Sensory Handwriting Backyard Summer Camp

handwriting camp

Have you ever thought about running a handwriting tutor session or a Summer handwriting camp? A handwriting camp is a great way to support the Summer slide when it comes to handwriting skills, or work on a few handwriting activities in fun and engaging ways over the summer months.

Summer Handwriting Camp Ideas

Summer is a time of relaxation, lazy play, and freedom for kids.  It can be a time of sliding backward in skills like handwriting, too.  While it’s important to remain free of schedules over the summer and allow kids to just be kids, there can be a need for some kids to maintain skills to prevent a loss of skills.  These sensory handwriting activities are a fun way to incorporate the senses into handwriting practice, in a fun way.  I’ve created sensory-based handwriting activities that can be used to create a DIY backyard summer camp at home.

Use these ideas to work on handwriting skills through the senses!

sensory summer camp at home idea for handwriting summer camp for kids using all of the senses to prevent the summer slide.

You’ll also be interested in our new Summer Occupational Therapy Activities Packet. It’s a collection of 14 items that guide summer programming at home, at school, and in therapy sessions. The summer activities bundle covers handwriting, visual perceptual skills and visual motor skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, regulation, and more.

You’ll find ideas to use in virtual therapy sessions and to send home as home activities that build skills and power development with a fun, summer theme. Kids will love the Summer Spot It! game, the puzzles, handouts, and movement activities. Therapists will love the teletherapy slide deck and the easy, ready-to-go activities to slot into OT sessions. The packet is only $10.00 and can be used over and over again for every student/client!

Grab the Summer Occupational Therapy Activities Packet HERE.

summer occupational therapy activities for kids

Tips to be a Handwriting Tutor

This post contains affiliate links.

Before beginning handwriting tutoring sessions, or a handwriting camp, you’ll want to create a few pieces of paperwork. Important papers such as disclaimers, waivers, and intake information can cover a few important issues as a handwriting tutor, handwriting coach, or handwriting camp. 

  1. Identify if you are using your therapy license or not? This is an important item to cover from the very start. Identify the scope of the handwriting tutoring sessions or camp sessions. If they are going to be considered under the scope of occupational therapy, there are certain considerations to be addressed. These are not to be considered therapy, unless you are actually doing an occupational therapy evaluation and creating a specific course of treatment. In these cases, fees for therapy or insurance can be collected, and you would operate under your license. Occupational therapy assistants would need to work under supervision of an occupational therapist. If the sessions would be operating without evaluation, assessment, and individualized interventions, then the scope of the sessions can occur under general tutoring or camp activities. In both situations, a disclaimer explaining these specifics should be created (next item).
  2. Disclaimer- Create a disclaimer that covers the scope of the tutoring or camp sessions.
  3. What will you cover in tutoring/handwriting camp? Identify the scope of tutoring content or handwriting summer camp content. Are you going to be covering letter formation? Simply handwriting practice? The importance of cursive writing? Cursive letter formation? Copying skills? Functional handwriting? Pencil grasp? Fine motor skills? Free writing?
  4. Waiver- Create a waiver that covers liability and removes yourself from any liability issues as a tutor or camp creator. There are many waiver and liability templates available, or you can reach out to a local attorney.
  5. Intake paperwork- Create paperwork for collecting information from parents. This should include name, contact information, special considerations such as allergies, emergency contact information, etc.
  6. Handwriting Camp Plans- Create a plan for handwriting tutoring or handwriting camp sessions. See below for ideas for each handwriting camp session.
  7. Collect money- Determine how you will be collect money to paid for tutoring sessions. A great tool that I have used in the past is SendOwl. You can create an account and create a “product” that is listed as a service. For an average of $20/month, you can have a way to collect income, sales pages, and market to your list month after month.

Handwriting tutoring or Handwriting Camp Plans

After you’ve created the logistics of the camp or tutoring session, it’s important to come up with a plan for general tutoring or camp sessions. You can create a plan for the entire camp that covers several weeks so that you’ve got ideas Try these tips to keep handwriting summer camps fun and stress-free.

  1. Identify what will be covered in the handwriting camp/handwriting tutoring.

Start by identifying what you’ll be covering in tutoring sessions or handwriting camp sessions. These are general topics and can be used with any student no matter the level (this is important if you are not going to be doing an evaluation and treatment plan and operating under your license).

Some topics for handwriting camps and handwriting tutoring sessions can include:

You can also consider a theme for the camp or handwriting sessions. Some ideas include an outer space camp theme or a circus summer camp theme.

2. Next come up with a schedule for handwriting camp sessions or handwriting tutoring:

Start off sessions with movement, play, and activities that build skills through play. Below are some ideas for the schedule of a tutoring or handwriting camp session:

  • Use lots of movement breaks and brain break activities.  Try to keep written work tasks as movement oriented as possible. 
  • Start each mini-session with gross motor activities: crab walks, jumping jacks, heavy work, or vestibular games.
  • Move on to fine motor movement activities, incorporating proprioception, and dexterity tasks.
  • Proceed to handwriting activities, keeping them as fun and activity-based as possible.  Incorporate several of the senses into written work, allowing the children to involve as many senses as possible in each mini-session. Limit written work activities to 15-20 minutes. You can use our free Handwriting printables and resources available on the website. See all of our Free Handwriting Resources HERE
  • Try using some handwriting games to keep the motor skill work fun and engaging.
  • Encourage 10 minutes of journal writing or letter writing.
  • Use these Summer Writing Lists for quick list writing that build handwriting skills
  • Finish with movement activities, using whole-body games like playing catch, batting a balloon, jumping rope, or kicking a ball. 
sensory summer camp at home idea for handwriting summer camp for kids using all of the senses to prevent the summer slide.

Summer Handwriting Camp Ideas

When it comes to handwriting, the motor sensory systems have a HUGE input in terms of handwriting ability, legibility, and fluency.  

START HERE for learning more about sensory processing and handwriting; This is everything you need to know about handwriting and sensory concerns.

I will be the first to admit: There are not too many kids out there who want to work on handwriting during their summer break.  The trick to building or maintaining skills it to make it fun.  Here are a bunch of ideas for motivating kids to write.

Once you’ve got some ideas to incorporating handwriting into summer days, you can try a few sensory strategies for practicing written work.  Try the handwriting ideas below to making written work fun using the senses.

Tactile Sensory Handwriting Ideas:

  • Pressing Too Hard When Writing Proprioception Tips is the perfect post if you are looking for tips on writing with too much (or too little) pencil pressure.
  • Fizzy Dough Cursive Letters uses the sense of touch with tactile exploratory input with fizzy, sensory letter formation.
  • Sensory Letter Formation Work on letter formation using dish soap in this tactile and olfactory letter learning and writing activity.
  • Fidget tips and tools can be used for kids who are constantly fidgeting during writing activities.
  • Write in shaving cream on a plastic tablecloth.
  • Practice letters while writing in oobleck.
  • Use mess-free sensory bags.
  • Form letters in a sand tray, salt tray, sugar tray, cornmeal tray, or flour.
  • Write with wet chalk.

Auditory Sensory Handwriting Ideas:

  • Write in the air letters while singing.
  • Use Encourage singing or humming during written work.
  • Use headphones to block out sounds or to provide background noise.
  • Practice written work from an auditory source.  
  • Take handwriting activities outdoors to the backyard, and notice birds chirping, cars, dogs barking, etc.
  • Minimize auditory distractions for other children.
  • Ask children to repeat the directions.
  • Use visual cues such as index cards with written directions.
  • Handwriting on Foam Craft Sticks and letters and coffee filters use the auditory sense when writing.  Whisper, tell, yell, rhyme, or sing the letters as your child writes them.

Olfactory Sensory Handwriting Ideas:

Proprioception Handwriting Ideas:

  • Start with these ideas  for understanding the basics of the proprioception sense and its impact on handwriting.
  • Write on a resistive surface.
  • Form letters with push pins on a lid.
  • Write with chalk on a driveway or rocks.  Try rainbow writing with chalk.
  • Write while laying on a trampoline. TIP: Use a clipboard.
  • Use a therapy ball to sit on, lay on, and write on.
  • Practice letter formation and pencil pressure by lacing a sheet of paper over a foam computer mouse pad. If pressing too hard, the pencil point will poke through the paper. 
  • vibrating pen provides sensory feedback to the fingers and hand and helps to keep children focused on the task. 
  • Practice handwriting by placing a sheet of paper over a piece of sandpaper. The resistance of the sandpaper is great heavy work for small muscles of the hand. 
  • Practice Ghost Writing: Encourage the child to write very lightly on paper and then erase the words without leaving any marks. The adult can try to read the words after they’ve been erased. If the words are not able to be read, the writer wins the game. 
  • This will provide the child with awareness and words for the way they are holding the pencil. 
  • Wrap a bit of play dough or putty around the pencil as a grip. Encourage the child to hold the pencil with a grasp that does not press deeply into the dough. Encourage using a “just right” pressure. 
  • Provide terms for they way they write. Encourage “just right” writing and not “too hard” or “too soft” marks. 
  • Use a lead pencil to color in a small picture, using light gray, medium gray, and dark gray. Talk about how using different amounts of pressure changes the shade of gray. 
  • Practice writing with a pen on thin paper surfaces such as napkins and tissue paper.

Vestibular Sensory Handwriting Ideas

  • Write while laying in the slide. Try using the slide as a writing surface while the child is lying on their belly.  Try both head towards the top of the slide and head towards the bottom of the slide.
  • Try a wiggle seat cushion such as a balance disc or a wobble chair.
  • Try sitting in a rocking chair, using a clipboard to write on.

Gustatory Sensory Handwriting Ideas

  • Form letters with taste-safe play dough.
  • Use bread dough to form letters.  Bake and eat.
  • Write in pudding.
  • Try taste-testing handwriting activities:  Try practicing writing while the student is chewing gum, or sucking on hard candy.  Other ideas include: chewing licorice, sour candy, chewy gummy candy, lollipops, or crunchy pretzels.  These types of oral sensory input are organizing. With the children, see if they notice improved concentration and written work output with these types of oral sensations.

Visual Sensory Handwriting Ideas

  • Write with highlighters.
  • Write with a flashlight in a darkened room.
  • Write with sparklers in the evening. (Use glow sticks for a safer option.)
  • Make a DIY light box.

 Sensory Summer Camp at Home themes

What do you think?

Have you thought about running an occupational therapy summer camp or a sensory summer camp? Maybe you’re thinking about targeting clients or just creating a group activity for non-clients as part of summer programming. Let me know if you’ve done any of the activities listed here. And, tell me…What are some awesome occupational therapy summer camp ideas you’ve had or sensory summer camp strategies that you’ve used?


Want to take summer play to the next level? Be sure to grab your copy of the Summer OT Activities Bundle!

Summer activities for kids

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

Hula Hoop Activities

hula hoop activities

A hula hoop is a great old-school toy and specific hula hoop activities can be used to not only build strength, coordination, balance, and motor planning, but can be used in other areas such as learning, sensory, and visual motor, as well as gross motor coordination. Hula hoops are versatile and inexpensive, while being colorful and attractive, to spark the interest and motivation of children. There are a wide array of hula hoop activities that can be done, in addition to the traditional method.

hula hoop activities for therapy and gross motor development

Hula hoop Activities are great!

Hula hoops can be used indoors or outdoors and with children and adults of all ages. That’s right all ages. In addition to the conventional manner, there are several imaginative and thoughtful hula hoop activities that are fun and safe for all!  

Hula hoops are cheap and easy to find. If you don’t have, or can’t find a hula hoop that’s okay, you can make your own hula hoop! The directions are included in this post. People can decorate it however they wish, making it a special craft activity too. 

Take a look at some fun, creative hula hoop activity ideas to get kids up and active, and a little ‘hoopy’ this season! 

The hula hoop games and activities below are great for outdoor lawn games this summer, but they can be included in indoor therapy obstacle courses or games to get kids moving!

Gross Motor hula hoop games:

  • The Floor is Lava Games These are fun games for home on a rainy day. Use a hula hoop as a “safe island” when playing is game. They work on jumping, leaping, hopping, rolling, and crashing.
  • Hula Hoop Jumps – provide heavy work input through the core and gross motor muscle groups, to improve regulation, and body awareness. 
  • Rabbit Hole – is a cooperative gross motor group activity that helps to teach the concept of personal space, using a hula hoop, and safety cones.  This is a great way to teach about personal bubbles.
  • Hula Hoop Run activities – use several hula hoops positioned out on the ground, or floor to create a “tire run” pathway for kids to hop, jump, or leap through. There are several pattern ideas included, which will address gross motor coordination, balance, and agility while having fun too!
  • Hula Hoop Pass – Grab some friends and a hula hoop! Children hold hands while standing in a line or a circle, while working to move the hula hoop around the group, stepping in and out of it, ducking through it, while holding hands. This works to shift the hoop to the next person, until it makes it from the first, to the last person within the group. This is an incredible coordination and motor planning activity that helps to build group cooperation and teamwork.
  • Don’t Jiggle the Spiders! Much like our spider obstacle maze, you can wrap yarn around a hula hoop and thread spider rings through the string. Then, children can move the hoop as a hand-held obstacle course has a fun way to have children work on balance and body control as they work to move through the spider web, designed on a hula hoop, and try not to ‘jiggle the spiders’ while doing so. 
  • Basket of Toys- Here is a fun twist on the traditional toy scavenger hunt. In this game, you scatter small toys or water balloons and hula hoops on the ground. Children work to move the toys and balloons using their feet to their specific hula hoop. What happens if they pop a balloon while kicking? They must visit the Toy Master (and adult or a specific player) and complete a motor task to earn another balloon. A fun way to work on gross motor skills, motor control, and eye-foot coordination. 
  • Hula Blockers is a fun hula hoop game in which each player stands in their own hoop tossing a bean bag into another player’s hoop, while simultaneously attempting to defend their own hula hoop space, blocking another player’s bean bags from landing in their space.

Add these Gross Motor Coordination Activities for more fun. Or check out these Gross Motor Toys for some fun games.

Sensory hula hoop actitivies:

  • Hula Hoop Mobile here is a fun visually stimulating idea for children with visual impairments, or other challenges, that might benefit from a colorful hanging mobile that has texture, sound, weight, and visual appeal. It can be used for individual play, or as a group activity.
  • Sensory Hula Hoop Video – need a fun sensory tool for babies? Then this Sensory Hula Hoop video might be a fun DIY for you! It includes a variety of visually stimulating materials as well, as texture and sound. It can be placed flat on the floor to encourage tummy time, or hung above a baby lying supine, to encourage reach and exploration. Note: Always choose baby-safe materials to prevent injury. 
  • Baby and Toddler Tummy Time Activity- Another spin on the sensory hula hoop activity, is to attach baby rattles and baby toys around the circle, then have babies start with tummy time in the center of the hoop. This is a great tool for adding novel activities to tummy time. The circular positioning of the toys around the hoop encourages babies to reach, visually scan, roll, and pivot on the upper body, as they move and stretch to reach, and engage with different toys. 
  • Hula Hoop Canopy – If you’re feeling really ambitious you can create a Hula Hoop Canopy with lights and sheer curtains. It makes a great addition to a calming corner.
  • Hula Hoop Tunnel Activity – Make a tunnel with several hula hoops and you can even add scarves or longer strips of streamers for children to move through making it a gross motor AND sensory experience in one!

Eye-Hand Coordination hula hoop games:

  • Hula Hoop Web – use masking tape to create a Hula Hoop Web in the hoop. Have children toss cotton balls or pom-pom balls to stick to the web.

  • Hula Hoop Target – Hang a hula hoop from the ceiling or a tree, and you have an instant target for ball tossing.
  • Hula Hoop Bullseyes- Lay different-sized hula hoops on the ground, creating a bulls-eye target. Place numbers inside the hoop to create targets, to score points when tossing a bean bag.
  • Place safety cones on the ground for children to toss a hoola hoop around the cones, to score points. 
  • Hula Hoop Basketball – Hang a few hula hoops from a basketball goal for young children to have their Hula Hoop Goal for ball play. A great way to have younger kiddos enjoy their own skill level of basketball. 
  • Flight School Create this fun game by having children fold paper airplanes, then try to fly them through hula hoops that are hung from the ceiling. Include children of all ages with this fun activity, as you can hang the hula hoops at different heights to accommodate any skill level.  Another way to play when hanging the hoops at different heights, would be to use a point system, and score points based on the different heights of the hoops.  

Learning games with a hula hoop: 

  • Around the Clock hula hoop activity is a fun way to work on time with kiddos in the classroom, during therapy, and at home! 
  • Hula Hoop Zones Activity- Use red, yellow, green, and blue hoops to work on the Zones of Regulation™ curriculum in the classroom and during therapy. Read more on this activity.
  • Find and Rhyme game is a great way to work on rhyming with young children! All you need are some hula hoops, and plastic plates. It’s similar to a scavenger hunt for words. Here is an explanation.
  • Personal space – Need to help children understand personal space? The use of a hula hoop is the perfect tool! They can sit or stand inside of it, to help them visualize their own personal space, and the space of others. I’ve seen them used while sitting at a table during snack time to help children understand their personal space.

make your own hoop

Here are the instructions for Making a Hula Hoop. They include a brief explanation of the three most common types of tubing people use to create one. If you think you need more detailed instructions for creating a hula hoop, take a look at How to Make Your Own Hula Hoop, and see how they designed their hoop using irrigation tubing. 

Want another fun idea for creating a hula hoop? I found this Snap Together Hula Hoop (affiliate link) that children can work on building before using!  This type of hoop makes it easy to transport and adds another element of motor skills while building and deconstructing.

more outdoor fun

There’s only one last thing to say about hula hoops, remember to join in the fun yourself and enjoy some screen-free playtime with kiddos! 

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Regina Allen

Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!