Use Wind-Up Toys Fine Motor Activity

So, we have a small collection of wind-up toys.  They are one of our favorite ways to play.  There is just something about a chattereing set of teeth that walk that makes a kid smile.  When you add in the fine motor benefits of playing with wind-up toys, it’s a big bonus to those smiles!  Grab a few wind-up toys and start building fine motor skills.

In-hand manipulation activities are a great way to boost fine motor skills needed for tasks like managing clothing fasteners, using a pencil when writing, manipulating items like coins or beads, and more. 

For more ways to build fine motor skills, try this in-hand manipulation puzzle.  

Wind-up toys are a great way to build fine motor skills.  In order to make the toys go, you need to wind a small knob on the side of the toy.  This skill is one type of in-hand manipulation called rotation that is needed for skills like turning a pencil with the tips of your finger.  Read more about the types of in-hand manipulation here. 

Help kids work on fine motor skills using wind-up toys
Affiliate links are included in this post. 

You can use wind-up toys for a fine motor activity by using several different toys.  These are perfect little toys to add to Easter baskets or birthday gifts for kids.  Ours are a collection that we have had for a couple of years now, but there are so many available out there.  These little Spring bunnies and chicks are perfect for the fine motor activity we did.

Use wind up toys to work on fine motor skills

Wind-Up Toys Fine Motor Activity

This activity is so easy and a great way to work on in-hand manipulation and bilateral coordination skills.  Line up a few strands of yard or shoe laces on a table.  Place one wind-up toy in each lane and have a race!  It’s a fun way to encourage fine motor strengthening.

wind up toys fine motor activity
Create a wind-up toy fine motor activity race for kids to work on in-hand manipulation and other fine motor skills

Visual Perception Activity


Following the moving wind-up toys is an activity to develop and strengthen visual tracking, too. 

Kids will love to have races over and over again with this wind-up toy fine motor activity! 

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Use wind-up toys to work on in-hand manipulation and other fine motor skills
Wind up toy fine motor activity races

Occupational Therapy Month

April is Occupational Therapy month!  To celebrate, I’ve created a month of images that can be shared on social media.  Each image is an underlying area that influences development and includes a therapist quick tip.  These are occupational therapy tricks and tips! 


It’s my hope that each day in April, you’ll share your creative ways to work on these skills.  Join us each day on The OT Toolbox’s Facebook page to share your favorite ways to address these areas!

Happy Occupational Therapy Month!


 Kinesthetic learning activities
DAY 1: Kinesthetic Learning- Try these kinesthetic learning activities.
 Vestibular activities for kids
DAY 2: Vestibular Activities- Try these vestibular activities.
 Toys and tools to help with attention
 Laterality and hand dominance
DAY 4: Try these activities to address laterality and hand dominance.
 Proprioception activities
DAY 5: Try these activities to develop and address proprioception needs. 
 Distal finger control exercises
 Neat pincer grasp activities
DAY 7: Try these Neat Pincer Grasp activities.
 Tactile sensory input activities
DAY 8: Try these activities to develop tactile discrimination and the tactile sense.
 Bilateral coordination activities
 What is motor planning activities
DAY 10: Try these activities if you are wondering, “What is motor planning?”

   olfactory sense scented play

DAY 11: Try these olfactory sense scented play ideas.

 Eye-hand coordination activities
 Visual scanning activity
DAY 13: This is a fun visual scanning activity.
 In-hand manipulation activities
DAY 14: Read more about in-hand manipulation activities.
 What is finger isolation
DAY 15: Read more about finger isolation.
 Precision of grasp activities
DAY 16: Try these precision of grasp activities.
 Visual discrimination activity
DAY 17: Try this activity to build visual discrimination.
 What is visual memory
DAY 18: Read more about visual memory here.
 Visual closure activity
DAY 19: Try this activity to develop visual closure.
 Form constancy visual perception activity
DAY 20: Try this technique to develop form constancy.
DAY 21: This is a fun way to develop visual figure ground skills.
 Visual tracking tips and tools
DAY 22: Try these visual tracking tips and tools.
 auditory processing activities
Day 23: Try these auditory processing activities.
 Core strengthening with music
 intrinsic hand strengthening
DAY 25: Use these strategies to build intrinsic hand strength.
 Task initiation executive functioning strategies
 Toys for extended wrist stability

 How to help kids learn impulse control
DAY 28: Use these ideas to help kids learn impulse control.
 Use animal crackers  oral motor exercise
DAY 29: This is a fun way to practice oral motor exercise.
 Visual spatial skills
DAY 30: Try these activities to help with visual spatial skills.

More Strategies to Help Impulse Control in the Classroom

Kids struggle with impulse control.  It’s natural.  In the classroom, impulsive actions can mean trouble for kids.  When kids act out in school, attention lags, peers are distracted, and learning suffers.  Recently, I shared some strategies to help kids improve impulse control.  There was a nice list of strategies to help with self-control in the classroom.  It has been well-received with readers so I wanted to share even MORE strategies to help kids with impulse control in the classroom.  



Strategies to help impulse control in the classroom


It’s my hope that these strategies can help teachers who are struggling to keep kids on task and focused when impulses are interfering with learning. 


Strategies to Help with Impulse Control


Ask for help
Impulse Control Journal
Pair up with someone who has good impulse control
Use a timer for activities
Count to 3 before answering
Reduce visual distractions
Act out appropriate behaviors
Use timer apps
Tell someone else your goals
Work on problem solving skills
Use a daily schedule
Prioritize important tasks
Work on anger management skills
Make a schedule
Reduce clutter
Play impulse control games like Red Light, Green Light and Simon Says
Create a list of rules and post them where they can be seen
Break big tasks into smaller portions
Provide positive feedback
Use a goal tracker
Teach listening skills


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Strategies to help impulse control in the classroom



This free printable packet may also be of use if you are struggling to address issues with impulse control in kids. You’ll also receive a short email series loaded with information on impulse control and resources and strategies that can really help.


That’s why I created The Impulse Control Journal.

The Impulse control journal is a printable journal for kids that helps them to identify goals, assess successes, and address areas of needs.  The Impulse Control Journal is a printable packet of sheets that help kids with impulse control needs.


Read more about The Impulse Control Journal HERE


The Impulse Control Journal has been totally revamped to include 79 pages of tools to address the habits, mindst, routines, and strategies to address impulse control in kids. 



More about the Impulse Control Journal:

  • 30 Drawing Journal Pages to reflect and pinpoint individual strategies 
  • 28 Journal Lists so kids can write quick checklists regarding strengths, qualities, supports, areas of need, and insights 
  • 8 Journaling worksheets to pinpoint coping skills, feelings, emotions, and strategies that work for the individual 
  • Daily and Weekly tracking sheets for keeping track of tasks and goals 
  • Mindset,Vision, and Habit pages for helping kids make an impact 
  • Self-evaluation sheets to self-reflect and identify when inhibition is hard and what choices look like 
  • Daily tracker pages so your child can keep track of their day 
  • Task lists to monitor chores and daily tasks so it gets done everyday  
  • Journal pages to help improve new habits  
  • Charts and guides for monitoring impulse control so your child can improve their self-confidence  
  • Strategy journal pages to help kids use self-reflection and self-regulation so they can succeed at home and in the classroom  
  • Goal sheets for setting goals and working to meet those goals while improving persistence  
  • Tools for improving mindset to help kids create a set of coping strategies that work for their needs  
  
This is a HUGE digital resource that you can download and print to use over and over again.  





Kinesthetic Learning Activities for Outside

Taking the learning outside can make a big difference.  As the weather warms up, it can be hard to keep the attention in the classroom.  The birds are chirping, trees are blossoming, and the muddy lawns are calling!  So, when kids want to be nothing more than outside playing, how do you keep them focused and learning?  Try taking the learning outside!  These kinesthetic learning activities are perfect for the outside play this time of year and all year long.  Add some movement and outdoor play and facts are sure to stick when kids are out of the classroom and outdoors!


Try these kinesthetic learning activities for outside to help kids who need to move while learning.




Kinesthetic Learning Activities for Outside

I recently shared a post on tactile learning with a sight word sensory tray. I talked a little bit about kinesthetic learning and how some kids just seek tactile input in their learning.  Tactile learners and kinesthetic learners are a lot alike.  Kinesthetic learners need to move their bodies, manipulate materials, and really interact with learning materials.  These children tend to fidget, wiggle, slouch, or get up out of their seats when in the classroom setting.  This site has a lot of great information on kinesthetic learning. 


Try taking the learning outside to really get some space and movement into the learning experiences.  You could try these activities when practicing math facts, spelling words, vocabulary, memorization, or many other areas.  


Outdoor Learning Activities that Use Kinesthetic Movement

  • Balance Beam Adventure-  Use a jump rope or a board to create a balance beam maze on a driveway or sidewalk.  With sidewalk chalk, draw fish in a pond.  Kids can walk on the balance beam without falling into the “water”.  When they are on the balance beam, ask kids to hop while stating facts or other learning tasks.  Try a bean bag toss game when on the balance beam.  Kids can toss a bean bag into a target while spelling words.
  • No Peeking Simon Says- Play Simon Says outside in the backyard.  This version requires kids to keep their eyes closed when they perform the actions.  As they play, ask them questions.  You might ask them to touch their nose for “true” facts or to touch their shoulders for “false” facts.  Get creative with movement and learning with this one!
  • Backyard maze- Create a maze in the backyard by placing obstacles around the lawn.  Kids can look at the simple maze and then walk with their eyes closed as another person “guides” them with verbal directions around the obstacles.  Set up stations around the obstacle course where they need to answer questions.  This can be as simple as a printed out sheet of questions.  They just may recall the answers later by thinking about where they were in the obstacle course when they learned about those facts!
       This pre-reading obstacle course is perfect for kinesthetic learners. 
  • Backyard Yoga- Try yoga in the outdoors with kid-friendly yoga games like found in this book.  Try having your child close their eyes during yoga moves to incorporate position of body in space.  Add deep breath spelling or math facts while breathing in and out for several counts.
  • Hopscotch Math-  Practice math facts like addition or multiplication with a hopscotch game on the driveway.
  • Sidewalk Chalk Learning- Kids can use sidewalk chalk in so many ways!  Write out spelling words.  Do math homework on the driveway.  Write out vocabulary words.  Use patio pads or bricks to work on perimeter, area, or geometry.  What would you add?
  • Take a Walk-  Go on a stroll while reviewing information.  What a great way to learn in nature!
Try some of these outdoor lawn games with the kids. 

How can you add learning and movement to the backyard to better serve your kinesthetic learners?

outside activities for kinesthetic learning for kids

How to incorporate sensory and motor play into playing outside

Sensory diet activities can be specific to sensory system like these vestibular sensory diet activities. Sensory activities can be prescribed according to need along with environment in order to maximize sensory input within a child’s day such as within the school day. Using authentic sensory input within the child’s environment plays into the whole child that we must understand when focusing on any goal toward improved functional independence. 

Many sensory diet activities can naturally be found outdoors. In fact, outdoor sensory diet activities are a fun way to encourage sensory input in a child’s environment and without fancy therapy equipment or tools. 

It’s a fact that kids are spending less time playing outdoors. From after-school schedules to two working parents, to unsafe conditions, to increased digital screen time, to less outdoor recess time…kids just get less natural play in the outdoors. Some therapists have connected the dots between less outdoor play and increased sensory struggles and attention difficulties in learning. 

Knowing this, it can be powerful to have a list of outdoor sensory diet activities that can be recommended as therapy home programing and family activities that meet underlying needs.

That’s where the Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards and Sensory Challenge Cards come into play.

They are a FREE printable resource that encourages sensory diet strategies in the outdoors. In the printable packet, there are 90 outdoor sensory diet activities, 60 outdoor recess sensory diet activities, 30 blank sensory diet cards, and 6 sensory challenge cards. They can be used based on preference and interest of the child, encouraging motivation and carryover, all while providing much-needed sensory input.

Here’s a little more information about the Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards
  • 90 outdoor sensory diet activities
  • 60 outdoor recess sensory diet activities
  • 30 blank sensory diet cards, and 6 sensory challenge cards
  • They can be used based on preference and interest of the child, encouraging motivation and carryover, all while providing much-needed sensory input. 
  • Research tells us that outdoor play improves attention and provides an ideal environment for a calm and alert state, perfect for integration of sensory input.
  • Outdoor play provides input from all the senses, allows for movement in all planes, and provides a variety of strengthening components including eccentric, concentric, and isometric muscle contractions. 
  • Great tool for parents, teachers, AND therapists!


Be sure to grab the Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards and use them with a child (or adult) with sensory processing needs!

Outdoor sensory diet activity cards for parents, teachers, and therapists of children with sensory processing needs.

Flower Theme Free Visual Perception Worksheet

I’ve got a bunch of freebies coming your way and this flower theme free visual perception worksheet is one of them.  Kids need to work on visual perceptual skills for many reasons. Skills like handwriting and scissor use are oftentimes, a result of difficulties with visual perceptual skills.  This visual perception worksheet can be part of a set of activities that help address those needs.  This Flower themed Visual Perception sheet helps kids develop and build skills such as visual discrimination, spatial reasoning, visual motor skills, and motor planning.  


This free printable sheet is much like our space theme visual perception puzzle which is also a freebie for you!

Kids can work on pencil control and motor planning to connect matching flowers by making their pencil go around the other flowers that are in their path. 


Visual perceptual skills are needed for so many functional skills. You’ll find easy and fun ways to work on visual perceptual skills through play here. 

Flower theme free visual perception worksheet to help kids work on visual perceptual skills like visual discrimination, visual memory, visual attention, and pencil control needed for handwriting.

Click the button to download the free printable sheet.  You will be directed to a page with all of our free visual perception worksheets that you are welcome to download as well.  

Flower Theme Free Visual Perception Worksheet



There are many skills that this sheet can help to address:


Visual Discrimination– Noticing and identifying subtle differences in shapes, colors, direction, and forms is a necessary skill for functional tasks like matching socks or silverware.  Visual discrimination is a skill that is essential for handwriting, reading, and math.  CHildren who struggle with visual discrimination may not notice small details or may confuse letters or numbers that are similar like b, d, 2, and 5. 

Spatial Reasoning– This skill is what allows us to walk around objects in our path with enough space.  Spatial reasoning is needed for handwriting when determining if a word will fit in a given space or if we need to write smaller or move to the next line at the end of the right margin.  Encourage kids to draw pencil strokes around the planets so they don’t touch the other planets with their pencil.  Visual spatial relations is a spatial reasoning skill. 

Visual Motor Skills– Coordinating visual information with movements of the hands is a skill that is needed for handwriting.  Use a writing utensil to connect the matching planets and moons while working on visual motor skills needed for written work. 

Visual Memory–  Children need visual memory for handwriting, reading, math, and many tasks during the school day.  Visual memory is a skill that allows us to store a visual piece of information or a form in our mind and recall the characteristics of that form.  



Try these other visual perception activities:


Wacky Wednesday Visual Perception Activity

Space Visual Discrimination Free Printable

Visual discrimination is a skill that kids need for so many skills.  From identifying and matching socks when getting dressed and doing laundry to recognizing subtle differences in multiple choice problems, visual discrimination is a visual perceptual skill that allows kids to excel in reading, writing, and math activities or struggle!  This space visual discrimination free printable is an easy way to work on those skills with a space theme.


Visual perceptual skills are needed for so many functional skills. You’ll find easy and fun ways to work on visual perceptual skills through play here. 


This space themed visual discrimination free printable sheet is great to help kids develop visual perceptual skills.

 


Space Theme Visual Discrimination Activity

Use this space theme visual discrimination free printable over and over again.  You can laminate it or slide it into a page protector and write with a dry erase marker.  This is a quick activity that really boosts the skills needed to distinguish small details between objects.  
Grab your free printable by clicking the button above.  Print it off and use the sheet over and over again to address visual discrimination skills.  
 

Looking for more visual perceptual skill activities?  

Visual memory plays a large part in visual discrimination.  
Related read: These visual perception apple theme shape stamps are a perfect way to work on visual perceptual skills and fine motor skills with DIY stampers.Wacky Wednesday Visual Perception Activity

 
Use this space themed visual discrimination free printable page to help kids develop visual perceptual skills.

Space Visual Perception Puzzle

This visual perception space puzzle is a fun one for kids who love all things outer space!  Sometimes a fun puzzle is just the way to make to therapy fun.  This Space Visual Perception Puzzle helps kids develop and build skills such as visual discrimination, spatial reasoning, visual motor skills, and motor planning.  


Kids can work on pencil control and motor planning to connect matching planets and shapes, but be sure to go around the planets that are in your way!  

Use this space visual perception puzzle to work on visual motor and visual perceptual skills needed for handwriting, reading, and math.


Space Visual Perception Puzzle


When completing this visual perception puzzle, kids are working on several skills:


Visual Discrimination– Noticing and identifying subtle differences in shapes, colors, direction, and forms is a necessary skill for functional tasks like matching socks or silverware.  Visual discrimination is a skill that is essential for handwriting, reading, and math.  CHildren who struggle with visual discrimination may not notice small details or may confuse letters or numbers that are similar like b, d, 2, and 5. 


Spatial Reasoning– This skill is what allows us to walk around objects in our path with enough space.  Spatial reasoning is needed for handwriting when determining if a word will fit in a given space or if we need to write smaller or move to the next line at the end of the right margin.  Encourage kids to draw pencil strokes around the planets so they don’t touch the other planets with their pencil.  Visual spatial relations is a spatial reasoning skill. 


Visual Motor Skills– Coordinating visual information with movements of the hands is a skill that is needed for handwriting.  Use a writing utensil to connect the matching planets and moons while working on visual motor skills needed for written work. 


Visual Memory–  Children need visual memory for handwriting, reading, math, and many tasks during the school day.  Visual memory is a skill that allows us to store a visual piece of information or a form in our mind and recall the characteristics of that form.  


This printable sheet can be used over and over again if you laminate it or slide it into a page protector.  Just use a dry erase marker to erase the lines and re-use the puzzle again. 


The best news is that this space visual perception puzzle is FREE!  






Grab your free download by clicking the button below.  You’ll be directed to enter your email address and will be directed to the download.


There are a lot of other visual perception and visual motor activities on this site that you will love.  


Try some of these visual motor activities: 

 Visual motor integration activities using paper visual processing and visual efficiency problems
Click on the images below to find many more ways to develop visual perceptual skills:
 Visual discrimination activities

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Activities to Improve Oculomotor Dysfunction

Oculomotor function refers to the
six muscles surrounding each eye.  These
muscles work together to produce controlled eye movements.  When there is oculomotor dysfunction evident, a child may have difficulty with depth perception, visual attention,
visual memory, visual perceptual tasks, visual scanning, spatial
disorientation, eye-hand coordination, balance, or reading and writing
tasks.  You can see how these
difficulties closely resemble problems that result from vestibular or
proprioceptive dysfunctions.  Likewise, kids with oculomotor dysfunction often times have difficulty with
visual motor skills.  If
ocuolomotor dysfunction is suspected, children should see a developmental optometrist for assessment.



Once a diagnosis is made, there are many things you can do
to improve oculomotor dysfunction in occupational therapy.






Try these activities to improve oculomotor function with kids.

The activities below are ones that challenge the muscles of the eye in coordination with movement changes.  Looking for more movement activities? Try these:


Childhood development and action rhymes


Farm theme brain breaks

Try these activities to improve oculomotor dysfunction:


Affiliate links are included. 
  • Balance board- This is a great price for a child’s balance board.  THIS ONE is great for older kids or children who seek more movement or challenging movement patterns.
  • Directional
    Jumping
  • Hopscotch
  • Write the letters of the alphabet in random order on a small ball (a softball works!).  Ask the child to hold the softball and rotate the ball to spell words.
  • Experience movement and direction
    changes with sequencing arrows.
  • Crawl through an obstacle course with a bean bag or pillow on the child’s back.  They can crawl along a masking tape course
    while keeping the object from falling from their back.
  • Hit a soft
    ball/balloon/crumbled paper with a tennis racket or paddle.
  • Zoom ball-as
    kids to keep their eyes on the ball.
  • Toss a large
    beach ball with letters or words written on it. 
    When they catch the ball, they should look at and say one word that is
    closest to their hands.
Movement activities to help improve oculomotor function

Click on the images below to find more creative movement activities that will improve oculomotor dysfunction:

Ooobleck recipe and sensory play with a marble run! This is awesome sensory play and creative fine motor work when kids scoop and pour the oobleck into the marble run.  Watching the oobleck slowly run down the marble run is so mesmerizing and calming!
Water table activity for kids: use a marble run and water beads for scooping and pouring fine motor and sensory fun this summer!