Research on Screen Time for Kids

Research on screen time in kids

In this blog post, we’re talking research on screen time. Kids are exposed to screens, tablets, smartphones, laptops, etc. more and more, especially as education turns to online learning. What is the added screen time doing for our young kids? What does the science say about screen time limits. What exactly are the effects of screen time? Here, you’ll see just some of the facts about screens…and how to move forward to a more balanced life with screens. We’ve done the research on wellness. We know that an unbalanced life leads to overload in physical, mental, or emotional health (as in other areas). Unbalanced screen use leads to so much more and the research is telling!

You’ll also want to check out our recent post on the symptoms of too much screen time. It’s astonishing how our kids are impacted!

Smartphones and tablets have only been around for about a decade or so…but we are at the point where our elementary school-aged children have been around screens for their entire life. Many have constant access to screens, whether it’s through entertaining apps or by watching videos or by observing the adults in their life have a screen device within arms reach as they communicate, work, play, manage the home, play, navigate the vehicle…the list goes on and on.

Occupational therapists who work with children everyday on areas like balance, coordination, regulation, sensory integration, motor skills. All of these areas are necessary for completion of functional tasks. It’s through play that OT professionals work on these much-needed areas. And, it’s play and activity in real-life activities that the balance of screen time needs to occur.

Research oN the Symptoms of Screen Time

The research is telling us even more devastating facts about screen time in kids:

Things like the increasing occurrence of toddlers and preschoolers who have poor achievement of developmental milestones in the areas of communication, motor skills, problem solving, and social skills.

Things like the direct association between screen time and child development.

Symptoms of screen use in kids and research on screens and development in children and teens.

There is research telling us that more hours per day spent on screens is linked to lower psychological well-being, in a way that presents in executive functioning skills as well as social/emotional development. Connections between lower self control, more distractibility, less emotional stability, difficulty making friends, and inability to finish tasks are all depicted.

There is research telling us that increased time spent with digital media in teenagers associated with higher odds of symptoms of ADHD. This may show up as some of they symptoms of too much screen time.

There are reports of increased mental health concerns and mental well-being. There are findings on the overall functioning of the brain that looks like distractibility, frustration, moodiness, and irritability.

You may have heard of the blue light emitted by personal electronic devices. Because children’s eyes absorb less short-wavelength light, more blue light reaches a child’s retina. Children, therefore, may be at higher risk for blue light retinal damage than adults. Blue light emitted from smartphones, tablets, and personal computers before bedtime can delay sleep onset, degrade sleep quality and impair alertness the following day. Limiting those devices before bedtime not only address sleep issues, but can help with overall wellness.

Our teenagers are impacted as well. Hours spent on screens leads to less sleep adequacy, which impacts learning, well-being, and development. Less adequate sleep impacts learning and cognitive skill-building. This occurs right during the age that social-emotional skills develop, executive functioning skill development is occurring, and communication skills are set to develop.

There have been studies completed that show increased depression symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates coinciding with screen use levels.

There is research revealing that brain scans of children who spend more than 7 hours per day on screens show premature cortical thinning of the brain. This is especially significant for our young children who often times, hold phones right up to their face, in a slouched position.

In one study with 18 year-old college students, individuals with internet gaming addiction showed less gray matter volume in several parts of the brain (bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, precuneus, supplementary motor area, superior parietal cortex, left dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, left insula, and bilateral cerebellum) (Wang et al., 2015)

There are so many more devastating facts and figures that should make us terrified for the future of our children.

Research on screen time in kids

How to use research on screens to create a balance

Things are not hopeless. We are at a point where we must learn, work, communicate using devices. Screen time is inevitable. But, what we can control is the balance of real activities, movement, and play.

All of this information on the research being done on the impact of screens on development, is covered and explained in easy-to-understand language in the therapist-created course and 12-step program, Digital Devastation Solutions.

Digital Devastation Solutions is a tool created by an occupational therapist that can make a true impact on our kids. This course provides the means to balance screens while providing the framework to help kids thrive and master emotions, physical health, mental well-being. It is a formula for helping kids establish skills they need for executive functioning, learning, motor milestones, and so much more.

Digital Devastation Solutions is a way for families to balance excessive screen time use and improve their child’s development. The course covers everything you need to know about the astonishing research that’s been done on screen use in kids and gives a step-by-step plan.

You’ll gain a knowledge of exactly what happens to the brain on screens. You’ll be able to use this information so you can give kids what they really need to grow and develop.

Digital Devastation Solutions is an informative course AND 12 Step Plan for raising a happy, healthy child in the digital age. Kids and families can use that 12 step solution to balance screen time in this new COVID era.

Therapists can access a workshop and program that can be duplicated in your practice. You can use the workshop as a class for parents and share this powerful research and step-by-step program with those in your community.

Therapists can help balance screen time

As therapists, we are experts in wellness. We know the power of occupational balance. Having too much screen time throws that balance off in a way that impacts performance, task completion, mental health, emotional health, and physical well being. Occupational therapy professionals strive to empower clients and families with resources to combat screen overload.

Digital Devastation Solutions offers a therapist resource to use in practice. This is a tool to build a workshop for sale or community building while building a practice. Not only will this workshop educate your community and offer great value, it will position yourself as the expert to offer solutions which will build your OT business.

  • An already done for you marketing and education system. All you have to do is set up the class and then press play on the PowerPoint. It will come with a script so you will know exactly what to say. This will save you about 40 hours of time. (Value $4000)
  • Parent handouts including: Screen Survey, Technology Agreement, When to Get Professional Help and Chores Chart by Age (Value $500)
  • Marketing ideas and a Pre-Made flyer you can use to market your class (Value $300)
  • Developmental Screening Form (Value $500)
  • Access to a private Facebook group to share ideas and support
  • Added Bonus when you Pre-Order “Quick Start Guide: The Step by Step Checklist to Set Up your First Class”

Click here to read more about Digital Destination Solutions Program for use in therapy sessions and practice.

bonus for Digital Devastation Solutions course

>>Free Ways to Add Sensory Motor Activities to the Classroom

>>Scree Research Printable

>>Classroom Sensory Strategies Toolkit

>>Indoor Recess Sensory Diet Activities

>>Outdoor Sensory Diet Activities and Outdoor Challenges

>>School Sensory Checklist

>>How Play Builds Child Development Printable

When you purchase Digital Devastation Solutions through a link on this website, email contact@theottoolbox.com with your receipt and you will be sent this bonus pack.

Wang H, Jin C, Yuan K, Shakir TM, Mao C, Niu X, Niu C, Guo L, Zhang MFront Behav Neurosci. 2015; 9():64.

Infant & Children’s Vision Resources supported by The American Optometric Association and Optometry Cares – The AOA Foundation . Blue Light Impact in Children [White paper].  https://www.aoa.org/Documents/OptometryCares/Blue%20Light%20Impact%20in%20Children.pdf

Screen Time Checklist

free screen time checklist

How to balance screen time in a digital age is a HUGE question that therapists, teachers, and parents wonder about. Our kids are struggling. They are impacted by increased time on screens in ways that we may have not ever imagined. The research on screen time is profound. So how do we balance screen time when it seems to be everywhere: schools, distance learning requirements, social media, communication apps, games, television and movie streaming, and so much more? Today, I’m excited to share with you screen time checklist to use to help kids balance screen use with activity and responsibilities.

free screen time checklist

Screen Time Checklist

This free printable checklist can be customized to include tasks each child needs to complete before they have access to screens.

Add chores, homework, or other responsibilities to the list.

Add reading time, creative play such as journaling or art creation to the screen checklist.

Add household responsibilities such as making the bed, getting dressed, brushing teeth, or cleaning up the breakfast plates.

Add physical activity requirements such as outdoor play, exercise, going for a walk, or playing in the yard.

Open ended checklist for screen time

The task requirements were intentionally left blank so that you can add the time constrictions and activity requirements. Perhaps you would like to see face-to-face interactions to work on emotional well being.

Maybe your specific child or client needs sensory play in the way of tactile exploration or vestibular input. These activities can be written on the checklist so they have exposure each day.

Maybe your child needs to have heavy work in their sensory lifestyle. This can be added in the form of heavy work chores or sensory coping activities.

If executive functioning is a concern, maybe adding a cooking activity for each day would be a good requirement before screens.

If reading is important to add to your child’s day, try adding a book related activity to the list.

I wanted to make this checklist a motivating way to accomplish individual goals while also adding balance to digital time.

Becoming more aware of how much time a child spends in the way of face-to-face interaction, creative play, physical activity compared to screen time is one of the first steps in helping kids balance screens and address some of those symptoms of too much screen time.

Screen Time Checklist for Home and therapy

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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.

    Digital Devastation Solutions Offer and Bonus

    digital devastation solutions

    I am SO excited to share a huge resource with you. As a therapist, I can see the change in our kids of today. Students and clients are different than they were 20 years ago when I started out as an OT. As a mom of four, I can see the day-to-day impact that screens have on children. I can see how much screen time is required for school (distance learning or traditional classroom education). I can see the lack of focus in kids when they are not on screens. I can see the meltdowns when asked to get off of a tablet. The outbursts, visual tracking issues, and threat to boundaries that screen time overload has truly impacts kids and families.

    All of this is why I am elated to bring you the Digital Devastation Solutions course and 12 step program to balanced digital life.

    Digital Devastation Solutions Resource

    We are required to work and learn online. Kids are playing, learning, communicating, and interacting with peers via screens day and night. As a result, we see frustration. We see meltdowns, inactivity, and kids pushing the time limits of screen use. They want to be on screens constantly! And when they aren’t they are stressed, overwhelmed, and frustrated by learning and social interactions.

    digital devastation solutions

    We can do something about this!

    >>It is really possible to balance digital entertainment and screen use with play, real activities, in-person responsibilities so kids can thrive in meeting developmental milestones.

    >>It is possible to offer tools for a balanced lifestyle so kids can transition off screens to have personal interactions and flourish in emotional, mental, and physical well-being.

    >>We can help kids move from a sedentary lifestyle to one that is active, imaginative, and thriving.

    Does any of this sound familiar:

    • Kids that are hyper or lack focus and have no sitting tolerance, a short attention span
    • Students that are barely getting by and functioning on sensory overload, with emotional breakdowns
    • Kids that are constantly bored and only want screen-based entertainment
    • Clients that are delayed in fine motor skills, core strength, emotional regulation, and in a constant state of sensory overload

    You are in the right place!

    We CAN manage screen time in a balance, and effective way that makes a true difference in the development and functioning of our kids in today’s digital world.

    Digital Devastation Solutions is a course and a tool created by an occupational therapist that can make a true impact on our kids. This course offers an in-depth explanation of the research behind screens. It shows us as parents, therapists, and educators exactly what is happening to the development of children with screen overuse.

    It uses easy-to-understand language to balance screens while providing the framework to help kids thrive and master emotions, physical health, mental well-being. It is a formula for helping kids establish skills they need for executive functioning, learning, motor milestones, and so much more.

    Digital Devastation Solutions is a way for families to balance excessive screen time use and improve their child’s development. The course covers everything you need to know about the astonishing research that’s been done on screen use in kids and gives a step-by-step plan.

    The course offers actionable strategies to impact our kid’s nervous systems so they get the activity they need, and it explains this in a way that is easy to understand.

    This course is a cost-effective way to get the research and understand it in a parent-friendly way. What’s more, you’ll be able to explain to others what the research tells us, so you can understand the impact screens are having on so many areas of development in children.

    You’ll gain a knowledge of exactly what happens to the brain on screens. You’ll be able to use this information so you can give kids what they really need to grow and develop.

    Digital Devastation Solutions is an informative course AND 12 Step Plan for raising a happy, healthy child in the digital age. Kids and families can use that 12 step solution to balance screen time in this new COVID era.

    Now is the time to battle the beast of screen time overload. There are easy action steps that you can do to balance out the excessive screen time kids are experiencing due to mandatory online schooling. You can use this information and step-by-step plan to improve your child’s readiness for school in the fall.

    This is an investment in your family and your child’s development and overall health and well being.

    This course and program is for therapists, parents, teachers, or anyone who works with or strives to raise functioning, balanced, and healthy kids. 

    • If you struggle with setting limits on screen time
    • If you are tired of trying trying to get kids to be active when they just want to play online…
    • If you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start with helping kids balance boundaries around screen use…
    • If you are a therapist struggling to help kids achieve goals that just can’t sit still and lack focus, attention span, and sensory overload
    • If you are looking for actionable strategies to set up a digital detox that fits your family’s needs
    • If you are striving to create a balanced and lasting impact on your home and family…
    • If you are a therapist wanting to create a workshop designed to educate current and potential clients with a step-by-step program…

    Digital Devastation Solutions is for you! 

    The Digital Devastation Solutions course can be purchased here for just $29.

    Therapists can access a full, done-for-you workshop so you can replicate this course for clients and your community to truly make an impact.

    RESOURCE FOR THERAPISTS CONCERNED ABOUT SCREEN USE IN KIDS

    Therapists: I fell in love with this program and am using it’s 12 step plan in my own family. This course, created by a pediatric occupational therapist is not only a powerful tool for you own family…it’s the potential to make an impact on kids in your community and practice.

    Therapists can access a workshop and program that can be duplicated in your practice. You can use the workshop as a class for parents and share this powerful research and step-by-step program with those in your community.

    Therapists educate and address occupational imbalance (or overload on one are of life or another that impacts functioning and overall well being). We do this by helping our clients achieve functional goals, by addressing lifestyle habits like sleep, nutrition, and exercise. But what about the balance of screens?

    In this course and program, therapists will get:

    • An already done for you marketing and education system. All you have to do is set up the class and then press play on the PowerPoint. It will come with a script so you will know exactly what to say. This will save you about 40 hours of time. (Value $4000)
    • Parent handouts including: Screen Survey, Technology Agreement, When to Get Professional Help and Chores Chart by Age (Value $500)
    • Marketing ideas and a Pre-Made flyer you can use to market your class (Value $300)
    • Developmental Screening Form (Value $500)
    • Access to a private Facebook group to share ideas and support
    • Added Bonus when you Pre-Order “Quick Start Guide: The Step by Step Checklist to Set Up your First Class”

    Click here to read more about Digital Destination Solutions Program for use in therapy sessions and practice.

    BOnus for parents and therapists

    bonus for Digital Devastation Solutions course

    >>Free Ways to Add Sensory Motor Activities to the Classroom

    >>Scree Research Printable

    >>Classroom Sensory Strategies Toolkit

    >>Indoor Recess Sensory Diet Activities

    >>Outdoor Sensory Diet Activities and Outdoor Challenges

    >>School Sensory Checklist

    >>How Play Builds Child Development Printable

    When you purchase Digital Devastation Solutions through a link on this website, email contact@theottoolbox.com with your receipt and you will be sent this bonus pack.

    Symptoms of Too Much Screen Time

    symptoms of too much screen time

    You’ve probably seen or experienced the symptoms of too much screen time. Blurry eyes, a muddled mind, difficulty with focus, trouble stopping the screens and behaviors when asked to stop…But what are others experiencing when it comes to screen time overload? How do screens really impact our kids? And, exactly how much screen time is too much? Is it really that bad if our kids watch movies and play video games all summer? Today, I’m detailing all about what the research tells us about screens, and what evidence we have on the symptoms of screen use in children and teenagers.

    This blog post is part of a short series I’m sharing on screens and the devastating impact that they have on our children. I’m very excited to share with you a powerful tool that we can use to make a positive change in our kids. One that can impact our community and our children’s futures.

    Average Screen Time

    We know first hand that children today are using screens more and more. Whether it’s online learning, entertainment apps and games, watching videos, or playing with friends, screens are a part of our kids’ daily lives. Unlike kids of just a few years ago, children today have online learning, internet-based supplemental activities, learning apps, and screen-based reading on phones and tablets.

    With the sudden onset of distance learning and telehealth, kids are on screens, tablets, phones, and computers more now then ever before. Online classroom lessons and therapy sessions are just one more reason for more screen hours.

    “Play” is often screen-based: interactive video games with friends, gaming apps, messaging, and videos is done for entertainment. Children and families are tied to devices to manage the home and activity schedules and to communicate with coworkers, friends, family, teachers, and coaches.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that children ages eight to 10 spend an average of six hours per day in front of a screen, kids ages 11 to 14 spend an average of nine hours per day in front of a screen, and youth ages 15 to 18 spend an average of seven-and-a-half hours per day in front of a screen.

    According to the one study, children aged 8-18 spend and average of 7.5 hours in front of a screen for entertainment each day. That is a startling number!

    But, when you think about requirements for distance learning, video entertainment, communicating with friends and family, app usage, that number begins to make sense. All of the screen time throughout the day and evening hours adds up quickly.

    According to the World Health Organization, over 23% of adults and 80% of adolescents are not sufficiently physically active. Our kids are living sedentary lives and the adults in their lives are as well.

    Children are spending more time in sedentary activity by using screens and less time in creative, active play that their bodies NEED to thrive and develop.

    We also know that children under a certain age should not have access to screens. We know that kids need more active play and creative play that involves the senses. We know that our children need these things to regulate emotions, behaviors, and to give their nervous systems what they need to learn and develop. We’ve talked a lot on this space about wellness and well-being. We’ve discussed the balance of occupations. But, have you ever looked deeply into the research on screens?

    Children as young as 2 years old have their own tablets. The average age of a child getting a smartphone is now 10.3 years old. This is astounding and gravely against recommended ages of screen time according to the American Academy of Pediatric Guidelines.

    Symptoms of too much screen time in kids.

    Too much screen time symptoms

    The effects of screen time on children is showing up in the research. We are seeing astonishing symptoms of screen time in so many ways. These are just SOME of the symptoms and signs of screen overload:

    • Impact on physical health
    • Behavior Issues
    • Poor posture
    • Poor core strength
    • Poor fine motor skills
    • Increased frustration
    • Impulsivity
    • Moodiness
    • Poor ability to handle stress
    • Poor endurance
    • Mental health issues
    • Impact on emotional health
    • Decreased attention
    • Decreased cognitive skills
    • Overactive brain
    • Poor ability to transition
    • Addiction “state of being”
    • Less self-control

    Do these screen time symptoms sound familiar? Some of them probably do! But, it’s not just something that is in your mind when it comes to screens and foggy thoughts. These are the things we see when it comes to screen time. But what else is happening when screens take over the balance of play, physical activity, creative play, and imagination?

    • Less family interaction
    • More frustration
    • More stress
    • Poor ability to transition between tasks (stopping screen play and moving to a different task)
    • Less creative play
    • Less imagination play
    • Less oppourtunities for communication and interaction
    • Watning more and more screen time
    • Lack of energy
    • Poor motivation
    • More distracted
    • Posture issues
    • Difficulty with pinch and grip strengthe and dexterity
    • Eye tracking and shift difficulties

    The list could go on and on! It’s the iceberg theory of behaviors, only it’s applied to screen time and over use.

    Screen time symptoms

    There is research behind these common concerns. More on that in an upcoming blog post.

    All of this information, including in-depth research review behind these symptoms of screen time, as well as HOW to make a difference when it comes to unbalanced screen time are available in the OT-created course, Digital Devastation Solutions.

    Strategies to help kids balance screen time in the Digital Devastation Solutions course

    How to balance screen time

    We can do something. We can make a difference in our children and our future.

    This doesn’t mean that we need to completely take screens away from our kids! It doesn’t mean that they can’t watch videos or play games with friends online. But, we can offer balance, and the activities their nervous systems need to empower sensory and regulation so learning, emotions, behaviors, and mental well-being flourishes.

    What kids REALLY need, is balance. They need play to help develop their brains. They need play to create new neural connections in the brain. They need creative activities to build self-confidence, emotional well-being, and strategies to cope.

    All of this information on the research being done on the impact of screens on development, is covered and explained in easy-to-understand language in the therapist-created course and 12-step program, Digital Devastation Solutions.

    The practical strategies designed to balance screens with meaningful play are covered in Digital Devastation Solutions.

    Digital Devastation on Development Solutions- a course on balancing screen time for kids.

    How to manage Screen time

    There is a way to combat the requirements of online learning, distance schooling, social distancing, and the newest concerns of today. We can balance digital entertainment with the tools that kids need to flourish in emotional, mental, and physical well-being.

    We can manage screen time in ways that make a true difference.

    Digital Devastation Solutions is a tool created by an occupational therapist that can make a true impact on our kids. This course provides the means to balance screens while providing the framework to help kids thrive and master emotions, physical health, mental well-being. It is a formula for helping kids establish skills they need for executive functioning, learning, motor milestones, and so much more.

    Digital Devastation Solutions is a way for families to balance excessive screen time use and improve their child’s development. The course covers everything you need to know about the astonishing research that’s been done on screen use in kids and gives a step-by-step plan.

    The course offers actionable strategies to impact our kid’s nervous systems so they get the activity they need, and it explains this in a way that is easy to understand.

    This course is a cost-effective way to get the research and understand it in a parent-friendly way. What’s more, you’ll be able to explain to others what the research tells us, so you can understand the impact screens are having on so many areas of development in children.

    You’ll gain a knowledge of exactly what happens to the brain on screens. You’ll be able to use this information so you can give kids what they really need to grow and develop.

    Digital Devastation Solutions is an informative course AND 12 Step Plan for raising a happy, healthy child in the digital age. Kids and families can use that 12 step solution to balance screen time in this new COVID era.

    Now is the time to battle the beast of screen time overload. There are easy action steps that you can do to balance out the excessive screen time kids are experiencing due to mandatory online schooling. You can use this information and step-by-step plan to improve your child’s readiness for school in the fall.

    Digital Devastation Solutions can be purchased here for just $29.

    This is an investment in your family and your child’s development and overall health and well being.

    Resource for therapists Concerned about screen use in kids

    Therapists: I fell in love with this program and am using it’s 12 step plan in my own family. This course, created by a pediatric occupational therapist is not only a powerful tool for you own family…it’s the potential to make an impact on kids in your community and practice.

    Therapists can access a workshop and program that can be duplicated in your practice. You can use the workshop as a class for parents and share this powerful research and step-by-step program with those in your community.

    Therapists will get:

    • An already done for you marketing and education system. All you have to do is set up the class and then press play on the PowerPoint. It will come with a script so you will know exactly what to say. This will save you about 40 hours of time. (Value $4000)
    • Parent handouts including: Screen Survey, Technology Agreement, When to Get Professional Help and Chores Chart by Age (Value $500)
    • Marketing ideas and a Pre-Made flyer you can use to market your class (Value $300)
    • Developmental Screening Form (Value $500)
    • Access to a private Facebook group to share ideas and support
    • Added Bonus when you Pre-Order “Quick Start Guide: The Step by Step Checklist to Set Up your First Class”

    Click here to read more about Digital Destination Solutions Program for use in therapy sessions and practice.

    bonus for Digital Devastation Solutions course

    >>Free Ways to Add Sensory Motor Activities to the Classroom

    >>Scree Research Printable

    >>Classroom Sensory Strategies Toolkit

    >>Indoor Recess Sensory Diet Activities

    >>Outdoor Sensory Diet Activities and Outdoor Challenges

    >>School Sensory Checklist

    >>How Play Builds Child Development Printable

    When you purchase Digital Devastation Solutions through a link on this website, email contact@theottoolbox.com with your receipt and you will be sent this bonus pack.

    Social Emotional Learning Worksheet

    Social Emotional Learning Worksheet

    I offered this free social emotional learning worksheet to my newsletter subscribers last week and I wanted to put it on the website so you could access it to. Here’s the thing: when kids are learning about social emotional skills, starting with emotional skills is very important in social development in children. Kids who have a good baseline understanding of emotions offers a means to better understand emotional growth. Kids can use social emotional activities like this worksheet to better understand emotions, including how they feel at different times, or how their emotions change in different situations. They can understand social situations and the emotions that others might exhibit with empathy and compassion.

    Social Emotional Learning Worksheet

    Free Social Emotional Learning Worksheet

    I love this worksheet because it is a starting point for covering social emotional development in kids. It’s a great activity for children who are just beginning to understand emotions and how they respond, or to identify what leads up to a certain emotion.

    As therapists, we cover a lot on self-regulation. We talk about what’s happening “below the surface” of behaviors and meltdowns. We discuss underlying factors such as social-emotional skills, and self-awareness.

    We address those trigger points by providing self-regulation tools, coping strategies, and mindfulness activities. We help kids and families master an improved quality of life so that completion of daily tasks and everyday occupations are easier and more functional.

    This social emotional learning worksheet does just that!

    Emotional Activities

    To help kids better understand various emotions, they can use this tool to draw and color faces to match the various types of emotions.

    They can then write in the given spaces to complete the sentence and identify a time when they felt that emotion.

    This is a great tool for helping kids understand emotions, and foster emotional development by offering coping tools or regulation strategies if needed. It’s a great way to help kids talk about emotions and know that it’s ok to feel all of those emotions, and that everyone else does, too.

    I hope this social emotional worksheet is helpful to you and those you serve!

    Get this social emotional learning worksheet!

      We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.
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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.

      Goodnight Moon PDF Printable Memory Game

      Goodnight Moon activity and Goodnight Moon pdf printable

      Goodnight Moon is a classic book by Margaret Wise Brown that teaches so many skills, making it the perfect children’s book to use in therapy activities. We used this book activity and a DIY Goodnight Moon printable PDF memory game. It’s a calming book that inspires sleepy contentment with it’s rhyming text and simple images. The book is a fantastic tools to build visual perceptual skills including figure ground, form constancy, and visual memory. Those skills carryover with our memory game printable you can access below. However, for my own kids, I loved the calming tone that the book offers. It’s a great way to calm down before bed.

      For more calm down activities before bed, try these bedtime relaxation stretches.

      Our Goodnight Moon activity has been played almost as many times as we’ve read the book!  We decided to create a free printable to go along with our memory skills game, so you can play, too.    

      Goodnight Moon activity for kids and Goodnight Moon pdf printable game.
      Goodnight Moon activity with a Memory game inspired by the book, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.

      Goodnight Moon Activity…Memory Game!

        Goodnight Moon teaches kids that fear can be caused my our imagination. I loved this explanation of what exactly Goodnight Moon teaches and how this book can be used to help kids build skills.

      This post contains affiliate links.

      Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is one of those books that we read over and over again.  Each time, the kids will sit mesmerized as I read the quiet rhyming words.  This is definitely a bedtime book that is loved at all times of the day!  When we read through the book, my kids love to look for each item on the pages and find it’s rhyme.  It’s almost like a memory game as you read through the book, especially as the mouse moves around the room in the book.  

      Margaret Wise Brown Book, Goodnight Moon activity for kids.

        To make your Goodnight Moon memory game, grab a couple of pieces of card stock.  We chose brightly colors based on the colors of the book.  Because the setting occurs in a green room, we used green paper for our playing board.  

      You could certainly play this memory game right on a table or floor, but my kids got a kick out of our “green room” and the green paper contained the game for our matches.  

      Goodnight Moon learning Activities

      Make a list of all of the rhyming words as you go through the book.  This is a great preschool book activity, but a powerful visual perception activity for all ages.  Kids can build visual memory skills as they recall each item and the way it looks throughout the book. Some objects change slightly, such as the position of the mouse. So, when kids look for that image on each page, they are building visual discrimination and form constancy. As you read the book, ask them what rhymes with each word.  They can use the book pages as a visual cue to the matching rhyme.    

      Goodnight Moon book activity for kids that builds visual perceptual skills.

      Goodnight Moon PDF 

      Fill in your game pieces with your own drawings (or kid-drawings!) or use our free printable.  You’ll need these three sheets:

      >>Draw your own pictures on the blank picture card printable.

      >>OR, use our picture word card printable.

       >>Printable word cards here. We drew a picture for each rhyme and filled in another card sheet with the written words.  

      Memory game inspired by the book, Goodnight Moon
      Memory game inspired by the book, Goodnight Moon-FREE printable!
      Memory game inspired by the book, Goodnight Moon

        Cut out each block and get ready to play.

      Kids can play this Goodnight Moon activity and work on visual perceptual skills as well as other skills and learning opportunities in Goodnight Moon

        We started with a few matching games.  I placed the written word on our green room paper and had the kids scan the pile of pictures for the matching image.  This is a great way to work on literacy skills as the child matches the picture to a written word, as well as on visual scanning.  Arrange the cards from left to right as a pre-reading skill.    

      Play this Memory Game for kids with the classic preschool book by Margaret Wise Brown.

        We also matched rhyming words.  Arrange a few pictures on the left side of the page and have your child place the rhyming match  to the right.    

        We then arranged the words in a block formation on the green paper.  The kids scanned the pile of pictures and placed the matches together.

      Goodnight Mouse activity for Goodnight Moon book.

        After all of our rhyming games, we played an actual Memory game.  You can also modify the memory game to extend out the activity.  Match word to picture, rhyming pictures, and rhyming words.  This DIY Memory game can be played in so many ways!  

      This is such a fun book activity for kids based on the book, Goodnight Moon
      Memory game inspired by the book, Goodnight Moon

      GoodNight Moon Activities

      First, don’t forget to grab the Goodnight Moon pdf sheets to play this memory game.

      Goodnight Moon inspired memory game blank game pieces.

      Goodnight Moon inspired picture game pieces.

      Goodnight Moon inspired word game pieces.  

      Then, check out these other Goodnight Moon activities. They are great to help kids understand that sometimes scary things are in our minds and that the thoughts we think are not always as scary as things really are.

      Be sure to visit the other bloggers in the Preschool Book Club to see their takes on Goodnight Moon:  

      This I Spy Bottle from Mama Pappa Bubba is another fantastic visual perceptual skills activity and a calming one at that. Check out these sensory bottles and WHY sensory bottles are so calming for kids as well as HOW to make sensory bottles that make an impact.

      This red balloon Art Activity from Buggy and Buddy uses Goodnight Moon’s red balloon with a creative painting activity. Kids can work on fine motor skills and tool use to paint a creative take on the book. Foster scissor use and scissor skills to, meeting therapy goals as well.

      Here are more scissor skills activities kids will love.

      This Goodnight Moon Scavenger Hunt from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails is a gross motor activity that builds skills in visual perception and visual scanning. Love this idea to encourage core strength and stability!

      This Goodnight Moon activity with a Lavender Play Dough kit from Homegrown Friends is a calming olfactory activity that adds sensory play and fine motor skills. Kids will love to pair the preschool book with a play dough activity.

      Here is another purple play dough recipe that use crayons. How fun!

      Books to Build Awareness Skills

      Goodnight Moon and the concepts introduced in the book goes well with this resource for parents, teachers, and therapists. It’s a huge collection of 50 activities based on children’s books and it helps to teach children about empathy, acceptance, awareness of others, and friendship. The social emotional development that kids can gain through play based on popular children’s books is amazing!

      Grab the resource, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy, that explores friendship, acceptance, and empathy through popular (and amazing) children’s books!  It’s 50 hands-on activities that use math, fine motor skills, movement, art, crafts, and creativity to support social emotional development.    

      GET THE DIGITAL E-BOOK

      Get the PRINT BOOK

      hands-on activities to explore social emotional development through children's books.

      Elmer the Elephant Activities

      Elmer the Elephant activities

      Elmer the patchwork elephant looks different than his friends. Through stories and colorful pictures that depict everyday elephant life, Elmer the elephant teaches us about diversity and differences. Elmer teaches us about acceptance, friendship, and empathy. Check out the Elmer the Elephant activity below that builds a baseline for these important skills, but also helps kids with fine motor skills, visual perceptual skills, and visual motor skills.

      If you love the Elmer books as much as we do, then you will adore this Elmer the Elephant activity. We LOVE Elmer the Elephant…and all of the Elmer books. Every time we go to the library, we are sure to check the shelf for a new Elmer book that we may have missed. This week’s book activity was so much fun to do with the kids, because it involved one of our favorite books (ever) and a great visual perception activity. Add this book activity to your list of crafts based on children’s books that build skills through reading.

      Elmer the Elephant Activity

      This fine motor craft is a powerful one because it not only builds essential visual perceptual, visual motor, and fine motor skills, but it teaches as well. This Elmer the elephant activity can be used to illustrate differences, empathy, and friendship. Here are more books that teach empathy and friendship that can be used in therapy sessions or in the classroom or home.

      They loved creating and building our very own Elmer craft. Elmer’s colors made for a great way to help kids build fine motor skills and visual motor skills, too. I loved throwing in the scissor work portion of the activity and working on a few important skills. My youngest daughter worked on her color identification and sorting.  The colors in Elmer’s patchwork skin are perfect for Toddlers to practice naming colors.  Little Guy was loving the puzzle-building portion of our activity.  The lines were a great way to work on a few visual perceptual skills needed for handwriting.  

      Elmer the elephant activity that uses the Elmer children's book as a guide and activity to help kids understand acceptance, differences, and diversity while building fine motor skills.

      Elmer the Patchwork Elephant Activity

      This post contains affiliate links.  

      If you haven’t read Elmer by David McKee, this is definitely a book you need to check out.  Elmer is a patchwork elephant with many colors.  He sticks out from the crowd of gray elephants. By exploring and interacting with his community of elephants, Elmer and the other elephants learn to accept and value his unique characteristics. Elmer is not only a colorful patchwork elephant. He is funny, smart, caring, and an individual. The book teaches us to accept differences because those differences are what make us who we are.

      Elmer teaches us about diversity. He teaches us about identity and tolerance. We all have different colors, shapes, interests, abilities, talents, and ideas. Those differences are what make us special. Let’s see those differences, accept them, and celebrate them!

      We made our own patchwork elephant with lots of colors and had a great time building and creating while talking about color names.  This was such a great activity for both Little Guy and Baby Girl.

      Try this Elmer the Elephant activity to teach children skills like scissor use and fine motor development with a wonderful children's book.


      We started with Foam Sheets in lots of different colors.  You might have seen our color sorting scissor activity post where we practiced our scissor skills.  These squares came in handy for this Elmer activity.

      Create an Elmer the Elephant activity using foam pieces to teach children about empathy and acceptance of differences in others while building fine motor and visual motor skills.

       I found a picture frame at the Dollar Store that has an acrylic front, instead of glass.  This is a great writing surface using a white board marker.  I drew an outline of Elmer with the marker.  We had a little bowl of water and started sticking the foam squares onto the surface to build our Elmer.  When the foam pieces are dunked into water, they stick really well to the picture frame surface.  We did a version of this way back when our blog began with our rainbow building activity.

      Fine motor activity for the book, Elmer the Elephant.

      Visual Perception Activity for Kids

      There were fingers everywhere, adding patchwork squares!  Little Guy and I quizzed Baby Girl on her colors as we worked.  It was a fun puzzle to get the squares fitting into the outline.  What a great way to work on visual perceptual skills, fine motor precision, dexterity, and line awareness!

      Visual perceptual skills in kids are necessary for so many things…from self-care to fine motor skills, to gross motor skills…all parts of a child’s development require visual perception.  There are many pieces to the giant term of “visual perception”.  This Elmer building activity works on quite a few of these areas:

      Visual Discrimination is determining differences in color, form, size, shape…Finding different sized squares to fit into the outline of our Elmer, discriminating the different colors, and shapes are a great way to work on this area. 

      Visual Closure is the ability to fill in parts of a form in the mind’s eye to determine shape or a whole object.  Filling in the missing parts of our Elmer works on this area.

      Visual Spatial Relations is organizing the body in relation to objects or spatial awareness.  This is an important part of handwriting.  Spacing those pieces amongst the others and in relation to the lines is one way to work on this skill.

      Visual Figure Ground is the ability to locate objects within a cluttered area (think “I Spy”).  Finding a red square among the pile of foam pieces is one fun way to work on this area of visual perception.

      Use this fine motor activity with the book Elmer the Elephant to help kids learn abstract concepts while building visual perception.

        Little Guy was really into this activity.  He loved lining up the squares to make our Elmer.

      Elmer the Elephant puzzle that kids can do to build skills in occupational therapy sessions or in the classroom or home.

      We loved how our Elmer turned out!  We’ll be using our frame again, soon.  I can think of so many fun ways to learn and play with this dollar store frame and a marker!

      Elmer the Elephant book and Elmer activity for kids

      More Elmer the Elephant Activities

      Elmer the elephant activities for kids based on the children's book, Elmer the Elephant


      Check out some of these Elmer the Elephant activities for kids. They are powerful ways to build awareness, acceptance, and friendship through the book and activity.

      Elmer the Elephant activity with facepaint

      Use face paint to celebrate friendship with a face painting party based on the Elmer the Elephant book.

      Elmer the elephant craft

      Make an Elmer craft using puppets to celebrate differences, diversity, and uniqueness in a great lesson for kids, while building fine motor skills.

      Create an Elmer craft using stamp painting.

      Create an Elmer the patchwork elephant craft using paint to make a paint stamped elephant craft. What a great way to build fine motor skills!

      Elmer the elephant preschool craft

      Kids can trace their bodies with large pieces of paper and then fill the space with colorful paper squares to celebrate uniqueness in this Elmer the Elephant preschool activity.

      Teach Acceptance, Differences, and Diversity

      Want to take complex and abstract concepts like empathy, acceptance, uniqueness, and diversity to the next level with kids? This digital, E-BOOK, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities Based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance and Empathy is filled with hands-on activities rooted in interactive, hands-on, sensory play that focus on creating a well-rounded early childhood education supporting growth in literacy, mathematics, science, emotional and social development, artistic expression, sensory exploration, gross motor development and fine motor skills.

      Kids can explore books while building specific skills in therapy sessions, as part of home programs, or in the home. is an amazing resource for anyone helping kids learn about acceptance, empathy, compassion, and friendship.

      In this book, you’ll find therapist-approved resources, activities, crafts, projects, and play ideas based on 10 popular children’s books. Each book covered contains activities designed to develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills, sensory exploration, handwriting, and more. Help kids understand complex topics of social/emotional skills, empathy, compassion, and friendship through books and hands-on play.

      Click here to get the book and add children’s books based on social emotional learning to your therapy practice, home activities, or classroom.

      Exploring books through play is a guide to using children's books in therapy and while building developmental skills.

      More books to teach social emotional skills

      Check out our other posts in the Preschool Book Club Series for activities based on favorite books:

      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.

      Social Emotional Development with Books

      Want to help kids learn about empathy? Striving to make gains in socio emotional development? Want to teach kids acceptance? Want to work with children on friendship? Want to celebrate differences? I have a valuable tool to share with you! The great news is that guiding children to social development and emotional development as well as emotional literacy and social fluency is easy and fun! In this post, I’m sharing book activities to help kids develop skills in these very abstract concepts. Read a popular children’s book, talk about concepts, and do the play activity. It’s a powerful way to help kids thrive!

      Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activites Based on Books about Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy

      Exploring Books Through Play is a guide to using books to help kids develop social emotional skills as well as other essential developmental areas (fine motor, gross motor, sensory exploration, handwriting, etc.) The book celebrates play-based learning with 50 unique, hands-on activities that explore social and emotional development, literacy, art, science, mathematics, sensory exploration, gross motor development and fine motor skills.

      Books and activities about empathy, love, friendship for kids

      Social Emotional Activities for Preschool

      This post contains affiliate links. 

      You probably have seen book-related activities that I’ve shared in the past.  It all started with a group of amazing women who are the most inspiring and creative bunch out there.  Together, we shared hands-on learning and play activities that were inspired by simply awesome children’s books.


      Here are just some of the great books we’ve read in the Preschool Book Club. Each book contains social emotional development activities for preschool (and older ages!) By using books to build socio-emotional development, kids can use concrete activities to develop abstract concepts.

      social emotional development activities for kids through book activities.


      Beautiful Oops– Use this book activity to help kids explore differences, acceptance, and individualism. In this book activity, we worked on visual motor skills, eye-hand coordination, fine motor work, and strengthening.


      I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More – This book celebrates emotions and is a great starting point to emotional development. In this activity, we used sensory play to create art while working on eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, and more.


      The Day The Crayons Quit– Kids can explore self-identity and self awareness in this children’s book. The book covers concepts such as differences, acceptance, and social norms. We explored the book with a fine motor activity that built awareness of self as well.


      Freight Train – This mesmerizing book teaches basic concepts of shapes and colors. We used it in a food activity for kids to prepare a healthy snack. The book is a great one for identifying differences in shapes and colors and is a wonderful building block to awareness.


      Ish –  In this children’s book activity, we used blocks to work on various motor skills such as eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills, visual perception, and fine motor work. The book is a fan favorite and teaches kids to accept themselves and not to be so self-critical. What a great starting point to social development!


      Goodnight Moon  – This classic book for kids teaches kids about focus and imagination in a rhyming and calming manner. The book helps kids understand the imagination and addresses self-awareness and awareness of one’s surroundings. In our book activity, we worked on visual memory and concentration with a themed Memory game.


      Little Blue and Little Yellow – This book helps kids understand color and builds fine motor skills when paired with play dough to act out the book. However, there are bigger social emotional development concepts at hand as well. Kids can discover emotional development awareness in the concepts of friendship, awareness of self and others, and identity. We used DIY puffy paint for an interactive book activity.


      Elmer – This book helps kids understand differences, acceptance, and social roles. The book can be used to work on social development in children as they talk about things that make them and others special or different. The book is a tool in building empathy. We used the book to work on fine motor skills, visual perception, and visual motor skill development in a fun book activity.

      The Kissing Hand– This book is a building block in helping kids understand emotions. They can read the book and become more aware of how others might be feeling, helping them to develop empathy as well. We created a key chain craft to use as a grounding tool for emotions kids might have.


      There are so many more!


      The group of us bloggers decided that we wanted to come up with a better way to share our book-related ideas.  With a real book of our own!

      Exploring books through play is a guide to using children's books in therapy and while building developmental skills.

      Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities Based on Books about Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy


      This book is full of creative learning and play ideas for kids and is based on amazing children’s books.  These activities will inspire acceptance of those around us, enhance friendship, and provoke empathy.

      Social Emotional Development through Play

      Check out the description on Amazon

      “Exploring Books Through Play: Friendship, Acceptance and Empathy celebrates play-based learning with 50 unique, hands-on activities that explore social and emotional development, literacy, art, science, mathematics, sensory exploration, gross motor development and fine motor skills. The activities are inspired by 10 children’s books including “A Sick Day for Amos McGee”, “The Adventures of Beekle”, “Little Blue and Little Yellow” and “The Day the Crayons Quit.” Focusing on high quality children’s literature centered on friendship, acceptance and empathy, this book is designed to be used in home and school settings and is perfect for large or small groups. Ideal for children ages 3-8 years old, the activities can be adapted for multiple skill levels and developmental stages. As you work through the activities in the book children will naturally be discussing the characters, delving deeper into the lessons, bringing the stories to life and falling further in love with literature.”

      Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activites Based on Books about Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy

      The books that are explored in this resource were intentionally chosen for their social emotional aspects.  Activities were designed that inspire learning and play through hands-on involvement.  


      Join the Club!


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      Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activites Based on Books about Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy

        Grab your copy today!



      GET THE E-BOOK


      Get the PRINT BOOK is available on Amazon for $26.99 


      This is a book that, if I saw it on the shelves of a bookstore, I would grab it up and totally buy it.  The images are bright and colorful and the creative ideas are inspiring.  Not only are the hands-on play and learning activities easy and fun to do, but they each inspire children and families to think about actions, how others feel, and how small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness can make a big difference in the lives of others.


      The special launch prices will run for only one week, so be sure to grab the deals today!


      E-book:
      Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities Based on Books about Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy

      Printed Book: Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities Based on Books about Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy

      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.