Today, we have another fun Winter Fine Motor activity: a Mitten Fine Motor Race! This mitten race is a great way to play and build skills in several areas: motor planning, eye-hand coordination, crossing midline, and pencil control. Use this along with other winter activities for a whole lesson plan that develops functional performance. You can add this activity to our mitten activities for lesson planning in occupational therapy, learning, and other therapies.
Last year I learned an interesting lesson about winter themed lesson plans. While summer seems to be universal, winter is regional, not everyone’s experiences are the same. I grew up in the northern United States but have been living in the south for many years. Imagine my surprise when my learners struggled to come up with ten things to do in the snow! Snow, mittens, snowmen, icicles, skating, and skiing are rare (or artificial) down here.
Today’s free printable, a Fine Motor Mitten Race will have different meanings depending on the region where you are teaching.
A LESSON ABOUT WINTER THEMED ACTIVITIES
- Learners who do not grow up in cold climates have little idea about “real” winter
- If you have never experienced freezing winters, with snow up to your neck, it is hard to imagine what this feels like
- Activities that have meaning and relevance will be more motivating and make sense to young learners. Activities in your winter toolbox, like this downloadable fine motor mitten race, can lead to some great discussion and interesting treatment sessions
- Use new experiences as a learning opportunity. Spend time teaching about winter through multi-sensory experiences. Read books, watch real life videos, share personal experiences, do research together, and find ways to create as much realism as possible
- Make shaved ice and play in the cold wet texture. Here are some great snow and ice activities
- Play dress up, bundling up in layers of warm clothes
- Read The Mitten, by Jan Brett. Check out this Mitten Themed Lesson Plan from the folks over at The Clutter Free Classroom
- Once you have created meaning to winter, add activities like this free Fine Motor Mitten Race to your treatment plan
HOW TO IMPLEMENT THE FINE MOTOR MITTEN RACE
Once your theme has been created, use time wisely by implementing activities that meet the needs of each level of learners. Activities like this free Fine Motor Mitten Race, that can be downloaded with just the addition of your email address below, are adaptable.
- Mid to high level learners: use a broken crayon (which is best for developing a great tripod grasp) to color the mitten on the left. Place the crayon in the palm of your hand while tracing across the path to the mitten on the right. Color the mitten on the right. Time how long each path takes to do correctly. See if learners can beat their time while still producing quality work
- High level learners: use the broken crayon piece to color inside the paths while staying inside the lines. Instruct higher level learners to cut along the paths
- Lower level or beginning learners can use dot markers to follow the path, zoom a small car or pompom along the road, or follow with their finger without coloring at all
- Laminate the pages for a reusable activity. Use wipe off markers, cars, playdough, a pointer, or their finger to trace along the paths
- Project the images onto a smart board for whole arm and body movement
- Make paths bigger or smaller to challenge the needs of your learners
- Use glitter glue to squeeze along the paths, encouraging fine motor strengthening at the same time
- Watch for signs of visual perceptual difficulties – scanning right to left, difficulty following the pattern, not working in top-down order, or frustration. Work through visual perceptual skill deficits before adding coloring through the paths, as this adds a fine motor component to the already challenging activity
- Lessons might not go as planned. When I trialed this task today, my younger learners scribbled all over the page and cut it into tiny pieces, rather than following along the paths. I did not get frustrated, because this group of learners spent quality time sitting, attending to the activity, and working on pre-writing skills
- Level two members have access to all of the winter resources, including the great Winter Fine Motor Kit, all in one place
WHEN YOU THINK OF MITTENS, WHAT COMES TO MIND?
While cold winters with freezing temperatures might conjure up unpleasant sensory memories, they have created meaning to your life. My memories of mittens include a favorite handmade pair of wool winter mittens my mother brought back from a trip to Europe. For some reason, this special pair of mittens has survived several moves, and many winters (although they do not get much action here in South Carolina).
I also remember that feeling of cold wet slushy mittens after sledding or building a snow fort. We were unbothered by the feeling of soggy mittens that froze into stiff fabric if we stayed out long enough. Our mudroom was full of pairs of wet mittens drying by the radiator.
Thinking back to my New England childhood winters, I recall the many ways we tried to keep track of those mittens. Clips that hooked onto our coats, a string connecting both mittens, long mittens that tucked way into the layers of clothing, or resorting to mismatched mittens.
Negative or frustrating experiences shape our memories. Memories tend to be stronger by experiences that are difficult, upsetting, or unpleasant. While these winter memories seem awful now, the fun of playing outside in the snow was worth it!
What memories are your young learners building?
NOTE*The term, “learner” is used throughout this post for readability and inclusion. This information is relevant for students, patients, children and/or adults of all ages and stages or whomever could benefit from these resources. The term “they” is used instead of he/she to be inclusive.
Victoria Wood, OTR/L is a contributor to The OT Toolbox and has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.