Today, we’ve got a fun occupational therapy fine motor game up for grabs in our series on OT month free downloads. In case you missed the memo, April is occupational therapy month!  An entire month dedicated to you, the amazing occupational therapist. 

Be sure to grab the OT Match It game here,

the occupational therapy word search here,

and the occupational therapy coloring pages here.

Ready to add a new OT themed PDF tool to your toolbox?

Free PDF- Occupational therapy fine motor game for precision and dexterity skills.

Occupational Therapy Fine Motor Game

What makes us amazing?

We focus on the most important skills.  Physical therapists might teach people to walk, but I would like to be able to put clothes on if I am going for a walk, or open the refrigerator once I get where I am going!  Speech therapists work on speaking and language, but who am I going to talk to if I can’t make friends? 

Occupational Therapists (OTs) often get overlooked because people have no idea what we do.  What we do makes the MOST impact on people’s lives. Use this month to advocate for the OT profession. Use tools found on the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) website, or highlighted here at the OT Toolbox. The OT Toolbox is rolling out several great activities such as this Occupational Therapy Fine Motor Game to teach others what we do.  

The occupational therapy fine motor game is more than just a fun game. It is a tool to work on several skills, while providing a conversation starter to explain what we do, and how we do it.

WHAT SKILLS DOES THE OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY FINE MOTOR GAME BUILD?

  • Hand strength and dexterity – picking up and placing the beads one at a time builds coordination and the intrinsic muscles of the hands. Rolling the dice builds dexterity also
  • Visual motor skills –Combining what is seen visually and what is done motorically
  • Visual Perception – Developing figure ground to see where one item starts and finishes, scanning to follow the path, visual sequencing to follow the pattern, and visual memory to remember the number on the dice while counting the items
  • Proprioception – feedback from the muscles and joints to roll the dice, and grasp/release the beads onto the correct squares
  • Counting/Learning Numbers – Count the number on the dice to understand number concepts in addition to picking up and placing the correct number of beads
  • Executive Function – Following directions, task completion, orienting to details, multi-tasking, attending to task, and impulse control can be addressed using this occupational therapy fine motor game
  • Coloring – if you choose to have your students color the page first, this builds visual motor skills, along with neatness, accuracy, and attention to details.
  • Bilateral coordination – remembering to use their “helper hand” to hold the paper while playing.  Using one hand for a dominant hand instead of switching back and forth, is encouraged once a child is in grade school, or demonstrates a significant strength in one or the other.
  • Strength – core strength, shoulder and wrist stability, head control, balance, and hand strength are all needed for upright sitting posture and writing tasks.

How to Use this OT fine motor game in therapy sessions

This game not only develops the underlying skills mentioned above, but there are so many ways to grade this activity and to use it to work on the level that the child or individual is at to challenge and develop skills.

Other tips and tricks to play the occupational therapy fine motor game:

  • Lowest level learners can use larger items than beads such as pompoms, coins, buttons, or marshmallows
  • Middle level learners can write the words they see on the game board
  • Higher level learners can write an idea about the therapy tools in the game. This turns into a multilevel activity. They can also draw about their ideas, or copy the designs.
  • Laminate the page for reusability. This saves on resources, and many learners love to write with markers! Note: some children love to use wipe off sheets, while others become upset that they can not take their work with them.
  • Make this part of a larger lesson plan including gross motor, sensory, social, executive function, or other fine motor skills
  • Vary the size of the items to be picked up.  Swap out the dice for a spinner for a different fine motor experience
  • Talk about the items on the board, describe their characteristics, and give context clues to help your learner understand why they help students learn
  • Two students can play against each other in a head to head competition. This adds a social element to game play
  • More or less prompting may be needed to grade the activity to make it easier or harder.
  • More advanced learners can work on social skills by teaching beginners to play
  • Learners can explore other games they could make using this activity 

Occupational therapy, especially with younger learners, is all about play.  That is the occupation of a child. 

Use activities like the occupational therapy fine motor game, to build a conversation about how the tools we use help other people learn. 

Observations to make with this OT fine motor game PDF

While there are many skills being addressed with a single game like this one, we’ll cover the example of using the OT fine motor game to focus on the development of in-hand manipulation skills. Let’s go over some of the observations we can make while playing this fine motor game with a child.

Because this is more than just a game, think about what you are looking for while building in-hand manipulation:

In-hand manipulation observations:

  • Can your student pick up the beads one at a time without using a raking grasp or sliding them off of the table?
  • How many items can your student hold at once without dropping some?
  • Can your student move the items from the palm of their hand to their finger tips to get them out, or do they drop the beads by opening their fingers?
  • How many times do you need to repeat the directions so your student can follow them?
  • How many reminders does your student need while doing this activity?
  • What is your student’s frustration tolerance when they have to start over?
  • Is there any cheating or cutting corners going on? There always is.

All of these game observations can be monitored and documented to monitory for progression of skills.

Occupational Therapy is a growing profession.  Unfortunately there are more and more people needing our services every day. The good news is we are here to help people gain or regain vital skills for independence.

Free OT Fine Motor Game

Want to add this resource to your therapy toolbox so you can help kids thrive? Enter your email into the form below to access this printable tool.

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Free Occupational Therapy Fine Motor Game

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    This month the OT Toolbox is highlighting occupational therapy month by providing insight into what occupational therapists do, along with offering FREE resources to add to your lesson plans.  Keep an eye out for more posts from this series, including:

    Victoria Wood

    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.

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