The OT Toolbox

Mini Star Sensory Bin

A themed sensory bin can be just the item needed to address fine motor skills through tactile sensory play and tactile exploration with a themed twist. This mini sensory bin does just that with a starry night theme. This miniature version of a sensory bin can be tossed into a therapy bag for a fresh sensory activity!

Mini Sensory Bin Activity  Affiliate links are included in this post. 
We've done plenty of sensory bins here on The OT Toolbox. From water sensory bin play to tactile play us…


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THE SENSORY LIFESTYLE HANDBOOK
When it comes to legibility in handwriting, spacing between words makes all the! Addressing spatial awareness in handwriting can make a big difference in legibility fairly quickly given intervention, practice, awareness, and the tools to address spacing in written work. We've shared several handwriting spacing tools here on The OT Toolbox, like a cute DIY space martian spacing tool and this pipe cleaner spacing tool

Sometimes a simple visual cue like this craft stick spacing tool and pointer stick can make a big difference in handwriting spatial awareness and handwriting legibility.

Read on for another quick craft that kids can make and use to teach spacing between words...using a clothes pin for better spatial awareness in written work. 

This spacing tool is one that can be attached to a notebook or folder and used again and again...because any school-based OT knows that those spacing tools can get lost very easily!
One of our more popular posts here on The OT Toolbox is our post on classroom sensory strategies. For kids who struggle with attention challenges, general sensory processing needs, auditory processing, self-regulation, or other needs, a whisper phone can be a power tool when it comes to reading or processing auditory information. Below, you'll find information on how to make a DIY whisper phone for only $3 and how a whisper phone helps kids of all ages! Plus, we're sharing where we got this awesome idea to make a whisper phone that kids will love! 

Affiliate links are included in this post. 

Make a DIY whisper phone to address reading comprehension, letter sounds, and sensory processing needs.

DIY Whisper Phone

When it comes to therapy tools and equipment, finding the best deals is ideal. But even better is when you can make your own therapy tools at a fraction of the cost and still benefit from the therapeutic benefits. This DIY whisper phone is just the example. In fact, a whisper phone on Amazon costs more than $6 so when you are shopping to fill the needs of a classroom or caseload, the DIY version can be a fun alternative. 

What is a Whisper Phone

First, you may be wondering "What is a whisper phone"...read on to find out what exactly a whisper phone is and how they can be so beneficial to so many kids. 

Typically, a whisper phone is a tube shaped like a phone that can be held at the child's ear and mouth. They can whisper sounds and words and clearly hear individual sounds without background noise. 

They are a great tool for kids with auditory needs AND kids without auditory processing issues. Whisper phones can be so helpful in teaching any child to recognize sounds of letters! Kids can use a whisper phone to hear themselves read, which helps them with comprehension and fluency through auditory feedback.

A whisper phone is a tool that can be so helpful for kids with auditory processing needs or other concerns that interfere with a child's ability to focus on auditory input. These kids sometimes struggle with pulling out important information from auditory input. 

Other times, a whisper phone is used in reading to help kids recognize sounds in words, including pronunciation, fluency, and reading comprehension. This can be helpful for kids without auditory processing needs too! 

Make a DIY whisper phone to address reading comprehension, letter sounds, and sensory processing needs.

How to use a Whisper Phone to help with Auditory Processing

Auditory processing challenges can look like a variety of things: poor listening skills, difficulty with language comprehension, auditory sensory sensitivities, or other listening concerns.

Using a whisper phone can help with skills like:
  • Auditory discrimination
  • Auditory sequencing
  • Auditory memory
  • Auditory figure-ground discrimination
Here are more auditory processing activities that can help.

Make a DIY whisper phone to address reading comprehension, letter sounds, and sensory processing needs.

A whisper phone can be used in many ways:
Sound out letters to help kids recognize the sounds associated with each letter. This is SO important in kids whom we later see in therapy who can not associate letter formation and struggle with handwriting and formation!

Sound out words to identify parts of words.

Auditory feedback when reading.

Provide a calming sensory diet activity.

Improve self-confidence with reading skills.

Discriminate between sounds and background noise.

Identify tone and volume of speech.

So much more!

Make a DIY whisper phone to address reading comprehension, letter sounds, and sensory processing needs.

How to make a DIY Whisper Phone

We were inspired to make a DIY whisper phone when we saw a fun activity in the new STEAM Learn and Play Book. This whisper phone is not the traditional hand-held style, but more like the traditional can phones from the therapist's childhood! 

We made a whisper phone that can be used with two children and is a fun way to address the needs described above. 

To make a DIY whisper phone, you'll need just three items. We gathered these items at our Dollar store, making the DIY whisper phone a great deal! 
  • Two small funnels
  • One tube
To make the DIY whisper phone, just connect the funnels to a tube. The bendy tube that we used was long enough to reach between two friends. 

If the tube doesn't fit exactly, use a bit of tape to hold the tube in place. 

Then, play and learn! 

Make a DIY whisper phone to address reading comprehension, letter sounds, and sensory processing needs.

This whisper phone is so easy to make that kids can make it themselves. In fact, it would be a great group activity for a small group in a camp setting. 

STEAM Play & Learn Book

We got the idea to make a whisper phone from the new STEAM Play & Learn book written by Ana at Babble Dabble Do. What a fun book this is for hands-on activities that kids will WANT to do while learning and playing. 

Each page is full of colorful activities that teach.




There are so many fun ways to explore science, technology, engineering, art, and math with this book. For parents or teachers looking for a complement to a specific curriculum, this book is it. Kid can explore so many areas while learning through hands-on play.

The OT in my LOVES the tactile experiences shared in this book! Check out some of the ideas below:





 Read more about the challenges of auditory processing disorders.

Fall Leaf themed auditory processing activities for sensory needs in kids.Auditory processing dominoes made with bells are perfect for a color matching activity, and can be graded to meet the auditory needs of all ages.Auditory processing sensory ideas for backyard summer sensory play, perfect for sensory diet ideas for kids.Baby Sensory bottles using recycled spice jars

 Fall Leaf Auditory Processing Activity








Below, you will find a blog post on a bilateral coordination activity using Pop Toobs. This fine motor bilateral coordination activity can address a variety of fine motor skills in kids including those bilateral coordination skills needed for tasks like handwriting, scissor use, shoe tying, and much more. This article was written by The OT Toolbox contributor author, Christina Komaniecki, OTR.
Taking sensory diet activities and other sensory play activities into the outdoors is as easy as walking outside! There are so many opportunities for outdoor sensory experiences using the world around us. Add a few key components like water, chalk, playground equipment, toys, and tools and you've got a sensory gym right in your backyard. While we've shared a lot of outdoor sensory diet activities here on The OT Toolbox, there are so many sensory experiences that are just plain fun right outside. Today, we're talking about taking the sensory processing experiences up a notch using an outdoor sensory swing!F

We were lucky to try out the Harkla Sensory Pod Swing, and it has been a huge hit with my own children. The Occupational Therapist in me can't help but see how awesome this sensory swing is for addressing sensory needs right in the home...and in the backyard!

Use an outdoor sensory swing for the ultimate sensory experience for kids with sensory processing needs, self-regulation challenges, attention, and more.

Add an Outdoor Sensory Swing to your Child's Sensory Diet

Sensory diets play a huge part in the lives of so many children. Kids with sensory processing needs, attention issues, self-regulation challenges, and other areas. Read more about the goals of a sensory diet looks like in kids and how a tool like a sensory swing can play a part in addressing sensory needs.

In fact, there is much research on outdoor sensory play. The fact is, research shows us that some of the developmental and primary tasks that children must achieve can be effectively improved through outdoor play. These include: exploring, risk-taking, fine and gross motor development, absorption of basic knowledge, social skills, self-confidence, attention, language skills, among others. 

So knowing the benefits of being outdoors when it comes to addressing sensory needs, taking the sensory tools used in a sensory diet outdoors can be the obvious next step. 

Use an outdoor sensory swing like the Harkla pod swing for calming sensory input when outside.

Why take a sensory swing outdoors? 

The outdoors offers so much to our senses naturally. Sights, sounds, tactile experiences, and even air pressure can have a bountiful sensory impact! 

A bright day can be alerting to the child who struggles with alertness. A warm and sunny day can have a calming effect.

A slight breeze can offer a brush with the nerve endings on the skin, alerting the child. It can be a calming change from indoor air.

The feel of grass on a child's toes can bring awareness and body perception. 

Background noises can be an opportunity to develop auditory processing skills. In fact, there are many ways to address auditory processing needs through backyard auditory processing activities

Ambulating to a sensory swing area is an opportunity to address balance and stability in a natural and functional environment. 

Swinging provides an opportunity for improved body awareness as a child learns how their body moves and responds to movement. Taking an indoor sensory swing into the outdoors provides a change in routine that can "wake up" the child's awareness about certain movements. 

The outdoors offers a vast tactile playbox! From the feel of a tree's bark to pebbles and stones, playing outside combined with needed sensory input a sensory swing offers can promote skills like fine motor strength, precision and graded grasp, separation of the sides of the hand, bilateral coordination, crossing midline, balance, endurance, core stability and strength, and so many other skill areas! 

Use this outdoor sensory swing for outdoor calming sensory input in kids with sensory processing needs.

Outdoor Sensory Swing 

When we received our Harkla pod sensory swing, the kids were eager to put it up in our home. After some time waiting for this to actually happen, because as we adults know, making changes to the home can sometimes take longer than expected, we finally decided to try it out in the outdoors. 

We took the sensory pod swing and the attachment components to a large tree in our backyard. After a quick installment, it was clear that the outdoor sensory swing was a success. 

Use a sensory swing outside as part of a sensory diet for calming sensory input.

What a calming experience this was! 

For the mom of four kids, it can be overwhelming during summer days when the kids are free from routine. All four of the kids swung in the Harkla sensory pod swing and were noticeably more calm and relaxed. 

The enclosed pod provides a calming nook where kids can relax or calm down. 

For the child with sensory needs who thrives after use of a sensory swing in therapy, taking the sensory swing outdoors can be a beneficial and therapeutic experience. 

I love that the swing can be used indoors or outdoors. Simple attachment mechanisms make this swing easy to install. The adjustable strap allow the swing to be attached at a preferred height for safety. 

Use a sensory swing to help kids calm down and organize sensory input for improved self-regulation with an outdoor sensory swing.

Since using the pod swing outdoors, we've used the swing several times outside on our big, shady tree. My older kids use the pod swing as a cozy reading nook. What a way to work on that summer reading list!

I did bring the swing in after we used it, just so it wouldn't get soaked in the next summer rainstorm. Putting it back up was easy, using the installment belt and clip. 

For those without a tree branch that would hold kids, a regular swing set can be an optimal placement for the sensory swing. Simply pull the regular swings to the side or remove the chains and attach the sensory pod using the belt and clip.

If you are interested in purchasing a harkla Sensory Pod Swing, check out the Harkla website. The price on the sensory pod swing is great for those looking for a sensory swing that can fit within a budget. 

As a therapist whose seen many therapy equiptment catalogues, this is a great price! There is a coupon on the website for saving 10% on your first purchase, along with free shipping in the US.

We will be using this outdoor sensory pod swing all summer and installing the swing indoors, too. When the swing is not in use, just unclip the belt!



Harkla sensory pod swing is great for calming sensory input at home.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat children with sensory needs, or other areas. Using a sensory swing can have a wide variety of responses on children. Also, recognize that every outdoor experience is different for each child as the environment is different in each experience. Consult your child's occupational therapist for individualized recommendations. The OT Toolbox provides educational information only and is not responsible for any issues. Reading information found on this website acknowledges your consent to this disclaimer.

This post contains affiliate links.

Disclosure: We received a Harkla pod swing but all opinions are our own.

Below, you will find a blog post on pediatric feeding therapy and answers to initial questions about feeding therapy such as "Are pediatric feeding issues related to sensory needs, oral motor problems or both?" and thoughts about where to begin with pediatric feeding therapy techniques. This article was written by The OT Toolbox contributor author, Kaylee Goodrich, OTR.

So often, we see kids with weakness. They struggle with climbing monkey bars, maintaining grasp on a pencil, coloring with endurance, maintaining posture with a strong core, manipulating snaps and buttons, and so much more. A consistent home strengthening program can help with these skills. 

A therapy band is such a power tool in providing needed and calming proprioceptive sensory input, too. Many times, therapists will add therapy band exercises to a sensory diet. There's a reason why! Slowly pulling and maintaining a position on an expanded therapy band creates resistance, providing proprioceptive input that kids need.

Use these tips for creating a therapy band exercise program that kids want to do!

Why use a Therapy Band Exercise Programs with Kids?


There are several motivating reasons to incorporate a therapy band exercise program into home programs and therapy regimens: 

  • Use as a movement break for alerting input or calming input
  • Exercise for increased attention
  • A tool for coordination and strength
  • On-the-go therapy tool that can go anywhere a school-based OT or home therapist goes
  • Easily incorporated into home programs
  • Can be easily modified for use by a large caseload
  • Can be used with individuals or in a group setting

THerapy band exercise program for kids to boost strength, core strength, and sensory needs.

Therapy Band Exercise Program for Kids


There are a few things that a great therapy band exercise program has when it comes to strengthening programs or exercises for kids. 

Here are a few MUST-Haves when it comes to a motivating therapy band exercise program for kids:

FUN- A therapy exercise program for kids must be more than a simple handout copy of exercises. That exercise sheet is sure to land on the top of your therapy clients refrigerator. A therapy program that has bright colors, fun characters, games, and interactive components is a win!

Creative- A therapy exercise program that uses animals, monsters, creatures, and fun characters is one way to get kids moving and coming back to try out those exercises again and again.

Easy- A home program that kids can (and want) to do themselves is one way to ensure carryover. 

Engaging- A bright and colorful exercise program with fun fonts, hands-on flip cards, and creative characters who get in on the exercise action are all part of a exercise plan geared to create healthy habits.

Motivating- Checklists that kids can mark, erase, and rewrite, fun stickers, and a game make therapy band exercise programs fun and not boring...a plan that kids want to do!

The Handee Band therapy band exercise program is perfect for adding fun fitness for kids.

Handee Band Therapy Band Exercise Program

Affiliate links are included below. 

When Francesca Avelli, MS, OTR/L approached me about a therapy exercise program that she created, I was excited learn more. Handee Band is a therapist-created collection of fitness exercises for boosting core strength and upper body strength...and it meets all of the requirements listed above! 

We tried out the Handee Band Exercise Kit and the Handee Band Exercise Cards, and had an absolute BLAST. All while exercising! 

Make exercise a game for better carryover and excitement in kids when they use this therapy band exercise program, Handee Band.

This exercise kit is definitely a product created by an occupational therapist. As my daughter was trying out the spinner board game and looking through the flip book for matching characters, that thought was on my mind. 

Make exercise a game for better carryover and excitement in kids when they use this therapy band exercise program, Handee Band.

All of the underlying skill areas that go into using this kit and playing the game are such a boost for kids. 

Wen playing the game, kids spin a spinner board and need to match up characters to the exercise kit or flip cards. The visual scanning, form constancy, visual tracking, visual discrimination, visual memory, and visual closure was really being used for this game. 

Make exercise a game for better carryover and excitement in kids when they use this therapy band exercise program, Handee Band.

Then, my four year old flipped through the cards, strengthening her finger isolation and other fine motor skills until she found the matching character. Once she did the exercise, she used more fine motor skills to peel off a sticker...but it had to be the matching sticker, resulting in more visual perceptual skills! 

Make exercise a game for better carryover and excitement in kids when they use this therapy band exercise program, Handee Band.

THEN, I asked my daughter to mark off the exercise on our checklist, using more fine motor work while boosting pencil control skills and pre-writing strokes as she formed a vertical line in the given box, but not over the lines! 

What a workout! 

But, all of this doesn't even tough on the real strengthening we did with the Handee Band. 

Make exercise a game for better carryover and excitement in kids when they use this therapy band exercise program, Handee Band.

There are so many exercises in the Handee Band kit and exercise cards. There are 15 to be exact, and they each have a corresponding character showing how to do the therapy band exercise. These handheld cards are perfect for the therapist that needs to tote supplies from building to building!

We left the Handee Band kit cards and band out on a table for a few days and there were countless times I saw my kids stopping over to do an exercise or two. The Handee Band program is just too irresistible! 

Make exercise a game for better carryover and excitement in kids when they use this therapy band exercise program, Handee Band.

If you are a therapist in a clinic looking for a therapy band exercise program that kids WANT to do, then the Handee Band is for you. 

If you are a school-based therapist looking for strengthening exercises or proprioceptive input that calms, alerts, and adds to a sensory diet, then the Handee Band is for you. 

If you are a home therapists, working with kids (or adults!) in the home and need exercises that can tuck into a tote bag, then the Handee Band is for you.

If you are a parent looking for creative and motivating ways to get the kids moving and focused on fitness, then the Handee Band is for you. 


Check out the Handee Band website for more information.

Disclosure: We received a Handee Band exercise kit and exercise cards, but all opinions are our own.







Below, you will find a collection of executive functioning resources and tools for improving executive functioning skills that can be used in the home, school, therapy clinic, or anywhere!

So, I'm hearing lots of happy chatter about this new email series happening each Thursday!

Therapy Thursday has been off to a fantastic start. If you have missed some of the newsletters, have no fear. I've been compiling each week's newsletter into a blog post and posting them on The OT Toolbox. Each newsletter in Therapy Thursday is chock full of resources and info on one specific topic. If you would like to join The OT Toolbox newsletter, add your email here.

his blog post by contributor author Regina Parsons-Allen describes occupational therapy activity kits that can be used to address a variety of occupational therapy goals using themed OT kits, saving time and planning for therapy. 


Another Look at Occupational Therapy Themed Tool Kits


This is part two of the blog post regarding themed occupational therapy activity tool kits. Many people have contacted me to ask if I have other themed therapy tool kits that I use in my practice as a school-based COTA. This is part two of my original post where I will share more information regarding additional kits. Like I said, I have so many kits it is hard to share them all in one or even two posts.


What is an Occupational Therapy Activity Toolkit?

Let’s review, pediatric and school-based occupational therapy practitioners are busy people. Racing from school to school or site to site serving children of many ages all in a single day.

Having portable tool kits saves the therapists’ valuable time in planning, preparing, organizing and documenting for assessment and intervention. To sum up tool kits, they are portable, all inclusive, and can be separated by themes to support the different needs of the individual therapist and/or child.

There can be many types of tool kits using a variety of designs and sizes. Tool kits can be separated by many types of themes to address a therapists’ particular needs.

Please refer to the original blog post on occupational therapy activity toolkits as it contains lots of great information with the complete details regarding specific types of tool kits, valuable tips on how to make a tool kit, and some other examples of kits that I use in practice to include an Easter tool kit, a grab and go kit, and a strengthening kit.

More Occupational Therapy Activity Toolkit Ideas

Below is an example of a Seasonal Tool Kit - Summer:

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The Kinesthetic Sense is needed for almost every task. Read on for more information on kinesthetic learning, exactly what is kinesthesia, how the kinesthetic sense plays a part in fine motor skills, and kinesthetic fine motor activities that can help with motor planning and learning through play.


What is Kinesthetic Learning?


The Kinesthetic sense is a huge part of every action we do.  When we pick up a toothbrush and brush our teeth, we "know" the motion and amount of pressure that is needed to move the toothbrush and polish teeth without poking the side of mouth with the toothbrush. 

The Kinesthetic sense allows us to zipper a jacket without looking at the zipper. It allows us to tie our shoes while looking up at a friend on the playground.  It allows us to have a conversation and look around at our table mates while using a fork, wiping our mouth, and picking up a cup during dinner. It enables a student to flip the pencil and erase a mistake without looking at the pencil and thinking through each step of moving the pencil within the hand. 

Kinesthesia allows us to participate in actions with motor planning, appropriate motor actions, and effective proprioception. 

How to Teach Spacing Between Words with a Clothespin
How to Teach Spacing Between Words with a Clothespin

When it comes to legibility in handwriting, spacing between words makes all the! Addressing spatial awareness in handwriting can make a big difference in legibility fairly quickly given intervention, practice, awareness, and the tools to address spacing in written work. We've shared several ha…
DIY Whisper Phone
DIY Whisper Phone

One of our more popular posts here on The OT Toolbox is our post on classroom sensory strategies. For kids who struggle with attention challenges, general sensory processing needs, auditory processing, self-regulation, or other needs, a whisper phone can be a power tool when it comes to reading or…
Bilateral Coordination Activity Using Pop Toobs
Bilateral Coordination Activity Using Pop Toobs

Below, you will find a blog post on a bilateral coordination activity using Pop Toobs. This fine motor bilateral coordination activity can address a variety of fine motor skills in kids including those bilateral coordination skills needed for tasks like handwriting, scissor use, shoe tying, and muc…
Outdoor Sensory Swing
Outdoor Sensory Swing

Taking sensory diet activities and other sensory play activities into the outdoors is as easy as walking outside! There are so many opportunities for outdoor sensory experiences using the world around us. Add a few key components like water, chalk, playground equipment, toys, and tools and you'…
Pediatric Feeding: Is it Sensory, Oral Motor or Both?
Pediatric Feeding: Is it Sensory, Oral Motor or Both?

Below, you will find a blog post on pediatric feeding therapy and answers to initial questions about feeding therapy such as "Are pediatric feeding issues related to sensory needs, oral motor problems or both?" and thoughts about where to begin with pediatric feeding therapy techniques. T…
Therapy Band Exercise Program for Kids
Therapy Band Exercise Program for Kids

So often, we see kids with weakness. They struggle with climbing monkey bars, maintaining grasp on a pencil, coloring with endurance, maintaining posture with a strong core, manipulating snaps and buttons, and so much more. A consistent home strengthening program can help with these skills. 
A the…
Executive Functioning Resources on Therapy Thursday
Executive Functioning Resources on Therapy Thursday

Below, you will find a collection of executive functioning resources and tools for improving executive functioning skills that can be used in the home, school, therapy clinic, or anywhere!

So, I'm hearing lots of happy chatter about this new email series happening each Thursday!

Therapy Thursda…
More Themed Occupational Therapy Activity Toolkits
More Themed Occupational Therapy Activity Toolkits

his blog post by contributor author Regina Parsons-Allen describes occupational therapy activity kits that can be used to address a variety of occupational therapy goals using themed OT kits, saving time and planning for therapy. 


Another Look at Occupational Therapy Themed Tool Kits
This is part t…
Privacy Policy
Privacy Policy

This policy was last updated 7-11-18.

Your privacy is important to The OT Toolbox (www.theottoolbox.com) and The OT Toolbox Community (http://community.theottoolbox.com/). The policy below outlines how your personal information is collected and how it is used when you use our website.

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Kinesthetic Learning Fine Motor Activity
Kinesthetic Learning Fine Motor Activity

The Kinesthetic Sense is needed for almost every task. Read on for more information on kinesthetic learning, exactly what is kinesthesia, how the kinesthetic sense plays a part in fine motor skills, and kinesthetic fine motor activities that can help with motor planning and learning through play.


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