It’s cold weather season and mittens are a part of the necessary wardrobe item this time of year. However, using mitten activities as a Christmas occupational therapy or Winter OT theme for developing skills is fun this time of season too. Winter activities can do more than compliment the season, they can help a child build their eye-hand coordination, fine motor dexterity and manipulation as well as their visual perceptual skills.
There’s no need to go outside with these fun mitten activity ideas, so stay warm and sneak in a little skill building too while also having fun.
Mitten Activities and Crafts
We have rounded up an assortment of great mitten activities that address a variety of skills and a variety of ages. These are great ways to promote child development with a mitten theme, whether you are doing a mitten unit in the classroom, or need some winter activities for the therapy room or home!
We have taken the time to locate a few activities that will help many children. Browse these fun ideas and place them on your to-do list as they will help you work with children on building some important skills in therapy, in the classroom, or during at home learning. They include gross motor, fine motor, visual perception, craft ideas, a few books, and a few snack ideas to boot!
Mitten activities to develop Gross motor skills:
Creating a gross motor activity with the mitten theme can be easily done using this tape mitten on the floor as kids can work on jumping, throwing, and a number of other movement activities involving this clever shape. How about rolling up some mittens and then tossing them into the floor mitten? It’s endless what you could do here with this activity.
Mitten matching is a great way to work on gross motor skills. Gather pairs of mittens or gloves and scatter them around a room. Kids can run around (or skip, hop, leap, or animal crawl) and try to match the mittens as fast as they can. What a way to develop memory skills, visual discrimination, and spatial awareness, too.
Another easy creation that incorporates the use of a scooter board can provide a combined challenge of visual memory, upper extremity strengthening, and neck extension while riding prone on the board. This mitten memory match game is played by having the child lie prone on the board and pulling themselves around the floor to locate the matching pairs of mittens which are placed all around.
One more fun gross motor activity that pictures a glove, however, a mitten could easily be substituted for the same purpose and the play is called Velcro mitten ball. The Velcro ball is created by simply adding circular Velcro dots to the exterior of a wiffle ball and then having the children work on their eye-hand and bilateral coordination by pulling the ball from the mitten and tossing the ball at a target.
Mitten Ideas to build Fine motor skills:
In the Winter Fine Motor Kit, you’ll find mitten themed activities designed for building fine motor skills. These include mitten lacing cards, mitten tracing activities, mitten handwriting ideas, and more. The Winter Fine Motor Kit is a printable pack loaded with activity ideas to develop fine motor skills.
Work on a functional fine motor task using real mittens. Simply gather several pairs of mittens and toss them into a big bin. Then, kids can match up the mitten pairs and use clothes pins to hang them on a rope clothesline. If you are working indoors, use a drying rack or even backing cooling rack to pin mittens together. This is a great bilateral coordination task that builds hand strength, and visual motor skills.
Mitten lacing is an activity that addresses fine motor control and pincer grasp, but also bilateral coordination and perceptual skills too. It’s an easy activity to create with the use of cardstock, foam, or even felt. An adult can hole punch around the outside edges of the mitten template or you can have the child do the hole punching – adding a hand strengthening element.
This fun mitten beading is the perfect fine motor and bilateral coordination activity for kids to work on this winter season. By using a tripod grasp or a pincer grasp, children will build grasping skills, finger strength, and eye-hand coordination while beading and matching the colors on the mitten with an added learning component of color recognition.
It’s a fun time with this color sorting mitten activity which combines color matching with tong use making it a great tripod grasp activity too. With colored mittens lying on the table top and matching colored pom-pom balls, kiddos use the tongs to pick up the pom-pom balls and place on top of the matching mitten color. Use paper, foam, or felt for your mitten creations.
Not exactly a mitten idea, but you can also use a child’s glove to work on finger isolation, separation of the sides of the hand, and dexterity tasks. Cut the fingers off a cheap glove and use the glove as a fine motor therapy tool .
A mitten or glove can be a weighted fidget tool too. Using a glove or mitten as a weighted tool is practical and frugal.
Mitten Activities for Visual perceptual skills:
Use mitten printables to work on skill-building. In the Winter Fine Motor Kit, you’ll find mitten handwriting activities, mitten drawing ideas, and more.
We love this mitten matching game! It can be completed with mittens being made from construction paper, foam sheets, or felt. Any of these materials will do and all you need is a clothesline, colored clothespins (or not), and some matching mittens…add-in a die and you can easily make it a game too. Works on strengthening, bilateral coordination, and shoulder stability along with color matching. Plus, if you emphasize both mittens being clipped on being oriented the same way and it adds in some visual perceptual skills too!
This mitten matching interactive bulletin board is like the previous activity, but it has letters on the mittens and clothespins for matching. With this added learning element, it adds a fun perceptual component as well. Plus, who doesn’t like a vertical surface and the fact that it is an interactive bulletin board!
Here’s a fun mitten pattern match visual perceptual activity where kiddos not only match the shapes and colors, but they also must orient the shapes in the same direction to match the model AND if you have the child focus on the lines, you can have them work on sitting the shapes on the lines making it more like a precursor to handwriting similarly to sitting letters on the baseline.
Ok, you have to try this fun mitten memory game! With the use of scrapbook paper that has a pattern on one side and is plain on the other side, you can create a fun mitten memory game. This makes for a fun visual perceptual memory activity and if they orient the mittens the same way and clip them together with either a paperclip or a clothespin, voila, it adds some fine motor skill building too! Just laminate these mitten cards to use in sensory play for multisensory learning.
This alphabet match mitten activity is a quick activity that can be pulled together in a short amount of time and can easily use any alphabet items you might have such as magnetic letters, bead letters, foam letters, or even paper letters. Kiddos visually scan the letters on the mitten and place the matching letter item on top of the letter.
Try this fun penguin mitten craft, it’s cute and simple, plus kids love how it turns it! This activity will give you the opportunity to work with kiddos on cutting with scissors, painting with a fork, and sequencing to complete the craft. Unique and creative is what you’ll get with this cutie!
Older kids will love this fun craft activity called friendly monster mittens that is easy to create and cheap to do as who doesn’t have at least a couple of singular mittens lying around. No mittens? Use some gloves or socks instead. Older kids will have the opportunity to use needle and thread making it a great life skill activity as they sew on buttons and pieces of felt to create their friendly monster mitten. Fun and cute!
This is a cute mitten toast idea that will warm-up any cold morning. It’s so easy to do, that the children will love using a simple cookie cutter to cut out their mitten toast shapes and you’ll be excited that you were able to sneak in some bilateral coordination and strengthening to the fun too! Plus, adding a little jam to this seasonal shape will give a little hands-on knife use with that spreading practice!
These cute Rice Krispy mittens will provide a sweet treat that children will devour right away and so will adults as kiddos can work on some basic cooking related skills such as ingredient gathering, measuring, stirring, and spreading. They also get to work with the cookie cutter again sneaking in even more bilateral coordination and strengthening.
Honestly, you could even try a mitten cookie cutter and create mitten-shaped grilled cheese and PB & J sandwiches. Have the child work on making the sandwiches relevant to there age and then use a simple cookie cutter and create fun mitten sandwiches! It’s an easy way to address basic cooking skills and add some hand strengthening to the activity.
There are many mitten books that are a favorite children book for snuggling up and reading, but also developing skills through play.
These are great mitten books for preschoolers, or to use in a kindergarten mystery reader session. Simply add a movement component or one of the hands-on activities we’ve already covered, and you are moving toward child development with a mitten theme! (affiliate links)
The Mitten Teaches Sequencing Skills
Of those books, The Mitten is a powerful (and fun) way for kids to develop skills through a winter book. Use The Mitten by Jan Brett to work on sequencing, auditory memory, visual memory, recall, and ordering. It’s a great way to work on early executive functioning skills in young children. Each mitten story can easily be incorporated into all of your mitten fun this season.
There are so many ways to incorporate books into occupational therapy, and these mitten books won’t disappoint when it comes to handwriting opportunities, movement, auditory processing with mitten story retelling activities, and sensory play.
There you go, all the mitten activities you need to get through the winter season in a fun way! The temperature outside might be causing you to say “Brrr”, but these activities can warm up your therapy, classroom, or at home activity time.
Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!