In occupational therapy, paper plate activities are one of those OT intervention tools that are low-cost and can be used in a multitude of ways to support many different developmental skills. From paper plate interactive activities, to scissor activities, to fine motor development, paper plate crafts and sensory activities can be used to promote many skill areas in occupational therapy interventions or at home and in the classroom.
Paper Plate Activities
I get really excited when I talk about the next subject – paper plate activities! Paper plate crafts and activities are so fun and often require very little materials with the end result being so wonderful for kids!
Paper plates can easily be used for arts and crafts, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, subject or topic learning, visual motor and perceptual skills, emotions and self-regulation as well as a myriad of games.
Paper plates can be a go-to when you need a quick activity in any setting or on those cold, rainy days when you need something to keep the kids busy. They are a great motivator for kids and can help build important skills that a child needs to continue to learn and to grow.
Paper plates are a thrifty tool for therapy to build those motor and perceptual skills while providing a fun activity that any child will want to engage in during sessions. The use of paper plates in the classroom can be for exploring emotions and self-regulation, creating after reading a book and lots of subject and topic learning fun. Their use in the home can include arts and crafts, instrument making, and games that result in some fantastic family entertainment.
Paper plates will give you the variety you need to help many kiddos on your caseload, in your classroom, or in your household. So, the next time you’re at the store, grab some plain or even festive paper plates and see what fun you can create with kids and you may find that you enjoy the fun too!
Paper Plate Crafts
In occupational therapy interventions, we often use crafts as a medium for developing skills (taking us back to our roots of our profession!) These paper plate crafts are great for developing fine motor skills, scissor skills, bilateral coordination, motor planning, executive functioning skills, and more.
- Mini Beach– Work on hand strength, utensil use, and more to make a paper plate beach craft.
- Paper Bowl Scarecrow Craft– Use this paper plate craft to work on fine motor skills like precision, dexterity, and mixed medium use. Add in emotional learning to make the scarecrow personalized. Kids can take this craft and add their own unique twists for a multi-sensory craft with open-ended results.
- Paper Plate Snail Craft– Work on precision, in-hand manipulation, arch development, and other fine motor skills with this paper plate snail craft.
- Paper Plate Cars This craft is great for addressing scissor skills.
- Paper Plate Baseball Craft– Improve scissor skills with this paper plate baseball craft.
- Paper Plate Bubble Gum Machine Craft– Work on eye-hand coordination skills.
- Thanksgiving Feast Plate – Use this craft to work on functional tasks such as meal skills and utensil use, as well as hand strength.
- Tin Foil Moon– This is a great craft for working on graded hand strength and bilateral coordination skills.
Paper Plate Activities for Emotions and Self- Regulation
The best thing about occupational therapy professionals is that they can use ANY material to work on a variety of skill areas. Use paper plates to address social emotional learning and self-regulation skills!
- Deep Breathing Hand Plate– Use a paper plate to support coping strategies like deep breathing.
- Emotion Paper Plate Wheel– Work on emotional regulation skills using paper plates.
- Emotional Snowman Paper Plates– Emotional skill development requires practice and repetition. Use this activity to support social emotional skills.
- Paper Plate Emotion Masks– Work on identifying emotions and emotional IQ.
- Paper Plate Feeling Spinner– Help kids to identify feelings so they can gain perspective and empathy.
- Wheel of Coping Skills– Use this coping strategy activity in therapy or at home and in the classroom.
Paper Plate Fine Motor Activities
Paper plates are a great fine motor activity to support hand strengthening, scissor skills, bilateral coordination, and more.
- Paper Plate Fine Motor Collage– Use beads to make a colorful collage while working on in-hand manipulation, precision, and more.
- Plate Bilateral Coordination Activity– Use a plate to work on bilateral coordination with a DIY lacing card.
- DIY Lacing Cards– Use paper plates and add a mixed media activity with painting and sensory play while working on fine motor skills.
- Early Scissor Skills Activity– Work on scissor skills with a paper plate for more resistance and feedback.
- Fine Motor Octopus Craft for Kids– Address fine motor precision and dexterity.
- Mummy Paper Plate Lacing Craft– So many paper plate crafts could be made with a lacing activity.
- Paper Plate Clothespin Hedgehogs Craft– Build hand strength with a paper plate hedgehog craft.
Paper Plate Gross Motor Activities
Paper plates can be used in therapy to support gross motor skills, too.
- Indoor Frisbee for Vestibular Input– Make a paper plate snowflake frisbee and add whole body movement activities.
- Active Indoors- Balloon Tennis– Work on eye-hand coordination and visual perceptual skills.
- Getting Kids Moving– Add whole body movements and proprioceptive input.
- Name Hop Gross Motor Name Activity– Work on core strength, balance, and endurance.
- Paper Plate Frisbees– Address eye-hand coordination and gross motor arm coordination.
- Paper Plate Skating– Use paper plates for indoor skating and vestibular input.
Paper Plate Learning Activities
Use these activities to work on functional tasks and executive functioning skills needed in daily occupations such as learning, math, using a phone, telling time, name writing, and more.
- Fractions Flowers
- How to Teach Phone Numbers
- Learning Letters on the Go
- Learning to Tell Time with a Paper Plate Clock
- Paper Plate Name Game
- Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down! Jar Printable
Paper Plate Auditory Processing with Paper Plate Instruments
You can use paper plates to work on auditory processing, too.
- Plate Tambourine– Use a plate (clear or paper) to make a tambourine toy to address auditory processing skills.
- Paper Plate Guitar
- Rainbow Paper Plate Tambourine Craft
- Simple Rainy Day Craft: Paper Plate Instruments
- Year of the Ox Paper Plate Drum
Paper Plate Visual Motor Activities
Paper plates are a great tool to use in therapy to address visual motor skills.
- DIY Giant Four in a Row Game
- DIY Kids Hotel Activity Pack
- DIY Paper Plate Pie Tic Tac Toe Game
- Handprint Color Matching Game
- Magnet Track Craft
- Make a Simple Paper Plate Marble Maze
- Paper Plate Puzzles
- Pumpkin Memory Game
- STEM Challenge for Kids: Design a Paper Plate Marble Maze
Now, what are you waiting for? Go grab some paper plates and pick an activity!!
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!