This bilateral integration activity is a powerful way to help kids with a variety of skills. Add it to your line up of hands-on, St. Patrick’s Day theme activities for therapy and promoting child development. Kids can draw the four leaf clover but also work on developing bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, visual motor integration, visual scanning, visual convergence, core strength, and so much more. Integrating all of these areas into functional tasks involves many components of development, and this activity can help in so many ways.
Kiddos with sensory or developmental problems might have trouble crossing mid-line. You might know a child who has trouble making both hands work together to accomplish a task like handwriting, cutting with scissors, tying shoes, buttoning a shirt, or catching a ball. Bilateral coordination is necessary for many functional activities!
Bilateral Integration and Functional Activities
Bilateral integration is an area of child development that involves different movements and systems. Coordination of visual systems include visual tracking and scanning as well as depth perception and peripheral vision. All of these skills need to be integrated into movement so that coordinated movement patterns can occur.
Then, there is the crossing midline component. Crossing the midline occurs developmentally, and this milestone is an important one that translates to laterality and coordinated use of both hands together in functional tasks.
Then, visual motor integration, where the eyes and body works together to perform daily tasks is another piece of the puzzle. One part of the developmental progression of these skill areas is symmetrical bilateral integration.
Symmetrical Bilateral Integration
In this stage of development, children bring their hands together at the midline. You’ll see this in small infants that bring their hands to their mouth. They then start to hold toys together with their hands. Later down the road, symmetrical bilateral integration skills are needed to clap, zipper and button a coat, and gross motor tasks, too such as hopping, jumping, and completing tasks like jumping jacks.
Progression beyond symmetrical development relies on this developmental stage. And skills like asymmetrical bilateral integration, crossing the midline are founded on progression of this early developmental stage.
Gross motor and fine motor activities are needed for activities where each hand does the same job (jumping jacks, movement games like the Hokey Pokey, and pulling up pants). Other tasks require both hands to do different jobs in a coordinated way (holding the paper and writing with a pencil, holding paper and cutting with scissors, tying shoes, fastening a zipper, weaving a loom, or putting on a coat).
Bilateral Integration Activity for Kids
Four Leaf Clover Bilateral Activity
- While drawing, watch the child for stiffness in the hand, wrist, or arm.
- Be aware of whole body movements. Arm motions should come from the shoulders.
- Remind the child to keep their eyes fixed on the dot at the center of the clover.
- Remind the child to keep the writing utensils in contact with the paper. They shouldn’t lift the crayons at all.
- Watch for bilateral coordination, ensuring that both arms are moving at the same speed, distance, and positioning.
- Draw the four leaf clover on paper and have the child sit to perform the re-tracing activity.
- Do this activity on a driveway or sidewalk using chalk.
- Draw in the air with pointer fingers.
- Draw in a sand table.
- Use finger paints.
- Use ribbon sticks in the air.
- Use musical instruments like bells or maracas.
Rainbow Handwriting Kit– This resource pack includes handwriting sheets, write the room cards, color worksheets, visual motor activities, and so much more. The handwriting kit includes:
- Write the Room, Color Names: Lowercase Letters
- Write the Room, Color Names: Uppercase Letters
- Write the Room, Color Names: Cursive Writing
- Copy/Draw/Color/Cut Color Worksheets
- Colors Roll & Write Page
- Color Names Letter Size Puzzle Pages
- Flip and Fill A-Z Letter Pages
- Colors Pre-Writing Lines Pencil Control Mazes
- This handwriting kit now includes a bonus pack of pencil control worksheets, 1-10 fine motor clip cards, visual discrimination maze for directionality, handwriting sheets, and working memory/direction following sheet! Valued at $5, this bonus kit triples the goal areas you can work on in each therapy session or home program.
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 email@example.com.