Pattern Activities for Kids Math Play

Patterns are a beginner math exercise that we saw a lot of in preschool and Kindergarten.  Starting with an AB pattern and working up to ABC, ABA, and ABCD, patterns are just the beginning of a math foundation.  We’re always pointing out patterns in our play, and it seems like it helped once Big Sister made her way into the pattern world of Kindergarten.  When I saw a Pattern Activity on Share It Saturday this week, I knew we had to find more for pattern fun.  We’ll be using these pattern ideas with the younger kids.

Pattern activities for Kindergarten, beginner math

Pattern Activities for Kids

You can use so many different items in pattern math with kids!

Work on patterns with balloons (Mommy Crusader), pasta (The Imagination Tree), DIY shapes (Sugar Aunts),  building blocks (No Time for Flash Cards), snow (Sugar Aunts), and pool noodles (Sugar Aunts).

More Fun ideas: Build pattern towers with spaghetti (Mamas Like Me). Create Mondrian Pattern Sticks (Lalymom) or make patterns with gems on the light table (Still Playing School).

Heart Maze Visual Perception Activity

Sometimes an activity can be just easy to throw together and the kids love it.  This Heart Maze is a simple visual perception activity that can be adapted to any season or shape.  We used hearts for a Valentine’s Day occupational therapy activity, while practicing visual scanning, visual spatial relations, line awareness, and eye-hand coordination…and had a lot of fun doing it!

Visual perception activity with a heart theme for a Valentine's Day occupational therapy activity.
Visual Perceptual Heart Maze Activity

Heart Maze Activity

This heart maze activity is an easy way to work on visual perceptual skills needed for tasks like handwriting, reading, and learning. The hearts are placed in a path-like maze that challenges visual perception skills.

Visual Perception Activity

Kids can help with making this Valentine’s Day maze, or you can make a template and copy it over and over again. Let’s discuss how this maze works and how it and other visual perception skills helps kids with reading, learning, reading, and writing.

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Work on visual perception skills with this heat maze, for a Valentine's Day occupational therapy activity

It really doesn’t get much easier.  Grab a piece of  pink card stock and cut out a quick heart.  Trace the heart on a piece of white paper.  Continue tracing, positioning the hearts in a line.  You want a “maze” to form around the paper. 

A heart maze is a fun visual perception activity to use in a Valentine's Day theme occupational therapy activities.

Fill in the blank space with more heart outlines, but this time, rotate the shape so it’s positioned randomly and not as close to the maze.

Use this Valentine's Day activity to work on visual perceptual skills in occupational therapy goals.

Cut more hearts from the pink card stock.  We used a darker shade to work on patterns as we filled in the maze.

Visual perception, fine motor, eye-hand coordination, and other skills can be used with this heart maze in Valentine's Day occupational therapy sessions.

Lining up the hearts requires eye-hand coordination to position the card stock hearts within the outlines.  Using the hands in a coordinated manner based on visual input is an important skill for many functional tasks including handwriting and scissor use.

What Are Visual Spatial Relations?

Visual spatial relations is the ability to identify a form/shape/letter despite being rotated, and identify it as being rotated.  Children need visual spatial relations to identify the difference between a “b” and “d” and “p”, and “q”.  

This sheet full of hearts that look the same requires the child to identify the hearts that are following a path.  Some of the hearts not along the path are rotated  and the child should be able to identify by scanning, the hearts that are rotated.

Valentine's Day occupational therapy activities can include this hearth maze to work on visual perception.

Looking for more Visual Perception Activities?  

Try these:   Smashing Peanuts Activity

Elmer the Elephant Activity

Toys to Improve Visual Perception

Tangrams and Visual Perception

Visual Closure Bugs

Visual Perception Activities

Visual processing bundle full of resources and tools to work on visual perception and visual motor skills
Grab the Visual Processing Bundle to better understand visual perception skills through play and hands-on activities.

Need help fixing visual processing problems?

Know a student with identified visual processing problems…but difficulties are brushed over or missed in the school setting?

Have a kiddo on your caseload that struggles with visual tracking, fixation, eye teaming, or visual scanning? 

Need tools to incorporate visual perception and visual-motor strategies right into the classroom?

Wondering how to help kids who can not visually attend to an object in order to focus for more than a few seconds?

The Visual Processing Bundle is a comprehensive resource on oculomotor skills, visual perception, visual-motor skills. 

Details about The Visual Processing Bundle:  

  • Over 235 pages of tools, activities, resources, informaton, and strategies to address visual processing needs
  • Classroom accommodation ideas for visual perception challenges
  • Checklists for trialing various activities and strategies
  • 2 leveled visual-motor integration workbooks…with data collection tools to monitor progress
  • Pencil control worksheets to integrate visual input and motor work in meaningful ways
  • Classroom activities that can be incorporated into reading, spelling, math, and other subjects…reducing the amount of extra “work”
  • Activity cards to guide therapy warm-up sessions or used in home program development
  • Specific and open-ended activity cards to address visual attention and spatial awareness
  • Visual tracking guide explain components of visual tracking and specific activities to improve tracking
  • SO much more!

Click here to get the Visual Processing Bundle.

Olive You Fingerprint Valentines Art

Looking for a Valentine’s day activity that doubles as a sensory activity AND holiday craft? The cuteness factor of this Olive You thumbprint art is too much and I can’t wait to create (a ton) more handprint, footprint, and fingerprint crafts with the kids.  Print crafts are one of those mementos that are more than just cute, it’s something you want to pull out when the kids are grown and admire the smallness of their fingerprints.  This is one craft that we will definitely be saving until my little fingerprint monsters are grown!  
(Fingerprint monsters=any adorable kid that just so happens to put their fingerprints EVERYWHERE!  Fingerprints on windows, fridge, walls, cabinets, ceiling…HOW are there fingerprints on the ceiling??!!)


Olive You thumbprint art for Valentine's Day (or any day!)



Olive You Thumbprint Art

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We used green paint to make a whole page of green thumbprints.  Let them dry.  Once the green paint is dry, layer a smaller print of red paint right on top.  We had Big Sister make the larger green prints with her thumb and Little Sister use the tip of her finger to make the smaller red spot.  You could just have the child press harder with the whole pad of their thumb to get a bigger circle for the olive and use the tip of their pinkie finger to make a smaller red spot on the olive. 

Lots of olive cuteness!
I cut out the olives and we glued them onto paper to make Valentine’s Day cards.
Olive you thumbprint art for kids.  This is so cute for a homemade Valentines Day card!

The best part of this craft is the olive jokes that you get to say…all day.

Olive you a whole lot!

Olive you thumbprint craft for a Valentines Day card made by kids

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

Magnet Activities and Toys for Kids

Is there anything more mesmerizing and interesting to kids than the properties of magnetism?  Give a child a magnet and ask them to find things that stick to it, and an adventure has begun!  We love these magnetic activities for kids and can’t wait to try a few fun magnet activities soon!

Magnet activities for kids. These are fun ways to learn and discover properties of magnetism and science!

Magnet Activities for Kids

Fishing magnets from Stir the Wonder
Magnet science with preschoolers from The Practical Mom
Mini Magnet Maze from Science Sparks
Make magnetic slime from Frugal Fun 4 Boys
Paint with magnets from Housing a Forest
Make a magnetic playset from Teach Preschool

Favorite Magnet activities from the archives: 
Color matching magnet play
Magnetic letters on the garage door

Some of our favorite ways to play and learn with magnets: 

Awesome magnet toys for kids

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Heart Fine Motor Activity

Sometimes, a quick and easy activity falls together without any plans. This Valentine’s Day Math activity just kind of happened one afternoon after we had some hot cocoa with sprinkles. It’s a heart themed fine motor activity that will align perfectly with your Valentine’s Day occupational therapy plans. Heart activities like this one bring on the fine motor love with big benefits!

If your kids are like mine, they find all of the sprinkles that have scattered all over the table and gobble them up.  {And there is always crumbs, or sprinkles, or SOMETHING scattered all over the table…} I know when we have sprinkles on anything, that they go crazy for any misplaced sprinkle.  There has been a child or two who has leaped across the room for a random sprinkle.  Seriously! They act like they haven’t just had a spoonful of sprinkles mixed into their cocoa!  Is it just my kids???   Before there were chairs knocked over on this particular day, I gathered up the random sprinkles (really, why do sprinkles end up everywhere??!) and a handful of hearts and we did a little Valentine’s Day math.  

Heart Fine Motor Activity

Valentines Day heart math activity for kindergarten and preschool

Math Fine Motor Activity

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Use heart sprinkles to encourage pincer grasp and other fine motor skills for a Valentine's Day occupational therapy activity with fine motor development.

We started with the leftover valentine’s day sprinkles
from a hot chocolate treat. I gathered up the stray heart sprinkles
and had Big Sister pick out the other hearts from the tray of mixed sprinkles.  

This is a fabulous fine motor activity with a big motivator (SPRINKLES!) and a fun way to practice pincer grasp (tip to tip grasp of the thumb and pointer finger).  You can encourage your child to tuck away a few sprinkles into their hand as they pick out the hearts.  This is called translation from fingers to palm and is an important part of in-hand manipulation (manipulating items within the hand).  These skills are important in pencil grasp and positioning in handwriting.

We used hearts that we had leftover from another activity.  These are just little hearts cut from pink cardstock.  I wrote numbers on the hearts and had the kids put the correct number of sprinkles on each heart. 

This was a fun (and tasty) math and fine motor activity for all of the kids, but my 5 year old was able to do some beginning math as he counted out the sprinkle manipulatives and matched them to the correct number (number identification) and my 3 year old counted along aloud.  All three kids were very happy with the end result of this math and fine motor activity…more sprinkles to eat!

Looking for more Valentine’s Day Activities?

Heart Fine Motor Math Activity

Heart FIne Motor Sorting Activity

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin

One Zillion Valentines Craft

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

One Zillion Valentines Heart Chocolates craft

Valentine’s Day crafts and activities are some of our favorite ways to play. This fun holiday is all about love and fun.  Ok, so it’s not a real holiday, and maybe you’re in the camp that it’s a made-up holiday but stores.

Whatever your thoughts, you’ve got to admit, the pink and the hearts are a fun way to play after a month of cold wintery snowflakes and all of the red and green December brings.  This Valentine’s Day craft was a fun way to create based on one of our favorite Valentine’s Day books, One Zillion Valentines by Frank Modell.  And the message is perfect–Valentine’s don’t need to come from a store!

We love this book for it’s fun illustrations, great message, and it’s Valentine’s Day fun.  When we read the book recently, we found a few things in the pages that we wanted to craft.  We made this Valentine Heart Box of Chocolates on a miniature scale for the cuteness factor and a little imagination play.

Make a miniature heart Valentine chocolate box from a cardboard tube.  This is too cute!

Valentine’s Day Box of Chocolates Craft

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Reading the book, One Zillion Valentines
shows us the friendship of Martin and Melvin as they trek around town and notice a huge heart shaped chocolate heart in a store window.  They decide that Valentines are not just for girls (and that they don’t need to come from a store!)

When we saw that giant heart shaped valentine, we knew we had to make one just like it (only on a smaller scale!)

We started with a cardboard tube.  In case you didn’t know, we kind of like cardboard tube crafts.

Shape the tube into a heart shape.  Cut two red hearts from red cardstock.

Cut the cardboard tube into 1/2 inch thick heart shaped rings.  This is a job for an adult, as cutting through the cardboard takes a little muscle.

Cut one of the hearts at the point and snip off a small piece. You will want to tape the heart back together so it is smaller than the other cardboard tube heart and the larger one will fit on top of the smaller heart .  The larger heart will be the lid for the bottom heart.

Dip the edges of the hearts into glue and press onto the red cardstock
hearts.   Let these dry.

Once dry, you can decorate however you like!  We used a piece of ribbon to look like the chocolate heart box in One Zillion Valentines, but you could also draw on heats, flowers, or add bits of ribbon to decorate.

This isn’t the only craft we made based on the book, One Zillion Valentines.  We made another fun craft that will be coming your way soon!

This post is part of the Read and Play series where bloggers share crafts and activities based on books.  This months post is all about Valentine’s Day books for kids.  You can find more creative Valentine activities and crafts all in one place on The Pleasantest Thing.   

Looking for more Valentine’s Day crafts and activities?  Try some of our favorites: 

Marbled Milk Paper Towel Snowflakes

Have you seen the magic milk experiment?  This Marbled Milk painting is a little like the magic milk experiment, and such a neat activity for the kids (I think I loved it just as much!)  When the weather is cooler and the house is filled with paper snowflakes, a pop of color makes the winter season even brighter!

We’ve done a similar milk and soap science and art project in our published book.  This is such a fun way to explore science and art! A true STEAM activity for kids!

make beautiful napkin snowflakes using a marbled milk dying process.

Snowflakes dyed with Marbled Milk

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We first saw the Magic Milk experiment over at Coffee Cups and Crayons.  Our process ended up being a bit different than theirs, so if you’ve never seen the full effects of the Magic Milk experiment, it’s definitely something you will want to check out.  

We omitted an ingredient in our dying process and skipped the “magic” I suppose…but this Marbled Milk dye is pretty magic in itself, I would say!

We started with a little milk poured onto a bread plate.  You will also need liquid food coloring in a few colors.

Drip the food coloring in different areas of the plate of milk.

Swirl the food coloring around with toothpicks.  It was fun to see the swirling of the food coloring in the milk.

At this point, we pulled out a handful of snowflakes we had snipped from paper towels.  Drape them into the milk and watch the colors creep across the paper towel.

It’s amazing how fast the colors creep across the towel and how they become marbled all on their own.  We were sure to keep the colors from being a brown mess in the milk and when we  swirled  the food coloring, were very gentle.

Drape the wet snowflakes across cooling racks with a dish towel below to catch any drips.  Let them snowflakes completely dry.  They will dry hard and a little crispy on the edges.

These marbled milk snowflakes decorated our window for a while (until a certain three year old pulled them down!) We’ll be making these again for sure.  Let us know if you do, too!

Looking for more creative painting activities?  Try some of these:

marbled milk snowflakes.  These brightly colored snowflakes are dyed with marbled milk!

Red Crayon Play Dough Recipe

We are slightly obsessed with making crayon play dough recipes.  It all started with our crayon play dough.  We were brainstorming for an activity to go along with the book, Harold and the Purple Crayon and we made homemade play dough using crayons as a main ingredient.  We love this dough so much because of it’s soft and smooth texture and it’s bright and bold color.  

We decided to try a new version of our crayon recipe and make shades of red crayon play dough.  This is perfect for Valentine’s Day, but we’ll be using this play dough long after February 14th!

Make a bunch of different shades of red crayon play dough using a pack of crayons!

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Red Crayon Play Dough Recipe

Shades of red crayons. Use these to make red play dough!
We grabbed a couple of packs of these Red Hot crayons and knew they had to be used for all red play dough.  You can use broken crayons that are floating around the house, though.
Shades of red play dough using crayons! Save those broken crayon pieces!

This pack has some pretty red shades.  Red, maroon, brick red, mango tango…the bonus of using crayons for dying play dough is that you get a pure, bright, and bold color.  Even reds (which don’t always come out brightly colored with other play dough methods) are vivid.

Make a bunch of different shades of red crayon play dough using a pack of crayons!
Start by chopping the crayons into small pieces.  I used two crayons for each shade (so we ended up using two packs of the Red Hot crayons to make eight shades of red crayon play dough.

Make a bunch of different shades of red crayon play dough using a pack of crayons!

You can get the measurements on our how to make crayon play dough post. 

Once you chop up the crayons, melt into the oil over a stove.  After the crayons are melted, slowly stir in the water.  You can then add the dry ingredients and keep stirring until the dough pulls together.  Be sure to mix with a spoon or whisk as you slowly pour in the dry ingredients.Dump the play dough onto a floured surface and let it cool for a few minutes.  Once the dough has cooled enough to knead, you will want to knead until the dough is smooth and even in texture.  

You can get the measurements on our how to make crayon play dough post.

Make a bunch of different shades of red crayon play dough using a pack of crayons!

Troubleshooting crayon dough problems:

There are a few problems you might run into when you’re making crayon play dough.  If you have white spots in the dough after kneading, it means the flour wasn’t mixed in evenly.  Keep kneading the dough and it will eventually get all of the flour flecks mixed in.

If the dough seems too dry, you can add a bit of oil and knead some more.
If the dough seems too moist or oily, add a bit of flour and knead.
Always add small increments to get the right texture, with a lot of kneading in between.

Crayon play dough. This recipe will give you a bright and bold shade of color.

Make a bunch of different shades of red crayon play dough using a pack of crayons!

Make a bunch of different shades of red crayon play dough using a pack of crayons!
Crayon hearts for Valentine’s Day!

Make a bunch of different shades of red crayon play dough using a pack of crayons!

Little Sister loves play dough so all of these shades of red are making her happy!
Use Red Hot crayons from Crayola to make different shades of red play dough with bright and bold colors.  Very vivid red play dough!

Crayon Play dough Valentine treat bags that don't use candy!

We even made a few Valentine’s Day treat bags using sandwich bags and pink paper.  Pop the play dough into the baggie and fold over the opening.  Tape a strip of paper with a heart for a cute non-candy Valentine’s Day treat bag!

More crayon play dough colors:

If you like the idea of using your broken crayon pieces in something as fun and creative as play dough, then you will love to try a few different ideas, too.  We’ve given crayon play dough a run for it’s fun and tried a few different versions.  Check them out and if you make a batch, let us know how you get creative with crayon play dough!