Summer I Spy

If you are already searching for more activities to do with your children, check out this free downloadable PDF! The Summer I Spy worksheet is a great multipurpose page to enhance your summer occupational therapy activities or learning program.

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summer I SPY

During the Summer months, having accessible and fun activities like a Summer themed I Spy activity is key. Why? Because an activity like our Summer I Spy sheet targets so many areas that are covered in typical occupational therapy sessions (depending on the needs of the individual).

One activity that occupational therapy providers love is an I Spy sheet. This I Spy Summer worksheet is a fantastic resource for parents seeking a creative solution on thos rainy Summer days. It can also be used by an occupational therapist or OTA eager to provide an exciting summer assignment.

These free printables offer therapeutic value, inviting children to uncover hidden treasures amid the sunny season’s charms.

From spotting colorful beach balls to identifying cheerful seashells and Summer treats, these worksheets encourage visual observation skills, attention/concentration, and cognitive development, all while having fun.

Whether utilized at home or sent home by an occupational therapist, the I Spy Summer printables are sure to engage young minds!

When you pull out one of these sheets, you can work on the same skills that were addressed in weekly school-based OT sessions:

According to a new study, children lose up to an average of 40% of the gains they have made over the school year while on summer break. While some students retain and gain as much as 32% during the summer months, others lose up to 90% of what they learned during the school year!

The ‘summer slide’, or ‘summer learning loss’, reversing some of the progress students have made over the year, is a well-known effect of the summer break.

“Because summer losses accumulate over time, consecutive losses add up to a sizeable impact on where students end up on the achievement distribution.”

Skills like written work are not typically addressed during the summer months for most children. This is why having fun activities like summer handwriting practice or an all-in-one Summer-themed I Spy activity is key to preventing these loss of skills.

Adding meaningful activities during the summer months can help reverse some of the summer slide. One great activity to add, is the free Summer I Spy resource. Throughout the summer (as well as all year round), the OT Toolbox will be providing you with great new resources to add to your toolbox.

Avoid the summer slide with a fun activity like our I spy printable!

The great thing about a lot of the resources available on the OT Toolbox for learners of all ages, is that many of them are multipurpose, meaning they help students work on many skills at once. This is especially helpful during the summer months when students are even more reluctant to complete anything that looks like school work.

The Summer I Spy activity page primarily addresses visual perception. In addition, it addresses visual motor, number concepts, and executive function skills. To use the Summer I Spy page:

  • Ask learners to search for the different icons within the page. It is best if they color code the pictures so they can easily count the items. The Summer I Spy page is different than the I Spy Beach printable also featured on the OT Toolbox, in that learners have to count how many of each item they find. This adds to the complexity of the activity, along with math and counting skills.
  • After finding the items, learners will write down what the items are called on the next page. They will have to recall spelling, letter formation, phonics, and the rules of good handwriting. On the side of the page is a rubric to help students remember the rules of written expression. Pair this with our handwriting rubric information for more complete data collection.

benefits of using the summer I spy printable

  • Hand strength and finger dexterity – staying in the lines while coloring, and writing accuracy, builds hand muscles and develops muscle control
  • Visual motor skills – combining what is seen visually and what is written motorically.  It requires coordination to be able to translate information from visual input to motor output. Coloring, drawing, counting, cutting, and tracing are some visual motor skills
  • Visual Perception – Visual Attention: The ability to focus on important visual information and filter out unimportant background information.
  • Visual Discrimination: The ability to determine differences or similarities in objects based on size, color, shape, etc.
  • Visual Spatial Relationships: Understanding the relationships of objects within the environment.
  • Visual Figure Ground: The ability to locate something in a busy background.
  • Visual Form Constancy: The ability to know that a form or shape is the same, even if it has been made smaller/larger or has been turned around. Visual perceptual skills are important to academic development. 
  • Sequencing – will your learner do the pictures in order?  Will they look for the easy and/or obvious answers first?
  • Scanning – does your learner look in methodical order, or search in a haphazard pattern all over the page?  
  • Proprioception – pressure on paper, grip on pencil
  • Counting/Learning Numbers – Count the items to understand number concepts. Practice writing numbers
  • Handwriting: Letter formation – correctly forming the letters top to bottom.
  • Letter sizing – correctly fitting the letters into the size boxes. Spacing, line placement, directionality, and spelling are also important
  • Bilateral coordination – remembering to use their “helper hand” to hold the paper while writing is important for development.  Using one hand as 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
  • Executive function, following directions, attention, attention to detail, focus, sequencing, planning, task completion, neatness, impulse control, compliance, behavior, and work tolerance are all important skills to learn
  • Social function – whether working alone, or together in a group, you can address problem solving, sharing materials and space, turn taking and talking about the activity

How to Use the Summer I Spy in Therapy

Therapy providers love using a resource that can be slightly adjusted to meet the needs of their entire caseload. Most therapy providers can print off 15 copies and use the same sheet in many different ways for each individual.

Check out the various ways to modify and grade the Summer I Spy worksheet using the tactics below:

  • Lowest level learners can dictate what they would like written
  • Middle level learners can copy words from a model, while higher level learners write the words from memory
  • Higher level learners can write ideas about summer, then create a story or memory out of each idea.  This turns into a multilevel activity to use during many sessions.  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: while some learners love to use wipe off sheets, others become upset they can not take their work with them.  For those who want to save their work, consider taking a screenshot of it.
  • Make this part of a larger lesson plan including gross motor, sensory, social, executive function, or other fine motor skills
  • Make several copies, cut the shapes and make a matching game instead of using a writing tool to draw lines
  • Use small manipulatives to mark the items such as bingo chips, pompoms, pennies, playdough, or buttons. This helps build a pincer grasp
  • Talk about the pictures, describe their characteristics, and give context clues to help your learner understand why they match
  • Enlarging the font may be necessary to beginning handwriting students who need bigger space to write.
  • Hand the papers out with very limited instruction. Record how well your learners can follow instructions
  • Social skills – sharing resources promotes social function. Talking about a themed lesson plan builds social skills.
  • Have students write on a slant board, lying prone on the floor with the page in front to build shoulder stability, or supine with the page taped under the table

Other great resources

In order to build great skills and generalize them across different environments, a skill needs to be addressed several different times. Creating resource packets will help keep materials organized.

  • Summer Handwriting Practice from the OT Toolbox
  • Summer Fine Motor Kit from the OT Toolbox
  • In addition to the great free resources found on the web, there are great workbooks out there. My go to is the (Amazon affiliate link) Summer Bridge series. This series has been around for many years (I used them when my girls were young). We liked this series because it addressed many different educational areas in just a couple of pages a day.

Free Summer I spy download

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.

This resource is just one of the many tools available in The OT Toolbox Member’s Club. Each month, members get instant access to downloadable activities, handouts, worksheets, and printable tools to support development. Members can log into their dashboard and access all of our free downloads in one place. Plus, you’ll find exclusive materials and premium level materials.

Level 1 members gain instant access to all of the downloads available on the site, without enter your email each time PLUS exclusive new resources each month.

Level 2 members get access to all of our downloads, exclusive new resources each month, PLUS additional, premium content each month: therapy kits, screening tools, games, therapy packets, and much more. AND, level 2 members get ad-free content across the entire OT Toolbox website.

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FREE Summer I Spy Sheet

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    Victoria Wood, OTR/L is a contributor to The OT Toolbox and 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.

    Work on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, scissor skills, and much more so that kids can accomplish self-care tasks, learn, and grow through play all summer long.

    This bundle is perfect for the pediatric occupational therapist who needs resources and tools to use in summer therapy sessions.

    The Summer Activity Bundle includes:

    • Summer Fine Motor Kit
    • Summer Writing Sheets
    • Summer Memory Game- perfect for playing Memory or using in sensory bins
    • Summer OT Packet ($20 value)
    • 180 Outdoor Sensory Diet Cards- for when your kiddo is “sooooo bored” or using in sensory diets
    • BONUS: Summer Sensory Activity Guide

    This is a digital product that will last all Summer long!

    The Summer OT Bundle is your ticket to sending the kids back to school in the Fall without worrying about the “Summer Slide”. Each Fall, kids need to catch up on areas that they’ve lost over the summer months. With the Summer OT Bundle, there is no worry about falling backwards. Use the materials to maintain and even grow motor skill development this summer so kids can thrive and jump into learning next Fall.

    Summer OT Bundle

    Summer I Spy