Toys to Improve Tactile Sensory Awareness

So often, therapists are asked for toy recommendations this time of year. Parents are looking for toys that promote skills like fine motor work, sensory benefits, or motor skill development. Today, we’re sharing toys that improve tactile sensory awareness. These are great toy recommendations for sensory needs and just fun ways to challenge the tactile sensory system through play!

These are great ideas to add to a sensory diet, depending on the child’s specific needs.

Need toys ideas to improve tactile sensory awareness? These toys are a fun way to help kids with sensory defensiveness or expereince sensory play while challenging tactile sensory input through the hands.

Toys to Improve Tactile Sensory Awareness

With all the shopping going on, people are always asking what types of toys I should get my toddler. A really great section of toys, are toys that make the child more aware of tactile sensory awareness.

What is tactile defensiveness?

When children don’t get to explore different textures, they can develop a sensory tactile defensiveness.

Tactile defensiveness is when a person is very resistance to touch certain materials due to the feel of them. Some examples would be: textured items, messy items (shaving cream, playdoh, seams or tags on clothes, hands or face being dirty, bare feet touching grass. You will often see a child with tactile defensiveness resist playing with finger paint, or complain if they get food on their hands. They may barely touch at item or will refuse completely.

These tactile sensory play ideas are great for encouraging tactile sensory awareness and learning through play.

Why is tactile sensory play so important?

It is so important for children to explore different tactile items at a young age through play so that they don’t develop a tactile defensiveness. Providing children opportunities for tactile play is easy with a wide variety of what you can use. Check out these ideas for having a Messy Play Day.

When introducing a child to textures, who may be defensive, start with dry textures or items that won’t stick to hands. Then move to wet items (water, paint) and then sticky. Take it slow and don’t force a child to stick with a texture that they don’t like. You can always come back to the texture a different time and try again.

Toys/ items to help improve tactile sensory awareness

Amazon Affiliate links are included below. Access Amazon by clicking the link or the image. Affiliate links earn this website a few cents at no cost to you.

Shaving cream is a great medium to have children “drive” cars through and use as snow. On amazon there is a kit called, Rub a Dub Shaving in the Tub by Alex toys. Which includes shaving cream, plastic razor and a mirror. This is a great way to have kids engage in “messy play” but be able to get clean right away.

Playdoh can be used just by rolling it, making shapes with cookie cutters, and placing coins/beads in and having child pull them out. There are a lot of great kits like this Melissa and Doug set you can buy that come with the play dough and cookie cutters, or play dough tools.

Check out this link for fun ideas to do with playdoh and Christmas, Scented Snowman Play Dough, part of our 25 days of Christmas Play series here on The OT Toolbox.

Moon sand– is a moldable sand that will never dry out. It has a unique texture and won’t stick to your hands. Here is an easy 3 ingredient kinetic sand recipe to make at home.

Squish balls– come in many varieties. Some have textures inside-sand, beads or beans. The outside of the squish balls can be pointy, smooth or bumpy. These stress balls with a mesh covering are a popular fidget tool that kids love to squeeze. You can even make your own by taking a balloon, water bottle and sand. Pour sand into an empty water bottle, place balloon over the top and then pour the sand into the balloon.

Tactile board– a board with different fabrics, sandpaper, smooth or rough textures, glue corn or beans on paper can promote motor skills too!  Allow child to explore the different textures. A tactile board can be hung high or low to promote different motor skills. Or try a table top version.

Scented bathtub Finger paint– Crayola Crayons- kids can use as a body wash or color the walls of the bathtub with. It’s great because they can get messy and then easily clean. Plus it’s scented which is great for the olfactory system.

Sensory bin- fill a bin or container with rice, beans or another dry material. Hide toys that the child has to shift thought the material to find. Have cups and spoons in the bin so that they can pour.


Monkey noodle– found on amazon. You can pull the stretchy string from 10 inches to 8 feet.
There are so many fun toys that keep children engaged and also help with developing tactile tolerance.

Try these toys to improve tactile sensory awareness and address tactile defensiveness or to use in sensory play experiences with kids to improve fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, through tactile sensory play!

Sensory Input Through Play 

Looking for even more ways to encourage tactile sensory awareness through play and activities? Grab our Sensory Diet Cards for a complete packet of sensory activities. You’ll find 24 pages of 345 sensory diet activities including:
  • Calming and alerting movement activities
  • Heavy work fine motor activities for pre-writing needs or fidgeting needs
  • Sensory activities
  • Sensory support cards
These sensory diet cards can be used in the home, classroom, or clinic. They are available now for $9.99 on The OT Toolbox shop
Use printable sensory diet cards to encouraging sensory input through play
Tactile sensory awareness can happen through play and learning!

About Christina:

Christina Komaniecki is a school based Occupational Therapist. I graduated from Governors State University with a master’s in occupational therapy.   I have been working in the pediatric setting for almost 6 years and have worked in early intervention, outpatient pediatrics, inpatient pediatrics, day rehab, private clinic and schools. My passion is working with children and I love to see them learn new things and grow. I love my two little girls, family, yoga and going on long walks. 

Snowman Craft that Builds Fine Motor Skills

We all know the child that needs to strengthen fine motor skills. They might fumble with pencil grasp, struggle with clothing fasteners, or are challenged by opening lunch box containers. What if we could combine fine motor work with a fun snowman craft? That’s just what we did and we are sharing the how to below! This is a craft that kids can use to really boost fine motor skills!

Read on to find out how to make a snowman craft that uses a few craft supply closet staple items AND works on the fine motor skills like hand strength, precision of grasp, and other skills, too.

Snowman Craft

Make this snowman craft to work on fine motor skills that kids need for functional tasks.

We used some basic craft materials to make a snowman craft that has been as much fun to make as it is to play with! The fact that this snowman craft is on a clothespin makes it a fine motor powertool. Kids can pinch the clothespin to attach the snowman to anything from a folder, to a book, to a backpack, to a flowerpot! Our snowman craft showed up hanging out on the side of a flowerpot and it is still there!

Fine Motor Skills Craft Idea

This snowman craft is a cutie that we made with a few items from www.craftprojectideas.com. The best thing about this little snowman is that while making him, we powered up on fine motor skills like neat pincer grasp, pincer grasp, bilateral coordination, in-hand manipulation, eye-hand coordination, hand strength, finger isolation. All of these fine motor skills are needed for every-day tasks like pencil grasp, management of clothing fasteners, cutting with scissors, manipulating small containers, shoe tying, and so many other areas. So many of our kids are struggling with fine motor skills…why not sneak them in with a fun winter craft like this clothespin snowman craft?

Craft supplies to make a snowman craft that builds fine motor skills for kids.

You will need a few materials for this snowman craft:
Clothespin
White craft pom poms
Small black craft pom poms
Red pipe cleaner (or any color!)
Brown pipe cleaner
Black paint
Craft glue

Craft supplies to use in a snowman craft that helps kids with fine motor skills.

How to make a Snowman Craft

This was super easy to make:
Use the craft glue to stick the white craft pom poms onto the clothespin. The bottom of the snowman should be at the end of the clothespin that opens when you pinch it.

Glue the small black craft pom poms onto the belly of the snowman.

Use the red pipe cleaner as a scarf by cutting a smaller piece. About 4 inches long is perfect, because you can then trim it as short as you would like. Thread the pipe cleaner behind the head of the snowman and bend it around the front. Twist it into a “knot” and bend the pipe cleaner so it stays in place with the ends hanging as you would like them. Trim the excess from both ends of the scarf.

Use the brown pipe cleaner to make the arms of the snowman craft. Thread the pipe cleaner behind the snowman’s head. At this point, you can add a bit of glue to the red and brown pipe cleaners to keep them both in place.

Use paint to make a face on the snowman craft. We used squeezable gel glue from www.craftprojectideas.com (the kind that is use for window suncatchers) because it really adds a fine motor strengthening component.

And that’s it! Your snowman craft is ready to hang out AND work those fine motor skills!

This snowman craft helps kids work on fine motor skills.

Fine Motor Skills Used in this Snowman Craft:

We incorporated fine motor skills like the ones listed below right into the process of creating our snowman craft!

Make this snowman craft to work on fine motor skills that kids need for functional tasks.

Use the clothespins to pick up the craft pom poms that you will need for the snowman. One way to do this is to have a sample available. Kids can look at the sample and identify the correct pom poms they need to build a snowman of their own. What an exercise in visual perceptual skills as well as fine motor skills!

Use craft pom poms and clothes pins to work on fine motor skills in kids.

Picking up and moving craft pom poms with the clothespins really strengthens the hands. Here is more information on using clothespins to strengthen the hands, and you can read more about the specific fine motor skills below.

Kids love this fine motor activity that is so easy to set up and strengthen the hands, using just a clothes pin and craft pom pom.

Neat pincer grasp- This fine motor skill is a precision skill that uses the tip of the pointer finger and the tip of the thumb in opposition. Here is more information about neat pincer grasp. We use neat pincer grasp to manipulate very small items. This is a refined fine motor skill. Use the snowman craft to work on this fine motor skill by holding the small craft pom pom with the tips of the fingers while adding craft glue. 

Pincer grasp- Pincer grasp is the opposition of the pointer finger to the thumb, but with the pads of the fingers. This is a skill tat develops from a very young age, but is used for so many functional skills! Use the clothes pins to pinch and pick up the craft pom poms like we did.

Bilateral coordination- Using both hands together in a coordinated manner is a skill that is used in almost every activity we do. Work on bilateral coordination by building a fine motor snowman of your own.

In-hand manipulation- This fine motor skill is essential for a functional pencil grasp and manipulating items like clothing fasteners and small objects. Work on in-hand manipulation by managing the craft pom poms when completing this craft.

Eye-hand coordination– Build skills by asking your child or client to work on eye-hand coordination when adding the craft pom poms and details to this snowman craft.

Kids can work on visual perceptual skills and fine motor skills using craft pom poms and clothes pins.

Hand strength- Strong hands allow us to perform fine motor tasks with coordinated movements. Use the clothes pin to strengthen the arches of the hand and the intrinsic muscles by pinching and placing the snowman craft onto various surfaces!

All of these fine motor skills are needed for every-day tasks like pencil grasp, management of clothing fasteners, cutting with scissors, manipulating small containers, shoe tying, and so many other areas.

This snowman craft for kids is so cute and helps kids with fine motor skills too!
This cute little snowman craft has been moving all around our house these last few days! 

Build a Christmas Tree Craft and Fine Motor Skills

Looking for a fun fine motor activity that doubles as a holiday activity? This Christmas Tree Craft is a creative way to work on fine motor skills like hand strength, fine motor dexterity, along with eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, and other skills, using a Christmas craft. This is a Christmas activity for kids that you will want to pull out year after year as a holiday decoration that kids can use as a Christmas themed busy bag. Add this Christmas tree activity to your therapy toolbox because you can use it again and again all season long!

Christmas Tree Craft

Make this Christmas tree craft to help kids work on fine motor skills this Christmas season with a Christmas busy bag activity for building fine motor skills, it's perfect for adding to your therapy toolbox too!



Clothespins are a fantastic tool for helping kiddos develop the fine motor skills necessary for daily tool manipulation and other fine motor tasks. Squeezing open and placing clothespins can help strengthen the small finger muscles of the thumb, index, and middle fingers, develop the arches of the hand, while also improving eye-hand coordination.  All of which are essential for successful prewriting, handwriting, scissor use, and fastener manipulation. 

Christmas Fine Motor Activity



Use this crafty Christmas tree to work on essential fine motor skills with kiddos in a fun and festive way this holiday season. It’s a great activity to pull out of the therapy bag and add to the Christmas crafts for kids line-up this holiday season.


When choosing clothespins for kiddos to use, be sure to use clothespins with the best resistance level for the child so as to provide the just right challenge and not be too difficult for the child to squeeze or be too easy.  Here is more information on using clothespins to work on fine motor skills.


Also, when having a child squeeze open the clothespins, be sure to have them use their skill fingers which are the thumb, index, and middle fingers as these are the fingers that are utilized the most for skilled manipulation such as writing with a pencil, cutting with scissors, and using other school tools. Read more about separation of the sides of the hand.


But before you can begin using the tree, you have to create it!  


Here’s what you’ll need to make this Christmas Tree Craft:


Amazon affiliate links are included below.


1 paint stir stick
12 clothespins
green paint
brown paint
• paintbrush 
shape stickers (or whatever you decide to use to adhere to the clothespins, which could be pom-poms, buttons, gems, etc.)


If you do not use shape stickers, you will need tacky glue or a hot glue gun to adhere decorative objects to each clothespin 


If you prefer not to paint, you can simply use green and brown markers to color the paint stir stick and clothespins or you could apply green and brown tape. 

Christmas Tree Craft Directions

Below are the steps to make the activity as I have. By the way, kiddos love doing this part too and there are so many skills that can be addressed while creating this crafty clothespin Christmas tree!


1. Paint the paint stir stick with green paint on the front and back side for approximately ¾ the length and let dry.
2. Paint your paint stick with brown paint on the front and back side for approximately ¼ the length and let dry.
3. Paint each of your clothespins with green paint on the front and back side and let dry.
4. Apply shape stickers to clothespins (and yes, the gems I used came with sticker backs). 
5. Apply star shape stickers to the top of the paint stick on both the front and back sides.
6. Have fun using this crafty creation to work on fine motor skills by having children squeeze open and place the clothespin branches to create the tree placing 6 branches on each side.


Now enjoy creating and utilizing this fun, festive Christmas tree with kiddos this holiday season! Merry Christmas! 

Christmas Handwriting

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!

In the packet are:

  • THREE types of modified paper: Bold lined paper, Color-coded paper (with Christmas colors), and Highlighted Paper
  • FIVE different Christmas and Winter themed borders
  • TWO different sized lined of each type of paper: Narrow Rule for older kids and Wide Rule for younger kids

That’s 30 different sheets of modified paper all with a Christmas theme. There is a detailed explanation of reasoning behind each type of paper.  This will help explain how to use each modified paper and the reasons why each type might be the style of adapted paper to use for particular handwriting concerns.

Christmas modified paper for holiday handwriting for kids

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:

  • Letters to Santa
  • Wish List
  • Holiday To-Do List
  • Shopping List
  • Thank You Notes
  • Recipe Sharing
  • Winter Writing Prompts

Click here to get your packet.

Want the packet? Grab it now in time for Christmas planning.

CONTRIBUTING POST-

Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!

Christmas Sensory Activities

Whew, what a week this has been! We’ve been talking all about Christmas Activities for Kids here on The OT Toolbox and today ends the week of Christmas activities in this series. We’ve talked about all the ways to make this holiday season special while working on underlying skill areas and incorporating occupational therapy goals. Today, it’s all about Christmas Sensory Activities that can be used in the classroom, clinic, or home programs over the holiday break. Use these Christmas play ideas in sensory diets, to create sensory bin ideas or sensory bottles!


Use these Christmas sensory activities to promote development, play, learning, and fun this holiday season while working on occupational therapy activities.

 

Christmas Sensory activities

If you’ve missed any of the blog posts this week, you might want to catch up on all of the ideas! You can check out all of the Christmas Activities for Kids here on our main Christmas page. 


Some of the ideas we’ve covered are Christmas activities for preschoolers, Christmas activities for toddlers, Christmas crafts for kids, and Christmas party ideas. All of these activities have a therapy mindset where they encourage movement, play, and motor development with a Christmas theme!


With the upcoming holiday season, kids can be all over the place when it comes to excitement for holiday events. Try incorporating some of the Christmas sensory activities listed below to encourage sensory play with a learning twist.

Christmas activities for kids

First, you’ll want to check out a previous post here on The OT Toolbox where we shared sensory processing activities and sensory experiences perfect for the month of December.
 
Try this scented peppermint sorting activity to work on fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. Add motor skills like finger isolation to count the peppermints or use tongs to move the peppermints and strengthen the hands.
 
Mix up a batch of candy cane moon dough for sensory play with a fresh scent! Moon dough can be used as a writing tray to practice letter and number formation or to work on eye-hand coordination  in scooping and pouring. 
 
Have you ever let the kids play with cooked pasta as a sensory play experience? It’s a tactile challenge for some! This noodle sensory activity can boost fine motor skills. Try cutting them to sneak in some scissor work, too.
 
We shared this Christmas tree sensory experience the other day on our Christmas activities for preschoolers post, but it’s worth mentioning again. There’s a reason why: manipulating wet pieces of foam is a fantastic tactile sensory experience that doubles as a fine motor activity, too. 
 
For a sensory recipe, try this scented playdough for creating miniature snowmen. Add a few manipulatives to make it a fine motor powerhouse. This is an OLD post here on the website. Beware, the pictures are small and dark!! That doesn’t stop the play dough from being fun though! Add this activity to your holiday lineup.
 
Another sensory recipe is this DIY snow recipe, perfect for play and fine motor work. This would make a great addition to a home program for the holiday break!
 
Add a few colored ice cubes and scoops, spoons, and ladles to a big bowl for eye-hand coordination and fine motor precision with a Christmas theme. Kids love water play and this Christmas water activity is no different!
 
This easy Christmas sensory bin can be a go-to activity for settling holiday excitement in the days leading up to Christmas. Use materials you have in your home to work on fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, crossing midline, and more through sensory play.
 
Getting the kids into the kitchen is a great way to work on so many skills with kids! Direction following, executive functioning skills, motor skills, strengthening, and more are developed through cooking with kids. Make a batch of this Gingerbread Salt Dough for sensory play and ornament-making. These ornaments are still on our tree years later! Check out the pictures on this OLD blog post. This takes me back to those busy days as a mom of toddlers and preschools! Tears!
 
Colder weather doesn’t mean outdoor play needs to stop. Take a sensory potpourri hike outside with the kids and explore nature by creating a potpourri. Add bits and pieces such as various pine needles, pine cones, and add in orange peels or cinnamon sticks. Kids can cut pine needles with scissors and add them to the scented collection. 
 
For many more Christmas sensory activities, check out this round up of activities from all over the internet.
 
Need another scented DIY play dough recipe? This one is a peppermint scented play dough, perfect for rolling, needing, and strengthening those hands!
 
 

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

 

Christmas modified paper for holiday handwriting for kids

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:

  • Letters to Santa
  • Wish List
  • Holiday To-Do List
  • Shopping List
  • Thank You Notes
  • Recipe Sharing
  • Winter Writing Prompts

Click here to get your packet.

Free Impulse Control Mini-Course

Impulse Control in Kids…Do you know a child who risks their safety by running across a busy street without looking…The child that impulsively hits, bits, or kicks others…The child in the classroom who is distracted to the point that they can’t focus or stay on task with classroom assignments…The child that blurts out answers or constantly interrupts…The child who lacks age-appropriate impulse control and is constantly not paying attention…
 
Do any of these kids sound familiar? 
 
Impulse control, or inhibition, refers to the ability to stop and think before acting. While impulse control can difficult for kids and adults of all ages (Hello cupcake sitting in the kitchen!), the inability to utilize critical thinking to consider consequences and use cognitive flexibility along with other executive functioning skills can be detrimental. 
 

Impulse Control Mini-Course

 
What if you could understand what’s happening beneath the surface when it comes to impulsivity in kids?
 
What if you could understand WHY kids react impulsively in some situations?
 
What if you had strategies that could be implemented right away and a tool for making those strategies have a real impact in the safety and functional skills of kids?
 
It’s possible to get this better understanding of impulse control with our FREE email mini-course!
 
This is a 4 day email series that covers all of the topics above plus more so that you can feel relief when strategies are implemented, resulting in tools for safer kids who use age-appropriate strategies for impulse control.
 
Enter your email below to access the free impulse control mini-course and printable resources:

Want to get in? Join us in this free email-mini course and you’ll gain: 


Information on the “why” behind impulsive acts like hitting, running through a busy parking lot, biting, acting out, interrupting, or other impulse control issues.

Actionable ways to help the child with self-control difficulties


Strategies can be used to provide guidance in appropriate impulse control techniques


Tips and tools for incorporating impulse control strategies into the classroom, home, or community for better learning, transitions, task completion, and safety



Click here to join the free email mini-course on Impulse Control Strategies.


Disclaimer: This email mini-course does not provide continuing education units or professional development units. The course is not intended to treat or evaluate any executive functioning or impulse control needs. This mini-course is intended for information purposes only. The reader is responsible for any action or consequence as a result of strategies listed in the email mini-course or on this website. The OT Toolbox and it’s author(s) are not responsible for any results of actions taken as a result of reading this website or it’s email or social media outlets.


See you in the Impulse Control email mini-course! 

Christmas Activities for Preschoolers

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, so many of us occupational therapists, teachers, and parents are looking for fun and easy holiday activities for preschoolers. You’ve probably seen the Christmas excitement as kids get amped up for Santa, Christmas trees, candy canes, presents, and the upcoming holiday!  


Why not mix therapy and learning with a Christmas theme and build on that excitement?


With the Christmas activities for preschoolers listed below, you’ll be able to add some learning or therapy work into holiday activities, all while getting into the Christmas spirit in the preschool classroom!


This collection of preschool activities with a Christmas theme is part of this week’s Christmas Activities week here on The OT Toolbox. Each day this week, we’re rounding up collections of holiday themed activities, crafts, games, and ideas to fill your therapy toolbox. 


If you missed the previous collections this week, check out Monday’s post on Christmas Activities for Toddlers and Tuesday’s Christmas Crafts for Kids.


Be sure to stop back each day this week to catch all of the holiday fun! 

 

 

These Christmas Activites for Preschoolers are perfect for adding festive holiday fun in the preschool classroom or at home to help preschoolers work on skills like fine motor skills and other areas of development.

 


Christmas Activities for Preschoolers

Now on to today’s collection of activities that preschoolers will love all while working on the skills your kids need!

Use this icicle scissor skills craft to help preschoolers work on scissor skills in a fun Christmas activity that preschool aged kids will love!

 

 

Work on Scissor Skills- Preschoolers are just getting the hang of managing scissors in one hand and the paper in another, all while snipping along a line. This Icicle Scissor Skills Craft is perfect for the preschool age range. It’s got simple lines that can be adjusted in width to meet the child’s needs and can be a huge help in teaching preschoolers to manage and turn paper to cut angles. Then, hang those icicles in the window and your preschooler will feel so proud of their work! 

 

 

Use this threading activity to help preschool kids work on fine motor skills in a fun Christmas activity that preschoolers will love.


Work on Bilateral Coordination- Kids in preschool are just learning to manage clothing, tools, and other tasks that require coordinated movement of both hands with greater precision. Tasks like buttoning and zippering clothing require bilateral coordination with fine motor work. This Recycled Lid Ornament Garland is a power tool in promoting bilateral coordination and refined dexterity in order to thread and create ornaments. This Christmas activity is another that a preschooler will be proud of. Hang the garland on a tree or across a window sill.

 
Need Christmas activities for preschoolers? Combine a marble run with jingle bells to promote fine motor skills and visual processing skills with a Christmas theme.

 

 
Work on Visual Tracking Skills- Visual tracking is a necessary skill for reading and writing. While preschoolers aren’t at this stage yet, they soon will be! That makes a marble run a fantastic visual processing tool for building a base n the skills kids need down the road. Add a Christmas twist with jingle bells on the marble run! It’s perfect on the floor or in a sensory table and is a fun activity preschoolers will love this season.
 
Preschoolers will love this Christmas Tree Activity that helps improve scissor skills.

 

Work on Scissor Skills with a Christmas Tree Craft- Just like the icicle craft listed above, this Christmas Tree Scissor Skills Activity is perfect for preschoolers who are developing and refining their scissor skills. Use thicker paper like cardstock (or even green paper plates!) for younger kids who are still learning to work those scissors! You can encourage preschoolers to cut through to the edge instead of turning the paper when first learning to cut angled lines. 


 

Use these Christmas activities to help preschoolers work on areas like scissor skills, pre-writing skills, and more.
 
Encourage Sensory Play- The preschool age is the perfect time to encourage sensory play with sensory bins. You can use any sensory bin fillers and create a sensory bin based on infinite themes! Here are lots of Christmas Carol Sensory Bin ideas. Use them to promote visual motor skills like scooping and pouring through tactile sensory play. This Away in a Manger Sensory Bin is just one of the ideas.

 

This Christmas activity for preschoolers is a fun way to work on fine motor skills.
 
Build Shoulder and Wrist Stability on a Vertical Surface- Working on a vertical surface like an easel is a powerful way to strengthen the shoulder and wrist. This Christmas Tree Sensory Activity combines scissor work with fine motor skills and sensory play.
 
 
Promote Hand Strength with a Counting Activity- This Christmas Counting Activity is a DIY activity that uses clothespins and fun Christmas decorations to work on fine motor skills and early math. 
 
 
Work on Pre-Writing Skills- Working on pre-writing lines is a powerful early writing skill for preschoolers. These Christmas Pre-Writing Activities can give preschoolers the tools they need to form letters. Teaching horizontal and vertical lines, crosses, curved lines, diagonal lines, “X”s, and simple shapes can be completed with a Christmas theme to make things fun this time of year. 
 
Preschool-christmas-activities
 
This Christmas craft for preschool kids is easy to make in the preschool classroom and is a fun DIY gift tag or DIY wrapping paper kids can make.
 
Work on Direction Following- This Christmas Tree Stamp Art is a process art craft that preschoolers can make as a gift tags or DIY wrapping paper for family! Stamp Christmas trees, while working on fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination to dot on paint decorations with a cotton swab. This stamp art is a hit with kids! 

Looking for more Christmas activities? Stop back the rest of this week for more holiday ideas that boost development through movement and play.

Preschool activities with a Christmas theme
Need Christmas theme activities for preschoolers? Here are a ton of ideas!
 

Christmas Writing Activity

In preschool, children it is developmentally appropriate to work on letter recognition, saying letters, singing letters, and fine motor play with letters. So often, we see kiddos who are being asked to write letters or even words before they have developed the fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination to even manage a pencil. It happens very often, and it can lead to kids who struggle down the road with pencil grasp, visual motor skills in writing, letter formation, and other concerns. 

I wanted to include in this post a link to Christmas paper for older kids. Note that the lined paper below is not recommended for the preschool age set. Even the pre-k kiddos who are 5 who may be working on letter formation, writing numbers, and name writing, shouldn’t be given the Christmas paper below. THe lines and spacing is just too much for this age. 

I did want to include the paper here for our older kids. Many times therapists and parents are seeking out resources that fit a variety of needs in age ranges. The modified lined paper is Christmas and winter-themed for writing with awareness of spacing and lines. Remember that these lined paper resources shouldn’t be used with preschoolers, just school-aged kids on up!

 

Christmas modified paper for holiday handwriting for kids

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:

  • Letters to Santa
  • Wish List
  • Holiday To-Do List
  • Shopping List
  • Thank You Notes
  • Recipe Sharing
  • Winter Writing Prompts

Click here to get your packet.

Christmas Crafts for Kids

If there is one most of us are short on this time of year, it’s time. There is just NO time to search Google for fine motor craft ideas or Christmas crafts to add to the occupational therapy activities in December. That’s why I wanted to put together a list of  creative Christmas crafts for kids. These are craft ideas driven by fine motor skill development but also promote skills like hand strength, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, precision of grasp, motor planning, direction following, and creativity. 

Christmas Crafts for Kids

Christmas Crafts for kids for the holiday season crafting. These Christmas crafts for kids will keep the kids happy while strengthening fine motor skills, visual motor skills, coordination, and more while working on the skills kids need, all with Christmas crafts!
Most of these Christmas crafts are process-based but some are not, making them the perfect mix for the therapist looking for crafts that meet the needs of a varied occupational therapy caseload. Use the Christmas craft ideas below to add a holiday theme to your therapy plans this month!

This post is part of our Christmas Activities for Kids series we’ve got going on this week. It’s all designed to share holiday activities so you don’t need to search all over the internet! If you missed yesterday’s post, you’ll want to check out Christmas Activities for Toddlers to find occupational therapy activities designed for the 2-3 year old age range.

These are activities, games, and ideas for kids with a Christmas theme that can be used in occupational therapy treatment in the home, school, or clinic!
 
If you missed the announcement post on our Christmas Activities for Kids series, you’ll want to check it out. We’ll have a different Christmas activity theme each day this week!

  

Christmas Craft Ideas

Bilateral Coordination Bear Craft- This bear craft Christmas ornament helps kids use bilateral coordination and motor planning to wrap twine around a bear, making it a fun craft and a powerful therapy tool too! This Christmas craft goes along with a popular children’s book, making it a great craft to share as “occupational therapy homework” over the holiday break!


Hand Strength Christmas Tree Craft- Use this Christmas Tree Fine Motor Craft activity to develop strength in the hands and more. This activity uses a hole punch to create lights for each Christmas tree. The bonus with this craft is the learning and math component. Add a colorful twist by adding colored tissue paper to the backs of the trees with glue.


Snowman Fine Motor Craft- Creating this Snowman Fine Motor Craft is a fun way to develop skills like bilateral coordination, pincer grasp and more. This craft is one that builds fine motor strength and precision while creating a fun holiday decoration.


Fine Motor Christmas Tree Craft- This Fine Motor Christmas Tree Craft addresses many skills needed for development and function. This craft has been very popular here on The OT Toolbox, and for a good reason!  It’s a way to recycle egg cartons while working on various skills: bilateral coordination, fine motor strength, precision, eye-hand coordination, visual attention, spatial awareness, arch development, wrist extension and stability, and more.


In-Hand Manipulation Bottle Cap Christmas Tree- Use recycled bottle caps to make this Bottle Cap Fine Motor Christmas Tree Craft. This fine motor activity can be a holiday decoration that boosts fine motor skills such as precision, in-hand manipulation, tip-to-tip pincer grasp, rotation and dexterity of the fingers needed for in-hand manipulation, and bilateral coordination.


Process Art Ornament- This Bottle Caps Holly Ornament  is a creative process craft and if you make them with friends or in a classroom setting, there will be no two that look exactly alike. This Christmas craft for kids is a powerhouse for the fine motor development that occurs:  Scissor skills, bilateral coordination, eye hand coordination, and more.


Tactile Sensory Play Wreath Ornament- This Spaghetti Wreath Ornament is another process art Christmas craft that kids will love. In fact, it’s a sensory goldmine and can be used for sensory play along with fine motor work and crafting! 


Finger Isolation Ornament- This ornament craft is based on the well-known children’s book, Little Tree. Read the book and then make the ee cummings Little Tree Christmas Ornament AND sneak in fine motor skills like finger isolation, scissor skills, and so many other skills.


Scissor Skills Reindeer Craft- Another Christmas craft that is based on a children’s book is this Olive the Other Reindeer Ornament that doubles as a scissor skills craft. Wouldn’t it be fun to make a whole Christmas tree full of ornaments made in therapy sessions?


Precision Christmas Tree Suncatcher Craft- Need a Christmas craft that helps with precision and dexterity? This Christmas Tree Sun Catcher Craft will make the windows look festive!


Holiday Crafts without a Christmas Theme- To switch things up, here are several Winter Bird Crafts that boost fine motor skills and can be done this month or all winter long.


Kid-Made Christmas Ornament Crafts Looking for ornaments the kids can make? This collection of ideas has something for everyone. It’s a great way for kids to make a holiday gift for their family while working on fine motor skills and other occupational therapy goals.


Hand Strengthening Christmas Card Craft- This Homemade Christmas Card for kids is a fun Christmas card kids can make for family or friends. It provides an opportunity for hand strengthening with the hole punch Christmas tree. Sneak some handwriting practice in, too!


Tripod Grasp Christmas Tree- Kids will love this Pattern Christmas Tree Craft because they can make it as sparkly as they like! Encourage a little math and visual motor work with patterns on the Christmas tree while promoting a tripod grasp. 


Need more Christmas ideas? These Christmas Activities for Preschoolers are a big hit, too!

Need Christmas craft ideas for this holiday season? These Christmas crafts for kids will keep the kids happy while strengthening fine motor skills, visual motor skills, coordination, and more while working on the skills kids need, all with Christmas crafts!
 

More Christmas Activities for Kids



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.

 
Need Christmas craft ideas for this holiday season? These Christmas crafts for kids will keep the kids happy while strengthening fine motor skills, visual motor skills, coordination, and more while working on the skills kids need, all with Christmas crafts!
 
 
 
 

Christmas Crafts and Handwriting

Pair the Christmas crafts with Christmas handwriting. Use one of the Christmas crafts for preschool parties or school holiday parties this time of year. Then, students can use the modified paper below to write a list of holiday words or even directions to complete the Christmas tree craft or reindeer antlers! 
 
Christmas modified paper for holiday handwriting for kids

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:

  • Letters to Santa
  • Wish List
  • Holiday To-Do List
  • Shopping List
  • Thank You Notes
  • Recipe Sharing
  • Winter Writing Prompts

Click here to get your packet.

Christmas Activities for Toddlers

Need a few Christmas Activities for Toddlers? This time of year, there is just not enough time to search for activities that the kids will love. Today we’re sharing Christmas activities for kids that help to promote underlying skills like fine motor, gross motor, coordination, and balance. These are holiday games and Christmas activities for 2-3 year olds with a focus on fun. The best part is, they are here and all in one place for you!
 

Christmas Activities for Toddlers

Use these Christmas activities for toddlers to promote fine motor skills, gross motor skills, bilateral coordination, crossing midline, and other skills that toddlers learn through play!
 
The toddler years is a busy time as kiddos are learning, moving, and are on the go! The Toddler stage of development is a critical one as kids are developing the underlying fine motor and gross motor experiences skills they need down the road for tasks like pencil grasp, handwriting, coordination, and gross motor tasks. These are Christmas activities that 2 and 3 year olds will love!
 
Use the Christmas Activities for toddlers below to create motor experiences for toddlers, all with a Christmas theme!
 
This post is part of our Christmas Activities week here on The OT Toolbox. You’ll want to catch all of the updates here on the site this week as we are sharing tons of therapist-approved Occupational Therapy Christmas Activities for Kids
 
These are activities, games, and ideas for kids with a Christmas theme that can be used in occupational therapy treatment in the home, school, or clinic!


Looking for Christmas ideas for older kids? This series has a collection of Christmas Activities for Preschoolers too!
 
If you missed the announcement post on our Christmas Activities for Kids series, you’ll want to check it out. We’ll have a different theme each day this week!
 

Christmas Activities for kids

Jingle Bell Sort- Toddlers will love this Christmas Jingle Bell Sort activity and won’t even realize they are building skills they need for development. This activity can be used all season long to help kids develop in-hand manipulation and separation of the two sides of the hands as kids sort colored jingle bells.


Christmas Discovery Bottle- A sensory bottle is great for toddlers. It’s a tool that can help them as they discover how their hands move to shake a bottle to make noises from the filler. What an experience in cause and effect! This Christmas Discover Bottle uses gree split peas and holiday themed foam shapes. 
 
Christmas Sensory Bin- Something as simple as throwing cookie cutters, ribbons, and bows into a low bin can be a great discovery sensory bin that is perfect for Toddlers. This Christmas Sensory Bin is an activity that requires close supervision (like all of the activities listed here). Toddlers can explore different items while moving items, sorting, experiencing different textures. 

Christmas Water Play Freeze a few holiday shaped ice cubes, toss them into water, and add some scoops and spoons. Toddlers can work on scooping, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, and other skills, all with a simple set-up activity that Toddlers will love. We used Christmas shaped ice cube trays but any ice cubes would work. Here is more information on scooping ice as a fine motor activities for toddlers.

Easel Art- Working on a vertical surface is a great way to strengthen promote balance, coordination, and bilateral coordination. In this easel art activity, we used red, white, and blue paper scraps, but it could easily be re-created with green and red Christmas colors!

 

Fine Motor Activity for Toddlers- Work on fine motor skills with toddlers by using red and green crafting pom poms and a recycled plastic bottle to promote development of the fine motor skills kids need down the road for fastening clothing fasteners, coloring, and writing with a pencil.

 
Fine Motor Pipe Cleaner Activity for Toddlers Use that recycled plastic bottle again to work on even more fine motor skills in toddlers by using red and green pipe cleaners. Add a handful of jingle bells to create a sensory bottle that is as much fun to create as it is to play with.
 
Sorting ornaments and playing with ornaments is a toddler activity that can help small kids with fine motor skills and other areas in play!


Ornament Explore Toss a handful of plastic or shatter proof ornaments into a basket for a toddler-safe exploration play. This is a great way for little ones to explore textures, promote bilateral coordination, visual motor skills, crossing midline, and other skills, all in a safe way!

Empty Box Fine Motor Activity- Wrap an empty box with wrapping paper. Using a screwdriver, poke holes in the box. Then, show your toddler how to push pipe cleaners into the holes. Using pipe cleaners for fine motor was a HUGE hit when I had toddlers in my house. It’s a great activity for developing precision, coordination, crossing midline, bilateral coordination, grasp development, and more!
 
Sensory Light Box- This time of year, it seems like there are cardboard boxes arriving at the house every day. Use an empty cardboard box to make a sensory light tunnel. All you need is a big box, and a strand of Christmas lights to create a sensory calm down zone and Toddler play space.
 
Don’t forget to stop back tomorrow for more occupational therapy Christmas ideas. You can also catch all of the Christmas Activities for kids here.
 
Christmas activities for toddlers make fun activities and Christmas play ideas that help toddlers learn through play in the activities that they can use to promote fine motor skills and other skills.