Sports Gross Motor Exercises

sports gross motor exercises and sports motor planning activities

Working on gross motor skills, motor planning, or self-regulation? These sports gross motor exercises are perfect for kids that love all things sports! Use the football, baseball, hockey, and other sports activities to add athletic themed brain breaks and whole body movement.

Sports gross motor exercises and motor planning activities for kids

Sports Gross Motor Exercises

These sports gross motor activities are a free therapy slide deck to use in virtual therapy sessions or in face-to-face sessions with an outline of activities.

There are so many ways you can use these sports movement activities to promote development of gross motor skills:

  • Copy the athlete to work on motor planning
  • Go through several slides to encourage sequencing and memory skills
  • Use the sports activities as heavy work in sports themed brain breaks
  • Copy the athletes on each slide to work on bilateral coordination, crossing midline, and segmenting the body.
  • Address posture, position changes, coordination, balance, and endurance
  • Use these sports exercises in a sports themed therapy session and encourage functional tasks like ball catching and throwing
  • Ask students to copy the words and work on handwriting with a sports related brain break between each word
  • How would you use these sports exercises in therapy?

Sports Exercises Slide Deck

This resource is a free Google slide deck that you can download and add to your Google drive. Open the slide deck in your Google classroom or right on your computer/device to encourage gross motor activities.

This is a great addition to other free slides that we’ve shared here on the website, and a fun weekly therapy theme when you’ve got a sports fan on your caseload.

To access this free therapy slide deck, enter your email address into the form below. You’ll receive an email containing a download. Save that PDF so you can use this again and again! Then click the link on the PDF and copy the exercises to your Google drive. Then get ready to lead therapy kiddos through motor planning and gross motor exercises that build skills!

FREE Sports Gross Motor Exercises

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    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.

    Construction Truck Brain Breaks

    Construction Truck Brain Breaks

    These construction truck brain breaks are heavy work fun with a truck theme! The gross motor activities that kids can use as a brain break or a heavy work activity to help with attention, focus, and sensory input. The construction truck activities are great for kiddos that love all things trucks! You can access these heavy work activities in a free therapy slide deck and use it in teletherapy sessions or in face-to-face therapy (or at home and in the classroom, too!)

    These are perfect for kiddos that love all things garbage trucks, backhoes, excavators, cranes, steam rollers, and more. We’ve got all the construction vehicle activities covered in this therapy set!

    Construction truck brain breaks for kids that love all things construction vehicles.

    Construction Truck Brain Breaks

    I love using brain breaks in themed activities that kids love. The thing is that children are drawn to certain topics or themes, and construction truck themes are no different. There is just something about garbage trucks, dump trucks, backhoes, cement trucks, and excavators that are irresistible to children.

    These particular construction truck brain breaks offer an opportunity for kids to gain much-needed heavy work input in the way of proprioception. You can read more about proprioception and brain breaks here.

    The truck activities also allow children to move while gaining vestibular input as well. Adding movement in a variety of planes and directions in conjunction with input from the eyes, and heavy work feedback from muscle and joint receptors, is able to contribute to posture, coordination, and appropriate response of the visual system.

    Another reason to use heavy work activities like these truck brain breaks, is for the benefit of improving body awareness. Heavy work improves body awareness by incorporating proprioceptive input, with motor planning, attention, and “self-checks” that allow us to know where our body is in space during tasks. This is so important for kiddos facing more and more screen time than ever.

    For more heavy work activities, try these heavy work cards that come in a variety of themes.

    Free Construction Truck Brain Breaks

    You can grab these construction truck activities and use them in teletherapy sessions, in face-to-face therapy sessions, in the classroom, or in the home. They are presented in a Google slide deck, so that they can be easily accessible from different devices and situations, using a Google drive.

    Check out all of the free therapy slide decks we have available here on the site.

    Want to add this resource to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email address into the form below.

    NOTE: Try to add a personal email address for deliverability, as work emails (who have a strict security wall in place) may block the deliverability of the PDF email.

    Construction Truck Brain Breaks (free slide deck)!

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      Heavy work cards

      Use the Heavy Work Activity Cards in play, learning, and brain breaking!

      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.

      Bear Brain Breaks

      bear brain breaks

      These bear brain breaks are perfect for winter time movement, or using in a bear theme in school or in therapy. Sometimes, brain breaks are the perfect tool to can help with movement or sensory needs in the classroom.  We used a favorite childhood book to come up with bear themed brain breaks that can be used alongside the book in a movement and learning activity or in a bear-themed classroom activities.  Not long ago, we shared more brain break ideas that you might like to add to your classroom.



      bear brain breaks

      Bear Brain Breaks

      Looking for brain break videos for the classroom or home? Here are the best brain break videos on YouTube.
       
      Bear brain breaks for movement and learning in the classroom setting with a bear theme

      This post contains affiliate links.

      Have you read the book, “Time for Sleep” by Denise Fleming? My kids loved to hear about all of the animals as they prepared for sleep over the winter.  We decided to try a few bear gross motor moves based on the book.

      Bear Theme Brain Breaks

      Stretches and whole-body movements that happen in a calm manner are a great way to prepare for sleep, so these activities went along nicely with the bear in the book as well as the getting ready for sleep theme.

      If fidgeting, wiggling, or just a break from screens is needed, try these movement breaks to help. 

      We created these themed brain breaks to go along with the book, Time to Sleep, but they are perfect for any day (or when paired with other bear books)!

      If you are looking for resources for sleep or bedtime stretches, we shared some based on another children’s book.

      Time for Sleep by Denise Fleming and bear themed brain breaks for a bear activity.
       
      This is such a fun book to read with kids.  It would go along perfectly with a bear theme in your classroom.  Try adding some gross motor movement activities based on the book.
       
      Kids can then use the bear themed brain breaks throughout their day when it seems the classroom or individual students need a movement break. 
       
                                              
       
      Below, you can enter your email to access the free brain break printable that would go along perfectly for teaching the classroom about these bear brain breaks.  They can be cut up and laminated for the children to pull out of a cup.  Or, add them to a key ring for bear themed movement activities.
        
       
      Using these bear brain breaks, kids can stretch, roll, reach, climb, and crawl like a bear.  There are eight bear themed movement activities included that allow kids to move with a bear theme.  
       
      Read the book Time for Sleep and try the movement activities!
       
      Bear brain break ideas for kids
       

      Bear Activities

      Looking for more bear themed activities?  Try these hands-on ways to play with a bear theme based on bear books like “Time for Sleep”.

      Polar Bear Gross Motor Ideas

      Bear Craft

      Fun and Therapeutic Polar bear Activities

      Polar Bear Therapy Slide Deck– Free! Perfect for virtual therapy sessions

      Polar Bear Self-Regulation Deep Breathing Activity

      Bear Says Thanks Fine Motor Activity

      Bear Oral Motor Exercise

      LiTERACY BEAR THEMED ACTIVITIES

      NUMERACY BEAR THEMED ACTIVITIES

      BEAR THEMED RECIPES

      BEAR CRAFTS AND IDEAS FOR PLAY

      Get these free bear brain break activities

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        These brain breaks would be a great addition to our Winter Fine Motor Kit, loaded with winter theme and bear activities! It’s got all things fine motor in print-and-go activities. You’ll find lacing cards, modified handwriting sheets, pencil control strips, cutting activities, crafts, coloring exercises, and MUCH MORE!

        Get the Winter Fine Motor Kit HERE.

        winter fine motor kit

        Dinosaur Proprioception Activities

        dinosaur movement cards for kids to use for heavy work and coping tools to address dinosaur sized feelings

        This dinosaur brain break activity is a set of free proprioception activities that provides heavy work with a dinosaur theme, making movement and proprioceptive input a fun way to address dinosaur -sized needs. Whether you are looking for heavy work activities for the kids to add to distance learning or heavy work activities for OT teletherapy programs, these free dinosaur movement cards are a great sensory activity to add to your therapy toolbox. Scroll all the way to the bottom of this post to grab your Dinosaur Movement Activity Cards…and check out the Dinosaur OT activities too!

        dinosaur movement cards for kids to use for heavy work and coping tools to address dinosaur sized feelings

        This post explains more about proprioception sensory activities but to better understand why and how to incorporate movement breaks into learning, check out this post on brain breaks for kids.

        This freebie was originally created as part of October’s Sensory Processing Awareness Month, however, for a kiddo that loves anything dinosaurs, it works out great any time of year. Kids with sensory integration needs are those kiddos who are bumping into everything and everyone.  The little ones who fall out of their chairs, press too hard on their pencils, are clumsy, fidget, or seek extra movements. They might flap their hands or slap their feet when they walk.  The thing about kids is that everyone is different and everyone will have different needs, interests, and abilities.  This Dinosaur Sized Feelings sensory movement activity  is perfect for kids seeking sensory input and kids who just need to move!

        Dinosaur feelings can impact emotional regulation, sensory processing, self-care, and function. Use dinosaur themed activities like these dinosaur heavy work cards as a coping tool.

        Now, it’s important for me to note, that when I say Dinosaur-Sized feelings in this post, I’m talking about the child’s feeling of hyposensitivity to their environment.  They are seeking out extra stimulation from people, walls, cushions…anything really and are feeling a big need to improve their central neural system functioning in order to complete tasks and function.  

        (Read more about the Central Nervous System below!)  

        What I’m not talking about in this post is the emotional side of feelings.  There has been at least one study done that attempts to determine whether emotional feelings can be influenced by proprioceptive input. I’m not talking about the big emotional feels we all have. In this activity, I’m focusing on the big feelings of sensory needs kids might have, and how to stomp those sensory needs out with proprioception. It’s all about the ability to regulate those giant, dinosaur-sized sensory related feelings that impact emotional regulation, coping abilities, worries, anxieties. This post on Zones of Regulation activities explains a little more on self-regulation and specific ways to address these needs.

        What is Sensory Integration?

        Let’s cover some of the background info about what’s going on behind self-regulation. Typically, our Central Nervous System integrates sensory input from the environment in a balanced process that screens out certain information and acts on important information, at an automatic level…one that we are not cognitively aware of.  For kiddos with atypical sensory integration, the central nervous system has difficulty screening out unimportant information from our environment.  For those children, interaction with their surroundings can be stressful as they are either over responsive or under-responsive to normal stimulus. This results in dysfunctional behavior and social difficulties. 

        For a thorough explanation of sensory integration, sensory processing, and what specific actions look like as a part of our sensory systems, grab this free sensory processing booklet. You’ll access the free booklet and join a short email course that explains sensory processing in great detail. It’s a free informative course via email that you don’t want to miss.

        free sensory processing booklet

        Proprioception Activities for kids

        I shared a post in the past about proprioception and handwriting with too much pressure.  In that post, I told you how  the proprioceptive system receives input from the muscles and joints about body position, weight, pressure, stretch, movement and changes in position in space.  Our bodies are able to grade and coordinate movements based on the way muscles move, stretch, and contract. Proprioception allows us to apply more or less pressure and force in a task. Instinctively, we know that lifting a feather requires very little pressure and effort, while moving a large backpack requires more work.  We are able to coordinate our movements effectively to manage our day’s activities with the proprioceptive system.  The brain also must coordinate input about gravity, movement, and balance involving the vestibular system.    (This post does contain affiliate links.)

        Kids who are showing signs of proprioceptive dysfunction might do some of these things:

        • Appear clumsy
        • Fidget when asked to sit quietly.
        • Show an increased activity level or arousal level.
        • Seek intense proprioceptive input by “crashing and bashing” into anything.
        • Slap their feet when walking.
        • Flap hands.
        • Use too much or too little force on pencils, scissors, objects, and people.
        • “No fear” when jumping or walking down stairs.
        • Or, are overly fearful of walking down steps/jumping.
        • Look at their body parts (hands/feet) when completing simple tasks.
        • Sit down too hard or miss chairs when sitting.
        • Fall out of their seat.
        • Fluctuates between over-reacting and under-reacting in response to stimulation.
        • Constantly on the move.
        • Slow to get moving and then fatigue easily.
        Dinosaur themed sensory (proprioception) heavy work activities for organizing and calming sensory input. This is perfect for a child who seeks out sensory stimulation.


        Dinosaur Themed Heavy Work Activities

        This activity is easy.  There is not much to it really, other than being a dinosaur themed way to calm and organize those big dinosaur feelings. The heavy work activities add proprioception that can be a tool to address regulation or sensory needs. Here, I’m sharing with you a few heavy work suggestions that may help hyposensitive kiddos.  I wanted to share activities that might be of interest to the child that loves a dinosaur theme.  It’s my hope that these work for you and your family!  If you are looking for more dinosaur themed movement activities, check out this past post sharing Dinosaur movement activities, based on the book popular children’s book, Dinosaurumpus.  

        Dinosaur heavy work activities can help as a coping tool for self-regulation in kids.

        Please note (as with any activity that you find on this website): This is meant to be a resource and not Occupational Therapy treatment.  Please seek individualized evaluation and treatment strategies for your child.  All kids are so different in their sensory needs and abilities and adverse reactions can occur with globalized treatments.   

        Dinosaur themed sensory (proprioception) heavy work activities for organizing and calming sensory input. This is perfect for a child who seeks out sensory stimulation.

          Big dino-sized feelings can happen in a little body!    

        These dinosaur brain breaks are free heavy work cards for dinosaur proprioception activities

         Simply print out the free printable, cut out the cards, and pretend to play, walk, and eat like a dinosaur!  We did use our Mini Dinosaurs as we practiced all of the Dino Moves in these activities. Use them in a scavenger hunt. Your child needs to find hidden dinosaurs and once they bring them back to you, do a proprioception activity from the handout.

        Another idea is to do the heavy wok activities before a fine motor task like handwriting to calm and organize the body.  You can get the free dinosaur proprioception activities printable by joining the thousands of others on our newsletter subscriber list.  You will receive occasional newsletter emails. Once you subscribe you’ll receive an email with a link to the free printable, as well as other freebies that only our subscribers receive.  

        Kids will love these dinosaur activities for occupational therapy to help kids address fine and gross motor skills using OT dinosaur activities.

        Dinosaur Activities for OT sessions

        Looking for more Dinosaur activities?  Try adding these to your occupational therapy interventions. Some of the ideas below are great for adding to teletherapy sessions. Others make great OT home programs.

        Dinosaur Activities for Occupational Therapy

        Ok, you have a child on your OT caseload (on in your classroom or home) that LOVES all things dinosaur…how do you get them involved in therapy sessions? You can totally guide therapy goals along a theme like dinosaurs. The OT dinosaur activities listed below are fun ways to work on specific skills in therapy sessions, using hands-on play and activities. You’ll find fine motor dinosaur activities, gross motor dinosaur ideas, dinosaur printables, sensory play with a dino theme, and even dinosaur visual perception activities. If you have a child in OT who LOVES all things dinosaur, these are great incentive activities that will build attention and focus to the session. Adding a much-loved theme to therapy sessions can empower a child as they play with more intent and attention.

        Occupational therapy activities with a dinosaur theme for heavy work activities and movement.

        Dinosaur Gross Motor Game– This dinosaur game offers kids a chance to MOVE! Use a child’s love of dinosaurs to create movement breaks and indoor activity with a dinosaur theme. This is one indoor play idea that my own children loved when they were little, but the bonus is that they gain midline crossing, motor planning, sequencing, bilateral coordination, balance, endurance, proprioception, and vestibular benefits all in the same movement activity.

        Dinosaur Playdough Kit can be made with play dough and a few small dinosaur figures. It’s a great way to add proprioception to the hands as heavy work before a handwriting activity. This busy activity can be pulled out at any time and kids can keep those hands busy while building intrinsic hand strength and endurance needed for tasks like coloring. Read more about warming-up the hands before fine motor tasks here.

        Free Dinosaur Visual Perception Sheet– This printable page can be printed off once and used with a page protector sheet for the whole therapy caseload. Or, add it to teletherapy sessions or distance learning as part of a child’s specific plan. Kids can work on visual perceptual skills such as scanning, form discrimination, figure ground, form constancy, and other visual perception skills. It’s perfect for dinosaur fans of all ages!

        Dinosaur Counting Cards with clothes pins to clip onto the matching number of dinosaurs is a great way to build hand strength with a dinosaur theme. Print them off and add them to your therapy toolbox. Here are more ways to use clothes pins in building skills in kids.

        Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs book and jacks game– have you read the children’s book, Goldilocks and the three dinosaurs? This children’s book is very cute and a fun way to add books to occupational therapy sessions. Then, add the fine motor and motor planning jacks game to build coordination and dexterity skills by playing jacks. This is such a fun way to add movement and reading to therapy sessions, making motor planning, sustained attention, bilateral coordination, crossing midline, floor play (heavy work!), all integrated into a single dinosaur activity!

        Dinosaur Matching with mini-figure dinosaurs is a fun way to work on visual scanning, visual discrimination, visual memory, and other visual perceptual skills. Using a small ball of play dough, press the dinosaur’s feet into the dough. They can then try to match up the feet to the footprints. All you need are mini dinosaur figures and salt dough, play dough, or similar dough. It’s a fun way to work on skills that come in handy for handwriting, reading, and number identification.

        Dinosaur Guessing Game is a fun way to work on discrimination skills and visual attention. For kids that have trouble attending to tasks, this dinosaur themed activity may do just the trick. Use dinosaur figurines and a box or basket to hide the dinosaurs. You can cover the dinosaurs and ask children to find the dino with specific features such as sharp teeth or a specific color. This visual memory game builds skills needed for letter discrimination and attention to detail.

        Free Dinosaur Number Puzzles– Kids can cut the paper puzzles into strips to work on scissor skills and bilateral coordination. The strait lines or these puzzles make it a great beginning scissor activity for children learning to use scissors. Then, they can challenge those visual perceptual skills to build the puzzle by scanning, and attending to details as they discriminate parts of the puzzles.

        Dinosaur Emergent Reader– Use a piece of colored paper to create a cone dinosaur craft like the one shown in this post. Kids can make colored dinosaurs and match them to dinosaur counters or small pieces of paper that match the colors. Don’t want to make the dinosuar crafts? Use colored cups to pretend!

        Free Dinosaur Subitizing Game– This dinosaur subitizing printable page has a fine motor component by that builds precision and dexterity as kids place counters on a printable play mat. They can roll a dice ans work on an the essential math skill of subitizing. What is subitizing? Essentially, this skill means kids can look at a group of objects and know how many there without having to count each object one by one. Subitizing is important in math, especially higher math skills.

        Dinosaur Sensory Bottle– You know we love sensory bottles! Sensory bottles are a great tool to add to your toolbox to address sensory needs or self-regulation. Using a sensory bottle as a coping tool can help kids relax, calm down, or focus. This dinosaur themed sensory bottle is great for kids who love dinosaur anything! Here is more information on how to make a sensory bottle.

        Dinosaur Letter Tracing– Kids can work on fine motor precision and dexterity while also working on letter formation, gross motor skills, bilateral coordination, crossing midline, visual tracking, and so many more skills. All you need are dinosaur mini-figures, paper, and a marker. Draw a large letter on the paper and then children can place the small dinosaurs along the lines to “build” the letters. Here is more information on teaching letter formation and using manipulatives like these small dinosaur figures in teaching letters.


        DIY Dinosaur Tangrams
        All you need is a set of tangram shapes, paper, and markers to make your own dinosaur tangram pattern cards. Kids will love building their own pattern cards, too. This is a great activity for those who have the actual tangram puzzle pieces, but don’t have access to a color printer or are able to purchase pre-made dinosaur pattern cards. Work on visual perceptual skills by copying and building the geometric dinosaurs together as a fun activity that little dinosaur fans will love. Here is a great resource on how to use tangrams to build visual perceptual skills. Check out that article, and then you can read more on the specifics of tangrams and handwriting. The fine motor activity and the functional task of writing go “hand-in-hand”!

        Dinosaur themed sensory (proprioception) heavy work activities for organizing and calming sensory input. This is perfect for a child who seeks out sensory stimulation.

        Are you looking for thorough information on Sensory Processing and Proprioception (or any of the sensory systems and how they affect functional skills, behavior, and the body’s sensory systems?  This book, Sensory Lifestyle Handbook, will explain it all.  Activities and Resources are included. Get it today and never struggle to understand or explain Sensory Integration again.  Shop HERE.

        This post is part of our 31 Days of Occupational Therapy series where you can find free or almost free treatment activities and ideas.  Stop by every day!  You’ll find more fun ideas each day in October.

        Free Dinosaur Movement Cards

        Dinosaur brain breaks and proprioception activities

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          Classroom Breaks and Behavior

          Movement breaks in the classroom ideas and activities for the classroom

          Adding movement breaks to the classroom can be a tool for helping kids focus and learn. Read below about some research related to classroom breaks and behavior, learning, and focus in the classroom. These are brain breaks that can be used as classroom breaks to take a short break from learning…OR used as a strategy to incorporate movement into learning activities!

          Classroom breaks add an opportunity to boost learning skills and reduce behaviors that interfere with academics. These movement activities and classroom breaks can be incorporated into the classroom and are evidence-based.

          Movement Breaks

          I was thinking about the cold weather we’ve been having recently. My kids have been cooped up in school and when they get home from school, it’s been FREEZING. Sure, we can bundle up and run around the yard for a bit (and I try to get all the kiddos to do this)…but it is downright cold out there. We can’t last too long when the wind chill is -4 degrees F!


          Not only that, but many schools aren’t having outdoor recess when it’s this cold. Some are getting their kids bundled up and outside, but for the most part, it’s been indoor recess for many kids.


          So when the school day is an indoor affair all day long, kids can become antsy!


          Research on Classroom Breaks



          Research tells us that activity breaks in the classroom can improve classroom behavior and can increase students’ overall physical activity.


          We know as therapists, that behaviors are just the tip of the iceberg. They are the sign that something bigger is causing the behavior we see. It might be anxiety, worries, sensory needs, communication issues, emotional concerns, social situations, or a myriad other underlying areas that lead to the behavior we see. 



          So, to know that science tells us that a brain break can help get out of that rut of behaviors is huge! It’s a strategy to help reduce the behavior and move toward focused learning and attention. In fact, there’s been some findings indicating physical activity during the school day improves attention-to-task in elementary school students. 



          The evidence suggests that increasing physical activity may improve academic performance, in the forms of recess, physical education class, and physical activity in the classroom. But if indoor recess is the only option this time of year, and gym class occurs every one day out of 6 in a classroom rotation schedule, or even one day/week, where does this leave us? Movement and learning and classroom breaks seem to be the option left!



          In my research of the available evidence-based practice scenarios out there, I found some interesting points related to learning and specifically executive functioning skills and overall cognitive functions related to learning. 



          Here is some more information on physical activity and brain structure such as brain white matter and brain function. 


          Executive function is related to learning

          It seems that executive functioning skills play more into learning that just having a neat and tidy desk space or remembering homework. 


          In fact, executive function plays very much into the use of those mental skills in learning and classroom tasks. These skills can play a big role in attention levels and impulse control of kids in the classroom. They play a part in learning in many ways. Here are just a few examples:

          -Arriving to class on time
          -Staying on task in an assignment
          -Staying focused when completing minor tasks such as retrieving a pencil. Here’s a scenarios you may have seen before: A student drops their pencil. They bend to retrieve that pencil and then get distracted and lose focus on the assignment they are working on. Sound familiar?
          -Visual attention in order to scan a math worksheet and going through the assignment part by part without skipping sections or getting distracted or overwhelmed

          Activity and Learning

          • Evidence suggests that mathematics and reading are the classroom subjects topics that are most influenced by physical activity. These academic areas depend on “efficient and effective executive function, which has been linked to physical activity and physical fitness”.
          • Executive function and brain health are the basis of academic performance. The cognitive functions of attention and memory are essential for learning. These executive function skills are enhanced by physical activity and higher aerobic fitness.

          Physical activity and behaviors

          It seems that when physical activity is used as a break in the classroom, whether as a brain break or , during gym class, recess time, or during active learning, attention, on-task behavior, and academic performance  improves as well. 

          How to add more physical activity to the school day 

          Some ideas for adding physical activity into the classroom in order to improve behaviors include:


          1. Offering physical activity breaks within the curriculum or learning activity


          2. Allow students to stand at the student’s discretion. This strategy should be used with a training period and even a contract signed by the student that says they will not move away from their desk and that they will perform the work that’s asked of them while standing at their desk.
           

          3. YouTube Videos- Here are our recommendations for YouTube brain breaks that can be added into classroom breaks. Some of these would be great for an indoor recess dance party, too. 


          4. Print off a collection of brain breaks and pull them out at different times during the day or as a transition activity. Here are some printable sheets of brain breaks: Bear brain breaksSquirrel Themed Brain Breaks apple themed brain breaks

          5. Add a beach ball or bean bag to group activities. Toss while naming the answer to questions. 


          6. Jumping Jack Spelling Words- This is a whole-class exercise drill that gets the brain and the heart moving!


          7. Make indoor recess an active time. Here are indoor recess ideas to get the kids moving. 

          Use these classroom movement ideas to help with behaviors, learning, and to promote academic skills like math and reading.



          References:

          Grieco LA, Jowers EM, Bartholomew JB. Physically active academic lessons and time on task: The moderating effect of body mass index. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2009;41(10):1921–1926. 



          Mahar MT, Murphy SK, Rowe DA, Golden J, Shields AT, Raedeke TD. Effects of a classroom-based program on physical activity and on-task behavior. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2006;38(12):2086.



          Donnelly JE, Lambourne K. Classroom-based physical activity, cognition, and academic achievement. Preventive Medicine. 2011;52(Suppl 1):S36–S42. 

          Winter Brain Breaks

          winter brain breaks

          Need Winter Brain Breaks for the kids? Here, you will find energizing brain breaks are gross motor activities that can break up the school day or be added to the classroom schedule. Mix some of these movement breaks into the classroom to help kids focus and stay on task while getting a chance to get a short mental break from the class schedule. With more online time and increased screen time than ever before, and the added piece of wintery weather, brain breaks are needed more now than ever.

          winter brain breaks

          Winter Brain Breaks

          I love that these movement breaks can give kids a chance to weave activity right into learning. Whether you are looking for stretches or specifics like activities that fit your curriculum, most of these brain break ideas can be modified to meet your classroom needs!

          Brain Break Ideas

          It’s Winter Week here on The OT Toolbox and each day we’re talking all about activities to get the kids active and moving indoors. If you would like to see the other activities we are sharing this week, you can check out yesterday’s Indoor Recess Ideas. 


          Here is the line-up for more Winter weather activities, so be sure to stop back each day this week. By the end of the week, you’ll have enough ideas to last the rest of the winter months!


          Monday- Indoor Recess Ideas

          Tuesday- Winter Brain Break Ideas

          Wednesday- Winter Bilateral Coordination Activities

          Thursday-Winter Mindfulness Activities

          Friday- Winter Fine Motor Activities

          And, you’ll want to check out our new Winter Fine Motor Kit. It’s an amazing resource of 100 pages designed to help kids move and build the skills they need. While focused on the fine motor aspect, this kit includes play dough mats, toothpick art, lacing cards, crumble art, I Spy pages, and more, all which can be used in indoor brain break types of activities.

          Now, on to the winter brain breaks! Check out these Winter Brain Breaks for movement-based activity in the clinic, classroom, virtual therapy session, or home!


          1. Build a snowman- This winter brain break requires imagination and some large motor skills! Students may need verbal cues and maybe a visual model when first doing this snowman brain break. Here’s what  Pretend to roll a ball of snow. Then another big snowball. Ask students to place their pretend snowballs on the first one to build the snowman. Next, pick up a carrot and some “rocks” from the ground. Press them into the snowman’s head. Next, look on the “ground” to find some sticks for arms. Press them into the sides of the sides of the snowman. Add any additional details like a scarf, hat, or boots. 

          2. Winter Toothpick Art– Use the Winter Fine Motor Kit materials to get kids moving with the toothpick art activities. These can be used on cardboard or a carpeted area to help kids build fine motor strength and tripod grasp.

          3. Penguin Freeze Dance- This winter brain break activity is a great addition to an arctic theme in the classroom! Take 5 minutes to move and groove, penguin-style! Turn on some music and the students can waddle like penguins! Then suddenly stop the music and all of the classroom penguins need to FREEZE! Play for about 5 minutes and then get back to learning.


          4. Dice Roll- Write numbers 1-6 on the chalkboard. Assign each number to an action movement like hop up and down, touch the ground, stand on one leg, do a funny dance, jumping jacks, etc. Then roll the dice and everyone needs to do the action. Keep rolling and moving for 3-5 minutes. Some more action ideas include: turn in two circles, do a burpee, do a push-up, and sit on the floor then stand up very quickly.

          5. Winter Crumble Art- This is another fun fine motor activity for indoor recess. Use bits of tissue paper or crumbled up construction paper to create a winter picture. These sheets are in the Winter Fine Motor Kit, too.


          6. Winter Yoga- Add movement breaks to the classroom with some calming yoga moves. Winter themed yoga stretches can be a nice break in the classroom schedule when it’s too cold to go outdoors.

          7. Winter Play Dough Mats– While not a traditional brain break, the winter play dough mats in our new Winter Fine Motor Kit allow kids a chance to move and gain essential proprioceptive input through their hands.

          8. Snowman Says- Play a quick game of Simon Says with a snowman theme! Imagine you are part of a classroom full of snowmen who are moving their snowman parts. Use your imagination and stretch, move, and move that snow body!


          9. Polar Bear Brain Breaks- This polar bear gross motor slide deck is wintery fun! We’ve shared a bear brain breaks free printable sheet here on The OT Toolbox. Use it with a polar bear theme! Hint: Do the same brain break activities and call it a polar bear move 🙂


          10. Winter Brain Break YouTube Videos- There are some great break break ideas that are movement and activity videos on YouTube to get the kids up and moving so they are ready to learn. The YouTube brain break videos add movement and gross motor work. The ones listed below are winter themed. 

          Winter Brain Breaks on YouTube


          Baby Shark, Winter Edition:

          Penguin Dance Brain Break: 

           

            The Sid Shuffle- Ice Age Continental Drift:

            Small Foot- Do the Yeti:  

          I’m a Penguin- Brain Break for Kindergarten:  

          Add winter brain break ideas to the classroom to add movement breaks so kids can learn and focus with better attention, all with a winter theme!

          Need more Brain Break Resources? 

          Follow our Brain Break Pinterest board.


          Here are more brain break videos (not winter-themed), but great for any time of year.


          Check out our past brain break activities here on The OT Toolbox and add them to your toolbox:



          I hope these ideas are helpful in creating opportunities for movement and activity during these indoor recess months at school! 

          winter fine motor kit

          WINTER FINE MOTOR WORKSHEETS

          To end out the Winter Week here on The OT Toolbox, I wanted to create a fine motor worksheets that are a true resource during the winter months. The Winter Fine Motor Kit contains fine motor worksheets that cover a variety of different fine motor abilities:  

          These reproducible activity pages include: pencil control strips, scissor skills strips, simple and complex cutting shapes, lacing cards, toothpick precision art, crumble hand strengthening crafts, memory cards, coloring activities, and so much more.

          Play Dough Roll Mats- We’ve shared some free play dough mats before. They are perfect for developing fine motor skills and hand strength needed for tasks like coloring with endurance, manipulating small items, and holding a pencil. Kids can roll small balls of play dough with just their fingertips to strengthen the intrinsic muscles. The Winter Fine Motor Kit contains 6 winter play dough mats that can be used all winter long!  

          Pinch and Grip Strength Activities- Includes: glue skills page, tong/tweezer activities, lacing cards, finger puppets, 1-10 counting clip cards, 10 toothpick art pages, find & color page, 5 crumble art pages. TARGET SKILLS: Precision, pinch and grip hand strength, tripod grasp, arch development, bilateral coordination, open thumb web-space.

          Pencil Control Worksheets- Connect the arctic animals or winter items and stay on the pencil path lines while mastering pencil control. Some of the lines are small and are a great way to strengthen the hands, too.  

          Arctic Animal Cutting Strips and Scissor Skills Sheets- Work on scissor skills to cut along lines to reach the arctic animal friends or snowflakes, snowmen, and mittens. This is a great way to strengthen the motor and visual skills needed for cutting with scissors.   Also included are 7 scissor skills strips with graded precision designed for data collection and accuracy development, 2 color & cut memory cards, 4 pages simple cutting shapes in small/med/large sizes, 3 pages complex cutting shapes in small/med/large sizes, 2 small and 2 large cutting skills puzzles. These worksheets help kids develop graded scissor skill accuracy and precision, visual perceptual skills, eye-hand coordination, crossing midline, bilateral coordination.

          Handwriting Sensory Bin Materials- You and the kiddos will love these A-Z uppercase and lowercase tracing cards with directional arrows, 1-10 tracing cards with directional arrows, 1-10 counting cards. Using the sensory bin materials can develop tactile handwriting, letter and number formation, finger isolation, crossing midline, sensory challenges. These materials in the Winter Fine Motor Kit are a great brain break idea for kids.

          “I Spy” Modified Paper- Includes: Color and find objects in two themes: winter items and arctic animals; 3 styles of modified paper for each theme: single rule bold lines, double rule bold lines, highlighted double rule. Use these pages to develop handwriting, pencil control, line and spatial awareness, legibility, visual perceptual skills, visual memory.

          Fine Motor Handwriting Sheets- Try the 4 Find/Color/Copy pages in different styles of modified paper, rainbow writing pages in 3 styles of modified paper. These handwriting worksheets use the winter theme to help with handwriting, visual perception, pencil control, visual memory, visual attention, precision, pencil control, functional handwriting.

          Write the Room Activities- Using a winter theme, these Write the Room cards includes: 5 lowercase copy cards, 5 uppercase copy cards, 5 lowercase tracing cards, 5 uppercase copy cards, 6 cursive writing copy cards, 2 styles of writing pages. TARGET SKILLS: Letter formation, pencil control, visual motor skills, visual attention, visual memory, line placement, functional handwriting at all levels and stages.

          All of this is available in the 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.