the OT Toolbox
Hi, I'm Colleen!
From an OT making $3/hour to an online OT serving millions around the world…
After working in the occupational therapy field for many years, I had started a family. By the time my third baby was born (I now have four kids!), I was looking for childcare that had room for a newborn. The cost of child care was (and still is) exorbitant! After paying for a preschooler, a toddler, and a newborn in childcare, I was making $3 an hour on my OT income! I stopped working and created The OT Toolbox, a website designed to serve OTs, OTAs, educators, and parents. The rest is history…(read the full story below!)
Our mission is to provide you with tools, inspiration, and the community you need to encourage the healthy development of kids.
On The OT Toolbox, you will find resources, tools, ideas, and activities designed to support the healthy development of children (throughout the lifespan).
Based on function and occupation-centered activities, the tools shared on this site promote the underlying skills needed for action and performance of meaningful tasks in kids. As an occupational therapist with many years in the field, I am here to promote the healthy development of kids through play and movement in order to make a positive impact on kids today.
THE OT TOOLBOX IS A SITE FOR...
Are you an Occupational Therapist who is looking for creative treatment strategies for your clinic, school, or home therapy caseload?
Are you an OT who needs fresh ideas to work with children who experience sensory processing dysfunction, fine motor deficits, visual perceptual concerns, or executive functioning challenges?
Are you a therapist who struggles to find information to hand off to parents and teachers in easy-to-understand ways?
This site is for therapists.
Are you a teacher who struggles to find meaningful and easy ways to sneak fine motor development activities into the classroom curriculum?
Do you have children with handwriting and fine motor challenges and just don’t know how to help these kids develop the skills needed for legible written work?
Are your students struggling with attention, organization, or other executive functioning issues in the classroom?
The OT Toolbox is a site for educators.
Are you a parent who is looking for creative ways to work on developmental skills? Do you have questions about things like when your child should write, color, get dressed on their own, or eat without spilling their soup?
Do you have concerns about sensory processing and are looking for ways to help your child grow and experience life without being on sensory overload or avoid certain textures?
Are you looking for information on fine motor skill development or have concerns about the way your child holds his pencil, writes letters, or wondering why they can’t button their coat yet?
This is a site for parents.
DISCOVER OUR BELIEFS AND VALUES
We’re here to inspire you each and every day. Our intent is to empower you with resources and tools that promote the healthy development of kids through creative activities, sounded in experience and evidence that can be carried out with ease.
You are in the right place if you are looking to be inspired on play-based learning, and motivating, passion-led activities designed to build skills and help children achieve goals.
Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an Occupational Therapist since 2000.
As the creator and author of The OT Toolbox, LLC, I have written thousands of blog posts on occupational therapy, created thousands of accessible resources and tools for therapy professionals, and strive to advocate for the profession as well as those we serve (children, families, educators) on The OT Toolbox social media channels.
In addition to the blog posts and resources available on The OT Toolbox website and social media infographics and posts, I’ve authored several books: The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook and The Visual Closure Workbook. I’ve co-authored The Handwriting Book, The Scissor Skills Book, The Toilet Training Book, and Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities Based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy.
- I’ve been honored to speak at the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association’s annual conference as a session leader.
- Co-led a session at the American Occupational Therapy Association’s annual conference as a session contributor and panelist.
- Additionally, I’ve represented online entrepreneurship as a panelist in the summit titled: OT Online Side Hustle & Beyond.
Other contributions include:
- Representing the field as an Expert Play Panelist for the Radio Flyer toy company
- Contributing to Mommy Academy as the team’s OT and play expert.
- I’ve been honored to stand as a panelist at Duquesne University’s occupational therapy program as an occupational therapy entrepreneur in the community.
Since the start of The OT Toolbox, I’ve loved to “talk shop” and lead other therapy professionals into the world online entrepreneurship and online learning. I’ve supervised and led a team of writers here on The OT Toolbox, as well as several students. Student leadership within the website and business has included supervisory roles for level 1 and level 2 occupational therapy students, as well as serving as an expert mentor for a doctorate capstone project.
MORE ABOUT ME:
I started this website as a new mom that loved to get down on the floor and play with her kids…by using my OT hat everyday to help my kids learn and develop. This website was (and IS!) a means to provide activity ideas from the occupational therapy perspective: building skills in everyday tasks, using meaningful, motivating, and FUN tools to help kids thrive. This website is my occupation in an OT sense…I love to help others through visual infographics, accessible resources, and developmentally appropriate play ideas.
This website started out as simply a hobby after I quit my job to stay at home and raise my three kids (now there are four kids!). It all started when I was looking for childcare for my children while working a full time job at the time.
I had a preschooler, a toddler, and a newborn. And after paying for childcare, my OT salary brought in a whopping $3/an hour! This included 40+ hours/week on the job, sky-high productivity, and little to no opportunity for advancement or appreciation as a OT professional in the workplace. I did trade in my love for my clients, and making small impacts on the things that mattered most in lives of others, and that felt heavy.
I DID want to share my OT knowledge with other parents out there, though. I started the site to show pictures and stories about what we did at home: playing on the floor with everyday items, playing outside, and building skills through motivating and meaningful activities.
That hobby turned into a website getting real traffic. And that web traffic turned into digital products and resources. Therapy providers loved (and still do) accessing materials that were DONE for them.
One thing that I love as a therapist is that the little things we do have a profound ripple effect.
The kids we serve as therapy providers are the world-changers. When we support their needs, and the family’s needs, and the educator’s needs, we are having a ripple of support that expands and does not stop. That is why this site exists. To serve you as the reader! If this site can make one small impact in your life as a helper (mom, dad, caregiver, teacher, support person, therapy professional, administrator, counselor, ETC…) then we are doing our job here!
Here’s a little more about me and why I do what I do:
- I have been an Occupational Therapist since 2000. I’ve worked in school-based, outpatient, early intervention, home care, long-term care, and hand therapy. This blog became the place for me to create and share resources for therapists, parents, and teachers. I love to pull my OT background into blog posts with developmental spins on crafts and activities…from the “why” behind making a specific craft or activity, to helping you think outside the (tool)box, I’m using my OT hat to look at the whole person, so you can help kids grow and develop specific skills.
- I have a passion for play! Play is the job of the child and each activity that you find on this site is rooted in playful activities that build skills. I love to include information on developmental milestone markers and allow play to build skills, in FUN ways. You’ll find thousands of blog posts, resources, and tools that foster fun, creative play…while helping kids develop and grow! My passion for play was exemplified while representing the occupational therapy field as an Expert Play Panelist for Radio Flyer.
- I have run three marathons and lots of half marathons. Running is an occupation of mine that allows offers quiet, “me time”, heavy work sensory input, and time to think. Just like my leisure occupation of running, I love to offer kids resources to fuel their passions and occupations!
- The OT Toolbox headquarters is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My husband and I have 4 growing kids that have days loaded with learning, sports, and friends. The website started as a tool to share therapist-recommended play activities with new parents. The resources you find on the website are the very activities I did with my own kids as a pediatric OT AND as a mom! I’ve been pulling up old blog posts as inspiration for hands-on learning activities for my own kids.
- I began writing The OT Toolbox in 2011. Since then, the site has reached 10’s of millions of therapists, teachers, and parents all over the world. You’ll find tools for play, learning, and skill-building that allow kids to thrive, no matter what stage or developmental level they are at.
- I LOVE helping kids thrive in their development of executive functioning skills. These set of cognitive skills is the command center and helps us do everything that we do, all day long. How incredible that a set of brain skills manage, foster, and drive our passions, talents, hobbies, work, and interests! Executive function is the force behind everything we do and say!
- Teaching kids handwriting is another passion of mine. I love to break down sloppy writing or an awkward pencil grasp into the fundamental building blocks and focus on those underlying skills. Whether it’s letter formation, writing on the lines, or holding the pencil. You’ll find the resources you need here to address pencil grasp in a playful and fun way, that makes kids WANT to write neater and legibly. Be sure to check out the Pencil Grasp Challenge here on the site, along with the hundreds of handwriting posts and tools.
- As an OT, I’ve helped thousands of families. I believe each child that receives therapy services is part of a team. Meeting the needs of that family is just part of the package deal! That’s why I strive to provide the tools you need to help with parenting, learning struggles. I always tell parents of my OT kiddos, “We are in this together!” On The OT Toolbox, you’ll find resources and tools that are exactly what I wish I had when starting out in this field 20+ years ago.
- While my cooking isn’t always “top chef” level, I believe that the kitchen is the hot spot for learning and development in any home. Think about all of the ways that kids can learn and grow motor skills in the kitchen…all while challenging each of the sensory systems! Even better, cooking allows kids opportunities for math, problem solving, executive functioning, emotional and behavioral regulation, and so much more. I love to have my kids cook with me, and one of my daughters shares this passion with me. You’ll find loads of kid-friendly recipes here on the website.
- My mission is to help you find the tools you need to help your kids, or therapy kiddos, or students…THRIVE! We can’t do it all, friends. We’re in this together. You’ve got this!