Visual Motor Integration Tool with KORXX Blocks

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by KORXX.  All opinions are my own.

We found a new favorite building toy for play, learning, and imagination, and are so excited to share it with you.  If you haven’t played with KORXX blocks before, you are in for a fine motor and visual motor integration treat.  These cork building blocks are a natural and sustainable and a light material for little builders. We received a set of KORXX blocks to try and had a blast using them for a visual motor integration challenge.  Using blocks to assess and build a child’s visual motor integration skills are an easy way to challenge the skills needed for skills such as handwriting and letter formation and any task that requires the child to use the hands and eyes together in a coordinated and effective manner.  

Address visual motor integration in written work by improving visual perception using block copying skills with KORXX cork blocks.
When we played with our KORXX blocks, we were excited to see how the blocks can easily be used to create three dimensional or two dimensional constructions. The therapist in me immediately noted the unique opportunity for addressing visual motor integration skills in this toy! 
Address visual motor integration in written work by improving visual perception using block copying skills with KORXX cork blocks.

Visual Motor Integration and KORXX Building Blocks

Blocks are quite often used as a therapy tool to address and assess visual motor integration skills.  The fact that blocks are a toy that is common in classrooms, playrooms, and therapy gyms makes using blocks for eye and hand skill needs easy and fun for kids.  
Visual motor integration skills are essential for any task that requires the hands to manipulate items based on what the eye perceives.  In that manner, our eyes must perceive certain information and process it to allow our hands to work in an efficient manner to produce written work, catch a ball, manipulate clothing fasteners, or copy and draw shapes and pictures.  
Visual motor integration is an essential skill needed for forming and copying letters in handwriting.
Address visual motor integration in written work by improving visual perception using block copying skills with KORXX cork blocks.

Visual Perceptual Skills and Visual Motor Integration

Skills that fall under visual perception are needed for visual motor integration. Skills such as form constancy, visual memory, visual discrimination, visual figure ground, visual closure, and visual sequential memory.
Form Constancy allows us to recognize shapes or letters and numbers no matter what position they might be in.  Blocks positioned on their side or in a different direction are still the same block.  A large oval shaped KORXX block is still a large oval shaped block and can be recognized for use in copying block patterns.
Visual Memory allows us to hold a memory in our mind of something we just saw.  It also allows us to recall letter formation when writing.  When we shift our vision to copy written work from the chalk board onto our paper, we are using visual memory to hold and then recreate that piece of information.  KORXX blocks can be used to address this skill by creating a block form in the upright position and then constructing a two dimensional copy of that form with the same shape and sized blocks.
Visual Discrimination allows us to discriminate between differences in parts of letters (for example, we are able to see the difference between an “R” and a “P”).  The different sizes in the KORXX block sets are perfect for this visual perception skill.
Visual Figure Ground is a skill that allows us to locate and identify items when they are scattered among other items.  Locating a single puzzle piece on a table of puzzle pieces is just on example of this skill.  Use the KORXX blocks to locate needed pieces when they are scattered on the table.
Visual Closure allows us to identify an object when we are able to see only a portion of it.  Blocks that are stacked in a scatter on a table surface require visual closure for children to locate specific needed pieces.  They can locate a small oval KORXX block when it is partially covered.
Visual Sequential Memory allows us to create words or numbers in the correct sequence.  When building and copying block forms, we need to start with the correct KORXX blocks in order to copy the form.
So, using the parts of visual perception is a necessary part of copying letters and words in written work, math problems, and block forms in a play activity!
Address visual motor integration in written work by improving visual perception using block copying skills with KORXX cork blocks.
For our block play, we used our Kuller set KORXX block set to copy different forms.  I created a few multi-dimension block forms to add a depth perception component.  I set up blocks in  front of my preschooler and asked her to copy the forms.  By looking for the correct block on the table surface, she had to use all of the visual perception areas described above.  
Address visual motor integration in written work by improving visual perception using block copying skills with KORXX cork blocks.
This is such a great exercise for kids who are copying written work from an overhead position.  In the classroom, kids might have to copy their homework from an overhead position.  Between using the information they perceive in combination with their motor component of forming letters and manipulating the pencil, there are a lot of areas where illegibility can occur.
Address visual motor integration in written work by improving visual perception using block copying skills with KORXX cork blocks.
Try using simpler block copying forms to address visual motor and visual perception needs can be done with forms placed flat on the table surface in a top-to-bottom orientation.  Place the block form on the table and the child can construct their own form directly under the block form.  Limit the number of KORXX blocks that are presented to the child.
Address visual motor integration in written work by improving visual perception using block copying skills with KORXX cork blocks.

A little more information about KORXX blocks:

  • These eco-friendly blocks are all natural and made free of any harmful contaminants. There are no phthalates, dioxins, or other sensory emissions. The product adheres to the guidelines for children’s toys (under 3 years) and the harmonized standard DIN EN 71.
  • The soft and light cork blocks provide excellent stability without slippage. This makes them perfect for grasping by young children.
  • The KORXX bricks are made from natural cork harvested without harming the trees.
  • KORXX is an all natural and sustainable building block made from natural cork harvested without harming the trees.
You can purchase any of the KORXX block sets here.
Address visual motor integration in written work by improving visual perception using block copying skills with KORXX cork blocks.

Check out these activities using KORXX blocks:

Nature Play with KORXX Blocks from Fireflies and Mud Pies  

Balancing Activities with KORXX Quiet Blocks from Preschool Inspirations


Clothing Fasteners and Sensory Processing Issues

One aspect of the Activities of Daily Living we complete each day is fastening clothing fasteners. In this blog post we are covering the skills needed for managing clothing fasteners.

Sensory processing affects everything we do.  From movement and learning on down to the tiniest snaps and buttons that adorn our clothing.  Many times, children with problems with sensory processing skills have difficulty with manipulating clothing fasteners. 

Here, you will find sensory-related issues that may impact a child’s ability to fasten and manipulate clothing fasteners, strategies that can help with independence in addressing sensory processing issues, and sensory-friendly clothing fastener solutions. 

Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues can affect buttons, snaps, buckles, and zippers.

Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues


Clothing Fasteners and Sensory Issues

Today in the Functional Skills for Kids series, ten Occupational Therapist and Physical Therapist bloggers are sharing everything there is to know about manipulating buttons, snaps, zippers, and buckles.  

The child with sensory processing issues may experience patterns of behavior related to many skills needed for managing clothing fasteners. In turn, a difficulty in movement, reactions, balance, and posture can interfere with managing buttons, zippers, snaps, and buckles.   Clumsy fine motor skills may present during manipulation of clothing fasteners.  

There are many other issues that present with sensory processing problems that may present during management of clothing fasteners:

Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues


Vestibular Sensory and clothing fasteners:

Poor bilateral coordination– Children with poor sensory processing often times present with bilateral coordination difficulties. Gross motor tasks and coordinated use of the hands in fine motor tasks at midline appear to be clumsy.  Managing buttons, snaps, and zippers are difficult when asking these children to use their hands together. Tasks such as buttoning and zipping require one hand to perform a precision task while the other hand assists.  These types of skills challenge the child with poor bilateral coordination.  While children with poor bilateral coordination may not have a clear established dominant hand, it can be difficult to manipulate buttons when one hand is not defined as the “skilled” hand. 

Difficulty with movement– Children with unmet sensory needs can present as fidgety and uncoordinated, making clothing fastener management quite difficult. 

Low Muscle Tone– Children with sensory processing difficulties quite often present with low tone. Weakness in the arms, shoulder girdle, and core can prompt the child to stabilize on table surfaces or with accommodating positioning.  These issues along with tone and strength weaknesses in the hands then prevents the child from manipulating clothing fasteners or enduring the length of a buttoning/zippering/etc task.  Fatigue can limit training sessions or prevent the child from completing clothing fastener tasks in an efficient manner

Poor motor planning (dyspraxia)–  A vestibular dysfunction can result in poor motor planning with the child having trouble in planning out the sequence of buttoning and unbuttoning clothing, or engaging a zipper into the chamber, then pulling up the pull. It can be difficult for these children to generalize what they have practice on a dressing board to clothing on the body.  Likewise, generalizing skills they have practiced with one sweater (and one size buttons/clothing material/ button hole opening/etc) to another sweater or one zipper to another zipper can be difficult.

Proprioceptive Issues and clothing fasteners:

Seek sensory feedback– Children who present with proprioceptive dysfunction may seek out sensory feedback.  Snaps or zippers can be a source of sensory feedback in an inefficient manner.

Inefficient body awareness– See below.

Inefficient grading of movement– Managing clothing fasteners can be difficult for the child who has trouble grading the amount of movement needed for positioning their arms and maintaining position while fastening clothing.  These children might grip the zipper pull too lightly or too tightly making fastening a zipper difficult.  Buttons might pull off of clothing when the child with grading issues attempts to button or unbutton clothing. 

Poor motor planning (dyspraxia)– See below

Tactile Sensory Needs and clothing fasteners:

Hypersensitive to touch (Tactile Defensiveness)– The child with tactile defensiveness may have trouble manipulating clothing fasteners.  Certain clothing materials can be offensive to children with tactile defensiveness.  The texture of a zipper or Velcro can cause an adverse reaction.  Stiff collars or zippers, belts, and rough clothing textures and fasteners can cause a negative reaction from the child who is hypersensitive to touch.  These children may prefer clothing without fasteners or refuse to wear coats or jackets with these offensive fasteners.  

Hyposensitivity or an under-responsiveness to touch– The child with hyposensitivity to touch may present during an attempt to complete clothing fasteners.  These children may fail to realize that they have omitted buttons or snaps on their clothing.  

Poor tactile discrimination– Children who have difficulty with discriminating touch have difficulty manipulating items and using their hands without looking at what their hands are doing.  These children may be unable to perform the steps of buttoning and unbuttoning, zippering, and snapping clothing fasteners without visual cues.  They might perform these tasks in peculiar manners with inefficient grasps.   These children may seem to touch their clothing fasteners excessively, such as run their fingers up and down the zipper.  They enjoy the sensory feedback from running their hands over clothing fasteners.  

Poor tactile perception–  The child with poor tactile perception  will have trouble with perceiving the location of button holes without visually looking at the fasteners.  They will have trouble identifying the two sides of a zipper by touch.

Poor body awareness–  Children with sensory processing issues often times have trouble with body awareness.  They have difficulty knowing where their body is in space and how to move it in order to perform tasks.  Moving the arms in order to perform fine motor tasks such as buttoning and unbuttoning a sweater can be quite difficult.  

Poor motor planning (dyspraxia)–  Sensory processing issues may present with resulting dyspraxia or motor planning difficulties.  These kids have trouble organizing and following through with the movement needed to perform tasks such as buttoning and zippering.  These children will have trouble with precision of fine motor manipulation, making engaging a zipper and buttoning and unbuttoning very difficult. 

Visual Spatial Processing and clothing fasteners:

Difficulty seeing with eyes working as a “team”, particularly when managing fasteners on the body.

Difficulty shifting gaze from different planes when managing fasteners on the body.

Confuse or mis-align buttons to button holes. May present with increased difficulty when managing buttons on the body.

Difficulty with sequential tasks in buttoning or zipper management.

Looking at all of these different areas, it is easy to see why the child with sensory processing issues has trouble with managing clothing fasteners!

Many children have several of the above issues that present as a result of sensory concerns.  Bilateral coordination or low tone concerns may be accompanied by evidence of poor sensory processing.  Observations of issues described above may be part of the explanation for difficulty with fine motor manipulation, but it is important to note that every child is different and what is described here may not be the entire story.  Strategies and descriptions here will not explain every issue with clothing fasteners when sensory issues are present.

So, what is to be done to help kids with building independence and carrying over skills to allow kids to independently managing buttons, zippers, snaps, and buckles on their clothing?

RELATED READ: Zipper Activities for Kids

Sensory Strategies for clothing fasteners:

Some children with tactile discrimination difficulties have trouble processing the the spatial or temporal information gathered through touch during tasks such as managing clothing fasteners. Intervention for tactile dysfunction can be done along with intervention for dyspraxia.  Deep pressure, activities that provide tactile sensation with temporal and spatial qualities, brushing the skin, using vibrating stimulation to the skin, and tactile play activities can help with discrimination needed for clothing fasteners.  

Sensory needs may benefit from heavy input through the hands, strengthening, positioning, visual and verbal cues, practicing fastener management on the body, and practicing fasteners while seated or standing. 

Sensory Strategies to Help Kids with Clothing Fasteners

Affiliate links are included in this post. 

Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues

Provide vibrating tactile sensory input with this Orbeez foot spa.  Typically, this toy is used with water beads for a sensory play activity.  We filled ours with crafting pom poms in various sizes and textures.  The vibrating bottom provides a vibratory tactile sensation, which is perfect for the hands. We explored the textures of the crafting pom poms as the foot spa vibrated and shook the pom poms.  Add additional components to this activity with small hidden toys that allow for visual discrimination, tactile perception, and awareness of body movements. 

Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues using vibrating tactile sensory tools

More sensory strategies that can help with independence in clothing fasteners:

  • A weighted weighted blanket can be a source of heavy input for proprioception needs.  
  • Outline the button holes with a dark color thread or marker for easy visual perception.
  • Deep pressure through the hands is a technique that sometimes helps when manipulating clothing fasteners.  
Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues using fingerless gloves
Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues using fingerless gloves
Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues using fingerless gloves