Coffee Filter Butterfly Craft

coffee filter butterfly craft for kids

This coffee filter butterfly craft is a great fine motor and bilateral coordination activity for kids. If you are looking for butterfly life cycle crafts, this one is a great addition. Or, if you are seeking Spring OT activities, be sure to add this colorful fine motor butterfly craft to your list.

Coffee filter butterfly craft to build fine motor skills in kids.

Coffee Filter Butterfly Craft

This coffee filter craft is a nice one to develop skills because it works on so many areas that are covered in therapy sessions:

  • Pinch and grip strength
  • Eye hand coordination
  • Bilateral coordination
  • Motor planning
  • Crossing midline
  • Precision and dexterity
  • Open-thumb web-space
  • Arch development
  • Separation of the sides of the hand
  • Finger isolation
  • Thumb IP joint flexion (great for pencil grasp!)

How to make a coffee filter butterfly craft

This was an easy set-up and fun craft we did one afternoon recently.  You’ll need the following materials:

  • Coffee filters
  • Water color paints/water
  • A straw
  • Clothes pin
  • Pipe cleaner
  • String (to make a banner)

Directions: Use a paint brush to add a bit of water to the wells of a water color paint pallet. To really work on fine motor skills, use your thumb to drop water droplets into the paint tubs. Using the straw to drip water into the water colors can be a challenging fine motor task but one that really develops separation of the sides of the hands, thumb IP joint flexion, and motor planning skills. Read more about the thumb IP joint and thumb wrap grasp in pencil grip. This craft is a powerful way to work on this functional grasp skill!

Make a coffee filter craft and build fine motor skills with kids using a straw to paint.

Little Guy and Big Sister both loved dropping the water into the color wells.  Big Sister felt pretty good about showing her little brother how to drop the water into the color wells using her straw. 

Use straws to paint with watercolors and work on fine motor skills with kids.

This is a great activity to work on thumb isolation and control of the thumb during fine motor activities. 

Next, dip the edges of the coffee filters into the colors so the water creeps onto the edges of the coffee filter.

Other ways to add the color can use the straw end or the paint brush. This craft is nice because it can be adjusted for many different kids.

When kids drip the color on with a paintbrush, or drop color with the straw, it’s fun to try different ways to color the filters and see the colors blend together.  

Work on fine motor strength with clothes pins to make a butterfly coffee filter craft.

Next, use clothes pins to pinch the middle of the coffee filter together in the middle. This is a great hand strengthening and eye-hand coordination task.

Finally, add a pipe cleaner to the end of the clothes pin for the antenna of the coffee filter butterfly. Bend the pipe cleaner around the clothes pin and twist it up to make antenna.

Coffee filter butterfly craft for building fine motor skills.

If you like to create several butterflies in a variety of colors, you can clip them onto the string for an other bilateral coordination task.

They look pretty!  Big Sister wanted to hang them on the ceiling of her room.  We strung the butterflies on yarn and taped them to her ceiling.  This would be a great way to display a whole client caseload of coffee filter butterflies and really show off those fine motor skills!

Add this butterfly craft to a butterfly theme in therapy or home programing.

These heavy work cards include a page of butterfly life cycle activities that incorporate calming heavy work activities for motor planning and proprioceptive benefits.

Or, in the Spring Fine Motor Kit, you’ll find butterfly and caterpillar activities that are designed to build a variety of fine  motor manipulation, dexterity, and strengthening tasks.

Butterfly coffee filter craft

Spring Fine Motor Kit

Score Fine Motor Tools and resources and help kids build the skills they need to thrive!

Developing hand strength, dexterity, dexterity, precision skills, and eye-hand coordination skills that kids need for holding and writing with a pencil, coloring, and manipulating small objects in every day task doesn’t need to be difficult. The Spring Fine Motor Kit includes 100 pages of fine motor activities, worksheets, crafts, and more:

Spring fine motor kit set of printable fine motor skills worksheets for kids.
  • Lacing cards
  • Sensory bin cards
  • Hole punch activities
  • Pencil control worksheets
  • Play dough mats
  • Write the Room cards
  • Modified paper
  • Sticker activities
  • MUCH MORE

Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

Spring Fine Motor Kit
Spring Fine Motor Kit: TONS of resources and tools to build stronger hands.

Grab your copy of the Spring Fine Motor Kit and build coordination, strength, and endurance in fun and creative activities. Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

 

 

Flower Balance Activities

Flower balance activities

Want to help kids with balance, coordination, strength, and mobility? Need some core strengthening and stability activities to help with balance and vestibular integration? These flower balance activities are fun ways to help kids work on these very areas so they are able to move, play, learn, and function in day to day tasks. And, it’s all packaged up in a free Google slide deck so you can use these balance exercises in therapy sessions, at home, in the classroom, or clinic. These are Spring gross motor activities that really build skills!

Balance activities slide deck with a flower theme to use in teletherapy sessions.

Balance Activities

You’ll find a lot of balance activities and exercises here on The OT Toolbox. We’ve shared balance beams, obstacle courses, brain breaks, prone extension activities, movement activities, and vestibular activities before. you may have even seen this DIY wobble disk made from ice. All of these activities are so great to help kids develop strength, coordination, movement pattern skills, and get them moving through play.

Core strengthening is just one benefit of these balance activities kids can copy. We’ve talked before about core strength and it’s relationship to handwriting and other functional tasks.

Flower balance activities for kids

The free slide deck that I have available today, adds just one more balance tool into your therapy toolbox. It’s a fun way to challenge kids to move while copying visual images of body positioning. These exercises integrate visual processing to see the image and copy the positioning as well as motor skills as kids coordinate their body to move their arms or legs into the correct positioning.

I’ve tried to use both sides of the body in this flower balance activity, so they can work on left-right discrimination as well.

Flower balance activities

When kids incorporate one leg stance, and holding a body position in a squat or lunge, they are adding proprioceptive input, so they gain the calming regulatory benefits, too.

Flower balance exercises

And, the therapy slide decks use a flower icon in various positions on each slide. So the user can copy the form by placing a pillow, stuffed animal, roll of socks, or bean bag into different places while maintaining balance. This can be a real challenge for some children!

Flower deep breathing exercise

There is a fun flower deep breathing exercise in the slide deck as well.

Free Balance Exercise Slide Deck

Want to use this free slide deck in teletherapy, in home programs, or in the classroom as a brain break? Just enter your email address into the form below.

NOTE- Due to an increase in security measures, many readers utilizing a work or school district email address have had difficulty accessing downloads from the delivery email. Consider using a personal email address and forwarding the download to your work account.

Flower Balance Activities Slide Deck!

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    Spring Fine Motor Kit

    Score Fine Motor Tools and resources and help kids build the skills they need to thrive!

    Developing hand strength, dexterity, dexterity, precision skills, and eye-hand coordination skills that kids need for holding and writing with a pencil, coloring, and manipulating small objects in every day task doesn’t need to be difficult. The Spring Fine Motor Kit includes 100 pages of fine motor activities, worksheets, crafts, and more:

    Spring fine motor kit set of printable fine motor skills worksheets for kids.
    • Lacing cards
    • Sensory bin cards
    • Hole punch activities
    • Pencil control worksheets
    • Play dough mats
    • Write the Room cards
    • Modified paper
    • Sticker activities
    • MUCH MORE

    Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

    Spring Fine Motor Kit
    Spring Fine Motor Kit: TONS of resources and tools to build stronger hands.

    Grab your copy of the Spring Fine Motor Kit and build coordination, strength, and endurance in fun and creative activities. Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Bilateral Integration Activity Draw a Clover!

    Bilateral coordination visual motor integration

    This bilateral integration activity is a powerful way to help kids with a variety of skills. Add it to your line up of hands-on, St. Patrick’s Day theme activities for therapy and promoting child development. Kids can draw the four leaf clover but also work on developing bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, visual motor integration, visual scanning, visual convergence, core strength, and so much more. Integrating all of these areas into functional tasks involves many components of development, and this activity can help in so many ways.


    Kiddos with sensory or developmental problems might have trouble crossing mid-line.  You might know a child who has trouble making both hands work together to accomplish a task like handwriting, cutting with scissors, tying shoes, buttoning a shirt, or catching a ball.  Bilateral coordination is necessary for many functional activities! 

     

    Bilateral Integration and Functional Activities

     

     

    Bilateral coordination activity with a clover theme works on visual motor coordination, kinesthetic sense, peripheral vision for improved gross motor and fine motor bilateral activities.




    Bilateral integration is an area of child development that involves different movements and systems. Coordination of visual systems include visual tracking and scanning as well as depth perception and peripheral vision. All of these skills need to be integrated into movement so that coordinated movement patterns can occur.

    Then, there is the crossing midline component. Crossing the midline occurs developmentally, and this milestone is an important one that translates to laterality and coordinated use of both hands together in functional tasks.

    Then, visual motor integration, where the eyes and body works together to perform daily tasks is another piece of the puzzle. One part of the developmental progression of these skill areas is symmetrical bilateral integration.

    Symmetrical Bilateral Integration

    In this stage of development, children bring their hands together at the midline. You’ll see this in small infants that bring their hands to their mouth. They then start to hold toys together with their hands. Later down the road, symmetrical bilateral integration skills are needed to clap, zipper and button a coat, and gross motor tasks, too such as hopping, jumping, and completing tasks like jumping jacks. 

    Progression beyond symmetrical development relies on this developmental stage. And skills like asymmetrical bilateral integration, crossing the midline are founded on progression of this early developmental stage.

    Gross motor and fine motor activities are needed for activities where each hand does the same job (jumping jacks, movement games like the Hokey Pokey, and pulling up pants).  Other tasks require both hands to do different jobs in a coordinated way (holding the paper and writing with a pencil, holding paper and cutting with scissors, tying shoes, fastening a zipper, weaving a loom, or putting on a coat).

    Bilateral Integration Activity for Kids 

     
    This activity is one that’s been on my mind for a while.  As an OT, I’ve done versions of this activity many times with kids who have trouble with kinesthetic sense, visual perceptual skills, and bilateral coordination.  
     
    This post contains affiliate links.
     
    This activity is a version of the Brain Gym program, which uses whole body movements to improve skills, including learning and functional tasks.  Brain Gym can be just one tool in a toolbox of strategies to progress development of skills that kids need to function. 
     
    In Brain Gym, there is an activity called Double Doodles, which involves doodling with both hands, with a piece of crayon or chalk in each hand.  
     
    The activity encourages children to use both hands together.  The point of the activity is to establish direction and orientation relative to the child’s body.  The movement activity addresses hand-eye coordination in different visual fields, promotes spatial awareness and visual discrimination, addresses left and right awareness, improves peripheral vision, promotes body awareness and coordination with specialization of the hands and eyes, and works on gross motor movement skills.
     
    Brain Gym is just one way to promote whole body learning through simple and fun movement activities. 
     

    Four Leaf Clover Bilateral Activity

                        Bilateral coordination activity with a clover theme works on visual motor coordination, kinesthetic sense, peripheral vision for improved gross motor and fine motor bilateral activities.

    In our gross motor bilateral coordination activity, we’re using visual motor integration.  While creating a four leaf clover shape, the child is using his visual sense to guides movement through peripheral vision.  
     
    This is an easy activity to set up.  Tape a large piece of paper to the wall.  Poster board (like we used) works great, but that can get pricey.  A nice option is using a large roll of paper like easel paper or butcher paper.  You can also perform this activity at a large chalkboard or dry erase board in classroom settings. 
     
    First, draw a large and symmetrical four leaf clover shape on the paper.  Provide the child with a crayon, pencil, marker or chalk for each hand.
     
    Standing in front of the clover, ask them to stare at the center of the paper.  You can draw a dot for them to look at, if needed.
     
    Then, show them how to start both hands at the top center of the clover and to slowly trace the lines of the clover to meet at the bottom center.  
     
    We included a stem on our clover, but you can just draw the four leaves.  
     
    Tell the child to not worry too much about staying right on the lines.  The object is to have both hands move together doing symmetrical motions.  Repeat the lines again and again.  Add colored crayons/markers/pencils to create a rainbow four leaf clover. 
     
    A few things to watch for: 
    • While drawing, watch the child for stiffness in the hand, wrist, or arm.  
    • Be aware of whole body movements. Arm motions should come from the shoulders.
    • Remind the child to keep their eyes fixed on the dot at the center of the clover.
    • Remind the child to keep the writing utensils in contact with the paper.  They shouldn’t lift the crayons at all.
    • Watch for bilateral coordination, ensuring that both arms are moving at the same speed, distance, and positioning.
    Other ways to extend this activity:
    • Draw the four leaf clover on paper and have the child sit to perform the re-tracing activity.
    • Do this activity on a driveway or sidewalk using chalk.
    • Draw in the air with pointer fingers.
    • Draw in a sand table.
    • Use finger paints.
    • Use ribbon sticks in the air.
    • Use musical instruments like bells or maracas.
    Bilateral coordination activity with a clover theme works on visual motor coordination, kinesthetic sense, peripheral vision for improved gross motor and fine motor bilateral activities.
     

     

    Colors Handwriting Kit

    Rainbow Handwriting Kit– This resource pack includes handwriting sheets, write the room cards, color worksheets, visual motor activities, and so much more. The handwriting kit includes:

    • Write the Room, Color Names: Lowercase Letters
    • Write the Room, Color Names: Uppercase Letters
    • Write the Room, Color Names: Cursive Writing
    • Copy/Draw/Color/Cut Color Worksheets
    • Colors Roll & Write Page
    • Color Names Letter Size Puzzle Pages
    • Flip and Fill A-Z Letter Pages
    • Colors Pre-Writing Lines Pencil Control Mazes
    • This handwriting kit now includes a bonus pack of pencil control worksheets, 1-10 fine motor clip cards, visual discrimination maze for directionality, handwriting sheets, and working memory/direction following sheet! Valued at $5, this bonus kit triples the goal areas you can work on in each therapy session or home program.

    Click here to get your copy of the Colors Handwriting Kit.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Crossing the Midline Activity Letter Rainbow

    Crossing the midline letter activity

    This crossing the midline activity is a way to help kids with midline skills, as well as letter identification, using a rainbow theme. In the simple midline activity, children create a rainbow while visually scanning from left to right to match letters with different colors of the rainbow. It’s a letter version of our rainbow ladder that is also instrumental in helping children with underlying handwriting skills including visual motor integration and crossing the midline.

    Crossing the midline activity for letter fluency, visual motor integration, and midline crossing skills.

    This particular  Kids can work on so many skills with this simple visual motor rainbow.  We worked on matching printed lower case letters to cursive letters but you could do this one with upper and lower case letter match-ups or just matching upper case to upper case.  Some of the underlying skills that is necessary for kids to write legibly are visual motor integration and crossing midline.  This visual motor integration letter rainbow works on those skills with a colorful result.

    We also used our rainbow of hues to work on the visual motor skills needed for pencil control.  This activity also addresses the ability to coordinate visual input to the motor movements of the hands. Kids can work on their fine motor development with the simple rainbow activity described below.


    Work on crossing the midline and letter identification to match letters to cursive letters with a rainbow.


    Crossing the Midline

    In another blog post, we cover more about crossing the midline, particularly with the lower body, in a midline marching activity for children.

    So, what crossing the midline?  

    Midline of the body is an imaginary line that drops from the middle of the head, strait down over the nose, to the belly button and divides the body into left and right sides.  Many movements and functional tasks occur with just one hand, like holding a phone. A user could hold the phone on one side of the body and turn their head to that direction. In that particular task and positioning, the activiy is localized to a side of the body and doesn’t cross the midline.

    Other tasks occur at the midline. This includes activities such as reading a book or brushing the teeth. The dominant hand will do most of the work, like turning the pages of the the book or manipulating the toothbrush, while the nondominant hand assists in the task. In our examples, the activity occurs mainly at midline, and there is not much crossing over of the middle of the body. However, the non dominant hand might assist by holding the book or by squeezing the toothpaste onto the tooth brush, (or holding the toothbrush while the dominant hand squeezes the toothbrush). As a side note, many of these muscle movement patterns are not something that we think through throughout our day. The movement patterns are just automatic and natural. That is part of muscle memory and motor planning that has been established and ingrained. Trouble occurs when there is a block to the automaticity such as difficulty with crossing the midline.

    Still other activities require intense midline crossing. This includes activities where the midline must be crossed in order for the task to be completed. Activities exemplifying midline crossing include dressing the lower body or in play. In the example of dressing, you notice that one arm reaches over the midline in order to feed the opposite foot into a pants leg. Similarly, with pulling on socks, both hands reach to one foot and the right arm crosses the midline when pulling on the sock of the left foot.

    Crossing midline refers to moving the left hand/arm/foot/leg across this line to the right side (and vise versa).  Crossing midline also refers to twisting the body in rotation around this imaginary line, and leaning the upper or body across the middle of the body.

    Problems with Crossing the Midline

    When crossing the midline is a problem, or it’s not been properly established as an automatic movement pattern, you may notice these movements instead of crossing midline:

    • Switching hands during an activity
    • Twisting the body to complete tasks- rotating the trunk to complete tasks
    • Preferring to use one hand over the other: Using the right hand for tasks on the right side of the body and using the left hand for tasks on the left side of the body
    • Mixed dominance
    • Trouble with fine motor tasks that require two hands: writing, coloring, cutting with scissors, manipulating utensils, cutting with a knife and fork, etc.
    • Trouble with gross motor tasks like jumping, skipping, hopping, crawling
    • Trouble with laterality
    • Trouble with keeping their place when reading across a page

    Crossing the Midline Letter Activity

    The midline letter activity described here is a beneficial way to work on crossing midline for several reasons:

    • The activity encourages children to cross midline with large motions across a page
    • The activity encourage visual shifting to scan across a page, incorporating crossing the midline into reading and writing tasks which can impact reading fluency and accuracy
    • The activity works on letter identification and challenges children to integrate visual skills with movements (hand eye coordination)

    In the crossing the midline letter rainbow activity described here, we worked on cursive letter identification. Many times when children practice cursive writing, they do so in isolated practice settings: practicing rows of cursive letters, one at a time, and then stringing that letter into words on a worksheet. But sometimes, the cursive letter fluency piece is skipped. Reading a letter or a word pairs the cursive letter with orthographic patterns so that cursive writing and reading becomes fluent.

    You could use this midline rainbow activity with any letter matching exercise:

    • Matching shapes or colors
    • Matching letters to images that start with that letter to incorporate phonological awareness
    • Matching lowercase printed letters to uppercase printed letters
    • Matching lowercase cursive letters to lowercase printed letters
    • Matching uppercase printed letters to uppercase cursive letters
    • Matching lowercase cursive letters to uppercase cursive letters

    Set up a crossing the midline activity:

    This rainbow activity can be performed in several ways.  Children can work on a large scale and address bilateral coordination and midline crossing with a large piece of easel paper or butcher paper taped to a wall.  Another option is to set this rainbow activity up at a dry erase board or chalk board.

    To make the midline board:

    1. Colored markers/crayons/chalk/colored pencils-We used (affiliate link) Mr. Sketch scented markers to add multisensory learning components.
    2. Next, draw two vertical lines on opposite sides of the paper, or about 2-3 feet apart.  
    3. Along the left vertical line, form letters in one format (print, cursive, lowercase, uppercase, etc.) 
    4. On the opposite line, form either matching letters in upper case/lower case/cursive. Ensure the letters are mixed in order, so the lines need to cross over one another.

    Next, work on crossing midline skills:

    1. To perform this visual motor letter rainbow, ask the child to start on the left side and draw an arching line to connect to the matching letter on the right side of the paper.  Working on a large scale to perform this activity promotes crossing of the midline as well as visual motor skills.


      2. Ask the student to start at the left line and stop at the right line when drawing their rainbow lines. When the child is making the arches, they should not start or go over the vertical lines by more than 1/4 inch.  Ask them to connect the matching letters with matching colored markers. 


    Grade this activity by asking the child to start and end at the vertical lines without crossing over the lines.  This is an excellent way to address pencil control and visual motor skills.


    Vary the activity

    • Complete the midline activity by completing the rainbow in a standing or seated position.  Be sure to watch for the child to compensate for midline crossing by shifting weight, rotation of the body, pivoting of the trunk, or movement of the legs.  The child should remain facing forward without any of these motions noted.
    • Kids can also complete this activity with diagonals of with strait lines to connect the letters.
    • Address visual motor skills with the letter rainbow on a small scale as a table-top activity.  
    • Draw the lines on a smaller scale and ask kids to connect letters while touching but not going over the vertical lines with the colored markers.
    • Use different surfaces- dry erase board, chalkboard, asphalt or sidewalk with sidewalk chalk, working on a large piece of paper or cardboard on the ground, and paper hung on a wall are all options.
    • Use a variety of writing materials: If working on a dry erase surface, use Dry erase markers. You’ll need a rainbow of colors.
    • Work in a sensory bin using sand or other sensory bin base materials. Letters can be written under the sensory bin, like we did with this sensory writing tray.
    • This activity works well on the ground too. In that case, use Rainbow colored chalk if working on a large piece of cardboard from an old box or on the sidewalk. This option adds resistance to the activity, providing proprioceptive feedback.
    • You could also use crayons, finger paints, colored pencils, sidewalk chalk, or water colors.
    Use scented markers for a multisensory learning approach to crossing the midline and matching letters.

    Need more ways to work on visual motor integration, crossing midline, handwriting, and functional skills? Grab the Colors Handwriting Kit. It comes with activities to promote functional handwriting, and multisensory learning. You’ll also get a bonus offer of fine motor activity pages.

    Just print and go!

    Colors Handwriting Kit

    Rainbow Handwriting Kit– This resource pack includes handwriting sheets, write the room cards, color worksheets, visual motor activities, and so much more. The handwriting kit includes:

    • Write the Room, Color Names: Lowercase Letters
    • Write the Room, Color Names: Uppercase Letters
    • Write the Room, Color Names: Cursive Writing
    • Copy/Draw/Color/Cut Color Worksheets
    • Colors Roll & Write Page
    • Color Names Letter Size Puzzle Pages
    • Flip and Fill A-Z Letter Pages
    • Colors Pre-Writing Lines Pencil Control Mazes
    • This handwriting kit now includes a bonus pack of pencil control worksheets, 1-10 fine motor clip cards, visual discrimination maze for directionality, handwriting sheets, and working memory/direction following sheet! Valued at $5, this bonus kit triples the goal areas you can work on in each therapy session or home program.

    Click here to get your copy of the Colors Handwriting Kit.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Use rainbow colors to work on the skills needed for handwriting with a visual motor letter rainbow activity.

    Here are more rainbow activities to pair with ours:

    Activities for Teaching Colors

    teaching colors

    There are so many ways to include multisensory play in teaching colors to children. Here, you’ll find hands-on, creative ways to teach colors of the rainbow using play that helps kids develop skills, move, and grow. Use these color activities in preschool or to teach toddlers colors. It’s a fun way to develop visual discrimination skills in young children.

    Multisensory activities to teach colors to toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners.

    I’m including color activities for kindergarten and school-aged children, as well, because this color themes can be used in therapy activities or to help kids develop handwriting, or visual motor skills in the older grades. There is a lot of fun, hands-on activities listed here that help children learn colors and explore through play!

    Activities to teach colors to toddlers

    Teaching Colors to Toddlers

    Toddler play and development is all about the hands-on exploration of the world. We have a lot of toddler activities designed to develop motor skills and learning here on the website that you’ll want to check out.

    To teach colors to toddlers, it’s all about making things fun. These toddler activities will get you started with hands-on development activities.

    So many color activities in the toddler years involve sorting colors, identifying colors, and pointing out colors. All of these activities lay the building blocks for visual discrimination that kids will use in reading and writing down the road.

    Try these activities for teaching colors to toddlers:

    Toddler Color Sorting with Toys– This activity uses toys and items that are found around the home, making the color identification part of every day life. You can use items that the child uses and sees every day.

    Teach Color Sorting Activity– This simple color sorting activity is great for families that have a preschooler and a toddler. The preschooler can cut foam sheets and work on scissor skills and then both the preschooler and toddler can sort the paper scraps by color. This is a nice activity that allows siblings to work together to learn concepts and grow skills together.

    Color Sort Busy Bag– Toddlers love to drop items into containers, and put things into buckets, bins, and bags…and then take them back out again. It’s all part of the learning process! This color sorting busy bag gives toddlers colored craft sticks or dyed lollipop sticks and has them sort by color. It’s a great activity for developing fine motor skills and coordination, too.

    Cup Sorting for Toddlers– This color sorting activity uses items in the home, like plastic toddler cups! There is just something about toddlers playing in the kitchen with baby-safe items…and this one builds pre-literacy and pre-math skills that they will use long down the road…through play!

    Talk about colors– Pointing out colors during play, conversation, in reading books, and going for walks…there are so many ways to teach colors to babies and toddlers through everyday conversation. It’s as simple as saying, “look at that blue flower” to add descriptive terms to kids.

    Color with painting– Incorporate all of the colors of the rainbow in multisensory activities from a young age. These art play activities incorporates colors into play and learning through art with toddlers.

    Teach colors with a ball pit– Use ball pit balls in a baby pool. You can bring a baby pool indoors as a baby ball pit to teach colors.

    Teaching colors to preschoolers with multisensory learning activities

    Teaching Colors in Preschool

    In the preschool stage, learning occurs through play! These color learning activities are designed to promote learning through hands-on exploration, because those are the ways that learning “sticks”…when hands are busy and developing motor skills that they will later need for holding and writing with a pencil. Let’s look at some ways to teach colors in the preschool years:

    Teaching Shapes and Colors with Rainbow Rocks by Fun-A-Day- This activity is fun because it uses the heavy weight of rocks to teach colors and shapes. But, kids are also strengthening their hands and gaining motor feedback about objects as they explore colors and other discriminating factors like weight and size.

    Color and shape sorting– This preschool color sorting activity gives kids fine motor experiences with wikki stix. Ask preschoolers to copy the shapes, too for extra fine motor skill building and visual motor integration.

    Fine Motor Color Sort– Grab an old spice container or cheese container, and some straws. This color sorting activity lays the groundwork for fine motor skill development and math skills. Kids can count the straws as they drop into the container and work on sorting colors while developing open thumb web space, separation of the sides of the hand and arch strength.

    Color Matching Water Bin– This color learning activity is a sensory motor activity that also teaches letters. It’s perfect for preschool and kindergarten or even older grades as kids are immersed in multi- sensory learning with letters and pre-reading skills.

    Clothespin Color Match– Children will love this fine motor activity that builds hand strength in a big way.

    Bear Sees Colors Book and Activity– We used a snack to explore colors with a beloved preschool book. This is multisensory learning at its finest.

    Gross Motor Color Games– There are many ways to explore and teach colors using games. Try some of these to add movement and play into learning colors at the preschool level:

    • Color I Spy- Call out a color and kids can run to touch something that is that color. Add variations of movement by asking kids to skip, hop, leap, crawl, or bear walk to touch the colors.
    • Color Simon Says- Call out directions based on clothing colors that kids are wearing. Add as many variations of movement and auditory challenges. This is a great activity for building working memory skills in preschoolers.
    • Color Tag- Kids can play tag and when they tag another player, they need to say a color for that person to go to. Another variation is having the players who are tagged run to a color that the tagger calls out.
    Teaching colors to kindergarten children with multisensory learning activities.

    Teach Colors in Kindergarten and older grades

    Once children are school-aged, teaching colors doesn’t end. In the school years, children explore color mixing, learning about primary colors, and more. Look at all of these color experiences that kids learn during the school years:

    • Spelling color names
    • Learning Primary Colors
    • Learning secondary colors
    • Color mixing
    • Color theory
    • Color wheel
    • Complimentary colors

    Try some of these color activities for older children:

    Color I Spy free therapy slide deck- This color themed scavenger hunt will get kids up and moving, using the items they have in their home as they work on visual perceptual skills, handwriting, and more. Kids can visually scan around their home to match the colors on the slide deck. Then, there is a handwriting component. This is a great slide deck for anyone working on handwriting skills with kids, virtually.

    Color Exercises– Use gross motor exercises and stretches as well as fine motor exercises to get kids moving while working on SO many skill areas: bilateral coordination, motor planning, strengthening, core strength, precision, dexterity, visual motor skills…

    Rainbow Deep Breathing Exercise– This free printable PDF is super popular. There’s a reason why: kids love the deep breathing activity and We love the mindfulness, coping skills, calming, and regulation benefits. Great for all ages.

    Rainbow Binoculars Craft– Kids can use paper towel tubes in a craft that helps them look for and identify colors. Use these rainbow binoculars in visual scanning, visual discrimination, visual figure-ground, and other perceptual skills.

    Colored pencils activities All you need is a couple of colored pencils (or substitute with a regular pencil if that’s all you’ve got on hand) to work on pencil control, line awareness, pencil pressure, and letter formation.

    Benefits of coloring with crayons Just grab a box of crayons and build so many fine motor and visual motor skills.

    Make crayon play dough– Explore colors with heavy work input through the hands and arms using all the colors of the rainbow. This crayon play dough recipe is a popular sensory recipe here on the website.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Valentine’s Day Math Activity

    valentines day fine motor activity

    This Valentine’s Day math activity is an easy activity designed to promote hand eye coordination. Hand eye coordination, otherwise known as eye hand coordination, is a visual motor skill needed for so many functional tasks in children. This particular hands-on math activity was created to not only help with math skills around Valentine’s Day, but also to develop the essential coordination skills that kids need. It was easy to throw together and made working on a few Kindergarten math concepts more fun for my kiddo.  

    Add this idea to your Occupational therapy Valentine’s Day activities.

    Valentine's Day math activity to help kids with hand eye coordination and math concepts with a heart theme.

    Hand Eye Coordination Activity

    Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

    To create this Valentines math activity, I cut a piece of cardboard into smaller pieces and then used them to make small heart shapes. On those hearts, I wrote numbers 1-20.  The hearts that we used were about 1 and a half inches tall but, you could create larger hearts, if coordination skills are something you need to address.

    In our hand-eye coordination activity, we used a large red tweezer to work on picking up the hearts from a small container.  

    Typically, using tweezers is a great way to work on fine motor skills like hand strength, tripod grasp, and arch development.  Here is information on the fine motor skills that tweezers help to establish, especially when using a smaller, hand-sized tong or tweezer.

    With these extra large Jumbo Tweezers, the actual tweezer tool is larger than the hand. Because of this, different muscle groups are working.

    The size of the Jumbo Tweezers requires the hands to open and shut with the thumb and all of the fingers.  This adduction and abduction of the thumb and slightly flexed MCP joints uses encouraged more of opposition of the thumb.  The wrist is extended and in an effective position for functional tasks.  

    Grabbing up the cardboard hearts requires hand-eye coordination or visual motor integration.  The ability to effectively use hand-eye coordination in activities like handwriting, scissor use, games, and play allows children to write within given spaces, cut along lines, and move game pieces in a coordinated and fluent manner.  

    Free therapy resources for Valentines

    If eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills, and handwriting are tasks that you are working on with children, you’ll love both of these free therapy slide decks. Use them to outline occupational therapy interventions or to use in teletherapy sessions this time of year.

    Free Spot It Handwriting Slide Deck

    Free Gross Motor Valentine’s Day Activity Slide Deck

    Hand-Eye Coordination Valentines Heart activity for math activities with Kindergarten kids or any school aged child. These jumbo tongs are great for visual motor integration skills and recommended by an Occupational Therapist.

    Valentines Math Activity

    These number hearts worked well with a few different hands on math activities, especially kindergarten math concepts. And, the heart counters made a great Valentines math activity for this time of year.

    The activity is very open-ended, so there are many ways you could use this activity to work on math concepts at different levels. Here are some of the hands-on math activities that we completed:

    Practice odd/even numbers- We then did a round of looking for and picking up the even numbers and then the odd numbers with the tweezers.    

    Number order- To practice our hand-eye coordination with these hearts, I had my son try to find and pick up the hearts in number order.  

    Counting by 10s- Practice counting up by tens and then count by tens into 100.

    Number bonds- You can use the number hearts to build and take apart numbers to build and understanding of addition and subtraction facts. My son’s favorite was using the side without numbers to build and take apart numbers.  We did a snowman version of number building when my older daughter was in Kindergarten.  

    Composing and decomposing numbers- With the cardboard hearts, we practiced composing and decomposing numbers.  I named a number, like “7” and my son had to use the hearts to build number 7 in many different ways.  He pulled out 7 hearts and separated them into two piles: one with 3 hearts and one pile with 4 hearts. We used more hearts to make other ways to take apart 7, too: 6 and 1, 5 and 2, 4 and 3, 2 and 5, and 1 and 6.  

    More Valentine Math activities

    Try some of these ways to play and learn using the

    • Practice number formation: pull out a heart with the Jumbo Tweezers
      and have your child write that number.
    • Ask your child to pull out a pile of hearts. They can count with one to one correspondence and then write the number.
    • Use the hearts in a ten frame.
    • Practice counting the hearts, starting at different numbers.

    Here are more Valentine Math Activities:

    Hand-Eye Coordination Valentines Heart activity for math activities with Kindergarten kids or any school aged child. These jumbo tongs are great for visual motor integration skills and recommended by an Occupational Therapist.

     

    Valentines Fine Motor Activities

    If you need more hand eye coordination activities for Valentine’s Day fine motor fun, try the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit.

    The Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit is here! This printable kit is 25 pages of hands-on activity sheets designed to build skills in pinch and grasp strength, endurance, eye-hand coordination, precision, dexterity, pencil control, handwriting, scissor skills, coloring, and more.

    When you grab the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit now, you’ll get a free BONUS activity: 1-10 clip cards so you can challenge hand strength and endurance with a counting eye-hand coordination activity.

    Valentines Day fine motor kit

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Valentines Day Busy Bag

    Fine motor activity using cookie cutters

    Busy Bag Activities are a great way to learn and play during quiet time or down time.  There’s a lot of learning that happens during activities with kids.  We put together this Valentine’s Day busy bag activity as a way to practice fine motor skills and color sorting.  It’s another Valentines Day occupational therapy activity that builds essential skills.

    Valentine's Day busy bag with fine motor heart activity using cookie cutters and beads.

    Heart Busy Bag Activity

    This sorting heart busy bag is a powerful way to improve in-hand manipulation skills.   In-hand manipulation  is a fine motor dexterity skill needed for tasks like managing clothing fasteners, using a pencil when writing, manipulating items like coins or beads, and more.

    Valentine's Day busy bag color sorting activity with beads for fine motor work and color identification.

    Valentine’s Day Busy Bag Activity

    This post contains affiliate links.

    Work on fine motor skills with this Valentine's Day fine motor activity

    We started with a big bin of  beads and a few heart cookie cutters.  I showed Little Sister (age 3) how to sort the beads by color into the hearts.  She had a blast examining each bead and saying “Oh, this one looks pinkish!  Oh this one looks purple-ish!”  

    Valentine's Day busy bag and fine motor activity for skills like in-hand manipulation.
    Use heart shaped cookie cutters and beads to work on fine motor skills.
    Work on fine motor skills with a Valentine's Day fine motor activity


    Fine Motor Valentine’s Day Activity

    Manipulating the beads in the big bin to grab certain colors works on some great fine motor skills.  You need to pick up the beads with a pincer grasp (tips of the pointer finger and thumb) with fine dexterity.  

    Once she grasped a bead, Little Sister would “squirrel away” the colors into the palm of the hand.  This transfer of beads from the tips of the fingers into the palm of the hand is in-hand manipulation(fingers to palm translation).  

    Manipulating small items like beads in this way works on the muscles of the hands and is a great way to work on pre-handwriting or handwriting skills.  A child needs strength of the intrinsic muscles (the muscles within the hand) to manipulate the pencil and maintain endurance for writing and coloring.

    Work on fine motor skills with this heart Valentine's Day occupational therapy activity.

    More Fine Motor Heart Activities

    The Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit is here! This printable kit is 25 pages of hands-on activity sheets designed to build skills in pinch and grasp strength, endurance, eye-hand coordination, precision, dexterity, pencil control, handwriting, scissor skills, coloring, and more.

    When you grab the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit now, you’ll get a free BONUS activity: 1-10 clip cards so you can challenge hand strength and endurance with a counting eye-hand coordination activity.

    Click here to grab your copy of the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit.

    Valentines Day fine motor kit
    15 Must-Try Valentine Busy Bags

    Find even more amazing Valentine busy bags

    FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:

    Arrow Addition Matching Game // Mama.Papa.Bubba.

    Felt Heart Garden // Powerful Mothering

    LEGO Valentine’s Day Puzzle // Lemon Lime Adventures

    Letter Match Memory Game // The Educators’ Spin On It

    Printable Valentine’s Day Mix and Match Puzzles // Itsy Bitsy Fun

    Printable Conversation Heart Number Book // Playdough to Plato

    Conversation Heart Color Match // Preschool Inspirations

    Valentine’s Day Math Busy Bag // Still Playing School

    3 Low Prep Busy Bags // Lalymom

    Plant Heart Garden // Best Toys 4 Toddlers

    Tic Tac Toe // Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

    Valentine’s Day Number Matching // Coffee Cups and Crayons  

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Hole Reinforcement Stickers Snowman Craft

     You know we like to use materials that are on hand to help kids develop fine motor skills. This snowman craft uses hole reinforcement stickers to make a cute craft that works on fine motor skills. We do a TON of Fine Motor activities here! This Fine Motor Snowman art craft was just the thing to work on a little fine motor dexterity while keeping with our wintery freezing theme!  We worked on tip to tip grasp, bilateral hand coordination, and intrinsic muscle strength, while creating our snowmen.  Read all about it below!  

    Cute fine motor snowman craft using hole reinforcement stickers.

    Craft with hole reinforcement stickers

    This post contains affiliate links.

    Use hole reinforcement stickers to help kids develop fine motor skills with this cute snowman craft.

    We started with a sheet of Hole Reinforcement Stickers.  These were fun to pull from the sheet and stick onto our blue Construction Paper.

    Kids can use hole reinforcement stickers to make a snowman craft and strengthen fine motor skills.

    Pulling the reinforcement stickers from the sheet required bilateral hand coordination to manage the page and pull the sticker off with the other hand.  Managing two hands together in a coordinated manner is bilateral hand coordination.  This skill is very important for self care tasks such as buttoning and zippering clothing, tying shoes, and handwriting.

    We placed the stickers into a snowman by placing one sticker above the others.  It was starting to look like a snowman party!

    Pincer grasp development by peeling and placing small stickers.

    Pinching the small stickers from the sheet required precise fine motor dexterity.  Using a tip-to-tip grasp to peel the sticker from the sheet was necessary because the stickers were so small.  A tip-to-tip grasp occurs when the ends of the pointer finger and thumb are used to pick up very small items.  Think about picking up a needle from a table surface.  This can be a very difficult and advanced fine motor skill for some!

    Paint hole reinforcement stickers to make a snowan.

      Once our snowman were placed on the paper, we painted them with blue paint

    Fine motor craft for kids.

     While the paint was still wet, we sprinkled clear glitter on our snowmen.  This is the same technique used in our homemade glitter glue craft.

    Picking up the glitter and sprinkling activates the small muscles of the hands~ the intrinsic muscles.  These are the muscles that allow for strength in the arches of the hands and are very important for endurance in coloring and writing with a pencil.  The glitter stuck on the paint and made very sparkly snowmen!


    To finish the project, peel the reinforcement stickers away and you’ll find a snowman.  Be sure to peel away the reinforcement labels away while the paint is still wet, otherwise it will be difficult to pull them away.   

    Want more ways to boost fine motor skills with a snowman theme or winter theme? The Winter Fine Motor Kit is on sale now!

    This print-and-go winter fine motor kit includes no-prep fine motor activities to help kids develop functional grasp, dexterity, strength, and endurance. Use fun, winter-themed, fine motor activities so you can help children develop strong fine motor skills in a digital world.

    More than ever, kids need the tools to help them build essential fine motor skills so they develop strong and dexterous hands so they can learn, hold & write with a pencil, and play.

    This 100 page no-prep packet includes everything you need to guide fine motor skills in face-to-face AND virtual learning. Includes winter themed activities for hand strength, pinch and grip, dexterity, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, endurance, finger isolation, and more. 

    Click here to grab the Winter Fine Motor Kit!

    winter fine motor kit
     
     

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.