100 Things to do This Summer

Print off this summer activity challenge for kids and keep the kids active and screen free this summer

I am a mom of four. I have heard, “I’m board!” 4,000 times. Each summer. This summer might look a little different that most years, and because of that, I wanted to come up with summer activities for kids that are therapy-approved. These are summer things and active play ideas. You might call this an adventure challenge. You might call it a therapy home program. What this list of summer activities is for certain, is a way to get the kids active and off the screens. This list of 100 summer things (actually 104 summer things) costs little to no money, use the items found around the house, and meets the needs of kids. It’s part of our Wellness Challenge (More info on that coming next week!)

Print off this summer activity challenge for kids and keep the kids active and screen free this summer

100 Things to do this summer

Well, here we are at the tail end of another school year. This is the time that most parents and teachers celebrate the end of school and the start of summer…maybe more than the kids. With the end of the school year, it’s a time to celebrate lazy, hazy days of summer. This year is a different. Parents are celebrating the end of distance learning. Teaching kids at home through distance learning, while working from home is simply not a sustainable task for most. The list below is 100 things to do this summer. These are activities to keep the kids (and the whole family) active, and enjoying time together in play. Play is healing. Play is a learning opportunity.

For pediatric occupational therapists, we know that play is the primary occupation of the child. Play is therapy and therapy is play. These summer activities for kids are designed to boost skills, while helping children emotionally, physically, and mentally.

Kids NEED active play. They NEED to move. Kids need to create, think outside of the box, and they need to be bored. With boredom comes creativity, interest-based thinking, and innovation. This list of 100 things to do this summer might be an idea starter.

The activities on this list fall into six categories: outdoor activities, indoor activities, water activities, games, creative “maker” activities, and imagination activities. Each summer activity challenges movement and is a summer activity that can be added to home programs.

When the kids say they are bored, send them to this checklist and ask them to pick something on the list. With 104 ideas, there is something for each day this summer.

Summer activities for occupational therapy home programs

Occupational Therapy Summer Program

The activities on this summer activity list inspire active play for kids. They build heavy work to add proprioceptive input. They add movement for vestibular input. They add tactile input. The activities are calming or alerting. They are sensory-based movement activities.

Use this list as a home program. The list can be sent home to parents to inspire active play each day. Or, post it on your fridge and when the kids say they need something to do, ask them to pick one activity. Your challenge is to complete as many of the activities as you can. When boredom strikes, add these activities.

Outdoor Active Play

  • Obstacle course
  • Nature walk
  • Climb a tree
  • Kick a ball
  • Driveway chalk
  • Go for a hike
  • Roll down a hill
  • Make a hideout
  • Draw the clouds
  • Run around the house
  • Pick flowers
  • Do jumping jacks
  • Fly a kite
  • Draw with chalk
  • Go swimming
  • Ride a bike
  • Watch the birds

Indoor Activities for Summer

  • Animal walks
  • Couch cushion course
  • Balloon toss
  • Bowl plastic cups
  • Indoor balance beam
  • Freeze dance
  • Yoga
  • Build puzzles
  • Hand clapping games
  • Board games
  • Catch socks
  • Write in a journal
  • Wheelbarrow walks
  • Army crawls
  • Wall push-ups
  • Dance party
  • Play with stickers

Water Activites for Kids

  • Water sensory bin
  • Spray bottle art
  • Squirt gun painting
  • Paint with water
  • Swim
  • Play in a sprinkler
  • Make a sensory bottle
  • Make sponge balls
  • Play in the hose water
  • Water flowers
  • Wash a car
  • play in the rain
  • Water table
  • Water balloons
  • Play in soapy water
  • Bubbles
  • Sink or float tests

Summer Games for Kids

  • Red rover
  • Play tag
  • Hide and seek
  • Play Uno
  • Play cards
  • Soccer
  • Catch a football
  • Board games
  • Hopscotch
  • 4 Square
  • Basketball
  • Relay Race
  • Charades
  • 7 Up
  • Mr. Wolf
  • Tug of war
  • Lawn tic tac toe
  • Bean bag toss

Creative Activities for Summer

  • Torn paper art
  • Make play dough
  • Build with LEGO
  • Finger paint
  • Make a fort
  • Make a recipe
  • STM project
  • Make lemonade
  • Paint rocks
  • Leaf resist art
  • Coffee filter butterfly
  • Toilet paper roll craft
  • Paper bag puppets
  • Make bird treats
  • Create a song
  • Write a letter
  • Bake cookies
  • Draw

Imagination Play for summer

  • Think of a goal for you to accomplish
  • Dress up
  • Make up a play
  • Invent something
  • Make up a dance
  • Act out a story
  • Write a story
  • Imagine a cardboard box is something unique
  • Pretend to be something or someone else
  • Think of a new ending to a movie
  • Imagine all the things you are grateful for
  • Imagine you had $1,000. What would you do?
  • Think of a random act of kindness. And do it
  • Imagine you were…whatever you could do or be. How can you get to that point? Make a list of the steps.

Get this list in a printable format below! Print it off, hand it out as an occupational therapy home program, or hang it on the fridge and when the kids say they are bored, direct them to the list!

use this activity challenge for kids that are bored this summer or to use in ot home programs
summer activities for kids

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    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Engaging Executive Functioning Activities

    Executive functioning activities can be motivating and meaningful when they use the interests of the child.

    Executive functioning activities are tools to build skills in attention, working memory, self-control, and cognitive flexibility. But these brain tasks can be HARD for some kids. So, when enhancing executive function is a real challenge, how can you make executive functioning activities meaningful and engaging? In a previous post, we talked about the use of strategy games as a method to improve executive functioning (EF) skills. Executive functioning games can be one means of engaging individuals in processing and self-reflection. While games are a great tool that children and teens can participate in both in and out of the clinic, there are many other everyday activities to promote EF skill development! Here are some more engaging ways to improve executive functioning skills.

    Executive functioning activities can be motivating and meaningful when they use the interests of the child.

    Executive Functioning ActivitiesThat Work

    Executive functioning skills are an important client factor contributing to successful participation in daily occupations. EF is currently a buzzword, but it isn’t a new idea. Creating a EF activities that are personalized and based on interests is an effective strategy for ensuring participation. If the child has a deep interest in specific themes or activities based on their personal preferences, executive function practice and skill work becomes more fun as opposed to “work”.

    Using the interests of the child as a motivator and as a scheduler can have great results. 

    Check out a few ways that you can help children and teens develop their EF skills!

    Cooking for Executive Functioning Skill Development

    Cooking is a great way to work on executive functioning with a treat at the end! Cooking requires many executive functioning skills. Kids need to use impulse control to complete one step at a time and pace themselves, avoid ingesting raw ingredients or eating all of their hard work, as well as prevent injury with sharp or hot tools.

    They also need to use working memory to recall what ingredients they need after looking at a recipe, as well as recalling the quantity of that ingredient. Here is information and strategies to teach direction following with cooking activities.

    Crafts and Projects for Executive Functioning Skill Development

    Crafts for kids and projects are another great way to work on executive functioning skills. Does your client have a special interest in the U.S. Presidents? Have them create a board game related to this interest! They will need to keep track of their materials, manage their time appropriately, and consider the perspectives of others who might play their game!

    Executive Functioning and Gross Motor Activities

    Gross motor activities and executive functioning activities can go hand in hand. Almost any activity can be adapted to integrate gross motor play! In a large room, a child could look at a list of items, then race to the other side of the room on their scooter to find an object, just like “I Spy” books and games! Many kids love to make obstacle courses, allowing for the development of initiation (getting started on building, instead of making grand plans and running out of time to make the course), impulse control (try changing the rules on them halfway through! “No touching red pieces!”), and metacognition (have them evaluate what went well, what did not go as well, and what they would change).

    Executive Functioning and Daily Routines

    Daily routines are a natural opportunity for the development of executive functioning skills. However, this also goes the other direction, because executive functioning is critical for independence in daily routines. Have clients create visuals to support their attention and sequencing of multiple step routines. If a child takes a significant amount of time to complete their routine, have a race to see who can get ready the fastest!

    Executive Functioning and Technology

    Some kids are highly motivated by apps and technology. These interests can be used as part of therapy intervention or as a reward. Here are occupational therapy apps which contain some free options to address executive functioning skills. Here are Alexa skills for therapy that can be used to work on executive functioning and other areas.

    It’s all about executive FUNctioning!

    Try a few of these activity ideas to integrate executive functioning skill development in an enjoyable, approachable way! These are engaging and fun ways to build executive functioning skills through meaningful strategies. They work for kids, and adults. The most best thing is that building mental skills can be meaningful and fun!

    Looking for more motivating executive functioning activities? Try the Impulse Control Journal. It’s a fun and creative way to journal through skills…impulse control is covered, but also working memory, attention, organization, planning, prioritization, flexible thought, and more.

    Impulse Control Journal the OT Toolbox

    Address the habits, mindset, 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 Journal 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
    • MORE!  

    Click here to read more about the Impulse Control Journal and to add this resource to your therapy toolbox.

     How to Teach Kids Impulse Control


    What is Modulation?


    Easy Ways to Improve Impulse Control

    The OT Toolbox contributing author, Emily Skaletski, MOT, OTR/L

    This post was written by contributing author, Emily Skaletski, MOT, OTR/L is a pediatric occupational therapist in the Madison, WI area. Emily participated in the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association’s Emerging Leaders Program (2016), earned her level 1 digital badge in autism from the American Occupational Therapy Association (2017), received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Chatham University (2018), and was appointed the South-Central District Co-Chair of the Wisconsin Occupational Therapy Association (2019). Emily has presented at both state and national conferences and is passionate about professional development. While trained as a generalist, Emily particularly enjoys working with clients with autism spectrum disorder and challenges related to executive functioning skills.

    Free Therapy Slide Deck- Animal Visual Perception

    This free slide deck is an animal visual perception activity

    It’s here! If you’ve been enjoying the free slide decks that I’ve been sharing here on the website, then you are in luck. Today, I’ve got another free therapy slide deck. This one is all about visual perceptual skills…the Animal Visual Perception therapy activities are here! Scroll to the bottom of this post, enter your email, and start working on visual perception in your teletherapy activities. Be sure to check out our other recent therapy slide decks, listed below.

    This free slide deck is an animal visual perception activity

    This visual perception slide deck covers various visual perceptual areas:

    Visual discrimination

    Form constancy

    Form constancy

    Visual memory

    Visual attention

    The animal theme therapy slide deck also covers oculomotor skills:

    Visual scanning

    Visual tracking

    Eye-hand coordination

    Free Therapy Slide Decks

    This animal theme set of visual perception activities are just one of the recent slide decks that I’ve created. Be sure to grab some of the other free slide decks on the site:

    Space theme activities Slide Deck

    Monster Movement Slide Deck

    Letter Activity Slide Deck

    Strait Line Letters Slide Deck

    Scribble Theme Letter Formation Slide Deck

    The slide decks in this set are interactive. Kids can click on parts and either type in answers to the visual perception activities or they can click on parts of the slide and move pieces to complete the visual perception task.

    Free therapy slide deck activities to work on visual perceptual skills with kids.

    Work on specific areas such as visual memory and visual discrimination. Visual discrimination plays a large part in visual memory. Visual Memory is one part of a large arena known as visual perceptual skills. Visual memory focuses on one’s ability to recall visual information that has been seen.  Visual memory is also a critical factor in reading and writing.  

    When a child is writing a word, he must recall the formation of parts of the letter from memory.  It can be terribly frustrating for one with a visual memory deficit to perform a handwriting, spelling, or word copying exercise.  Children with difficulty in visual memory will have trouble copying letters, words, and sentences from a chalkboard or book.  

    Difficulties with visual discrimination or visual memory skills may present as very slow handwriting, trouble forming letters, and mixing up letters or words within sentences.  

    Producing written work on worksheets and tests may be difficult when visual memory is an issue. Recalling sight words in reading exercises can be hard as well as following along in a reading activity during stop and start tasks, due to comprehension and difficulty recalling what was read.

    Kids with visual memory deficits can demonstrate difficulty with formation of letters and numbers and appear “lazy” in their written work.

    Animal visual perception activities

    Users can click on the colored circles and move them to cover different forms. With more and more teletherapy sessions and digital activities being used in therapy, children are having to click and drag. This development of eye-hand coordination skills can be a difficult task for some children. Work on practicing with a visual perception component to build skills.

    Get a free Animal Theme Visual Perception Slide Deck

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      More visual perception activities

      Try some of these resources in your therapy activities:

      Free visual perception packet

      Free Visual Processing Lab

      Visual Motor Activities

      Sensory Activities for Babies

      My baby hates tummy time! Here are ideas to help with tummy time for infants and babies

      Sensory activities for babies is a tool to help little ones grow and develop life-long essential skills. Baby sensory experiences and sensory play go hand in hand.  A baby has so much exposure to sensory stimulation each day.  From sounds, to sights, to textures and temperatures, a baby’s sensory system is rapidly developing and filing away information.  In our house, when child number four was a baby, she was exposed to A LOT of auditory and visual stimulation from older siblings!

      Sensory ACTIVITIES for Infants

      Here, you will find sensory activities for infants and babies that can be used to help you connect and play with your little one. These baby sensory play ideas will encourage exploration of colors, textures, and properties.

      First, I wanted to share this resource for parents of new babies and also therapists that work with families.

      Resource for New Parents

      First, I wanted to let you know about an exciting new resource for new parents. Many people think new parents are the only ones that need baby advice. Maybe you found yourself as a new mother who suddenly had a lot of questions on sleep patterns, eating and childhood milestones. But, if there is one thing that therapists wish they could tell new parents, it’s that parents could have a better understanding of how movement plays into development.

      Therapists are many times, seeking resources to share with parents to support a family through the first year of baby’s development so they can thrive.

      Remarkable Infants is a great opportunity for parents and professionals alike to educate more people on how to support a baby’s first-year development for future learning development.

      Yes, this course does provide information on helping a baby sleep and eat, but this course is the other more comprehensive sections. The pieces most other baby trainings don’t provide.

      It’s a 5-step, all-inclusive online training for new moms focusing on the development of the whole child from birth through 12 months of age. It includes the following:

      • Language Development (Talking with your baby)
      • Healthy Sleep Habits (Understanding baby sleep)
      • Cognitive Development and Motor Development (Playing with your Baby)
      • Reading with your Baby (Vocabulary, visual-motor, speech and language)
      • Infant Nutrition (Feeding your baby)

      Even though this course is geared to moms, it’s also great for professionals. It can be a HUGE help to clients, expecting moms you work with and those that have kids with learning challenges. The more we can help educate parents on the necessity of building a baby’s cognition, speech and language and motor movements in their first year, the further ahead that child will be later in life.

      The 2 best parts are:

      1. Each section is taught by a specific professional (Occupational Therapist, Speech and Language Pathologist, Pediatric Sleep Sleep Specialists and Registered Dietitian) with evidence-based research. So you know you’re getting advice from the pros!

      2. If you are a professional, you can get CEU credits/Certificate of Completion for taking this course.

      You can also get an additional 10% discount when you use our coupon code “COLLEEN10.” To join the Mommy Academy, click here. Don’t forget to enter the discount code!

      resource for new parents

      Our Mission at the Mommy Academy is to provide new mamas with easily accessible, organized, evidence based information and practical skills.  Our resources strive to remove overwhelm and exhaustion and allow new moms to spend less time on Google and more time connecting with their baby and taking care of themselves.  Our mission is to make new mamas feel less alone through heartfelt encouragement, a mama community and expert support.

      Sensory Play Ideas for Babies

      Child development begins in the womb. As that baby develops and grows in utero, they are already stretching and moving, practicing reach and grasp, and stretching against the walls of their mother’s uterus. That push and pull that you felt as an expecting mom was your little one gaining strength and sensory input! That motor development continues after birth, and that’s when the fun begins because as mom or dad, we get to snuggle that little one, engage with them, and watch their every move!

      Sensory activities for babies 0-3 months old

      Sensory Activities for newborns

      Let’s talk specifics. During the newborn and infant stages (0-3 months), you’ll see so many physical and sensory milestones. These are developments that impact movement, communication, and feeding. Sensory developmental milestones during the first three months include:

      • Following a person with their eyes
      • Lifting their head to observe and listen
      • Pushing up to their arms while lying in tummy time, now baby can REALLY start to take in the world around them
      • Holding the head up while laying on their belly
      • Opening their fist into stretched fingers- Little one can grasp and begin to explore textures
      • Bringing hands to the mouth for sensory input, calming, and soothing
      • Reaching for toys to explore
      • Turns toward sounds or voices
      • Makes eye contact
      • Moving legs and arms- They are figuring out how their body moves in space and how much effort needs to be exerted to move

      From the first weeks when baby doesn’t focus their eyes on anything, they strengthen eye movements and focus to visually track a toy or person by the end of the three months of age. During this stage, it’s important to allow that little one to move, stretch, kick, and strengthen their core, neck, arms, and legs, and eye muscles. Sensory activities for newborns can include:

      Songs and Nursery Rhymes- For our littlest newborns, this is a wonderful first play activity. Singing softly or reciting nursery rhymes to infants gets your little one used to the sound of your voice. Make eye contact up close as you recite rhymes and songs. Baby’s vision is capable of focusing on objects at about 8 inches from their face. Using exaggerated mouth movements and wide eyes when you speak to your little one provides a high-contrast point that they can focus on.

      Follow the noise- Use a rattle, squeaky toy, or other toy that makes noise as you move the toy in front of your little one’s field of vision. You want your baby to visually track the noise and follow the toy with their eyes. While baby won’t be able to really follow moving objects with their eyes until about three months of age, this activity boosts so many areas and creates the building blocks of auditory processing and visual processing. This activity can be accomplished at various stages, and in various positions. Baby can be swaddled up and laying on their back while following the toy with their eyes. Try it when baby is in tummy time. Soon, you will see reaching for that fun toy. It’s a great way to encourage reach, grasp, and even gross motor skills like lifting the head and neck while in tummy time, and rolling.

      Tummy Time Back Rub- Tummy Time can be hard for babies! That little cry is so sad and makes you want to pick your little one up and snuggle them until they feel safe. But, remember the benefits of tummy time and help them to feel safe and comforted on their belly. Get down on the floor with your little one and lightly rub their back while you sing, speak, or hum. Put your face right next to your little one so they feel the warmth of your body. Make eye contact and engage with that sweet nugget!

      Chest to chest- We talked before about how tummy time doesn’t need to happen on the floor. Place baby on your chest as you lean back on a couch. Your baby’s face will be close to yours and at a great position to speak softly. Depth perception of the eyes doesn’t develop until about 5 months of age, so until then, your little one is building the eye strength to better see the world. This positioning is helpful to help your little one build upper body strength.

      Blanket time- A colorful play blanket is a great space to stretch, kick, and move those arms and legs. Positioning toys around baby encourages them to engage while strengthening their core, neck, arms, legs, and eye muscles. Position toys in a semi-circle around baby and get down on the floor to get in on the play action. This is a great way to build the skills needed for rolling and manipulating objects.

      Leg Kick- While baby is on the floor on their back or belly, provide some bicycle action to their legs. You can slowly “bike” their legs to get them moving and then tap the bottoms of their feet. This tactile input “wakes up” the feet and can get them kicking and moving. Place a toy or object that makes noise at their feet and they will see and hear a response to moving their legs.

      sensory activities for babies 3-6 months old

      Sensory Activities for 3-6 months

      Purposeful movement drives development and development occurs through purposeful movement. This is a fun series of months. You’ll see sensory development that drives motor skills and communication milestones:

      • Rolls from back to belly and belly to back- baby is starting to really explore proprioception and vestibular input as they move and figure out how their body moves
      • Holds the head and neck steady in sitting- They can focus vision on moving targets when the neck and head are steady
      • Investigates textures, size, shapes, and details of objects

      During 3-6 months, the baby is starting to gain some control of their body. They will start to use purposeful movement, influenced by toys and faces on the people around them in order to explore. Try these sensory activities for 3-6 month age range:

      Foot Rattles- There are socks out there that have built-in noise makers. These little foot rattles encourage baby to move and shake those legs. While lying on their back, they can see how intentional movement works.

      Peek-a-Boo- This is an age-old favorite…and there’s a good reason why we love this classic game! When mom or dad hides their face and then suddenly takes their hands away, baby is learning some valuable skills. They learn that objects don’t go away just because they can’t see them. Object permanence, cause and effect, and problem solving begin at this young age, and while it can take a while to master, it’s an essential skill down the road! Try playing peek-a-book with faces, objects and a blanket, and by gently swiping a blanket over baby. (Always use super close supervision with this activity!)

      Crinkly Soft Toys- One of my favorite ways to develop those early fine motor skills is with a simple crinkly soft blanket. You know the kind…it’s soft material on the outside, but crinkly fabric sewn into the middle. So, when baby squeezes and grabs the soft toy, they hear a crinkly noise. The best kind are small fabric swatches because they are light enough for baby to manipulate and pick up. The OT in me loves to see that little grip grab and pull the material. You can see those motor skills develop right in front of your eyes! Use the crinkly toy in tummy time to encourage reaching and rolling, or while laying on the floor as baby brings both hands together and gives the toy a taste. They can work both hands together in a coordinated manner with feedback from the mouth. It’s a great toy for building cause and effect, too!

      Mirror Play- Find a baby-safe mirror and use it in tummy time. Place a few baby items on the mirror and they can begin to push up onto their arms by putting weight through their shoulders and upper body. Another way to use a baby safe mirror is to place it in front of baby while they are in supported sitting. Baby will begin to babble and “talk” to the baby they see in the mirror.

      Hula-Hoop Reach- Your little one is still building those motor skills and someday down the road they will be doing big kid things! For now, use a hula hoop to attach rattles and baby toys in a circle around them as they are in tummy time in the center. The circular positioning of toys encourages reach (and eye-hand coordination), visual scanning, rolling, and pivoting on the upper body as they move and stretch for different toys.

      Sensory activities for babies 6-9 months

      Sensory ACTIVITIES for 6-9 months

      The months between 6-9 months are a big one for little ones’ development. Senses prevail and as your baby starts to gain more physical control, they are exploring more sensory input. Little one will begin solid foods for the first time and what a sensory experience that is!

      Movement and gains in gross motor skills allow baby will move from tummy time with weight through their arms to pushing up on their arms. They will begin to lift their belly off the floor to all fours. They will move from supported sitting to unsupported sitting with reaching for toys. You’ll see that little bundle move from tummy time to rolling, crawling, and reaching. Let them move, kick, and stretch!

      • Moves from supported sitting to independent sitting- Exploring the world around them
      • Bears weight through hands in crawling position
      • Reaches for toys while lying in the belly
      • Moves toys from one hand to the other
      • Uses both hands to manipulate and explore toys
      • Reacts to sudden sounds
      • Listen and responds to sounds or voices
      • Begins to babble
      • Shows an interest in foods
      • Tries baby food for the first time and will move to explore more tastes and varieties of soft foods
      • Imitates others in play
      • Focuses on near and far objects

      This is a fun age! Purposeful movement occurs and you will see baby learning so much. Here are some baby play ideas that boost the sensory development and motor skills babies need to move, manipulate toys, feed themselves, and get from place to place:

      Sitting Games- Place pillows around your little one to create a soft crash mat. As baby gains the skills to sit up with balance, they can reach for toys around them. Offer a basket of washcloths, a bowl of nesting toys, hand-sized balls (ones that can’t be placed into the mouth), or other novel items. This is a great opportunity to practice reaching, placing objects into containers, and getting stronger at balance!

      Living Room Obstacle Course- Along the same lines as the previous activity, use living room pillows and couch cushions to create obstacles on the floor. This is a great way to encourage movement in a variety of patterns and gain skills in crawling. As baby grows, they will become more confident in their movement and this is great to see! Be sure to stay close by and ensure the space is baby-proofed!

      Bubbles- Blowing bubbles with baby is a wonderful way to encourage visual tracking, eye-hand coordination, core strength, sitting balance, neck control, and even fine motor skills! Encourage your little one to watch the bubbles as they float away and visual processing skills develop. Ask them to get the bubble and they can work on controlled reach and grasp. Bubbles are a great activity throughout the toddle years too as baby learns to gain control in standing and walking. Grab a container of bubbles and have fun!

      Roll a Ball- A partially blown up beach ball is a wonderful tool for helping your little one gain balance and strength in sitting. The ball when not blown up entirely provides a great opportunity for grasp. Just be sure to keep a close watch on your little ball player. This activity should only be done under very close supervision and always trust your gut. You know that the ball is going straight to the mouth once your little one has a hold of it, so stay close by. Rolling a beach ball toward baby is wonderful for developing visual processing skills, eye-hand coordination, grasp and release, strengthening, and more. Adding more air to the ball makes it harder to grasp and harder to catch as the ball will roll more quickly and smoothly. Older kiddos can use that ball to kick, throw, and even pat-pat-pat!

      Box of Toys- Have an Amazon delivery box or a shoebox sitting around? It’s a novel toy for your little one! Fill it with baby-safe objects or toys and get ready to have fun. Pulling items out and dropping them back in teaches baby so much about weight, grasp, eye-hand coordination, and even gravity. They will love to see how things fall and how they hit off other toys. Dumping a box of toys is fun of its own and is another experiment of it’s own. Baby, as they start to move and crawl can push or pull a box and gain the feedback of pushing the object along the floor. Babies that are standing at a coffee table or couch can explore and drop items into the box while they learn to hold on the safety of the couch and use one arm to hold an object. SO much development can happen with a simple cardboard box!

      Put in and Take Out- Take that box play even further by using a smaller opening. An empty tissue box is another awesome tool for building skills in fine motor work, eye-hand coordination, and visual processing skills. By placing items in a container, little ones can work on things like visual discrimination and visual memory, all through play and not aware that those basic skills will carryover far into their educational years as they learn to read, write, and complete math. Amazing, right??!

      Sensory activities for babies from 10-12 months old

      Sensory Activities for 10-12 months

      The next phase is a big one! During the tail end of the first year, you see big strides in free movement. You see stronger eye-hand coordination, and intentional movement. You see refined fine motor skills, improved mobility, and a stronger baby. Here are more specifics about this stage:

      • Pulls up to stand at furniture
      • Takes first steps holding onto furniture to “cruise”
      • Moves in various positions from laying to sitting, sitting to pulling up to stand, etc.
      • Drops toys into containers and grabs them to manipulate
      • Uses a pincer grasp (holds small items like cereal between the pads of the thumb and pointer finger)
      • Explores toys with mouth, hands, and visually
      • Says first words
      • Feeds self with finger foods
      • Takes first steps without support

      During this stage of development, babies are moving and grooving! They are building on the skills they’ve achieved and refining those motor skills. Babies are using what they’ve got in the way of grasp, reach, and gross movement to really develop their vestibular sense. By moving in different planes to crawl, swing, turn, and roll, there is movement of the fluid in the inner ear which stimulates the vestibular sense. The vestibular sense allows us to know where our body is in space. With the vestibular sense, we are able to sit without falling over, move from one point to another safely, and track objects with our eyes (which is needed in reading and writing). Try these sensory activities for 10-12 months:

      Tunnels- Set ups a floor obstacle course like we talked about a few slides ago, but add some more challenging experiences. Use a baby tunnel or a large cardboard box. What a fun space to add baby toys, bins, baskets, and soft blankets for crawling over and playing with!

      Kitchen Play- At this stage, baby will be much sturdier in their sitting. Set ups a scattering of kitchen bowls and wooden spoons or scoops. They can bang, stack, and drop to see how items work and move. Recycled items such as egg cartons, cereal boxes, and plastic container are fun to explore too. Be sure to make the space baby safe. This is a great way to engage your little one while cooking and preparing meals.

      Sensory Play- This stage is fun because as the fine motor skills develop, you will see more refined use of the hands from a raking grasp” where all of the fingers rake items in order to pick them up in the palm of the hand into a “pincer grasp” where the pointer finger and the thumb are able to pick up a small item. Encourage sensory play by providing cooked spaghetti cut up into small lengths. Scatter the cooked spaghetti on a black placemat or tray. The high visual contrast and interesting sensory experience will engage your little one and build fine motor skills they will need down the road.

      Fine Motor Play- Around 10 months, you will see more refined fine motor skills as baby uses their pointer finger and thumb to pick up small items with the pincer grasp we just talked about in our last slide. Suddenly, you will notice every speck of dirt and fuzz ball on the carpet…and so will your little one! Encourage those fine motor skills by providing baby cereal and a container for them to drop pieces into.

      Stacking Activities- Use stacking cups, blocks, or small boxes (empty tissue boxes work great!) to stack and knock over! Baby will begin to gain more refined motor skills and the excitement of knocking those towers over again and again will not end!

      Rolling Toys- Use balls of various sizes, toy cars, and even recycled paper towel tubes to explore how things move and roll. Take the excitement level up a notch by adding a ramp using a large cardboard piece to make a ramp. Watching items as they roll down and grabbing them to push them down all over again is big fun! It’s a great way to encourage fine and gross motor skills, visual motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and balance.

      These sensory activities for babies are baby sensory ideas that will help infants develop essential skills, through play.

      This post contains affiliate links.  

      We shared recently our Visual Motor Integration developmental milestones post with general timelines of baby’s hand-eye coordination.  It’s important to note that all children develop differently and some of these activities may not be appropriate until they are developmentally able to participate.   

      Tummy Time and Sensory ACTIVITIES

      Really important pieces of advice like placing your baby in tummy time, limiting time spent in baby positioners, encouraging a variety of sensory stimulation, allowing movement, and connecting with your baby through play aren’t just tips. They are really important. They are strategies for success. The next few slides I’m sharing are tools to give your baby a motor and sensory baseline that will impact them down the road with things like visual motor skills, attention, reading and writing, frustration tolerance, emotional regulation, and more. It’s the skills that kids today are really lacking in

      My baby hates tummy time! Here are ideas to help with tummy time for infants and babies

       When Baby Hates Tummy Time

      We shared this mirror play idea on Instagram.  At the time, Baby Girl was five months old an able to do tummy time in a Boppy pillow. Having a better understand of tummy time myths is important for new parents to understand what to do when baby hates tummy time.

      The thing is that floor play for babies is essential for developing skills in infants and toddlers. And, that floor time play is important to building visual motor skills, strength, and coordination even throughout the first year (and beyond)!

      Here is information on how tummy time impacts spatial awareness development in babies.

      The baby positioning floor pillow provided extra support and elevated my little one’s upper body to encourage reach during tummy time. As with any piece of baby equipment, this pillow and others should be used under supervision by an adult and for short periods of time.  We used a small mirror and a few colorful ball pit balls to encourage reach and exploration.  Of course the big sisters had to help!

      How to help baby enjoy tummy time

      Helping to encourage lots of tummy time in your little one doesn’t need to be stressful. But many times, it may seem like your baby hates tummy time! They scream, they cry, and they place their face right on the floor. Scary, right? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there as new moms.

      Tips to help with tummy time:

      Get down on the floor with your baby and encourage reaching for enticing toys or towards your face/hands as you are right out of reach.

      Try some of the tummy time ideas in the Mommy Academy course.

      Add tummy time in throughout the day. Try a few minutes after diaper changes or when baby is in a pleasant mood. All of that tummy time adds up to build the strength needed for pushing over to the side.

      Try chest to chest tummy time as the adult holding the baby lies back on couch cushions.

      Try a football hold.

      While sitting on a couch, try tummy time on your lap while rubbing baby’s back.

      Also, is your little one pushing up on their arms when in tummy time? The weight of the head tends to pull them over into a side position/laying on belly from tummy time, so that is another benefit.

       Babies get so much exposure to different textures naturally through play.  This is just a simple way to encourage functional reach and tummy time play.  Some other items that work well with this baby sensory play activity that we love:   

      Colorful plastic cups 

      Extra large crafting pom poms (We received ours from www.craftprojectideas.com) Be sure to closely monitor baby if they are able to place items into their mouth! 

      Chew items

      Baby safe, plastic baby links

      Find many more baby play ideas here to drive sensory input through play based on each stage through the first year.

      Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

      Auditory Sensory Activities the Backyard

      auditory sensory activities for the backyard to add to a sensory diet for kids

      These auditory sensory activities are a variety of backyard sensory play ideas that can be used as tools for addressing auditory sensory processing needs at home. using what you’ve got in (or outside) your house is a great way to work on auditory processing needs with kids. Think about all of the backyard sounds that can be used as therapy tools to help with auditory memory or auditory comprehension. In fact, the backyard is the perfect place to work on sensory needs with kids.

      This blog post is part of my backyard sensory play series. It’s an old post here on The OT Toolbox, but it’s one that I’ve revamped to make into a movement and sensory challenge to help kids be active and building therapy skills at home.

      auditory sensory activities for the backyard to add to a sensory diet for kids
      Auditory processing sensory ideas for backyard summer sensory play, perfect for sensory diet ideas for kids.

      The auditory sensory activities listed here can be used as part of a sensory diet for kids. Some of the ideas are great auditory seeking activities. Others are great for helping to challenge those with hypersensitivity to sound. In either case, the auditory sensory activities can be used as part of a sensory diet for those with needs.

      If you are looking for information on how to create a sensory diet and use these movement activities with kids, then you are in the right place. Here are more outdoor sensory diet activities to get you started with sensory needs and the outdoors.

      auditory sensitivity activities for kids

      Auditory Processing Activities

      Try these auditory processing ideas this summer. Each activity can be modified to make is a challenge for auditory seeking or auditory sensitivities.

      Neighborhood Listening Scavenger Hunt-  Notice the sounds in the neighborhood.  Ask your child to locate or name the origin of the sounds as they walk around the neighborhood.  If the sound is too far away, ask them to name the origin.  During this activity, they need to discriminate between sounds.

      Auditory Hide and Seek-  Play a game of hide and seek with sounds.  They child that is searching for kids can make a call and each hider responds with their own sound.  The person who is looking for others can determine who is making the sounds they hear and locate each child one at a time.

      Listening Tag-  Play a game of tag in the backyard as children race to tag one another.  When the person who is “it” comes near another person, they can tag a person unless the runner sits on the ground and makes a noise.  When the child sits, they are on “base” and safe from being tagged. They can stand up again when the child who is “it” makes the same noise.  

      Noisy Toy Positioning Game- Use a squeaky toy or bike horn in this noisy toy game.  Have one child hide with the toy and make it squeak.  The person who is looking for the toy needs to describe where the toy is hidden by using descriptive words like “over”, “under”, and “left”.

      More auditory Sensory Activities

      • Bell parade
      • Kazoo sound hunt
      • Listening for birds or animals
      • Record backyard sounds and play back the recording. Try to recognize and name the sound and where it was located in the yard.
      • Fill containers with items from the backyard.  Shake plastic containers or even paper bags with the items and see if your child can name the objects.
      • Play Marco Polo in the yard!
      auditory memory activities for kids to do at outdoors at home.

      Looking for more backyard sensory ideas for summer?  

      The Summer Sensory Activity Guide is the place to find everything you need for a summer of sensory input.  Use the sensory activities described in the booklet as a guide to meet the individual needs of your child.  The activities are not a substitute for therapy.  Rather, they are sensory-based summer activities that are designed to address each sensory system through summer play.  Activities are described to involve the whole family.  Right now, the Summer Sensory Activity Guide is a free bonus item to the new Summer Occupational Therapy Activities Packet.

      The Summer OT Activities Packet is a collection of 14 items that guide summer programming at home, at school, and in therapy sessions. The summer activities bundle covers handwriting, visual perceptual skills and visual motor skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, regulation, and more.

      You’ll find ideas to use in virtual therapy sessions and to send home as home activities that build skills and power development with a fun, summer theme. Kids will love the Summer Spot It! game, the puzzles, handouts, and movement activities. Therapists will love the teletherapy slide deck and the easy, ready-to-go activities to slot into OT sessions. The packet is only $10.00 and can be used over and over again for every student/client!

      Grab the Summer Occupational Therapy Activities Packet HERE.

      Summer activities for kids


      For more auditory sensory activities, try these activities for auditory learners.

      Auditory processing sensory ideas for backyard summer sensory play, perfect for sensory diet ideas for kids.

      Sensory Activities in the Backyard

       These are more sensory ideas you can add to an outdoor sensory diet to address sensory seeking needs or sensory avoiding in kids:

      Wobble Ice Disk– Add vestibular input with a DIY wobble disk. Kids can help to make this heavy ice disk, adding proprioceptive input for a hot summer day.

      Use a therapy ball– A large ball or a therapy ball/ exercise ball is a great way to add movement, heavy work, and calming proprioceptive input into backyard play.

      Make a Water Bin– Water play is a great way to spend hot summer days in sensory play.

      Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

      Oral Motor Activities for Summer

      summer oral motor activities for kids

      Sometimes the kids need an outdoor challenge to get moving and add active play to their day. I’m really excited to add a new activity challenge here on The OT Toolbox website. It’s a fun summer activity for the whole family and can be used to help kids stay active and build skills. This list of oral motor activities for summer is actually a fun way to add calming activities and alerting activities to sensory diets for kids. In fact, this page is part of a series of backyard sensory activities for kids.

      Summer oral motor activities for kids to address oral sensory processing needs.

      This is such a fun list of Oral Sensory Processing activities that can be done at home right in the backyard this summer.  If you are new to this blog, you might know that I’ve put together a lot of sensory activities here on the website. In particular, you will want to check out all of the summer occupational therapy activities here on The OT Toolbox! 

      Today, I’m sharing one part of that backyard sensory play list and outdoor activity challenge. These oral sensory processing activities can be done frugally and right in your backyard.  Getting the kids outside to play is important with all of the research out there telling us that kids are not playing outdoors as much as they used to.  These backyard sensory ideas are sure to bring smiles to your kids’ faces while sneaking in some sensory input.

      Oral sensory processing activities that can be done at home this summer right in the backyard with the whole family, great for self-regulation, sensory input, attention, and focus.



      Understanding development of oral motor skills is a great place to start when it comes to oral sensory processing concerns. Oral sensory input or challenges with oral motor skills can impact self-regulation in kids as well as improving attention, focus, and adding a calming component to slow down a sensory seeking child. Adding simple oral motor sensory breaks throughout the day can make a big impact in a sensory diet for kids.

      Oral Motor Skills and sensory Activities

      Try these backyard oral sensory processing activities this summer:

      RELATED READ: Animal Cracker Oral Sensory Activity

      Affiliate links are included below.

      Dandelion Race-  Pick several dandelions and place them into two piles.  Kids can race another child to blow all of the seeds from the dandelions one at a time.  Blowing dandelions is a proprioceptive activity that provides calming sensory input through the mouth.

      Balloon Bin-  Help your child blow up a bunch of balloons and place them into a large bin.  An under the bed storage bin works well for this activity. Once the bin is full of  balloons, spray in a bottle of shaving cream.  Mix the balloons and shaving cream around to coat the balloons.  Ask kids to scrape off the shaving cream with their hands to reveal the color of the balloon. This is a tactile sensory activity as well as an oral sensory activity.

      Smelly Bubbles- Most kids agree that there is nothing more fun or summery than bubbles.  Try adding a scented component by using scented bubbles.  Blowing bubbles is an oral sensory calming activity for kids.

      Kazoo Parade- Gather kids from the neighborhood and pass out a bunch of kazoos. Blowing a kazoo is a sensory activity that provides proprioceptive input through the mouth.  This is a calming activity and can be used for self-regulating or improved focus.  

      Hot and Cold Taste Test- Alternate between hot and cold taste sensations in a taste testing game.  Prepare cold foods like ice cubes, chunks of popsicles, and frozen vegetables alongside a hot foods tray like warm applesauce, warm sun tea, and toasted bread.  Set up a roadside stand for taste testing and create a “most liked” survey.

      Oral sensory processing activities that can be done at home this summer right in the backyard with the whole family, great for self-regulation, sensory input, attention, and focus.

      RELATED READ: Plastic Egg Boats Oral Sensory Activity

      Looking for more backyard sensory ideas for summer?  

      The Summer Sensory Activity Packet is a collection of handouts, activities, and more that build skills this summer. You’ll find everything you need to keep the kids active, learning, and building skills this summer.

      It’s a collection of 14 items that guide summer programming at home, at school, and in therapy sessions. The summer activities bundle covers handwriting, visual perceptual skills and visual motor skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, regulation, and more.

      You’ll find ideas to use in virtual therapy sessions and to send home as home activities that build skills and power development with a fun, summer theme. Kids will love the Summer Spot It! game, the puzzles, handouts, and movement activities. Therapists will love the teletherapy slide deck and the easy, ready-to-go activities to slot into OT sessions. The packet is only $10.00 and can be used over and over again for every student/client!

      Grab the Summer Occupational Therapy Activities Packet HERE.

      The BONUS is that there is a special added bonus item with the Summer Activities Kit right now. Grab the packet of activities now and get the Summer Sensory Activities Guide to keep the kids moving with the senses all summer long.

      Summer activities for kids

      More outdoor activity challenges

      Bookmark this page for the summer fun. Be sure to check out some of the other backyard sensory activities in this challenge for kids:

      Proprioception Sensory Activities for the Backyard

      Oral Sensory Activities for Backyard Sensory Play

      Visual Sensory Activities for Backyard Sensory Play

      Auditory Processing Sensory Activities for Backyard Sensory Play

      Vestibular Sensory Activities for the Backyard

      Sensory Handwriting Summer Camp

      More oral motor activities you will love:

      Oral motor activities are perfect for addressing self-regulation, focus, attention, coping, and sensory input needs by adding a calming effect or alerting effect. Try some of these oral motor activities:

      Animal Cracker Oral Sensory Activity

      Plastic egg Boats Water Play

      Oral Motor Road Trip Sensory Breaks

      Easter Bunny Oral Processing Activity

       

      Summer Occupational Therapy Activities

      Summer occupational therapy activities
      summer activity packet

      Be sure to grab the Summer Activities Packet, containing a Beach theme slide deck, handwriting prompts, movement activities, visual perceptual and visual motor activities, sensory ideas, and more. Make your summer OT session planning easier. Use the prompts in preventing summer slide over the next three months. Grab the Summer Activities Packet here for just $10.

      Looking for summer occupational therapy activities or ideas to use in home programs for the summer? This year’s summer OT activities may look a little different than previous years. In years past, therapists may have been gearing up for an end of another school year and a break from in-person OT sessions. What hasn’t changed about the end of a school year is the carefree days of summer that are ahead. As an OT, I love the feeling of the start of summer. There is just something about back-to-the-basics play of summer. Running around the backyard, hopping on bikes, sidewalk chalk, sprinklers and water play…summer play is a goldmine of motor and sensory activities that can boost those underlying skills kids NEED.

      Because of this, I wanted to put together a resource on summer occupational therapy activities that can be implemented today. These are strategies to use for your own child to boost development and challenge skills. These are ideas to use in teletherapy or in home programs. These are play ideas that help kids with the balance of screens and active play. Use the summer resources for parents, teachers, and therapists to develop underlying skills in very fun ways! These are AWESOME summer occupational therapy activities!

      Check the summer activities for kids of all ages listed below!

      You’ll also be interested in our new Summer Occupational Therapy Activities Packet. It’s a collection of 14 items that guide summer programming at home, at school, and in therapy sessions. The summer activities bundle covers handwriting, visual perceptual skills and visual motor skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, regulation, and more.

      You’ll find ideas to use in virtual therapy sessions and to send home as home activities that build skills and power development with a fun, summer theme. Kids will love the Summer Spot It! game, the puzzles, handouts, and movement activities. Therapists will love the teletherapy slide deck and the easy, ready-to-go activities to slot into OT sessions. The packet is only $10.00 and can be used over and over again for every student/client!

      Grab the Spring Occupational Therapy Activities Packet HERE.

      summer occupational therapy activities for kids
      Occupational therapists can use these summer occupational therapy activities when planning OT home programs for for summer programs.

      Summer Occupational Therapy Activities 

      In many areas, schools are winding down for the year. You may have a few weeks or a few days left. The daily countdown of number of remaining school days is dwindling.

      You might be wondering how to balance work-from home and making summer days count.

      You might be wondering how to keep the kids busy this summer without breaking the bank.

      You might be a clinician thinking about summer programming and need a few fresh ideas.

      You might be thinking about summer plans and ways to encourage development in fun ways the whole family can enjoy.

      You might be a therapist putting together summer home programs.

      You might be a teacher who is READY for the final bell to ring this school year 🙂

      I wanted to put together a list of resources for summer activities that can boost the skills kids need. The “summer slide” can happen in handwriting and other school-based therapy goal areas, too!

      Summer Occupational Therapy Activity Resources

      ~ Do some or all of the activities listed here in this Sensory Summer Camp at Home plan. All of the activities and ideas are free and use items you probably already have.

      ~ Sneak in handwriting practice while traveling with these motivating and authentic ideas. HERE are a few MORE natural writing experiences for summer that keep those pencils moving.

      ~ Try some of the activities in this Summer Activity Guide designed to encourage play and creativity in activities for the whole family.

      ~ Practice the motor planning and fine motor skills needed for handwriting and with a sensory twist using the ideas outlined in this Sensory Handwriting Backyard Summer Camp.

      ~ Try these Backyard Vestibular Activities for Summer to encourage movement and sensory experiences right in the backyard.

      ~ Print off this June Occupational Therapy Calendar for ideas to last the whole month. (It’s from a couple of years back so the dates are off, but the activities still work!)

      ~ These no-prep, basically free summer activities won’t break the bank and boost the underlying skills kids NEED, in fun ways.

      ~ Use sidewalk chalk to boost fine motor skills.  

      ~Make a summer time capsule with the whole family and create memories that can be looked back on years from now.   

      ~Create a summer kick-off bucket filled with toys and items for months of sensory play.     

      ~The kids will love these frozen fruit kabob snacks. It’s a great alerting sensory snack that doubles as a healthy summer treat.

      The ideas listed above should help you create therapy home programs, and keep the kids loaded up on creative, open-ended, and movement-based PLAY that their little bodies NEED!

      Use these summer occupational therapy activities when planning sensory activities, fine motor, and gross motor developmental ideas for kids.

      Want to take summer play to the next level? Be sure to grab your copy of the Summer OT Activities Bundle!

      Summer activities for kids

      Kids Craft Supplies for Building Skills

      These must have craft supplies are great for making a craft kit for kids

      While kids crafts offers children the chance to create through art or an opportunity to be creative, the fact is that crafting is a means to help children build skills. Because of that, I wanted to put together a resource detailing kids craft supplies and how simple craft items can be used to help kids improve fine motor skills, executive functioning, motor planning, and other developmental skills. There’s more; Kids can use crafts as a coping strategy. Crafts are one of the therapeutic activities for teens or children of all ages that not only allow children to express their selves, but to create. Let’s talk more about the specific craft supplies for kids and how they can be used as a therapy tool.

      These must have craft supplies are great for making a craft kit for kids

      Kids Craft Supplies In Therapy

      The therapeutic use of crafts has been the history of occupational therapy since the very beginning. The use of crafts began in mental health with a huge focus on basket weaving. Therapeutic crafts have sustained their relevance and continue to be utilized in many occupational therapy settings today to include pediatrics, mental health, outpatient and skilled nursing, among others.

      Why? Because crafts can work on many skills with a focus on functional skills, or meaningful activities. Most all craft activities have some type of motoric and cognitive skill component. Individuals can work on their fine motor control and manipulation, bilateral coordination, tool use, hand strength, visual motor and perception, motor planning, and grasping skills. Crafts allow for work on executive functioning skills to include attention, focus to task at hand, task initiation and completion, planning, sequencing, organizing, following multi-step directions, and problem solving. Craft activities can also provide a fun time for therapists to connect with clients and develop a special rapport.

      Crafts have recently regained their popularity and are back in style with increased vigor and emphasis across all populations.  Children and adults are participating in craft activities both available on social media as well as at craft events in local craft stores and art studios. Adults meet with friends to create and engage in social interaction while learning new skills and creating works of art from their own hands. For many, crafts are a form of occupation. Children likewise enjoy crafts for similar reasons as they are able to use their skills to create something they can share with others and take home to enjoy while having a sense of accomplishment and success.

      Children love to make crafts both in school and during their own time. They have fun exploring different materials and using them to create unique and original items which they can then share with others and display.  To see the smile on the face of a child when they have completed a craft, no matter the end product, is simply priceless.  Precious smiles with development of skills are the reward to pediatric therapists as they work with children every day. Perfection is not the goal, but the process. 

      use craft supplies in therapy

      Art Therapy for Children

      Art therapy for children is a powerful therapeutic activity. There is an entire profession dedicated to the use of art and crafts in therapy. In the occupational therapy profession, the use of arts and crafts offers a meaningful occupation to build essential skills for function. While it may seem like play, there is much happening behind craft activities! Crafts and art in OT sessions are the tools or the medium to improve functional skills in patients.

      Craft Kits for Kids

      Craft kits are one of the best tools for pediatric therapists.  These craft sets are a set of kids craft supplies selected to help kids build skills. Craft kits for kids can come in any shape or size and they offer a sense of intrigue and possibility for children.  Therapists use these motivational materials to address therapeutic goals while children develop confidence in their skills along with self-esteem and ultimately, product production.

      craft kits for kids to build skills in therapy

      Activity Kits for Kids

      When therapists choose a craft they are targeting specific child goals. Using craft supplies, selected activity kit for kids allow users to build skills through creating art or crafts. They address improving skills with scissor manipulation, grasp, fine motor coordination and manipulation, tactile tolerance and stimulation, organization, sequencing, or following multi-step directions.  Craft projects in a group lead to an opportunity for socialization and social skills development too.  Crafts can easily be downgraded or upgraded to address multiple skill levels. Furthermore, therapists can position materials during the process of crafting to facilitate crossing midline, hand dominance, left and right awareness, postural control, range of motion, and motor planning.  Again to reiterate, it is the process of the activity with skills addressed rather than the complete end product.

      Using craft kits can be so much fun and taking them a step further by creating themed kits are always the best!  Craft kit themes can include food items, craft items, sensory items, holiday items, or seasonal items.  Decide the craft kit theme you want to create and start off to the store to gather your materials. A simple, easily replenished, go-to craft kit should be a part of the pediatric therapist’s bag, cart, therapy room, or clinic. So many wonderful skills can be practiced and addressed with craft kit items while also allowing for child creativity and freedom to explore. Let’s take a peek at two fun craft kits that are cheap to create using everyday craft supplies for kids and use easy to find items. 

      Kids craft supplies in a craft kit

      Kids Craft Supplies Kit

      This small craft kit contains simple items for use in craft and art activities which can be found at a local dollar store, chain store, or craft store. It contains only the items for art pieces and crafts, but not the necessities such as paper, glue, and scissors.  This craft supply set may be more useful in the clinic setting as the other necessities are readily available for use. However, locating a set of must-have craft supplies for kids is as easy as an internet search.

      craft supplies for kids to use in art activities

      Below is a list of craft supplies that build skills. Click on the links to purchase the craft items.

      Amazon affiliate links are included below.

      Buttons – addresses size relations and fine motor coordination and manipulation. Buttons can also be used to string onto pipe cleaners for crafts which addresses fine motor control and precision, eye-hand coordination, perception, and bilateral coordination.

      Colored craft sticks – addresses fine motor coordination and manipulation. Adding other craft elements such as googly eyes, stickers, washi tape, etc. addresses fine motor precision, bilateral coordination, and eye-hand coordination.

      Crayons – broken pieces of crayon addresses grasp and distal control while the child colors or draws.

      Doilies – addresses fine motor manipulation, bilateral coordination, and patience as the child works to separate the doilies to obtain just one.

      Foam sticker shapes – addresses shape recognition, tactile tolerance, fine motor manipulation and coordination, pincer grasp and bilateral coordination. Removing sticker backs and applying to a surface are key components. In fact, stickers build a lot of skills in occupational therapy goal areas.

      Googly eyes – addresses fine motor manipulation and coordination and pincer grasp. Googly eyes can sometimes be challenging to pick up from a flat surface.

      Pipe cleaners – addresses bilateral coordination, fine motor precision, in-hand manipulation, eye-hand coordination, pincer grasp, and visual motor and perceptual skills. Pipe cleaners can be used for lacing straw pieces and buttons and creating shapes.

      Pom-pom balls – provides a tactile experience and works on pinch and eye-hand coordination for placement. Patterning can also be addressed.

      Regular craft sticks – these are great for creating fun “buddy” crafts.Use crayons to color and other elements for decoration such as googly eyes, sequins, and stickers which addresses fine motor coordination and manipulation, fine motor precision, visual motor, bilateral coordination, and grasp.

      Sequins – addresses fine motor control and manipulation. They are challenging to pick up and manipulate for placement onto glue dots. Patterning can be addressed.

      Small glitter tubes – addresses graded control for sprinkling. Tactile tolerance can be addressed if the glitter is sprinkled with a pincer grasp.

      Straw pieces – addresses bilateral coordination, scissors skills, fine motor coordination and precision, and pincer grasp. Cut straws into pieces for art an activity or for stringing onto pipe cleaners.

      Washi tape – addresses tactile tolerance, bilateral coordination, scissor skills, pincer grasp, size relations and pre-writing skills if used for shape formation.

      Yarnprovides tactile tolerance especially when placing onto glue and addresses fine motor manipulation and coordination, scissors skills, and prewriting skills if used for shape formation.

      craft supplies to help kids build skills in therapy

      Craft Kit for Kids

      This larger, three tier craft kit contains ALL that you need to work on art and craft activities with kids.  It houses all of the craft and art items found in the smaller craft kit with a few more additions.  It also allows storage for scissors, glue, paper, and more drawing and writing tools. With this kit, you simply grab and go as all items are there for use in completing the entire art piece or craft.  This kit would serve itinerant or traveling therapists well as they do not always have the necessities readily available in the settings they may be working. 

      Must have craft supplies to add to your therapy tools

      Here is a list of the additional craft supplies in the kit and the skills they can promote:

      Bottle and glitter glue – addresses school tool use, fine motor manipulation, hand/finger strength, bilateral coordination, graded control, and tactile tolerance. Partially closing the twist top can promote an opportunity for increased hand strength.

      Glue sticks – addresses school tool use, fine motor coordination, bilateral coordination, graded pressure, and tactile tolerance.

      Hole punches (thumb and hand) – addresses grasp, bilateral hand use, hand and finger strength, and eye-hand coordination. These small hole punchers are great for building thumb stability and strength in the arches. This reduced effort hole punch strengthens the hand and are ideal for children.

      Ink stampers – addresses fine motor coordination and manipulation, bilateral coordination, and graded control. Patterning can be addressed.

      Markers, pens, pencils, and colored pencils – provides options for color as well as drawing and addresses grasp, distal control, eye-hand coordination, and pressure regulation.

      Paper – a variety including construction paper, card stock paper, doilies, foam sheets, paper plates, and paste board (which can be recycled paste board food boxes).

      Puffy paint – addresses fine motor manipulation, hand and finger strength, bilateral coordination, graded control, and tactile tolerance.

      Ribbon – addresses fine motor manipulation and coordination, bilateral coordination, scissor skills, and eye-hand coordination.

      Scissors – regular and adaptive scissor options addresses scissor skills, grasp, bilateral hand use, hand strength, and eye-hand coordination.

      Using craft supplies to build skills is easy with a quick trip to the dollar store or online shopping session. What craft supplies do you have in your home already? Many times, thinking outside of the box can expand your craft supply. Try using these recycled materials to make crafts and build skills.

      Make a craft kit for kids to use in therapy or at home to build skills

      A final word on Kids Craft Supplies in Therapy

      With these two craft kit examples, you have a better understanding of what type of craft supplies to add to your home or therapy practice. Use the craft supply list to build kids craft kits you would find most beneficial according to your needs and the needs of your clients or children.

      Enjoy creating your craft kit for kids and have fun exploring the items with kids while building important skills and providing opportunities to build child self-esteem and confidence.