Apple Activities for Therapy

apple activities

It’s that time of year again for all of the apple activities! The kids are headed back to school and crisp, fall days are ahead. The excitement that comes with summer has dwindled, but don’t you worry – we are here to help fill your days with fall-themed fun, starting with Apple Activities to use in occupational therapy sessions or at home to help kids develop skills! 

Apple activities including apple fine motor, apple gross motor, apple sensory activities, and more.

Just think of the hot apple cider, apple picking, and apple pie that lies ahead…along with the opportunities to learn, of course! 

We have broken down our activity list into therapy topics, so that you are able to pick and choose what you would like to address that day: sensory, motor, vision, cognition, or social skills! 

Apple Sensory Activities

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For heavy work through the hands that offers proprioceptive input AND tactile sensory experiences, try making these baked cotton ball apples. We used them in apple sensory play and fine motor work.

Sensory bins can be a great way to learn by experience. An apple-themed one could look like this: Apple-Cinnamon Sensory Bin. You could hide magnet letters to find and spell out the word “apple”, which would be great practice for children who have difficulty with shape constancy and letter reversals – actually holding the letter in their hand can help wire their memory for future use!  

Applesauce oobleck is just like traditional oobleck, a type of slime, but with applesauce! The applesauce adds a new texture that is not often felt in traditional slime, as well as the smell of apples and cinnamon, as an added sensory experience. You can use these types of sensory experiences to address sensory concerns, like hyper or hyposensitivity, or you can use them as a means to address other unrelated concerns. For example, I love making slime as a way to address attention, sequencing and direction following. Additionally, when paired with education or discussion, it can be used as an adjunct to a socioemotional intervention. 

For more Fall sensory activities, grab our Fall Sensory Activities Guide for hands-on sensory play with apples and all things Fall.

Apple Fine Motor Activities

To work on fine motor skills, strength, dexterity needed for functional tasks like handwriting, clothing independence, pencil grasp, cutting with scissors, and more, an apple themed fine motor activity is the way to go. Check out our Apple-Themed Fine Motor Math activity for a multi-sensory learning activity with apples. 

Kids love these apple stamps using a toilet paper tube. It’s a fun OT craft to work on precision, eye-hand coordination, crossing midline, and much more.

Apple Poke with Toothpicks is a super easy but satisfying sensory and fine motor activity for children of all ages. Holding the thin toothpick requires a fine grasp like a pincer or tripod, which prepares hands for the work of a child (handwriting, buttoning, zipping, etc). 

Adjust as necessary to make this activity your own:

  • Follow a pattern with colored toothpicks
  • Encourage fine motor precision by poking on dots or in pre-made holes
  • Use golf tees or one-sided toothpicks for a safer option 

Apple Pointillism is a great way to use one of my favorite tools – the hole punch. Hole punching strengthens important hand muscles, in preparation for skills like handwriting, buttoning, and so much more. Even better, picking up those teeny-tiny circles will encourage a pincer grasp. 

Apple Gross Motor Activities

Apple gross motor activities can be used to develop core strength, endurance, balance, position changes, motor planning, and more. All of these skill areas are a must for occupations and functional tasks. Try these gross motor activities with an apple theme:

Make an indoor balance beam with an apple theme to address balance, core strength, proprioceptive input, coordination, vestibular input, and more.

Check out our Apple-Themed Brain Breaks for plenty of movement-based activities as well as self-regulation through whole body movement.

Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss is a great book for sequencing and identifying numbers, but I think it could be great for gross motor development like coordination, balance and postural stability. Just have your child copy the movements of the animals! For even more challenging fun, cut out felt “apples” so they can balance them on their heads, too! 

Apple Visual Perception Activities

This apple visual perception activity uses shapes to work on visual discrimination, form constancy, visual closure and more.

Just like you would do with tangrams, you could create a pattern fitting for the theme with Lego Apples. Matching an image to another by building a structure is a great way to address visual perceptual skills, problem solving, and spatial awareness. 

Plus, here are some more on-theme resources for vision and fine motor skills: 

Apple Executive Function Activities

Cooking and executive function go hand-in-hand. To work on executive functioning skill development with an apple theme, try this apple salt dough recipe. It’s great fun and a wonderful sensory and fine motor experience, too.

The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall shows the life cycle of a tree, and even shares a recipe for apple pie! I love using this story for sequencing and attention. 

You can address attention, memory, spelling, letter recognition or word recognition with these Red Apple Cups. You could use constructing the cups as an intervention, too – this activity can be used in so many different ways! 

Apple Activities for Social Emotional Skills

Social Communication Skills with Apples from the Social Butterflies Club offers great resources to use with kids that encourage social interaction in a structured activity.  

We hope that you have been inspired to create your own apple themed activity, or have chosen one that will work great for your kiddos! Check in for more fall-themed activities soon. While you are waiting, take a look at these awesome resources for a great fall: Fall Themed Water Table, Fall Gross Motor Activities, and Fall Fine Motor Crafts. 


Apple Theme Activities

Apple themed activities for learning and play: Math, spelling, fine and gross motor, art, sensory. This is perfect for school or home preschool apple themed week!


Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.

Crayon Play Dough Harold and the Purple Crayon Activity

This installment of the Preschool Book Club was one of our favorite activities, by far.  We made a batch of our play dough recipe, but added a twist.  We wanted to incorporate not only the purple color of Harold and the Purple Crayon, but the crayon, too!  This Crayon Play Dough uses real crayons in the play dough recipe and makes a silky smooth dough…perfect for creating, playing, manipulating, and more!

Recipe for DIY play dough using crayons

Crayon Play Dough Recipe

Harold and the Purple Crayon activity with purple play dough
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  The book Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson is such a FUN book.  It’s great for preschoolers, but grabs the attention of toddlers and school-aged kids, too.  When we read this book, all of my kids were frozen as they took in the bold pictures and the imagination of Harold.  We had a blast re-creating parts of the book with play dough lines.  Of course, we needed purple, CRAYON play dough to go along with the book!

We love making our own play dough.  To make crayon play dough, you’ll need just a few adjustments.

First, chop up 2 and a half crayons.  I’m not sure that these exact amounts matter.  There are so many different brands of crayons with different wax make-ups.  We used a few different types mixed together and the results were a silky smooth play dough.
In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cup salt, 2 Tbsp. cream of tartar)
Next, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan.  Add the chopped crayons.  Stir until the crayons are completely melted.  Slowly stir in 2 cups of water while stirring.  Certain types of crayons will either make a clumpy purply goopy looking liquid.  Other types will make a smooth liquid once the water is added.  Either way is fine.  Just keep stirring. 
Slowly, stir in the dry ingredients.  The dough will pull together in a ball over the heat.  Once the dough pulls together, dump it out onto a cutting board or counter.  Let the dough cool until you can tolerate kneading.  Knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth.  (Note~ The waxy texture of this dough will create a spa-like experience while kneading.  This mama mixed up a few more batches of crayon dough and loved the mini-spa of kneading!)
Purple crayon play dough
Once cooled, you are ready to play.
Child playing with DIY play dough made from purple crayons
Crayon play dough is so smooth and silky to play with!  The color was very bold and bright.  Just like the purple crayon in the book!
We read Harold and the Purple Crayon a bunch of times before returning to the library.  Before it went back, we used our purple crayon play dough to make purple lines and “draw” them into shapes and pictures, just like Harold did in the book.
Create an activity for the book, Harold and the Purple Crayon

Harold’s house “drawn” with our purple play dough.

Little Guy made a boat, a Harold, and a snowman.
Use crayons to make your own play dough!
This was such a fun way to explore a great book.
Looking for more activities for the book, Harold and the Purple Crayon?  Stop by and see what the other Preschool Book Club bloggers have done:
Homegrown Friends: Giant Purple Crayon Mural
Buggy and Buddy: Yarn Art
Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Lavender Crayon Soaps
Mama. Papa. Bubba. blog: Dry Erase Activity
Be sure to make your own play dough with crayons and use all of the broken crayon pieces to make a rainbow of crayon play dough colors!
hands-on activities to explore social emotional development through children's books.

Love exploring books with hands-on play?  

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