The OT Toolbox

What is Visual Attention?

Attention is a hot topic when it comes to learning! There's more than meets the eye when it comes to visual attention, however. Visual attention is an area of visual processing that is more than just focusing on a task or leaning activity. Visual attention is a visual skill necessary for noticing details, adjusting to patterns, reading, and so much more of the giant visual processing umbrella. Read on to discover what is visual attention and how this visual skill impacts so much of what we …


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THE SENSORY LIFESTYLE HANDBOOK
For our kids who are challenged to visually observe their environment, or who struggle to demonstrate visual tracking in reading or other learning experiences, activities designed to promote smooth pursuits and eye movement can be helpful. The visual activities listed here can be helpful in addressing the smooth pursuits of visual input. Visual pursuits or tacking is an oculomotor skill that is necessary part of visual processing. Read on for various eye exercise that can be done in fun ways as a part of occupational therapy geared toward visual processing skills.

These activities to improve smooth visual pursuits are needed to improve visual tracking needed for reading and visual processing.






Activities to improve smooth visual pursuits


First, let’s cover what visual pursuits are and how they impact a child’s learning.

Visual skills like visual tracking, or smooth visual pursuits are a visual processing skill that allow us to perceive and retrieve visual information. This is an essential part of reading and learning.

What are visual pursuits?


Visual pursuits are another term for visual tracking. Visual tracking is an oculomotor skill that is essential for learning, reading, and so many tasks we perform. Here is more information about visual tracking. You will also love checking out these activities to improve visual tracking.

Visual processing skills have a huge impact on learning. In fact, it is one of the visual skills that can impact learning in a way that isn’t always directly observable.

Visual skills like visual tracking, or smooth visual pursuits are a visual processing skill that allow us to perceive and retrieve visual information. This is an essential part of reading and learning.

Want to learn more about HOW visual pursuits and other aspects of visual processing impact learning (in a really big way)? Scroll below to join our free visual processing lab. It's a 3 day email series where you will learn SO much about visual processing and how it impacts everything, but especially learning and cognitive skills.

Visual tracking activites are needed for learning and everything we do! These activities to improve visual pursuits can be used in occupational therapy treatment sessions or part of vision therapy activities.

Activities to improve visual pursuits


These visual tracking activities are easy and creative ways to work on eye movement and smooth eye movements. Kids can perform these activities as part of a therapy program and while working on functional skills within an occupation.

1. Relaxing breathing eye stretches- This visual tracking activity is a way to work on smooth pursuits in a very mindful way. Just like yoga brings awareness to the body and a sense of being present, this eye stretch activity is a great way to calm a class during a busy school day.

Combine slow and deep breathing with deliberate eye movements. Kids can watch and follow directions to take deep breaths combined with slowly looking in a single direction. As they look up and breath or look to the left and breath, kids can even use this activity as a coping strategy.

2. Flashlight Tag- Use a flashlight to help kids follow a target in various directions. Try a circle, uppercase letter “H”, triangle, straight/diagonal lines, etc. To make this activity more fun, try adding a deflated balloon to the top of the flashlight. Encourage kids to keep their face steady as they use just the eyes to follow the light.

3. Craft Stick Puppets-Create small craft stick characters puppets to make a visual cue as a visual prompt for follow movement patterns. These barnyard animal puppets make a great DIY puppet tool for a visual pursuit and tracking activity.

4. Marble run activities- There are many marble run products on the market that provide an opportunity for improving smooth pursuit of the eyes. Here are DIY marble run activities that make a great activity in themselves for kids. We love to add slow moving items to marble run games too, to provide a slower object for visually tracking, encouraging smooth pursuits of the eyes. Encourage kids to keep their face steady while using their eyes only to watch the item fall through the marble run.

5. Roll a ball up a slanted surface and ask the child to keep their eyes on the ball! Some ideas include creating a sloped surface with a poster board and books. Simply roll a small ball slowly up the ramp and kids can watch the ball as it rolls. Also try having the child to sit in front of the ramp and be in charge of rolling the ball. Mark off where the ball should reach and stop so the child works on graded movement at the same time. Sitting in front of the ramp encourages visual convergence and binocular fusion as well. This activity works well with a large ball such as a kick ball and a sidewalk ramp, too.

6. Double Light Eye Tag- Use two different colored lights (light-topped pens work well). Flash one color on and then the other. Kids can move their eyes from color to color or follow directions to look at the two lights when they change.

Hopefully, these activities to improve visual pursuits is a helpful addition to your therapy toolbox. Use these strategies to work on various visual processing skills and oculomotor skills.

More visual processing activities

For even MORE visual tracking and pursuit activities to use in your occupational therapy practice, you will want to join our free visual processing lab email series. It's a 3-day series of emails that covers EVERYthing about visual processing. We take a closer look at visual skills and break things down, as well as covering the big picture of visual needs.

In the visual processing lab, you will discover how oculomotor skills like smooth pursuits make a big difference in higher level skills like learning and executive function. The best thing about this lab (besides all of the awesome info) is that it has a fun "lab" theme. I might have had too much fun with this one :)

Join us in visual processing Lab! Where you won't need Bunsen burners or safety goggles!

Click here to learn more about Visual Processing Lab and to sign up.

Free visual processing email lab to learn about visual skills needed in learning and reading.



More visual tracking activities you will like:





Visual pursuits visual tracking activities to help kids with the visual skills needed for learning, reading, and everything they do!
Visual processing impacts everything we do! When kids struggle with things like writing on the lines, managing buttons, catching a ball, or finding a missing shoe in a messy room...visual processing skills are at play. The thing is, the components of visual processing are more than meets the eye (literally)! Visual processing involves several areas like oculomotor function, visual perception, and visual-motor skills. These underlying areas make all the difference in skills like handwriting, fine motor skills, learning, reading, functional tasks...everything! 

What if I told you that there is a new resource available through The OT Toolbox. The Visual Processing Lab is here! It's a short email series that covers everything you need to know about visual processing. And you can join us!
Visual Scanning is a component of visual processing that is crucial to everything we do! From taking in visual information, to using that information in making decisions and enabling actions...visual scanning is an oculomotor skill that is sometimes an area of difficulty for those struggling with visual processing skills. Below, you will find information about visual scanning, including what this oculomotor control component looks like, what visual scanning really means, and why scanning as a visual skill is needed for learning, functional tasks, social emotional skills, executive function and other cognitive abilities, and just about everything we do!

To work on visual scanning in the classroom or clinic, you may want to grab this free 17 page visual perception worksheet packet that promote oculomotor skills like visual scanning as well as visual perceptual skills!
Visual perception is an area that drives so much of what we do. For kids who struggle with visual perceptual skills, so many areas are impacted. Visual perception impacts reading, writing, learning, comprehension, visual motor skills (including copying written materials), fine motor work, gross motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and even social emotional skills! It's amazing how this one area can impact so many areas of a life and functioning. Because some f our popular free visual perception worksheets have been used by so many therapists, I wanted to pull these resources together into an easy to access visual perception worksheet packet! This is it! Your 17 page packet of free visual perception worksheets can be accessed below.

Eye-hand coordination development typically occurs through movement, beginning at a very young age. The visual components of oculomotor skills (how the eyes move) include visual fixation, visual tracking (or smooth pursuits), and visual scanning. These beginning stages of child development play a big part down the road in taking in visual information and using it to perform motor tasks. 

Wondering about a child who uses both hands to write or perform tasks? Maybe you know a child who uses both hands equally and with equal skill. Perhaps your child uses one hand for specific tasks and their other hand for other tasks. How do you know if your child is ambidextrous or if they are showing signs of mixed dominance? This post will explain a little more about ambidexterity as well as mixed dominance and what it means in motor skills.

Have you ever wondered is my child a lefty or a righty? Or been asked if they are a lefty or righty and unable to answer? Have you noticed that your child seems to use both hands equally when writing? If so, your child may be experiencing mixed hand dominance patterns or cross-dominance, and this is why you are not sure if they are a lefty or a righty. Writing with both hands can have implications that affect handwriting. Read on for information on using both hands to write writing and what you need to know about mixed-handedness.

So often, we see kiddos who struggle with sensory modulation, core strength and core stability, body awareness, endurance, sensory processing needs. Prone extension activities can help strengthen and address other areas like those mentioned, and more. Below, you'll find various prone extension activities that can be incorporated into occupational therapy treatment sessions and included in home programs.



Prone extension activities are great for adding vestibular input and proprioceptive sensory input through heavy work. There are so many other benefits of activities using prone extension in occupational therapy and in promoting development in kids!


Prone Extension Activities for Kids

Use the following prone extension activity ideas in games, play, and activities to improve skills like body awareness while providing proprioceptive and vestibular input. Many times, prone extension activities can be incorporated into learning activities too, or used to compliment other therapy goals such as visual memory or other visual perceptual needs.

What is prone extension?

Prone extension is that position you probably know as "superman pose". When a child lies on their stomach and raises their arms and legs off the floor, they are assuming supine flexion. This positioning is an anti-gravity movement that promotes and requires an both sensory systems and motor skills to work in an integrated manner. A prone extension position can occur in other locations beyond the floor. A therapy ball, mat, swing, etc. can all be valuable tools in promoting and eliciting this movement pattern.

When assuming a sustained prone extension position position, there is a fluent and effective use of both the inner AND outer core musculature.

Observation of this position as well as other motor patterns are typically observed during an occupational therapy evaluation in order to assess strength, sensory and motor systems, body awareness, motor planning, bilateral coordination, as well as other areas.

Prone extension activities are a great way to encourage vestibular input as well as other areas mentioned above. Additionally, a prone extension activity can be an easy way to add proprioceptive input to a child seeking heavy pressure. To encourage longer prone extension positioning, try adding additional activities such as games, puzzles, or reaching activities while in the prone position to encourage the hands and arms to reach forward for longer periods of time.

Examples of Prone Extension Activities

Amazon affiliate links are included below.

Adding prone positioning into play can be easy. Try some of the ideas listed below:

1. Use a scooter board. Ask the child to hold onto a rope with strong arms as they are pulled down a hallway. To further this activity, ask the child to pull themselves along a length of space while lying in prone on the scooter board. Add additional resistance by using the scooter board on a carpeted surface.

2. While lying on a therapy ball or bolster, as the child to place bean bags or other objects into a bucket that is placed on a raised surface such as a scooter board. Move the scooter and bucket to various positions to encourage additional reach and extension. Once a bean bag makes it into a bucket, go in for a high five! What an encouraging way to promote that prone extension!

3. While lying on a mat or other surface, ask the child to toss rings onto a target area.

4. Using a chair or ottoman (couch cushions on the floor work well, too), show the chid how to lay on their belly. Some children will want to keep their toes on the floor to steady themselves. Others may want to lift their legs and feet for additional vestibular input. Ask the child to reach out and pop bubbles.

5. For the child that appreciates vestibular input, ask them to lay their belly on an office chair. Using their hands, they can push away from a wall to make the chair move backwards. Other children may like this activity on a scooter board.

6. Ask kids to lie on their stomachs as they use straws to blow cotton balls or craft pom poms into a target. What an exercise in oral motor skills and breathing, too. Deep breaths in can promote the stability needed to sustain a prone extended position. However, breathing out in a lengthy, slow breath to move those cotton balls provides a chance to really engage those inner and outer core muscles.

7. Kids can hit targets (both high and low) using a pool noodle while in a prone position. Reaching forward with those hands to hit targeted areas promotes eye-hand coordination too while really engaging that core!

8. Add a home program with fun exercises that promote posturing, movement challenges, and activities. Use the strategies and tips in The Core Strengthening Handbook is a resource for fun and creative core strengthening activities for kids with awesome exercises, games, and activities designed to give kids the strong core foundation they need to improve handwriting.

The Core Strengthening Exercise Program to help make core strengthening fun and entertaining for kids while promoting carryover in the classroom and when writing.

 The Core Strengthening Handbook has everything you need to know outlined into informative strategies and tips that work to meet the needs of kids of all kinds! 


 Core Strengthening Handbook
The options are endless when it comes to adding vestibular and proprioceptive input through prone extension positioning and activities. Think out of the box to come up with fun and unique ideas that provide heavy work input while addressing all of the other areas kids so often need!


What are your favorite prone extension activities for kids?

Try these prone extension activities to help kids develop bilateral coordination, strength, motor planning, and other skills while getting sensory input in the form of vestibular and proprioception.

Great! Thanks for grabbing the packet of Visual Perception Worksheets. 


Free visual perception packet and information

Check your email inbox to download your file. Don't see it? Don't fret! Check your spam folder or "other" file such as "promotions" in Gmail. Some users (especially those using an email system hosted by a school system, clinic, health system, etc.) may have this email blocked as a security measure. Send me an email at contact@theottoolbox.com and I will send you the file as an attachment. 

How to use your visual perception worksheets:

Use them to work on various visual perceptual skills in a variety of ways. Try using various tools to connect the items on the worksheets, such as string, marker, finger paints, Wikki Stix, etc. The options are endless.

Print them off, slide them into a page protector sheet and use them over and over again with a dry erase marker.

Work on pencil control with some of the pages by having students trace the lines to connect matching items or make matches.

AND...I promised you big news on an upcoming visual processing resource. Here it is!

Very soon, The OT Toolbox is hosting a Visual Processing Lab! Yep, a lab! This is an interactive lab activity that will be email based and delivered right to your inbox. This is a short series of emails (4-5 days) that covers everything you need to know about visual processing, detailed information on various aspects of visual processing, and strategies that work. 

You'll also hear more about a huge visual processing bundle that is coming your way. 

Get ready to learn all the ins and outs of visual processing, and gain strategies, activities, worksheets, screening items, and so much more. This resource is going to be huge! 

Stay tuned! 

Come to this page by accident? Want to get in on the visual perception fun?

Get your copy of the free visual perception worksheets HERE.




This has been a fun week on The OT Toolbox! We've been celebrating all things Spring with activities geared toward developing various underlying skills that kids need. Today we're covering Spring Handwriting Activities and ways to promote legible handwriting with a spring theme. These are handwriting activities that you can use to work on letter formation, spacing between letters and words, size awareness, and line use. All of this reflects back on handwriting legibility! And, when it comes to working on handwriting, we're striving to make practice fun and NOT boring! Read on for some Spring handwriting ideas the kids will love!

First, if you missed the other topics we've covered this week on The OT Toolbox, you'll want to check out our Spring Occupational Therapy Activities page. You'll find Spring fine motor activities, gross motor activities, sensory activities, and visual perceptual activities. All of the ideas are Spring-themed and will keep the kids occupied and working on various skills all Spring long.

And, if you are interested in really addressing the underlying skills that play into development and functional skills, be sure to grab the Spring Occupational Therapy Activities Packet for tons of ideas that cover a variety of areas, and are graded to address other areas or other levels.

Get the Spring Occupational Therapy packet HERE.

Now, onto the handwriting ideas!

These spring handwriting activities are great for helping kids learn letter formation, sizing in letters, spacing in words, and legibility in handwriting.

Spring Handwriting Activities


When it comes to handwriting, sometimes you just have to make it fun. Practicing letter formation or copying skills can be downright boring. For the child that struggles with these skills, self-confidence can really play into practice. When a child knows they struggle with certain aspects of written work such as letter formation or reversals, it can be hard to get them to want to practice, making home programs or any written work a real struggle.

That's why I wanted to pull together some extra-creative and fun ways to practice written work.

Kids will like this pre-writing lines activity that doubles as a way to work on letter formation and spatial awareness. We created eggs with wikki stix, but you can definitely modify this activity to a slower theme for those working in schools who can't cover anything egg or Easter.

Do you have any Spring cookie cutters? If not, you can usually find them in dollar stores this time of year. Use butterfly and flower cookie cutters to work on handwriting skills like spatial awareness and line awareness needed for legible written work. This is a great writing warm-up activity this time of year.

This time of year is all about growth, seeds, and new development. Pull together a spring theme with seeds and work on pincer grasp, in-hand manipulation, separation of the sides of the hand with letter formation! Kids can manipulate small seeds like grass seed to form letters or work on the letters of their name like we did in this Grass Seed Handwriting Activity. Then, lay the paper on newspaper, sprinkle dirt on top and see if it grows name-shaped grass in a week or so!

Celebrate spring with rainbows! Pull out the colored chalk to work on letter formation with rainbow writing. On a warmer Spring day, go on out to a sidewalk, driveway, or blacktop surface to gain the resistive input of drawing with chalk on the ground. It's a great way to really incorporate the motor planning needed for letter formation!

Finally, a great way to work on handwriting is with lists. With a list of writing practice, kids who struggle with written work tend to not feel so overwhelmed. Writing out a list of words to practice aspects such as letter formation. line use, spacing, and letter size can be more beneficial than copying a few sentences. Granted, there is a time and place for copy work, too. It's an exercise in visual motor skills, visual tracking, visual memory, and so many other skills.

But, when a child needs to write a paragraph AND come up with sentence structure, grammer, capitalization and punctuation, content flow, and comprehension, legible handwriting can be the first to go! We've all seen the child that can write the whole alphabet with complete accuracy, but then writes a journal prompt with letters all over the place!

That's why I put together the list of list writing prompts in the Spring Occupational Therapy Activity Packet. There are two full pages of prompts in card format, so you can cut out the cards and use them over and over again with the whole therapy caseload.

Best yet is that these list prompts encourage motivational writing in that they have many "favorites" or "Best things about..." included. Many kids love to tell others about their favorite things. They can write them out in a list form, AND work on the handwriting skills they need!

When you grab the Spring Occupational Therapy Activities Packet, you'll get these handwriting list prompt sheets AND 24 other pages of spring themed activities including:
  • Spring Proprioceptive Activities
  • Spring Vestibular Activities
  • Spring Visual Processing Activities
  • Spring Tactile Processing Activities
  • Spring Olfactory Activities
  • Spring Auditory Processing Activities
  • Spring Oral Motor Activities
  • Spring Fine Motor Activities
  • Spring Gross Motor Activities
  • Spring Handwriting Practice Prompts
  • Spring Themed Brain Breaks
  • Occupational Therapy Homework Page
  • Client-Centered Worksheet
  • 5 pages of Visual Perceptual Skill Activities
All of the Spring activities include ideas to promote the various areas of sensory processing with a Spring-theme. There are ways to upgrade and downgrade the activities and each activities includes strategies to incorporate eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, body scheme, oculomotor control, visual perception, fine and gross motor skills, and more.


It's a really popular product on the site this time of year. I've doubled the size of this packet and added:

Spring Visual Perception Worksheets- Print these off and slide them into a page protector. Use them to work on visual perceptual skills like form discrimination, visual closure, figure ground, and visual processing skills like tracking, scanning, etc. Use manipulative items to work on fine motor skills with these worksheets such as play dough, slime, Wikki Stix, yarn, craft pom poms, or other items.

Spring Fine Motor and Gross Motor Activities- Add these ideas to therapy home programs to work on pencil grasp or core strength. Use these ideas in therapy warm-ups, or to add movement to a child's day.

Spring Themed Brain Breaks- Cut up these cards and use them to add movement and motor skills into the classroom or home. It's a great way to re-charge!

Spring Themed Handwriting Practice Prompts- There are two pages of writing prompts that are ONLY in list form. That means kids don't need to write out sentences while working on letter formation, spacing and size. They can work on all of the handwriting skills they need in a short list that is interest-based, making it motivational for them. And, the list format is a quick way to sneak in handwriting practice!

OT Homework Sheet- Sometimes, it takes extra practice to make skills "stick". When parents help in practicing therapy activities, it can make a difference in carryover. You'll find a done-for-you OT homework sheet to use in weekly homework activities OR for use as a home exercise program!

Client-Centered Worksheet- When our kiddos have a voice in their therapy, carryover and goals can be more meaningful to them. Use this worksheet to come up with Spring activities that meet the needs of a child, while taking into considerations that child's interests and strengths to make activities meaningful.

Sensory Activities and More- All of these extras were added to the already well-rounded Spring packet that includes activities designed around each of the sensory systems. You'll find 13 pages of proprioception activities, vestibular activities, tactile activities, oral motor activities, etc. And, they include ideas to extend the activity to include eye-hand coordination, body scheme, oculomotor control, visual perception, coordination, and motor planning.

This Spring Packet has everything you need for the next three months!


You'll also find several sheets listing tons of Spring activities designed to promote specific areas:
  • Spring Fine Motor Activities
  • Spring Gross Motor Activities
  • Spring Handwriting Practice Prompts
  • Spring Themed Brain Breaks
Use these activities as warm-ups to your therapy sessions, or add them to the homework page below to create a home program. 

Use this Spring Occupational Therapy Activities packet to come up with fresh activity ideas to promote fine motor skills, gross motor skills, balance, coordination, visual motor skills, sensory processing, and more.



These spring handwriting activities are great for helping kids learn letter formation, sizing in letters, spacing in words, and legibility in handwriting.
Activities to improve smooth visual pursuits
Activities to improve smooth visual pursuits

For our kids who are challenged to visually observe their environment, or who struggle to demonstrate visual tracking in reading or other learning experiences, activities designed to promote smooth pursuits and eye movement can be helpful. The visual activities listed here can be helpful in address…
Free Visual Processing Lab
Free Visual Processing Lab

Visual processing impacts everything we do! When kids struggle with things like writing on the lines, managing buttons, catching a ball, or finding a missing shoe in a messy room...visual processing skills are at play. The thing is, the components of visual processing are more than meets the eye (…
What is Visual Scanning
What is Visual Scanning

Visual Scanning is a component of visual processing that is crucial to everything we do! From taking in visual information, to using that information in making decisions and enabling actions...visual scanning is an oculomotor skill that is sometimes an area of difficulty for those struggling with v…
Free Visual Perception Packet
Free Visual Perception Packet

Visual perception is an area that drives so much of what we do. For kids who struggle with visual perceptual skills, so many areas are impacted. Visual perception impacts reading, writing, learning, comprehension, visual motor skills (including copying written materials), fine motor work, gross mot…
Development of Eye-Hand Coordination
Development of Eye-Hand Coordination

Eye-hand coordination development typically occurs through movement, beginning at a very young age. The visual components of oculomotor skills (how the eyes move) include visual fixation, visual tracking (or smooth pursuits), and visual scanning. These beginning stages of child development play a b…
Ambidexterity or Mixed Dominance
Ambidexterity or Mixed Dominance

Wondering about a child who uses both hands to write or perform tasks? Maybe you know a child who uses both hands equally and with equal skill. Perhaps your child uses one hand for specific tasks and their other hand for other tasks. How do you know if your child is ambidextrous or if they are show…
Writing with Both Hands-What you Need to Know
Writing with Both Hands-What you Need to Know

Have you ever wondered is my child a lefty or a righty? Or been asked if they are a lefty or righty and unable to answer? Have you noticed that your child seems to use both hands equally when writing? If so, your child may be experiencing mixed hand dominance patterns or cross-dominance, and this i…
Prone Extension Activities
Prone Extension Activities

So often, we see kiddos who struggle with sensory modulation, core strength and core stability, body awareness, endurance, sensory processing needs. Prone extension activities can help strengthen and address other areas like those mentioned, and more. Below, you'll find various prone extension…
Visual Perception Info
Visual Perception Info

Great! Thanks for grabbing the packet of Visual Perception Worksheets. 



Check your email inbox to download your file. Don't see it? Don't fret! Check your spam folder or "other" file such as "promotions" in Gmail. Some users (especially those using an email system hosted…
Spring Handwriting Activities
Spring Handwriting Activities

This has been a fun week on The OT Toolbox! We've been celebrating all things Spring with activities geared toward developing various underlying skills that kids need. Today we're covering Spring Handwriting Activities and ways to promote legible handwriting with a spring theme. These are h…