Gross Motor Toys

gross motor toys

If you are looking for the best gross motor toys to challenge coordination, balance, motor planning through whole-body movement and heavy work play, then you are in luck with these occupational therapy toys. Each one is designed to develop gross motor skills: strength, coordination, balance, posture, and more.

PLUS, head to the bottom of this blog post for Day 2 of our therapy toy giveaway. We’re giving away a gross motor kit with agility cones, tossing loops, bean bags, and hula hoops, perfect for gross motor, balance, coordination, and even heavy sensory play through whole body movements.

We started off the fun with yesterday’s fine motor toy ideas. Today is all about the gross motor play.

First, let’s talk Gross Motor Toys!

You’ll also want to check out our blog post on Gross Motor Activities for Preschoolers because many of the gross motor toy ideas listed in this post would be great for the preschool years (and beyond!).

Amazon affiliate links are included in this blog post. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Gross Motor Toys

Kids need gross motor movement for so many skills. Today, I have gross motor toys to share! Here, you’ll find the best whole body toys and ideas to help kids with balance, core strength, stability, coordination, and endurance. Scroll on to check out some therapist-approved toys that help gross motor skill development!

Gross motor toys to help kids develop skills in running, hopping, jumping, skipping, crawling, and more.

Gross Motor Toy Ideas

This list of toys for gross motor skills pairs well with our recent list of Fine Motor Toys. Today however, you’ll find toys that develop a few areas that are essential to areas of child development:

Bilateral Coordination– Kids need bilateral coordination in whole body movements to move their body in a coordinated way. These whole body movements can include coordination of the upper and lower body, or both arms, or both feet, and all of the above! Here are bilateral coordination toys to address this specific area.

Motor Planning– Motor planning with the whole body allows children to move in a room without crashing into objects or other people. Gross motor motor planning allows children to climb steps, navigate obstacles, or any movement-based task. Here is more information on motor planning and motor planning toys to address this specific sub-area.

Gross motor coordinationCoordination of gross motor skills is needed for tasks such as kicking or catching a ball, riding a bike, getting dressed, or any task that uses the entire body. Here are hand eye coordination toys to address this particular sub-area.

Proprioception– Integration of proprioceptive input allows children to know where their body is in space. It tells the body how much effort is needed to pick up and move objects. Proprioception allows us to understand the body’s position as it moves in a coordinated manner.

Vestibular input- Integration of vestibular input allows children to navigate the world around them as they move. Going up or down steps or bleachers is an example of this. Moving into different positions during tasks is another example of vestibular integration. Movement through different planes requires integration of vestibular input.

All of these areas work together in functional tasks and all are rooted in gross motor skills.

Related: This dinosaur gross motor game is a skill builder, as well.

Toys for Gross Motor Skill Development

So often, therapists and teachers purchase items to use in their work using their own money. This giveaway offers a chance for you to win an item that will be useful in helping kids thrive.

And, given that kids are on screens more than ever before with all of the virtual learning and hybrid learning models being incorporated all over the world, therapists are seeing more need for active, physical play.

These are gross motor toys that you will find in therapy clinics. There is a reason why…because they are gross motor powerhouses! So, if you are looking for toy recommendations that build whole body motor skills, this is it!

Amazon affiliate links are included below. You can read more about these items by checking out the links.

Zoom ball is a great gross motor toy for kids.

Zoom Ball– This classic toy is such a great way to work on many skills. A zoom ball can be used in different positions to challenge balance and vestibular input. Try using the zoom ball games in sitting, standing, kneeling, standing on couch cushions, a slant…again, the options are limitless! Address skills such as:

  • Bilateral coordination
  • Core strength
  • Shoulder stability
  • Visual convergence
  • Motor planning
  • Coordination
Pop and catch toys can help kids develop gross motor skills.

Pop and Catch- Use this coordination toy indoors or outdoors to get kids moving. This toy can be played with while the child is standing, sitting, kneeling, or in a half-sit to challenge the core and eye-hand coordination in a variety of planes. Try playing on all fours on the floor for a shoulder girdle stability activity. Another use for this toy is by playing by standing at a table while the child shoots the ball across the table surface as they play like a ping-pong type of game. There are many uses for this pop and catch activity:

  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Motor planning
  • Vestibular input
  • Core strength
  • Stability of core
  • Stability of shoulder girdle
use bucket stilts to help kids develop gross motor skills.

Bucket Stilts– These bucket stilts are perfect for helping kids develop gross motor skills. I love this set because there are 6 colored buckets that make a great gross motor obstacle course tool, too. You could use them as stepping stones to challenge balance and coordination, too. Here are gross motor skills that you can work on using these bucket stilts toys:

  • Core strength
  • Vestibular input
  • Motor planning
  • Coordination
  • Balance
  • Endurance
  • Stabilizing
use agility cones to help kids build gross motor skills in obstacle courses and more.

Agility Cones– Sports cones are such an open-ended gross motor toy that can be used to develop so many skills: hopping, jumping, skipping, running, climbing, crawling…the options are endless. Use these agility cones in therapy obstacle courses, challenges, drills, and more. I chose these particular cones because they can go very nicely with a Zones of Regulation activity! Use cones to support these areas:

  • Motor planning
  • Vestibular input
  • Coordination
  • Core strength
  • Endurance
Use carpet markers to build gross motor skills with gross motor obstacle courses, motor planning, and more.

Carpet Markers– These carpet markers are an occupational therapist’s dream toy! Use the colored marker spots to help kids work on so many movement skills in obstacle courses, visual perceptual skill activities, direction following, sensory movement breaks, positioning guides, and so much more. The arrows are perfect for addressing directionality. Use them to work on crawling, hopping, jumping, stopping on a point. Just some of the areas that these carpet spots support:

  • Core strength
  • Shoulder stability
  • Motor planning
  • Coordination
  • Endurance
  • Proprioception
A parachute is a great gross motor toy for kids.

Parachute– A parachute is another open-ended gross motor toy that the kids just LOVE. This one is small enough for small groups, but builds motor skills in a big way. Use the parachute to help kids develop:

  • Core stability
  • Arm strength
  • Motor planning
  • Endurance
  • Bilateral coordination
  • Proprioceptive input

Toys for Core Strength

Toys that develop core strength get kids moving in a variety of positions. These toys support and challenge the vestibular and proprioceptive systems so they can be calming activities as well. Strength and stability in the core is needed for almost all functional tasks. Challenge kids with these core strengthening toys by getting them moving, on the floor in floor play or strengthening the core muscles through movement and balance coordination. Some ideas for developing and strengthening core strength include:

Toys for balance

Toys that challenge movement changes, stepping from high to low and low to high, and movement with vestibular input offer opportunities to challenge and develop balance and coordination skills.

Gross Motor Coordination Toys

Encourage movement, whole body play, and gross motor coordination with throwing, tossing, and hand-eye coordination or foot-eye coordination skills with these gross motor coordination ideas:

Obstacle Course Toys

All of the gross motor toys listed above could be used in obstacle courses…and what a great way to encourage so many skills! These are perfect additions to your obstacle course ideas, and challenge balance, coordination, motor planning, and add sensory input. Use these obstacle course toys to vary movement and encourage the specific skills kids need:

Want to add these toys to your home, classroom, or therapy practice? I am SO happy to fill your toolbox so you can help kids thrive and build and develop the skills they need!

More therapy Toys

Check out the other therapy toy recommendations in the list below:

  1. Fine Motor Toys
  2. Gross Motor Toys
  3. Pencil Grasp Toys
  4. Toys for Reluctant Writers
  5. Toys for Spatial Awareness
  6. Toys for Visual Tracking
  7. Toys for Sensory Play
  8. Bilateral Coordination Toys
  9. Games for Executive Functioning Skills
  10. Toys and Tools to Improve Visual Perception 
  11. Toys to Help with Scissors Skills 
  12. Toys for Attention and Focus 


Want a printable copy of our therapist-recommended toys to support gross motor development?

As therapy professionals, we LOVE to recommend therapy toys that build skills! This toy list is done for you so you don’t need to recreate the wheel.

Your therapy caseload will love these GROSS MOTOR toy recommendations. (There’s space on this handout for you to write in your own toy suggestions, to meet the client’s individual needs, too!)

Enter your email address into the form below. The OT Toolbox Member’s Club Members can access this handout inside the dashboard, under Educational Handouts. Just be sure to log into your account, first!

Image of turtle stepping stones toy with text reading "gross motor toy giveaway"

Gross Motor Toy Giveaway

Want to enter our Therapy Toys and Tools Giveaway for a chance to win a gross motor toy? Enter your email address into the form below. You’ll also get a free printable list of gross motor toys.

Today’s toy is a (Amazon affiliate link) Stepping Stones Turtle balance set. These Turtle Stepping Stones are great for targeting gross motor skills, as well coordination and balance, motor planning, muscle tone, body awareness, and MORE! This easily adaptable toy set gets kids running, walking, jumping, etc. to further develop their crucial gross motor skills. They could certainly be used as an engaging step in an obstacle course and this specific set even comes with activity cards which transforms the stepping stones into a game that can be played with multiple children! When you’re done using them, they come with a durable bag to make it easy to store and travel with!

This giveaway runs from 11-25-23 through 12-5-23. A winner will be chosen on 12-6-2023.

Gross Motor Toy Giveaway

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    Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

    Enter all the giveaways here:

    Check out the blog comments below to see tips and ideas from readers telling us which gross motor toys they would love to use with the kids they work with and love. Have other gross motor favorites that aren’t listed here? Tell us about them!

    Christmas Tree Hole Punch Activity

    Christmas tree hole punch

    This hole punch Christmas tree craft was originally published 11-19-2015 and was updated 11-8-2023.

    This Christmas Tree Hole Punch activity is an OLD fine motor activity on our site, but it’s one you’ll want to add to your Christmas occupational therapy activity line up. Why? Because the simple Christmas tree activity is easy to set up and builds many skills all at once: fine motor, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, hand strength, and much more are all developed with one fun activity. All of this skill-building makes it a Christmas craft for kids that is a must this time of year!

    Christmas tree hole punch fine motor activity

    Christmas Tree Hole Punch for Therapy

    This Christmas Tree Fine Motor Activity is a Christmas themed busy bag that will hopefully help some of that hectic holiday craze that happens this time of year.  Give the kiddos this proprioception powerhouse punching activity and be assured that the kids will be learning, getting out a little holiday wiggles, and you, Mama, can cross off an item from that post-it note.  

    Or grab a cup of coffee and just relax for a second.  Both are equally important.

    Check out these Christmas Fine Motor Activities for more creative ways to work on fine motor skills and address development of skills this Christmas season. 

    This activity will help your child with:

    Christmas Tree hole punch activity

    Affiliate links are included in this blog post.

    Christmas Tree Hole Punch

    This activity is perfect for an Occupational Therapist‘s treatment bag in the days leading up to Christmas.  Kids get a little bit excited (right?) and the wiggles and giggles may end up leading to sensory overload.  A proprioception activity like punching holes is perfect to provide heavy work input to the hands and add calming input.  

    Using a hole punch provides a gross hand grasp strengthening work to the hands.  This activity is perfect for a Christmas themed warm-up activity before handwriting this season.

    A busy bag is intended to keep little hands busy, while learning, exploring, and getting stronger through fine motor play!  And, what does a mom need on occasion for little ones, but busy activities for quiet time.


    Christmas tree hole punch and punching holes each each tree

    Materials Needed for a Christmas Tree Hole Punch

    This Christmas Tree activity is easy to put together.  We used just a few items:

    Amazon affiliate links:

    How to make the Hole Punch Christmas Tree

    To make the Christmas tree counting busy bag:

    1. Cut the Green Cardstock into tree shapes.  
    2. Add trunks with the Brown Cardstock.  Glue these in place at the base of each triangle.  
    3. Use the black marker to write a number on each tree trunk.
    4. Next, show your child how to name the number on the Christmas tree and then to punch the corresponding number of holes into the branches of the tree.

    Christmas Tree Busy Bag Counting and proprioception activity


    hole punch Christmas tree

    Christmas Hole Punch Activity

    Enjoy this time as your kiddo counts, hole punches, and works on so many skills.  And rest assured that they will be doing a productive activity…and not adding more to that to-do list!

    As mentioned above, this Christmas hole punch task covers a variety of skills, but we should go into more detail on the hand strengthening component when using a hole punch to create holes in each Christmas tree.

    Squeezing a hole puncher challenges a grasp pattern with an open thumb web space to strengthen grip strength.

    Finger strength is developed by squeezing a hole puncher. Plus, when the hole punch is held, wrist stability is needed to hold the hole punch in an optimal position to squeeze it completely.

    Then, when you have the holes punched in the trees, you can use them to create a hole punch Christmas tree craft!

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

    Looking for done-for you therapy activities this holiday season?

    This print-and-go Christmas Therapy Kit includes no-prep, fine motor, gross motor, self-regulation, visual perceptual activities…and much more… to help kids develop functional grasp, dexterity, strength, and endurance. Use fun, Christmas-themed, motor activities so you can help children develop the skills they need.

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

    Finger Dexterity Exercises

    finger dexterity

    Fine motor skills are a complex thing, but one thing that plays a major role in fine motor coordination is finger dexterity. The precision movements and endurance in small motor activities is driven by the ability to maneuver fingers and isolate the joints in holding and manipulating small objects. Let’s explore the role of manual dexterity in fine motor skills.

    The finger dexterity activities and exercises in this post can be used along with manual dexterity goals to support functional tasks.

    finger dexterity

    Fine Motor Dexterity

    Fine Motor Skills in kids are so important for independence in self care tasks.  Children need to develop the ability to manipulate their fingers in a coordinated manner in order to skillfully maneuver buttons, zippers, shoe laces, pencils…and the tools of learning and play…TOYS! 

    Dexterous movements are used in everyday activities throughout our day.

    What is finger dexterity?

    Finger dexterity refers to the ability to use coordination and manipulation of objects in the hands with precision. Dexterous motor skills can be broken down into areas: grasp and release, coordination with in the hand (in-hand manipulation), and proprioception (knowing how much effort is needed to manipulate objects without dropping them). There are many other contributions that impact finger dexterity and we list these below.

    Together, these precision skills enable us to pick up an object with the right amount of pressure and motor dexterity so you can grasp the object accurately taking eye-hand coordination skills into consideration.

    After grasping the object without overshooting or missing the item, it is necessary to position or rotate the object within the hand. Isolation of the joints of the fingers and thumb allow for precise movements and coordination when manipulating objects in functional tasks.

    The nine hole peg test is a good way to assess for finger dexterity.


    Finger Dexterity Examples

    Fine motor dexterity also looks like:
    • manipulating coins
    • picking up small beads
    • opening a tube of toothpaste
    • threading a needle
    • holding items in the palm of the hand and putting them down one at a time
    • crafts with small objects
    • peeling stickers off a page
    • opening or closing a clasp on a necklace
    • tying shoes
    • opening a bread tie
    • putting a pony tail holder in hair
    • braiding hair
    • maneuvering a pencil within the hand (rotating the pencil, erasing a small spot on the page)
    • turning a pencil in a handheld pencil sharpener
    • zippering– inserting a zipper into the zipper carriage
    • buttoning a shirt
    • lacing up shoes
    • stacking coins
    • holding playing cards in your hands
    • any other task that requires small motor tasks
    We’ve got lots of posts dedicated to fine motor skills.  Finger Dexterity is a necessary step in development of fine motor skills


    Kids will love to play this finger dexterity activity to work on fine motor skills.


    Skills needed for Finger Dexterity

    Children develop their hand skills from infancy. Hand strength develops from the time a small baby is placed in tummy time. You’ll start to see finger dexterity in action when a baby picks up cereal pieces using a pincer grasp.
    Finger dexterity requires components such as: 
    The terms that make up finger dexterity are explained in each of the blog posts in the list.
    There are developmental milestones for fine motor development that are necessary for independence each stage of childhood. When kids struggle with handwriting, manipulating small objects, hand fatigue in small motor tasks, finger dexterity and the underlying contributions should be considered.
    Children also need to demonstrate dexterity in order to manipulate objects.  They need to maneuver their fingers independently of one another (this is called finger isolation) and with separation of the two sides of the hand
    Without these skills, modifications or adjustments are often made by the child. We’ll cover more specifics about the relationship of finger dexterity and these components below.

    Finger Dexterity and Separation of the two sides of the hand

    When using the small muscles of the hands in dexterity tasks, one uses the side of the thumb-side of the hand. 
    The precision side of the hand is the thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger.  These are the fingers needed for dexterity tasks and fine motor skills. 
    The ring finger and pinkie finger are involved in providing stability during precision tasks.  When the index and thumb are involved in a small motor activity, the ring finger and pinkie finger are tucked into the palm and proved a support during handwriting and shoe tying
    They also provide power during grip and the force behind a gross grasp
    So when will you see the two sides of the hand separated during activities?? Tying shoes, pulling a zipper, fastening a button, and manipulating small pegs into a pegboard are some examples of separation of the two sides of the hand.

    Finger Dexterity and Finger Isolation

    Finger isolation is a key part of finer dexterity and begins when an infant begins to point at objects with one finger. 
    Using the fingers independent of one another is needed for tasks like turning a page in a book, typing, molding dough, sign language, and finger plays (“where is Thumbkin” and other fingerplay songs are great ways to practice finger isolation and dexterity!) 
    Kids can identify colors by playing this fine motor game.


    Finger dexterity Activity

    This finger strength exercise is actually a game, which makes it a great activity for developing precision in those little muscles of the hands, isolating fingers, and separating the two sides of the hand…all SO important in independence and play.
    Try this activity to work on separating the two sides of the hand with a fun activity for kids. 

    This post contains affiliate links.

    Our finger dexterity activity began with a little prep work.  We used acrylic paints to paint circles on the back of bubble wrap paper. 

    Kids will explore colors in this finger dexterity game.


    I painted the back side of large bubble wrap with different colors.   We let these dry (and it was slightly difficult to remain patient!!)

    Kids will love to play "Twister" in this fine motor exercise.


    Once our paints were dry, we got our fingers ready to play some finger dexterity games!  I had Little Guy get his fingers ready by making “legs”. 

    This is a great way to encourage use of the two sides of the hand.  He tucked his pinkie and ring fingers into the palm of his hand and got his pointer and middle finger busy as they “walked” around.

    Fun fine motor game for kids.


    We played a color matching game with the colored bubbles.  I called out a color and he had to “walk” his fingers to the color and pop the color.  He was working on color awareness at the same time as we practiced finger dexterity.

    kids can work on fine motor skills needed for independence in many tasks.


    As I called out different colors, he had to “walk” his fingers around to the different colors.  He really worked on those finger isolation skills as he searched for a bubble that was not yet popped. 

    Other ways to work on finger isolation and separation of the two sides of the hand include using small objects in manipulation like crafting pom poms.

    The index, middle finger, and thumb are needed to manipulate items in fine motor tasks. This activity is a great way to encourage dexterity in kids.


    Even Baby Girl wanted to get in on the fun!  This finger dexterity exercise is a great way to “warm up” the hands before a handwriting or typing task for older children. Using handwriting warm ups prepares the hands for tasks like writing with a pencil.

    When there is weakness in the small muscles of the hands, it is often times, difficult for children to write, color, or type with appropriate grasp and positioning of the fingers and wrist. 

    A dexterity exercise like this one is a fun way to play and get those muscles of the hand moving and strengthened in order to improve endurance and positioning.

    Manual Dexterity Activities

    Looking for more fun ways to practice manual dexterity of the fingers?  These are some fun games and activities you may want to try:

    Finger dexterity exercises

    Using the activities listed above are great ways to build fine motor skills. You can also improve manual dexterity with the following exercises:

    • Pinch putty or playdough 10 times, with 3 repetitions (find more reps in our theraputty exercises blog post)
    • Place pegs into a pegboard- time the student to see how many they can place in 30 seconds. Try to beat that time.
    • Hand gripper workouts to improve proximal stability
    • Stack 10 coins or game tokens into a pile. Then pick them up one at a time and place them into the palm of the hand
    • Deal a deck of cards
    • Creating a fine motor home exercise program
    • Using the exercises described in the Weekly Fine Motor Program
    • Finger aerobics shown in the video below.

    Working on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, or scissor skills? Our Fine Motor Kits cover all of these areas and more.

    Check out the seasonal Fine Motor Kits that kids love:

    Or, grab one of our themed Fine Motor Kits to target skills with fun themes:

    Want access to all of these kits…and more being added each month? Join The OT Toolbox Member’s Club!

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

    Farm Brain Breaks

    farm brain breaks

    Today we have a fun addition to our brain break collection here at The OT Toolbox: Farm Brain Breaks! Brain breaks are such a useful tool for boosting attention and focus in the classroom. This is just one of the farm activities that we love as a therapy tool for building skills in kids. So, check out the Farm Brain Break activities below, along with the fun ways to use these movement activities in farm obstacle courses, farm stations, and more!

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    farm brain breaks

    Farm Brain Breaks

    We love this printable set of farm themed brain breaks because a farm theme is great for this time of year. Kids LOVE cows, chicken, roosters, pigs, and so adding a twist to the regular brain break activities makes the skill-building fun and engaging.

    You can probably think of a dozen or more animal walks, but having a set of farm animal brain breaks all in one place is perfect as a therapy tool for supporting self-regulation and heavy work needs.

    Why Farm Brain Breaks?

    Here’s the thing: Taking a sensory-based movement break in between learning tasks is a great way to help kids with sensory needs and without re-group and attend to classroom work.  

    Brain breaks are a great gross motor coordination activity, too. For the child that needs to work on skills such as the ones listed below, these farm gross motor activities do the job!

    • Balance
    • Standing on one foot
    • Hopping
    • Skipping
    • Squatting and standing back up
    • Building core strength
    • Balance in a dynamic position

    This month in the Virtual Book Club for Kids series, we read the fun book, Little Blue Truck and created farm animal themed brain breaks that are perfect for movement and sensory needs like vestibular activities in the classroom.

    Sometimes creative movement can be just the movement and gross motor exercise that kids can use as a sensory tool for effectively addressing needs in the classroom.  

    Brain Breaks use vestibular and proprioceptive input to address the sensory needs that can help kids with their attention and focus during classroom tasks. This can also support body awareness.

    Kids that need to boost their level of alertness with fast movements.  Those kids that seem to droop and lose attention during classroom work may benefit from a vestibular sensory movement activity that uses the whole body.

    Children that need to calm their body’s movements and regulate their sensory system may benefit from slow, rocking movements using the vestibular sensory system or heavy work gross motor activities that utilize the body’s proprioception system.  


    farm brain breaks


    Little Blue Truck and farm themed brain breaks for attention, focus and sensory needs in the classroom based on farm animals.



    Little Blue Truck Farm Themed Brain Breaks

    We came up with the brain break ideas in our farm theme based on the book, Little Blue Truck. This is a fun way to explore books in occupational therapy sessions to keep things fun and engaging.

    This post contains affiliate links.

    With the animals in Little Blue Truck (affiliate link), we focused on the farm animals and how they move and work to help our friend, the little blue truck.  There are many ways that kids can use the typical movements of farm animals to address sensory and attention needs in the classroom.


     Little Blue Truck book activity

    In the book, Little Blue Truck (affiliate link), we meet each of the farm animals that say a friendly “hello” to the little blue truck.  When he ends up stuck in the mud, the animals are the one that come to help their truck friend.  

    This book is such a fun way to look at the way friends can work together in small ways to help make big things happen.  What a great way to look at the way the class works together to make changes.  

    A group of classroom students that each do their part to pay attention and focus can make the whole classroom a better place. 

    We decided to use the movements of the animals in Little Blue Truck (affiliate link) to create gross motor, movement-based brain breaks.  These are activities that can be done in conjunction with the book and used all year long for attention and focus in the classroom.

    Little Blue Truck and farm themed brain breaks for attention, focus and sensory needs in the classroom based on farm animals.

    How to use Farm themed Brain Breaks

    Print off your brain break printable sheet.  The form is at the bottom of this blog post. Simply enter your email address and the printable will arrive in your inbox.

    Then, cut out the cards and start to play! These animal brain break cards can be used to add movement within the classroom.  They can be used at home or in therapy sessions. We love to use these along with other farm activities and crafts.

    Some fun ways to use these farm brain breaks are below:

    Farm Obstacle Course

    One way to support gross motor skills is with a Farm obstacle course:

    1. Place the farm brain break cards in an obstacle course. 
    2. Ask the child to go through the course by crawling as they push a tractor or pretend to be a tractor, doing animal walks, or moving on a floor scooter.
    3. When they get to a brain break, they should stand up and complete the brain break action. 
    4. They can then move onto the next activity.

    Farm Stations

    Set up stations around the room using the farm brain break cards. Here’s what this entails:

    1. Place the brain break activities in various places around the room. These will be the farm stations.
    2. The child can go to the first farm station and pick up the brain break card. They can collect a small farm animal figure in their hand.
    3. Ask them to copy the name of the animal onto paper.
    4. Then they should complete the gross motor farm animal action.
    5. If it’s an animal walk, they can use that farm animal walk to move to the next station. 
    6. Ask them to take the animal figure with them to encourage in hand manipulation as they collect more and more animal figures.
    7. At the end of all of the farm stations, the child can then place the animal figures into play dough like we did in our farm play dough sensory bin.

    Farm Writing Prompts

    Use the brain breaks as a warm up for handwriting. 

    1. Select one of the farm brain break cards. 
    2. Then ask the child to follow the directions to complete the brain break action.
    3. Next, use that card as a farm writing prompt. They can write a sentence or two about the animal such as their favorite thing about that animal, the role it plays on a farm, etc.
    4. Or grade the activity down by simply asking the child to write the name of the animal as the farm writing prompt.

    Little Blue Truck Activities

    Use these brain break activities based on the animals in the book (Amazon affiliate links) Little Blue Truck (affiliate link):

    Little Blue Truck book activity with gross motor movement brain breaks based on animal movements.

    Cow Walk: Stand on you hands and knees.  Walk across the room while shaking your head from side to side and up and down like eating grass.

    Sheep Crawl: Lie on the floor with your feet and arms tucked under you.  Inch yourself forward in a slow and steady crawl.

    Frog Hop: Hop like a from across the room.  Hop back again.

    Horse Gallop:  Stand on your feet.  Gallop across the room with one foot leading.  Gallop back with the other foot leading.

    Pig Roll: Lay on the floor and roll like a pig in the mud.

    Hen Flap: Tuck your hands under your arms to make wings like a hen.  Flap your wings as you strut across the room.

    Goat Kick: Stand on your feet and place your hands on the floor.  Walk across the room as you kick out your heels.

    Duck Waddle: Place your heels together with your toes apart.  Place your hands at your sides and waddle across the room.

    Print out your printable animal brain break cards.

    Add heavy work to these activities by pushing against the wall like the animals in the book (affiliate link) push against the little blue truck to help their friend out of the mud. 

     These farm animal themed brain breaks would work for any of these farm book. 

    Looking for more movement and learning brain breaks?  You’ll love this dinosaur version based on the book, Dinosaurumpus! (affiliate link)

    Little Blue Truck and farm themed brain breaks for attention, focus and sensory needs in the classroom based on farm animals.

    Looking for more farm themed activities? 

    These Farm brain breaks go very well with our Farm Therapy Kit! It has 93 pages of farm activities and therapy resources: 

    • Farm connect the dot pages
    • Farm crafts
    • Farm visual motor activities using bales of hay
    • Farm sensory motor movement tasks
    • Farm handwriting activities
    • Farm visual discrimination tasks
    • Farm executive functioning tasks
    • Farm letter cards
    • And much more!

    Get your copy of the Farm Therapy Kit here!


    Free Farm Brain Breaks

    Print off the farm brain breaks page and get started with gross motor activities! This item is also found in our membership under Level 1 along with all of the other free printables on our site. It’s also found in Level 2 under Farm Theme.

    Not a member yet? Join us today!

    FREE Farm Brain Breaks

      We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

      Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

      Cylindrical and Spherical Grasp Development

      cylindrical grasp and spherical grasp development and activities

      A cylindrical grasp and a spherical grasp are important parts of grasp pattern development, and are functional grasps needed for many daily tasks. In this blog post, we’re covering everything you need to know about cylindrical grasp development and spherical grasp development. You’ll also find spherical grasp activities and cylindrical grasp activities. Let’s get started with these fine motor skills that play a pivotal role in functional grasp!

      cylindrical grasp and spherical grasp activities and development

      Cylindrical Grasp and Spherical Grasp

      In everyday activities, we use our hands in myriad ways. From holding a toothbrush, to turning a key in a door, to typing, tying shoes, jotting down a note, or pouring our morning coffee…all of these tasks involve grasping objects in a variety of dynamic patterns. Fine motor skills are necessary for every task that a child completes.

      Today, we’re talking about cylindrical grasp and spherical grasp.

      Both of these grips require and utilize underlying skills:

      From play, self-care, to managing clothing fasteners, and coloring, motor skills like spherical positioning of the hands and cylindrical positioning development is needed for every aspect.

      Grasp skill development is essential to pencil grasp and handwriting. Fine motor skills make up a huge part of learning and the school day (Read about the various fine motor skills needed at school.)

      Fostering development ensures functional use on objects such as hair brush, toothbrush, holding a spoon and fork or other food utensils, managing food, toys, and many other objects, including those used in play.

      For example, building and stacking with regular blocks is an exercise in fine motor development. Manipulating blocks uses these grasp movements. However, typical building blocks do not provide the unique grasp development of the cylindrical grasp of the hand. 

      When I saw my kids using the Cork Sphere Stacking Tower to make some pretend ice cream cones, I was inspired to encourage fine motor skills like cylindrical and spherical grasp development.  If you are looking for creative ways to encourage development of grasp, then read on!

      Spherical and cylindrical grasp development with KORXX cork building blocks


      Help kids develp their Spherical and cylindrical grasp with KORXX cork building blocks


      This post contains affiliate links.
      cylindrical grasp

      What is a cylindrical Grasp?

      A cylindrical grasp is one in which the whole hand is in contact with an object, and curved with thumb opposition.  A common term for this grasp is gross grasp.  You can find more information on gross grasp development and strengthening with objects that we’ve done in the past.  

      When a cylindrical grasp pattern is used, the entire palmar surface of the hand and fingers grasps a cylindrical object, such as a can of soda, or a cup. the thumb is rotated and opposed around the curve of the object. 

      Without the thumb’s involvement in the cylindrical grasp, the object would fall to the ground. Unlike in a hook grasp, where the thumb may or may not be involved, the fingers require pressure against the thumb to hold a cylindrical shaped object.

      A cylindrical grasp requires use and strength of the extrinsic muscles and intrinsic muscles of the hand in order to flex the fingers around curved objects.  The thumb is positioned in flexion and abduction.  A cylindrical grasp is needed in order to hold a broom handle, baseball bat, and ice cream cone.

      Cylindrical Grasp Development 

      Typically, the cylindrical grasp develops early in childhood, beginning with the palmer grasp at around 12 months of age.  This grasp is precursor to fine motor development and is an early pre-writing grasp.  

      This grasp pattern evolves into the cylindrical grasp with thumb abduction and fluctuations in finger abduction. 

      Cylindrical Grasp Activities

      Encouraging development of the cylindrical grasp is easy with fun activities:

      • Use a paper tube! Roll a piece of paper (or cardstock for a more sturdy tool) into a tube. Tape the edges and use it to hold a ball
      • The spheres in the Limbo var C KORXX cork building blocks set are perfect for helping kids develop fine motor skills.
      • Stack paper tubes in a fine motor STEM activity.
      Spherical and cylindrical grasp development with KORXX cork building blocks

      The KORXX cork building block set that we have has small cylinder shapes and we were able to encourage promotion of this grasp pattern by using them AND by creating paper tubes.  

      This is a perfect extension of my kids’ imagination as we used them to make colorful ice cream cones with the KORXX spheres.  

      Holding the paper tubes allows further development of the cylindrical grasp from a power grip to one of precision.  In order to hold the paper tube, one can not squeeze with all of their strength.  Otherwise, the paper will crush in their hands.  The same is true when holding a cake-type ice cream cone or a paper cup.  If precision of the cylindrical grasp is not developed, the cone or cup will crush in a child’s hands.  

      NOTE: There is a difference between holding a cake type ice cream cone which is a tube shape and a sugar ice cream cone which would be conical in shape.  These are different grasp patterns.

      We used the paper tubes to stack, build, and create lots of ice cream cones of various sizes.

      To make the paper cones, simply use colored cardstock and tape.  Cut the cardstock into different sizes and then roll it into a tube.  We found that packing tape worked well to maintain the shape of the tube. 

      Spherical grasp

      What is a Spherical Grasp?

      A spherical grasp is one in which the hand curves to hold a round or sphere-shaped object. This grasp is used to hold round items in the palm of the hand. Other examples include:

      • Holding a ball in the palm of the hand
      • Curving the hand to hold water in the palm
      • Holding an apple, orange, or other round fruit
      • Turning a doorknob

      A spherical grasp changes in relation to the size of the spherical object. Holding a ball depends on the size of the curve of the ball. A baseball would require more precision and curvature of the palm than the grasp required to hold a basketball.

      The intrinsic muscles of the hands play a big part in this grasp.  In order for the hand to curve, the metacarpal phalangeal joints need to abduct.  Involved in this action are the interossei muscles and the hypothenar eminence.  

      The interossei include the palmer interossei and the dorsal interossei.  

      Spherical and cylindrical grasp development with KORXX cork building blocks


      These allow the fingers to abduct and adduct in order to grasp smaller and larger sphere shaped objects.

      The hypothenar eminence includes three intrinsic muscles that allows the pinkie side of the hand to flex, rotate to oppose the thumb, and create the bulk of the pinkie side of the palm when curving around shapes like spheres. 

      Spherical and cylindrical grasp development with KORXX cork building blocks


      Spherical Grasp Development


      Spherical grasp develops beginning at around 18 months.  Smaller objects require a smaller curved palm with opposition and larger objects such as an apple require increased adduction of the metacarpal phalangeal joints.


      Spherical Grasp Activities

      We used our KORXX cork building blocks to practice various grasp and release of the spheres.  This block set is unique in it’s varying sphere sizes.  Placing the spheres on the paper cones allowed for precision of this grasp pattern.

      How fun is this building activity.  The spheres and cups of the Limbo var C KORXX cork building set inspires stacking to new heights with balance.  

      • Building and creating towers using balls of various size is such a powerful way to encourage precision, grasp, and control of small motor movements of the hands.

      • This balls in a muffin tin activity is a fun way to foster spherical grasp development. Ask the child to hold the ball in the palm of their hand.

      KORXX cork building blocks

      We love our KORXX cork building blocks.  They are right there in the bin of blocks and have quickly become a favorite go-to toy.  I love them for all of the open-ended play ideas that my kids have been creating with them.  

      Using them to boost developmental skills through play is super easy, too.  (See how we used them to work on visual motor integration development recently.)

      • KORXX building blocks are made from natural cork harvested without harming the trees.
      • They are soft and silent, stable and safe, and light cork blocks.
      • KORXX’s blocks are a natural material free of any harmful contaminants. The cork material provides excellent stability without slippage. Unlike typical cork used for other products, it is also safe for even the smallest of children.
      • KORXX pressed Cork contains no harmful substances (phthalates, dioxins, formaldehyde) and has no other sensory emissions. The product adheres to the guidelines for children’s toys (under 3 years) and the harmonized standard DIN EN 71.
      Cylindrical and spherical grasp development and KORXX blocks


      More activities to foster fine motor development, including spherical and cylindrical grasps:

      Working on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, or scissor skills? Our Fine Motor Kits cover all of these areas and more.

      Check out the seasonal Fine Motor Kits that kids love:

      Or, grab one of our themed Fine Motor Kits to target skills with fun themes:

      Want access to all of these kits…and more being added each month? Join The OT Toolbox Member’s Club!

      cylindrical grasp and spherical grasp handouts

      Spherical Grasp and Cylindrical Grasp Handout

      Would you like a printable version of this blog post to use in educating parents on the benefits of targeting the fine motor skills needed for a cylindrical grasp and spherical grasp? We have you covered! You can grab a printable handout that covers these areas by entering your email address into the form below.

      This printable is also available inside the Member’s Club, along with thousands of other printable tools, including handouts and educational materials. Plus, you’ll love the printable activities and Therapy Kits designed to foster development of grasp skills and fine motor strength. (All of the Therapy Kits listed above are in the Member’s Club, for example!)

      Enter your email address here for the printable handout:

      FREE Spherical Grasp and Cylindrical
      Grasp Handouts

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        Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

        Toilet Paper Roll Stamp

        toilet paper roll stamp

        This toilet paper roll stamp art is a fun creative painting activity we’ve had on the website for many years. Kids love the messy sensory fun of painting with a toilet paper roll. Therapy providers love using the recycled materials in building skills like bilateral coordination, motor planning, and more!

        toilet paper roll stamp

        toilet paper roll stamp

        Therapy materials are expensive, so using items that you typically throw away are wonderful! That’s where this toilet paper roll stamp comes into play. All you need are a few toilet paper rolls or paper towel tubes and some foam stickers to get started.

        We’ve painted paper rolls and used toilet paper tubes in crafts before but have you ever painted with a toilet paper tube?

        How to make a toilet paper roll stamp

        To use a paper tube into a stamp, you’ll need just a few items:

        • Recycled paper tube (toilet paper roll or the inside of a paper towel roll)
        • Foam stickers
        • Paint
        • Paper
        • Paint brush- this item isn’t necessary unless you want to paint the foam stickers to extend fine motor skill work.

        To set up the painting with stamps activity, ask your child to help you stick the foam stickers all around the paper roll. There are so many benefits of playing with stickers and this part of the activity is another skill-builder.


        Because when kids position stickers on a paper tube, they are building several motor areas:

        After positioning the stickers onto the paper roll, pour some paint onto scrap paper or in a low tray.

        1. Show users how to roll the paper tube into the paint. This is a great exercises in graded pressure, or proprioception. If they press too hard, paint covers the whole paper tube. If they don’t press hard enough, paint will not evenly cover the foam stickers. This awareness carries over to pencil pressure when writing.
        2. Or, paint the foam stickers with a paint brush. This is a great way to work on pencil grasp with extended wrist, which pulls the muscles of the hand and wrist into an optimal position for pencil grasp through a play activity.
        3. Then, roll the paper tube onto paper. This again supports awareness of proprioception as well as bilateral awareness. If they press too hard, the paint images are squished and you can’t tell what the stamp is. If pressed too lightly, the paint doesn’t transfer to the paper. Using both hands together with equal pressure is a bilateral coordination skill that transfers to functional tasks.
        We love any painting play in this house.  Big Sister was really into this project.
        We stuck foam stickers onto an empty paper roll and she got busy painting them.
        (I love her concentration here…)

        After the foam stickers are painted, roll away!
        Pretty Prints!
        An easy and fun little painting craft!

        Working on fine motor skills? Grab one of our Therapy Kits for printable activities that build finger dexterity, fine motor strength, and coordination needed for tasks like using scissors or pencil grasp.

        Working on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, or scissor skills? Our Fine Motor Kits cover all of these areas and more.

        Check out the seasonal Fine Motor Kits that kids love:

        Or, grab one of our themed Fine Motor Kits to target skills with fun themes:

        Want access to all of these kits…and more being added each month? Join The OT Toolbox Member’s Club!

        Sensory Solutions for Fireworks

        sensory solutions for fireworks

        For children with sensory sensitivities, fireworks can be a real challenge. The days and weeks around 4th of July can be a celebration that leads to loud and lengthy firework shows, but there can be isolated booms and cracks that come at all times of day or night. For the individual with auditory sensitivities, this is a huge detriment. Having a sensory diet or sensory solution to the auditory input can support sensory needs.

        sensory solutions for fireworks

        Sensory Solutions for Fireworks

        The intense noise of fireworks can trigger sensory overload, leading to feelings of distress, anxiety, or even pain for these individuals.

        The explosive nature of fireworks results in sharp, unpredictable bursts of sound, which can be overwhelming and disruptive to individuals with sensory sensitivities. The loud noises can cause discomfort, stress, and sensory discomfort, impacting their overall well-being. Plus, for the child or individual that has experienced this discomfort may be traumatized by the potential for booms and cracks of fireworks that seem to come out of nowhere.

        Another sensory consideration when it comes to firework season which can impact sensory sensitive individuals is the crowd. Fireworks displays are often watched in very crowded environments like parking lots, plazas, stadiums, fields, neighborhood lawns, etc. The physicals closeness of a crowd adds additional sensory stimuli like bright lights and vibrations.

        The combination of these factors can further intensify the sensory overload experienced by individuals with auditory sensitivities, making it hard to self-regulate, and can potentially leading to heightened anxiety and meltdowns. We may even see a season of sensory dysregulation.

        How to support the child sensitive to fireworks

        It is important to recognize and respect the needs of individuals with auditory sensitivities during fireworks events.

        Creating inclusive environments that offer quieter alternatives, such as silent fireworks or designated noise-reduced zones, can provide individuals with auditory sensitivities the opportunity to enjoy celebrations without the overwhelming impact of loud sounds.

        Some sensory solutions for fireworks include sensory strategies and physical or location-based tactics:

        • Preparing for the event- talking about what is going to happen at the fireworks event or celebration
        • Using noise cancelling headphones or earbuds
        • Sensory diet tools like deep breathing exercises or weighted blankets to regulate and organize sensory needs
        • Sensory chaining techniques (see below)
        • Earplugs
        • Chewlery
        • Watching fireworks from a distance
        • Watching fireworks from a live streaming of the event or a TV/social media broadcast
        • Countdown from the start of the fireworks
        • Personal space away from crowds

        When it’s time to sleep and the neighborhood is still celebrating, try:

        • White noise sound machine and blackout curtains
        • Music
        • Turn on a movie
        • “Camp out” in the basement for a fun adventure
        • Play a sleep app

        By understanding and accommodating the challenges faced by individuals with auditory sensitivities, we can work towards creating more inclusive and sensory-friendly environments during fireworks displays, ensuring that everyone can fully participate in and enjoy these events. After all, we all have differing sensory needs, and sensitivities can look different for everyone. 

        Sensory Chaining Technique

        One way to challenge sensory systems and trial tools and strategies in sensory situations is through chaining.

        Occupational therapy practitioners are familiar with chaining. There are different types of chaining strategies to support development of skills:

        • Forward chaining- Forward chaining is a teaching strategy that is often used to help individuals learn and develop new skills, particularly in the context of behavior management and task completion. This approach breaks down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, allowing individuals to master each step before moving on to the next one.
        • Backward chaining- Backward chaining is a teaching strategy that can be helpful for teaching new skills as well, however, this approach involves starting with the final step of a task and working backward to teach each preceding step until the entire task is mastered.
        • Sensory chaining- this type of skill development is typically used to slowly and strategically chain a picky eater’s diet from exremely limited and preferred foods to a more diverse food input. This occurs by slowly introducing foods that are similar in texture in a step-by-step process.

        Similar to chaining foods, sensory chaining can be one tactic to increase tolerance to sensory input in the form of tactile sensations, textures, messy play experiences, and even auditory input, or types of sounds.

        The bubble wrap fireworks activity we have described below is a chaining activity to support individuals who are sensitive to fireworks. The activity is hands-on, and led by the child. They can pop the “fireworks” on their own time and gain not only proprioceptive feedback through their hands, but control the “pop” sound.

        This is a fun fireworks themed activity to support the needs of individuals with auditory sensitivities especially when it comes to fireworks being too loud or sudden noises that typically occur during fireworks season. If you have a child sensitive to noise, then fireworks can be auditory overload. Using a sound “safe” activity to prepare for fireworks can be part of a sensory chaining strategy to support children sensitive to loud noises like fireworks.

        This bubble wrap fireworks craft is a “safe” sound!

        Use this fireworks themed sensory activity to incorporate skills such as fine motor skills, fine motor strength, bilateral coordination, and eye-hand coordination with an auditory processing component that is perfect for the 4th of July, or any patriotic holiday! It uses bubble wrap and red, white, and blue colored stickers to make a sensory tool that kids will love.

        You’ll need just a couple of items:

        • Bubble wrap
        • Blue stickers
        • Red stickers


        I stuck a bunch of red and blue labeling stickers on large bubble wrap.
        When Big Sister and Little Guy saw this, they were very excited!
        The pop made a perfect firework sound for each color.  It really did sound like the crack of  little fireworks.  We did a little listening activity, where I would tell them…”Pop red, then blue, then blue.”  We did a few patterns and all reds, and then all blues.
        Each little bubble gave a very satisfying crack!
        And then there was a huge crack as a certain Little Guy jumped on the rest of the un-popped bubbles 🙂


        Fine Motor Toothpick Activity

        toothpick activity

        This toothpick activity requires only one item: a toothpick container found at the local dollar store. Typically a toothpick container is filled with toothpicks and has a few holes in the removable lid, making it a great fine motor tool for children. This occupational therapy activity is used because you can target many precision skills and finger dexterity in kids. Let’s check it out…

        toothpick activity

        Amazon affiliate links are included in this blog post. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

        Toothpick Container Activity

        I’ve had a toothpick container in my therapy bag for many, many years. While we don’t actually use the toothpicks in their traditional use, we do, use the toothpicks in a fine motor activity that kids seem to love!

        First, look for a holder that has small holes in a removeable lid. Amazon (affiliate link) has a three pack with color coded lids which would be great for sorting colored toothpicks.

        Next, place toothpicks on the table and show the child how to pick up one at a time and drop them into the holes of the lid.

        Use this basic activity in many ways:

        • Play pick up sticks
        • Roll a dice and pick up that many toothpicks. Drop them in the holes of the container.
        • Set a timer and place as many toothpicks in the holes as possible
        • Hide toothpicks in a sensory bin. Pull out a toothpick and drop them into the holes as they are found.

        What other ways to use this toothpick container activity can you think of?

        Fine Motor Toothpick activity

        What skills are we working on here?

        Talk about an easy set- up and great fine motor dexterity task…
        toothpick activity for kids
        Picking up those tooth picks from the table surface is perfect for a fine motor neat pincer grasp. 
        Putting them into the little holes of the container works on a tripod grasp and extended wrist. 
        Holding the container with the non-dominant hand is great for establishing a stabilizer hand (supporting the paper when writing).
        toothpick holder activity for kids

        More Toothpick Activities

        1. STEM Towers: Challenge your child to build towers using toothpicks and marshmallows. There is power in fine motor STEM! This activity promotes precision and hand-eye coordination.
        2. Pincer Grasp Practice: Encourage your child to pick up toothpicks using only the tips of their thumb and index finger in a neat pincer grasp. They can transfer toothpicks from one container to another, enhancing their fine motor control.
        3. Build letters: Use toothpicks to shape letters of the alphabet. Your child can place the toothpicks on a flat surface to form letters, improving their finger dexterity and control.
        4. Counting and Sorting: Have your child count and sort toothpicks into different groups based on length, color, or other criteria. This activity develops counting skills and promotes attention to detail. One way to expand this activity is to use a marker or paint to color the toothpicks or use (Amazon affiliate link) colored craft matchsticks.
        5. Geometric Shapes: Challenge your child to create geometric shapes, such as squares, triangles, or hexagons, by connecting toothpicks. This activity sharpens spatial awareness and fosters creativity.
        6. Playdough Poke: Make a playdough snake and then use the toothpicks to poke along the play dough. This threading exercise improves hand strength, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor control.
        7. Toothpick Art: Encourage your child to create miniature sculptures or artwork using toothpicks. They can connect toothpicks with glue or build structures, allowing their creativity to flourish while refining their fine motor skills.
        8. Sensory Play: Combine toothpicks with sensory materials like kinetic sand or rice. Your child can bury toothpicks in the material, dig them out, or create patterns and designs. This activity provides tactile stimulation and enhances finger strength.
        9. Fine Motor Mazes: Draw or print mazes on paper and use toothpicks as a stylus to navigate through the maze. This activity strengthens hand control and precision movements.

        Plus, you can use the toothpicks in the toothpick art found in our seasonal Fine Motor Kits:

        Working on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, or scissor skills? Our Fine Motor Kits cover all of these areas and more.

        Check out the seasonal Fine Motor Kits that kids love:

        Or, grab one of our themed Fine Motor Kits to target skills with fun themes:

        Want access to all of these kits…and more being added each month? Join The OT Toolbox Member’s Club!

        DIY Light Box for Tracing

        DIY light table for tracing

        This DIY light box for tracing is an easy light box we put together in minutes. All you need is an under the bed storage container and a string of lights to make a tracing tool that kids will love. There are benefits to tracing and this tool is a fun way to build fine motor skills and visual motor skills as a visual motor skill leading to better handwriting.

        Amazon affiliate links are included in this blog post. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

        DIY light box for tracing

        A light box is a fun activity, and one you see in preschool classrooms, as it’s intended for hands-on play and exploring the senses. But did you know there are many benefits to using a light box for tracing (and other exploring play)?

        How to Make a DIY Light Table for Tracing

        This DIY Light Box was something I’ve seen around Pinterest and have wanted to try for a while…Once we had our Christmas lights outside, I thought we would definitely be doing this project after we pulled all of the lights back in.  So, after we brought the Christmas lights in from the outside bushes, this was easy to put together for a cold evening’s play!

        You need just two items to make a DIY light table:

        (Amazon affiliate links)

        1. Strand of white Christmas lights
        2. Clear, plastic under-the-bed storage bin

        Important: The under the bed storage bin needs to be made of clear plastic or have just a slight opaque color to the plastic. Also, the top should be smooth. Many storage bins have textured surface or a white surface. The flat, smooth lid is important for sensory play as well as tracing with paper on the DIY light table. This brand (affiliate link) is a good one to use.

        Instructions to make a DIY light box:

        1. Plug in the lights.
        2. Place them into the bin.
        3. Either cut a hole in the base of the bin for the lights to go through or cut a small notch into the lid so the strand of lights can go under the lid.

        To make this homemade light box safer and not use plug in lights, you can use battery operated button lights (affiliate link) inside the storage bin. Or, there are many battery operated LED lights available now too. These are a great idea because many of them have a color-changing capability and can be operated from an app on your phone.

        IMPORTANT: This homemade light box project should always be done under the supervision of an adult. The lights can get warm inside the bin and they should be unplugged periodically.

        This is not a project that should be set up and forgotten about. The OT Toolbox is not responsible for any harm, injury, or situation caused by this activity. It is for educational purposes only. Always use caution and consider the environment and individualized situation, including with this activity. Your use of this idea is your acceptance of this disclaimer.

        I put all of the (already bundled-up) strands of Christmas lights …seriously, this does not get much easier…into an under-the-bed storage bin, connected the strands, and plugged in!


        DIY light box for tracing

        A DIY light box made with Christmas lights

        Once you put the top on, it is perfect for tracing pictures!
        Tracing on a DIY light box

        Tracing pictures on a light table

        This is so great for new (or seasoned) hand-writers.  They are working on pencil control, line awareness, hand-eye coordination…and end up with a super cool horse picture they can be proud of!
        Use printable coloring pages and encourage bilateral coordination to hold the paper down. You can modify the activity by taping the coloring page onto the plastic bin lid. 
        Tracing a picture on a DIY light table
         Big Sister LOOOOVED doing this!  And, I have to say, that she was doing the tracing thing for so long, that we had to turn the lights off because the bin was getting warm. 
        trace letters on a light table

        Other ways to use a DIY Light Table

        We went around the house looking for cool things to place on top of the bin.  Magnetic letters looked really neat with the light glowing through…Baby Girl had a lot of fun playing with this.
        You can add many different items onto the DIY light table:
        • Magnetic letters (the light shines through them slightly)
        • Sand for a tracing table- We cover how to use a sand writing tray in another blog post and all the benefits of tracing in a sensory medium. With the lights under the tracing area, this adds another multisensory component to the learning.
        • Shapes (Magnatiles would work well)
        • Feathers
        • Coins
        • Blocks
        • A marble run
        letters on a light table
        What a great learning tool…Shapes:
        Letter Identification, spelling words:


         Color and sensory discrimination:
        …All in a new and fun manner!  We had a lot of fun with this, but have since put our Christmas lights back up into the attic.  We will be sure to do this one again next year, once the lights come back out again 🙂


        Please: if you do make one of these light boxes, keep an adult eye on it, as the box did warm up…not to burning warmth, but I would worry about the lights becoming over heated.  This is NOT something that kids should play with unsupervised!

        Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

        Working on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, or scissor skills? Our Fine Motor Kits cover all of these areas and more.

        Check out the seasonal Fine Motor Kits that kids love:

        Or, grab one of our themed Fine Motor Kits to target skills with fun themes:

        Want access to all of these kits…and more being added each month? Join The OT Toolbox Member’s Club!