We’ve made our own Christmas tree gift tags last year. This version was just as much fun to make and we can’t wait to wrap a few presents with our DIY Gift tags! This Christmas tree art was great for preschoolers and toddler. All it took was a little stamping and cotton swab painting. If you’re not into making gift tags, this Christmas tree craft needs just a little stamping as a nice piece of holiday art to decorate with this Christmas!
Christmas Tree Gift Tag Craft
Note: This post contains affiliate links.
Christmas Tree Gift Tags
We started with a recycled paper tube that was bent into a triangle shape. This was dipped into green paint and ready for stamping all over the paper. Little Guy liked this part best, and made a ton of little trees on his paper.
A brown marker to draw little tree stumps on each triangle and it started to look more like Christmas trees. We used our Spill Proof Paint Cups and some cotton swabs to decorate our Christmas Trees.
Now this was Baby Girl’s favorite part of the painting! She reeeally got into dotting little decorations on her Christmas trees. Painting with the cotton swabs is such a good way to work o n tripod grasp for new pencil users and pre-handwriters. They were able to dab a little red paint in the spill proof cup and dot it onto the paper with a tripod grasp on the cotton swab.
Once the trees and the decorations were dry (and this took a while after Baby Girl painted…!) We snipped our papers into little gift tags and hole punched a place to tie a pretty ribbon.
Christmas Handwriting Activities
Writing out that Christmas wish list is a difficult task that brings out tears instead of holiday excitement. I’ve got a solution for your kiddo with handwriting difficulties: a packet of modified paper for all of the Christmas handwriting tasks that come up each year. Use this handwriting pack to help kids who struggle with handwriting to participate in holiday traditions while even working on and developing their handwriting skills! Working on handwriting with kids this Christmas season? Grab your copy of the Christmas Modified Handwriting Packet. It’s got three types of adapted paper that kids can use to write letters to Santa, Thank You notes, holiday bucket lists and much more…all while working on handwriting skills in a motivating and fun way! Read more about the adapted Christmas Paper here.
SALE! Save 25% on Modified Christmas Paper NOW THROUGH CYBER MONDAY.
Coupon code is HOLIDAY25
Use the Christmas modified paper handwriting pack to work on handwriting, letter size, letter formation, and legibility with meaningful and motivating activities:
Winter means cold and warm, fuzzy blankets! And the best part of cozy winter days is the vestibular and proprioceptive input that can be provided with a snugly blanket.
Vestibular Winter Activity to turn therapy into play
Grab a few heavy duty blankets and lay them out on the floor. Roll your child up like a winter burrito. Keep rolling once they are wrapped up tightly. Then, roll them in the other direction to unwrap the winter burrito. Change the vestibular input by creating a large roll with the blankets (without the child inside!) Use the blanket roll as a balance beam (like we did here) or to lay on.
Proprioception Winter Activity with Blankets
Rolling a child up in a blanket is a great way to provide deep input to a child’s whole body. This is calming and organizing. Add proprioceptive input for calming and regulating by piling pillows ontop of your child after they’ve been wrapped up in the blanket. Press evenly and gently, but firmly, with both hands to provide deep pressure input.
This post is part of our January Calendar activities where we’re sharing prorpioceptive and vestibular activities for each day. See all of the posts here.
Are you looking for more information on Vestibular or Proprioception (and ALL of the sensory systems) and how they affect functional skills, behavior, and the body’s sensory systems? This book, Sensory Processing 101, will explain it all. Activities and Resources are included. Get it today and never struggle to understand or explain Sensory Integration again. Shop HERE.
This time of year, you may have a few plastic gold coins laying around. If not, these are those gold coins you see around March in dollar stores or in the party aisle of the store. They might be used in party decorating or as a fun addition to St. Patrick’s Day activities. We had a handful of gold coins in our house and decided to use them in some fine motor activities. Below are 6 quick and easy ways to improve fine motor skills using gold coins.
Want these printable sheets in handout form? Grab the printable sheet by clicking the button below. You can use these exercises and activities in a home program or part of themed activities in the time leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. OR, use regular coins and use this printable sheet of exercises all year long!
First, you will need a handful of gold coins. You can grab them here. You could also use play money like we did here or just use regular real money coins!
1. In-Hand Manipulation- Transfer the coins one at a time from the palm of the hand into the fingertips to drop them into a bank. don’t have a coin bank that’s big enough for the gold coins? No problem! Use a knife to slice an opening in the top of a cardboard box or container with a plastic lid such as a recycled raisin container. Younger children can drop the coins into an empty tissue box. In-hand manipulation activities can help with tasks like clothing fasteners, shoe tying, and pencil grasp.
2. Fine Motor Precision- Use the coins to practice fine motor precision and graded movements by stacking the coins. The more, the better, especially with older students. Stack the coins, one at a time, onto one another in a stack. Don’t let the coins fall! Precision is an important fine motor skill needed for many fine motor tasks.
3. Open Thumb Webspace- Make a “sandwich” with the coins and improve that thumb webspace to use in pencil grasp, scissor use, and activities such as managing clothing fasteners. Kids can hold three coins in a tip-to-tip grasp as they oppose the thumb to the pointer finger while ensuring the thumb is open in an “O” shape. Activities to improve an open thumb web space are important for pencil grasp and manipulation of small items.
4. Finger Translation- Another in-hand manipulation activity, this one helps kids work on the ability to rotate items like a pencil or a coin (a real one!) between the pad of the thumb and the pad of the pointer, middle, and ring fingers. This in-hand manipulation activity can be practiced by holding the edge of the coin and rolling it in a circular motion along the finger pads. Try these ideas to improve translation using small water beads and a plastic bottle.
5. Finger Isolation- Place several gold coins on the table in a line. Use the fingers of one hand to tap them one at a time as the child “plays” a tapping tune on the coins. Just like tapping out keys on a piano, this activity allows the child to improve finger isolation and dexterity needed for skills like shoe tying or typing. Finger isolation activities can be a helpful way to improve fine motor skills needed for tasks like typing, shoe tying, pencil grasp, and more.
6. Hand Grip Strength– Ask the child to place one or more coins in the palm of their hand. They should curl their fingers over the coin and SQUEEZE! You may want to ask them to try to squeeze the plastic gold coin into real gold! Squeezing the fingers into a gross grasp in a sustained grip is a fun way to work on hand strength needed for so many skills. Hand strengthening is one of the biggest needs for a functional pencil grasp, endurance when writing or coloring, and tool use of all kinds!
How would you use these fun gold coins to improve hand strength and fine motor skills?
You can grab the gold coins here and use them over and over again over the next month and the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day!
Want to send these activities home as a home program? Print off this sheet and add a couple of gold coins for a creative home exercise program!
The vestibular system is a powerful one! It can be a confusing one when we consider how it impacts our body’s ability to regulate. The vestibular system is one of the three systems that impact all of the others and therefore all learning, cognition, and occupational performance. the vestibular system develops early in life and plays a very important role in early development. for these reasons, today we’re talking about Sensory Diet Vestibular Activities. These are vestibular activities that can be used in a sensory diet and a sensory lifestyle full of meaningful sensory activities. The vestibular activities listed below are those that impact an individual in many ways.
The Vestibular System
Understanding the vestibular system can help explain how and why we need to incorporate vestibular activities into our daily life.
Here is an explanation of the vestibular system from a neurological focus.
Here are vestibular red flags indicating a problem with the vestibular system and how that looks in a child’s day.
Check out those two links above to get a good background on the vestibular system and how it impacts every activity and function that we perform. In fact, the vestibular system plays a huge part in coordination of our head movements with the stimulation in the environment.
+ We are then able to copy words and phrases from the board in the classroom by shifting our vision from the table surface to the overhead board without losing our place.
+ We are able to watch a moving object like a soccer ball as it travels across a field.
+ We are able to read a speech while looking up at our audience, without losing our place on the cue cards.
+ We are able to hold our body in a specific position such as a downward dog yoga position while concentrating on deep breathing.
+ We are able to maintain our head positioning while cutting with scissors or while riding a bicycle.
The vestibular system plays such a huge part in our daily tasks in a manner that happens naturally and without effort!
It is easy to see how a problem with the vestibular system could result in major issues with functioning!
Sensory Diet Vestibular Activities
The sensory vestibular activities listed below are playful ways to promote performance and tolerance to movement activities. They are also challenges against gravity to help kids with difficulties in equilibrium, balance, self-regulation, and adjusting to typical sensory input. The vestibular system operates through receptors in the inner ear and in conjunction with position in space, input from the eyes, and feedback from muscle and joint receptors, is able to contribute to posture and appropriate response of the visual system to maintain a field of vision. This allows an individual to detect movement and changes in the position of the head and body. Dysfunction in the vestibular system may result in hypersensitivity to movements or hyposensitivity to movements.
providing vestibular input as an intervention strategy for sensory needs,
various movement patterns should be considered. Depending on the individualized
needs of the child, activities can be designed to include movements such as:
Unstable base of
Starts and stops
Changes in speed
Some children may present with vestibular hyperresponsiveness.
This looks like a variety of things in children. As we know, every child is uniquely different. The indicators of sensory hyperresponsiveness listed here are only just a few ways that vestibular hyperresponsiveness may present in kids:
Overly dizzy with motions
Resistant to moving activities such as
swings, slides, elevators, or escalators
Fear of unstable surfaces
Unable to tolerate backward motions
Unable to tolerate side to side motions
Illness in moving vehicles
Avoids swings or slides
Gets motion sick easily
Challenges with unstable surfaces
Dislike of moving surfaces
Try adding some of these vestibular activities into a sensory diet or sensory lifestyle. (These are just a FEW activities that can be used by children. Activities can be modified to include all of the movement planes listed above.)
Sensory Diet Vestibular Activities for Hyperresponsiveness:
Prone activates with arms supporting the upper body at the shoulders and elbows
Slowly adding activities in the quadruped positioning
Adding a support for jumping, hopping, balance activities
Being pulled on a blanket or sled (indoor works, too!)
Throwing bean bags at a target
Throwing/catching a ball
Movement obstacle courses
On the flip side, a child can present with hyporesponsiveness of the vestibular system. Hypo-responsiveness of the vestibular sense may present in a child as an under-responsiveness or underreaction to vestibular sensation. This may look like the actions listed below. Remember that every child is different. This list is only a sample of the various ways a child can present when they are impacted by hyporesponsive vestibular system.
Hyporesponsiveness of the vestibular system examples:
Constant movement including jumping,
spinning, rocking, climbing
Craves movement at fast intervals
Craves spinning, rocking, or rotary
Poor balance on uneven surfaces
Increased visual attention to spinning
objects or overhead fans
Bolts or runs away in community or group
settings, or when outdoors or in large open areas such as shopping malls
Difficulty maintaining sustained
Constantly getting up and down from desk
in the classroom
Walks around when not supposed to (in the
classroom, during meals, etc.)
Loves to be upside down
Sensory Diet Vestibular Activities for Hyporesponsiveness:
Children with hyporesponsiveness of vestibular input may benefit from a variety of activities. Below are just a jew of these ideas. Try using these sensory diet vestibular activities when addressing hyporesponsiveness of vestibular sensation:
Cushion or partially deflated beach ball on the floor under feet at a desk or chair.
Tie therapy band (TheraBand) or a resistive cord around the legs of a student’s chair for use as a foot fidget
Provide appropriate play-based opportunities for movement needs (sit and spin toy, see saw toy, rocking chair, trampoline)
Weave vestibular input throughout the day and prior to fine motor/visual motor activities
Ensure the feet touch the ground or have support when seated in a chair or on the toilet
Sensory diets and specific sensory input or sensory challenges are a big part of addressing sensory needs of children who struggle with sensory processing issues. Incorporating a schedule of sensory input (sensory diet) into a lifestyle of naturally occuring and meaningful activities is so very valuable for the child with sensory needs. That’s why I’ve worked to create a book on creating an authentic and meaningful sensory lifestyle that addresses sensory needs. You can watch for more information on this book coming very soon. If you would like to be the first to know more about this book (and want to grab some upcoming freebies related to sensory lifestyles and sensory diet activities, sign up here. You’ll be the first to get some awesome tools for addressing sensory needs in motivating and meaningful ways.
Thanks for grabbing the Fine Motor Activity Sheet using plastic gold coins! If you arrived at this page by accident, you can grab the free printable sheet HERE. This is a printable page of fine motor activities that use plastic gold coins (perfect leading up to St. Patrick’s Day) or all year long using regular coins.
These activities are ones that can be used in home programs or fine motor activity programs to strengthen and improve the fine motor skills kids need for tasks like pencil grasp, tool use, fine motor manipulation, and every task that requires developed fine motor skills.
If you are looking for more ways to address fine motor skills in fun and frugal ways, try some of these ideas:
In the schools, many teachers struggle with students with sensory processing challenges. There are students who have attention and focus issues that impact learning. Classrooms are a busy place, and when sensory issues impact the ability to pay attention, focus, self-regulate, and interact with others, learning can suffer. Sensory issues are often times, the underlying reasons for impaired functioning in the classroom. For some children, a sensory diet activities for the classroom can help. Sensory activities for the classroom can make a big impact in the life of a student.
The information listed below includes effective strategies for helping kids who are distracted, inattentive, disorganized, irritable, sensitive to sensory input, or seeming to have other sensory-related behaviors.
First, I am very excited to tell you about a NEW resource book that I’ve been working on behind the scenes. It’s a HUGE resource related to sensory diets.
There is so much information packed into this book, including underlying information related to the sensory systems, detailed information and references related to sensory diets like what they are and who needs one.
There are data collection sheets and strategy monitoring systems for ensuring sensory diet techniques are authentic and motivating.
This book is coming very soon! If you would like to be among the first to know about this new book, join the list here. Annnnd, there just may be a few freebies in store for anyone who is among the first to be informed!
For some students, a selection of sensory activities can be a helpful strategy for getting through the day. The students who receive therapy may be completing a sensory diet with specific activities based on the individual child’s needs.
Therapists can use the sensory diet activities listed below to add to their toolbox of strategies within the school environment.
NOTE: Activities described here should be used educational information and not as treatment suggestions. Every child’s specific needs and strengths are individual and before activities are utilized as interventions, individualized assessment should be performed by an occupational therapist.
Additionally, therapists and teachers will find many resources, including a printable sensory activity sheet here on this article about calm down strategies for school.
Finally, here is information about using sensory diets in the school. You can see this informative video on our Facebook page, or in the video below:
Sensory diet activities in the classroom are extremely varied! Each child will crave or avoid different sensory input that naturally occurs in the classroom. Sensory diet activities can be integrated into the school environment using materials right in the classroom. Try some of these sensory diet activities:
Move classroom furniture at the beginning or end of the day. Erase the Smart Board using a cloth. Add moveable or alternative seating options into the classroom (chair cushions, standing at easels, bungee cord added to the chair legs, bean bags, lying prone on the floor, etc.) Carry library books from the classroom to the library. Move equipment from classroom to classroom. Give the student a “job” to carry a box of materials to the office each day. Allow the student to sharpen pencils using a manual pencil sharpener. Add extra playground time into the schedule as a reward. Provide movement breaks for the whole classroom.
Add calming sensory strategies to a sensory diet for the classroom:
Provide a warm blanket for cozy reading in a bean bag chair.
Create a calm-down space in a cardboard box.
Create a whole-classroom stretch break with yoga or rhythmical knee/shoulder patting and rocking.
Ask the whole classroom to play “Simon Says” with face and mouth stretch exercises.
Allow wall push-ups and chair push-up breaks.
Encourage the child to blow bubbles at recess.
Add calming modifications to the classroom:
Turn down the lights for a calm-down break.
Seat the child away from high-traffic areas.
Use soft voices during classroom instruction.
Remove fluorescent light bulbs from the area above the student’s desk.
Allow the child to wear headphones to block out environmental sounds.
Minimize overwhelming visual environmental stimuli by using natural light.
Add alerting sensory strategies to a sensory diet for the classroom:
Play “Simon Says” with light touch to the face and palms.
Movement breaks with jumping jacks or burpees (if the space allows).
Show students how to briskly rub up and down the arms to “wake up” the arms and hands.
You may also be interested in the free printable packet, The Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit.
The Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit is a printable packet of resources and handouts that can be used by teachers, parents, and therapists. Whether you are looking for a handout to explain sensory strategies, or a tool for advocating for your child, the Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit has got you covered.
And it’s free for you to print off and use again and again.
Parents of children with sensory processing challenges know that the slightest scent can throw kids into a sensory-based meltdown. Children with sensory processing issues can over-respond to fragrances in soaps, detergents, or even lotions when others may not even notice the scents. A child with olfactory sensory processing issues can be overly sensitive to specific products that are used in the home or by others that they frequently are around. Use the fragrance free and dye free products listed below on children with sensory processing disorder or those who are overly sensitive to scents.
This post describes products that may help children and families who struggle with sensory processing needs.
It is important to recognize that even others in the same home or classroom who use a scented product can throw off a child with sensitivities to scent. The child with sensory issues can benefit from everyone in the home using products without perfumes and dyes. It is especially important that the whole family’s clothing and bed linens be washed with fragrance-free detergents.
Fragrance-Free and Dye-Free Products for Sensory Kids
These fragrance-free and dye-free products can be a modification that is part of a sensory diet for children with sensory processing challenges.
Some of the fragrance-free products and dye-free products listed below may be trialed in order to determine the perfect fit for the family of a child with sensory processing issues. An individual may have unique sensitivities and may need to try several of the items listed below in order to find the products that work best.
Note: The information included below (and, like everything on this website) is not a substitute for medical intervention, dermatology issues, therapy assessment, intervention, or medical advice. Please contact a physician or Occupational Therapist to assess and intervene. Start here by getting access to the sensory processing information you need related to sensitivities and hyper-responsiveness to sensation by downloading the Sensory Processing Disorder Information booklet.
Dry skin can make a child who is overly sensitive especially aware of clothing textures. Think about your skin in the winter months when most of the time is spent indoors in dry heat. The skin can become rough and dry. When clothing rubs up against this dry skin, it can be downright painful for the child who is sensitive to clothing textures. Moisturizers can help prevent the dry and cracked skin.
Additionally, for the child who benefits from the proprioceptive input of massages, a moisturizing cream can be a helpful calming tool. Moisturizers should not contain dyes or fragrances. However, trying various moisturizers will be necessary, as some children can be overly sensitive to the different thicknesses of various creams. The dy-free and fragrance free moisturizers listed below are good ones to try:
One of the big executive functioning skills is the ability to self-monitor oneself. Self-monitoring plays into one’s ability to notice what is happening in the world around us and what is happening in our own body. The ability to “check” oneself and monitor actions, behaviors, and thoughts as they happen play into our ability to problem solve. Use the tips below to help kids learn how to self-monitor and problem solve. These self-monitoring strategies for kids are applicable in the classroom, home, sports field, or in social situations.
Self-monitoring is a process of metacognition. Metacognition is the ability to plan for and
execute a task, monitor one’s
actions, analyze a problem,
apply a strategy, maintain attention, and evaluate or
monitor completion of an activity. Ideally, metacognition should occur naturally and instinctively as we engage in an activity.
Self-Monitoring Strategies for Kids
In talking about self-monitoring skills, let’s first discuss what exactly self-monitoring is and what it means for kids to self-monitor their actions, thoughts, and behaviors.
What is self-monitoring?
The ability to self-monitor is made up of two main areas:
1.) Observation- In this stage, a child is able to identify a specific behavior, thought, or action that occurred. This might happen during the action or afterwords. In a child who struggles with talking out in class, they may catch themselves as they are interrupting. Another child may realize they spoke out of turn only after the teacher mentions the interruption. In both cases, the child is able to identify what behavior has occurred through self-assessment. This level of self-monitoring is a real struggle for some students and working on the ability to notice the behaviors or actions that are inefficient or inappropriate for the situation. This stage requires a lot of reflection and the ability to recognize an ideal response or appropriate behavior for a specific situation.
Observation, or self-assessment may require work in order for the child to understand targeted behaviors. Some supports for self-assessment can include:
Lists of appropriate actions or behaviors
Journaling in a notebook or a tool such as the Impulse Control Journal
Role-playing practice Self-talk
Modeling from peers
The goal of this stage is to get students to move from a teacher/parent/therapist/adult support of self-assessment to a self-assessment status where the child identifies behaviors and actions that are off-target.
2.) Recording- This stage of self-monitoring is a means for moving from an awareness of actions and behaviors to function. In the recording stage of self-monitoring, children are able to note their actions and make changes based on what happened in specific situations. Jotting down deviences of targeted behavior can help kids to become more aware of what happened in a specific situation and how they can make adjustments in the future to avoid specific behaviors, or how they can use accommodations and self-regulation tools to respond and react more appropriately.
Recording or measurement of actions can occur through several methods:
Parent/Teacher/Student communication sheets (where the child inputs behaviors throughout the day)
Journaling in a notebook or a tool such as the Impulse Control Journal
Data collection sheets
Frequency collection forms
When children self-monitor their actions and thoughts, so many areas are developed and progressed: Attention
You can see how each of the executive functioning skills play into the ability to self-monitor and how self-monitoring skills play into the development and use of each of the other executive functioning skills.
Teach Self-Monitoring Strategies to Improve Function
There are also functional skills that are developed and improved through self-monitoring:
Follow-through on learned skills
Below, you will find additional self-monitoring strategies that can help children with the ability to identify and self- assess and self-adjust behaviors that may occur within the classroom, home, or other environment. These strategies should be viewed as supports that can be used independently by the child following instruction and input to teach strategy methods.
Make an outline for writing tasks, homework assignments, or multi-step assignments in order to keep the child on task.
Utilize a self-monitoring schedule- Ask the child to stop and self-check their actions, behaviors, or thoughts to make sure they are on-task.
Try an index card or other visual reminder on desks for a list of appropriate behaviors.
Use social stories to teach appropriate actions and reactions to specific situations in the home or classroom.
Incorporate a schedule of self-regulation strategies to address sensory, attention, and focusing needs. A sensory diet can help with this.
Teach the child to check and recheck- Teach children to stop and check and then re-check their behaviors.
Want to access this article as a printable PDF? Use the printable version in education to parents, teachers, therapists, and other professionals. Simply print off the printable version and add it to your therapy toolbox.
Note: In order to access this file, you will need to enter your email address. This allows us to send the PDF directly to your email. You will then be added to our subscriber list which receives weekly updates regarding tools for development, new article posts, resources, and more. As a subscriber, you also receive access to The OT Toolbox free printable library. You may unsubscribe from our newsletter subscriber list at any time. Get the printable version of this article on Self-Monitoring Strategies for Kids HERE:
This is a 5 page printable self-monitoring strategy outline for educating those who work with kids with self-monitoring skills in kids.
When saying “calm down” just isn’t enough…
When a child is easily “triggered” and seems to melt down at any sign of loud noises or excitement…
When you need help or a starting point to teach kids self-regulation strategies…
When you are struggling to motivate or redirect a child without causing a meltdown…
When you’re struggling to help kids explore their emotions, develop self-regulation and coping skills, manage and reflect on their emotions, identify their emotions, and more as they grow…
References on self-monitoring:
Cook, Kathleen B., “Self-Monitoring Strategies for Improving Classroom Engagement of Secondary Students” (2014). Georgia
Association for Positive Behavior Support Conference. 65.
How To: Teach Students to Change Behaviors Through Self-Monitoring. (n.d.). Retrieved February 01, 2018, from http://www.interventioncentral.org/node/961544
Menzies, H. M., Lane, K. L., & Lee, J. M. (winter, 2009). Self-Monitoring Strategies for Use in the Classroom: A Promising Practice to Support Productive Behavior for Students With Emotional or Behavioral Disorders. Beyond Behavior, 27-35. Retrieved February 1, 2018, from https://www.wisconsinpbisnetwork.org/assets/files/flash/ClassroomManagement/ConsequenceSystems/story_content/external_files/SelfMonitoring.pdf.
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