February Occupational Therapy Activities

It’s been a lot of fun coming up with creative activities for Occupational Therapy treatment ideas for the past couple of months.  Since sharing our December and January calendars, I’ve had a lot of great feedback from Occupational Therapists who are using the calendars in treating clients, parents who are looking for creative activities to do with their kids at home, and teachers who are applying the ideas to the needs of the kids in their classroom.  These OT activity calendars are fun (for me!) to make, and I’m loving that they are being used to help so many kids with creative Occupational Therapy goals.


This calendar is meant to be a resource and not treatment.  All activities should be applied and modified to fit the needs and goals of your particular child or student.  Please contact an Occupational Therapist for assessment and evaluation of your child, as all kids are different and what works for one child will not necessarily work for another.


Occupational Therapy ideas


February themed Occupational Therapy Treatment Ideas

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Activities for Occupational Therapy Students in February:



1. Smash Peanuts Proprioception– Work on hand-eye coordination, proprioceptive input, and strengthening with this Valentine’s Day activity.  Modify the fun for a non-holiday activity.  Read about it here.


2. Heart Eye-Hand Coordination–  Use DIY cardboard hearts to work on fine motor skills like tripod grasp, intrinsic muscle strength, and an open thumb web space while addressing eye-hand coordination, visual scanning, and figure ground skills. Read about it here.


3. Heart Wall Push-Ups- These are a great warm-up for fine motor tasks. They can also be used as a brain break, or proprioception heavy work activity.  You’ll need two foam hearts
.  Tape them to a wall at chest level for your child.  Show them how to place their hands on the foam hearts
and do wall-push ups.  For the child who is working on left-right discrimination, write left/right on the hearts.



4. Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin–  A sensory bin provides textural sensory play in a container or bin and can be modified in so many ways to address tactile defensiveness and sensory exploration.  Try this sensory bin to work on eye-hand coordination and motor control with scoops.  Other ways a sensory bin helps kids are: language development, self-confidence, motor planning, visual tracking, and figure ground skills.  Read more here.


5. Heart Flashlight Game-  Use the same idea that we did here and use a flashlight to work on visual scanning, and visual tracking.  Add movement into the activity with spinning, jumping, and skipping to provide vestibular sensory input to the activity.  Write numbers or letters on hearts like these.  Then, simply tape foam hearts
to the wall and turn down the lights.  If you are using movement in your activity, you will want low lights instead of having the lights off completely.  Call out letters on the hearts and have the child use the flashlight to scan for the correct heart and “tag” it with the light.



6. Valentine’s Day Sensory Goop Painting– Explore tactile sensory play with homemade sensory goop.  Create heart valentines with the goop painting.  You can re-create this activity another time with white goop and snowflake cookie cutters on blue paper.


7. Valentine’s Day Sensory Bottle–  Create a sensory bottle for a calm down visual sensory tool. Kids can help to make the bottle, working on fine motor skills.


8. Heart Bead Fine Motor Sort–  Work on eye-hand coordination, tripod grasp, and in-hand manipulation with this bead color sorting activity.


9. Fine Motor Sprinkle Art–  This fine motor craft works on tripod grasp and gross motor strength while providing a olfactory sensory input.  Work on scissor skills and handwriting to create Valentines’ Day cards for loved ones.


10. Heart Therapy Ball Activities–  Use something you’ve got in your home to improve core muscle strength and proprioceptive input to address attention issues.  


11. Snowflake Trace- Work on handwriting and proprioception to the hands with resistive handwriting.  Tape paper to a window and trace snowflakes as they shine through the paper.  You can draw snowflakes on one side of the paper and trace the other side of the sheet.  Work on line awareness and pencil control for use in handwriting like we did here.


12. Heart Balance Beam- Place foam hearts on the floor to create a balance beam like we did with snowflakes.  Address vestibular sensory needs, core muscle strength, and motor planning with an indoor balance beam.


13. Heart Buttoning Skill Activity– Work on self-care skills with homemade heart buttons to work on buttoning and fine motor skills.


14. Heart Lacing Activity–   Lacing activities are powerful way to work on many skills.  Address eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, tripod grasp, visual scanning, motor planning, tool use, direction following, extended wrist, and more with lacing cards.  Make a heart shaped DIY lacing card like we did here.  Read more about all things lacing cards.


15. Fine Motor Snowman Craft–  This craft works on precision and tripod garsp to build a snowman with stickers.  You can also address task completion, direction following, and problem solving with this OT craft.


16.  Snowman Smoothie- Make an icy treat with milk or ice cream and add snowman details to the glass like we did here.  Add a straw for proprioceptive oral sensory input.  Sucking a straw is calming and organizing for a child.  Try this activity during or right before a task that requires attention and focus like homework.  


17. Snowman Hopscotch- Draw a snowman on the sidewalk or on a large sheet of cardboard.  Add more circles for the snowman’s body and show your child how to hop along the snowman.  Activities like hopscotch provide vestibular and proprioceptive input.  Trowing a rock is a functional hand-eye coordination task that also addresses visual scanning, tracking, and motor planning.


18.  Play the Snow-key Pokey-  This is a fun game for indoor play.  Sing the hokey pokey song with a snow theme by substituting “hokey” with “snow-key”.  Add other winter themed details like putting your right mitten in and putting your boots out.  How creative can you get with the snow-key pokey?
Movement games like this provide vestibular input.  This game, in particular is a great listening skills and attention task.  Kids need to listen to follow directions and not miss instructions.  The Snow-key Pokey works on range of motion, too.


19. Snow Hop- This activity works on many skill areas:  handwriting, motor planning, gross motor skills, balance and coordination, direction following, listening skills, and proprioception.  Create a map of a snowy land using couch pillows and blankets.  A white sheet works well for this activity.  Pile pillows up in some areas and cover them with a blanket. This is your “snowy land” with hills and valleys. Drawing a map addresses handwriting skills while using visual perceptual skills and spatial reasoning skills.  The child can hide a toy in the snowy land and draw an “X” on their map to show where they’ve hidden the toy.  Then, take turns navigating the land to find the toy.  This is a heavy work activity as the child moves cushions and pillows.  Walking on an unstable surface is a good balance and coordination activity, as well as a way to incorporate the vestibuar sense.


20. Snow-barrow Races-  Do a wheelbarrow race with a snow theme.  Ask the child to put on winter clothing like boots, scarves, and gloves.  They then have to do a wheelbarrow (or SNOW-barrow) race across the room.  This activity is a fun one to do with several kids, but works well as an individual activity with an adult.  Wheelbarrow races provide propriocetion sensroy input and is a great upper body activity.  Quickly dressing with the snow items is an exercise in motor planning and self-care.


21. Frozen Snow Dough– Make a batch of snow dough for sensory tactile input.  This is a great activity for kids who are tactile defensive.  Add scoops and other utnesils to work on eye-hand coordination and tool use.  


22. Build a Snowman- This activity provides proprioception while working on strengthening and motor planning, problem solving, bilateral hand coordianion, crossing midline, and more.  Grab three pillow cases and towels and small blankets.  Use the blankets to stuff the pillow cases until they are mostly full. Try to get the pillow cases into a circular-ish shape. Build a living room snowman with the stuffed pillow cases.  Use pillows to prop up the snowman.  


23. Paint Snow–  Work on tool use to paint snow like we did here. Don’t have snow?  Use a wet paper towel for creative painting.  Add a hand strengthening and power grasp component by using squeeze bottles to paint, like we did here.


24. Salt Truck Craft– Work on scissor skills when making this snow truck craft.  Use scissor skills modifications to work on goal areas like accuracy and positioning of scissors when cutting.


25. Soda Dough Snowmen– Cook up a batch of baking soda dough and use it to work on fine motor skills like strengthening, tripod grasp, intrinsic strength, and in-hand manipulation like digital rotation while creating snowmen using this resistive, yet soft dough. 


26. Winter What’s Missing Tray-  Work on visual memory with a winter-themed tray.  Grab many winter-objects: gloves, tinsel, fake snow, cotton balls, to work on visual memory.  Ask the child to stare at the tray for 3 minutes, remembering as many items as they can.  Then, take the tray away and remove 3-5 items.  See if the child can recall the missing objects.


27. Paper Icicles– Practice scissor skills with this paper icicle craft.  Use thicker paper for proprioceptive input.


28. Snowman Fine Motor- Fill a large bin with cotton balls.  Use tweezers to pick up and transfer the cotton balls to bowls.  Add other small pieces like a snowman hat, scarf (use foam crafting sheets to make these parts), and toothpicks for snowman arms.  Transfer the pieces to work on tripod grasp, open thumb web space, intrinsic muscle strength, and extended wrist.


29. Motor Planning Snow Maze- Create an indoor maze using yarn like we did here.  Use white yarn to wrap around chairs.   Try to transfer winter items like scarves and gloves through the maze without dropping any items or bumping into the yarn maze.  This is a great exercise for motor planing while working on core muscle strength and the vestibular sense as the child bends over and around the yarn.




Use these ideas all month long to add Occupational Therapy into creative play while working on so many areas! 


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Even MORE great pages you where you will find tons of Occupational Therapy treatment ideas and info that can be incorporated into simple play at home, using frugal (mostly free) items that you already have:

How to Help Kids Pay Attention with Sensory Movement Exercises

Do you know a little one who can’t focus on school work?  Someone who is always distracted or forgets details of a task?  A little one who starts a project but easily gives up, never to return to the activity?  A student who is always daydreaming or wiggling in their seat and misses key information?
Many children have trouble with paying attention and it can seem like it is only getting worse.



Paying attention is hard for some kids.  There are a few different reasons for inattention during school work or homework, or when just participating in listening activities like conversations or reading.  Learning disabilities, distractibility, poor core body strength, an overload of visual stimulation, poor working memory, ineffective executive functioning skills,  and even temperament can contribute to poor attention (among other reasons).


Numerous diagnoses like ADHD, Autism spectrum, sensory processing disorders, and more also have symptoms aligned with inattention.  But sometimes, attention problems can be confused with diagnoses typically associated with poor attention.  Sometimes, the reason for trouble paying attention is something else.


Whatever the reason, there are easy ways to help your child pay attention. Today, I’ve got a simple way to play and work on core muscle strength and proprioceptive input through a sensory movement activity.  This super easy movement activity is so much fun that your kids will want to play again every day.  And, that’s a good thing, because the movement, proprioceptive input, and core strengthening involved will help them work toward improved attention.

Try these sensory movement activites and exercises for helping kids learn to pay attention.  Easy ball therapy exercises using proprioception and core muscle strengthening with a frugal and easy alternative to a therapy ball.  Occupational Therapy tips for kids.



Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.



Sensory Ball Activities for Proprioception

One technique that is often recommended by Occupational Therapists for some children is the use of a large therapy ball for sitting and movement.  The therapist can guide the child in specific activities and exercises.  For our activity, we used a large and partially deflated Playground Ball similar to this one
for a simple sensory movement.



Proprioceptive input adds deep pressure to the body’s muscles and joints for a calming and organizing input.  Using a large ball like this one can help some children with inattention issues by promoting a postural reaction to a moving surface and heavy work input.

Sensory Ball Activity for Core Body Strengthening

Inattention can be a result of core weakness of the body.  The core is the child’s trunk and midsection and is needed for support and ongoing positioning in functional tasks.  With a weak core, a child may slump in their seat, or have trouble maintaining and changing positions.  Exercises like these with a ball can help work on the core muscle strength to help the child focus and attend while writing, cutting, and learning.


Super Easy and Fun Movement Exercises

Try these sensory movement activites and exercises for helping kids learn to pay attention.  Easy ball therapy exercises using proprioception and core muscle strengthening with a frugal and easy alternative to a therapy ball.  Occupational Therapy tips for kids.

All you need for this activity is a large ball. You could use a Balance Ball
or just grab a bouncy playground ball like this one
from your child’s outdoor play equipment.  We partially deflated our ball and drew a heart on one side using a dry erase marker.   The heart provided a visual prompt for where to sit or push.  It made a fun activity even better as we tried to squish the heart!



Use the ball to sit, bounce, and squash for proprioceptive input and strengthening.  A few exercises that you can try:

  • Sit on the ball and bounce.
  • Sit on the ball near a wall and have your child pick up their feet.  Use the wall to stabilize.
  • Lay belly down and roll side to side.
  • Lay belly down and roll the ball front to back.
  • Lay belly down on the ball and bounce.
  • Squash the ball against the wall with the child’s chest.
  • Squash the ball against the wall with the child’s back.
  • Stand on the ball against a wall, using the wall for support (use close adult supervision and contact for this one.)
Have fun playing!
Try these sensory movement activites and exercises for helping kids learn to pay attention.  Easy ball therapy exercises using proprioception and core muscle strengthening with a frugal and easy alternative to a therapy ball.  Occupational Therapy tips for kids.
People who love these Attention and Movement Activities also love these ideas:
Coke bottle water xylophone Teach kids to tie their shoes the fun way egg carton craft Creative Pencil Grasp Activities Organization, Attention, and Sensory Processing

Scissor Skills Crash Course (with Gift Wrap!)

Teaching kids how to use scissors and exploring scissor skills is one of my favorite things to work on as a school-based Occupational Therapist.  There are so many creative ways to address the skills needed for accuracy in cutting with a pair of scissors.  Today, I’m sharing everything you need to know about cutting with scissors.  I’ve got all of the skills a child need in order to be successful.  I’ve got great ways to practice teaching your child to cut on lines.  


AND, I’ve got a top secret to share about teaching kids to cut with scissors; Something that will make practicing cutting with scissors frugal and fun.  My secret weapon in teaching kids to cut on the lines?  It’s wrapping paper!  Gift wrap makes the best scissor practice tool because you can get a huge roll for an inexpensive price.  Hit up dollar stores and grab the after season and get ready to snip, snip, snip your way to cutting shapes on lines.  This is your creative Crash Course on teaching kids to cut with scissors!


Want to know more about functional skills like scissor use? Read more here!


Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.


Teach Kids to Cut with Scissors (A Crash Course)

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.


There are many components that go into cutting with scissors.  These are the skill that kids need to master or be developing as they pick up a pair of scissors and can cut a shape.  Using scissors to cut is a developmental progression of skill.  And by that, I mean that as children progress in their development, they achieve more skill and accuracy.  Kids need to gain better control of fine motor and visual perceptual skills as they grow and develop and with that development, comes better use of scissors.  A child with deficits in any of the skill areas needed for using scissors will have difficulty with progression of typical scissor use development.


In this crash course, I’m going to share the skill components that a child needs to cut with scissors and various steps of cutting accuracy.  Not included in this crash course are the developmental ages and stages of scissor use.  That blog post will come at another time!



Skills a child needs to cut with scissors

These are the skill areas that a child needs in order to initiate scissor use and develop their progression toward successfully cutting multiple angled shapes:
Fine Motor Skills Needed for Scissor Use: From dexterity to graded precision, using scissors requires fine motor use skills for scissor use.


  • Prerequisite skills: Before a child can effectively use scissors in a functional manner, prerequisite skills are essential.  These are the functional skills that babies, toddlers, and preschoolers practice and achieve to learn graded muscle movements.  Read more about prerequisite skills here.
  • Open Thumb Web Space: Opening and closing the thumb against the fingers positions the thumb in abduction.  Abduction and adduction are required to open and close the scissor’s blades.  If a child is not able to open and close their thumb due to physical deficits or weakness, they will not be able to cut with typical scissors.  There are many modified versions of scissors out there to assist with this area.  Read more about open thumb web space here.
  • Hand Strength: Cutting with scissors requires strength.  Children may complain of hand fatigue, not be able to cut thick paper such as construction paper, or may cut paper with short snips of the scissors.  A gross hand grasp is needed for endurance in scissor use. Looking for ways to build hand strength?  Try these creative activities.
  • Visual Motor Skills:  Also called hand-eye coordination, visual motor skills are our ability to position and use our hands in activities that are guided by our vision.  Read more about visual motor skills here.
  • Visual Tracking:  In order to follow a line with scissors, a person must use visual tracking as they move their scissors along the line.  Without this skill, a child will show poor line accuracy and may cut through shapes or across lines multiple times. Read more about visual tracking here.
  • Bilateral Hand Coordination:  This is a skill that is required for so many self-care and functional tasks.  Using scissors to cut a shape is a functional task that requires both hands working together in a fluid manner.  The hands are doing different tasks during the activity of cutting with scissors but both know what the other is doing without the child looking at either hand constantly.  This manner of fluid activity is a mechanism of the brain as both hemispheres communicate in an efficient manner. In scissor skill activities, one hand must hold the scissors as the non-dominant hand holds and rotates the paper. Read more about bilateral coordination here.
  • Hand Dominance: Related to bilateral hand coordination, is hand dominance in scissor use.  A child need an established hand dominance in order to develop fine motor skills that are needed for accuracy with scissor use.  If a child continues to switch hands, there are scissors that can be used with either hand on the market, however, the child will not develop accuracy and fluid scissor cuts as easily with out an established dominant hand.  Read more about hand dominance here.
  • Try THESE
    scissors for kids who have a left-right confusion or undefined hand dominance.

Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.

NOTE: THESE
are my favorite scissor for kids.


Line Accuracy with Scissor Skills: Teaching Kids to cut on the Lines

Line accuracy when cutting with scissors is greatly dependent on position of the hand on the scissors, as well as all of the areas described above.  Hand positioning and scissor grasp is a developmental progression and typical tearing of paper happens with certain positions.  Typically, a child will developmentally go through certain stages in their scissor skills and as they progress, their accuracy will improve.  


Help Kids Cut with Scissors on the Lines

Now is the time to pull out the wrapping paper that I told you about.  Grab a roll of gift wrap and work on cutting with graded difficulty.

Try these scissor practice ideas to work on cutting on the lines.  These ideas progress (mostly) from easiest to most difficult.

Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.
Providing kids with kid-friendly scissors and paper will help with practice.  Kids can practice cutting with scissors as early as you feel comfortable.  It’s important to remember that all children develop differently.  Hand over a pair of scissors and show the child how to snip into the edge of the paper, without lines or shapes.  At this point, the child is only working on the skill areas described above.  This is when wrapping paper makes a great cutting medium.  No more will you go through the piles of construction paper that just get snipped and cut all over the floor.  Use the wrapping paper and let the kids snip away!

A strip of wrapping paper (or paper) is a great starting point for practicing line awareness with scissors.  Make the paper strip tin enough that one snip across will cut the paper.  

Next, practice cutting into the paper and along a line.  A black dot will provide a visual cue to stop at the end of the line. 

Next, provide a strip of paper that is wider and requires several cuts across the page to cut through the line.  This activity works on the child’s ability to open and shut the scissors without choppy cuts for several snips.  (NOTE: Provide a wider strip of paper than is shown in the above picture for more practice of continued cutting!)

Finally, provide a strip of paper with lines without stopping dots.  The child must cut along the lines and stop at the end of the line.  These lines are drawn very dark to provide a thicker cutting line, to ensure more accuracy.  




Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.

When moving on to cutting shapes, start with squares.  You can draw the square along the edge of the paper to allow the child to cut into the corners from each side.  Then practice cutting a square inside the paper.  Cutting shapes requires the paper to be rotated and turned accurately.  Practice cutting other strait line shapes like triangles and rectangles. 

After practicing strait line shapes, introduce cutting curved shapes. 



Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.

Another way to practice line awareness with scissors is to cut curved and multiple angled lines across a strip of paper.  Add in more complex shapes like stars and hearts.

Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.

When starting on more anlged or wavier shapes, provide stopping points with black dots.  These will act as a visual cue and an indication to turn or rotate the page and move the scissors.

Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.

Finally, practice cutting multiple-angular and curved line shapes.  To start, try drawing a thick black line around the shape to provide a thicker cutting line.  Then, remove the visual cue of the line and cut directly on the lines of the shape.

I hope that these scissor skill tips are helpful for you and your little scissor user!

Use this scented scissor skills activity to help kids learn graded scissor use in a fun way! 

Looking for more ways to use wrapping paper in crafts and activities?  

Find some more awesome ideas on how to recycle and create with gift wrapping paper!


Stick Puzzles by Teach me Mommy 
Gift Wrap Flowers by Peakle Pie 
Gift Paper Frogs by Nemscok Farms 
Coiled Paper Heart Craft by The Gingerbread House 
Paper Beads from Wrapping Paper by Mum in the Madhouse 
Scissors Skills Crash Course by Sugar Aunts 
DIY Magnetic Bookmarks by Kidz Activities
Recycled Wrapping Paper Card by Our Whimsical Days
Paper Collage with Flower Punch by Words n Needles
Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.
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Our favorite scissor activities and ways to work on the skills needed in scissor skills:
https://www.theottoolbox.com/2015/10/visual-tracking-tips-and-tools-for.html hand strengthening activity

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Fun Way to Explain Regrouping Hundreds and Tens with chocolate!

Need to explain regrouping? Are you thinking Ok, HOW do I teach regrouping of tens or hundreds when I am totally wondering “what is regrouping”?!? This very fun and completely motivating regrouping activity is a hands on math activity that will explain regrouping for math as well as regrouping for addition! AND, the best part is that chocolate math is the way to go…even if the chocolate seems to be subtracting (into mouths) more than adding! 



Here’s the thing: Sometimes, practicing the same.old.math.facts. gets booooring!


It’s boring for the second grader and boring for mom.


But, practice needs to happen and new math skills need to be practiced! So, what is a bored-to-the-gills Mom to do when there is yet another night of subtracting triple digit numbers?


You bring on the chocolate.


This regrouping hundreds and tens math activity is hands-on and taste-bud friendly and was a big hit (surprise, surprise!) with my daughter…and me.  We made math fun by adding chocolate chips as my second grader subtracted three digit numbers.  It is such an easy math activity to put together and uses hands-on learning to make math activity fun (and delicious).


We’ve shared a few other hands-on math activities on the blog, and even some re-grouping activities like this double digit regrouping activity or beginner regrouping tips. This one might be the favorite of the bunch 😉

Regrouping Hundreds Math Activity

Regrouping math with chocolate chips


Regrouping Tens and Hundreds with Chocolate 



Full Disclosure:This post contains affiliate links.


You don’t need many materials for this math activity.  
We used:
chocolate chips

((There are Mini Chocolate Chips
on the market for those kids that really want to practice their math problems after seeing this activity.))

Paper
Marker
math problems


Regrouping math with chocolate chips

Use a marker to draw three sections on a piece of paper.  Label them “Hundreds”, “Tens”, and “Ones”.   Grab a bowl of chocolate chips
and some math problems.  Ask your child to look at a math problem and sort the chocolate chips
into the columns.  If the math problem is 634-x=, sort  6 chocolate chips into the hundred column, 3 chips into the tens column, and 4 chips into the ones column.  Then, as your child subtracts a two or three digit number from 634, move the chips around in the columns.  Try subtracting 634-256=.  Six can not be subtracted from four, so you need to regroup to make it a larger number.  Take a chip from the tens column and with your pencil, cross out “6”. Make it into a “16” and subtract the ones column.  Continue through the problem and when you subtract the tens column, remove a chocolate chip from the hundreds column.

Regrouping math with chocolate chips

We had fun snacking on the chocolate chips after re-grouping.  This was a math activity that my daughter didn’t mind doing over and over again!


MORE Ways to Practice math skills with chocolate chips:

  • Grab a handful of chips and place them into each of the columns.  Count the chips and name the number.  If there are more than 10 chips in the ones, tens or hundreds column, move them over to the next higher column.  
  • Practice adding with the chocolate chips and carry the extra tens over into the tens and hundreds columns.



Looking for more chocolate learning ideas?  Stop by and see what the other Early Elementary Blogging Team have created with chocolate:

Chocolate learning activities for hands on learning



Make Fractions Fun with Chocolate from Crafty Kids at Home
Chocolate Cocoa Writing Tray from Still Playing School
Chocolate Sight Words Writing from Natural Beach Living
Chocolate Chips Math from Sugar Aunts
Tracing with Chocolate from Sugar, Spice, & Glitter

How to Make a TeePee for Indoor Play

Winter weather means cold temps.  We try to get outside to play every day, but sometimes the thermometer is just too low for us to go outside for very long.  Other days, we are out there for hours!  (Yesterday, my daughter and I were outside for FOUR hours strait.  In the mud, melting snow, and more mud.  It was a day of fun, but I was ready to bundle up in a blanket with my wiggly babies and hot cocoa after that!


When you are looking for an indoor play idea, you want easy prep, minimal materials, and easy clean-up.  This indoor teepee is perfect for creative play, a cozy book nook, or imaginative teepee play, all indoors!  I love that it can be used for a sensory calm-down hideaway, too.  

How to make a teepee for indoor play that kids will love for a reading nook or pretend play space. I love it for a sensory calm down space!

How to make an indoor TeePee

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

To make this indoor tee pee, you’ll need only a few items:
3-4 Hair bands (THIS brand
worked best because they had a rubber grip to them.)
Cotton Scarf (for added stability)
Large sheet

How to make a teepee for indoor play that kids will love for a reading nook or pretend play space. I love it for a sensory calm down space!

Start by leaning all of the Corn Brooms
together in a tripod position. Stretch the hair bands over the top to keep the broom sticks together, like in the picture above.
How to make a teepee for indoor play that kids will love for a reading nook or pretend play space. I love it for a sensory calm down space!


If you like, you can wrap and tie a cotton scarf around the end of the brooms for more stability.

You’re done!  Drape a large sheet over the teepee and start playing!  

Quick Tip:  Place the teepee on a carpeted surface.  The Corn Brooms
ends will be more stable than if you place it on a hardwood floor.


How to make a teepee for indoor play that kids will love for a reading nook or pretend play space. I love it for a sensory calm down space!


Use the teepee for a quiet reading nook, sensory calm-down space, or pretend play area.
How to make a teepee for indoor play that kids will love for a reading nook or pretend play space. I love it for a sensory calm down space!


Have fun playing indoors!

Looking for more indoor play ideas?  Stop by the A-Z of Indoor Play Activities series to see more!

Some Indoor Play Ideas that we love:

Mini Eraser Patterns Kindergarten Math

Miniature erasers are one of my Occupational Therapy toolbox power tools. These little bits of rubber are the perfect manipulative for working on so many fine motor and developmental skills.  Today, I’m sharing how we use them in learning and reviewing skills learned at school, like patterns with my Kindergarten -aged son.  




Mini-eraser patterns are a fun way to practice hands-on math with Kindergartners, and fine motor skills like in-hand manipulation.

 

 
We’ve been sharing a few other of my favorite fine motor manipulatives recently, like chain links and LEGOS.  It’s so much fun to use toys and OT tools in learning activities and I’m excited to continue this series as my kids learn!
 

Fine Motor Pattern Activity

Mini-eraser patterns are a fun way to practice hands-on math with Kindergartners, and fine motor skills like in-hand manipulation.

 

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
 
These mini erasers
have been in my therapy bag for years.  I’ve got a collection of mini erasers that I’ve found at Dollar Stores, Target, and teacher stores.  But, my favorite place to get a variety of miniature erasers is here
for the variety of animals and items.
 
We worked on a few fine motor skills with our mini erasers
.
 
This math activity was so simple.  I piled up a bunch of mini erasers
and asked my Kindergarten son to create an “ABB” pattern.  He had to pick up the erasers using in-hand manipulation to squirrel away the eraser into his palm.  Picking up the erasers works on translation from fingers to palm as well as separation of the two sides of the hand.  Then, he had to hold on to the erasers in his palm as he placed the erasers one at a time onto the paper in a pattern order.  
 
After he made the “ABB” pattern, I had him do a few other patterns like “AAB”, “ABA”, “BBA”, BAB”, and “AABB”.

Mini-eraser patterns are a fun way to practice hands-on math with Kindergartners, and fine motor skills like in-hand manipulation.

 

Want to know more ways to work on fine motor skills with these mini-erasers?  I’ve got ideas to share, and they will be up on the blog soon!

Mini eraser learning activities

 

Looking for more ways to use mini-erasers in learning?  Stop by and see what the learning with manipulatives team have come up with:

Fill the Jar Addition Game with Mini Erasers from Life Over C’sSticky Ten Frames from Still Playing SchoolConstruction Site Preschool Letter Sensory Bin from Learning 2 WalkMini Eraser Counting Game: Race to Fill the Cup from Mom Inspired LifeValentine’s Day Grid Math Game with Mini Erasers from Stir the WonderEmotions I Spy Bag from Adventures of AdamValentine’s Puppies Roll and Cover Game from Simple Fun For KidsStack the Erasers Fine Motor Math Game from School Time SnippetsSensory Heart Tic Tac Toe from Mum in the MadhouseAdding up to Five Activity from Play & Learn EverydayNumber Bonds Activity Using Mini Erasers from Lalymom

Mini-eraser patterns are a fun way to practice hands-on math with Kindergartners, and fine motor skills like in-hand manipulation.
More fine motor activities you will love:

How to Help Disorgnaized Kids Organize Their Homework

Imagine a world where your body and brain are unsure of what’s happening next.  Imagine a world where your body and brain are unsure of what’s happening now.  There are noises coming at you from near and far, itchy socks scratching your toes, and a commanding urge to jump, fall, swing, and roll.


Now, imagine that you have to recuperate from a high-sensory day at school, full of bells, school buses, students voices, chalkboards, crowded hallways, single-file lines, and laborious writing tasks.
You now have to get off the school bus and fall into the evening home routine.  There are homework duties, schedules, dinner time patterns, bedtime tasks, and settling down.  The time at home is full of “Must-Get-Done” items that sometimes make the family time that is so precious more of a crazed 3 hours of “Non-Stop-Rushing”.


The child with sensory needs often times have attention, behavior, visual perceptual, fine motor, and executive functioning problems.  Then there are the issues of fidgeting, distractibility, motor planning concerns, problem solving issues, and memory difficult.  All of these problem areas are a tornado of trouble when it comes to organization at home.


Today, I’ve got ideas and tips to help children with sensory or learning difficulties get organized at home.  This is part of our Real Tips for Helping Your Sensory Child Get Organized series and a follow up to our post on Helping Sensory Kids Get Organized at School.


When students pile off of the school bus or jump in the car in the school pick-up line (or even finish up their homeschool day), there is often times a sense of busyness and rushing.  It’s a race to get home, homework done, dinner prepared, eaten, and cleaned up, before it’s time to hurry off to appointments and activities.  We are a busy society and it’s almost normal to fill our hours with things to do.  Those commitments bring with them lists, dates, facts, and more commitments.  We are focusing on so many things at one that brains are on constant overload.


And our kids are right there, feeling the burden of overwhelm.  For the child with sensory processing disorders or kids with learning difficulties, it’s a strain.

How to help disorganized kids get organized at home with homework and after school to evening time.




After School Requirements and the Child with Sensory Needs

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.


For children with organization difficulties, it can be hard to stay in the moment of focus needed for the steps to just get started on their after school requirements.  “Do your homework” is a multiple step process that is overwhelming for disorganized kids to break down into small and manageable steps.  Kids with sensory issues often have executive functioning difficulties.  Executive functioning is the ability to plan, organize, and initiate a task while using working memory, impulse control, and self-monitoring.  It’s needed to manage and complete to-do lists.  It’s seeing the bigger picture of a project and taking the first step toward getting tasks like homework done.


When these concerns are combined with other co-existing troubles like distractibility, behaviors, and fidgeting; the steps of pulling homework folders from the backpack, sorting papers and removing what is not needed, sitting down to focus on several homework assignments, and work through the tasks is difficult.  Then there is the putting away and focusing on other items on the after-school list.


Getting started on homework can be a daily battle.  Then, once the initial task of starting on homework has been negotiated, there are the flexibility issues that a sensory child has.  Adapting to changes in situations like a homework assignments can further overwhelm the child with sensory concerns.


Parents of children with these difficulties tend to over manage homework and after school tasks.  The needs of the child to get started on homework steps prevents them from prioritizing and planning the steps, and as parents, we get into a routine of micromanaging the process.  The overwhelmed child needs a parent’s guidance in organizing the steps of a task, but sometimes it is helpful to teach the child to build skills to improve organization.


Furthering after school organizational difficulties are defecits in working memory.  Working Memory is the ability to hold information in our brain while wing or retrieving other information to complete a task.  It is this mental juggling that allows us to multi-task and think through the steps of an assignment while simultaneously completing it.  This is a very difficult task for children with sensory needs. Working Memory is taking home the homework tracker, packing the backpack with the correct books, arranging items in the homework folder, and recalling homework assignments.  


Does any of this sound familiar to you?  There are ways to help the child who is so overwhelmed by after school tasks, that they break down.  There are ways to build organization skills, adapt to problem areas, and to manage prioritization.  Try some of these tips for helping with the after school chaos:

How to help disorganized kids get organized at home with homework and after school to evening time.


Tips to help kids with sensory needs get organized with homework and after school tasks

  • Create an after-school Chill Out Zone.  The school day is overwhelming and a sensory place to self-organize is a great way to re-charge.  Provide movement options like jumping, running, bouncing, and swinging.  A mini trampoline
    is a great addition to the home.
  • Create an after-school plan.  It should include post-school day calm down time, snack, homework time with scheduled brain breaks, and built in time to transition from homework to dinner and after-dinner activities.
  • Stick to a homework start time.  Keep it consistent every day.
  • Create a homework location without distractions.  Consider a 
  • tri-fold poster board
    if your homework space is in a high-traffic area like a kitchen.

  • Provide an uncluttered space away from toys or media.
  • Provide a homework checklist.  Items might include: Take out planner, Check for all materials, Start working, Check work, Put homework back into planner, Get Mom or Dad’s signature on homework tracker, Put planner and books back into backpack.  Place the checklist in a clear sheet protector
    and use a dry erase marker
    to check items off each day.  At the end of the day, wipe the clear sheet protector
    clean so it is ready for the next day’s homework.
  • Other children might benefit from a picture schedule.
  • Create a reward system for completing the chart.  This might be something like a preferred activity.
  • Use a timer during homework tasks for movement breaks.
  • Provide fidgets toys during homework.  We made a homework fidget bag that can be used everyday.
  • Schedule an active task after homework.
  • Provide one homework folder for all classes instead of several. 
  • Modify tasks if handwriting is a difficult area for the child.  
  • Break down assignments into smaller parts.
  • Use a single plastic bin
    to hold all required items for homework: pencils, pencil sharpener, crayons, ruler, erasers, etc.
  • Provide bins for school items.  The backpack and any needed items like the backpack, school shoes, equipment, hats, and gloves can be placed in the bin and are at easy access for the next morning.
Transistions are often an area of difficulty for kdis with sensory processing disorder or learning disabilities.  The inflexibility and inability to initiate tasks interfere with the flow from homework to other functional tasks.  A child with sensory needs will often times need outside cues to comprehend transitions.  

Try a few of these ideas to help with organizing kids in the after-school and home time before bed time:
  • Create evening schedules that include dinner prep times and eating times.  Include tasks that the child completes like helping to set the table and cleaning up after dinner.  
  • Create an organization center with white boards for after school commitments like appointments and activities.
  • Create bedtime routine checklists or picture schedules.
  • Provide a calm-down time before bed at a consistent time every day.  Encourage winding down with a darkened room and low lights.
These organization tips might not work for every child with sensory needs.  Some kids might benefit from some of these organization tips and not others.  These ideas and tools will take time.  It is important to build a structure that becomes part of the daily routine in your home.


Be sure to stop by and see tips for Helping Sensory Kids Get Organized at School to help your sensory child get organized at school.  These tips will help your child with the after school organization transitions, too.
How to help disorganized kids get organized at home with homework and after school to evening time.

Cute Unicorn Craft for Fine Motor Scissor Skills

I love creating crafts for kids that serve a purpose.  There are a lot of anti-kids craft-ers out there, but as an Occupational Therapist, I am in the camp that kids crafts are GREAT for working on fine motor skills.  Direction following, task completion, fine motor work, and dexterity (among other goal areas) can all be addressed with a fun craft that kids will have fun making and be proud of! 


(AND, the bonus to a purposeful craft is that it’s fun for the kids to make something that interests the child…whether it’s a specific animal, a favorite character, or a season…crafts build up a child with excitement and smiles.)


I do have to say, though that process-oriented arty creations are equally precious in child development and learning.  It’s all about balance! 


This super cute Unicorn craft is one that my kids loved making, and we worked on scissor skills and fine motor skills.  And they didn’t even know it!

Cute unicorn craft for kids that is great for fine motor skills and scissor skills.


Unicorn Craft for Kids

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.


You’ll need these materials to make a Unicorn Craft:
White and Pink card stock
paper

Pink card stock paper
Scissors
(These are the brand I love best for kids and new scissor users.)

Hole punch

Yarn
in different colors. We used pink, purple, white, and blue.

Small Googly eye

Glue

Scissor Skills Unicorn craft for kids



First, you’ll need to cut the white card stock
into several shapes: One large rectangle, three small rectangles, a square, and a triangle.  Cut the pink card stock into a wing shape. Cut the yarn
into small pieces about 4 inches long.


Cute unicorn craft for kids that is great for fine motor skills and scissor skills.

How to help kids cut on the lines:

Making this craft is a great way to work on and practice scissor skills including cutting multiple-angled shapes like rectangles, squares, and triangles.  I made an example of the unicorn craft and had my preschooler practice cutting on the lines.  Cutting card stock
is a great medium for younger kids because of the thicker paper and more resistance to the scissors during cutting.  This, along with a thick line like a crayon line provides an easier task for younger kids.  Thicker lines and paper provide a child with a graded down component to the craft and allow for more accuracy.  



Another way to provide help to a younger child who is completing this craft is to position the shape on the edge of the paper, so a rectangle would have only two cutting lines into the paper.  The child can then reposition the paper instead of cutting around a corner.


Once all of the shapes are cut, glue them together in a unicorn shape.  Use the hold punch to create holes along one of the small rectangles and on the corner of the large rectangle.


Tie the yarn into the hole punch holes.  To do this, pinch the center of the yarn and push it into the hole.  Then, pull it halfway through the hole and slip the tail ends of the yarn into the loop.  Do this for the unicorn’s mane and tail.  Trip the excess yarn to a shorter and even length.  

Cute unicorn craft for kids that is great for fine motor skills and scissor skills.

Cutting the yarn
is a great way to work on scissor skills: A child needs to hold the yarn with one hand and cut with the other, working on bilateral coordination skills.  A different medium like yarn or string is a fun way to encourage more scissor practice, including accuracy and precision of snips.

Cute unicorn craft for kids that is great for fine motor skills and scissor skills.

Fine Motor Unicorn Craft

So, how can you encourage fine motor skills with this craft?  Simply by doing it!  It’s a powerhouse of fine motor work.  From cutting, snipping, hole punching, and threading the yarn through the holes, knotting the yarn, and gluing on the Googly eye: it’s a fine motor work out!


This post is part of the A-Z Kids craft series.  U is for unicorn!  Stop by and see all of the letters here:

 Kids crafts
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Cute unicorn craft for kids that is great for fine motor skills and scissor skills.



More easy and fun crafts for kids that you will love:

Scarecrow craft  Germ Kids craft Pirate Puppet