The OT Toolbox

Christmas Sensory Activities

Whew, what a week this has been! We've been talking all about Christmas Activities for Kids here on The OT Toolbox and today ends the week of Christmas activities in this series. We've talked about all the ways to make this holiday season special while working on underlying skill areas and incorporating occupational therapy goals. Today, it's all about Christmas Sensory Activities that can be used in the classroom, clinic, or home programs over the holiday break. 

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Impulse Control in Kids...Do you know a child who risks their safety by running across a busy street without looking...The child that impulsively hits, bits, or kicks others...The child in the classroom who is distracted to the point that they can't focus or stay on task with classroom assignments...The child that blurts out answers or constantly interrupts...The child who lacks age-appropriate impulse control and is constantly not paying attention...

Do any of these kids sound familiar? 

Impulse control, or inhibition, refers to the ability to stop and think before acting. While impulse control can difficult for kids and adults of all ages (Hello cupcake sitting in the kitchen!), the inability to utilize critical thinking to consider consequences and use cognitive flexibility along with other executive functioning skills can be detrimental. 

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    As a mom with young kids, I love to help out in the school holiday parties whenever I can. Some parties it works out with schedules and the classroom needs and other times it doesn't. When I CAN make it to a holiday party, I love to put on my "therapy hat" and make the games movement-based, promoting development, and fun, all with a holiday theme.

    That's why I was super excited to share a collection of Christmas party games for kids. These holiday party games are perfect for promoting development, play, and movement with a Christmas theme. Use these kids' Christmas games for classroom parties, kid-friendly family parties, or even as a break from holiday shopping or while waiting at a restaurant. Each of these games are great for promoting the skills kids need while providing sensory input, visual motor skills, coordination, balance, and more.

    This post is part of this week's Christmas Activities for Kids series here on The OT Toolbox. Each day this week, we're rounding up fun and creative ways to play and support development in kids with a Christmas theme. If you missed any of the posts this week, be sure to check them out on the main Christmas Activities For Kids page.


    Christmas party games for kids that help with areas of development through movement and play, perfect for kids Christmas parties, holiday parties,indoor recess, or occupational therapy activities during the Christmas season..



    Christmas Party Games for Kids


    Are the kids ready for some holiday celebrations? Here are party games that pack a therapist-approved punch!

    Balance and Coordination Christmas Party Games

    First, this list of Christmas Proprioception Activities may be just the thing for a transition activity in the classroom. This time of year especially, the regular routines can be off and holiday excitement is on a high level. A movement activity can be a great transition activity.

    Christmas Twister- You'll need a Twister game for this party game. You could also create a Twister board on the floor using masking tape. On the Twister game mat, tape squares of paper. On each piece of paper, write Christmas-themed words. Each color should have the same Christmas themed word. Then, they can put their right hand on "gift" or left leg on "reindeer", etc.

    Santa Says- Put a spin on Simon Says with a Santa hat and even a beard! Kids can move, listen, and balance with this fun Christmas party game!
    Santa Toss- Use our Santa Snack Cups to play a game of toss. Kids can either toss cotton balls or ping pong balls into the cups or play a game of catch as they try to toss a ping pong ball from one cup to a partner's cup.

    Gift Push- Load cardboard boxes with heavy objects like books.  Ask the child to push the boxes across a room.  For less resistance, do this activity on a carpeted floor.  For more heavy work, do this activity outside on the driveway or sidewalk. This can be a relay race where teams of students transport gifts across a room. The students can wear Santa hats as they push "sleighs" across a space.


    Reindeer Kick- Promote calming proprioceptive input through the upper body with wheelbarrow race type movements. Kids can also stand on their arms and legs in a quadruped position and kick their legs up. Try other animal walk types of movements with races with a group of students or children.


    Here are a few more reindeer themed party games with ideas like Pin the Nose on Rudolph and Pass the Stocking (a great game for classroom parties!)


    Christmas party games for kids that help with areas of development through movement and play, perfect for kids Christmas parties, holiday parties,indoor recess, or occupational therapy activities during the Christmas season..

    Eye-Hand Coordination Christmas Games

    Below are some active games promoting eye-hand coordination. These are great for the classroom or for a kid-friendly holiday party:



    Mitten Toss- Fill a plastic sandwich bag with dry beans and tape to secure. Push the filled bag into a mitten.   Use the mitten as a DIY bean bag in tossing target games. Or, make regular bean bags into snowflake beanbags. They can be used to toss into a bucket or bin. 

    Bean Bag Relay Race- This is a great relay game for a large group of students. Split the group into teams. Each team should stand in a line. The beanbags can be in a bucket in front of the first person in each line. The first student can pass the bean bag between their legs to the person behind them. That person can pass the bean bag to the student behind them by handing it over their head. Each team can race to pass all of the bean bags over and under the heads and legs of each member in the lines. The first team to get all of their beanbags to the end of the line wins.


    Snowball Toss- Use a ping pong ball or soft craft pom pom in a tossing game. Use these homemade Santa Cups as targets. Making the cups is half of the fun!


    Christmas Cookie Relay- Make these EASY no-sew felt cookies and use them in a relay race with friends. Teams can race to move all of the cookies on a cookie tray to plates on the other side of the room by using a spatula to carry ONE cookie at a time from the cookie sheet to the plates. The first team to finish is the winner!


    Sensory Christmas Party Games

    Jingle bell activities for fine motor skills and Christmas parties for kids, these bell activities are great for fine motor skills!

    Jingle Bell Shake- Every child puts their head down or covers their eyes. One child moves around the room and shakes jingle bells. Other students need to listen to where the child moves. Then, the child stops shaking the jingle bells and continues to move silently. They can hide somewhere in the room. Then the other students need to race to where they think the child is hiding. Ask students to hold jingle bells by the small loop to promote fine motor skills, too!

    Christmas Gift Wrap- Wrap a gift with many layers of wrapping paper. Two kids can put on oven mitts and race to open a gift.  The first one to open the gift wins. To play with a group of students, use a timer and have the kids attempt to open the gifts for 10 seconds, and then pass the oven mitts to the next player when the buzzer sounds.

    Stocking Guess- Fill a stocking with many small items. A child should reach into the stocking and feel an object. They can guess what the object is by touch. Try to guess all of the objects in the stocking. Use items like small ornaments, mini candy canes, miniature Christmas trees and other items.


    Visual Perception Christmas Party Games

    Christmas party games for kids that help with areas of development through movement and play, perfect for kids Christmas parties, holiday parties,indoor recess, or occupational therapy activities during the Christmas season..

    DIY "I Spy" Christmas Game- We played this DIY I Spy game with real toys in the past. For this Christmas party game, you will first need to gather various small items and Christmas themed toys. Items may include: candy canes, small stocking, bells, berries, pine twigs, figures, and ornaments of various colors. Spread all of the items on a table. Kids can play "I Spy" by visually scanning for a particular item described by its color or shape.


    Christmas party games for kids that help with areas of development through movement and play, perfect for kids Christmas parties, holiday parties,indoor recess, or occupational therapy activities during the Christmas season..

    What's Missing- Use those same Christmas themed items in a "what's missing" game that works on visual scanning, visual memory, figure ground, visual discrimination and other visual perceptual skill games. Show the student all of the items and then cover them with a stocking or Santa hat. Take away one of the items. Then reveal the items and see if the child can recall the "visual picture" they saw before to identify the missing item(s).


    Christmas party games for kids that help with areas of development through movement and play, perfect for kids Christmas parties, holiday parties,indoor recess, or occupational therapy activities during the Christmas season..

    In the weeks leading up to Christmas, so many of us occupational therapists, teachers, and parents are looking for fun and easy holiday activities for preschoolers. You've probably seen the Christmas excitement as kids get amped up for Santa, Christmas trees, candy canes, presents, and the upcoming holiday!  

    Why not mix therapy and learning with a Christmas theme and build on that excitement?

    With the Christmas activities for preschoolers listed below, you'll be able to add some learning or therapy work into holiday activities, all while getting into the Christmas spirit in the preschool classroom!

    This collection of preschool activities with a Christmas theme is part of this week's Christmas Activities week here on The OT Toolbox. Each day this week, we're rounding up collections of holiday themed activities, crafts, games, and ideas to fill your therapy toolbox. 

    If you missed the previous collections this week, check out Monday's post on Christmas Activities for Toddlers and Tuesday's Christmas Crafts for Kids.

    Be sure to stop back each day this week to catch all of the holiday fun! 


    These Christmas Activites for Preschoolers are perfect for adding festive holiday fun in the preschool classroom or at home to help preschoolers work on skills like fine motor skills and other areas of development.



    Christmas Activities for Preschoolers

    Now on to today's collection of activities that preschoolers will love all while working on the skills your kids need!


    Use this icicle scissor skills craft to help preschoolers work on scissor skills in a fun Christmas activity that preschool aged kids will love!


    Work on Scissor Skills- Preschoolers are just getting the hang of managing scissors in one hand and the paper in another, all while snipping along a line. This Icicle Scissor Skills Craft is perfect for the preschool age range. It's got simple lines that can be adjusted in width to meet the child's needs and can be a huge help in teaching preschoolers to manage and turn paper to cut angles. Then, hang those icicles in the window and your preschooler will feel so proud of their work! 


    Use this threading activity to help preschool kids work on fine motor skills in a fun Christmas activity that preschoolers will love.

    Work on Bilateral Coordination- Kids in preschool are just learning to manage clothing, tools, and other tasks that require coordinated movement of both hands with greater precision. Tasks like buttoning and zippering clothing require bilateral coordination with fine motor work. This Recycled Lid Ornament Garland is a power tool in promoting bilateral coordination and refined dexterity in order to thread and create ornaments. This Christmas activity is another that a preschooler will be proud of. Hang the garland on a tree or across a window sill.


    Need Christmas activities for preschoolers? Combine a marble run with jingle bells to promote fine motor skills and visual processing skills with a Christmas theme.


    Work on Visual Tracking Skills- Visual tracking is a necessary skill for reading and writing. While preschoolers aren't at this stage yet, they soon will be! That makes a marble run a fantastic visual processing tool for building a base n the skills kids need down the road. Add a Christmas twist with jingle bells on the marble run! It's perfect on the floor or in a sensory table and is a fun activity preschoolers will love this season.


    Preschoolers will love this Christmas Tree Activity that helps improve scissor skills.


    Work on Scissor Skills with a Christmas Tree Craft- Just like the icicle craft listed above, this Christmas Tree Scissor Skills Activity is perfect for preschoolers who are developing and refining their scissor skills. Use thicker paper like cardstock (or even green paper plates!) for younger kids who are still learning to work those scissors! You can encourage preschoolers to cut through to the edge instead of turning the paper when first learning to cut angled lines. 

    Use these Christmas activities to help preschoolers work on areas like scissor skills, pre-writing skills, and more.

    Encourage Sensory Play- The preschool age is the perfect time to encourage sensory play with sensory bins. You can use any sensory bin fillers and create a sensory bin based on infinite themes! Here are lots of Christmas Carol Sensory Bin ideas. Use them to promote visual motor skills like scooping and pouring through tactile sensory play. This Away in a Manger Sensory Bin is just one of the ideas.

    This Christmas activity for preschoolers is a fun way to work on fine motor skills.

    Build Shoulder and Wrist Stability on a Vertical Surface- Working on a vertical surface like an easel is a powerful way to strengthen the shoulder and wrist. This Christmas Tree Sensory Activity combines scissor work with fine motor skills and sensory play.

    Promote Hand Strength with a Counting Activity- This Christmas Counting Activity is a DIY activity that uses clothespins and fun Christmas decorations to work on fine motor skills and early math. 

    Work on Pre-Writing Skills- Working on pre-writing lines is a powerful early writing skill for preschoolers. These Christmas Pre-Writing Activities can give preschoolers the tools they need to form letters. Teaching horizontal and vertical lines, crosses, curved lines, diagonal lines, "X"s, and simple shapes can be completed with a Christmas theme to make things fun this time of year. 

    This Christmas craft for preschool kids is easy to make in the preschool classroom and is a fun DIY gift tag or DIY wrapping paper kids can make.

    Work on Direction Following- This Christmas Tree Stamp Art is a process art craft that preschoolers can make as a gift tags or DIY wrapping paper for family! Stamp Christmas trees, while working on fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination to dot on paint decorations with a cotton swab. This stamp art is a hit with kids! 

    Looking for more Christmas activities? Stop back the rest of this week for more holiday ideas that boost development through movement and play.

    Preschool activities with a Christmas theme

    Need Christmas theme activities for preschoolers? Here are a ton of ideas!
    If there is one most of us are short on this time of year, it's time. There is just NO time to search Google for fine motor craft ideas or Christmas crafts to add to the occupational therapy activities in December. That's why I wanted to put together a list of  creative Christmas crafts for kids. These are craft ideas driven by fine motor skill development but also promote skills like hand strength, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, precision of grasp, motor planning, direction following, and creativity. 

    Most of these crafts are process-based but some are not, making them the perfect mix for the therapist looking for crafts that meet the needs of a varied occupational therapy caseload. Use the Christmas craft ideas below to add a holiday theme to your therapy plans this month!

    This post is part of our Christmas Activities for Kids series we've got going on this week. It's all designed to share holiday activities so you don't need to search all over the internet! If you missed yesterday's post, you'll want to check out Christmas Activities for Toddlers to find occupational therapy activities designed for the 2-3 year old age range.


    These are activities, games, and ideas for kids with a Christmas theme that can be used in occupational therapy treatment in the home, school, or clinic!

    If you missed the announcement post on our Christmas Activities for Kids series, you'll want to check it out. We'll have a different Christmas activity theme each day this week!



    Need Christmas craft ideas for this holiday season? These Christmas crafts for kids will keep the kids happy while strengthening fine motor skills, visual motor skills, coordination, and more while working on the skills kids need, all with Christmas crafts!




    Christmas Crafts for Kids

    Bilateral Coordination Bear Craft- This bear craft Christmas ornament helps kids use bilateral coordination and motor planning to wrap twine around a bear, making it a fun craft and a powerful therapy tool too! This Christmas craft goes along with a popular children's book, making it a great craft to share as "occupational therapy homework" over the holiday break!

    Hand Strength Christmas Tree Craft- Use this Christmas Tree Fine Motor Craft activity to develop strength in the hands and more. This activity uses a hole punch to create lights for each Christmas tree. The bonus with this craft is the learning and math component. Add a colorful twist by adding colored tissue paper to the backs of the trees with glue.

    Snowman Fine Motor Craft- Creating this Snowman Fine Motor Craft is a fun way to develop skills like bilateral coordination, pincer grasp and more. This craft is one that builds fine motor strength and precision while creating a fun holiday decoration.

    Fine Motor Christmas Tree Craft- This Fine Motor Christmas Tree Craft addresses many skills needed for development and function. This craft has been very popular here on The OT Toolbox, and for a good reason!  It's a way to recycle egg cartons while working on various skills: bilateral coordination, fine motor strength, precision, eye-hand coordination, visual attention, spatial awareness, arch development, wrist extension and stability, and more.

    In-Hand Manipulation Bottle Cap Christmas Tree- Use recycled bottle caps to make this Bottle Cap Fine Motor Christmas Tree Craft. This fine motor activity can be a holiday decoration that boosts fine motor skills such as precision, in-hand manipulation, tip-to-tip pincer grasp, rotation and dexterity of the fingers needed for in-hand manipulation, and bilateral coordination.

    Process Art Ornament- This Bottle Caps Holly Ornament  is a creative process craft and if you make them with friends or in a classroom setting, there will be no two that look exactly alike. This Christmas craft for kids is a powerhouse for the fine motor development that occurs:  Scissor skills, bilateral coordination, eye hand coordination, and more.

    Tactile Sensory Play Wreath Ornament- This Spaghetti Wreath Ornament is another process art Christmas craft that kids will love. In fact, it's a sensory goldmine and can be used for sensory play along with fine motor work and crafting! 

    Finger Isolation Ornament- This ornament craft is based on the well-known children's book, Little Tree. Read the book and then make the ee cummings Little Tree Christmas Ornament AND sneak in fine motor skills like finger isolation, scissor skills, and so many other skills.

    Scissor Skills Reindeer Craft- Another Christmas craft that is based on a children's book is this Olive the Other Reindeer Ornament that doubles as a scissor skills craft. Wouldn't it be fun to make a whole Christmas tree full of ornaments made in therapy sessions?

    Precision Christmas Tree Suncatcher Craft- Need a Christmas craft that helps with precision and dexterity? This Christmas Tree Sun Catcher Craft will make the windows look festive!

    Holiday Crafts without a Christmas Theme- To switch things up, here are several Winter Bird Crafts that boost fine motor skills and can be done this month or all winter long.

    Kid-Made Christmas Ornament Crafts- Looking for ornaments the kids can make? This collection of ideas has something for everyone. It's a great way for kids to make a holiday gift for their family while working on fine motor skills and other occupational therapy goals.

    Hand Strengthening Christmas Card Craft- This Homemade Christmas Card for kids is a fun Christmas card kids can make for family or friends. It provides an opportunity for hand strengthening with the hole punch Christmas tree. Sneak some handwriting practice in, too!

    Tripod Grasp Christmas Tree- Kids will love this Pattern Christmas Tree Craft because they can make it as sparkly as they like! Encourage a little math and visual motor work with patterns on the Christmas tree while promoting a tripod grasp. 

    Need more Christmas ideas? These Christmas Activities for Preschoolers are a big hit, too!


    Need Christmas craft ideas for this holiday season? These Christmas crafts for kids will keep the kids happy while strengthening fine motor skills, visual motor skills, coordination, and more while working on the skills kids need, all with Christmas crafts!

    More Christmas Activities for Kids


    Working on handwriting with kids this Christmas season? Grab your copy of the Christmas Modified Handwriting Packet. It's got three types of adapted paper that kids can use to write letters to Santa, Thank You notes, holiday bucket lists and much more...all while working on handwriting skills in a motivating and fun way! Read more about the adapted Christmas Paper here. 



    Need Christmas craft ideas for this holiday season? These Christmas crafts for kids will keep the kids happy while strengthening fine motor skills, visual motor skills, coordination, and more while working on the skills kids need, all with Christmas crafts!


    Need a few Christmas Activities for Toddlers? This time of year, there is just not enough time to search for activities that the kids will love. Today we're sharing Christmas activities for toddlers that help to promote the underlying skills that kids need as they get older. The best part is, they are here and all in one place for you!

    The toddler years is a busy time as kiddos are learning, moving, and are on the go! The Toddler stage of development is a critical one as kids are developing the underlying fine motor and gross motor experiences skills they need down the road for tasks like pencil grasp, handwriting, coordination, and gross motor tasks. These are Christmas activities that 2 and 3 year olds will love!

    Use the Christmas Activities for toddlers below to create motor experiences for toddlers, all with a Christmas theme!

    This post is part of our Christmas Activities week here on The OT Toolbox. You'll want to catch all of the updates here on the site this week as we are sharing tons of therapist-approved Occupational Therapy Christmas Activities for Kids

    These are activities, games, and ideas for kids with a Christmas theme that can be used in occupational therapy treatment in the home, school, or clinic!

    Looking for Christmas ideas for older kids? This series has a collection of Christmas Activities for Preschoolers too!

    If you missed the announcement post on our Christmas Activities for Kids series, you'll want to check it out. We'll have a different theme each day this week!

    Use these Christmas activities for toddlers to promote fine motor skills, gross motor skills, bilateral coordination, crossing midline, and other skills that toddlers learn through play!


    Christmas Activities for Toddlers

    Jingle Bell Sort- Toddlers will love this Christmas Jingle Bell Sort activity and won't even realize they are building skills they need for development. This activity can be used all season long to help kids develop in-hand manipulation and separation of the two sides of the hands as kids sort colored jingle bells.

    Christmas Discovery Bottle- A sensory bottle is great for toddlers. It's a tool that can help them as they discover how their hands move to shake a bottle to make noises from the filler. What an experience in cause and effect! This Christmas Discover Bottle uses gree split peas and holiday themed foam shapes. 

    Christmas Sensory Bin- Something as simple as throwing cookie cutters, ribbons, and bows into a low bin can be a great discovery sensory bin that is perfect for Toddlers. This Christmas Sensory Bin is an activity that requires close supervision (like all of the activities listed here). Toddlers can explore different items while moving items, sorting, experiencing different textures. 

    Christmas Water Play- Freeze a few holiday shaped ice cubes, toss them into water, and add some scoops and spoons. Toddlers can work on scooping, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, and other skills, all with a simple set-up activity that Toddlers will love. We used Christmas shaped ice cube trays but any ice cubes would work. Here is more information on scooping ice as a fine motor activities for toddlers.

    Easel Art- Working on a vertical surface is a great way to strengthen promote balance, coordination, and bilateral coordination. In this easel art activity, we used red, white, and blue paper scraps, but it could easily be re-created with green and red Christmas colors!

    Fine Motor Activity for Toddlers- Work on fine motor skills with toddlers by using red and green crafting pom poms and a recycled plastic bottle to promote development of the fine motor skills kids need down the road for fastening clothing fasteners, coloring, and writing with a pencil.

    Fine Motor Pipe Cleaner Activity for Toddlers- Use that recycled plastic bottle again to work on even more fine motor skills in toddlers by using red and green pipe cleaners. Add a handful of jingle bells to create a sensory bottle that is as much fun to create as it is to play with.

    Sorting ornaments and playing with ornaments is a toddler activity that can help small kids with fine motor skills and other areas in play!

    Ornament Explore- Toss a handful of plastic or shatter proof ornaments into a basket for a toddler-safe exploration play. This is a great way for little ones to explore textures, promote bilateral coordination, visual motor skills, crossing midline, and other skills, all in a safe way!


    Empty Box Fine Motor Activity- Wrap an empty box with wrapping paper. Using a screwdriver, poke holes in the box. Then, show your toddler how to push pipe cleaners into the holes. Using pipe cleaners for fine motor was a HUGE hit when I had toddlers in my house. It's a great activity for developing precision, coordination, crossing midline, bilateral coordination, grasp development, and more!

    Sensory Light Box- This time of year, it seems like there are cardboard boxes arriving at the house every day. Use an empty cardboard box to make a sensory light tunnel. All you need is a big box, and a strand of Christmas lights to create a sensory calm down zone and Toddler play space.

    Don't forget to stop back tomorrow for more occupational therapy Christmas ideas. You can also catch all of the Christmas Activities for kids here.

    Christmas activities for toddlers make fun activities and Christmas play ideas that help toddlers learn through play in the activities that they can use to promote fine motor skills and other skills.
    Free Impulse Control Mini-Course
    Free Impulse Control Mini-Course

    Impulse Control in Kids...Do you know a child who risks their safety by running across a busy street without looking...The child that impulsively hits, bits, or kicks others...The child in the classroom who is distracted to the point that they can't focus or stay on task with classroom assignme…
    Christmas Party Games for Kids
    Christmas Party Games for Kids

    As a mom with young kids, I love to help out in the school holiday parties whenever I can. Some parties it works out with schedules and the classroom needs and other times it doesn't. When I CAN make it to a holiday party, I love to put on my "therapy hat" and make the games movement-…
    Christmas Activities for Preschoolers
    Christmas Activities for Preschoolers

    In the weeks leading up to Christmas, so many of us occupational therapists, teachers, and parents are looking for fun and easy holiday activities for preschoolers. You've probably seen the Christmas excitement as kids get amped up for Santa, Christmas trees, candy canes, presents, and the upco…
    Christmas Crafts for Kids
    Christmas Crafts for Kids

    If there is one most of us are short on this time of year, it's time. There is just NO time to search Google for fine motor craft ideas or Christmas crafts to add to the occupational therapy activities in December. That's why I wanted to put together a list of  creative Christmas crafts for…
    Christmas Activities for Toddlers
    Christmas Activities for Toddlers

    Need a few Christmas Activities for Toddlers? This time of year, there is just not enough time to search for activities that the kids will love. Today we're sharing Christmas activities for toddlers that help to promote the underlying skills that kids need as they get older. The best part is, t…