Indoor Ice Skating Activity for Gross Motor Skills

indoor ice skating activity

This indoor ice skating activity is an older blog post on The OT Toolbox, but the gross motor benefits are perfect for today! Did you know you can use an indoor balance and coordination activity like paper plate ice skating (and the inside skating task below) to challenge and integrate proprioceptive input, vestibular sensory input, and work on various gross motor skills. This is a fun indoor gross motor activity kids love.

Use this indoor ice skating activity to challenge gross motor skills, balance, endurance, and add sensory input.

Indoor Ice Skating Activity

Sometimes, you come across a play activity that provides many skill areas and is just plain old fun.  These indoor ice skates proprioception and vestibular activity is one of those.  

A few years ago, we shared a bunch of winter sensory integration activities.  This is on of those movement sensory ideas (that we’re just getting around to sharing this year!)

With this indoor ice skating activity, you can play indoors AND incorporate proprioceptive input, vestibular input, crossing midline, visual scanning, motor planning, among other therapy areas…all with play.  

Add these resources to the ones you can find here under sensory diet vestibular activities to meet the sensory needs of all kids. 

This is a great indoor therapy activity for challenging balance and endurance.

  • Ask kids to follow a specific path to work on memory, sequencing, and motor planning.
  • Ask the child to move the indoor skates along a straight line and then bend and stoop to retrieve objects.
  • Incorporate the indoor skating activity into an Olympics therapy theme.
  • Use the indoor skates to move in circles, curved lines, and move as a real ice skater.
  • Ask the skater to carry objects from one point to another.

In this skating activity, kids are really challenging strength and balance. The carpeted surface is a slick and slippery surface when sliding with a non-resistant surface when sliding on a paper plate, wax paper, or cardboard. TO slide, you need to move the legs along without lifting along the carpet, using core strength to maintain balance.  

To move the feet, kids need to engage muscles of the core help maintain balance without falling or sliding.  

Indoor Ice Skates proprioception and vestibular sensory play activity

Tissue Box Ice Skates

This is an activity that I remember doing as a kid.  When the weather is too cold or icy to get outdoors, adding any vestibular or proprioception input can be just what the child with sensory needs craves.

To make your own indoor ice skating activity, all you need is a couple of cardboard tissue boxes and a carpeted floor.

If you don’t have tissue boxes, you can use other materials to make indoor ice skates. Or, try some of these ideas. The options are limitless:

  • Tissue boxes
  • Cereal box cut in half
  • Paper plates
  • Styrofoam plates
  • Two pieces of wax paper
  • Pieces of cardboard delivery box
  • 2 plastic frisbees
  • Padded delivery envelopes (think Amazon delivery pouches)
  • Any cardboard box!

Depending on the material and the user’s motor skills, you may need to strap the cardboard pieces onto shoes with pieces of tape. Other users can slide their feet to move the materials along carpeted surface by sliding their feet.

There are many skills that are developed with this indoor ice skating activity. Let’s cover those therapy skill areas:

Indoor ice skates with cardboard boxes add proprioception and vestibular sensory play.
Use cardboard boxes to make a pair of indoor “ice skates” that work on a carpet.

Indoor Ice Skating and proprioception

Use empty tissue boxes to create ice skate “boots”.  Moving the feet along the carpet requires heavy work, coordination, balance, and awareness of position in space.

Incorporate proprioceptive input by using a blanket and pull your child around a carpeted area.  Ask them to squat down to a skater’s ready position as you pull them, too.

Try skating with the tissue boxes as an adult pulls the child along with a blanket or towel.  Play tug of war with the blanket, too.

Read more about proprioception activities and how they impact functional skills.

Indoor Ice skating and Vestibular Sensory

A child can work on vestibular input by skating fast from one target to another. Encourage them to position themselves in different ways as they skate around a carpeted room.  

This activity works on crossing midline as the child “skis”.  Sometimes you might see children with vestibular difficulties who have difficulty determining proper motor planning in activities.  They might have trouble crossing midline in functional tasks as well as difficulties with reading and writing.  

A movement activity that challenges the body’s position in space like this one can help with these problem areas.

Read more about vestibular sensory activities and how these therapy tasks impact functional skills.

More Winter activities to use in occupational therapy

Add this indoor ice skating activity to these other winter ideas for occupational therapy sessions or home programming:

Snowman Therapy Activity Kit
Snowman Therapy Kit

This print-and-go snowman-themed therapy kit includes no-prep fine motor, gross motor, sensory, visual processing, handwriting, self-regulation, and scissor skill activities to help kids develop essential skills. Includes everything you need for therapy tasks, home therapy sessions, and movement-based learning.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

Icicle Winter Scissor Skills Activity

Paper icicle craft

This paper icicle craft is a fun one for wintertime occupational therapy activities. If you are working on Scissor skills, cutting icicles into paper is a great fine motor task that builds eye-hand coordination, crossing midline, and visual motor skills to cut basic shapes. Be sure to add this paper icicle template for more tools for your winter occupational therapy toolbox.

Take fine motor work a step further by grabbing our new winter crossword puzzle to incorporate a whole winter theme.

Paper icicle craft that helps kids develop scissor skills, a great preschool craft for winter.

Paper Icicle Craft

Do you have a little one who is just learning to master scissors?  Scissor Skills for children who have never picked up a pair of scissors before can be very daunting.  Frustrations can build and the next thing you know, your little sweetheart is spiking the scissors across the table!  

Kids learn all things at different paces.  Every developmental milestone and functional activity are achieved at different paces. 

Scissor use is no different.  Kids as young as two can start to snip paper (and probably with an awkward-two handed grasp on the scissors!)  And as their fine motor skills develop, will achieve more and more accuracy with scissor use.   

This winter themed Icicle cutting activity is a great beginner project for new scissor users.  The strait cuts, bold lines, and even paper type are good modifications for a new little scissor-hands!  

Icicle Craft Beginner Scissor Skills Activity

Winter Icicle Craft

Preschoolers are just beginning to gain more control over scissors.  Preschool activities like this icicle craft at the way to go when it comes to building motor skills.

Strait lines are the perfect way to gain confidence when they are learning to cut…and ensure that they’ll want to pick up the scissors and try another craft again soon!  We started out with nice strait lines on these icicles.  Little Guy could cut the whole way across the page without needing to rotate the page to cut a curve or angle.

Draw icicles on paper to work on cutting with scissors. Great for winter occupational therapy activities.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

How to Modify this Icicle Craft

The smallest icicle could have been a harder task for him to cut, if he turned the whole page around like he started out doing. 

We used a few different strategies to scaffold this paper icicle craft:

  • Cut through the page instead of turning around corners
  • Adjust the paper weight to a thicker resistance
  • Thicker cutting lines
  • Trials with thinner lines to carryover the task with practice
  • Verbal and visual cues

I prompted him to start one line from the edge of the paper and then instead of rotating the whole page (which would have probably given him a big chopped off icicle point), I showed him how to start the other side from the edge as well.  He was much more accurate with the lines and wanted to keep going!

We had two different types of paper for our icicles.  The first set was drawn on a sheet of white cardstock

Cutting from this thicker paper is a great beginning step for new scissor users and a modification often used for kids with fine motor difficulties. 

The thicker paper requires slower snips and allows for more accuracy.  I also drew the icicles on the cardstock with nice thick lines.  This gave Little Guy more room to cut within the lines and allowed for less line deviation. 

The second set of icicles were drawn with thinner lines on printer paper.  After practicing on the first set, he was game to cut more  icicles.  The thinner paper and lines requires more control of the scissors and better line awareness, and bilateral hand coordination.

Work on preschool scissor skills using aa paper icicle craft.

  This looked like so much fun, that even Big Sister wanted to get in on the icicle-making action!

Paper icicle craft for the window
We hung our icicles in the window to match the icy conditions outside.
Looking for more ways to practice beginning cutting? Check out this guide to scissor skills.

More paper crafts for winter

You’ll love these other cut and paste crafts for winter. Use them in winter fine motor ideas for occupational therapy activities

  • Winter crafts using paper and a variety of textures for sensory play, motor planning, and motor skills.
  • Paper Icicle Craft is an actual printable template that you can print off and use to work on the scissor skills we covered in this post. It’s a great way to make an icicle craft.
  • Build a Snowman Craft– Work on scissor skills and fine motor strength to build a paper snowman
  • Use these paper snowflake ideas from our list of snow and ice ideas.
  • Use activities in our Winter Fine Motor Kit.
  • Use the printable ideas in the Penguin Fine Motor Kit for building scissor skills and hand strength.
  • Incorporate snowman crafts and scissor activities using our latest Snowman Therapy Kit.

Done-for-you motor tasks to help kids form stronger bodies that are ready to learn.

Use fun, themed, fine motor activities so you can help children develop fine and gross motor skills in a digital world.

Themed NO-PREP printable pages include tasks to address fine motor skills such as:

  • Endurance Activities
  • Dexterity Activities
  • Graded Precision Activities
  • Pinch and Grip Strength Activities
  • Arch Development Activities
  • Finger Isolation Activities
  • Separation of the Sides of the Hand Activities
  • Open Thumb Web-Space Activities
  • Wrist Extension
  • Bilateral Coordination Activities
  • Eye-Hand Coordination Activities
  • Crossing Midline Activities

Click here to read more about the Winter Fine Motor Kit.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

Paper Icicle Template for Scissor Skills

paper Icicle craft template

Looking for quick winter craft that builds skills? This paper icicle template is an icicle craft that kids will love! Use it to hang and decorate a window alongside some paper snowflakes for a wintery scene. Inspired by our icicle activity, this template is easy to use for visual motor skill development. Whether you are working on scissor skills or just want an activity to keep the kids busy, this icicle craft is the way to go!

Paper icicle craft template

Paper icicle template

Ice Ice Baby!

If you live where it is cold, winter seems here to stay. If you live in one of these frozen territories by choice, fate, obligation, finances, or bad luck, you might as well make the most of it.  Use this cold and blustery weather to create another winter themed lesson plan. Let’s talk icicles!

When working with kids, it can be fun to pull out some interesting facts. These make great talking points, but for the students working on handwriting, they can spark a writing prompt idea too.

Icicles can grow at the rate of .39 inches (1 cm)  per minute.  Once the base is formed, each water droplet drips to the bottom of the cone where it freezes. Icicles can be lovely to look at, or be dangerous.  From a homeowner perspective, the icicle can form because of a blockage in the gutter preventing water runoff. Did you see that scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas where the icicle rockets off the roof into the neighbor’s house?  Funny/not funny. 

The icicle gurus have created and entire Atlas cataloging icicles, saving images, and gathering all of the fun facts surrounding them:

Lucky for you, the OT Toolbox has designed a safe alternative to live icicles falling off of a building impaling someone or something. How about this icicle craft activity printable template for creating a multitude of fantastic activities for learners of all ages?

Add this paper icicle activity to your line up of winter occupational therapy crafts.

While there are endless possibilities for using this icicle template, the best one of course is GLITTER!!  This project screams for glitter.  Who doesn’t love glitter? (custodians, that’s who).  

Beyond just using fabulous glitter, there are many skills that can be engaged using this icicle template:

  • Scissor skills: this can be graded up or down depending on the level of your learners.
  • Small toddler scissors are just right for tiny hands. 
  • Thicker lines are easier to cut on than thinner ones
  • Larger shapes are easier than their smaller counterparts
  • Stiff paper is easier for cutting and holding than regular copy paper
  • Self opening or loop scissors are another way to make cutting easier for those learning to cut, or lacking the intrinsic hand muscles to open and close scissors.  
  • Did you know left handed people cut in a clockwise direction while their right handed friends cut counter-clockwise?  This allows the helper hand to support the paper adequately while cutting.
  • See this article on developing scissor skills.
  •  Kinesthetic awareness – This means learning by doing.
  •  Hand strength and dexterity – staying on the lines builds hand muscles and develops muscle control. 
  • Coloring and decorating: can incorporate copying from a model, creating an original design, following a pattern, creating a sensory experience, accuracy, neatness, and following directions
  • Visual motor skills –Combining what is seen visually and what is written motorically.  This takes coordination to be able to translate information from visual input to motor output. Coloring, drawing, counting, cutting, and tracing are some visual motor skills.
  •  Visual Perception – Developing figure ground to see where the lines are for drawing and/or cutting.  Many young learners do not notice the black line as a border for cutting and coloring. Try highlighting this in different colors to help it stand out from the background.
  • Strength – Core strength needed for sitting, shoulder/elbow/wrist stability, finger strength, and head control all play their role in visual motor tasks.
  • Bilateral Coordination – Be sure your learner uses their helper hand for stabilizing the paper while using their dominant hand for writing/coloring/cutting.
  • Social/Executive Function – Following directions, turn taking, task completion, orienting to details, neatness, multi-tasking, attending to task, and impulse control can be addressed using this paper icicle template

The beauty of being able to modify and adapt this and all activities, is they can be made appropriate for many levels of learners from basic to more advanced. You do not have to reinvent the wheel for every learner on your caseload.  With its adaptability, you can quickly make changes if your learner is functioning at a different level than you expected. This is critical as many treatment plans do not go as expected.

Other ideas for modifying this icicle template craft printable:

  • Cut the items out ahead of time for younger learners who are focusing on coloring and gluing
  • Laminate a few triangles to use as tracing patterns. Tracing around an object builds bilateral coordination.
  • Create patterns for your learners to follow
  • String together to make an icicle garland, working on lacing/hole punching/sequencing, and following directions
  • Make into a matching activity once several icicles are made.  They can be matched by size, color, or design
  • Pin onto a bulletin board or wall to work on coloring on a vertical surface. 
  • Work on the floor while learners are lying in prone
  • Add a gross motor element of having to find all of the triangles and bring them to the table
  • Make this a social activity by having learners share materials
  • Add large pom poms or scrunched up paper on the top of the icicles for a 3d effect
  • Add glitter and sparkles to the icicles for added sparkle and sensory experience
  • Paint the icicles with brushes, water colors, or finger paints
  • Drippy wet glue is preferred as it will stick better.  The added benefit is the sensory input from white glue, as well as the fine motor strengthening from squeezing the bottle
  • The possibilities are virtually endless

When documenting any of these activities, the activity does not matter as much as the skills being addressed.  Therefore the focus of documenting this icicle template craft will be on the skills such as cutting, coloring, executive function, behavior, strength, etc. rather than giving a lot of specifics about the craft itself.

Clinical observations during the icicle printable craft:

  • How well does your learner sit at the table?  Are they stable, wiggly, do they fall or get out of the chair?
  • Does your learner use both hands for creating this icicle craft? Do they have a dominant and a helper hand, or switch back and forth?
  • How close to the line does your learner cut?
  • How much physical and verbal assistance does your learner need?
  • What is their grasping pattern on the scissors, crayons, markers?
  • What is their sensory response to glue, glitter, noise in the room, visual distractions?
  • What social and executive skills is your learner using and lacking? Cooperation, turn taking, following directions, attention to detail?
  • What behavior reactions are you noticing? Crying, poor frustration tolerance, seeking, avoiding behaviors?

In order to be well rounded in any treatment plans, it will be important to use more than one task to measure objectives and goals.  Here is a great article on fine motor skills written by Colleen Beck, that includes background information on fine motor skills, activities, and resources.

Free Paper Icicle Template

Free Paper Icicle Craft Template

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    It is no secret, I am not a fan of winter, however I do remember the wonder of looking up at the icicles formed on buildings, street signs, and monuments. I remember munching on an icicle or two as if it was a candy cane.  We did not worry about acid rain, runoff, and other germs back in the 70s. Try and take a moment, slow down, and breathe in the wonder of nature.

    I ate dirty icicles!

    Victoria Wood, OTR/L

    Victoria Wood, OTR/L is a contributor to The OT Toolbox and 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.