, when I saw this marble run that…

Friday Share: Twisted Puzzles, adapted crayon, torn paper owl, and using cotton balls

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Twist (literally) on Puzzles Part #2   from Your Therapy Source – www.YourTherapySource.com by Your Therapy Source Inc Your Therapy Source posted an activity that came from an idea on Pinterest about changing up puzzles.  Basically, using any picture or text that you would like, you can create a twisting puzzle.  Go visit them to…

Frog clothespin animal for finger strength

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I saw a picture of wooden frog pieces glued onto a clothespin on pinterest, and I thought that it was a great idea, and that I needed to make one for kids to play with when working with Clothespins and finger strengthening. I made the frog picture in photoshop, and then cut him in half. …

Fruit Munching Fine Motor Activies

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The kids have been having fun feeding Munchy Ball mini fruit, and I have come up with several games for the kids to play in order to work on specific skills. I had made dice that have one of the fruit types on each side of the die so that we can roll and choose…

Fun Fine Motor Spider Webs

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I love the look of spider webs, and they are such a beautiful work of art. Here are some spider webs made out of pipe cleaner and popsicle sticks. You place the popsicle sticks (or other pipe cleaners) in cross patterns and duct tape them together. Then you wind the pipe cleaner around in a…

Fun Fine Motor Turkey Activities

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so it is a great time to use turkey crafts in your therapy sessions. Most of these turkey  crafts/activities work on fine motor skills, and some incorporate writing into the activity in the form of writing about what you are thankful for. Mama OT has a really cute bottle…

Fun foam on the Mirror

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One of my absolute favorite activities with young kids is playing with fun foam shapes on a mirror. It works well in the bathtub, shower, or on a glass door too. You spay the glass surface with water (great squeezing activity) and then the foam shapes will stick to the glass. I will often have…

Fun Ice Cream Clothespin Game

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I am always working on interesting and fun ways to work on fine motor skills, and love using clothespins to work on the skills. The kids enjoy pretend playing with ice cream, but for some kids, the ice cream buttons are too hard for them to do. I want them to work on fine motor…

Fun this week with tennis ball mouths

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Just a glimpse of the fun had this week with tennis ball heads. I have another post about the tennis ball heads that turn into vampires.

Game Made With Golf Tees and Marbles

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This summer, we spent some time on Hawai’i, the big island. We had a wonderful trip, and while there we were introduced to the game Konane. It is a game that is usually carved into lava rock or wood, and the game pieces are black and white shells or stones. I reproduced the game by…

Game to Practice Erasing and Writing

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Hey, John, your letters look really good in that sentence, but I am having trouble seeing what you wrote because you didn’t erase the first one you wrote well enough.  Have you ever run into this problem? Is it a struggle to get your kids to erase well enough so that they can fix their…

Garden Bugs Fine Motor Game

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I started working on a craft for cutting out bugs, and it morphed into a complete game that includes catching bugs and using clothespins to hold the bugs in the bug jar. I am thrilled with the little bug jar, and they can stand upright using a stand made out of popsicle sticks ( Wood…

Getting Started with Distance Learning OT

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I have been in denial all summer that we would be providing our Occupational Therapy virtually rather than going back to school in person. I live in California, so we were told that we would be starting school virtual, so now I have been scrambling to figure out what I am doing. I haven’t posted…

Gingerbread House Decorating; real and pretend

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I love decorating gingerbread houses, and it works on some great skills with spreading the frosting and placing the candy.  I will often do a simplified version making graham cracker houses instead of gingerbread, and love to use it as a great take home Christmas activity.  Working in the schools, it is harder to carry…

Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses

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When I used to work in an outpatient clinic environment, I used to have the kids make these gingerbread type of houses out of graham crackers.  It was a fun, christmasy activity that was good therapy at the same time.  It was also out of the ordinary, and the kids loved it. You use graham…

Greeper Laces Never Come Untied

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Tying shoes is an important skill to learn, and there are many tricks that can be used, which I have posted about before. At some point, you may decide that the process of tying is no longer the goal, but just having your shoes tied is the important part. Greeper laces are an awesome adaptation…

Guess Who Clothespin Game

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This is a guest post by Donna Abramson, OTR Opening and closing clothespins is a wonderful way for children to develop strength in the muscles of their hand, particularly the webspace – which helps them to hold the pencil with a correct tripod grip. Using clothespins also helps children to separate the radial and ulnar…

Guest Post: Conversation Heart Bingo

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Here is an easy bingo game for some Valentine’s Day fine motor fun.  This activity was submitted by Barbara Bailey.  Make the dice by fastening corresponding colors to a wooden or foam cube. To play the game, pour candy hearts into a paper plate.   Each player roles the dice and uses either a pickle picker,…

Guest Post: Push button toy for fine motor and visual discrimination

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We have another quick guest post by Barbara Bailey. I found these adorable little guys on clearance at four for $1.00 at the dollar store.  I have actually bought them for the past several years and have found them at Walmart as well.  I realize it is a bit late to still find them but…

Handwriting Remediation Tips From the Size Matters Handwriting Program

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Beverly Moskowitz has developed a handwriting program called Size Matters Handwriting Program and she has put together some quick tips that use her program’s concepts.  You can find her program at Real OT Solutions.  I have taken one of Beverly’s classes and it was full of good information and full of energy.  I have incorporated…

Handwriting remediation using roads

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I have several kids that I work with who needed to get back to the basics of writing. Some of them could not even follow a path from one point to another. I got out my car mat, and had them follow the roads with their car and look for the places that I told…

Handwriting worksheet maker

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A cool website lets you enter your text and it will make a worksheet that you can print out to practice handwriting.  It is pretty cool.  handwritingworksheets.com.

Hang Man for writing practice

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You know those days where you can’t find the activity that you want to do, and all you can find in your bag is some paper. I have no problem making any activity that I find therapeutic, so I pull out the paper and want to work on writing. Well Hang man fills a lot…

Hanging on a Trapeze Swing

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The trapeze swing is basically bar with two chains or ropes going up on each side to a center point to form a triangle, then a single rope going up to the swing mount. The benefit of this configuration is that the trapeze can swing around in a circle or go in any direction that…

Happy Caterpillar writing

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I usually do activities that incorporate multiple skills into the task, and love it when we are writing and the kids have to write positive things. So I made the happy caterpillar. The kids have to write something they like about themselves (or that makes them happy) on each of the caterpillar body parts. You…

Holiday Sentence Memory Writing

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While working with my students this year, I have been trying to work on not only the fine motor aspects of writing, but also the memory aspect of writing. When you can’t remember the words that you are writing, then how can you write the sentence that is made up of those words. I have…

Home Made Play Doh

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Play doh is such a great tool to use to work on fine motor skills, so I decided to make some from scratch. Since the best recipe involves cooking, I anticipated it being difficult, but it was surprisingly easy. I made three small batches of 3 different colors. The recipe is: 1/2 cup flour 1/2…

How I use the Road Writing

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I am writing a lot about the roads that I made because I have been working on them for so long, and have been keeping myself from writing about them until they were done. I use the big roads and letters, and the maps the most. That could be because they are the ones that…

I have Button Food and I’m ready to play

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Kids love to play pretend, and playing with pretend food is one of the most fun pretend games.  Felt food is fun to play with, but what if you could work on skills at the same time?  It has been about a year and a half since I first posted about my felt button food. …

I Love Bugs in Activities

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I love using bugs in my therapy activities, and the kids seem to like them too.  We use them a lot in fine motor activities, and work in some larger muscle groups during our activities as well.  Here are some of my favorite bug activities that I have done, and some from some other therapists…

I Love Using Color Pop

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I love using the color pop game in therapy. Ever since I created it, it has become my go to for many therapy sessions because it is so basic, and can be so easily modified to work on so many different areas that I want to address.  Since I use it so much, I have…

I Spy Bags

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I spy bags are fabric bags with a vinyl see-through window in them. They are then filled with a filler such as plastic pellets, and small objects are placed inside and sealed up. A child then has to move around the inside pieces to find see all of the objects inside through the little window….

Ice Cream Cone Christmas Trees

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One of the Kindergarten classes that I visited today was making Christmas Trees out of ice cream cones. First you get a sugar cone, the kind with the pointy tip. Then you spread green frosting all over the cone. You can use red licorice strings as garland, and sprinkle it with colored sugar sprinkles. This…

Ice Cream Sundae Clothespin Game

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When I was making my Clothespin Tower Games, one of the games is a game about building an ice cream sundae.  The game easily translates into a flat game without the tower, so I thought that at times I would prefer to use it that way.  It is exactly like the tower game, but played…

Ice Painting

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Summer painting wouldn’t be complete without a little ice painting. I started with a little ice cube tray that I put water in and a drop of food coloring in each space. I also put a toothpick in each spot so that when it hardened in the freezer, each ice cube would have a little…

In hand manipulation skills using broken crayons

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In order to work on in-hand manipulation skills with some kids, I decided to use little pieces of broken off crayon.  I had them hold two crayons at the same time, one in their palm, and one in their fingers.  Then I had them draw a shape (I had circles and rainbows) with one color,…

Incorporating the Whole Body in Therapy

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When working in therapy, we usually have many things to work on and to accomplish in one session. That is why I like to target multiple skills within one activity. It is really quite easy to take almost any activity and build in some whole body movement and strengthening. I use a scooterboard, wheelbarrow walk,…

iPad Chopsticks

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It is no secret that I have an affinity for using chopsticks to work on developing high level fine motor control, and I figured out a way to use them with the iPad. I was playing a game on the iPad that requires pinching your fingers together, and my finger nails were too long, so…

Ipad for special needs

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As I have been perusing the blogosphere, I have come upon several sites that comment on the Ipad and using apps for special needs.  The touch screen on the Ipad is really easy to activate so it makes it easy to play the games on it.  It almost acts as a sensitive switch.  I will…

Jack-O-Lantern cutting and gluing

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Halloween is right around the corner, so here is a pumpkin template to cut out and glue on a piece of paper.  Cut out the eyes, nose, and mouth, and glue them on.  There is a white pumpkin in case you want your students to color it too. I then had my students write what…

Jenga Blocks Writing Game

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At Christmas, I got my kids a generic Jenga game for really cheap, and I got myself an extra one because I knew that I would want to make a therapy game out of it. I didn’t give it much thought until I was brainstorming new game ideas and using dominos as part of a…

Kbeu Mom and baby for fine motor skills

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I was sent this K-BEU Mom Pillow and baby to try out and see how it works for the clients that I see.  I have the Kbeu dad available here, and use it for some higher level kids that need a challenge.  I also got a baby when I got the Kbeu dad, and the…

Kids love stuffing the stretchy cheese

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I have posted before about the Stretchy Mice and Cheese, and since then, I use it all of the time.  When I pull it out, the  kids are so excited about it and everyone wants to play with it.  I think it is so much fun because it is unexpected.  You can fit a surprising…

Kinetic Sand

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I went to an Occupational Therapy Conference last week and found a cool new product while I was there. It is called Kinetic Sand, and it is seriously the coolest stuff. It is sand, but it does not act like sand, and it is a wonderful sensory experience to run your hands through. I feel…

Lava Worm Paper a la (B)e(LO)n(G) OT

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Karen over at (B)e(LO)n(G) OT has been drawing Lava paper and using it to practice writing, so I made some for her in photoshop, and have been using it as well.  Karen has a couple of posts about using her paper, and I use it in the same way. When writing, all the letters have…

Lego Game, Ramses Pyramid

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My son just bought the Lego Game Ramses Pyramid game with his birthday money and we played it for the first time. You have to build the pyramid, which is the game board, before you can play the game. It is a very typical Lego building project during this part of the process. It requires following the…

Let’s Write On the Door

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The sliding glass door that is. With washable markers please. I will not be held responsible for the permanent marker on your walls. Writing on a vertical surface is great practice because it puts the wrist into extension and strengthens the arm muscles. It is hard to work on using just your fingers though when using…

Lincoln Logs

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A lot of typical play activities can be considered therapy.  Lincoln Logs are a classic toy that incorporates all of the best parts of playing with toys.  They use imagination, and when building your house, you use visual perceptual skills.  You of course have to use fine motor skills in order to put everything together. …

Loopeez 2 color laces and Give-away

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I have done several posts on tying shoes; shoe tying methods, tips and tricks for tying shoes, and printable practice shoe. In my post about tips and tricks, I mentioned Loopeez, but had never tried them. In the time since I wrote that post, Loopeez has sent me a sample of the product to try…

Low Tech solution from OT Tools

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Another OT Blog that I enjoy reading is OT Tools for Public Schools.  She recently posted about using scrabble tiles for a student to write his name and do his spelling words.  She added velcro to the back of the tiles so that the student could stick them to felt.

Magnetic Mr. Potato Head

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When working on visual perceptual skills, placing body parts on Mr. Potato head can be a great tool. The real Mr. Potato Head is great for working on fine motor and visual perception, but sometimes you want a smaller and simpler activity. Meet flat potato head. I made some potato head parts on the computer…

Make a fine motor balance tree

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It is great to work on fine motor control away from the body, as that gives more of a challenge to the muscle control. You have to have control and coordination to balance and stack small objects onto a surface. i have the game scatterpillar scramble, and wanted to make a similar motor activity that…

Make Button Flowers

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Flowers make a great spring time activity, and there are so many ways to incorporate flowers into therapy to work on fine motor, visual motor, and coordination. I have many flower activities, such as ones that use clothes pins, but today we are using buttons in our flower activity. It is so simple to make…

Make word spacers out of popsicle sticks

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I have many kids that I see for problems with their writing, and many times it is not the legibility of their letters that is the problem, it is the spacing of the words.  I thought that if they could make their own spacers to use when writing, they might be more apt to use…

Making a Comfortable Weighted Pencil

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Let’s talk about weighted pencils.  Abby has a nice post about making weighted pencils.  I have used weighted pencil kits to add weight onto a regular pencil, and I have seen the do it yourself pencil weights using hex nuts, but there are some things that have always bothered me about them. The metal on…

Making button letters and names

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I love working on skills while working on skills, so using letters and buttons together is a perfect combination. We can work on fine motor and motor planning skills while talking about letters and the letters of the child’s name. First you make a strip with buttons about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. The…

Making Christmas Trees with torn paper

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I did this activity on Monday.  I used the christmas tree cutting template that I made.  We cut out the shapes and glued them in place on one side of a piece of paper.  On the other side of the paper, I made lines to write on. This is the base paper that I like…

Making heart butterflies

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For a fun craft this year, I had the kids color hearts, cut them out, and make butterflies out of them.  I think that they made adorable little love bugs.  Maybe next I will create different bugs to be cut out, but for now it is butterflies. I had the kids glue their butterflies onto…

Making it Fun With Munchy Ball

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I pick up a little girl from her classroom (we’ll call her Emily), so that I can do a fine motor evaluation, and this is the first time that she has met me.  I tell her who I am and what we will be doing and we head off to do our work.  Emily does…

Making Letters With Playdoh

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I have a couple little guys that always try to make the tail of the lower case g come down from the middle of the g. We practice it, we talk about it, and they are doing it right, then next time I see them, they are back to doing it the old way. Last…

Making Tents and Teepees with Writing Lines

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When playing with the Munchy Ball with a young boy, we worked on making some houses. I tried to have him make a woven stick Teepee such as the one made by Timbernook, but our ground was too hard and we could not pierce it with sticks well enough for them to stay in place…

Making the clothespin game board

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UPDATE:  I have an easier way to make the boards.  New post about it on 1/30/2012   To make the clothespin game board, you will need a stiff material. I used coroplast ( White Corrugated Plastic ), which is an awesome material to work with. It can be made out of foam core as well,…

Mancala

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Where has this game been all my life.  Actually, I played this game as a kid, and I have played it as therapy in the past, but I just re-discovered it as a therapy activity.  It is a perfect game for in hand manipulation skills or for fine motor in general.  You could also work…

Mancala played with pom poms

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I wanted to play a game with a student that would use spring clips in order to work on finger strengthening. I got little pom poms at michael’s (a craft store), and we played the game of Mancala . Her hands were quite tired by the end of the game. We will play some other…

Many Uses of the Matrix Ball

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I found a new ball that I love in many different ways.  I love it because I can use it form many different things.  My new favorite ball is called the Matrix Ball, and it is made by Tangle Creations.  The ball is a great texture and has open holes in it, but it still…

Marble Maze

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Keep in mind that marbles are a choking hazard so you have to watch little ones around them. That said, little ones love watching the marbles go down the ramp. There are some ramps with larger balls that are safe for the younger set. There are multiple levels of therapeutic value with a Marble Maze. Starting…

Marshmallow Men

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We made some men out of marshmallows and toothpicks, and they were delicious.  We used multiple sizes of marshmallows for the different parts, and connected the parts with toothpicks. Some of these men were looking very funny, but they all tasted good in the end.  This is a fun food play activity to combine food…

Marshmallow Painting for Fine Motor Skills

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Painting is often good therapy, but you can kick it up a notch by using marshmallows as the painting tool. You can grade the type of grip used by using the large marshmallows or the mini marshmallows. You can use regular paint on paper and just dip the marshmallow in and make designs on the…

Messy Play and Fine Motor with Munchy Ball

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Now that I have the new vinyl Munchy Balls, I was eager to use them in messy play.  I started simple with water beads, which are the perfect size to feed to the Munchy Ball.  It was fun to fill the ball up all the way and then have the ball spit out all of…

Mixing straw drinking fun with fine motor fun

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How could you get any more OT than mixing an oral motor, ADL, and fine motor activity into one.  I found these build your own straws called Pipeline at Bed Bath and Beyond, and just had to try them.  They seem to be the same thing as the Strawz that I found on Amazon too….

Monster Bowling

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I saw these little Monster Marbles at Walmart, and had to know what they were. They are little monster characters with a marble on the bottom so that the figures roll across the table. They just come with the little monsters only, and I decided they were perfect to use in a game, so I…

Monsuno toys

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I was sent a Monsuno toy pack to try out and share my opinion.  I was interested in them because they are little plastic tubes that hold a little toy in them and then you play a game with them.  Putting the Monsuno character into the capsule is a good fine motor activity.  If you…

More Kinetic Sand Fun

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I posted about Kinetic Sand last year after I saw it at the AOTA conference and fell in love with how fun it was (you can read that post here).  I did not have any of my own at that time, and it was not available in many stores yet.  Since then, I now have…

More Q-Tip Painting Templates

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When I first gave a student q-tips to paint with, she did a lot of smearing and squishing of the paint on the paper.  She was working those fine muscles of the hand, but there was a little something missing from the picture.  It was a very nice masterpiece, but lacked the lovely dots that…

More Road Writing

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When I was using the road maps with some students, they had a very hard time following the paths, so I decided to simplify it even more. A couple of these kids had trouble drawing a line from one point to another. I figured a good transition would be having a car follow a road…

Motor Control With Magnet Paths

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A fun activity that we did at a Zaner Bloser workshop that I went to while at the OTAC spring fling, were these pages with paths on them. You place a metal piece on the path (I used a metal nut) with a magnet underneath. Then you move the magnet to make your piece follow…

Mr. Potato Head

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I’m a married spud, I’m a married spud. Sorry, quote from Toy Story. Mr. Potato Head has many levels of therapy. It helps a child learn body parts. Visual Perception and motor control are worked on when trying to get the pieces into the holes. Strength in hands and arms are worked on when pulling his…

Muffin tins and tip pinch

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When working on developing a fine tip pinch, you have to make it happen by removing the option of a raking grasp. One way to do this is to put the small items to be picked up into a space that the whole hand can’t get into. Muffin tins are a good start to having…

Multi Position Writing Activity

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This week I wanted to incorporate some targeted fine motor and hand strengthening in our sessions, and then follow up with some writing tasks. I used the foam letter squares that I made for the pool writing activity. I spread all of the foam letters on the floor and gave each student a color to…

Multi-Matrix Game

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I originally heard about the Multi-Matrix game when I took a class on handwriting and the instructor showed us how to play it. The game was created by a Developmental Optometrist in San Diego, and it works on visual perception and visual processing while adding other sensory motor components to increase the challenge. The game…

Munchy Ball Dress Up and New Colored Balls

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It is fun to have a toy that is personalized and not the same as all of the others. We spent some time last weekend dressing up the Munchy Balls and making them unique. On some of them we used colored sharpies to draw on some permanent changes such as adding red lips, eyelashes, hair,…

Munchy Ball Motor Game

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I have officially named my tennis ball head Munchy Ball, and I guess he is like a frog because he likes to eat little bugs. I made a little game to incorporate visual motor skills, motor planning, fine motor strength, and writing. I duct taped four little plastic tubs together and put a number in…

Munchy Ball’s Adventures in Flight

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Our Munchy Ball has been going on many adventures, and he is such a great toy to do so much different pretend play with.  Recently, Munchy Ball wanted to go flying, which sounded like a great adventure and we just had to figure out how to make it happen for him. We rigged up a…

My Favorite hand strengthening and writing combinations

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With short treatment times in school therapy, and lots to accomplish during that time, I will make good use of my time by combining a strengthening activity with a writing activity. You could think up many variations and pairings of hand strengthening and writing. My favorite includes letter beads, theraputty or squishy cheese, and a…

My new favorite fine motor toy: connect 4 on the run

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I was picking up some sidewalk chalk at the store the other day and just happened to look at this little Connect Four Fun On the Run Game.  It is connect 4, which is already a great fine motor game as I discussed in another post, but this new one is smaller, with smaller pieces…

New Awesome Clothespin Tower Games

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When I am looking at the basic clothespin game that has been used through the ages, most of them are simple matching games on the side of a can. I wanted to take the concept of my flat clothespin games, and merge it with the concept of the can type of clothespin game, and the…

New Button Pizzas and Patterns to Make Your Own

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The button pizza, sandwich and oreo are so great for working on fine motor and motor planning skills in a fun way.  I ran out of the button food available in the shop quite a while ago, and have found it difficult to find a sewing manufacturer that is affordable.  So I have been developing…

New iPad App in Town: Dexteria Jr. for Preschool

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There is a new app that was developed by the makers of Dexteria that is specifically for the preschool set.  The activities are simple, and it has some fun, motivating parts to it.  The app is called Dexteria Jr, and is made by Binary Labs.  The folks at Dexteria got feedback that some parts of…

New Pencil Adventures to Work on Pencil Control

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I love the pencil adventures and pencil obstacle courses, and love to use them as a warm up or as a pencil control activity for kids who are very reluctant to write. I will frequently just draw out a path for kids to follow spur of the moment, but these pencil adventures are nice to…

New Pencil Adventures With Dragons and Mummies

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I finished making four new pencil adventures, and my son was eager to try them out. While he was doing them, he commented that it was hard to stay on the path, and that his hand was getting tired from working at being so careful. In the dragon adventure, you have to avoid the dragon’s…

New Pencil Adventures with halloween, race car letters and more

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I finally completed another set of pencil adventures.  These have been partially done for ages, and I made a big push to finish them completely.  There are 7 of them, and include: The Cafeteria, Hawaiian Vacation, Ski Vacation, Halloween Haunted House, and 3 pages of race tracks that include race track letters to follow. Since…

New Pencil Obstacle Courses

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The Pencil Obstacle Courses are such fun, and are what spurred me on to create the Pencil adventures.  Now there are new obstacle courses that include some hole punching and cutting with scissors.  These are created by Jennifer Dodge, who has an OT website named School-OT.com.  Here is all about these new obstacle courses in…

New Product in Shop, Kbeu Dad

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I just got a new product that I have uploaded into the shop.  I will post an activity about it later in the week.  It is a really good fine motor activity.  It is called the Kbeu Dad (pronounced kaboo), and it is a silly creature.  You feed polished stones into his mouth as food,…

New streamlined writing charms

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I have changed the writing charms just a little, and added some frog charms to the options.  The change is that the band holding the charm onto the pencil is skinnier and less obtrusive.  I really liked the squishy stretchy attachment, but it was too distracting for some of the kids that I have been…

New Vinyl Munchy Ball for Fine Motor

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I am excited that the vinyl Munchy Balls are in the shop and they have great resistance to work on fine motor skills and hand strengthening.  The great thing about them being vinyl balls is that they are washable, which is important when working in a clinic setting. When I got the first Munchy Balls…

New Writing paper, “Mud Paper” to get letters stuck in the mud

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Karen over at Miss Awesomeness uses Lava Paper that she thought up and that I made for her. I have tried the Lava Paper with some of my kids as well, but many of my students had trouble with the “complex” concept of Lava. I know lava is not truly that complex, but many of…

no prep fun writing task

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Today we have a quick and simple writing activity that requires little to no preparation or planning. All you need is paper and pencil (or other writing tool). It may seem like just a writing activity, but you have other skills incorporated just by where you put the paper. First I wrote 6 words onto…

Ocean Animal Clothespin Game

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I have been working on a fairly complex (for me to create) clothespin game, and am getting burned out on it, so I took a (long) break from working on it and made a quicker and easier clothespin game. This one consists of game boards similar to the Monster Bowling boards, and Ocean animals that…

Osmo Is an Amazing New iPad Tool For Real Life Object Manipulation

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I just heard about this new iPad tool that looks like it will be amazing for therapy.  It is not yet available, but you can pre-order it for 50% off, and I heard that the pre-order price is available until June 22.  It is called Osmo (referral link).  Osmo is a tool that attaches to…

OT Flower Coloring Page

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It is always a good time to show your love of Occupational Therapy. I created a lovely flower around the shape of OT. You can print out the flower and color it yourself or have your patients color it. Coloring works on many skills such as fine motor, and visual motor. If you put the…

Painting with a mister for bimanual strengthening

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I got this little Personal Mister at the target dollar spot a couple of months ago, and decided to use it to paint.  It is a great tool to work on bimanual skills and hand strengthening because you have to use two hands to pump it up. After you fill the mister up with water…

Painting With Tiny Sponges

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In my quest to paint with tiny objects, I had some kids paint with tiny cut up sponges. I cut the sponges into tiny pieces so that the kids would have to use a fine precise grasp. It worked well, but I used regular kitchen sponges, which squished down too easily between the fingers when…

Paper folded flowers

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I like to work on many skills within the same activity, and these folded flowers definitely do that.  I discovered these via pinterest, and they are originally on Whimsical World of Laura Bird. I often have kids that need to work on writing small enough to fit into a specified space, such as writing answers…

Paper Helicopter

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It is always fun for kids to be able to take home a fun item that they created, and the paper helicopters are a nice finished project. They are pretty quick to make, but you can have the kids do more things to them before they are finished. I am going to have my students…

Paper Rainbow Mosaic

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A simple activity that I did a few weeks ago is making a paper rainbow mosaic. I drew the rainbow template and cut it out. I then had my student trace around the curved rainbow lines and cut them out of colored construction paper. We then glued the rainbow onto a sheet of white paper,…

Paper Towel Roll Marble Run

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I ran across a blog that posts projects that they have done using only recycled toilet paper and paper towel rolls.  It is called TPcraft.com.  They have a post where they made a magnetic marble run using paper towel rolls.  It looks really cool.  Here is a picture of their finished product.  Go check it…

Paper Toys Website

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With higher level kids, I look for activities that will challenge them mentally as well as physically.  Paper folding can be challenging visual-perceptually as well as the difficulty with fine motor and manipulating the paper in the right way.  A cute website that has different toy patterns to print, cut, and fold out of paper…

Peanut Butter Playdough Recipe:

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Playing with playdoh is fun, and if you can eat the playdoh when you are done, it can be even more fun.  It is also a good way to play with food for kids that have problems with eating. Ingredients: 1 cup of smooth/creamy peanut butter 2 cups of powdered sugar 1/2 cup honey Mix…

Pencil Grip

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I see so many articles and statements about the dynamic tripod grasp being the one that should be used, and that you need to have a child learn to use that grip. I think that’s rubbish. Yes, the dynamic tripod is the most efficient, but many grasps can be just as efficient if they are…

Pencil Grip for Hand and Joint Weakness

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It is always frustrating when I see kids that have such weak hands and fingers that they hyper-extend, and none of the usual tools and methods help. I want to help them to be able to participate. If they weren’t having to work so hard at keeping a hold on their pencil, they might be…

Pencil Grips–Pros and Cons

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Most kids do not need to use a pencil grip. I rarely recommend having a student use a special grip, and when I do recommend it, it means that the grip really does help. What are the determining factors for needing a pencil grip? The student is not able to maintain the proper grip on…

Pencil Obstacle Course

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Very frequently, I draw a path for kids to follow with their pencil.  I often draw animals beside the path to make it fun and tell them they have to stay on the path so that the lion won’t get them.  I have wanted to have some fun ready made ones, but they are hard…

Pencil Obstacle Courses from School-OT

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To work on pencil control, I created some Pencil Adventures.  When I started making the pencil adventures, I was inspired by the pencil obstacle courses that were created by another Occupational Therapist, Jennifer Dodge.  I now have her obstacle courses available here on Therapy Fun Zone, and I am so excited about it.  These ones…

Perler Beads

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Perler beads are tiny plastic beads that you place on little spikes on a board in order to make a design. They are quite small, so they require precision and care to get them placed on the design board. Once the design is finished, you then put parchment baking paper over the design and iron…

Piggy Bank

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Money money money money. MONEY. Sorry, got distracted by a song in my head. You don’t have to be limited by access to a piggy bank. Money is great for in-hand manipulation, and you can just reach into your pocket and use the coins that you have. I carry around a little bank with fake…

Pine Cone Bird Feeder and Spreading with a Knife

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Spreading can be a challenge for many kids, so here is a fun activity that helps practice. You use a pine cone and attach a wire or string to the top of it so that you can hang it once it is finished. You then spread peanut butter all over the pine cone. It can…

Pizza Delivery Game For Following Directions

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I wanted to do some direction following and learning right and left, as well as memory, so I created a pizza delivery game. This game uses a floor road map that I made, and writing out and following the directions to get to different houses on the map. I made this huge road map on…

Play Doh Cake With Candles for Fine Motor

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Of course, playdoh is a great toy for strengthening, but if you add candles, it can be good for in hand manipulation too. Make a cake out of playdoh, model magic, or any clay of your choice. Put some candles in the cake. They can be real or fake. Toothpicks would work in place of…

Play Doh Connect Four

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Play Doh Connect Four is a fun activity that was created by Marie Logan, an Occupational Therapist with UAB Pediatric Neuromotor Clinic.  This activity is a great way to combine the benefits of using play doh, and the fun of playing connect four while working on hand, wrist, and forearm skills.  In order to play you…

Playing plinko to work on hand strength and writing

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Last month, I put out a call to have other therapists share creative ideas using crazy cubes. I did this because I saw a lot of potential for these little toys to work on fine motor skills and hand strengthening, but I thought that there should be more to them that the basic pushing and…

Pom Pom Animals

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When I was a kid, I spent hours making these felt and pom pom animals. I have had the pom poms in a box all these years, but could only find a couple of the hand made patterns that I used back then, so I made some new patterns. You print out the patterns on…

Pond Jump Fine Motor Game With Munchy Ball

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I have been doing a lot with Munchy Ball and realized that he could easily be incorporated into games the same way that I use clothespins in games. Munchy Ball is a ball with eyes, and a mouth cut into it that opens his mouth when you squeeze the ball. It has great resistance to…

Pool Balloon Races Using Squirt Guns

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The kids I work with had a great time strengthening their hands with ball races that I posted about here. I thought it would be fun to use the squirt guns in the pool too. We used little balloons, but it would work with larger balloons, beach balls, and with the small practice golf balls…

Pool Noodle Ball Run

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I saw these pool noodles at the grocery store, and they had extra large holes in the middle. I just knew that they would work for an activity. I made a frame out of four pvc pipes, using duct tape to hold them together at the top. I then attached regular pool noodles to the…

Pool Writing Using Sponges

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The pool is a fun and important place to spend time in during the summer months. You can add some fun word activities and even incorporate some writing to the fun of summer. I cut up some packs of sponges (but you could use craft foam just as easily) into quarters and wrote letters on…

Practice Buttoning with Felt Oreo Cookies

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I was inspired by making the buttoning pizza to make more food that requires buttoning. I see a whole line of fun button food in my future. Here is an oreo cookie that I made. It is very similar to the button snake, but looks like an oreo. One difference from the button snake is…

Practice Buttoning with Felt Sandwich

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I was inspired by making the buttoning pizza to make more food that requires buttoning. I see a whole line of fun button food in my future. Here is a sandwich that I made. It is very similar to the button snake and button oreo that I made, but it has more layers like a…

Practicing Letters and Finger Strengthening

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Resistance keeps your muscles strong, and the little muscles in the fingers need to work and get strong along with the rest of the muscles of your body. I love having kids get letters randomly in order to practice writing the letters and words, since the randomness is somehow more fun than me giving them…

Prickly Animals for Fine Motor

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I wanted to work on in-hand manipulation along with pushing objects into playdoh to really target those fine motor skills. I made some little prickly animals that I can put playdoh or kinetic sand into in order to make a resistive activity for poking. I made a porcupine, hedgehog, puffer fish, peacock, dinosaur, and lion….

Putting out the chalk fire

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Squeezing sponges is a great activity for hand strengthening, so I came up with a game to play that incorporates the squeezing of the sponges. This game will need to be played outside because it can get very wet. I wanted the kids to be able to squeeze the sponges on something that was upright,…

Q-Tip Painting

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When I think of therapy activities, I keep in mind what skill I am looking to improve. When trying to challenge someone’s fine motor skills, I try to come up with tiny things to hold. I figured that Q-tips were pretty tiny, so how about we do some painting with them. I made them even…

Q-tip painting with templates

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I have posted about Q-tip painting before, but another therapist has a different twist on it.  She has made some templates to do the q-tip painting, which requires more precision in the painting. This is a guest post by a therapist,  Tova Stulberger, who made some templates to use when Q-tip painting. Instructions: Kids dip…

Quick Tip; handwriting

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Good in-hand manipulation skills can be an indicator of how good handwriting will be.

Rainbow Fine Motor Activities with Q-tip Painting

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It is fun to do rainbow activities as you can include color sorting and matching along with working on fine motor skills. I have done many different rainbow activities over the years, and have also incorporated a Q-tip painting template into my latest activity. Use a q-tip as your paint brush to put the right…

Rainbow Puzzle game

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I made a fun little game for spring with rainbows and words.  I call it the rainbow puzzle game, and you can download it for free (you can also find it in the shops).  You have to roll 3 dice first, a number dice, a color dice, and a word dice.   You remember what you…

Raindrops Clothespin Fine Motor Game

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The raindrop clothespin game has a full game with game board, and it also has some simple clothespin matching activities. In both parts, you use clothespins to clip raindrops onto an umbrella. Here is the reversals umbrella free. For the matching part, there is a colorful rainbow umbrella that you match the colored raindrops to….

Reader’s Favorite Posts This Past year

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The year is coming to an end, so it is time to look back and see what was most popular during the last year.  Always popular are the pages where the posts are listed out, like the fine motor page, the clothespin games page, etc, but we won’t count those. Here is a list of…

Recycled Egg Carton Garden Games

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Pinching small objects is great for working on fine motor skills, so when I saw this cute carrot harvest idea on Powerful Mothering. I immediately thought it would be perfect for some of the kids that I work with. I wanted to give it more of a purpose for the different aged kids that I…

Ribbon Christmas Tree

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This ribbon Christmas tree activity is the most awesome therapy activity ever. It incorporates practicing tying into a nice craft that looks beautiful when it is done. The kids all loved it, and they were all very proud of what they had accomplished. Most of the kids started the activity by saying that they didn’t…

Ribbon Pull for fine motor skills

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Pulling on small objects is great for working on fine motor skills, and what better small object to pull on than a ribbon. I had some tennis ball containers, and thought that the fact that they are see through would make it even more fun and motivating because you can see the ribbon moving inside…

Roll a Creature Game

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To continue with my dice obsession, I made a roll a creature game that has two dice that have creature body parts on them, and one with numbers on it, as well as some cards with four of the body parts. The object of the game is to roll the dice, and then you have…

Roll a Sentence Game

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I am always on a quest for fun and interesting ways to work on writing and school skills. I have been on a bit of a dice kick, so I created a writing game using dice with words on them. The game has 4 noun dice, 4 verb dice, and 4 descriptive word dice. For…

Roll a Shape Game

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I was working on visual perceptual games and wanted to get the kids to work on visually scanning to find what they are looking for. To do this, I came up with a game I call Roll a Shape Game, using 12 dice with shapes on them. I also made cards with shapes on them…

Rubbery Marshmallow Play Dough

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I have joined some other bloggers to share recipes and posts about sensory dough called the Twelve Months of Sensory Dough, and this month’s play dough is snow dough. When I think of snow, I think of white, and since marshmallow fluff worked so well in the sweet potato play dough, then I thought I…

Rush Hour Junior

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I know that many therapists love and use the game Rush Hour to work on some skills.  I have a tendency to dislike playing these types of games myself as I don’t really like the challenge, but this Rush Hour Jr Game edition is easier to play, and if you get stuck, there are cheater…

Salt Painting

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Salt painting gives an interesting twist to regular painting, and it makes good use of a glue bottle for hand strengthening. Before you get to the painting part, you squeeze glue onto the paper in the pattern that you want the paint to be in. You can either put the glue on free hand, or…

Save the Dinosaurs fine motor game

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When I see kids for therapy, I like to make it a fun and motivating time to work on underlying skills and practice class skills (such as writing) in an interesting way. If we make it fun and interesting, then the kids are more likely to participate to the best of their abilities. Many therapists…

Scatterpillar Scramble: A Fun Game for fine motor skills

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It is always fun to find a fine motor games that work on so many great Occupational Therapy skills, and Scatterpillar Scramble is one of those games.  The Caterpillar is standing up tall, and each of his legs has a little cup at the end of them to hold a little ball.  You use tongs…

Scissor cutting designs — car

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I have created more scissor cutting designs.  Have the client color it in, cut out the shapes and glue it all together.  Here is a car design. Here is the link to the PDF finished sample. here is the PDF for the cut out template.

Scissor Cutting Shapes: Pizza

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When working on cutting skills, it is fun to create something out of what you cut. This week I had some of my students make some pizza. I made a template for the shapes needed to make the pizza, and they traced the shapes, cut them out and glued them on to their paper. I…

Scissor Cutting Turkey Template

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Making Turkeys for Thanksgiving is a great time to incorporate a lot of skills into your therapy session. I love that the feathers are perfect for writing on and being able to create a thankful craft. Cutting with scissors is a skill that works on bimanual skills, motor planning, fine motor, etc. I have created…

Scissor Cutting: Christmas Tree

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Here is a Christmas tree template for coloring, cutting and putting together.  First the finished product. Next, the template.  I have the template both plain white, and in colors. Here are the pdfs. Save Save

scissor cutting: gingerbread man

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I have been working on some new printables to cut out with scissors and paste together.  It is time to get into the winter and holiday spirit, so here is my gingerbread man.  First is the finished product. Here is the template to color and cut. Here is the PDF file to print out.

Scissor Cutting: Snow Man Template

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Here is a snow man template to color and cut.  The client has to draw the face and add any extra accessories. Here is a picture of the template. Here is a PDF file for the snow man template.

Screwball Scramble Game

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Screwball scramble is a game where you have to get a ball through an obstacle course.  To play it, you push buttons, turn dials, and slide levers in order to get the ball to move through the course. I have used this game in therapy with kids of all abilities.  It is difficult to get…

Search and Find Fine Motor

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Everyone has those days where you just need to pull an activity out of your bag that is simple and requires no extra preparation. I have quite a few of those types of activities lurking at the bottom of my bag, and a favorite is the alphabet search. It combines visual scanning, fine motor skill,…

Sensory Bird Feeders

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A fun way to incorporate different sensory experiences, including food experiences, is to make pine cone bird feeders. I have three different types to make that each utilize a slightly different sensory experience. To start with, you attach a pipe cleaner to the top of the pine cone in order to hang the pine cone…

Sensory Painting with Pasta and Edible Paint

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When working with a sensory group with food aversions, I needed to make the activities fun as well as give exposure to some of the sensations that go along with food.  I wanted to have the food textures, smells and tastes available while making the activity about creating and not about eating.  I chose cooked…

Sensory Search in Rice and Beans

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An activity that uses the tactile and visual motor sensory systems is to search for items in a box of rice and beans. You get a small box (shoe box size or larger) and put in some dry rice and beans so that it is about half way full. Then you need to get small…

Sentence Memory for Copying

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I have a group of three students who have trouble copying sentences from the board in class. When we did some practice during therapy, it turned out that the kids could not remember the words that they were trying to copy, so they were copying the words one letter at a time, and did not…

Sentence Memory With Chopsticks

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I have been doing this sentence memory activity periodically with a small group of kids. I decided to do it again and add the challenge of chopsticks along with the sentences. To summarize, I have the sentences typed on a piece of paper, and the words on pieces of foam with magnets on the back….

Sequence

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I have never played the Sequence Game until last weekend. It has some fine motor aspects to it, but I think that the biggest challenge is visual perceptual. You draw cards and have to find the matching card on the game board and put a chip on it. The goal is to get five chips in…

Shoe Tying Methods

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There are essentially two standard methods of tying shoes, (and then there is my own non-standard method). You have the one loop method, the two loop method (bunny ears), and my own version for kids that have significant delays, and can’t succeed with the other methods is the Push and Tie (PAT) method (I had…

Shoe Tying Printable Practice Shoe

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When practicing shoe tying, it is best to have the shoe sitting in front of the child either on the floor or the table. I don’t always have a shoe with me (I have been known to take my own shoe off to use for practice), so I made a shoe printable and attached it…

Shoelaces to help with learning to tie shoes

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I love sharing products that were created by therapists.  Last year I did a post about some little practice shoes called Loopers Laces.  The practice shoes were not meant to be worn, but just meant to be practiced with and help with the process of learning to tie shoes.  Now there are new shoelaces made…

Simple line following

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I have some kids that are just at the beginning stages of following lines with a pencil, and have been attempting to follow the pencil paths in the bee honeycomb activity, but the paths are a little too small for an early beginner. I modified the paths to create some wider and simpler paths to…

Simple matching with clothespins

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This is a very simple activity that is easily used with a scooterboard or other motor activity.  You start with clothespins at one end of the room with numbers written on them.  The child attaches the clothespins to the bottom of their shirt.  You could have a ribbon for them to attach them to if…

Slowing Down With Scissor Cutting

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I recently was doing an evaluation, and the student was just snipping at the paper as fast and furiously as she could.  When I tried to help her position the paper or the scissors better, she just pushed me away and kept snipping.  She gave no attempt to follow the lines that she was supposed…

Snow Man and Hot Cocoa Fine Motor Activities

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I live in sunny Southern California, so we have to pretend that we have snow. We can still enjoy some hot cocoa even though the temperatures are in the 70s. (I even wear a sweatshirt in the mornings). The rest of the country has lots of snow, so making snow men is an important and…

Snow Man Dressing

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I saw a cute little snow man mentioned on a teacher’s site, and I thought it would be perfect to use in therapy.  The original source of the picture was from here, but I have made my own to cut out, color, and dress your snowman. There is a plain white picture to color and…

Snowflake Cutting

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Cutting out snowflakes is a winter tradition. Some clients will be able to cut them out with just a demonstration of how to fold and cut the shapes, but for younger clients, you can draw the shapes onto the paper and have them cut out the shapes. These work best when the paper is folded…

Spacing Between Words

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As part of writing legibility, second to recognizable letters, spacing between words is very important. If there is not a noticeable space between words that is double to triple the space between letters, then all of the words run together to make it unreadable. In the early years, kids are often taught to finger space…

Spaghetti Painting for Sensory Problems

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I have a few kids that I see who do not like food. I like to use food as a play tool in order to help make food their friend because they need to accept being around food, so using spaghetti noodles as a painting tool is a fun activity. Some kids love it immediately,…

Spider Craft for Cutting, Folding, gluing, and Writing

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Halloween is coming up soon, so I am having the kids make spiders this week.  The spider bodies require cutting out circles, and the legs require cutting rectangles.  You also have to fold the legs on the marked lines, which is a great activity for visual perception and motor planning. I put a light web…

Squint Junior Game for Visual Perception

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I love playing the swish game for visual perception, and saw the Squint Jr Game , which has some similar components, so thought I would try it out. It has clear cards with lines on them that you have to match up to copy a design. In squint, you try to copy a shape with…

Squirt Guns for Finger Strengthening

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Squirt guns are good for working on finger strengthening, and they are fun too. A game that is fun to play with squirt guns uses a cup, water, squirt gun, and a ping pong ball. In this game, you fill the cup up most of the way with water and put the ping pong ball…

Squishy Marble Maze

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I have seen this Marble Maze where you have to manipulate the marble through a path, and I made my own. I used duct tap, a zip-lock bag, some dish soap, and a marble. First I folded a strip of duct tape on itself, topsides together, so that I had a strip of sticky on both…

Standards for writing and typing

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There is a set of standards that have been worked out for what is expected with writing and typing per age group.  These are called the Written Production Standards for Handwriting and Keyboarding grades k-8.  They are research based, and were Sponsored by Zaner-Bloser in partnership with the American Association of School Administrators. These are…

Sticker Squash Game

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This is a game that was submitted by a therapist, Marie Logan, OTR/L. It is a simple game that is played on paper, and it is similar to the game Battleship.  During the game, you work on eye hand coordination and hand positioning, challenge diffierent grasp, and work on visual motor skills. Set Up: •…

Stretchy Finger Exerciser

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I made a finger exerciser out of Hyperflex Stretchy String . It was really easy to make, and would be perfect to work on strengthening finger extensor muscles in really weak hands. I envision using it with kids who have hemiplegia. Theraputty is the standby hand strengthening tool, but it is hard to work on…

Stringing cheerios onto pipe cleaners

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I work with a child that needs to improve her fine motor skills, but she puts everything in her mouth. She enjoys the marble run, but I am nervous about using it with her. I decided to try stringing cheerios as a good edible fine motor activity. My client is not ready to string the…

Stuck in The Mud Letter Sizes

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School is just starting in my neck of the woods, so with the beginning of the school year, it’s time to start my therapy kids off by making sure that they are on target with their letter sizes. I love using mud paper, and have several different types of stuck in the mud paper, so…

Styrofoam and tissue paper flower

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I found this craft kit at Joann’s, but it would be so easy to do it from just things you have around your house.  It is a piece of styrofoam with a picture of a flower drawn on it.  I am definitely going to keep styrofoam packaging now instead of throwing it away.  You then…

Sugar Bugs Clothespin Game

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I have been meaning to make a clothespin game with bugs and their legs (the clothespins) for a while, and have just finished it. It combines two of the kids’ favorite things, sugar and bugs. This game is great for any time of the year since there is no time of the year that sugar…

Summer fun with water and chalk for fine motor

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I have been seeing kids this summer for an early intervention program, and have been playing with sidewalk chalk and water.  Some younger kids will have trouble with squirt guns, so we are going to try a regular spray bottle. I broke all of the brand spankin’ new sidewalk chalk into smaller pieces.  There was…

Sweet Potato Play Dough

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This Summer, I was running a group with kids that avoid food, so we played with all kinds of foods to get some pleasant associations with the smells and tastes. I wanted to make every day food into a fun activity, and one of the things we did was make play dough out of sweet…

Swimming for Letters

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I played with foam letters with the kids in school where we rolled the dice and then fed the letters to the Munchy Ball, and now that it is summer, we took the game to the pool so that we could swim for the letters. The fun foam letters float, so it makes it easy…

Tea Party

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A tea party is fun for both young and old.  It is even more fun when you use a nice china tea set and fancy linens.  It can be really fun and motivating when real food and real drink is used.  Preparation and clean-up is of course a big part of the activity, and can really target…

Teaching Shoe Tying: Tips and Tricks

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Tying shoes is a very complex skill that can be very difficult to learn. There are so many skill areas that are used when tying shoes, that if you have a deficit in one of those skills, then you will have trouble tying shoes. Not only does it require fine motor skills, you need good…

The Kaleidopaint App serves 2 purposes

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I have written about coloring detailed geometric shape pages to work on hand and finger strengthening and visual perception in older students. You can buy a book of these coloring pages on Amazon, but you can also now make your own using the Kaleidopaint App. It is a free app for the iPad. The app…

The Simplest Way to Get a Good Pencil Grasp

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You can try every pencil grip available at Amazon, and you may have no success with changing the way a child holds their pencil. Really, the simpler the solution the better, and if it is simple, it makes it more likely that the child, teacher, and parent will be able to do it every day…

The Visual Motor Aspect of Buttons and Zippers

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Buttoning Progression When you are good at fastening buttons, you can do it with your eyes close, and probably don’t look at all when fastening your pants. It takes some time and practice to get to the point of being able to button completely by touch, and a lot of vision is used when young…

Theraputty and money

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I am going to try something new. Along wifh my weekly activity posts, I am going to do some simple spur of the moment, here is what we are doing today type of posts. So in that spirit, here is one thing we are doing today. Finding money hidden in the theraputty

Tinkertoys

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Tinkertoys are a construction toy that uses sticks and wheels. The wheels have holes in them for the sticks to go into. There are multiple holes for multiple sticks and positions. It is almost like doing pegs with a purpose, except that with tinkertoys you use both hands to put the pieces together rather than…

Tissue Tree

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Start with drawing a tree trunk and some bare branches.  You can do this beforehand, or you can have the client do this. You then need to have little squares of tissue paper cut.  We used green, but you could use fall colors, or be creative with colors.  The next step is to roll or…

Tongs, Tweezers, Clothespins, Pinch clips

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Therapists often recommend the use of tongs to pick up small objects and work on fine motor skills. The long tongs are useful for kids who use a gross grasp and you are trying to get them to use their fingers only. If a client already uses their fingers well, and you want to work…

Turkey cutting time of year

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It is the time of year to cut out and make turkeys.  I did a few turkeys last week, and will be doing more this week. Check out last year’s post on these Turkeys to get the templates. Save Save

Tying Ribbon to Make a Spring Tree

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I loved the activity that I did where the kids had to tie ribbon onto a stick to make a tree. The activity turned out beautiful, and it really targeted the tying skill, which is usually a pretty difficult skill to attain. Since then, I have been thinking about other activities that would target tying,…

Tying with two colors

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Tying shoes is challenging for many kids, and there can be many diferent reasons why the tying is so hard. One of the quickest ways to help with tying shoes is to have two-colored laces. Why does it help to have two different colors on your laces? It provides a stronger visual difference between the…

Update to Clothespin Games

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I have worked out an even easier way (in my opinion) to make the game boards.  I have it down to a science, and it doesn’t take me very long with this new technique.  I hot glue strips of the coroplast material onto a scrapbook sheet protector.  It is much easier, and it is quite…

Using a ball ramp to work on fine motor and visual perception

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I have a little girl that I work with who needs to work on her fine motor precision and visual perception.  The perfect toy for her to play with and work on these is a marble ramp, but she puts things in her mouth, and I am afraid that one time I might not be…

Using a squeeze bulb for fine motor gardening

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The whole act of gardening is good for both the body and soul. Getting your hands dirty in the soil and digging is great for working your hands and for sensory calming. Pulling out vegetables and pulling out weeds can work the arms and trunk, but you can also work on the smaller muscles when…

Using a Visual Barrier When Doing Fine Motor Tasks

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The other day I was having a student practicing fastening some buttons, and he was very focused on tugging and pulling, and was not feeling the fabric and button with his fingers. I then covered his hands to try and get him to just feel where the button hole was and try to get the…

Using adapted paper

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When working with students in school, my job as an Occupational Therapist is to help kids to participate in class. We work on writing, improving fine motor skills, hand coordination, visual motor skills, and all of the other skills that are needed in a classroom. Sometimes it helps to have the lines on the paper…

Using Gel Clings in Therapy

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We have a guest post written by Kristi Rapp, COTA. When it comes to finding items to work with that are therapeutic, budget friendly, and versatile it can sometimes be a challenge to find just the right item to use.  I have found a hidden gem with Gel Clings.  Yes, I said gel clings.  Those…

Using Little Magnets With Games for Fine Motor

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I found these little magnets that are perfect for working on fine motor skills while playing games. I used the games from my clothespin games, and put them on a cookie sheet instead of the clothespin frame.  Then the magnets can be used as the game pieces. Here are posts about the games, and here…

Using Paper Battleship to Work on Pencil Control

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Last week I posted about regular (and mini) battleship games to work on fine motor skills and visual scanning, but have you ever played paper battleship to work on fine motor and writing skills?  Paper battleship is played the same way as regular battleship, but you have paper grids, and you have to use a…

Using pom poms and cups for in hand manipulation

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When working on in-hand manipulation, you need to hold small objects in your hand, so what better object to use than pom poms. In this activity I had two different colors of silicone muffin cups, and the same colors of pom poms.  Instead of just sorting the colors, You have to pick up a hand…

Using push pins to develop fine motor skills

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Holding small objects is a benefit of good fine motor skills, and to work on developing and perfecting those fine motor skills, you can use small objects as a tool. Push pins or thumb tacks that you would use in a cork board are usually a perfect size to facilitate a good tripod grasp. The…

Using Sidewalk Chalk and Squirt Guns for Fine Motor

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Playing with sidewalk chalk can work on and use a lot of different skills during therapy, and is a good activity. Using short pieces of chalk forces the fingers to use a tripod grasp, by using the index, second finger, and thumb. Writing on the sidewalk is also good for range of motion because the…

Using Stickers in Therapy

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When pulling up pants or getting your shirt aligned, or trying to get your socks on, sometimes it is just hard to reach some spots. I am not sure why, but stickers are a big motivator for kids. Some children with tactile hypersensitivity do not like having stickers put on their skin, which of course…

Using the Button Sandwich for Sequencing and Writing

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I love using the button food for practicing buttoning and working on fine motor and visual perceptual skills. I made some order forms so that the kids can practice writing and sequencing their sandwich toppings as well. The kids can take your order and put the fixings on the sandwich. I also made some sandwich…

Using tiny toys (Zinkies) as fine motor manipulatives

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I love tiny toys to use when working on fine motor skills, and the cuter the better. Even better is when they come with little places to put the toys. For example, this little train play set , which are smaller than Squinkies, came with a little train to put the little animals into. It…

Visual Motor Skills and Cutting With Scissors

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Being able to cut with scissors requires many skills, starting with the physical motor ability to sit at a table, the fine motor ability to hold the scissors, and the strength to open and close the scissors. In order to follow lines and shapes and to cut them out with scissors, you need to have…

Wall Marble Maze

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I happened across this wall marble maze in my internet surfing, and had to get it. I have seen many home made wall marble mazes in the world of the internet, but if I made one, it wouldn’t be reusable, and it would get crushed in my bag of toys as I was traveling from…

Ways to Encourage a Mature Grasp

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When writing, the most efficient way to hold a pencil is using three fingers (index, middle, and thumb) on the pencil, and move just the fingers to make the letters (this is called a dynamic tripod grasp).  There are many other ways to grasp the pencil, and some of them are efficient and functional as…

Weavable Toys by The Recycling OT

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I am sure that you have heard of The Recycling OT (and if not, then you need to come play on the internet more).  Barbara’s (the recycling OT) claim to fame, and what she does best is cut up plastic detergent bottles to make toys and activities.  She has a whole book about making recycled…

What is it about cursive that can make us crazy?

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Cursive handwriting is like a sleeping dog…don’t wake it up unless you want to hear some barking!  As innocent as it may look, it conceals a great deal of energy and power.  It certainly must because it can cause a lot of discussion among handwriting advocates.  Discussion is a good avenue for sharing and learning…

What is up with the ASD finger wrap pencil grasp?

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Have you noticed that a lot of students with autism hold their pencil with 4 fingers wrapped up the barrel of the pencil, and their thumb is pressed straight into the pencil. This grasp is not just specific to students with Autism, as the kids who use it generally have weak fingers. The reason that…

What’s In Ned’s Head?

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Many people who benefit from therapy have trouble with stereognosis. Stereognosis is the ability to know what an object is just by feeling it. We do this on a daily basis, reaching into a backpack or purse and pulling out exactly what we had been trying to get, because we could feel it.  Many people…

Wikki Stix for fine motor and writing

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Wikki Stix, in case you haven’t heard of them, are string that are covered in colored wax. They are bendable, sticky, but easily pulled apart, and can bring hours of entertainment. In fact, I am not sure what category they fit in because they are a handwriting activity, but they are also a craft, and…

Wild Animal Clothespin Game

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One of our favorite games is the Ocean Animal Clothespin game, so I made a variation of the game named the Wild Animal Clothespin Game, with some different animals so the kids can enjoy working on finger strengthening using clothespins while having fun.  We also have some question cards and action cards to help have…

Working on Letter Practice with Mud Paper

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It is the beginning of the year, and it is time to see what the kids need to work on. When working on writing, I love to use the Mud Paper because it gives a very strong visual cue to work on making sure the letters are on the line. The kids love it when…

Writing Charms

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Many of the kids that I see for therapy have trouble with handwriting. Handwriting trouble stems from other problems such as fine motor problems, hand weakness, visual motor/visual perceptual problems, in-hand manipulation, and motor planning problems. One small thing that can help with handwriting is to get the hand in the right position to write…

Writing Charms re-visited

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I have been using my writing charms to get kids to work on stabilizing their hand when writing, and I wanted them to hold something a bit bigger than the cap erasers that I had on the original writing charms.  I came across this cool stretchy string, and attached it to a squishy toy ,…

Writing Legibility

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When working on writing with kids, Occupational Therapists are not handwriting teachers. We do not teach handwriting, and we don not practice handwriting. What we do is we use our specialized skills to figure out where the trouble is coming from. We are very skilled at assessing movement, motor control, visual motor ability, and motor…

Writing Lines Cookie Decorating

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Getting back to basics today with coloring, cutting, gluing and writing. Decorating cookies is a fun activity but I can’t carry cookies around with me, so I made some cookies to decorate on paper. I made some cookies that you can color and practice writing lines on. Then you cut them out and glue them…

Writing Made Funny

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I love it when the kids get creative when they are writing, but it is sometimes so hard for them to come up with good ideas. Some kids can come up with some creative writing, and it is really fun to come up with funny stories one sentence at a time. You can read about…

Writing Wizard App review

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I have tried out several apps that work on letter writing, but many of them are too “baby” like for the kids I am working with. Your Therapy Source suggested the Writing Wizard App, and I thought I would try it out.  I had already downloaded it, but hadn’t tried it yet. I have to…