The OT Toolbox

Visual Tracking Games

Visual Tracking is an important part of everything we do and visual tracking games can be a valuable resource to improving visual tracking skills! For tasks such as reading and writing, however, the ability to track visually across a line of written text is essential for reading and fluency in reading.

When kids read across a line of text in a book, they are using visual tracking skills to follow the line from word to work. When they follow a finger along lines in a book they are using visual t…


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THE SENSORY LIFESTYLE HANDBOOK
Looking for a fine motor craft idea that boosts all of the underlying skills kids need? This fine  motor craft is a soap holder animal and it adds opportunities for skills like fine motor strength, precision of fine motor skills, dexterity, coordination, visual motor skills, and many more therapy areas. The best part is, after kids make this fun fine motor craft, they have a fine motor toolkit that can be used again and again to address the motor skills they need! Contributor author, Regina Parsons-Allen shares how to make a soap holder animal and use this fine motor craft idea to maximize the therapeutic benefits!


This fine motor craft for kids is a soap holder animal craft that helps work on to build fine motor skills, strength, bilateral coordination, and other areas that may be addressed in occupational therapy



Fine Motor Craft- Soap Holder Animals

Soap holder animals are great busy box kits which are made with simple materials and come in their own storage containers. They address creativity, visual perception, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, problem solving and fine motor skills. Being stored within themselves makes them easily portable allowing a therapist to toss one quickly into their therapy bag or cart.

Kids can make this soap holder animal fine motor craft to work on fine motor skills and other areas they need for holding a pencil and in handwriting.

Kids love soap holder animal crafts and therapists will find they make for a cool and engaging therapy activity. Soap holder busy box kits fit the bill for many pediatric therapists who travel from site to site. They are a cheap and easy fine motor craft to transport, are easy to store, and are fun to create with an engaging focus on child skill development.

Therapists will find soap holder animal make for a great send home activity too! 

Make a soap holder busy bag into a fine motor craft by turning it into a soap holder animal while working on fine motor skills and visual motor skills.

More benefits of a soap holder animal fine motor craft:

Children love opening the boxes to see what’s inside and they are intrigued by what they are able to create with them. They love crafting animals and making them come to life. 

Soap holder busy box kits allow for children to expand on their skills while also enjoying the high level of creativity that can be achieved. 

With these soap holder creations, children experience an improved feeling of success and achievement having used their own skills to create something fun and entertaining.

Many skill areas are hidden within the process of this fun activity.  Just the developmental benefits of bead stringing alone would be enough to make the activity worth using!  Bead stringing activities can help improve overall fine motor, visual perception, visual motor and cognitive skills. Functionally, bead stringing can help a child improve their pencil grasp and control for drawing, writing and coloring as well as improve their ability to manipulate fasteners on clothing. 

Use beads and a travel soap holder to make a fine motor craft that builds skills kids need.

The skills and target areas addressed with soap holder animal crafts and use of these fun busy box kits include:

Bilateral coordination - The act of opening and closing the boxes, threading and un-threading the beads, and building legs or other appendages requires the child to use two hands together in a coordinated manner.

Pincer grasp and finger strength - Pinching small beads for placement and threading them requires a thumb to index finger pinch pattern and small muscle strength to manipulate and place the bead.

In-hand manipulation - Pinching small beads and turning them around within the fingers for placement requires coordination of the small hand and finger muscles working on shift and rotation movements.

Eye-hand coordination - Threading and un-threading beads and building legs or other appendages requires the child’s eyes and hands to work together.

Visual perception - Recalling the bead color pattern while searching for one specific bead color from a group of assorted beads requires visual memory, visual scanning and visual discrimination skills.

Executive functioning - Deciding what type of creature the child wants to make and organizing and planning their approach while also determining what kind of pattern they want to use and where to place the appendages requires organization, planning and problem-solving skills.

Kids can work on fine motor skills, visual motor skills, and other areas in occupational therapy with this fine motor craft to create soap holder animals.

Graded Fine Motor Craft Kids Love

Soap holder busy box kits can easily be downgraded or upgraded by matching the type of materials used to the needs and abilities of the child or by modifying the approach and the necessary skills required to complete the activity.

A few considerations on adjusting this fine motor craft to meet the needs and skills of various children:

1. Consider the use of larger beads vs. smaller beads. Determine if the bead hole diameter is small enough or large enough to meet or challenge the child’s skills.

2. Use flexible string vs. pipe cleaners. (Be sure the string is flexible enough that the box lid can close once they are inserted and that beads do not easily fall off.)  Flexible string can provide a good challenge for some children.

3. Keep pipe cleaners full length or cut in half to make the activity more challenging for appendage placement, manipulation, and orientation.

4. Consider keeping the process simple by having the activity set-up for the child and then have them only string the beads.

5. Have the child simply string beads at random vs. following a color pattern.

Work on fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, precision grasp and more with this fine motor craft to make a soap holder animal.

How to Make a Soap Holder Animal Fine Motor Craft

Now that you know the total benefits and a few ways to grade the activity, here is what you need to create your very own soap holder animal:

Travel soap container with a flip-top lid
Assorted pony beads
Assorted paper straw beads (paper straws cut into beads)
Assorted pipe cleaners (either full length or cut in half)
Googly eyes (to tape or hot glue to the top of the soap holder) Self-adhesive googly eyes may work too, depending on the soap holder.

Use a soap holder to make a fine motor craft into a soap holder animal craft that builds fine motor skills kids need.

Soap holder busy bead kits are easy to assemble for use as a therapy activity or home busy box. Take a short time to gather the materials and use it all year long to build a multitude of skills with children.

They never get old as they may never be the same creation twice!

Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.

About Regina:

Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!

You can find all of Regina's posts on The OT Toolbox on her Contributor Spotlight page.

Let us know if you make this soap holder animal fine motor craft!
Travelling with kids to the city? Reading a book about a city? Learning about or teaching kids about geography or communities? This City Play Dough Mat is a supplement that can help with more skills than just adding to a city learning theme, all in a fun play dough activity! This free play dough mat has a city theme and a special component that boosts fine motor skills specifically hand strength, and the intrinsic muscles of the hands. Print off this city playdough mat and start playing and learning WHILE boosting those skills that kids need!



Kids can use this city play dough mat to increase hand strength for fine motor skills like handwriting and pencil grasp all with play dough activities kids love!

City Play Dough Mat

I love adding hands-on components to learning themes. It adds a special twist that really helps with recall when motor components are added. This city play dough mat is a great accompaniment to any community or geography theme. Kids can fill in the circles in the city skyline while building the fine motor skills they need for tasks such as endurance with writing or coloring, pencil control when forming letters, functional pencil grasp, management of buttons/zippers/other clothing fasteners, opening and closing of food containers, and so many other fine motor tasks!

For the child who struggles with fine motor skills or has a fine motor delay, this city play dough mat can be a fun way to build those skills. In fact, there are so many fine motor skills needed in school environments whether it occurs in the classroom or homeschool dining room. Building fine motor skills can make an impactful difference in learning and functional tasks!

How to increase hand strength with a play dough mat

Play dough mats are everywhere! Do a quick Google search and you will come up with tons of options for free printable playdough mats that kids can use. The thing is, though that just the act of playing with play dough on a play dough mat is a really power tool in strengthening little hands! 

In fact, there are so many ways to use a play dough mat to strengthen the skills kids need for fine motor tasks. 

One of the ways we have been focusing on here on The OT Toolbox with our recent play dough mat series is working the intrinsic muscles of the hands by rolling small balls of play dough in various sizes. Using the finger tips and thumb of one hand at a time to roll a play dough ball is an intrinsic muscle workout that builds the muscles of the thenar eminence, hypothenar eminence, the interossei, and the lumbricals. All of these muscle groups make up the intrinsic hand muscles which are those located within the hands. 

The intrinsic muscles are those responsible for nice, defined arches of the hands, the ability to separate the two sides of the hand, and to have nice, bulky muscle tone in the mass that makes up the base of the thumb and the side of the pinkie finger. These muscle groups help with dexterity, endurance, coordination, and controlled manipulation of small items and all things fine motor!

Use this Free Play Dough Mat with a City Theme in fine motor play!

Grab a copy of this free playdough mat by entering your email in the form below. You will receive the printable play dough mat in your email where you can download it and use it over and over again in your therapy toolbox. You'll also receive a couple of emails over the next week or so that provide resources and tools for increasing hand strength with play dough, along with all of the other free play dough mats we've shared here on the site. You'll definitely want to get in on this email action!

Want to strengthen the muscles in the hand to improve pencil grasp, scissor use, coloring, or fine motor coordination and endurance? 

Grab this FREE printable City Themed play dough mat to help kids strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the hands!

You'll also receive weekly emails that are loaded with resources and tools promoting the healthy development of kids.
    To better serve you, please check all that apply. Are you:

    Want to check out the other play dough mats we've shared recently? They are all designed to promote strengthening of the intrinsics and hand strength in kids! Here's the thing, though...you only need to enter your email into one of these pages listed below. As a subscriber, you get access to all of the free play dough mats. 


    Be sure to grab the city play dough mat and use it for increasing hand strength in fun ways!  
    Use this city theme play dough mat to work on hand strength and increasing the hand strength needed for fine motor skills.
    Thank you for downloading our City Play Dough Mat! You should have an email in your inbox right now with a link to download the file. 

    Did you find this page accidentally and want to get your free copy of our city themed playdough mat? Go to our city play dough mat page to get your free city play dough mat!

    The email also includes some instructions and the "why" behind play dough mats like this one. There is a lot of development going on when a little one uses a play dough mat like the one you just accessed! Scroll below to to find some additional instructions to best use the play dough mat to increase hand strength of the intrinsic muscles of the hands.

    General Housekeeping Information on your Free Printable:

    If you do not see the email right away, check back within 30 minutes. Be sure to check your SPAM folder.  Other subscribers using an email hosted on a school system's email provider may have security restrictions in place that block the email. If you still don't see the email, shoot me a message at contact@theottoolbox.com and I will send the file to you directly.

    If you arrived here by accident and would like to receive a free city themed play dough mat to improve hand strength, check out this post that shares information on the City Themed Play Dough Mat.


    Play Dough Mats Can Be Used to Improve Fine Motor Skills

    Kids love play dough! This city play dough mat is a fun way to build so many small muscles of the hand with this activity! Follow the directions below to maximize intrinsic muscle strengthening. Start with play dough of any kind and the printable playdough mat.

    Rolling play dough within one hand promotes development of a variety of areas: 

    Strengthens the arches of the hands, helps awareness and coordination in separation of the two sides of the hand

    Promotes finger isolation for improved control and dexterity

    Encourages dexterity and coordination of the thumb and index finger which are important in pencil grasp

    Strengthens the intrinsic muscles for improved endurance in fine motor tasks such as maintaining hold on a pencil, manipulating clothing fasteners, managing and using scissors, coloring, and many other tasks.



    Looking for more play dough activities to boost fine motor strengthening?



    Play Dough Farm Activity | Play Dough Activity Color Match  | Play Dough Cupcakes
    Upper extremity hand strength isn't just about strong hands! Kids need upper extremity strength for tasks such as handwriting, coloring, managing clothing fasteners, and more! The thing is, upper extremity strengthening begins at a very young age. In fact, activities for toddlers can be loaded with the strengthening and dexterity activities that strengthen the upper extremities for improved endurance and coordination down the road. All of these components work together fluidly for strong upper extremities. Check out the upper extremity activities for toddlers to find out how and where to begin with upper extremity strength!  This article was written by The OT Toolbox contributor author, Christina Komaniecki, OTR.

    Upper extremity activities for toddlers


    Working on upper extremity strength is a key factor in being able to have the endurance for handwriting. Working on the shoulder muscle strength and flexibility will help to improve the coordination needed for drawing and handwriting. 


    These upper extremity activities for toddlers will help improve the strength and stability needed for endurance and coordination in handwriting and other tasks.


    Importance of upper extremity activities for strength


    Why is this important? If a child does not have adequate shoulder strength and core body strength it will be difficult for them to have controlled hand movements. You may notice that when handwriting or coloring that they position their shoulder abducted and wrist will be flexed instead of in extension.  Build muscle strength proximal to distal because if you don’t have strength in your shoulders, back, traps etc. then your distal function (example handwriting) will not be as controlled.

     Below are two easy activities that can be done at school, in a clinic or at home with a child to address upper extremity strength. Also try these activities to promote wrist extension.

    Use these arm and hand strength activities for toddlers to improve upper body strength for better coordination and endurance in handwriting and other fine motor activities for toddlers.

    Upper extremity strength activities for toddlers


    These are upper extremity activities for toddlers and kids who would benefit from strength and endurance in the upper body.

    Gravity Resistive Sticker Activity


    Have the child lay on the ground under a table. I will usually place a pillow or blanket to make it more comfortable. Tape a large piece of paper under the table and have the child, while laying on their back, place stickers on the paper.

    I have drawn circles for the child to place stickers in or had a background theme. For example, a nature background and use stickers such as birds, trees, etc. The other activity I have done is had the child place stickers randomly all over the paper and then then have to use a marker to circle the shapes. Works great if you are working on a child’s pre-writing skills. They could also put a square, triangle or make an X on the shapes.

    Crayon Rubbing on a Vertical Surface

    I remember when I was younger I really enjoyed taking coins, placing paper over them and then using a crayon to rub the print onto the paper. I also did this with leaves in the fall. How exciting to see the print come out on the paper! One fun way to keep a child engaged with this great upper extremity activity for toddlers, is to tape crayon rubbing plates on the wall, place a large sheet of paper over them and then give the child crayons to rub the paper until they see the print.

    Use wall crayon rubbings to help kids strengthen the upper extremities in this upper extremity activity for toddlers.



    Having a child color on a vertical surface is a great activity in itself for shoulder stability and flexibility and it puts the wrist in extension which helps encourage a better pencil/crayon grasp. 
    I have used crayon rubbing plates with animal pictures on them and  girls love to color the fashion plates. To keep the child engaged I won’t let the child see what plates I am using. That way they continue to color on the vertical surface to see what pictures they get.

    This activity also works on teaching children how to apply more pressure when writing/coloring, as you need to press hard to have the print come through and softer if the print is blurred because of how hard the child pushed on the crayon.

    Looking for more upper extremity activities for toddlers? 

    This crayon rubbing activity uses sight words to work on strength and pressure in handwriting.

    Want some other fun ideas to work on a vertical surface? Check out learning ideas on windows and glass doors!


    Stickers are an awesome fine motor tool. Here are 10 ways to use stickers to help with fine motor skills.

    Read more about the many benefits of coloring with crayons.

    Read more about working on a resistive surface to build strength and stability.


    Another great under the table activity is beading! Use resistance and gravity to strengthen and boost skills by beading under a table.


    About Christina:
    Christina Komaniecki is a school based Occupational Therapist. I graduated from Governors State University with a master’s in occupational therapy.   I have been working in the pediatric setting for almost 6 years and have worked in early intervention, outpatient pediatrics, inpatient pediatrics, day rehab, private clinic and schools. My passion is working with children and I love to see them learn new things and grow. I love my two little girls, family, yoga and going on long walks.







    Visual problems can surface in many ways. Visual processing challenges present as difficulty in reading, handwriting, sports, navigating a hallway, or many other areas. Sometimes, the issue is a result of visual tracking challenges. Read on to find out exactly what is visual tracking and what an eye tracking problem looks like in kids, including common visual tracking difficulties that present in the classroom or during academic work. We've shared a few visual tracking tips and soon on the site, we'll share a collection of visual tracking activities, too.

    Meet Kaylee!



    Kaylee Goodrich, OTR/L is originally from Upstate N.Y., but now lives in Texas, and is the Lead OTR in a pediatric clinic. She has a bachelors in Health Science from Syracuse University at Utica College, and a Masters in Occupational Therapy from Utica College. Kaylee has been working with children with special needs for 8 years, and practicing occupational therapy for 4 years. Kaylee practices primarily in a private clinic, but has experience with Medicaid and home health settings also. Feeding is a skill that Kaylee has learned by default in her current position and has come to love and be knowledgeable in. Visual development and motor integration is another area of practice that Kaylee frequently addresses and sees with her current population.

    Contributor Posts By Kaylee Goodrich on The OT Toolbox:
    Pediatric Feeding: Is it Sensory, Oral Motor, or Both?
    Development of Oral Motor Skills

    Disclaimer Statement: 
    Kaylee Goodrich is a registered occupational therapist, but is in no way representing herself as an evaluating or treating occupational therapist in the publication of any post. The information, ideas or activities presented here are not intended to provide medical advice or physician/therapist instruction nor should they be used as a substitute for occupational therapy or other medical services. The information, activities, and ideas do not replace any relationship with a child and their therapist nor do they provide one to one treatment or consultation for a child with an established plan of care based on an assessment. Consult with a qualified occupational therapist if you have questions regarding the information or ideas presented or how to implement them with a child. If concerned about your child’s development, consult your child’s physician or a licensed occupational therapist regarding specific concerns or other medical advice. Any information, ideas or activities presented here are designed for complete adult supervision. Never leave a child unattended during implementation of any ideas or activities. Always follow and be aware of any age recommendations when using all of the products contained in any activities or ideas. The adult implementing and preparing the ideas or activities is ultimately responsible for using their best judgement when choosing and providing activities to best meet a child’s skill and safety level. Do not provide objects or materials that would pose as a choking hazard to a child. Kaylee Goodrich and The OT Toolbox are not liable for any impairment, damage, accident or loss arising out of the use or misuse of the information, ideas, and activities suggested in the publication of any post.


    Pencil grasp is a tricky thing! You can remind kids over and over, try all of the pencil grasp tricks and tips, but if a child struggles with fine motor skills, they revert right back to the inefficient and non functional pencil grasp. This is especially true in handwriting problems when kids are rushing to write or holding their pencil inefficiently, and legibility suffers. The easy pencil grasp trick described below is one that provides a frugal option for ensuring a functional pencil grasp and one that plays into the dexterity needed for letter formation and handwriting. Looking for more information on pencil grasp and fun ways to work on pencil grip?  Try these activities designed to boost pencil grasp in creative ways. 


    Kids can hold a clothespin clipped onto a pencil to help with pencil grasp and fine motor skills needed for improving handwriting and pencil grasp with this easy pencil grasp trick.

    One of the skills kids need for handwriting is pencil grasp. 

    Easy Pencil Grasp Trick...that costs pennies

    For this pencil grasp trick, you'll need to understand why it works. 

    The issue with many kids who hold a pencil with an inefficient grasp is the dexterity and limited motion that results. They are holding the pencil with their fingers wrapped in such a way that they can't hold a pencil with dexterity. They lack pencil control needed for efficient handwriting speed. Letter formation suffers and legibility lacks. When a child moves ahead in grade level or age and are required to write more quickly, they can't keep up with written work requirements and legibility suffers. They then can't read their class notes, handwritten work, homework lists, etc. 

    Try these pencil control exercises for more fun ways to work on dexterity and pencil movement in letter formation.

    So why does this clothespin pencil grasp trick work?!

    For the child who can't maintain a proper pencil grasp because of inefficient separation of the sides of the hand, this easy pencil grasp trick can be just the way to ensure the stability side of the hand is separated motorically from the precision side of the hand. Read more about motoric separation of the sides of the hand and what that looks like in fine motor work (such as holding and writing with a pencil).

    When kids hold the pencil with the clothespin "bar", it provides a physical prompt that allows them to flex or close their pinkie finger and ring finger around the support of the clothespin. This allows the stability side of the hand, or the ulnar side, to provide support in writing.

    The radial side of the hand, or the precision side, is then able to work independently of the other two fingers. This means the middle finger, ring finger, and thumb are free to manually move the pencil with precision. The precision side which primarily consist of the thumb and pointer finger movements in a tripod grasp can move the pencil with control and dexterity as the middle finger supports the pencil. 

    For the modified tripod grasp, the middle finger can be a helper digit where it is positioned on the pencil shaft and a worker in moving the pencil with control. 

    Both the tripod grasp and the modified tripod grasp are efficient pencil grasps. The primary concern is that the ulnar side is separate and supportive, allowing for endurance and dexterity in written work. 

    Here is a fine motor activity that can be used to build and develop the separation of the sides of the hand.

    Clip a clothespin onto a pencil to help kids with pencil grasp as a physical cue for better grip on the pencil when writing.

    Clothespin Pencil Grip

    Affiliate links are included below.

    For this pencil grip trick, you'll need just a single clothespin. The clothes pin can be the standard wooden variety or a colorful plastic type. Why not make it a project and decorate the clothespins as a group to add a bit of fine motor play? Check out these fun clothespins we decorated and used as a spacing tool to teach spacing between words when writing

    Some great clothes pins can be found here: 
    Wooden clothespin, perfect for decorating and customizing
    Plastic, colored clothes pin (A great price for 100 plastic clothespins!)

    I can't think of a student that would like to make this writing tool their own with some glitter paint, fun washi tape, adhesive gems, or stickers.


    Try this pencil grasp trick that uses a clothespin to help kids with pencil grasp for better handwriting.

    Looking for more ways to improve pencil grasp? Start here:


     Pencil Grasp Activity Pencil Grasp Exercise Thumb opposition activity
       
    Wondering about oral motor skills development or where to start with oral motor therapy? Below you will find information related to the development of oral motor skills. This oral motor development information can be used to guide oral motor exercises and oral motor skills for feeding. This article was written by The OT Toolbox contributor author, Kaylee Goodrich, OTR.

    Use this guide on development of oral motor skills to address oral motor skill therapy and as a guideline to develop oral motor exercises in oral motor therapy.

    Development of Oral Motor Skills


    Oral motor skills are the finest of the fine motor skills we develop as human beings. It begins in the womb, and is fully developed and established by 3 years of age. Like many other skills we learn, oral motor development is supported by primitive reflexes, postural control and other physiological milestones developing in synchrony. When the synchrony is broken, problems arise.

    Oral Motor Skills: Where it all Begins


    Oral motor skills start in the womb with the development of primitive reflexes that support feeding at full term. It is important to note that these reflexes develop in the 3rd trimester between the 28th week and the 37th week gestation. When working with a pre-term baby, these reflexes have not developed and successful feeding will require higher levels of support from an outside source.

    Reflexes Established by Term:

    * Gag reflex
    * Rooting reflex
    * Transverse Tongue Reflex
    * Non-nutritive sucking
    * Nutritive sucking
    * Coordinated suck/swallow/breath
    * Swallow reflex
    * Phasic bite reflex
    * Palmomental reflex
    * Sucking patterns are non-volitional

    A full term infant is ready to breast or bottle feed with the above supports in place.

    Oral Motor Skills Birth to 3 Months of Age


    As reflexes begin to integrate, feeding becomes more and more voluntary, and less of a non-voluntary response to stimuli from the breast or bottle. This occurs in a full term infant around 6 weeks of age. This is important to note, as unsuccessful feeding in the first 6 weeks of life, can set the tone for developing eating patterns throughout life.

    Oral Motor Skills and Feeding at 3 - 7 Months of Age


    By 4 months of age, most infants have gained fair head control and are able to remain in an upright position with support, and parents are beginning to introduce puréed foods. As they have grown, the anatomical structure of their jaws and tongues have dropped forward to support munching patterns. They also may open their mouth when a spoon is presented and are able to manage thin purees with minimal difficulties.

    Oral Motor Pattern 3-7 Months


    * Munching patterns
    * Lateral jaw movement
    * Diagonal jaw movement
    * Lateral tongue movement

    The development of these patterns allow infants to be successful with thin and thick purees, meltables and soft foods such as banana and avocado.

    Oral Motor Skills and Feeding at 7-9 Months of Age


    Between 7 and 9 months of age, infants are now moving into unsupported sitting, quadroped and crawling. This development supports jaw stability, breath support and fine motor development for self feeding skills. Infants at this age now begin to be able to successfully manage “lumpy” purees, bite and munch meltables and softer foods with assistance and the development of rotary chewing begins.

    Oral Motor Patterns 7-9 Months of Age


    * Lip closure
    * Scraping food off spoon with upper lip
    * Emerging tongue lateralization
    * Movement of food from side to side

    The above skills are clearly noted during the 7-9 month age range. If these skills are missing, eating a larger variety of textures will become difficult.

    Rotary Chewing

    Rotary chewing is broken into stages. The first stage being diagonal rotary chewing, and the second being circular rotary chewing.

    Diagonal Rotary Chew

    Diagonal rotary chewing is when the jaw moves across the midline in a diagonal pattern and comes back. This type of chewing often looks like an X from a frontal view.

    Circular Rotary Chew

    As the child develops, a circular rotary pattern emerges. In this pattern, the child’s jaws line up, slide across, jaws line up, and slide across again, looking like a circle from a frontal view.

    Rotary Chewing Supports

    Rotary patterns begin emerging around 10 months of age. The child at this time is also developing dissociation of his head from his body. This supports increased independence with biting pieces of food, lateralization of a bolus across the midline, and decreased spillage from the lateral sides of the mouth.

    Oral Motor Skills at 12-15 Months of Age

    By 12 months of age, the child has developed the oral motor basics to support feeding. As time goes on, the child will practice these skills resulting in less messy eating and the ability to handle more challenging foods. At this age, a child is able to manage foods with juice, and chew and swallow firmer foods such as cheese, soft fruits, vegetables, pasta and some meats.

    Oral Motor Skills at 16-36 Months of Age

    Between 16 and 36 months of age, the child continues to develop their jaw strength, management of a bolus, chewing with a closed mouth, sweeping of small pieces of food into a bolus, and chewing ‘harder’ textured foods such as raw vegetables and meat. A full circular rotary chew should also be developed at this time to support eating all varieties of foods.

    Impact of Delayed Oral Motor Skills

    Oral motor skills play a large role in a child being a successful eater and having a positive experience with food. When a skill is missing, feeding becomes difficult and stressful for everyone involved. By assessing where the delay in skill is, new skills can be developed successfully, leading to an efficient eater.

    Read here about oral motor skills and the sensory components that play into picky eating and problematic feeding.

    Looking for more information on oral motor problems? You'll love these oral motor skill resources: 

       





    Oral motor skill development in kids and how development of oral motor skills translates to feeding problems

    We've had an intrinsic hand strengthening play dough mat on the website for a long time. It's been one of our biggest free downloads ever since it was uploaded! There is a reason why: Kids need to strengthen fine motor skills, badly! It seems like there are more and more students who struggle with the necessary fine motor skills needed for a functional pencil grasp and other skills. They need hand strength!

    This blog post by contributor author Regina Parsons-Allen describes a cute dragonfly-themed craft that can be used to address a variety of occupational therapy activity areas including: fine motor skills, visual motor skills, crossing midline, bilateral coordination, dexterity, and more. 

    Looking for a creative and crafty occupational therapy activity that is easy to prepare and packs big punch in addressing a variety of skills?  This dragonfly occupational therapy activity and craft creation may be just what you need!  It’s fun, versatile, easy to implement, and addresses a large variety of skills and multiple skill levels while also being cheap!!  It's a great activity that can be easily upgraded or downgraded to provide the “just right” challenge. While this dragonfly craft is perfect for the pediatric and school-based occupational therapy practitioner, but would make a great classroom center or take home activity too.


    Create dragonfly crafts to work on occupational therapy goals with this occupational therapy activity that kids will love, using a dragonfly theme.



    These dragonfly crafts are so versatile they could be used as a simple occupational therapy craft activity, an assembly activity, a game-like activity, or any combination.  Take a look at all of the crafty fun that can be had with these fun flying creations.





    Kids will love this dragonfly craft occupational therapy activity that works on skills like fine motor skills and visual motor skills.






    Dragonfly Craft - A Fun Occupational Therapy Activity

    Using the dragonfly as a take home occupational therapy craft encourages skill development during the making process with the end product being used for play or display.  

    The child could make one dragonfly or a group of dragonflies with the focus of the activity being on coloring and cutting which addresses a child’s fine motor coordination, manipulation and grasp, distal control, bilateral coordination and visual motor skills
      
    This cute dragonfly craft uses clothes pins and a variety of craft materials to work on skills like bilateral coordination, visual motor skills, and fine motor skills in this creative occupational therapy activity.

    How to make a dragonfly craft: 

    Affiliate links are included below:

    Color the clothespins with either a marker, crayon, or a colored pencil working on grasp patterns and distal control.

          Use tacky glue to glue on the googly eyes working on precision skills.

    Cut the wings from selected tactile material working on scissor skills, including scissor grasp, bilateral coordination, and eye-hand coordination.

    Possible materials that can be used for dragonfly designs could include felt, sandpaper, sticky sticks, chenille stems, paper straws, plastic straws, foam, Velcro, craft sticks, and plastic canvas.

    Place the wings that are cut into an X pattern and pinch the clothespin to insert the wings. This process addresses fine motor strength, manipulation, pinch, and visual perceptual skills.


    Use craft materials like pipe cleaners, craft sticks, wikki sticks, straws, and other materials in this dragonfly occupational therapy craft for kids.


    Dragonfly Occupational Therapy Activity- Assembly Activity

    To use the dragonflies as an assembly activity requires the dragonfly materials to be prepared prior to the session. 

    The therapist pre-assembles the clothespins, having the googly eyes glued on and the wing materials are already cut. 

    Having these pieces ready prior to the session allows the focus of the session to be on targeted skill development directed by the therapist addressing individual goals. 

    Activity focus areas might include fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, tactile tolerance, isolated or intersecting diagonal line practice, visual scanning, motor planning and problem solving.


    Work on fine motor skills and other occupational therapy goals with these cute dragonflies made from clothespins.


    To set up the dragonfly craft as an occupational therapy assembly activity:

    ·     1. Place the wing materials scattered on the tabletop and have the child visually scan the table top for matching pieces.

    ·    2. Have the child take the matches and create an X pattern for wing assembly.

    ·    3. Have the child pinch clothespins open to insert the wings.

    ·    4. Continue this process until all dragonflies are assembled with matching wings.


    Dragonfly occupational therapy activity that kids can make.

    Dragonfly occupational therapy activity that kids can make.

    Dragonfly Occupational Therapy Activity or Game 


    To use the dragonflies for fun game-like activities, the dragonfly materials would be prepared prior to the session with one set of wing materials inside of a bag.

    ·       Game 1: Have the child reach into the bag, feel for only one wing, pull it out and locate its match on the table top for dragonfly assembly.

    ·       Game 2: Have child reach into the bag and feel the texture of one wing inside of the bag and while keeping their hand in of the bag, use their other hand to locate its match on the table top and assemble the dragonfly.

    Activity focus areas might include the same as simple assembly, but with this game-like approach tactile perception is more actively targeted.


    Use this dragonfly craft to work on occupational therapy goals like handwriting with this occupational therapy activity idea.

    Dragonfly Occupational Therapy Handwriting Activity

    A bonus would be to couple this activity with some handwriting practice. Take a look below at how easy it is to toss in some quick handwriting work.


    Use this dragonfly craft to work on occupational therapy goals like handwriting with this occupational therapy activity idea.

    Dragonfly designs is a fun, cheap summertime activity that is easy to implement during therapy sessions and packs a big therapeutic punch.  What therapist doesn’t enjoy those elements for a therapy activity?   


    This post was written by Regina Allen. Read about Regina in her Contributor Author Spotlight.
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