Bilateral Coordination Activity with Hearts | The OT Toolbox

Bilateral Coordination Activity with Hearts

Get creative with a salt writing tray to work on many underlying skill areas that are needed for handwriting and motor planning in functional tasks.  This heart copying activity uses a vivid salt tray in a way that encourages coordination of both hands together in a visual motor integration task.  Use this and other bilateral coordination activities in the home, classroom, or therapy clinic.

This bilateral coordination activity is a take on our Shamrock bilateral coordination activity that we did last year.  It was a great way to encourage kids to work on visual motor integration while allowing them to use both hands together in a coordinated and functional manner.  Using both of the hands to copy heart designs from a different visual plane is a hands-on activity that really works the brain, eyes, and hands together.  

Bilateral coordination activity with a heart theme for Valentines Day

Bilateral Coordination Activity with Hearts


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This was an easy activity to set up.  We started by making colored salt to use in our salt tray.  

Materials to make the colored salt: 
Washable paint (one or two squirts)
1.5 cups Salt
1/4 cup glitter (We received ours from www.craftprojectideas.com)

To make your own, fill a sandwich baggie with washable paint, salt, and glitter. We used red, but any color would be fine for making the colored salt.  The amount of paint can vary.  More paint will yield a more vivid hue.  Know that using more paint will require a longer period to dry the salt. 

I shared a picture over on our The OT Toolbox's Instagram feed of this process: 


Then, simply shade the baggie until the salt is coated with paint.  This is a fun activity for kids to move with gross motor coordination and a creative way to sneak movement into the classroom.

Colored salt that is dyed with washable paint for a sensory motor activity for kids

Once the sand is coated with color, spread it out on a cookie sheet.  We let our salt dry overnight.  Note: if the salt is still wet, the paint will color your hands. Once it's dry, it will not color your fingers.  If you do end up with color on your hands or cookie sheet, just wash it off in warm soapy water.  That's the beauty of using washable paint for this project.

When you salt is colored and ready to play, spread it out on a tray.  I used a big shallow platter.   

Red glitter salt tray for Valentines Day

Quickly draw a few hearts on paper and prop them up vertically in front of the tray.  A vertical placement is important for addressing the skills needed to copy written work from an over head source such as a chalkboard or smart board in the classroom.  

Kids will need to shift their eyes from the vertical plane to the horizontal plane in order to copy the heart patterns in the salt tray.

Encourage use of both hands to make the hearts, starting at the middle point and using both hands at the same time.  Show your child how to look at the vertical sample or at the starting point on the salt tray.  You don't want them to look at only one hand at a time as both hands are working together to make the heart shape.

Colored salt tray to address bilateral coordination and visual motor integration
What is going on with this visual motor integration activity? 


While creating a heart shape as described above, the child is using his visual sense to guides movement through peripheral vision.  

This activity is a version of the Brain Gym program, which uses whole body movements to improve skills, including learning and functional tasks.  In Brain Gym, there is an activity called Double Doodles, which involves doodling with both hands, with a piece of crayon or chalk in each hand.  The activity encourages children to use both hands together.  The point of the activity is to establish direction and orientation relative to the child's body.  The movement activity addresses hand-eye coordination in different visual fields, promotes spatial awareness and visual discrimination, addresses left and right awareness, improves peripheral vision, promotes body awareness and coordination with specialization of the hands and eyes, and works on gross motor movement skills.

Brain Gym is an excellent way to promote whole body learning through simple and fun movement activities. 

Watch for these things:  
  • While drawing, watch the child for stiffness in the hand, wrist, or arm.  
  • Remind the child to keep their eyes fixed on the starting point at the center of the heart.
  • Remind the child to keep both fingers in contact with the sand.  They shouldn't lift their fingers at all.
  • Watch for bilateral coordination, ensuring that both arms are moving at the same speed, distance, and positioning.

Child playing with a salt tray to address bilateral coordination and visual motor integration skills.


Work on bilateral coordination with this salt tray activity

Try using these salt writing trays to work on the skills needed for handwriting. 







Working on Handwriting?