Here, you will find pirate activities for teletherapy and helping children develop skills in occupational therapy interventions. Use these pirate fine motor ideas, gross motor activities, and pirate crafts will get you started on planning therapy sessions. Add this to your weekly therapy themes!
When occupational therapy teletherapy became a necessity due the pandemic I took a deep breath and jumped in. After working face to face with children for 20 years it definitely tested my powers of adaptability and flexibility as well as my limited tech know-how. I got the hang of it and as the months passed by I must admit that I developed a bit of a love-hate relationship with teletherapy. I loved that I could connect with my clients and I that I could still work on the core skills we had been developing before we had to go online.
I hated that I could not be hands on in the way that I guided and facilitated the sessions for the best possible outcomes. It gave me a lot to think about. Planning the sessions was challenging and having to make on the spot changes was hard. Some things worked better than I expected and some things that I had been so excited about
I started putting together a file of all the teletherapy sessions that I had conducted and would like to share some of the more successful ones with you. These are not one size-fits all recipes for therapy sessions but rather guidelines that you can use to adapt for the specific clients.
Use what you can, change what you need to and have fun as
you zoom off to your next therapy session.
Pirate Theme Teletherapy Activities
For this session I wore a pirate hat with a skull and cross bones. Some of my clients had pirate hats that they chose to wear as well. Otherwise they used any hat and we just pretended. In future I may email a skull and cross bones badge for them to colour and cut and we can include making a pirate hat as part of the session.
Pirate Gross Motor Activities
Use these pirate gross motor ideas as a warm up to the therapy session while incorporating bilateral coordination, crossing midline, balance, and motor planning.
We pirates had to warm up our muscles for the treasure hunt. We made cross bones by crossing our forearms and then proceeded with our favourite crossing the midline activities. These included
- Cross crawls (elbow to opposite knee)
- Foot taps (hand to opposite foot behind your body)
- Shoulder taps standing (touch right hand to left shoulder, touch left hand to right shoulder)
- Shoulder taps four-point kneeling (in four point kneeling touch right hand to left shoulder, touch left hand to right shoulder)
- Lazy eights in the air (waving our pirate flags)
We also practised toe-heel walking and standing balance on one leg in case we had to walk the plank. Then we were ready for the hunt.
Treasure Hunt Scavenger Hunt for Therapy
For the treasure hunt I asked the children to have a pillow case ready to stash their booty. Then I asked them to listen carefully and find the following items and I gave them a description based on their age and ability.
This scavenger hunt activity is an exercise in visual perceptual skills including visual discrimination, visual figure-ground, visual attention, and visual memory.
Examples of the treasures they must find are
- something round, square, oval, rectangle
- something soft, heavy, smooth, rough
- something red, blue, that is your favourite colour
- something you wear
- something you read
- something that starts with the first letter of your name
- something of their own choosing
The clues were given one at a time and the clues were graded according to the age and ability level of ability of the child I was working with.
Once the child had been given the clue they go off to find the item. When they returned I encouraged them to describe what they have found and encouraged them to take a mental picture of the item before putting it in the pillow case.
During our pirate session we found between 5 and 8 treasures again depending on the child’s age and ability.
Once all the treasures have collected I asked my pirate to place the pillowcase under their table or chair. Then I asked them to recall the items that they collected. Younger children were encouraged to name them while older children were asked to write them down. Give clues if they are not able to complete the list.
The children loved this activity and it targeted receptive language, expressive language, visual memory and handwriting in the older children. Also got them up and moving around the house which was great for their physical endurance.
Pirate Fine Motor Ideas
Pirate crafts are a fun way to build fine motor skills. Depending on the supplies available, different pirate crafts can be completed. This pirate puppet craft requires a cupcake liner, paper, scissors, and glue.
I tried some origami boats with one of my children but they found this quite challenging and I probably needed to down grade the design of the boat that I chose.
For fine motor work and visual motor integration, try shark teeth patterns with the younger children. Clients can draw zigzag patterns as sharks teeth. Or, try drawing a skull and cross bones with the older children. Kids can address scissor skills with these activities, as well.
If a paper towel tube or toilet paper roll is available, create a pirate telescope craft to work on fine motor skills.
Kids love making maps, and so do pirates! This map craft encourages visual attention, scissor skills, sensory exploration, and fine motor work. As we showed in a previous activity, you can use a map to work on spatial concepts, too.
More Pirate Activities for Therapy
Once the treasure hunt has been completed the world is your oyster in terms of Activities that you can include to target your specific goals.
For visual discrimination we played spot the difference and I found pirate themed spot the difference worksheets for children to completed. This followed on nicely from the looking for treasure activity.
Pirate themed word searches also went down well with the older children.
I also asked one or two of them to read from the book that had been part of our treasure hunt.
I really got such a positive response from the children who participated in the pirate session. So OT’s do what you do best and adapt this outline to suit your clients and happy treasure hunting. Also get ready for the next teletherapy session. You don’t want to miss out on this Jungle Adventure.
Contributor to The OT Toolbox: Janet Potterton is an occupational therapist working predominantly in school-based settings and I love, love, love my job. I have two children (if you don’t count my husband!), two dogs, one cat, two guinea pigs and one fish. When I am not with my family or at work I try to spend time in nature. The beach is my happy place.