Winter Sensory Stations

Winter sensory stations

We’re back with another sensory tool to add to your toolbelt: Winter Sensory Stations to print off, hang on the wall, and help kids focus and get the sensory input they need. Add these winter themed movement activities to our other seasonal sensory station or sensory path tools:

Winter sensory stations printable kit

If you’re a teacher, therapy provider, or a parent, you might know the impact that wiggly, fidgety kids have on focusing and completing daily tasks. That’s where this set of winter themed sensory station printables come in.

Winter Sensory stations

These winter sensory stations are designed to incorporate a winter theme into sensory motor movement. You’ve probably seen pricy sensory walks in schools or hallways. The movement-based sensory path is a great way to get kids moving and following directions to complete gross motor movement activities.

But what if you don’t have the funds available to purchase a full sensory path kit?

Grab the kit below for free!

How to Use these Winter sensory stations

That’s where these free winter sensory station printables come into play. You can grab them below…and then print them off, slip them into a page protector or laminate them. Then, hang them in a school hallway, a therapy clinic, or a home. Kids can complete these winter sensory activities to add movement breaks or gain other sensory benefits.

Use these sensory motor stations to address a few needs:

  • Use as a winter brain break
  • Use them in between learning activities
  • Use them during transitions to help with focus and attention
  • Use them in a sensory diet to incorporate proprioceptive input or vestibular input
  • Use the sensory stations to develop gross motor skills like coordination, strength, and motor planning
  • Use the winter sensory stations when outdoor play may be limited due to cold temperatures or freezing weather
  • Add the sensory stations as a movement break in between other activities in the home, classroom, or therapy session.

What’s included in the Winter Sensory stations

In these winter sensory path stations, you’ll find similar movements and mindfulness activities, similar to our other sensory station activities. However, these winter themed activities have a few differences, too. These are great ways for kids to recognize tools that they can use all year long to help them attend AND address self-regulation needs.

  1. First, you’ll find a deep breathing figure 8 with a frosty wind and snow theme. This deep breathing activity incorporates the visual sense as kids scan the figure eight. They can follow the directions on the sensory station task to breathe deeply as they follow the arrows on the figure eight. This deep breathing activity can also incorporate crossing midline and eye-hand coordination skills. Use the figure eight deep breathing task to help kids calm down or regulate emotions or behaviors.
  2. Penguin Waddle- Next, you’ll see a penguin waddle activity. This gross motor activity incorporates proprioceptive input and allows kids to challenge motor planning and direction following. They can waddle down the hallway or in a circle. The activity is open-ended to be used in any setting or physical layout. Ask kids to complete the task as they build balance and coordination skills.
  3. Snowball Wall Push-Ups- The next activity is a wall push-up task with a snowball theme. Kids can place their hands against the handprint images and complete wall push-ups against a wall surface. This heavy work activity provides proprioceptive input through the shoulders, core, and whole upper extremity. This is not only a great strengthening activity, but it can be calming to help regulate emotional needs or sensory needs.
  4. Stand on one leg like an ice skater- The next activity is a balance and coordination task that challenges balance and position in space. The vestibular sense and proprioceptive sense are engaged as the child attempts to maintain balance one one leg. Ask them to do one leg and then to stand on the other leg. You can incorporate other movements too, like loving the arms or reaching and holding a position to further challenge balance, coordination, and motor planning skills.
  5. Finally there is a snowflake themed spiral deep breathing activity. Ask the child to follow the spiral image with their finger tip or eyes and deeply breath in and out. This deep breathing exercise has many benefits that calm and engage the child.

Each of these winter sensory station activities can be calming tools to use this whole winter season.

Free Winter Sensory Station Printables

Want to add these sensory stations to your clinic, classroom, or home this winter season? Enter your email address into the form below to access these resources. NOTE that this printable is available inside our Member’s Club. If you are member, log into your account and easily download the file there…as well as hundreds of other printable resources. If you’re not a Member’s Club member, you’ll want to check it out!

Free Winter Sensory Stations

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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.

    What if you had themed, NO-PREP activities designed to collect data and can help kids build essential fine motor skills?

    Take back your time and start the year off with a bang with these done-for-you fine motor plans to help kids form stronger hands with our Winter Fine Motor Kit. This print-and-go winter fine motor kit includes no-prep fine motor activities to help kids develop functional grasp, dexterity, strength, and endurance. Use fun, winter-themed, fine motor activities so you can help children develop strong fine motor skills in a digital world. 

    The Winter Fine Motor Kit includes reproducible activity pages include: pencil control strips, scissor skills strips, simple and complex cutting shapes, lacing cards, toothpick precision art, crumble hand strengthening crafts, memory cards, coloring activities, and so much more.

    CHRISTMAS WORD SCRAMBLE

    Christmas word scramble

    In this blog post, you’ll find a Christmas word scramble. It’s a bit different than our recent Hanukkah word scramble printable worksheet…This one has a list where kids can unscramble Christmas words! Use this worksheet to work on visual processing skills and handwriting at a time of year when you may want to come up with fresh tools to building skills to keep kids motivated and learning…OR, use this as a desk activity for early work finishers in the classroom or as a holiday activity for the home. Let’s get this printable Christmas word scramble into your hands!

    Christmas word scramble worksheet is a free Christmas printable to work on visual perceptual skills.

    Christmas Word Scramble

    Time to shuffle on to the Christmas season!  I call it a season because it takes over December.  Sometimes in November and October too.  It seems people are anxious for Christmas to be here, or to extend the joy just a few more days. People were asking in our neighborhood if November one was too early to decorate for Christmas.  Um, yes! 

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. What I don’t love is the change in expectations. Dr Phil once said, “what makes us upset is a change in our expectations.”  A change in what we expect of ourselves and those around us.  Do we live up to the expectations of others, or do they live up to ours?  Children have expectations too.  Is this Christmas going to be just like last year?  Are they going to get everything they asked for? 

    My advice?  Don’t set the bar too high.  I did that.  Last year I created stocking challenges, Minute to Win It games, unwrap the gifts with gloves on challenges, and pass the ball of cling plastic filled with holiday goodies and treats game.  I set the bar very high.  So high, everyone is expecting that level of awesomeness and more.

    Because we create unrealistic expectations at home, don’t make yourself crazy at work. Use streamlined activities that can be modified for all of your learners.  Create packets to use all week.  I walk around with a booklet of worksheets and a bucket of crayons/markers/colored pencils to last me through the week.  I can modify these to fit all the goals I need to accomplish.

    This Christmas word scramble would fit in perfectly as a done-for-you worksheet that builds functional tasks!

    The OT Toolbox has tons of cool activities to help you streamline your sessions.  One of the latest is the Christmas Word Scramble.  This is a great tool to work on unscrambling Christmas words, but it is so much more than just that.

    Unscramble Christmas Words and Build Skills

    Let’s break it down and see all the skills this works on:

    The easy answer is that this is a handwriting task. But can you name seven other categories and fifty different skills it works on?

    •  Handwriting – letter formation, sizing, spacing, line placement, directionality, spelling
    •  Fine motor – grasping pattern, wrist stability, intrinsic hand muscle development
    • Bilateral coordination – hand dominance, using “helper hand”, crossing midline
    • Proprioception – pressure on paper, grip on pencil
    • Strength – shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, core, head control
    • Visual perception – scanning, figure ground, line placement, crossing midline, visual closure, seeing parts to whole
    • Executive function – following directions, attention, focus, sequencing, planning, task completion
    •  Social function – working together in a group, problem solving, sharing materials and space, turn taking, talking about the activity,

    There are several more goals that can be addressed while unscrambling Christmas words, but this is a great jumping off point.

    How to Grade an Unscramble Worksheet

    Therapy professionals are familiar with the term “grade” and the phrase “grading and activity”. But what does grade mean in the therapy world? When therapists say grade an activity, they are referring to adjusting the task slightly. Grade refers to modifying an activity to make it easier or more challenging. This is essential in goal development or progression.

    How to grade this activity:

    1. Cut the word bank letters and glue in the correct spaces to eliminate handwriting.
    2. Use the word bank as for clues to the correct words.
    3. Try the page without a word bank, to encourage working memory and spelling.

    How to modify this activity:

    1. Laminate the Christmas Unscramble page to make it reusable.  This is efficient, plus learners** love markers! (Not all learners love reusable pages. Some feel it is important to be able to save their work and take it home).
    2. Project it onto a smart board to make it a group task or working on large letters and shoulder stability.
    3. Enlarge the task for beginning writers who need more writing space.
    4. Shrink the task for older learners who need to learn to write smaller.
    5. Try different writing utensils. This is not only motivating, but some learners work better with markers as they glide easier on paper. Did you know that golf sized pencils promote more of a tripod grasp than traditional long pencils?
    6. Use different colored paper for more or less visual contrast.
    7. Have learners write a sentence using each unscrambled word.
    8. Draw pictures of each of the words or create a picture containing all of the words.

    More Christmas Worksheets

    Did you love this Christmas unscramble activity?  Wait! There is more…

    The OT Toolbox has scores of PDF pages and kits for the holidays to make your lesson planning easier.  Check this out:

    1. Christmas hidden pictures pdf

    2. Check out the Christmas Therapy Kit!

    Want all your Christmas OT therapy planning done for you so you can help learners develop fine motor skills?  

    While the holidays can be full of stressors and expectations, they can also be fun and magical. Follow the OT Toolbox for other Christmas printables and blog posts.

    If you just can’t get enough of the OT Toolbox and all it has to offer, consider becoming a member.

    The OT Toolbox Members’ Club is an online platform for occupational therapists, parents, teachers, caregivers, and anyone seeking tools to help learners thrive.

    Inside you will find therapy resources, handouts, themed activities, and tools to support your journey helping learners.

    Try and enjoy the holiday season for what it is.  Set realistic expectations for yourself and others.  Say no to that extra holiday party or outing if it stresses you or your family out.

    Free Christmas Word Scramble Worksheet

    Want a copy of this Christmas word scramble activity? Enter your email address into the form below. The printable sheet will be delivered to your inbox. This printable is available inside the Member’s Club. Join today for easy access to this plus tons of other done-for-you activities and our Therapy Kits!

    FREE Christmas Word Scramble

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      Victoria Wood, OTR/L

      Victoria Wood

      Victoria Wood, OTR/L has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.

      **The term, “learner” is used throughout this post for readability, however this information is relevant for students, patients, clients, children of all ages, etc. The term “they” is used instead of he/she to be inclusive.