Bedtime Relaxation Stretches for Kids

Relaxation stretches for bedtime

In this post, you will find calming bedtime relaxation stretches for kids and families, based on the popular children’s book, Time for Bed. These activities are perfect for helping kids calm down before bed. We know the power of sleep hygiene in child development, but let’s consider the powerful impact of stretches before bed have on children.

Relaxation Stretches for Kids Sleep

An important thing to cover when it comes to helping children fall asleep and stay asleep at night is the concept of pre-bedtime yoga. When kids participate in bedtime stretches as part of their bedtime routine, it’s a sensory diet that supports sleep.

relaxation stretches for bed time
Use animal theme yoga poses to support relaxation at bedtime.

One thing that we’ll cover here is the impact that the interoception sensory system has on sleep.

Relaxation Stretches for Kids Sleep

An important thing to cover when it comes to helping children fall asleep and stay asleep at night is the concept of pre-bedtime yoga. When kids participate in bedtime stretches as part of their bedtime routine, it’s a sensory diet that supports sleep.

Use these relaxation stretches for bedtime to incorporate calming sensory input.

One thing that we’ll cover here is the impact of the interoception sensory system has on sleep.

Children can get a little wound up before bed.  All it takes is one rouge energy burst and you’ve got giggling kids bouncing from every surface imaginable.  

Couch cushions? check. They are jumping up and down.  

Running from room to room? Check. There’s two of them chasing one another back and forth will the occasional knee slide across the hardwoods.  

Practicing the living room tumbling skills? Yep and check. There’s one more doing somersaults across the room.

Why must they gang up on me with their endless energy during those exhausting pre-bedtime hours?

Having a set of bedtime relaxation stretches in the nightly routine can support sensory needs and promote a sense of calm before bedtime, just when children are wound up and excitable.

benefits of stretching before bed

We know that sleep is a necessary occupation for all of us, but for children sleep patterns and healthy sleep cycles support so many aspects of development.

  • Cognition
  • Learning
  • Behavior
  • Nutrition
  • Emotional development
  • Social development

When children don’t get enough hours of sleep, or if they don’t get quality sleep on a consistent basis, there are several things that can occur:

  • Poor focus
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Attention and behavior problems
  • Poor academic performance in school
  • Excess weight or increased food intake
  • Problems paying attention
  • Health problems: obesity, type 2 diabetes, poor mental health, and injuries
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Poor mental health
  • Unhealthy risky behaviors related to decision-making
  • Risk-taking behaviors, bullying, school violence-related behaviors, and physical fighting
  • Higher risk of unintentional injury

There are several studies describing the benefits of stretching before bed. Kids can benefit from a pre-bedtime stretching sessions to integrate sensory processing systems and the calming benefits of slow movement, heavy work as a regulation tool. This calms the body and helps with relaxation before bed.

Stretching before bed supports sleep quality. One review of multiple studies found that mindfulness meditation practices that incorporate gentle stretching, such as yoga and tai chi, generally improve sleep quality.

Another study found that older adults reported improved sleep quality after performing low level physical and cognitive activity. The researchers found that gentle stretching resulted in better sleep than when the participants performed more strenuous exercises, such as aerobics.

Bedtime stretches help kids stay asleep. A study into resistance exercise training and stretching found that exercises could improve symptoms of insomnia. In the study, the participants performed stretching in 60-minute sessions three times per week for a period of 4 months. The results showed improved sleep quality when stretching in the evening.

Better sleep supports learning and executive functioning skills. Other studies tell us that better sleep hygiene in children support development of executive functioning skills.

yoga poses for stress relief

Today, I’m sharing a great way to calm kids down before bed so that quality sleep is possible. These yoga poses for stress relief and bedtime relaxation promote organizing heavy work through the proprioceptive sensory system and gentle movement through the vestibular sensory system.

Another contributing factor is the interoceptive system which connects our internal systems such as digestion, heart rate, circadian rhythms, and muscle tension. All of these factors play a vital role in impacting sleep, with both the ability to fall asleep, and the ability to stay asleep throughout the night. This study shares more on the interoceptive system’s role in sleep.

These organizing and calming yoga poses stretch the muscles and joints to offer feedback to regulate an overactive system.

If you’ve ever participated in a yoga session, you know the benefits of certain yoga poses in reducing stress and anxiety.

It’s important to make the connection between stress responses, anxiety, over-active thoughts, and a hyper-response to stimulation and emotional responses. The difficulty in identifying and describing emotions in self (a huge part of social emotional learning and development) is referred to as Alexithymia.

This ability develop social emotional skills occurs with age, and social skills interventions.

Specifically, alexithymia is defined as difficulty identifying and describing emotions in self. We know that noticing and understanding internal body signals (aka interoception) is crucial to a bodily systems, so it makes sense that if interoception is affected, using or showing emotions, and identifying emotions in self will be affected.

Interoception influences emotions by it’s control and underlying influence on internal processes of the body: toileting, hunger, thirst, and sleep!

When interoception impacts sleep, it then further impacts emotions:

  • stress
  • getting angry or frustrated easily
  • anxiety
  • fear
  • worry
  • overly emotional responses
  • sadness
  • over-excitability
  • hyperactive responses

All of these emotional responses are normal and good feelings to experience. However, when sleep is reduced, they can move into an area of impacting other functional tasks or everyday occupations.

You’ll also find information and resources in this article on the limbic system including the stress response. You can see how all of these concepts fit together to impact daily functioning.

How to use yoga poses for stress relief with children

Using yoga to support relaxation at bedtime is not a new concept. Yoga naturally supports relaxation through the heavy work input of the proprioceptive sense.

However, yoga also adds the benefit of deep breathing exercises to calm and center the body as an organization tool.

When it comes to bedtime, adding anything to the nightly routine can mean a delayed bedtime, so making the relaxation stretches part of the routine that is already in place is important. If you read a book together each night, incorporate stretches into that. If brushing teeth and going to the bathroom are the only tasks that happen each night, use the time just after those jobs to do a few stretches.

Adding bedtime stretches for the purpose of relaxation doesn’t need to be difficult. The most important thing here is to make it work for your situation and home. down the somersaults and hardwood floor stunts into relaxing bedtime.  

Here are some tips to support relaxation at bedtime:

  • Use bedtime relaxation stretches in a nightly routine. A visual schedule can be helpful with some kids.
  • Dim the lights and turn on soothing music
  • Read a book before bed
  • Drink a warm drink as a calming food/sensory tool.
  • Set the mood for sleep with a calming bedroom or sleep space: snuggly blankets, cozy pillows, or cool temperature, depending on the individual’s preferences.
  • Use the relaxation stretches listed below.

One way that helps to get kids relaxed before bed is reading a great book.  When kids can listen to an engaging story that is read aloud, their bodies can’t help but slow down.  

Bedtime Relaxation Stretches for Kids

These bedtime relaxation stretches are a combination of relaxing yoga moves and heavy work that helps to ground the body through proprioceptive input to the body’s sensory receptors in the muscles. 

Performing these relaxing stretches can help transition kids to a calmed state that allows for a better sleep.

Below are forms of yoga poses for children.

We decided to use one of our favorite going to bed books, (Amazon affiliate link) Mem Fox’s Time for Bed

In the book, we hear a rhyming verse about each animal’s transition to sleep.  It’s such a beautiful book to snuggle up with kids during night time routines.  In fact, Time for Bed can easily become one of those books that you read over and over again.

We loved looking at the watercolor pictures in Time for Bed and picturing each animal as it got ready for sleep.  

To go along with the book, we tried some of these bedtime relaxation stretches. 

Grab your copy of the free printable below by entering your email address into the form, or going to The OT Toolbox Member’s Club and heading to the Mindfulness Toolbox.

Time for Bed book by Mem Fox and relaxation stretches for bedtime

To do these exercises, simply cut out the printable on the lines, and create a small stack of stretches.  Kids can do one or more of these relaxation stretches to calm down before settling in with the Time for Bed book.

Simply pull out a couple of the stretches and join your child on the floor to perform each stretch.  The stretches are designed based on the animals in the book.  

When doing the stretches, hold the stretch for 2-3 minutes while maintaining deep breathing. 

Bedtime relaxation stretches
Print off these relaxation stretches for a bedtime calm down session for kids.

As we all know, kids will be kids.  If your child is getting too wound up from the stretches (because sometimes the sleepy sillies take over and make concentrating on stretches and relaxing deep breaths nearly impossible!) simply put the stretches away and try them another day.

Bedtime stretches with an animal theme
Relaxation stretch for kids, incorporating yoga poses for stress, anxiety, or to calm down before bed.

Your child will love doing these bedtime relaxation stretches with you and the whole family!

Bedtime stretches to do before bed

Little Goose Stretch– Lie on the floor on your back, with your feet raised up on the wall.  Keep your knees straight.  Spread your arms out on the floor like a goose.  Bend and point your toes slowly.

Little Cat Stretch– Snuggle in tight!  Sit criss cross applesauce on the floor.  Bend forward at the hips and place your head on the ground.  Stretch your arms out on the floor over your head.

Little Calf Stretch– Grasp both hands together behind your back.  Bend forward at the hips and raise your arms up behind you.

Little Foal Stretch– Lie on your back and pull your knees in with your arms.  Hold the position and whisper about your day.

Little Fish Stretch–  Take a deep breath. Hold your breath in your cheeks and puff out those cheeks.  Slowly let out your breath with pursed lips.

Little Sheep Stretch–  Stand facing a wall and place your feet shoulder width apart.  Place your hands flat on the wall, shoulder width apart.  Push against the wall by bending and straightening your elbows.

Little Bird Stretch–  Close your eyes.  Think about your day and take deep breaths.  Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Add a “wing” component by raising your arms up high as you breathe in and lowering them as you slowly breathe out.

Little Snake Stretch–  Lie on your back on the floor.  Keep your legs straight and cross them at the ankles.  Place your arms over your head on the floor.  Cross them at the wrists.  

Little Pup Stretch–  Get into a downward dog yoga position.  

Little Deer Stretch– Sit on the floor with your legs straight. Spread them far apart and bend at the hips to touch one foot.  Hold it and then stretch to touch the other foot.

Try this tonight!  Do a few stretches and then snuggle up while reading Time for Bed!

Calming bedtime books for kids

MORE relaxing bedtime books for kids

These relaxing bedtime books for kids are other ideas to use to support calming sensory input in a relaxation bedtime routine:

Amazon affiliate links are included below:

Free Printable set of relaxation stretches for bedtime

Use the Time For Bed book and relaxation stretches we used above in a bedtime routine of your own. Get a printable PDF of these stretches by entering your email address into the form below. Or, members in The OT Toolbox membership club can grab this PDF by logging in and heading to Brain Break Tools.

Free Time For Bed Relaxation Stretches

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    One more thing! If you are into creative ways to extend and learn based on books, you will LOVE this resource! 50 activities based on books that address friendship, acceptance, emotions…This ebook is amazing for covering all things emotional development through play!

    Get yours!  

    Read more about the book here.

    Exploring Books through Play helps kids develop fine motor skills and gross motor skills while learning about empathy and compassion.

    Separation Anxiety Activities and Tips

    separation anxiety activities

    Today, we have a couple of separation anxiety activities that can support kids who struggle with school drop off. Many times, kindergarten or preschool drop off is full of tears, especially those first few weeks of school. Here, you’ll find a great connection activity to help preschoolers and parents find a way to make preschool drop off easier by connecting through the book, Owl Babies. Use this Owl Babies activity to help with that preschool separation stage. This post shares movement based separation anxiety activities that can help kids who are experiencing separation anxiety in preschool drop off, with ideas based on the children’s book.

    Separation Anxiety in Preschool or Kindergarten

    Step into a preschool classroom on the first day of school and you will likely see a few tears here an there (possibly some of those tears coming from the parents dropping off their child for the first time!).

    Separation anxiety in preschool age is normal! But here’s what you need to know about that visible preschool behavior that may be fueled by something besides getting used to leaving mom/dad/caregiver for the first time…and how to help with a simple preschool self-regulation strategy.

    The movement-based, sensory activity we share below can actually be used with preschool through kindergarten:

    • the 3 year old preschooler who is just being dropped off for the first time
    • the 4 year old preschool student
    • pre-k kids
    • kindergarten students
    • older, grade school students who are sad or upset on the first day of school

    preschool anxiety

    So, what is happening with preschool anxiety that causes tears, meltdowns, and clinging to mom or dad at the day care or preschool drop off?

    You have probably seen it before:

    Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, it’s time for preschool. The routine at home is the same: excitement, packing the bag, and gearing up for a day of learning colors, songs, preschool activities, and nursery rhymes. Getting into the car and driving to preschool is no problem.

    But then you pull into the parking lot and the worries begin.

    Tears, crying, clinging to Mom, negotiations, promises of seeing the little one in just 2 short hours.

    Two minutes later, she is happy, playing with play dough, and dry of all nose drips.

    It might even seem as if the preschool separation meltdown is just part of the morning routine.

    As a momma of four, I’ve seen plenty of tear-filled drop-offs.  

    And it just never stops breaking your heart.

    Separation anxiety is actually considered a normal process that occurs in early childhood, as a result of a maturing physical, cognitive, and emotional development. Specifically, the areas of development that lead to a period of separation anxiety in young children include:

    • Visual processing system (visual memory, visual closure)
    • Executive functioning skills (working memory)
    • Self-regulation skills (connecting emotions with behaviors)
    • Social-emotional maturation (emotional connections, attachment, and feeling safe with certain individuals)

    Despite the normal development that results in fears, worries, or flat out meltdowns following or leading up to a period of separation, severe separation anxieties do have the potential to negatively impact a child’s social and emotional functioning and this is especially true when the young child then avoids certain places, activities, and experiences that are necessary for healthy development.

    Separation Anxiety Disorder

    Sometimes, the family, parents, or caregivers also avoid these places, experiences, and activities. This can lead to even more negative experiences. When the family supports avoiding certain places or situations because of the young child’s separation, we can have situations where separation anxiety “hangs around” longer than is part of typical development.

    Officially, Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is defined as “developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from those to whom the individual is attached” (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). However, for the young child, separation angst does not mean a disorder is present. It is only when the anxiety levels are so severe that they are not appropriate for developmental age that the official diagnosis of Separation Anxiety Disorder should be investigated.

    For those with severe symptoms, Separation Anxiety Disorder may result in school refusal and a disruption in educational attainment, refusal to attend doctor’s appointments, dentist visits, or other situations where a child is separated, no matter the physical distance, from the parent or caregiver.

    What causes Separation Anxiety Disorder?

    There are many developmental areas that enable to progression of separation anxiety in toddlers and preschoolers from levels of worry and age-appropriate anxiety at separation to an inefficient and “disorder” level of worry.

    Studies show us that some of these considerations may include:

    • Parenting behavior
    • Low parental warmth
    • Poor attachment
    • Trauma to the parent during the baby’s young years (death in the family, environmental, or other big situation)
    • Trauma to the child (Adverse childhood experiences, both large and small)
    • Insecure or anxious attachment styles
    • Diminished sense of control over one’s environment
    • Overprotective and over involved parenting behaviors
    • Parental intrusiveness- including extreme decision making on the part of the parent
    • Parental intrusiveness- including providing excessive assistance in the child’s daily activities (beyond age-appropriate ability)

    Common signs of separation anxiety in kids

    The natural and developmental stage of separation anxiety occurs from around age 6 months when the baby is able to notice that something is missing from their field of vision. This skill requires development of several areas:

    • Visual perception
    • Attention
    • Working memory (executive function)
    • Sensory motor

    Separation anxiety typically continues from around 6 months of age to about 5 years of age, however signs of separation anxiety can persist after age 5 and through age 6.

    However, the cognitive and emotional development that occurs during this age allows for kindergarten and younger elementary aged individuals to separate from their loved ones and know that they will be there even when the are not in view.

    Once the underlying areas noted above develop (around 6 months of age), you may see some common signs of separation anxiety:

    • Crying when the parent leaves the room or home
    • Upset and crying when a babysitter or caregiver comes into view
    • Tantrums
    • Avoidance behaviors (refusing to participate in activities that require separation)
    • Clinging to parents
    • Refuse to attend certain situations
    • Apprehension about harm coming to parents
    • Fears the parent will leave and not return
    • Running from the classroom/school bus/appointment setting

    Today, I’m sharing a simple trick for helping kids with separation anxiety at preschool or other drop-off situations like our weekly church nursery adventure.

    Separation anxiety activities

    separation anxiety activities



    This post contains affiliate links.

    Social Stories- Use social stories to create a visual narrative about how drop offs go and that parents will be back to get the child. Social stories can offer a verbal narrative for the child to use during these situations. Some of our social stories include:

    Self-Regulation Strategies- Practice the regulation tools that support the individual’s emotional status with self-regulation strategies. Select a set of calming or heavy work strategies that can be used in preparation for the separation situation, whether that be using at the school bus stop (like this deep breathing school bus exercise) or while driving into school. Having those set of strategies readily available and discussing how the child feels will go a long way.

    Movement-based separation activity – One fun way to work on separation anxiety in preschoolers that becomes part of the routine…here we are talking about the preschooler or kindergarten aged child that cries, clings to Mom or Dad, but then warms up to the classroom activities.

    Practice routines- Do the same thing every day during the week in preparation for school, including bed times, morning routines, and transportation routines. These visual schedules can help with some individuals.

    Wearable Charm- Another similar strategy is to create a DIY separation anxiety charm. Kids can make this along with the family adding heavy work through the hands. then, wear the charm to know that parents and caregivers still love and miss them even when not in view.

    Get enough sleep– Practicing good sleep hygiene is important for the child as well as the parent or caregiver. This has an impact on behavioral response and self-regulation.

    Books about Separation- The activity listed below uses the book Owl Babies. But we added a heavy work goodbye sign that parents and children can use at school drop offs to ease separation anxiety. Or, this activity could work for kids that struggle with the transition to the classroom, because they are missing Mom and Dad or other caregiver.

    Use the book, Owl Babies by Martin Waddell!

    Owl Babies Activity

    We read the book, Owl Babies  and fell in love.  

    The sweet little Owl Babies in the book wake up from a nap to find their mother gone from the nest.  The owl siblings go through a series of concerns and thoughts about where their mom might be with a little almost-tears.  

    My older kids thought the book was pretty awesome and decided that each of the owl babies in the book were one of the girls in our family.  There were a few similar personality traits that aligned with the owls in the book and the sisters in our house.  

    The idea of knowing that mom comes back when she leaves is a lesson we’re going through at Sunday School each week and one that happens so often with kids.  Just like the Owl Babies, it can be hard to stay calm and not worry when mom goes away.  

    We decided to come up with an owl themed movement activity that kids could do when they are feeling anxious after leaving mom or dad.  

    Try this trick to help with separation anxiety in preschoolers, based on the children's book, Owl Babies.


    School Drop Off Anxiety

    This activity would be perfect for preschool kids who are experiencing separation anxiety at the start of school or in a new classroom situation. For kids that cry at school drop off, or really struggle with missing Mom or Dad, this school drop off anxiety activity can help.

    To do the activity, first read Owl Babies together.  Then, talk about how the owls in the book must feel when they see their mother has gone out of the nest. Finally, talk about how when the mom or dad in your family has to go away for a little while, they always come back and that they are thinking of the little one in your home while they are gone.

    Try this trick to help with separation anxiety in preschoolers, based on the children's book, Owl Babies.


    One easy way to help with separation anxiety is to come up with a hand signal.  We decided that making a bird wing sign would be a lot like an owl in flight.  Hook your thumbs together and spread your fingers out to create the wings of an owl.

    Then, wrap both hands around your thumbs to create a little owl baby of your own.  Now, squeeze your hands tight to give them a hug.  Your child can do this motion when the are feeling sad or nervous at school.  Tell them to think about the owl babies in the book and how they felt when their mom came back.

    School drop off anxiety activity for separation anxiety in students

    Squeezing the hands tightly can provide a bit of proprioceptive input that is calming in a stressful situation like the preschool drop-off.  A simple hand hug might be just the thing that can help! It’s a self regulation activity that supports the whole body as a mechanism to address emotional regulation needs that show up as crying, clinging, and bolting “behaviors”.


    Then, when you pick up your little baby, be sure to swoop them up in a big hug!


    This activity would work with preschoolers who are a little older than my two year old.  She really enjoyed the book, Owl Babies, though and we have read it again and again!


    Let me know how this tip to help with separation anxiety works with your preschooler!

    Use this separation anxiety activity to support kids that struggle at school drop off with anxiety or worries.

     

    Try this trick to help with separation anxiety in preschoolers, based on the children's book, Owl Babies.


     

    Dinosaur Game Kids Love

    dinosaur game

    This dinosaur game is a huge hit among kids. It’s a movement-based dinosaur activity that kids of all ages love. If you are looking for creative dinosaur games to use in therapy, at home, or in the classroom, then be sure to add this dinosaur game for kids to your list!

    Use the dinosaur game below along with these dinosaur exercises and other dinosaur themed activities in therapy sessions. You can even incorporate handwriting and visual motor skills into dinosaur games with this printable dinosaur visual perception worksheet.

    This dinosaur game is great for kids who love dinosaurs!

    Dinosaur Game for Kids

    This dinosaur game is an older blog post here on the website, but it’s a gross motor activity that is well-loved for many reasons.

    There is just something about the stomping and roaring of a dinosaur game that takes me back to my own kids at their preschool ages! This is an older post here on The OT Toolbox, but one that is one of my absolute favorites.

    We read the dinosaur book, Dinosaurumpus by Tony Mitton…and created a fun dino game that the kids loved! Our dinosaur movement game inspired tons of giggles and wiggles as we moved our way through this book with a gross motor activity!  

    The gross motor coordination tasks and motor planning skills make this dinosaur game the perfect addition to dinosaur physical therapy and dinosaur occupational therapy themes.

    When kids play this dinosaur movement game, they build skills in areas such as:

    • Eye-hand coordination
    • Balance
    • Whole body coordination
    • Crossing midline
    • Position changes
    • Heavy work input
    • Proprioceptive input
    • Vestibular input
    • Visual scanning and visual processing skills

    The specific activities in the game allow kids to develop skills such as hopping, jumping, twisting, stomping, and other gross motor tasks.

    How to Play the Dinosaur Game:

    We’ve included affiliate links in this post for the book and items you’ll need to create the DIY Dinosaur game.    

    Have you read the book, Dinosaurumpus!?  This is a book that is sure to get the kids moving with it’s loud and active rhymes as the dinosaurs dance an irresistible romp. 

    Using this book and the game you’ll find here together is a great dinosaur game for toddlers and preschoolers to address listening skills, comprehension, and regulation through movement and play.

    My kids couldn’t help but move and groove as I read them the story.  We had to make a movement gross motor game to go along with the book!  We talked about the fact that dinosaurs have big feet and big bodies that sometimes move too fast in the space around them.

    This is a great lesson on body awareness that kids can relate to.

     

    Dinosaur movement game for kids. This gross motor game is based on Dinosaurumpus the book and is a great activity for auditory and visual recall in kids.

     Make this game easily using our free printable for the game board.  We listed out the dinosaurs in the book and the actions they did.    

    These went onto a game spinner that I made on  card stock.  We used dinosaur figures for part of our movement game.  These ones are a great deal!  

    Free dinosaur game printable

    Dinosaur Game Printable

    To play the dinosaur movement game:

    This is a dinosaur movement activity for preschool and older aged kids. Use in in the classroom or home as part of a story and reading activity, or use it as a dinosaur brain break in the classroom. 

    First print out the free printable.  You’ll also want the game rules for easy play and the spinner piece.  

    1. Print your printable on card stock OR you can use regular printer paper for the game board, but the arrow won’t spin as well. You may want to print the game spinner on paper and then glue to cardboard for more sturdiness during (active) play. Make your game board and ensure the arrow spins using a brass fastener.
    2. One player hides the dinosaur figures around the room or outdoor play area.  
    3. The first player spins the arrow and reads the action.  He or she then races off to find one of the hidden dinosaurs.  
    4. When she finds a dinosaur, she races back and performs the action.  

    Hide dinosaur figurines and use them in the dinosaur game for preschoolers and toddlers to develop motor skills.

    There will be shakes, stomps, jumps, and TONS of giggles with this gross motor activity!   

    We loved this game activity for it’s gross motor action.  It would be a great activity for rainy day fun or indoor play when the kids need to get the wiggles out.  Racing off and remembering the action they must perform requires a child to recall auditory and visual information necessary for so many functional skills.  

    Dinosaur game rules for kids
    Kids can spin the wheel on the dinosaur game to build gross motor skills.

      We hid the dinosaurs in all sorts of fun spaces in the house.  

    Spin the wheel on the dinosaur game to support fine motor skills.
    Spin the wheel on the dinosaur game to support fine motor skill development, too.

    The dinosaurs in the book, Dinosaurumpus! move a lot!  Get ready for stomping, shaking, diving, dancing, running, jumping, twisting, and spinning!  

    Move like a dinosaur with this dinosaur game for kids

    My kids love any kind of scavenger hunt game and this one, with its movement portion, was a HUGE hit!

    Dinosaur gross motor movement game based on the book, Dinosaurumpus!

     Gross motor skills are important to develop through play.  It’s essential for attention and focus to build core body strength.    

    More Gross Motor Games

    Looking for more ways to work on gross motor skills like core strength and proximal stability for improved attention and distal mobility?

    Some more of our favorite gross motor activities that you will love:  

    .

    If you are looking for more dinosaur activities for kids, be sure to check out our Dinosaur Jacks activity to promote more motor skills, and our Dinosaur visual perception worksheet to work on visual perceptual skills.

    Dinosaur game for kids that is a great preschool dinosaur activity for gross motor skills.

    Free Dinosaur Game Printable

    Want to play this dino game with kids you work with in therapy or in the classroom? Print off the game pieces using the free printable. Simply enter your email address into the form below to access.

    Want to add this resource to your therapy toolbox so you can help kids thrive? Enter your email into the form below to access this printable tool.

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

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

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

    Join the Member’s Club today!

    Free Dinosaur Game

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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.

      Children’s Books for Zones of Regulation

      Zones of Regulation children's books

      Here we are covering tons of Children’s Books for Zones of Regulation. These are self-regulation books for kids that reinforce the concepts from the Zones of Regulation program for self-regulation and self-modulation. These books pair well with the concepts in the popular self-regulation program and go very nicely with the hands-on Zones of Regulation activities that we have here on the website.

      Children's books for Zones of Regulation and books that support self-regulation skills in kids.

      Children’s Books for Zones of Regulation Program

      Identifying emotions can be difficult for some children. Recognizing an emotional state, identifying it within themselves, and then learning strategies for self-regulation are all needed for gaining emotional control. As parents, therapists, and teachers we can and should help young children understand and identify their feelings and help them gain ways to communicate their feelings appropriately to others. 

      Using age-appropriate books are a perfect tool to assist when helping children learn about emotions.

      There are books to help children identify and recognize emotions and to help children discover and learn self-regulation and coping strategies which can help them develop emotional control and maturity within themselves.

      Books about self-regulation

      Self-Regulation Books

      There is a vast library of books to help and many of these can be easily used as a supplemental tool coupled to the curriculum or programs you already have in place. For the purposes of this post, the books listed here are utilizing the Zones of Regulation™ curriculum as a backdrop. Simply stated, the Zones of Regulation™ curriculum is a color coded, four zone program which is designed to help children navigate their confusing feelings.

      The books in this post are favorites of therapists, teachers, counselors, and parents as they have used them frequently with the children in their worlds. Through these books children will learn to identify emotions and begin to relate their own feelings and emotions to the characters within the books. They will learn techniques and strategies to calm and regulate as they deal with the overwhelming strong feelings they experience in their daily lives.
       

      Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.

      Self-Regulation Books: Books for the Red Zone

      RED ZONE books are those books that have topics such as anger, devastation, elation, explosive behavior, feeling terrified, or hands-on physical reactions such as hitting or kicking, or maybe even yelling.

      The following red zone books are popular among teachers:

      Lifetimes: The Beautiful Ways to Explain Death to Children – This book is perfect for children of all ages when the death of a loved one has occurred or is about to happen. It explains with sensitivity and caring in a beautiful way about the cycle of life and helps a child to understand that all living things have their own lifetimes.

      Llama Llama Mad at Mama – This book is when Little Llama gets really tired and overwhelmed and has a meltdown when running errands with his mom. With Mama Llama’s guidance, they clean up the mess and find different ways to make the errands more enjoyable. Pair this book with a hands-on activity like our Llama Llama Red Pajama heavy work activity that offers great calming proprioceptive input.

      When I Feel Angry – This book explains how different things can make you feel angry, and this is an acceptable feeling; however, it is what you do when you get angry that matters most.

      When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry – This book explores the very upsetting feeling of anger and emphasizes that everyone gets angry sometimes. The main character, Sophie, gets really, really angry and kicks, screams, and roars, and then runs into the woods to climb a tree and calm down, she later returns home to her loving family where things are calm and back to normal.

      Self-Regulation Books: Books for the Yellow Zone

      YELLOW ZONE books are those books that have topics such as feeling anxious, excited, frustrated, grumpy, nervous, scared, being silly or wiggly, or feeling worried.

      The following yellow zone books are popular among school counselors:

      Bear Feels Scared – In this cute and compassionate book, Bear gets scared by bad weather and gets lost in the woods. After worry from his friends, they find him and help him to calm his fears. A book that tells a story about fear and reassurance that things do get better.

      Bye Bye Pesky Fly – This is a cute little book about Pig and Fly who end up teaching children how they can deal with situations in relationships that annoy or frustrate them in a kind way.

      Grumpy Bird – This is a fun little character book about Bird who wakes up with the grumpies and when he goes on a walk to shake them off, his friends join in and soon he discovers that exercise and the company of friends can help him shake off his grumpy mood.

      Wemberly Worried – This sweet book is about the mouse Wemberly who worries about everything and after she makes a new friend at school she begins to worry less and less. It’s a cute book that shows children that by facing the anxiety it can get better. It’s an entertaining and reassuring book that shows how anxieties can lessen over time.

      Self-Regulation Books: Books for the Green Zone

      GREEN ZONE books are those books that have topics such as feeling calm, content, focused, happy, proud, ready to learn, and thankful.

      The following green zone books are popular among educators:

      I Am Thankful – This is a special, rhyming book that follows three diverse families as they celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with their own traditions, acts of kindness, and demonstrating the ways they give back to others.

      I Feel Happy: Why do I feel happy today? – This is a sweet book that teaches young children the feeling of happiness and how sometimes it feels loud and other times it may feel calm. The main character who is a sunshine name Happy, teaches children how being happy feels in the body and what it may look like on the outside.

      Marvelous Me: Inside and Out – This book encourages children to enjoy the things that make them unique and feel proud of who they are! It’s a cute book about a young boy who simply likes himself for who he is and all the things that make him special.

      Self- Regulation Books: Books for the Blue Zone

      BLUE ZONE books are those books that have topics such as feeling bored, depressed, disappointed, sad, shy, sick, or tired.

      The following blue zone books are popular among parents:

      Bored Claude – This cute book is about a shark feeling gloomy and bored. His friends are busy doing things, but Claude isn’t interested in doing what they want to do as he thinks it’s boring. He comes up with a brilliant idea for something that everyone can do together.

      I’m Sad – This book is about Flamingo who talks about feeling sad and his friends who try to cheer him up, but nothing seems to work. Flamingo learns he will not always feel this way and sometimes just being a friend means you just support by being there and you don’t have to try to cheer someone up.

      When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt – This is a book about how Sophie’s feelings get really hurt in school when the class laughs at her painting making her feel sad and disappointed, but when she explains her painting to everyone, they understand what she is trying to do.

      More Self-Regulation Books

      ALL ZONES books are those books that include all of the emotions. These books are popular among most professionals and parents:

      Glad Monster, Sad Monster – This little brightly colored book shows monsters acting out different emotions and things that could trigger them.

      The Color Monster – This is a fun concept book for children when the Color Monster wakes up feeling many emotions all at once. The book helps children to identifying emotions and learn how to feel more in control.

      The Feelings Book – This bright and colorful book talks about how we all feel different emotions sometimes.

      The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too! – Every young child knows about Mo Willem’s Pigeon and those famous temper tantrums, but this book is about more emotions and The Pigeon makes it more engaging while getting kiddos talking about emotions.

      The Way I Feel – This is a comprehensive book about multiple emotions with fun rhyming text that makes it fun to read aloud. 

      Additionally, GREEN ZONE books are those books that have strategies or techniques for teaching self-regulation and coping skills resulting in children achieving feelings within the green zone. These books are popular among most all professionals, but more directly, among pediatric OT practitioners:

      A Little Spot of Patience – This is a cute little book about learning to enjoy waiting! What? Children can actually learn to enjoy waiting? Yes! This cute book presents ideas of how to pass the time and tells why waiting can make some things better. 

      Breathe Like a Bear – This is a beautiful book with mindfulness exercises designed to teach children strategies and techniques for managing their breath, bodies, and emotions. It has 30 short breathing movements that can be performed anywhere and anytime.

      Even Superheroes Have Bad Days – This is a fun action-packed book with wonderful rhyming text making it a fav among children because what child doesn’t like superheroes! This book reveals many ways that superheroes (and children) can resist the temptation to cause a scene when they feel extreme emotions. It teaches many fun ideas to help children cope with strong feelings and emotions
      when they feel overwhelmed.

      How to Be a Superhero Called Self-Control! – This is a gem of a book for pediatric occupational therapy practitioners as it uses Self-Control, a superhero, who wants to teach children some very special super powers for self-control in learning to deal with anger, anxiety, frustration and other strong feelings. Several strategies such as the use of deep pressure, self-massage, breathing exercises, and other activities are a part so that children can learn to find their own personal peaceful place. Really an OT gem!

      The Impulse Control Journal– This printable workbook is a huge resource when it comes to mindfulness, mindset, impulses, habits, and making choices. There are lists to write out goals, and areas to draw to get kids thinking on how to address regulation needs. This tool is great for impulse control, but covers many other areas as well, including helping kids come up with strategies for self-regulation.

      I Can Do That: A Book on Self-Regulation – Another pediatric OT practitioner gem! This book is told through rhyming text from a child’s point of view and helps children to learn self-regulation techniques by effectively practicing ways they can control their own emotions and actions when they start becoming dysregulated. A great book for children with a sensory processing disorder!
       
      My Mouth is a Volcano! – This is an entertaining book that takes an empathetic approach to teaching children the value of respecting others and listening while waiting for their turn to speak. The character in the book has habit of interrupting others and the book teaches a witty technique to help children learn to manage all of their thoughts and words.

      My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing – This interactive book helps to teach children to breathe along as they learn to make angry and sad feelings disappear. Do you have magic breath! Yes, I do! This book helps to guide children into a calm space of mindfulness.

      My Magical Choices – Another beautiful book with rhyming text that engages children in learning about the choices they make. It teaches children about positive, conscious language while emphasizing a myriad of behaviors such as being responsible, calm, forgiving, and generous empowering them to be responsible for their own happiness.

      The Kids’ Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control – Frankly, this book is jammed full of simple ideas to regulate the emotions and senses helping children to tackle different feelings full force and feel awesomely strong and in control. Can I say another pediatric OT gem here? Some examples of strategies and tools include: breathing, deep pressure holds, finger pulls, use of fidgets, headphones,
      and chewing gum. Children learn to use these to help them feel calm, cool, and AWESOME!

      What Should Danny Do? – This is a creative and interactive book that gives the reader choices of what Danny will do in a dilemma in order to navigate the stories within the book. This empowers the reader to make positive choices while demonstrating the natural consequences to negative selections helping children to understand that the choices they make help to impact their day.

      What Were You Thinking: Learning to Control Your Impulses – This is a great older kid’s book addressing the teaching of impulse control. The main character, Braden, has trouble controlling his impulses and has poor decision-making skills, resulting in ill-timing, disruptive behaviors, and impulsive reactions which impact others around him. The adults in the story must teach Braden impulse control through lessons shared by his teachers and his mom.

      You Get What You Get – This is a very relatable book for some children as the main character, Melvin, throws a fit when he doesn’t get what he wants. The book depicts how he must learn to deal with his strong feeling of disappointment – an important life lesson – “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit”!

      Through these books, many children will learn about emotions, understand that others feel the same way, and will learn techniques and strategies to deal with these strong feelings in their daily lives. It is important to emphasize to all children that there are no “good” or “bad” emotions as we all experience them and that all emotions are okay to feel, but it is important to learn how to manage our
      emotions for overall health and well-being. When children learn to identify emotions and what can trigger them, they can learn effective coping strategies and build a strong emotional foundation allowing for improved social skills and increased self-esteem and self-confidence.

      Regina Allen

      Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!

      Kindergarten Learning and Play Activities

      kindergarten activities

      Below are kindergarten activities that promote development of skills needed during the kindergarten year. These are great activities to use for kindergarten readiness and to help preschool and Pre-K children build the motor skills in order to succeed in their kindergarten year. You’ll find kindergarten letter activities, Kinder math, fine motor skills to build stronger pencil grasps when kindergarteners start to write with a pencil and cut with scissors. You’ll also find kindergarten sight word activities for when that time of the Kinder year comes around. Let’s have some fun with 5-6 year old activities!

      Kindergarten activities and kindergarten readiness activities

      Kindergarten Activities

       What you’ll notice is missing from this massive list of Kindergarten activities, is handwriting, writing letters, and even writing names. (And writing letters in a sensory bin falls into this category too! Before kindergarten, children should not be copying letters into a sensory bin. You’ll see letters formed incorrectly, letters formed from bottom to top, and letters formed in “chunks”. The same rule applies to tracing letters and words and even “multisensory strategies” for writing. It’s just too early. Unfortunately, we see a lot of preschools and standards doing the exact opposite. You’ll even find online sites sharing preschool and Pre-K writing that is just in poor advice.
       
      Here’s why: prior to kindergarten age, kids are not developmentally ready for holding a pencil, writing with a pencil, and writing words. Their muscles are not developed, and asking them to write letters, copy words, and trace with a pencil is setting them up for improper letter formation, poor pencil grasp, and weak hands. 
       
      What children aged 5 and under DO need is play! They need exposure to sensory experiences, sensory play, coloring, cutting with scissors (even if it’s just snipping), puzzles, games, beads, blocks, stamps…there are SO many ways to help pre-K kids and preschool children develop the skills they need for kindergarten and beyond.
       
      Kindergarten is such a fun age.  Kids in kindergarten strive when they are given the chance to learn through play and hands-on activities.  These are our favorite Kindergarten activities that we’ve shared on the site, with Kindergarten math, reading and letter awareness, Kindergarten Crafts, and Kindergarten Play.   
       
       

       

      Kindergarten Functional Tasks

      Kindergarten is the stage when children go off to school for perhaps the first time. That’s why prior to kindergarten, it’s great to “practice” a lot of the functional tasks that children will need to do once they go to kindergarten. Some of these may include:

      Now…not all of these functional skills will be established for every kindergarten child…and that’s OK! Kindergarten can be the year to practice these tasks in the school environment. 

      Kindergarten Letter Activities

      Kindergarten is all about letters, upper case and lower case letters, and sounds.  They learn how letters go with sounds and work on decodable reading.  These letter learning activities will help your kindergarten student with identification, sounds, and beginning reading skills.

      Kindergarten Letter activities for letter learning
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       


      Kindergarten Math Activities

      Kindergarten students work with manipulating items to discover and explore numbers and patterns.  They solve simple addition and subtraction problems, more or less, comparing amounts, and shapes.
       
      These Kindergarten math ideas will be a fun way to discover math ideas with playful learning.
      Kindergarten Math ideas

       

       
       
       
       
       
           
       




         
       
       
         
       
       
        
       
       
          
       

      Kindergarten Sight Words and Reading:

      Kindergarten students learn sight words throughout the school year. These sight word activities are fun ways to learn with play while reinforcing sight word skills.
        
       
         
       
       
         
       
       

      Sight Words Manipulatives | Outdoor Pre-Reading Letter Hunt

      Kindergarten Books and Activities

      Extending book ideas with crafts and activities are a fun way for Kindergarten students to become engaged with reading.  Listening to an adult read is a powerful tool for pre-readers.  They learn language, speech, articulation, volume, and tone of voice.  These book related activities will extend popular stories and engage your Kindergartner.

      Book ideas activities for Kindergarten
       
       
       
        
       
       
       

       
       
       

       

       

      Kindergarten Fine Motor Play

      Fine motor skills in Kindergarten students are essential for effective pencil control and handwriting, scissor use, and clothing and tool manipulation.  Kindergartners may have little experience with tools like scissors, pencils, hole punches, staplers, and pencil sharpeners. In fact, there are MANY fine motor skills needed at school. All of these items require dexterity and strength.  
       
      In-Hand manipulation play for fine motor skills: We had so much fun with water beads.  This post shares two ideas for improving in-hand manipulation skills which are so important for dexterity in self-care, handwriting, coin manipulation…and so much more!
       
      Finger isolation, tripod grasp, eye-hand coordination, bilateral hand coordination…Fine Motor Play with Crafting Pom Poms has got it all!  We even worked on color identification and sorting with this easy fine motor play activity.
       

      What play ideas can you come up with using common tools? These items are GREAT ways to build hand strength and dexterity that will be needed in kindergarten for pencil grasp development and endurance in handwriting. 

      • tweezers
      • tongs
      • beads
      • toothpicks
      • hole puncher
      • peg boards
      • lacing cards

       

      These fine motor activities will engage your student in fine motor skills for effective hand use in functional school tasks.
       
      Kindergarten Fine Motor activities
       
       
       
         
       
       
         
       
       
         
       
       
       
       
       
        
       
       

      Kindergarten Play:

      Play in Kindergarten is essential for so many areas.  Kindergartners are young students who need brain breaks from desk work.  Not only for that reason, but for turn-taking, language, social interaction, self-confidence, problem-solving, and interaction, play is an important part of your Kindergarten student’s daily lives.  

      Play builds skills! Check out this post on the incredible power of play. Play helps kids learn and develop cognitive experiences and the neural connections that impact their educational career, beginning right now! Occupational therapists know that play is the primary occupation of children, but what’s more is that play builds the very skills that kids need to learn and develop.

      Kindergarteners can gain valuable input through play:

      • Cognition
      • Problem Solving
      • Executive Functioning Skills
      • Attention
      • Strength
      • Balance
      • Visual Motor Integration
      • Visual Processing
      • Sensory Integration
      • Self Regulation
      • Language Development
      • Self-Confidence
      • Fine Motor Skills
      • Gross Motor Skills
      • Social Emotional Development
      • Stress Relief
      • Behavior
      • Imagination
      • Creativity

      Try these play ideas in the classroom or at home for fun learning (through play)!

         
       
       
       
       
         
       

      Kindergarten Crafts

      Crafts in Kindergarten are a great tool for so many areas.  Students can work on direction following, order, patterns, task completion, scissor skills, fine motor dexterity, tool use, and more by completing crafts in Kindergarten.  

      Kindergarten crafts can have one or more of the areas listed here to help and build skills:

      • Scissor practice (placing on hand and opening/closing the scissors)
      • Exposure to different textures and art supplies
      • Practice with using a glue stick and bottle of squeeze glue
      • Practice cutting strait lines and stopping at point
      • Practice cutting simple shapes
      • Practice cutting complex shapes
      • Coloring
      • Painting with finger paints and paint brushes
      • Experience washing hands after crafting
      • Opportunities for creative expression
      • Opportunities for rule-following and direction following
      • Multi-step directions
      • Experience copying a model for visual motor benefits

      Try a few (or all!) of these Kindergarten crafts for fun arts and play with your student. 

      Kindergarten Craft ideas
       
       
       
       

       

      Grand Old Duke of York Craft | Process Art Monster Cupcake Liner craft | Shoe Charm craft | Caterpillar Math Craft

       
       
       
      We’ll be adding more to this resource soon, so stop back to find more Kindergarten learning ideas.  

      Color Snack Kids Can Make

      Color snack

      Preschool color activities like this Bear Sees Colors Activity makes learning colors in preschool fun…and paring a fun color snack with a book makes the concepts really stick for kids. After reading the book, make this color snack with the kiddos to develop motor skills. Then, go on a color search as a fun way to teach colors but also promote visual discrimination skills, helping them to identify visual differences that necessary skills for reading and writing. Add this colorful snack idea to our activities to teach colors to kids.

      This Bear Sees Colors activity is part of a series of blog posts where we explored preschool books and came up with hands-on, multisensory activities to extend the book.

      Kids can make this color snack and develop skills, and learn colors with a Bear Sees Colors activity.

      Bear Sees Colors Activity

      We made a creative and healthy snack based on the book and all of it’s colors.  Preschool kids (and older kids!) will love to seek and hunt for colors with these ice cream cone color scopes, then use the cones as an edible snack container. This is such a great activity for a preschool playdate.  Simply set out a plate of healthy snacks and the color scopes while the book is being read.    

      Make a color snack with kids and go on a color hunt to teach colors to kids.

        This post contains affiliate links.


      Color Snack Idea

      This color snack is easy to make with kids, or to set up a healthy, colorful snack for the whole family.

      When we read Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson and loved it’s rhyming story and fun illustrations. We are HUGE fans of the other Bear books, (Bear Snores On is one of our absolute favorites!) so reading Bear Sees Colors was fun for us.  We thought it would be fun to go on a color hunt with our snack using an ice cream cone telescope and seek out colors like Bear does in the book.  

      This color snack requires one main ingredient, and then a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.

      Simply fill up a cake ice cream cone with healthy treats: fruits, nuts, and veggies for a different snack that will get the kids to smile.  

      Kids can get involved with the fruits and veggies prep. Allowing kids to help in the kitchen is a powerful way to help children develop fine motor skills.

      We used the same idea for our Color Scopes based on the book, Bear Sees Colors and made the cake cones into color telescopes.  

      For more ways to add color hunts to teaching colors, add the “Write the Room” cards from the Colors Handwriting Kit. Kids can scan the room for the color cards and then write the color names onto their paper, working on visual discrimination, visual scanning, and color identification.


      Make a Color Scope Using a Cake Ice Cream Cone:

      Use ice cream cones in a color hunt with kids and in a colorful snack.

       

      It is so easy to make an ice cream cone snack for kids. To make the color snack telescope, grab a few cake ice cream cones.  

      Using a sharp knife (this is a job for an adult.) Slice off the end of the cone.  I wanted the grid-like bottom of the cone to stay intact for our color scopes, for a couple of reasons:  First, it was difficult to try to cut out the grid.  Second, I wanted the kids to be able to put fruit and veggies from our snack into the cones and the grid held the treats in.  Third, if the grid was removed from the cone, the cone would probably squash when handled by little curious hands, resulting in crushed cone snack.  That would be an equally tasty and fun treat, I’m sure, but ineffective when it comes to hunting for colors in your snack 😉  


      Colors Snack Idea

      Make a color snack with kids for healthy snack ideas for preschool

       

      In the book, Bear goes hunting with a few friends and sees all sorts of wonderful colors in the world around him.  Bear Sees Colors doesn’t hit all of the colors of the rainbow, but we decided to make our snack include a bunch of tasty berries, nuts, vegetables, and of course, Teddy Graham Crackers.  

      The nice thing about this snack idea, is that you can use whatever you’ve got in your pantry and fridge.  Pull out a plate and load it up with anything colorful.  

      Ice Cream Cone snack container and color scope (or telescope!) based on the preschool book, Bear Sees Colors.

       

      We read through the book again as we ate our snack, and when Bear saw a color, I had the kids look through their color scopes to seek and find the color on the plate. 

      Ice Cream Cone snack container and color scope (or telescope!) based on the preschool book, Bear Sees Colors.

       

      I had them hunt for more colors, too. I called out a color and they had to search for it using their color scope.  They got a big kick out of this activity!

      Color snack with colorful fruits and vegetables in an ice cream cone

       

      We then filled up our cones with healthy treats and had a colorful snack!

      Color snack for kids

       

      This snack idea was fun for all of my kids, but would be great for preschool kids, especially as they identify colors.  How can you think of using our ice cream scopes?  

      Ice Cream Cone snack container and color scope (or telescope!) based on the preschool book, Bear Sees Colors.

       See what the other bloggers on the Book Club Play Dates team have made for the book,  Bear Sees Colors:   Rainbow Sensory Activities from Fun-a-Day Colors Busy Bag from Craftulate Colorful Pre-Writing Activity from Still Playing School  

      More color snack ideas for you may love: 

      Rainbow Snacks

      Valentine’s Day Snack Mix

      hands-on activities to explore social emotional development through children's books.

      Love exploring books with hands-on play?  

      Grab our NEW book, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy, that explores friendship, acceptance, and empathy through popular (and amazing) children’s books!  It’s 50 hands-on activities that use math, fine motor skills, movement, art, crafts, and creativity to support social emotional development.    

      GET THE E-BOOK

      Get the PRINT BOOK

       
       
       
       

      Leonardo the Terrible Monster Game About Being a Friend

      Leonardo the Terrible Monster activity

      You might know that we love to partner great children’s books with crafts and activities.  Today’s hands-on activity is a Leonardo the Terrible Monster activity and it’s one that uses an amazing monster book to help kids talk about the qualities of a friend. Add this to your list of friendship activities, or when working on social emotional skills.

      By the way, be sure to check out all of our book activities.  It’s been fun creating book related activities! Today’s book is Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Williams.  We created a monster craft and game where we talked about friendship.  

      Leonardo the Terrible Monster craft and game to explore friendship with kids.  Talk about the qualities that makes a good friend with kids.  This book and activity is perfect for preschool and play dates!


      (This post contains affiliate links.) 

      Have you read the book, Leonardo, the Terrible Monster?  This is such a cool book, all about a Monster who is not so scary.  

      In fact, Leonardo is terrible at being terrible.  Leonardo tries to find the most scare-able kid there is so that he can scare the tuna salad out of him.  Meet Sam.  Well, it turns out the Sam has had a bad day and is not in fact scared by Leonardo; he’s sad.  Leonardo and Sam become wonderful friends.  

      This book is such a fun read with it’s big, fun font and simple illustrations.  It was easy to make a game based on Leonardo the Terrible Monster.  This game is all about what makes a friend.  We talked about qualities of a friend (and decided scaring our friends is not a good quality!)

      Leonardo The Terrible Monster Book Craft and Game

      We started by making a monster craft using coffee filters and fork painted fur.  For the Monster friend game, you can make a monster craft using any Monster craft, but this one was fun and easy!  You’ll need a few materials to make the coffee filter monsters:  

      • coffee filters
      • Plastic Forks
      • paint (this is my favorite brand!)
      • Paint Brush
      • Monster-ish decorations like pipe cleaners, googly eyes, yarn, or any crafting material
      Leonardo the Terrible Monster craft and game to explore friendship with kids.  Talk about the qualities that makes a good friend with kids.  This book and activity is perfect for preschool and play dates!
      Leonardo the Terrible Monster craft and game to explore friendship with kids.  Talk about the qualities that makes a good friend with kids.  This book and activity is perfect for preschool and play dates!

       

      To make the coffee filter monsters, first flatten and paint the coffee filters.  

      Add color and fur texture by pressing the back of the fork into paint and then pressing onto the coffee filter.  

      Let the paint dry and then glue on details of the monsters.  It was fun to see how different each of our monsters looked.  

      We then used these monster crafts in a friendship game.

      Monster “What is a Friend” Game for Kids

      Once your monster friends are dry, hang them on the wall for a game about friends!  

      This color matching game was perfect for my preschooler (and her little sister who loves to do whatever her big sister does!)    

      Talk about the colors and details of each monster on the wall.  

      Discuss how each monster is different, but they all have feelings and might end up becoming a great friend. We talked about how friendship doesn’t have anything to do with appearances or visual qualities, but of the specific qualities of a friend, or how a person (or monster) acts like a friend to others.  

      We talked about what exactly it means to be a friend.  

      These are some of the concepts covered in our social emotional skills resource, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy, which offers multi-sensory activities while exploring friendship, acceptance, and empathy through popular (and amazing) children’s books.

      Then, to play the monster game, we played a version of “I Spy”.  I said that I could see a monster who has blue fur.

      My daughter would then go over and point to the monster that had blue fur and would name a quality of a friend that the monster might have. This extended the learning of friendship concepts further, and added movement, visual perceptual skills, color recognition, and more.

      This is such a great movement and sensory-based preschool activity to learn about friendship skills! 

      Leonardo the Terrible Monster craft and game to explore friendship with kids.  Talk about the qualities that makes a good friend with kids.  This book and activity is perfect for preschool and play dates!

      Qualities of a Friend

      (according to my kids):

      It was fun to talk with my kids (later my 8 year old came over to see what the fun was about and joined us) as we discussed qualities of a friend.  Some of the things we came up with were:

      • A friend is someone who helps.
      • A friend cares about their friends.
      • A friend helps people at school.
      • A friend asks others to play with them.
      • A friend tells the truth.
      • A friend takes turns.
      Leonardo the Terrible Monster craft and game to explore friendship with kids.  Talk about the qualities that makes a good friend with kids.  This book and activity is perfect for preschool and play dates!

        What qualities of a friend can you and your kids come up with?

      Leonardo the Terrible Monster craft and game to explore friendship with kids.  Talk about the qualities that makes a good friend with kids.  This book and activity is perfect for preschool and play dates!

      Stop by to see what the other bloggers in the Book Cub Play Dates series have created based on Leonardo, the Terrible Monster.  You’ll have all the details you need to create a book themed play date!   Monster Matching Busy Bag from Fun a Day Paint Chip Monsters from Craftulate Play Dough Monsters from Still Playing School

       
       

       

       
      Stop by and see some of our favorite book related activities for kids:
       Big Red Barn puppets  
       
       
      hands-on activities to explore social emotional development through children's books.

      Love exploring books with hands-on play?

      Grab our NEW book, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy, that explores friendship, acceptance, and empathy through popular (and amazing) children’s books!  It’s 50 hands-on activities that use math, fine motor skills, movement, art, crafts, and creativity to support social emotional development.
       
       
       
       
       
      You’ll also love these free friendship slide decks that are now on the site:
       
      Writing about Friendship Slide Deck – writing prompts, writing letters to friends, and handwriting activities to develop friendship skills, all on a free interactive Google slide deck.
       
      Personal Space Friendship Skills Slide Deck– Friendship involves allowing personal space, and body awareness and all of this is part of the social skill development that some kids struggle with. Use this free Google slide deck to work on body awareness and personal space.

      Art Play

      Art Play book

      Today, I have an amazing resource to share with you. Art Play is a new book that has been recently launched, and is a creative art activity book that is also a sensory and fine motor goldmine. Children can use art activities to create while developing skills and making an art project they can be proud of! Art Play is a process art creation book that focuses on developmentally appropriate art projects for kids, using sensory experiences and allows children to explore art materials at a level that is comfortable for them…without expectations for the “perfect” end product.

      Be sure to check out all of the giveaway items in this year’s Therapy Tools and Toys Giveaway series. (Giveaway now closed.)

      Art play combines play and art so children can develop skills through creating art in play.

      Art Play

      This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

      Years ago, I created a children’s activity book with my friend Meredith, an educator and author of the website, Homegrown Friends. Meredith’s new book, Art Play, is my new favorite children’s art and activity book.

      In the book, you will find easy to set-up art projects that focus on the child.

      So often, we see crafts and art activities that are product focused. And, while the end-product focused craft has it’s time and place, especially when working on data collection or achieving specific goals in scissor skills or other areas, there is a place for process art in therapy as well.

      And, this book has got you covered in child-friendly art projects that pull in a very important area: play!

      We know that play is the job of the child. Play is a child’s primary occupation after all! And, it’s through play that these art projects allow a child to participate in creative, making activities. These are activities that allow a child to develop age-appropriate skills…through play!

      This book is beautifully and thoughtfully written and includes step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow. The pages of the book are wipeable and durable, meaning the book can be right there in the play activities and the pages are kid-friendly with thick paper that kids can manipulate.

      Art Play book review

      Just some of the skills that can be developed through the art projects in this book:

      • Pinch and grip strength
      • Eye-hand coordination
      • Motor planning
      • Visual motor skills
      • Direction following
      • Dexterity
      • Visual scanning
      • Visual memory, figure-ground, visual attention, and other visual perceptual skills
      • Tool use
      • Precision
      • Gross motor skills
      • Tactile experiences
      Art play includes sensory painting that builds fine motor skills.

      The art projects in the book focus on play, so there are so many play experiences for children to incorporate into art. Just some of the art play activities include:

      • Dramatic play
      • Pretend play
      • Building with blocks
      • Playing with cars/vehicles
      • Drawing
      • Painting
      • Inventing
      • Creating while upside down
      • Constructing
      • Dancing
      • Picking and collecting nature

      When you combine art with play, you get a lot of movement-based activities that help children develop whole-body skills!

      Process Art Activities

      Would you like a copy of Art Play so you can add these hands-on activities to your therapy practice or home?

      Check out the blog comments below which are loaded with reader’s favorite ways to create art with kids.

      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.