This time of year is perfect for a penguin theme and the fine motor penguin worksheet below is a perfect addition to a penguin lesson plan. This penguin worksheet works on a variety of fine motor skills and can be adjusted to meet educational needs as well, making it a functional worksheet for kids. Use it along with a Tacky The Penguin book and theme, and fun facts about penguins (great for writing prompts while working on handwriting!)
When planning a penguin theme, be sure to add activities from our new Penguin Therapy Kit. It’s got fine motor, gross motor, self-regulation, sensory materials, scissor skill activities, handwriting tasks, and more.
Let’s get on with this free penguin worksheet!
Penguin Worksheet for Fine Motor Skills
As occupational therapists, we love all things function, so functional handwriting beats out on rote copying any day. We can help kids with handwriting skills using a motivating topic like penguins, or we can use discussion of facts that go with an educational theme when working on handwriting skills. The fine motor worksheet here is a perfect addition to that functional and educational topic because it can be used as a hand-warm-up while staying on a theme that is being discussed in the classroom. For OTs pushing into the classroom, this will be a fine motor warm-up that the whole class might want to join in on!
First start with the fine motor work out using the penguin worksheet and then move onto penguin writing prompts.
Penguin writing Prompts
When thinking about penguins, the movie, March of the Penguins comes to mind.
March of the Penguins Writing Prompts- Use the movie, March of the Penguins as a writing prompt idea to work on handwriting skills after you do a fine motor warm up with our free penguin fine motor worksheet.
I imagine everyone has a different take away from the film March of the Penguins. For me, it was seeing how cold it was in Antarctica in the winter, and watching that poor Dad penguin who has to sit on that egg all winter, while the Mom goes out and gets a few snacks. There was that one scene where the penguin BECOMES the snack, but let’s gloss over that part.
Other people watching the film might take away the fact that the Dad was really stepping up to do his part in the family. These types of Emperor penguins mate for life, and start this ritual every march.
Depending on your audience, this movie leads to opportunities for some deep discussion. Use those discussions as writing prompts.
- Penguin facts
- Facts about Antarctica
- Facts about Emperor penguins
Tacky the Penguin Writing Prompts- If your learners are preschoolers or young children, reading Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester might be more their speed.
- Write out the story in a comic strip type of writing prompt
- List out penguin names from Tacky the Penguin
- List out features of Tacky that describe: loud, distracting, funny, is himself
- Incorporate interoception concepts from the Tacky the Penguin that kids can relate to.
- Use materials from these Tacky the Penguin
- Incorporate activities and ideas from this Tacky the Penguin lesson plan.
Penguin Facts Writing Prompts- Use other penguin facts as writing prompts no matter the age of the learner.
- Facts about penguin species
- Penguin features
- Penguin eggs
- Penguin habitats
Create an entire treatment plan around this penguin winter theme. Whatever direction you decide to take your penguin writing theme, the OT Toolbox has you covered with penguin worksheets and printables.
Before rushing out to watch March of the Penguins (I may be scarred for life), perhaps take in a viewing of Happy Feat for a lighter film. Also consider purchasing this winter fine motor set as an add on to your treatment theme:
In the Penguin Therapy Kit, you’ll find penguin writing pages to use with these handwriting tasks. There are also penguin-themed sensory bin materials, letter formation cards with a penguin theme.
Along with the writing prompt ideas, use the free penguin printable below to address fine motor skill work. It’s appropriate for many ages and skill needs. From tracing, to cutting the penguin paths, to working on in-hand manipulation, pencil control, and more.
Beyond a cute tracing activity, this penguin worksheet targets many different skills:
- Tracing for dexterity works on staying on the lines, fine motor control, building hand muscles, scanning and a whole host of other important skills as defined below.
- Visual motor skills –Combining what is seen visually and what is written motorically. This takes coordination to be able to translate information from visual input to motor output. Coloring, drawing, counting, cutting, and tracing are some visual motor skills.
- Kinesthetic awareness – This means learning by doing.
- Hand strength and dexterity – staying on the lines builds hand muscles and develops muscle control.
- Visual Perception – Developing figure ground to see where the lines start and end, being able to follow the path with the eye and hand, seeing the dotted lines creating a path rather than just dots.
- Strength – Core strength needed for sitting, shoulder/elbow/wrist stability, finger strength, and head control all play their role in writing.
- Bilateral Coordination – Be sure your learner uses their helper hand for stabilizing the paper while using their dominant hand for writing.
- Social/Executive Function – Following directions, task completion, orienting to details, neatness, multi-tasking, attending to task, and impulse control can be addressed using this Penguin worksheet.
There are many different variables that can be modified while using this activity:
- lightweight paper is much more difficult to stabilize than heavy weight construction or cardstock paper.
- Colored paper may be easier or more difficult for children to work with because of color contrasts.
- The page can be laminated first, using wipe off markers to trace the penguin paths. This is a great way to make this page reusable.
- Writing utensils:
- There are endless possibilities for written expression. Markers, crayons, colored pencils, paints, watercolor, chalk, or dry erase pens all provide different input, and require different levels of fine motor skill to manipulate.
- Small one inch crayons are excellent for developing those tiny hand muscles.
- Chalk, with its grainy texture, provides sensory feedback and can be a positive (or negative) experience
- Markers glide easily, requiring less precision and grip strength
- Change writing utensils to appeal to different students and improve their level of motivation.
- Other ways to change this task:
- Have learners write on a slant board to build wrist control and shoulder stability
- Try having learners lying prone on the floor with the page in front to build shoulder stability
- Lying supine with the page taped above the child, under the table builds shoulder and wrist stability
- Project this page onto a smart board for students to come to the board and write in big letters.
- Enlarge or shrink this page to make it easier/harder
- Place mini erasers or beads along the path
- More or less prompting may be needed to grade the activity to make it easier or harder
- Make this part of a larger lesson plan including gross motor, sensory, social, executive function, or other fine motor skills
- Press a fingertip into paint and dot along the lines to work on finger isolation and separation of the sides of the hand
Use the penguin worksheet for sensory play
- Use sugar cubes to move along the worksheet path and to make igloos
- Make fake snow to get hands into for more fine motor play. Slide the worksheet into a page protector. Use the fake snow to mold a snowy path along the penguin’s path.
- Shredded paper in a pool would make a great snow activity. Spread it along the penguin path, adding glue to create a textured, snowy path.
- Trace the lines with squeeze glue and add craft materials.
- Use glue and feathers to make a feathery walk to the penguin.
- Use the penguin path in a preschool penguin theme in a sensory bin using penguin figures, dry beans, scoops, and tongs.
Free Fine Motor Penguin Worksheet
Want to get your hands on this free printable so the kids you serve can develop stronger hands? Enter your email address into the form below for access through your email inbox. This resource is also available in our Member’s Club…you’ve asked for it: A one-stop space to access all of our free downloads in one place. Members can log into their dashboard and download every freebie we have on the website in one place. You’ll also find exclusive Member’s Only materials. Level 2 members get immediate access to the Penguin Therapy Kit mentioned in this post.
Victoria Wood, OTR/L 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.
Victoria Wood, OTR/L
*The term, “learner” is used throughout this post for readability, however this information is relevant for students, patients, clients, children of all ages, etc. The term “they” is used instead of he/she to be inclusive.