Are you looking for a holiday themed activity to address emotional regulation in the weeks leading up to Christmas? This Elf I Spy worksheet is a great way to address emotional regulation, while working on visual perceptual skills at the same time! Print off the free I Spy printable and use it to build skills. This would even go REALLY well with an Elf on the Shelf coloring sheet to add to your holiday activities! This elf worksheet goes perfectly with our recent Santa I spy printable.
Many students have experience with an elf arriving at their house this month so be prepared to hear all about the hijinks that might be going at home when you use this activity in your therapy sessions.
While the elf or other traditions can be fun and exciting for children, it can be hard for some people to manage the ups and downs of the holiday season. This worksheet provides a framework for discussing all the emotions your students might be processing at this time of year.
Maybe your elf on the shelf can deliver this worksheet from the North Pole as an easy elf themed activity that develops skills!
When you begin working with your students using the Elf I Spy printable as an emotions worksheet, focus your students attention to the bottom of the page. It will be important for your students to study the elves first to be able to use their visual discrimination skills to identify the similarities and differences.
Some of the differences are quite subtle so encourage your students to notice the small differences like the shape of the eyes or mouth.
The next step includes assigning a color to each of the elves at the bottom of the page. You could let your students choose whatever colors they prefer or you could ask them to match the colors to the Zones of Regulation: red, yellow, green, and blue.
Once the colors have been assigned, it’s time to start visual scanning and coding the elves at the top of the page. Encourage your students to scan in an organized way. Students who struggle with executive functioning might have a hard time completing this task in an organized and efficient manner. Here is an opportunity to provide some coaching on how to improve their execution of this visual task.
For students who struggle with visual perception, you could provide the following intervention strategies and accommodations:
- Demonstrate how to use a tracking tool such as a ruler to help keep their place as they work
- Try covering some of the elves with another piece of paper to limit the amount of visual information. Move the paper down as they scan.
Other ways to address Emotional Regulation
The Zones of Regulation program is often used by school staff to address emotional regulation with students. You may be wondering about other ways you can address emotional regulation during your therapy sessions.
Mindfulness is a proven tool for promoting regulation in children as well as adults. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it may be a great time to start incorporating a “mindful minute” into the beginning or end of your sessions with students. A “mindful minute” is just what it sounds like! Have your students find a comfortable position sitting on the floor or at the table. Take a deep breath and exhale. On the inhale, start a timer for 1 minute. Count the number of breaths you take in and out in 1 minute. For students who may have a hard time taking deep breaths, you could encourage them to lie on a yoga mat with a little stuffed animal resting on their belly. Can they give the stuffed animal a ride as they take deep breaths in and out?
Here are some other mindfulness activities and resources:
- Free printable mindfulness cards from Teachers Pay Teachers
- Mindfulness Deck from Amazon
- Breathe Like a Bear book with mindfulness activities for students
Another great strategy for promoting regulation is deep breathing. Deep breathing encourages self regulation by sending a message to the brain to slow down. Taking deep breaths is an effective way to calm the sympathetic nervous system. Here are a couple more holiday themed deep breathing resources for you to print and use with your students:
These are perfect to incorporate into your mindful minute or to use as students transition into your therapy space or back to the classroom.
Identify Elf emotions on the Elf Worksheet
Asking your students to identify 2 tools for each zone using the elf emotions is another way you could extend this activity in your therapy sessions.
For example, what are some tools a silly elf could use to move from the yellow zone to the green zone? Would deep breathing or stretching theraband help the elves regulate? Have the students practice the tools that match up with each zone. This will help them build their own tool box for self regulation!
Free Elf Worksheet for I Spy Emotions
Want to add this elf worksheet to your holiday therapy toolbox? Enter your email address into the form below and the printable will arrive in your email inbox. OR, if you are a Member’s Club member, just log into your account and find this and hundreds of other resources ready to download.
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.
Looking for done-for you therapy activities this holiday season?
This print-and-go Christmas Therapy Kit includes no-prep, fine motor, gross motor, self-regulation, visual perceptual activities…and much more… to help kids develop functional grasp, dexterity, strength, and endurance. Use fun, Christmas-themed, motor activities so you can help children develop the skills they need.
This 100 page no-prep packet includes everything you need to guide fine motor skills in face-to-face AND virtual learning. You’ll find Christmas-themed activities for hand strength, pinch and grip, dexterity, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, endurance, finger isolation, and more.