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.
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