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OLDER POSTS
 
This pipe cleaner activity is a quick and easy hand strengthening activity that can be beneficial for developing the muscles of the hands needed for small motor tasks like manipulating objects, clothing fasteners, and pencil grasp. Activities like this one can help with fine motor skills that are necessary for so many tasks. 

Use this fine motor strengthening activity to develop the hand muscles, including the intrinsic muscles of the hands in order to promote a functional pencil grasp. The intrinsic muscles allow for a curved palm which is used for cupping the palm in order to hold items such as coins or beads. 

The intrinsic muscles are needed for pencil grasp and arch development, as well as endurance in tasks like writing and coloring. This pipe cleaner fine motor activity is a fun way to develop the intrinsic hand muscles and improve fine motor strength

This activity is perfect for addressing the underlying skills needed for a functional pencil grasp. It's part of a new series we've got here on The OT Toolbox, all about pencil grasp. 


Use this fine motor strength pipe cleaner activity to help kids develop hand strength and the skills needed for a functional pencil grasp.
The Pencil Grasp Challenge will be debuting soon here on the website and on our Facebook page. Be sure to stop over there later today to see the video associated with this hand strengthening activity!

Did you miss our last fine motor activity in the Pencil Grasp Challenge? Check out how we improved fine motor strength using foil.  Stay tuned for more information coming soon on the Pencil Grasp Challenge!

Fine Motor Strength Activity

This pipe cleaner activity is a fine motor strength activity that promotes several underlying skills and fine motor skills:
Tripod grasp
Arch development
Wrist stabilization and strengthening

You'll need just one item for this activity: pipe cleaners.

Use several different colored pipe cleaners for this activity. Cut the pipe cleaners into short 2-3 inch lengths. 

Next, show students how to gather the sections of pipe cleaners and hold them tightly with the assisting hand.

Then, use the dominant hand to tightly pinch and twist the pipe cleaners into a twisted unit. 


Remind students to tightly twist and to re-position their hand in order to achieve a tight twist. 

This activity promotes hand strength by twisting the pipe cleaners. Make it more difficult by adding more or thicker pipe cleaners.

Re-positioning the hand to twist the pipe cleaners promotes in-hand manipulation. This is a skill needed in pencil grasp in order to reposition the pencil for adjustments when writing and for manipulating the pencil within the hand. 





Strength in the hand muscles is a fine motor skill that is necessary for so many tasks. Strength in the intrinsic muscles of the hands allow for a curved palm which is used for cupping the palm in order to hold items such as coins or beads. 

The intrinsic muscles are needed for pencil grasp and arch development, as well as endurance in tasks like writing and coloring. This foil activity is a fun way to develop the intrinsic hand muscles and improve fine motor strength

Use foil to develop fine motor strength with this foil activity for kids, it's perfect for strengthening the hands for a better pencil grasp.

Use what you've got around the house to develop and strengthen fine motor skills. Using foil is just one way to do so. 

This activity is perfect for developing pencil grasp into a functional grasp by addressing the underlying skills. This is a new series we've got here on The OT Toolbox. 

It's all part of The Pencil Grasp Challenge that will be debuting soon here on the website and on our Facebook page. Be sure to stop over there later today to see the video associated with this hand strengthening activity!


Fine Motor Strength Foil Activity


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This activity is an easy one to set up. You'll need just one material.

A small sheet of aluminum foil is all it takes! 

To make it easy, you could grab these pre-cut foil sheets and use them with the whole class or therapy caseload, using this activity as a fine motor warm-up.

Use foil to develop fine motor strength with this foil activity for kids, it's perfect for strengthening the hands for a better pencil grasp.

Next, cut the foil into small one inch squares. The student or client can do this job, addressing scissor skills. Simply draw lines using a permanent marker to create a cutting guide. The nature of the foil causes the marker to create a small groove in the surface of the foil, creating low guidelines for scissors to cut along.

Other students may need the foil cut for them. Cutting foil is a unique scissor practice experience and students may tear through the foil, especially if they are working on graded grasp or graded scissor cuts.

Use foil to develop fine motor strength with this foil activity for kids, it's perfect for strengthening the hands for a better pencil grasp.

Finally, show students how to crumble up the small pieces into balls of foil. They can use just the radial digits of the hand, rolling the foil into a small ball with the thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger. 

This motion allows for strengthening of the intrinsic muscles while promoting arch development and a tripod grasp.

Students may be challenged to create very small foil balls by pinching the foil into a tight ball. They can then wrap the foil in another layer, extending the activity.

Use foil to develop fine motor strength with this foil activity for kids, it's perfect for strengthening the hands for a better pencil grasp.

If students are having trouble using the two fingers and thumb to roll the foil into a ball, show them how to tuck a small craft pom pom under the ulnar digits. 

Separation of the two sides of the hand can be beneficial for promoting a tripod grasp. 

Looking for more fine motor activities to develop pencil grasp? You'll love these ideas:
Use foil to develop fine motor strength with this foil activity for kids, it's perfect for strengthening the hands for a better pencil grasp.




Visual perception is our ability to make sense of what we see. Visual perceptual skills are essential for everything from navigating our world to reading, writing, and manipulating items. Visual perception is made up of a complex combination of various skills. These visual perceptual skills are necessary together and in coordination with one another in order for use to see information and use that visual information to create responses or react with functional abilities like movement or processing.




Use these toys and tools to help kids develop and improve visual perception needed for handwriting, reading, and writing.


What are Visual Perceptual Skill?


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Visual Perceptual Skills and how they are used to complete tasks like reading, writing, manipulating items, and functioning in everyday tasks:


Visual Memory- This is one's ability to store visual information in short term memory.  This skill allows us to recall visual information.  When completing hidden picture puzzles, kids visually store images of items they are looking for when scanning to locate a specific shape or image.  This skill is necessary for handwriting tasks when copying information from a source, such as lists of words, homework lists, and copying sentences. 

Visual Closure- This visual perceptual skill allows us to see part of an object and visualize in our "mind's eye" to determine the whole object.  When we see part of an item we use visual closure to know what the whole item is.  This skill requires the cognitive process of problem solving to identify items.  Visual Closure is used to locate and recognize items in a hidden picture puzzle.  In written work, we use visual closure to recognize parts of words and letters when reading and copying work.

Form Constancy- This skill allows us to visually recognize objects no matter their orientation.  When completing a hidden picture puzzle, children can recognize the missing object whether it is upside down or sideways.  In handwriting skills, we use this ability to read and know letters and numbers no matter which direction we see them. 

Visual Spatial Relationships- This visual perceptual skill allows us to recognize and understand the relationships of objects within the environment and how they relate to one another.

Visual Discrimination-  This visual perception skill enables us to determine slight differences in objects.  In hidden picture activities, this skill is needed to determine and locate different hidden objects.  When writing and reading, visual discrimination allows us to perceive the difference between "p" and "d". Puzzles including ones like the wooden letter puzzle described below address visual discrimination. There are many puzzles on the market that meet different age and grade levels. Here are a variety of puzzles to consider.


Visual Attention- This visual perceptual skill allows us to focus on the important pieces or parts of what we see. When we "take in" a scene or image in front of us, we are able to filter out the unimportant information. In this way, a student is able to focus our eyes on the teacher when she teaches. Driving down a road requires visual attention to take in the road so we can drive safely. Visual attention is important in copy work as students copy information from a Smart Board or book onto a piece of paper. As they visually scan from one point to another, they attend to the place they left off. Visual attention is also important and very needed in reading. 

Visual Sequential Memory- This visual perceptual skill is the ability to visually take in and then later recall the sequence or order of items in the correct order. This skill is important in reading and writing. Visual sequential memory is important in spelling words correctly and recognizing that words are not spelled correctly.

Visual Figure-Ground-  This skill enables us to locate items in a busy background.  Finding hidden items in a hidden pictures puzzle works on this skill by visually scanning and identifying items within a busy scene.  In handwriting, visual figure ground is necessary for copying written work from a model and locating the place left off when shifting vision.

Toys and Tools to Improve Visual Perception



Highlights Hidden Pictures book set- Hidden pictures are a fantastic tool for helping kids develop and strengthen visual perceptual skills like figure ground, visual attention, visual discrimination, form constancy, and visual memory. This set of hidden pictures is a nice stocking stuffer that disguises "work" as a rainy day activity.




Self-Correcting Heads & Tails Animal Match Puzzle- Puzzles like this one helps kids address visual perceptual skills like visual discrimination,figure-ground, visual attention, form constancy, and visual memory. These are easy puzzles that can be used with younger children. Add this game to an older child's visual perceptual activities by asking them to write stories or sentences based on the puzzle pieces while sneaking in visual perceptual skill work.



Self-Correcting Counting Puzzle- This puzzle is very similar to the previous match puzzle, only it uses math concept to match. Work on visual perceptual skills with a math component.


Uppercase & Lowercase Alphabet Help kids develop skills in upper/lowercase letter matching by addressing visual discrimination, form constancy, spatial discrimination, form constancy, visual memory, and visual discrimination.



Preschool Alphabet Animal Wooden Puzzle Visual discrimination is a skill needed for noticing differences in letters like letters b and d. It's a skill that carries over to reading and noticing the differences between words like can and car.  visual discrimination skills enable the eyes to notice differences between the orientation and parts of letters and can promote a more fluent reading ability. This skill is also important in math and spelling.  Puzzles like this one also help with form constancy, visual figure ground, among other visual perceptual skills. 

Pixy Cubes -Noticing small differences in colors and direction is an important part of visual discrimination and reading, writing, math, and spelling. These skills are important for fluency as children age and need to complete reading and math skills at faster levels appropriate for grade advances. Matching and figuring out visual puzzles like this one address skills like visual attention, visual memory, visual sequencing, spatial relationships, and visual sequencing.


Learning Resources iTrax Critical Thinking Game- This visual perceptual toy allows children to copy and build designs using blocks of different sizes. Children can develop and boost visual perceptual skills such as visual figure-ground, visual attention, visual memory, visual sequencing, and spatial relationships in order to create the mazes that they see on the cards. There are various levels of mazes, allowing for development of skills.


Learning Resources Dive into Shapes! "Sea" and Build Geometry Set- This building set is a visual perception activity that develops various visual perceptual skills needed for skills such as handwriting and reading. Using double-sided activity cards, children can develop skills such as visual figure-ground, visual attention, visual memory, visual sequencing, and spatial relationships while they copy the three-dimensional figures they see on the cards. This activity is a powerhouse therapy tool as children can strengthen fine motor skills while building with the pieces.


Tumble Trax Magnetic Marble Run- This marble run building set is a visual perception activity that develops various visual perceptual skills needed for skills such as handwriting and reading. Children can copy different levels of marble run forms using activity cards while developing skills such as visual figure-ground, visual attention, visual memory, visual sequencing, and spatial relationships. The magnetic pieces can be used on surfaces such as a refrigerator or large magnetic sheet on the wall. It's a great tool for strengthening the upper body, developing balance and core stability, and shoulder stability while working on a vertical surface.


Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set- Use the activity cards to copy maze forms while developing visual perceptual skills such as visual figure-ground, visual attention, visual memory, visual sequencing, and spatial relationships. The maze is a great self-confidence booster for children as they complete mazes for the battery operated mouse. This game provides an opportunity for developing and introducing coding skills. When watching the mouse as it travels through the mouse, children can enhance visual scanning skills.


Let's Go Code! Activity Set- This visual perception game requires children to hop, turn, step, and move through a gross motor maze of directions. Children can develop visual perceptual skills such as visual attention, visual memory, visual sequencing, and spatial relationships. Directionality is enhanced with movement activities such as this one and is much needed in tasks such as writing and identifying direction of letters and numbers. 


Spot It- This game is a fun way to help children develop and strengthen visual perceptual skills like figure ground, visual attention, visual discrimination, form constancy, and visual memory. The game is small enough to be used as a busy activity while waiting at restaurants and appointments. It's a game that boosts skills and can be used during family game night, too.


Q-bitz Jr.- Noticing differences in colors, forms, and directions are important skills needed in visual discrimination for reading, writing, math, and spelling. These skills are important for fluency as children age and need to complete reading and math skills at faster levels appropriate for grade advances. This game is a fun way to address skills like visual attention, visual memory, visual sequencing, spatial relationships, and visual sequencing.


Day And Night- This copying puzzle activity is a great way to develop skills like form constancy and visual discrimination. Children can look at the shaded image of the "night" scene and recreate the form using three dimensional blocks. It's a nice way to develop visual perceptual skills like visual attention, visual memory, visual sequencing, spatial relationships, and visual sequencing.


Classic Tangoes- Similar to the Day and Night game, children can view the image on a card and use tangrams to re-create the picture in this classic game. This activity develops visual perceptual skills like visual attention, visual memory, visual sequencing, spatial relationships, and visual sequencing, form constancy, and visual discrimination, all needed for handwriting and reading. Read more about using tangrams in visual perception and handwriting.


Equilibrio Game- This building activity requires players to copy forms from a puzzle book while re-creating buildings that challenge balance and gravity! When copying and building the forms, kids develop and build eye-hand coordination skills and visual perceptual skills like visual attention, visual memory, visual sequencing, spatial relationships, and visual sequencing, form constancy, and visual discrimination.

Use these toys and tools to help kids develop and improve visual perception needed for handwriting, reading, and writing.



On November 8th, 2017, The OT Toolbox Community is open for Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants to connect, network, share and collaborate to enhance and promote the profession of occupational therapy.


The OT Toolbox Community is a free online resource for occupational therapists to connect, collaborate, network, and share resources to promote and enhance the profession.



A little more about The OT Toolbox Community:


The OT Toolbox Community is a community network of occupational therapists and is designed as a membership space where OT professionals (including OTs and COTAs) can harness creativity and clinical experience and share a passion for promoting the Occupational Therapy profession. It's a space to connect with therapists and build on a knowledge base to promote independent self development within the profession.


When you think about a community, what do you think of?

A community is a place to build up one another. A community is a place to encourage one another. A community is a place to support one another. A community is a place to inspire one another


In the statements above, check out the text written in italics. The most important thing about a community is the one another

The one another means that an individual in a community builds up others and is built up by others

An individual in a community encourages and is encouraged by others

An individual in a community supports others and is supported by others.

An individual in a community inspires others and is inspired by others.

The OT Toolbox Community is a free online resource for occupational therapists to connect, collaborate, network, and share resources to promote and enhance the profession.




The OT Toolbox Community is a place to:


Access the knowledge, support, and guidance from therapists all over the world.

Reach out and connect with clinicians who have unique experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds.

Learn and develop as a professional from a team of mentors.

Share your ideas and creativity with therapists all over the globe.


The OT Toolbox Community is a free online resource for occupational therapists to connect, collaborate, network, and share resources to promote and enhance the profession.



The OT Toolbox Community is a place to seek answers

Over the past few months leading up to creation of The OT Toolbox Community, we have asked you about your biggest challenges and issues related to finding answers to clinical questions.

There were some very consistent responses related to this question. Many of the answers mentioned TIME. As therapists, we are challenged to fit research for specific questions related to clients and intervention strategies within a busy schedule. Time to seek out evidence-based tactics is just not considered within a daily schedule. Often times, seeking out research and the evidence is not time effective, and it COSTS MONEY.

...Perhaps you are struggling with knowing exactly where to find the information you need.
...Maybe you are without local resources in your community and struggle with the time it takes to sift through data and research on the internet.
...It might be that you work in isolation or lack accessibility to other professionals.

The OT Toolbox is a tool that covers all of these concerns. Within The OT Toolbox Community, you'll encounter other Occupational Therapist professionals just like you. The community allows members to ask and answer questions, rate responses, and share evidence-based resources. Through its members, the collection of evidence is all in one place, and is a valuable tool for seeking out strategies that are based on the evidence. 

Finding research-backed, evidence-based articles can be a real challenge. The internet is such a vast area with and it can be difficult to pinpoint reliable, trustworthy information and reputable sites. 

Given the community of therapists passionate about enhancing the profession, the members of The OT Toolbox Community can help! Best of all, The OT Toolbox Community is a free resource.

Given that time and accessibility is such a valuable need in our profession...we need reliable, research-backed answers, fast...The OT Toolbox Community is designed to allow for searches by topic or title.

The Community's set-up enables users to ask questions and check out answers given responses by the community. Resources such as links, podcasts, uploaded files, and member blogs can be a huge asset to the therapist who is searching for answers.

Imagine if we all came together to share our best online resources. The Toolbox between all of us could be immense! The OT Toolbox Community is a place to store the evidence, the specific topics, the very thing that makes up enhancement of our profession: it's therapists!


The OT Toolbox Community is a free online resource for occupational therapists to connect, collaborate, network, and share resources to promote and enhance the profession.

Looking at the evidence-How The OT Toolbox Community can help

When we consider evidence-based practice, there are three areas that make up research-backed interventions: Appraisal of the Evidence, Clinical Expertise, and Client Preferences. Taking these three areas into consideration, as therapists, we can identify the specifics that make up client preferences as part of evaluation and intervention. 

The other two areas (appraisal of the evidence and clinical expertise) are at our fingertips using The OT Toolbox Community. The community and it's members provide a valuable source for research-backed tools and evidence. Clinical expertise is as vast as the members. Using the tools on the OT Toolbox Community, members can network and collaborate with other therapists, extracting clinical experience from mentors and conversation.


The OT Toolbox Community has more in store, too:

As with any BIG project, it takes getting it out there to get started. We at The OT Toolbox Community have a lot in store for you. Members can expect in the future: a specific place to explore the evidence and a library of evidence-backed resources, virtual mentor meet-ups, specific topic conversations in real-time, and much more.  

We are very excited for all that The OT Toolbox Community has in store, and it's growth and development depends on you the members and your needs!

A few facts about The OT Toolbox Community

When joining the community, therapists are able to create user profiles. They can then build up their profile by adding online link resources, uploading personal files to share with other occupational therapy practitioners, writing and creating blog posts, and asking and answering questions. 

Share Link Resources
The OT Toolbox Community members can share links from online resources such as blog posts, tools, strategies, research articles, assistive technology information, diagnostic tools, treatment strategies, and more. If all of the occupational therapist members in the community were to pool their favorite online tools, imagine the toolbox of resources there would be! Links can be uploaded anonymously or under your profile. Links can then be voted on and/or commented on by the community, recognizing it as a valuable tool. When uploading a link, users can add a category description that allows for users to search and find related content on The OT Toolbox Community.

Upload File Resources
The OT Toolbox Community members can upload their own files that they wish to share with other occupational therapist professionals. Files can be anything they've created and would like to share with others. These might include data collection sheets, lists, activity ideas, screening tools, strategies, and more. Files can be uploaded anonymously or under your profile. Documents can then be voted on and/or commented on by the community, recognizing it as a valuable tool. When uploading a file, users can add a category description that allows for users to search and find related content on The OT Toolbox Community.

Blog Post Resources
The OT Toolbox Community members can author and create their own blog posts. These can be tools, activities, crafts, intervention strategies, recommendations, or suggestions that they wish to share with other occupational therapist professionals. Blog posts can be uploaded anonymously or under your profile as a way to create social influence. Blog posts can then be voted on and/or commented on by the community, recognizing them as a valuable tool. When writing a blog post, users can add a category description that allows for users to search and find related content on The OT Toolbox Community.

Question and Answer Resources
The OT Toolbox Community members can ask and answer questions of any kind related to the profession, assessment, or intervention. These questions and answers can then be used as tools for other occupational therapist professionals. Questions and answers can be created anonymously or under your profile as a way to create social influence. Questions/answers can then be voted on and/or commented on by the community, recognizing them as a valuable tool. When asking a question, users can add a category description that allows for users to search and find related content on The OT Toolbox Community.

More Resources and Tools to Come!
There are many more tools and resources to come to The OT Toolbox Community and they are all being built for passionate and innovative OTs and OTAs like you who strive to enhance our profession! 



The OT Toolbox Community is a free online resource for occupational therapists to connect, collaborate, network, and share resources to promote and enhance the profession.



There are a lot of free resources available online for Occupational Therapists. 
Imagine if as therapists, we were able to use those online tools to advance our development and knowledge. 

Using online searches and tools like The OT Toolbox Community, we can apply information to our practice of client’s, facilitating professional independent development. BUT, what if we could self-reflect on these various online sources using a tool that helps us to focus on our own  professional needs as therapists? 

The Daily Professional Self-Reflection Journal for Occupational Therapists is just that tool. 


Occupational Therapy Daily Professional Self-Reflection Journal pages for supporting and encouraging self-development of Occupational Therapists.

Daily Professional Self-Reflection Journal Pages for Occupational Therapists

The weekly self-reflection sheets can be used in combination with the monthly professional goal planner, or they can be used in isolation. 

  • Use them to acquire professional goals and to monitor progress on those goals. 
  • Use them to itemize strategies for development. 
  • Use them to fit self-learning into busy schedules that make up life.
  • Use them to identify small-wins and challenges. 
  • Use them as encouragement for those days that build on therapy burnout. 
  • Use them to identify moments of gratitude during your therapy day and as a tool for addressing emotional fatigue.
  • Use them as a way to get organized and promote self-development as a therapist. 
  • Use them to be the most effective therapist you can be.
  • Use them to decrease distractions.
  • Use them to schedule in self-care to make yourself the best therapist you can be.
  • Use them to stay positive in identifying areas of interest, and renewing your energy as a therapist.
  • Use them to celebrate small victories as a therapist who is striving for personal best.
  • Use them as a personal note keeping area to jot down gained knowledge.
  • Use them as space to acknowledge and recognize small victories and as a place for referring back to.


Download these self-reflection worksheets and print them off. Print as many as you need and place them in a binder. Use them as part of your planner or calendar. Slip them into page protector sleeves and keep them with your therapy bag.

The Daily Professional Self-Reflection Journal includes 12 pages of printable schedules, daily trackers, note pages, gratitude sheets, and self-reflection pages. Some pages are included in color and others are in grayscale for easy printing. 

The Daily Professional Self-Reflection Journal pages are just one tool that can be beneficial to the Occupational Therapist. 

This packet of printable pages is free to download only through tomorrow, November 8th, as we kick off the opening of The OT Toolbox Community. 

The OT Toolbox Community: A Space to Develop as an Occupational Therapist


The OT Toolbox Community is a place to connect and to develop and refine skills through networking and collaborating with other occupational therapists. 

The daily professional self-reflection journal pages are a tool to promote self-development as a therapist, and The OT Toolbox Community is a resource to fuel that development. 

These are all ways that the quilt of your professional development becomes more rich and textured. The layers of development that can occur with simply writing down goals and how they can be met and then conversing with other professionals is vast. 

The OT Toolbox Community is a space to connect and collaborate with other occupational therapists on goals and focused intentions, promoting development of self.

The OT Toolbox Community will be opening it's doors on Wednesday the 8th, and we are excited to have you join us! 

For now, grab the free printable pages while you can!



Occupational Therapy Daily Professional Self-Reflection Journal pages for supporting and encouraging self-development of Occupational Therapists.

Working on Handwriting?