31 Days of Occupational Therapy with Free Materials

Coming up with fun ideas for occupational therapy activities for interventions can easily become nerve-wracking! It’s easy to fall into a routine and use the same old cookie cutter activities in OT treatment sessions. Here, you will find a challenge designed to change that recipe for burnout! Below is a strategy to use out-of-the-box occupational therapy activities using free materials, or items you probably already have! 


Occupational Therapy Activities


Below is a series I ran one October, in which I challenged myself to write 31 days of posts about my profession: Occupational Therapy!  You will find 31 days of Occupational Therapy with free materials provides treatment activities, tips, tools, and ideas for many developmental, sensory, fine motor, gross motor, and visual perceptual areas. 

I’ve bumped up the OT activities, though, to add more ideas to build fine motor skills or work on development, all with free items.

The best news is that these ideas are going to be creative fun that kids will love and (almost) all free.  The therapeutic modalities that I’ve outlined will provide you will a resource for frugal treatment of many Occupational Therapy goal areas.  

I strive to create crafts and activities that use mostly free items that are found around my home in the play and learning that we do here.  

Use these free and recycled items to work on occupational therapy goals

Occupational Therapy Activities with Free Materials

Scroll through the activities below for fun ways to work on development. But first, let’s discuss a few items you may want to have in your therapy toolbox. These are recycled items and household materials that can be used in various ways.

They are open-ended items to use in fine motor work, or in textured sensory play. Use the items to work on hand strength, scissor skills, motor planning, or other occupational therapy goal areas. 

Here are some free and recycled items to stock your therapy toolbox:

  • Cardboard
  • Cupcake liners
  • Sandpaper
  • Cardstock
  • Construction paper
  • Tissue paper
  • Index cards
  • Cookie cutters
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Plastic sandwich bags
  • Paper cups
  • Newspaper
  • Buttons
  • Tape
  • Craft sticks (popsicle sticks)
  • Craft pom poms or cotton balls
  • Recycled egg carton
  • Bread ties
  • String
  • Glue
  • Recycled bottle caps
  • Cardboard tubes
  • Rubber bands
  • Small containers
  • Crayons
  • Recycled bottles

occupational therapy items to add to your therapy bag

What would you add to this list?

Occupational Therapy treatment tips and tools for pediatrics and school-based therapy using mostly free or inexpensive materials and items you can find around the home.  Great resource and many ideas here!
Affiliate links are included in this post.
You can see a previous activity challenge, based on learning in the 31 days of learning with mostly free items challenge. I’m hoping that this series is just as helpful!

If you’ve been to this blog before, you might know that I’m an Occupational Therapist by trade, and love sharing helpful tips, tools and strategies that meet a variety of needs. It’s my hope that this OT Challenge will be an idea-generator for you!

More Occupational Therapy Activities

A few more resources on the site may be helpful for you. Below are some of our free courses, printable packets, and email courses that can be used in your practice. Let me know if there is another topic you are looking for information on. I would love to help out!

This Visual Processing Lab is an email series that delivers tons of content and information right into your email inbox. Expect to learn tons on visual perception, visual motor integration, and what that looks like in our kiddos who struggle with handwriting and eye-hand coordination. This email series is totally free! Join the lab here.

This visual processing lab is a series for occupational therapists looking for occupational therapy activities based on visual processing needs.

This Executive Function Mini-Course is a free email course on everything executive functioning. You will learn about executive functioning skills, how they develop, and what executive functioning challenges look like in our kids at home and at school. You’ll gain helpful tips that can be implemented right away. It’s a goldmine for any parent, teacher, or occupational therapist!

Take the Executive Function Mini-Course here. 

This executive function course is a helpful tool for occupational therapists, parents, or teachers working with kids on executive functioning skills.


Occupational Therapy Activity Ideas

In this Occupational Therapy with free materials series, you will find many of my favorite occupational therapy treatment activities for many developmental difficulties in pediatrics, all using items that you probably already have at home.  

The nice thing about this series is that you don’t have to be receiving OT services or have a diagnosis of anything to benefit from these 31 days of tips and tools.  Many, MANY kids out there are working on shoe tying. Or writing on the lines.  Or many other developmental areas.  All of the activities will be low-cost and inexpensive.

Here is a little video that we created based on this series. It’s my hope that the activities below hit on the needs you have on your caseload!

It is my hope that you will find the ideas shared here in the next 31 days to be helpful and and a valuable resource.  AND, not only will the tricks and tips use mostly free or low-cost items, I will also have lists of my recommendations for toys and tools that can help with each area.  

This is going to be a great month …but fun! Use these activities to guide interventions, using out-of-the-box ideas, while working on goal areas your clients need.

And now, without further ado:

31 Days of Occupational Therapy with Free Materials

 Motor Planning Fine Motor Maze hand strengthening activity
 Scooping and pouring fine motor and hand dominance with beads

Day 22 The Benefits of Coloring

Day 23 Clothes Pin Exercises and Pinch Grasp Types

Day 24 Homemade Pegboard Activities

Day 25 Creative Scissor Skills Practice

Neat Pincer Grasp Fine Motor Activity Buttoning Tips and Tricks

Day 30 Gross Grasp with Recycled Containers

Day 31 Finger Isolation Fingerprint Activities

Did you LOVE this series as much as I did?  Here are MORE ways to work on Occupational Therapy using mostly free or inexpensive materials:  
Try a few inexpensive treatment tools like kid-friendly tongs and tweezers.  They can be used in so many different ways.  A set of simple supplies can be tools for many different OT treatment goals.

 Sensory Processing and handwritinghttps://www.theottoolbox.com/2015/11/benefits-of-playing-with-stickers-occupational-therapy.html What is motor planning activity for kids






 Free letter building printables Sight word crayon rubbing activity

Even MORE great pages you where you will find tons of Occupational Therapy treatment ideas and info that can be incorporated into simple play at home, using frugal (mostly free) items that you already have:   Sensory Play IdeasVisual Perceptual SkillsFine Motor Skills

Occupational Therapy treatment tips and tools for pediatrics and school-based therapy using mostly free or inexpensive materials and items you can find around the home.  Great resource and many ideas here!
Occupational Therapy treatment ideas using free materials

Love these ideas shared in this series?  Try some of these: 

Occupational Therapy Activities for Scissor Skills

There are many scissor skills resources on the website. Some of our favorite ways to support use of scissors include:

Occupational Therapy Activities for Fine Motor Skills

Building fine motor skills in occupational therapy sessions occur typically in each therapy session. Here are more fun ways to build these essential skills:


Occupational Therapy Activities for Handwriting

We have many handwriting strategies here on the website. Some of our favorite ways to develop handwriting skills in OT include:

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 contact@theottoolbox.com.

1 thought on “31 Days of Occupational Therapy with Free Materials”

  1. I’m excited to uncover this web site. I want to to thank you for your time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely loved every part of it and i also have you book-marked to see new things on your website.

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Use these free and recycled items to work on occupational therapy goals