Valentine’s Day Occupational Therapy Activities

Here, you’ll find Valentine’s Day Occupational Therapy Activities that you can use this time of year to help kids develop skills. This is the time of year that red and pink hearts are everywhere, so why not use the theme of love and friendship in therapy interventions? Add these heart crafts, and love ideas to your therapy toolbox to work on things like fine motor skills, regulation, scissor skills, and more, all with a Valentine’s Day theme!

Use these valentine's day occupational therapy activities in therapy planning, classroom activites, and to work on skills like handwriting, fine motor skills, scissor skills and other developmental areas.

Valentine’s Day Occupational Therapy Activities

There are so many love and heart themed activities here on The OT Toolbox. Over the years, we’ve done a lot of fun activities that double as a skill building strategy. Check out these ideas and pick a few to add to your therapy line up and plans over the next few weeks. Some of these hear crafts and sensory ideas or games would make great additions to a Valentine’s Day party that builds skills, too!

Valentine’s Day Therapy Slide Decks

Working virtually? Use a done-for-you therapy slide deck. These are therapist-created and designed to meet the needs of a variety of levels of users. Adjust the slides and therapy activities to meet your needs and the needs of the learners you are working with.

If you are needing occupational therapy teletherapy resources, check out the hands-on Valentine’s Day activities below. They are great for February parties and therapy at home activities for this time of year, too.

Valentine’s Day Sensory Activities

From sensory bottles, to discovery activities, to heart painting and more, these sensory play activities can be a fun way to help kids develop skills through the senses. How can you use these Valentine’s Day occupational therapy activities in sessions or at home?

Valentines day sensory bottle for self regulation and sensory processing or visual processing

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bottle– Use this sensory bottle activity as a way to build fine motor skills while kids help to create the sensory bottle and add materials. Then use it in self-regulation, sensory processing needs as a calm down bottle. Sensory bottles are fantastic to work on visual processing skills like visual discrimination, figure-ground, and other visual perceptual skills.

Olive You Thumbprint CraftFingerprint art is a great way to work on finger isolation, an essential fine motor skill that kids need to manipulate items and improve pencil grasp. Here is more information on how fingerprint art improves fine motor skills. Add this artwork to a card or Valentine’s Day craft for fine motor fun.

Valentines Day play dough to build fine motor skills

Valentine’s Day Play Dough Activity Use a recycled chocolates box in a play dough activity that builds skills like strengthening of the intrinsic muscles and arches of the hands. This is a fun Valentine’s Day activity that can be used in classroom parties or in the therapy room to build skills.

Bilateral coordination activity for valentines day

Bilateral Coordination Heart Sensory Tray Use sand, rice, or other sensory bin material to create a bilateral coordination and visual motor activity for kids. They can work on eye-hand coordination, motor planning, and other skills. The point of the activity is to establish direction and orientation relative to the child’s body.  The movement activity addresses hand-eye coordination in different visual fields, promotes spatial awareness and visual discrimination, addresses left and right awareness, improves peripheral vision, promotes body awareness and coordination with specialization of the hands and eyes, and works on gross motor movement skills.

Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Activities

Try these Valentine’s Day fine motor activities in your occupational therapy interventions or home programs. The activities here are fun ways to help kids develop hand strength, dexterity, precision, grasp development, and motor control.

Be sure to check out the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit. In the 25 activity printable kit, you’ll fine hands-on activities to build fine motor skills. Activities include coloring and cutting cards, pencil control sheets, heart crafts, Valentine’s Day write the room activities, hole punching exercises, and so much more. Grab the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit here.

Visual perception activity and heart maze for valentines day

DIY Heart Maze- Look out visual motor skills…this heart maze is one you can make and print off for your whole caseload. Adjust the use according to your kiddos. Children can place objects like paper hearts, mini erasers, etc. on the hearts in the maze to double down on fine motor work, or color in the hearts to work on pencil control. This maze is a visual processing powerhouse. Find more information on visual processing here.

Fine motor heart activity

Teeny Tiny Sprinkle Heart Activity– This is a fine motor activity that builds precision and dexterity in the hands. It’s a fine motor workout kids can use to build hand strength and endurance for fine motor tasks. Use it in math centers to work on one-to-one correspondence and counting or sorting.

Heart fine motor and eye hand coordination activity

Heart Eye-Hand Coordination Activity– Work on eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills tongs and heart s cut from cardboard. If you are like me, you have a ton of delivery boxes coming to the house. Use those boxes in a fine motor skills building activity. Write numbers or letters on the hearts to make it a sorting, math, or spelling activity.

heart keychain made with salt dough

Salt Dough Keychain– This is a fun heart craft that goes along with the children’s book, “The Kissing Hand”. Use it to help kids work on fine motor skills, and hand strengthening. This keychain craft makes a great Valentine’s Day gift idea too!

Valentines Day crafts

One Zillion Valentines Book and Craft– Pairing a book with therapy or when working on skills with kids is a fun way to open up conversation, problem solving, and strategizing to create a project or activity based on the book. This Valentine’s Day book for kids is just that. One Zillion Valentines is one children’s book that pairs nicely with a fine motor craft for kids.   Kids can work on fine motor skills, motor lanning, direction following, and executive functioning skills while folding and making paper airplanes, and the cotton clouds in this fun craft idea.

Valentines day handprint art

I Love Ewe Handprint Craft– Use a handprint art activity as a tactile sensory experience. Pair scissor skills, pencil control, direction following, and copying skills to work on various areas needed for handwriting and school tasks. Pls, this makes a great Valentine’s Day craft or addition to a card!

Valentines Day activities to build skills for kids
valentines day color sorting fine motor activity

Valentines Day Color Sorting Fine Motor Activity– Grab a couple of cookie cutters and some beads. This is a fine motor activity that kids can use to build skills like in-hand manipulation, separation of the sides of the hand, finger isolation, open thumb webspace, and more.

love bugs valentines day crafts

Love Bugs Crafts– Work on fine motor skills, scissor skills, direction-following, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, and more with these cute bug crafts for kids.

valentines day sensory bin

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin– There are so many benefits to using a sensory bin in building fine motor skills. Pour, scoop, and stir with the hands for a tactile sensory experience. Using a sensory bin can be a great way to work on visual perceptual skills like figure-ground, visual discrimination, and other essential visual processing areas. Find and ovate objects or add a learning component by writing sight words or math problems on hearts. This is an open-ended activity that can be used in so many ways.

valentines day books

I Love You Books for Kids– These Valentine’s Day books for kids are a fun way to combine books with crafts or love themed activities. Use them to work on copying words or sentences for handwriting practice. The options are limitless. What love and heart themed books would you add to this list?

Valentines day activities to build fine motor skills
heart play dough

Valentine’s Day Crayon Play Dough– Use play dough to work on so many areas: hand strength, arch development, separation of the sides of the hand, endurance, eye-hand coordination…But have you ever had trouble getting a a really vivid red play dough when using food coloring? The answer to the red play dough problem is using vivid crayons! Here is our crayon play dough recipe that gives you the brightest colors, perfect for using in Valentine’s Day play dough activities!

heart craft to work on fine motor skills like scissor skills

Heart Bookmark Craft– This is such a fun and easy Valentine’s Day craft to use when working on scissor skills with kids. The strait lines of the bookmark and curved lines of the heart make it a great activity for kids just working on the basics of scissor skills.

Valentines day craft for kids

Heart Butterfly Craft- Work on scissor skills, handwriting, and fine motor skills to make this fun card. The directions to make this Valentine’s Day craft are over here on a guest post we did for Hands On as We Grow. Use this fun craft with a group. It’s a great Valentine’s Day party idea!

Valentines Day craft for kids to work on fine motor skills and scissor skills

Valentine’s Day Tea Craft– This Valentine’s Day craft is a fun way to work on scissor skills, handwriting, and fine motor skills. Kids can make this craft as a gift for friends or parents and work on skill development, too.

More Valentines’ Day Activities

Try some of these other ideas:

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin with Fine Motor Paper

Valentine’s Day Snacks for Kids

Valentine’s Day Goop Painting

Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Sparkle Craft

Crunchy (Sensory Diet!) Heart Tortilla Snack

Teach Buttoning with Heart Buttons

So, what are your favorite ways to work on skills with a holiday theme? Try some of these heart activities at Valentine’s Day parties, at home when making cards for loved ones, or in therapy planning! Have fun!

Want to add more Valentine’s Day activities and movement tools to your skill-building?

he Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit is here! This printable kit is 25 pages of hands-on activity sheets designed to build skills in pinch and grasp strength, endurance, eye-hand coordination, precision, dexterity, pencil control, handwriting, scissor skills, coloring, and more.

When you grab the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit now, you’ll get a free BONUS activity: 1-10 clip cards so you can challenge hand strength and endurance with a counting eye-hand coordination activity.

Valentines Day fine motor kit

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.

Fine Motor Penguin Worksheet

Free penguin worksheet for fine motor skills

This time of year is perfect for a penguin theme and the fine motor penguin worksheet below is a perfect addition to a penguin lesson plan. This penguin worksheet works on a variety of fine motor skills and can be adjusted to meet educational needs as well, making it a functional worksheet for kids. Use it along with a Tacky The Penguin book and theme, and fun facts about penguins (great for writing prompts while working on handwriting!)

Free fine motor penguin activity with this penguin worksheet

When planning a penguin theme, be sure to add activities from our new Penguin Therapy Kit. It’s got fine motor, gross motor, self-regulation, sensory materials, scissor skill activities, handwriting tasks, and more.

Let’s get on with this free penguin worksheet!

Penguin Worksheet for Fine Motor Skills

As occupational therapists, we love all things function, so functional handwriting beats out on rote copying any day. We can help kids with handwriting skills using a motivating topic like penguins, or we can use discussion of facts that go with an educational theme when working on handwriting skills. The fine motor worksheet here is a perfect addition to that functional and educational topic because it can be used as a hand-warm-up while staying on a theme that is being discussed in the classroom. For OTs pushing into the classroom, this will be a fine motor warm-up that the whole class might want to join in on!

First start with the fine motor work out using the penguin worksheet and then move onto penguin writing prompts.

Then, add other penguin activities like this penguin yoga, penguin deep breathing, and penguin brain breaks, sensory bin play.

Penguin writing Prompts

When thinking about penguins, the movie, March of the Penguins comes to mind.

March of the Penguins Writing Prompts- Use the movie, March of the Penguins as a writing prompt idea to work on handwriting skills after you do a fine motor warm up with our free penguin fine motor worksheet.

I imagine everyone has a different take away from the film March of the Penguins. For me, it was seeing how cold it was in Antarctica in the winter, and watching that poor Dad penguin who has to sit on that egg all winter, while the Mom goes out and gets a few snacks. There was that one scene where the penguin BECOMES the snack, but let’s gloss over that part. 

Other people watching the film might take away the fact that the Dad was really stepping up to do his part in the family. These types of Emperor penguins  mate for life, and start this ritual every march.

Depending on your audience, this movie leads to opportunities for some deep discussion. Use those discussions as writing prompts.

  • Penguin facts
  • Facts about Antarctica
  • Facts about Emperor penguins

Tacky the Penguin Writing Prompts- If your learners are preschoolers or young children, reading Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester might be more their speed. 

  • Write out the story in a comic strip type of writing prompt
  • List out penguin names from Tacky the Penguin
  • List out features of Tacky that describe: loud, distracting, funny, is himself
  • Incorporate interoception concepts from the Tacky the Penguin that kids can relate to.
  • Use materials from these Tacky the Penguin
  • Incorporate activities and ideas from this Tacky the Penguin lesson plan.

Penguin Facts Writing Prompts- Use other penguin facts as writing prompts no matter the age of the learner.

  • Facts about penguin species
  • Penguin features
  • Penguin eggs
  • Penguin habitats

Create an entire treatment plan around this penguin winter theme. Whatever direction you decide to take your penguin writing theme, the OT Toolbox has you covered with penguin worksheets and printables.

Before rushing out to watch March of the Penguins (I may be scarred for life), perhaps take in a viewing of Happy Feat for a lighter film.  Also consider purchasing this winter fine motor set as an add on to your treatment theme:

In the Penguin Therapy Kit, you’ll find penguin writing pages to use with these handwriting tasks. There are also penguin-themed sensory bin materials, letter formation cards with a penguin theme.

Penguin Worksheet

Along with the writing prompt ideas, use the free penguin printable below to address fine motor skill work. It’s appropriate for many ages and skill needs. From tracing, to cutting the penguin paths, to working on in-hand manipulation, pencil control, and more.

Beyond a cute tracing activity, this penguin worksheet targets many different skills:

  1. Tracing for dexterity works on staying on the lines, fine motor control, building hand muscles, scanning and a whole host of other important skills as defined below.
  2. 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.
  3. Kinesthetic awareness – This means learning by doing.
  4. Hand strength and dexterity – staying on the lines builds hand muscles and develops muscle control. 
  5. Visual Perception – Developing figure ground to see where the lines start and end, being able to follow the path with the eye and hand, seeing the dotted lines creating a path rather than just dots.
  6. Strength – Core strength needed for sitting, shoulder/elbow/wrist stability, finger strength, and head control all play their role in writing.
  7. Bilateral Coordination – Be sure your learner uses their helper hand for stabilizing the paper while using their dominant hand for writing.
  8. Social/Executive Function – Following directions, task completion, orienting to details, neatness, multi-tasking, attending to task, and impulse control can be addressed using this Penguin worksheet.

There are many different variables that can be modified while using this activity:

  1. Paper: 
  • lightweight paper is much more difficult to stabilize than heavy weight construction or cardstock paper.  
  • Colored paper may be easier or more difficult for children to work with because of color contrasts.
  • The page can be laminated first, using wipe off markers to trace the penguin paths.  This is a great way to make this page reusable. 
  1. Writing utensils: 
  • There are endless possibilities for written expression.  Markers, crayons, colored pencils, paints, watercolor, chalk, or dry erase pens all provide different input, and require different levels of fine motor skill to manipulate. 
  • Small one inch crayons are excellent for developing those tiny hand muscles.  
  • Chalk, with its grainy texture, provides sensory feedback and can be a positive (or negative) experience
  • Markers glide easily, requiring less precision and grip strength
  • Change writing utensils to appeal to different students and improve their level of motivation. 
  1. Other ways to change this task:
  • Have learners write on a slant board to build wrist control and shoulder stability
  • Try having learners lying prone on the floor with the page in front to build shoulder stability
  • Lying supine with the page taped above the child, under the table builds shoulder and wrist stability
  • Project this page onto a smart board for students to come to the board and write in big letters.
  • Enlarge or shrink this page to make it easier/harder
  • Place mini erasers or beads along the path
  • More or less prompting may be needed to grade the activity to make it easier or harder
  • Make this part of a larger lesson plan including gross motor, sensory, social, executive function, or other fine motor skills
  • Press a fingertip into paint and dot along the lines to work on finger isolation and separation of the sides of the hand

Use the penguin worksheet for sensory play

  • Use sugar cubes to move along the worksheet path and to make igloos
  • Make fake snow to get hands into for more fine motor play. Slide the worksheet into a page protector. Use the fake snow to mold a snowy path along the penguin’s path.
  • Shredded paper in a pool would make a great snow activity. Spread it along the penguin path, adding glue to create a textured, snowy path.
  • Trace the lines with squeeze glue and add craft materials.
  • Use glue and feathers to make a feathery walk to the penguin.
  • Use the penguin path in a preschool penguin theme in a sensory bin using penguin figures, dry beans, scoops, and tongs.

Free Fine Motor Penguin Worksheet

Want to get your hands on this free printable so the kids you serve can develop stronger hands? Enter your email address into the form below for access through your email inbox. This resource is also available in our Member’s Club…you’ve asked for it: A one-stop space to access all of our free downloads in one place. Members can log into their dashboard and download every freebie we have on the website in one place. You’ll also find exclusive Member’s Only materials. Level 2 members get immediate access to the Penguin Therapy Kit mentioned in this post.

Free Fine Motor Penguin Worksheet

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    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.

    Victoria Wood, OTR/L

    *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.