Beaded Feather Fine Motor Activity

beaded feathers fine motor activity

This beaded feather activity is a fine motor task that we created YEARS ago. WE love it because beads and feathers are common craft materials found in many pediatric occupational therapy professionals’ therapy toolbox. In fact OTs love crafts as a fine motor strategy and this feather bead activity is a powerhouse!

Beaded Feather Activity

If you need a quick and easy little activity for the kids while you are making dinner, or just something fun for the kids to keep practice a few fine motor skills, then this is a great activity for you.  Simple to set up and easy to clean up, this one will get those little muscles going and moving with fine motor dexterity!
This can be a great skill-building task to add to a STEAM activity or a STEM fine motor activity.

Beading with feathers

This activity works on several grasps, color awareness, counting, sorting, visual scanning, and eye-hand-coordination.  How can you beat such an easy activity with so many benefits??  


Fine motor activity for kids using beads and feathers.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
You’ll need just two craft materials for this fine motor activity:


Preschoolers and Toddlers can match beads to feathers to learn colors.
Get your feathers and some coordinating beads and lay them out on the table.  I started a few feathers to show the kids what we were doing and had the invitation to start ready to go. 
They came over to check it out and would bead a bit here and there throughout the day.  It was kind of like a therapeutic little break from bouncing off of couch cushions and each other. 
Their little bodies needed a chance to slow down and re-group before getting back into the routine of regularly scheduled chaos.
But maybe that’s just my kids?
Sorting colored beads to match colored feathers is a fun way to learn colors.


Pincer Grasp Activity With Beads and Feathers

You could also put out a big old tray of all kinds of beads with different colors, shapes, sizes to work with. 
This slightly makes the activity just a little more difficult as the child has to visually scan for the colors needed and pick out the beads that they want with a neat pincer grasp
Using the tips of the index finger and the thumb in a precision grasp to manipulate beads from a big tray of colors is great for eye-hand coordination
Want more ideas to work on neat pincer grasp or eye hand coordination?  We’ve got plenty!
Threading colored beads on feathers is a great way for prechoolers and toddlers to work on colors and fine motor skills.


Beading Feathers Bilateral Coordination Activity

Holding the feather and the beads requires two hands to work together in a coordinated way (bilateral hand coordination). 
This is a great way to practice pre-writing skills and those requirements needed for self- care like managing buttons, zippers, shoe-tying, and scissor skills.
Beads and feathers are a fun way to practice colors and fine motor skills with kids.


Bead Feathers to learn colors

Younger children (Baby Girl is just getting this!)  can learn colors and practice naming colors as they pick out the beads and match to the color of the feather. 

How many other ways can you think of to make this a learning opportunity? 

Patterns, sorting, counting…this is a fun learning op and a great way to get those little hands moving!

                                Kids can work on fine motor skills and color matching awareness while beading feathers.

Fine motor activity for kids using beads and feathers.
More Fine Motor activities you will love:


The beaded feather activity and the other fine motor tasks listed above are a great addition to our popular Fine Motor Kits:

Working on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, or scissor skills? Our Fine Motor Kits cover all of these areas and more.

Check out the seasonal Fine Motor Kits that kids love:

Or, grab one of our themed Fine Motor Kits to target skills with fun themes:

Want access to all of these kits…and more being added each month? Join The OT Toolbox Member’s Club!

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

Sensory Blanket Activity

sensory tortilla blanket

This sensory blanket activity is a simple home sensory diet activity that offers heavy work input using only a blanket. Did you know you can use a blanket as a calming sensory tool? One way that I love to help regulate and calm down over-responsive sensory systems is through heavy work activities

Use a tortilla blanket (or any blanket) to make this sensory blanket burrito as a sensory tool for kids.

Calming Proprioception Activity with a Blanket

Using a blanket as a sensory tool is one of the easiest ways to offer heavy work , or proprioceptive input, through the whole body as a calming strategy.

There are a few reasons why using a blanket works to calm the sensory systems.

Rolling a child up in a blanket is a great way to provide deep input to a child’s whole body. This is calming and organizing.

Additionally, the warm temperature helps to calm the body.

A benefit to this sensory strategy is that every home has a blanket of some type. 

Use this proprioceptive activity to offer calming input to help self-regulate emotions and sensory needs by rolling up in a blanket, either on the floor or with additional heavy work input. Check out all of our proprioception activities here.

How to use a blanket for calming sensory input:

  1. Grab a blankets and spread it out on the floor.  
  2. Ask the child to lay down on the blanket, near one edge.
  3. Roll your child up like a burrito. Keep rolling until the whole blanket is used. Wrap the blanket tightly.  
  4. Add additional proprioceptive input for calming and regulating by piling pillows on top of your child after they’ve been wrapped up in the blanket.  Press evenly and gently, but firmly, with both hands to provide deep pressure input.


Tortilla Blanket Sensory Activity

Have you seen the (Amazon affiliate link) tortilla blankets? These are a great, fuzzy blanket to use in this sensory blanket activity! Kids can be the burrito as they are wrapped up in the tortilla blanket. Plus, the warmth from this fleece blanket is extra cozy and calming!

Use the tortilla blanket to make a kid-sized burrito that adds calming sensory input!

Another sensory activity using blankets is to use the blanket roll as a balance beam  or to lay on (without the child inside).

For more heavy work activities using materials already found in the home, check out these low-prep heavy work exercises!

Heavy Work Exercise Cards
Heavy Work Exercise Cards- 50% off!

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

Cotton Swab Painting for Spring

Spring themed cotton bud painting worksheets

There are signs of Spring everywhere, and this Spring Cotton Swab Painting is one of them!  This spring themed Cotton Swab Painting activity will get you in the mood to change things up a bit, while developing important skills. This is a powerhouse Spring occupational therapy activity that builds many developmental areas through art. Add this idea to our list of creative art ideas for sensory painting!

Using cotton swabs to paint is a creative painting strategy that builds more than just fine motor skills…read on!

Spring themed cotton swab art to build fine motor skills

Cotton swab painting

Before diving deep into the why and how of cotton swab painting, let’s talk about cotton swabs (formerly known as Q-Tips) first:

  • They are great disposable tools to use when germs are a concern
  • Your learner is only going to gag themselves once with it, before learning a valuable lesson
  • If you learner is sticking it in their nose, eye, or anywhere else it does not belong, they need extra supervision
  • Sustainability a concern?  Last Swab makes (Amazon affiliate link) REUSABLE cotton swabs!  Check it out! In the FAQ it says these are appropriate for art projects
  • Cotton swabs come in different colors, sizes, shapes, varieties for pure enjoyment purposes, or to develop different skills

Cotton Swab Art and Fine Motor

In doing research on the connection between math and fine motor skills, the data suggests fine motor precision is just as important as visual motor skills. 

Being able to cut on a line is not enough. An advanced learner needs to be able to cut intricate shapes. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning is at the forefront of education.

These specific subjects require fine motor skills beyond basic cutting, writing, and coloring. This post on Using Everyday Items to Build a Tripod Grasp is helpful and informative.

The Spring cotton swab painting worksheet available at the bottom of this blog post develops fine motor skills while honing in on precision.  

Not only do learners need to develop command over the cotton swab, they need to be able to precisely mark it into the correct circular space.  This does not rule out less advanced learners. 

There is much to be gained from this task, without being able to make the dots in the correct places.

There are too many skills to count that are developed using just this one task. 

The benefits of cotton swab art in therapy to develop skills include:

  • Kinesthetic awareness – This means learning by doing. What better way to practice fine motor precision than with cotton swab painting!
  • Hand strength and dexterity – Dotting within the borders builds hand muscles and develops muscle control. 
  • Visual motor skills –combining what is seen visually and what is produced motorically.  This takes coordination to be able to translate information from visual input to motor output. Being able to dot onto a designated spot is more than just making random marks on paper.
  • Visual Perception – scanning to find all the dots, and visual closure to understand that dotted lines will create something. 
  • Sequencing – will your learner do the dots in order? Will they go in a haphazard pattern all over the page?  There really isn’t a right way in this task, but learning sequencing will be important in higher level tasks such as math
  • Proprioception – pressure on paper, grip on cotton swab
  • Social/Executive Function – Following directions, turn taking, task completion, orienting to details, neatness, multi-tasking, attending to task, compliance, task completion, and impulse control can be addressed using this Spring Cotton Swab Painting PDF
  • Bilateral coordination – remembering to use their “helper hand” to hold the paper while painting.  Using one hand for a dominant hand instead of switching back and forth is encouraged once a child is in grade school or demonstrates a significant strength in one or the other.
  • Strength – core strength, shoulder and wrist stability, head control, balance, and hand strength are all needed for upright sitting posture and fine motor tasks.

Remember, you can address all of these skills at once, or focus on one or two.  Some skills above will be addressed without your conscious knowledge, while other skills will be directly worked on. 

Using a cotton swab art activity for different levels

It is definitely possible to use a cotton swab art activity for various levels and skills. One single activity can be used with a whole therapy caseload, while meeting different skills, needs, and developmental levels.

How do I grade (make it easier/harder), change, or modify this task?  There are a million ways to use this cotton swab art in your treatment plans.  Below are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Make this part of a larger lesson plan including gross motor, sensory, social, executive function, or other fine motor skills
  • Print in black and white or color for different levels of difficulty
  • Print on colored paper and use a hole punch to create this design
  • Talk about spring, clouds, flowers, seasons and more to further engage your learners
  • Enlarging the font may be necessary to beginning learners who need bigger space due to less accuracy
  • Vary the level of prompting to grade the activity to make it easier or harder.
  • Add a sensory element by using a finger tip instead of a cotton bud. 
  • Use different types of paint or shaving cream for alternate types of learning
  • Work in pairs or in a small group to address problem solving, turn taking, and negotiation skills.
  • Make baked cotton swabs to work on developing fine motor skills.  I wonder if these can be used as watercolor paints?  This would eliminate some of the mess
  • Add glitter!  Glitter makes everything wonderful

The OT Toolbox has some great ideas for spring themes, fine motor precision, arts and crafts, treatment planning and more.  Start with this spring flower eye hand coordination activity.  What about more cotton swab activities?  Since you can buy these cotton buds in packs of thousands, you might as well use them in more than one activity.

Feeling overwhelmed?  Starting something new can feel intimidating. Some people are able to plow through their apprehension, while others get stuck.  Either way, the OT Toolbox has just what you need. 

An entire kit of Spring Fine Motor Activities!  This print-and-go Spring  fine motor kit includes no-prep fine motor activities to help kids develop functional grasp, dexterity, strength, and endurance. Use fun, Spring-themed, fine motor activities so you can help children develop strong fine motor skills in a digital world.

What does spring mean to you?  Embrace the new season and take a risk.  Get out of your comfort zone and push your learners to get out of theirs.

Free Cotton Swab Art Worksheets

Want to add this resource to your therapy toolbox so you can help kids thrive? Enter your email into the form below to access this printable tool.

This resource is just one of the many tools available in The OT Toolbox Member’s Club. Each month, members get instant access to downloadable activities, handouts, worksheets, and printable tools to support development. Members can log into their dashboard and access all of our free downloads in one place. Plus, you’ll find exclusive materials and premium level materials.

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FREE Spring Cotton Swab Worksheets

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    NOTE*The term, “learner” is used throughout this post for consistency. This information is relevant for students, patients, clients, preschoolers, kids/children of all ages and stages or whomever could benefit from these resources. The term “they” is used instead of he/she to be inclusive.

    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.