Stellaluna Activities

Bats cut from construction paper with sight words written in chalk. Text reads "stellaluna activities"

Today we have several Stellaluna activities that we created many years ago. This Halloween fine motor task doubles down on the skill-building. With one bat craft based on the children’s book, Stellaluna, we’re covering skills like handwriting, scissor skills, math, reading, bilateral coordination, visual scanning, and much more!

As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Stellaluna activities

Stellaluna Activities

If you haven’t read the children’s book, Stellaluna, then you are in for a treat. The Stellaluna activity and bat games we have to share today are fun ways to read the book and play with a bat theme, and the bat activities would work for a Halloween party with kids, too!

Scroll on for Stellaluna games that teach and are fun!

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon is a sweet story of a bat who is adopted by a bird family after he is knocked from his mother’s grasp during a flight.  We see how different and same the bat and the birds are and also notice the differences.  We were able to talk about how we as family members are all the same, yet different, and how other people we meet or know might be different and do things differently, but inside we are all the same.

Going on the theme of differences and similarities among the bat and his new bird family, we decided to examine sight words, Upper case letters, and numbers with bats! For more fun, make a bat craft to go along with your Stellaluna game, too!

While this is a great preschool book extension activity, the best thing about our Stellaluna game is that we modified it to fit the needs of my three older kids.  

We practiced upper case letter identification with the 3 year old preschooler, sight word identification with the Kindergartner, and math facts with the Second grader. The 16 month old toddler just liked grabbing the bats from the wall.  

Very fun and age appropriate, but we’ll share more about what the older kids did today ūüėČ

Stellaluna Bat Activity

This post contains affiliate links.
If you haven’t read the book Stellaluna (affiliate link), grab it up at your library! ¬†This was a new book to us, and one that I’m so glad we read.¬†

For this Stellaluna craft, you’ll need just a few materials:

  • Black construction paper
  • Bat template
  • White crayon

Then, if you want to work on visual processing skills needed for reading and writing such as the skills:

  1. visual scanning– Needed to scan on the page or overhead on the board to copy words and sentences. When the eyes shift back to the page and then back to the copying source, sometimes the eyes shift and get lost. This is how we have omissions in handwriting tasks.
  2. visual tracking– This visual skill is essential for following along a line of words in a reading task.
  3. visual attention– When the eyes shift on the pages without sustained attention, we see missing words or lines of text.
  4. visual memory– This skill is difficult for many children, and it’s how we recall what we’ve seen to work on memorizing, reading, and writing skills.

then you’ll also need:

  • Flashlight(s)
  • Tape
  • A yardstick or ruler (for visual tracking skills)
Bat template for a Stellaluna activity

Let’s start with using the bat template to make the bat craft.

  1. First, print off this free printable bat stencil.  Cut out the bat and trace it onto black cardstock (affiliate link) paper.  
  2. We cut out about 15 bats, but you can cut out as many bats as you need.  If you’ll be practicing letters, you may want one for each letter of the alphabet.
  3. Write on the bats with a white crayon.  We practiced sight words first and wrote out the words my Kindergartener has been working on. 
  4. Tape the bats to the wall and get ready to play!  
Stellaluna book bat games including sight word games, math facts game, letter identification game.  This is a fun twist on learning facts and words for preschoolers, kindergarten, and second grade, with a bat theme!  I love the flashlight game!

StellaLuna Activity for Sight Words

First, we played a flashlight sight word activity as a warm-up.  I read through a few pages of the book and when we got to a sight word, my son used the flashlight to find the matching sight word on the wall.  He really got into this activity.  

Note that this activity was done many years ago (2015) and we were focusing a lot on sight words in reading.

Now, this might not be the optimal way to target reading skills. Using vocabulary words from Stellaluna may be more ideal for working on reading skills. Feel free to use this activity with the reading curriculum or standards that work for your classroom or school.

Stellaluna Game

Next, to make this Stellaluna activity into more of a game, we created a flashlight race using the same bat cut outs.

We pulled out a second flashlight and when we reached a sight word in the book, the two older kids raced to flash their light on the sight word.  

The first to light it up was the winner.  

Using the flashlights in a dark-ish room reminded us of Stellaluna (affiliate link) flying at night and how the birds would need a flashlight to see.

Again, feel free to use the words from the book on the bats. Just turn down the lights in the classroom and pull the shades to darken the room. Then, use the flashlights to “race” to find the word that you call out.

StellaLuna Math Activity

We also used these same bat cut outs to work on math skills.

  1. To play the math facts game with my second grader, I wrote out numbers 10-20 on the bats.  (Just flip the bats over and use the other side if you are playing more than one game!  No need to cut out more bats, unless you need them.)  

2. Tape the numbered bats to the wall in a random arrangement.  This game was fun for her to practice her math facts up to 20.  

3. I called out a number and then had her roll a die.  

4. She then had to add the number to the number that I called out and run over to the wall and hit the right number.  

We also did a round of subtraction.  You can make this more of a game by adding a second player. Then, extend the math activity by using a couple of flashlights to make this a fun racing game in a dark room.

Here are more Halloween math activities that you can also try.

Bat Letter Identification Activity

Finally, we used the same bat shapes to work on letter identification skills.

For my preschooler, we wrote upper case letters on the bats and taped them to the wall.  

She played a version of the flashlight game as we scanned through the book.  I pointed to a lower case letter and named it and she had to flash the light on the letter on the wall.  

We also practiced letter sounds by saying the sound the letter makes and she had to find the letter on the wall.

Scanning for the correct bat on the wall was a great way to incorporate visual scanning and visual perceptual skills into this learning game activity.  

 
Stellaluna book bat games including sight word games, math facts game, letter identification game.  This is a fun twist on learning facts and words for preschoolers, kindergarten, and second grade, with a bat theme!  I love the flashlight game!
 

 

 

Stellaluna book bat games including sight word games, math facts game, letter identification game.  This is a fun twist on learning facts and words for preschoolers, kindergarten, and second grade, with a bat theme!  I love the flashlight game!
 

More Stellaluna Activities

Looking for more Stellaluna (affiliate link) activities?  Here are some fun bat activities that pair well with the book:
 
 
  
 
 
 

Free Stellaluna Bat Template

Print off the template and trace it onto construction paper. Enter your email address into the form below to access this resource. You’ll also find this item inside our Membership club, along with many other bat themed activities and resources.

Free Bat Stencil

    Are you interested in resources on (check all that apply):
    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

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

    Rainbow Bottle Xylophone

    Plastic bottles filled with water at different levels with colorful water in rainbow order. Text reads "bottle xylophone"

    Many years ago, we made a DIY instrument…a bottle xylophone to be exact! We used recycled plastic water bottles to create a rainbow xylophone and explored not only colors of the rainbow, but also creating a water xylophone made from plastic bottles. This was a fun activity the whole family loved! Another of our favorite DIY instruments is our DIY tambourine craft.

    bottle xylophone

    Bottle Xylophone

    If you have plastic water bottles or a couple of drink containers or recycled plastic bottles in the recycle bin, this is an easy activity to do with kids. It’s actually a great science experiment too. By exploring how different levels of water make different sounds in the bottle, you can really foster a lot of learning.

    Here is one easy way to use plastic water bottles to make a color xylophone with the kids. 

    We made these music bottles to explore auditory processing skills: specifically, these musical bottles were perfect for noticing differences in tone of sound. When we notice these differences and put them together with other tones, we get music! This simple instrument is a DIY music activity my kids loved…and they didn’t mind the auditory processing lesson.

    You’ll need just a few materials to set up your own bottle xylophone:

    • Empty and clean plastic bottles
    • Water
    • Food coloring (you can make a bottle xylophone without the food coloring, but the rainbow feature is fun, especially if you are including this activity in rainbow activities or a rainbow theme.)

    How to make a Water Xylophone with Plastic Bottles

    If you follow this blog, then you know that we love to use recycled materials in play and crafts. After our bottles of Coca-Cola were empty, we decided to make our own songs with a DIY water xylophone!


    To make a water xylophone using recycled plastic bottles:
    This was SUCH a huge hit with my kids.¬† The process is very simple, and it’s a great activity for kids.

    1. We filled the plastic bottles with varying amounts of water.
    2. We used all six bottles from the six pack of plastic Coke bottles and added liquid food coloring to the bottles.  Each bottle held a different color of the rainbow to make a rainbow water xylophone.
    3. Start by pouring water to almost the top of one water bottle. Then, pour a little less into the next plastic bottle. Continue down the line.
    4. Test the sound by blowing across the top of each bottle. You should get a nice hollow sounding sound. When you have the sound as you like it, add drops of food coloring to create a rainbow. 
    Kids love this rainbow water xylophone using recycled bottles to make music.
     

    I showed my kids how to blow across the top of the opening of the bottles to make a musical sound. ¬†It was fun to see my kids’ expressions as they realized they could make a sound on the opening of the bottles. ¬†

    Even better was watching them make a little tune with the xylophone!  This is one activity that they will remember for a long time to come.  

    A hint for pouring water into the plastic bottles: One functional skill that can be challenging for some kids is pouring water. Pouring water into the plastic bottles requires skills such as: 

    • bilateral coordination
    • eye-hand coordination
    • refined dexterity of the pouring (dominant hand)
    • strength

    Doing this activity over a kitchen sink or outside can make the process easier for some. You can also use a funnel or a small pitcher with a lipped spout to make the pouring task graded. To foster pouring skills, try these pouring and scooping activities.

    This is a great activity for addressing oral sensory needs. Blowing across the top of the open bottles to create a sound can even be a calming oral motor exercise. Check out some of our favorite ways to provide sensory input through oral motor exercises for sensory calming sensory input in our animal cracker oral motor activity and our plastic egg boats activity. 

    Kids love this rainbow water xylophone using recycled bottles to make music.
     

    A water xylophone would be the perfect addition to a summer bucket list!  Take this idea outside to create memories with your kids!  Just like music invokes memories, making music with this water xylophone will be the hit of the summer break.

    Kids love this rainbow water xylophone using recycled bottles to make music.

    Other DIY instruments that we loved include:

    Don’t forget to check out all of the great resources on the OT Toolbox, including the Auditory Processing Tool Kit.

    The resources support listening skills, auditory memory strategies, and includes games and activities to foster auditory processing during functional tasks.

    Get your copy of the Auditory Processing Kit here.

    Auditory Processing Kit

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

    Toilet Paper Roll Stamp

    Toilet paper tube with foam stickers and paper with stamps Text reads Paper Tube Stamps

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

    toilet paper roll stamp

    toilet paper roll stamp

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

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

    How to make a toilet paper roll stamp

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

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

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

    Why?

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

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

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



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

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

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

    Check out the seasonal Fine Motor Kits that kids love:

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

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

    Empathy Activities for Kids

    empathy activities for kids

    Many years ago, we made empathy bracelets as one of our favorite empathy activities for kids. Empathy activities like this bracelet craft are easy ways to teach kids about empathy as a foundation for social emotional skills. We made empathy bracelets as a way to develop social-emotional awareness and self-awareness of others and how they feel.  When you use a hands-on activity like this bead activity to teach abstract concepts like empathy, children can stimulate thinking and allow kids to grasp the perspectives of others. Use the empathy beads and the Quick as a Cricket activity idea here to help kids think about others and the world around them.

    empathy activities for kids

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

    Empathy Activities for Kids

    One fun way to teach kids about empathy is with the children’s book, “Quick as a Cricket”. By using this book about feelings, and a fun activity that can be adjusted to meet the needs of various kids, teaching about feelings and values is meaningful.  

    This book really hits on the self-awareness of a child as they see that each feeling in the book makes up a part of him.  We thought that if this boy is feeling all of these emotions about himself, then others are too! If you are looking for for more activities based on children’s books then we have a lot to share with you!

    Use empathy beads and make an empathy bracelet to teach kids empathy. Its one of many empathy activities to show respect and awareness of other's feelings.  This busy bag activity is based on the book, Quick as a Cricket.

    Activity to teach empathy

    Teaching kids about empathy is important. There are studies that show us that specifically teaching kids about empathy makes a difference. In fact, when we teach kids about empathy in ways that make sense to them (or are meaningful), we may see more positive positive social behaviors, such as sharing. 

    Helping others becomes more meaningful as well. Additionally, research tells us that kids that learn about empathy are less likely to be antisocial or present with uncontrolled aggressive behaviors.   

    Additionally, it’s been said that empathy and perspective taking serve an important role in what  is called prosocial behavior, or helping others, sharing, taking turns, etc.  

    One way to support this awareness of the feelings and needs of others is through serving others. Doing various acts of kindness can teach this skill in a practical and real life way. Check out our list of service ideas for ways to help others while developing empathy.

    After reading the book Quick as a Cricket, (just a few dozen times–this is a book you WILL read over and over again!), we talked about how each of us has many feelings that can be seen in animals.  

    Some of our feelings happen daily, and some not for a while.  Other feelings pair together (feeling small and sad).   

    Kids can have a difficult time with learning to be empathetic.  My kids really got an understanding of empathy as we talked about how other people might feel these feelings and we should be aware.  To take the empathy lesson a bit further, we made Empathy Bracelets with our empathy beads!    


    Empathy Activity

    Today, I have a fun friendship activity that uses a classic children’s book. Kids can struggle with the abstract concept of empathy and the perspectives of others.

    This empathy activity is part of a bigger picture when it comes to empathy skills. When we notice and are aware of how we feel, and how those feelings make us act, we can have sympathy and awareness for others. The first step is to do an emotions check in followed by a feelings check in. While similar, they both play a role in being aware of how we feel and the emotion terms associated with those feelings. We can then reflect on how others might feel when they are in a similar situation.

    This Quick as a Cricket activity will be a hit at your book club play date, or any day!  I loved the simplicity of our activity as it really went well with the simple rhyme of the book’s text.  

    How to teach kids' empathy? Make an empathy bracelet with empathy beads to show respect and awareness of other's feelings.  This busy bag activity is based on the book, Quick as a Cricket.

      This post contains affiliate links.  

    To discuss and learn more about empathy, we used just a few items. First, we read the book, Quick as a Cricket, (affiliate link) by Audrey Wood.   If you haven’t read this classic book, it’s one you definitely want to find!  

    The boy in the book discovers the characteristics of animals make up parts of himself.  The book has simple rhyming words and captures children’s attention.  It’s a great book to discuss self-awareness and feelings that make up all of us.  

    Quick as a Cricket activity for kids. Make a bead bracelet and talk about empathy, acceptance, and perspectives of others.


    Empathy Bracelets

    You’ll need just two items to make empathy bracelets with kids:

    1. Pipe cleaners
    2. Beads
    How to teach kids' empathy? Make an empathy bracelet with empathy beads to show respect and awareness of other's feelings.  This busy bag activity is based on the book, Quick as a Cricket.

    We grabbed a handful of colorful pipe cleaners.

    To make our empathy bracelets, we used a bunch of different colored beads. (affiliate link) Some of the beads were different shapes and sizes, and that fit in perfectly with our empathy talks.  

    People come in different shapes and sizes but we all have the same feelings inside!  

    To create the Quick as a Cricket (affiliate link) activity, I used our snap and stack (affiliate link) containers.  This worked great as a busy bag storage system so the kids could create bead bracelets whenever they wished as a quiet activity.  

    How to teach kids' empathy? Make an empathy bracelet with empathy beads to show respect and awareness of other's feelings.  This busy bag activity is based on the book, Quick as a Cricket.

     

    Before making the empathy bracelets, we read through the book once more.  

    We looked at each of the animals and talked about their color and found a bead that went along with the animal.  

    We discussed the feeling or description of the animal and how we sometimes show those feelings.  

    Then we made our bracelets.  It was fun to see how each of my kids made their bracelets differently.  One just plucked the beads from the bin and said the feeling that went along with that color.  

    Another flipped through the book and matched up beads to the animal.  

    Each empathy bracelet is different as it is made by a different child.  But, they all mean the same thing; they represent the feelings that we all share!  

    When you make these empathy bracelets, you could pull out colors to match the animals or feelings, or you could just let the child create as they wish.  It is completely up to you!    

    You can talk about empathy and kindness in many ways using activities with kids.  Mine loved this Little Blue and Little Yellow book activity to promote kindness, too.   

    Kids will love to wear their bracelets and fiddle with the beads.  As they fidget with the individual beads, they can remember the feeling that is associated with that bead.  They might see someone who is having a bad day and recognize the emotion.    

    Encourage empathetic respect of other’s feelings even when your child is not feeling that same way.  You can explain that not everyone has the same beads or colors of beads on their bracelet (or might not be wearing a bracelet!) but they still have those feelings and emotions inside of them.    

    How to teach kids' empathy? Make an empathy bracelet with empathy beads to show respect and awareness of other's feelings.  This busy bag activity is based on the book, Quick as a Cricket.

    Empathy Activities for Kids

    For fun and hands-on empathy activities for kids, grab our social emotional skills resource, 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.    

    • Use plastic eggs to work on empathy by writing various scenarios on strips of paper. Kids can open an egg and state how they would feel in the scenario. This is a great group activity.
    • Use dolls and puppets. Act out scenarios and record the story on a phone or tablet. Kids can re-watch and describe the various feelings and how the characters felt and acted. 
    • For kids with autism, modeling, prompting, and reinforcement are strategies that can help.
    • Read books! These chapter books that teach empathy are great for the older kids or using as read-aloud books with the whole family. They are great ways to spark conversations about empathy. 
    • Writing about Friendship Slide Deck ‚Äď writing prompts, writing letters to friends, and handwriting activities to develop friendship skills, all on a free interactive Google slide deck.
    • Create a social story about specific events or tasks that involve other individuals. This can create options for the individual to use during a task and can help when there may be unexpected situations to navigate that lead to feelings of anxiety or worries leading up to a social situation or activity.

    • Children can benefit from perspectives of others, including through personal space. Use this Personal Space Friendship Skills Slide Deck as a tool to address body awareness and personal space among others. 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.
    • Here are five simple activities to teach empathy to preschoolers.
    • Pretend play is a wonderful way to teach empathy to young children. You can do this as an adult directed activity, through puppets or assigning roles to children during large group times. Encouraging a child child to be sad for a specific reason and having another child take care of them, will help children learn body language of others. 
    • Emotion activities that are available to complete on a daily basis, help children learn how to name different feelings in themselves and identify those feelings in others.
    • Friendship activities such as these friendship activities.
    • Using Book-related play activities- This digital download contains 50 hands-on, multi-sensory play-centered activities for anyone helping kids learn about friendship, acceptance, empathy, compassion, and differences in others. These activities encourage cooperation, negotiation and communication through play.
    Use this Quick as a Cricket activity to teach kids about feelings. It's a fun hands-on empathy activity for kids.

    More Quick as a Cricket Activities

    Expand on the empathy activities with other Quick as a Cricket activities that involve play and movement. First, pick up the book, Quick as a Cricket. (affiliate link) Then use the empathy beads activity here along with these functional activities to inspire development:

    Quick as a Cricket Snack from Craftulate can get kids busy in the kitchen building skills like executive functioning and fine motor skills.

    Quick as a Cricket Sensory Play from Still Playing School includes play and sensory based learning.

    Quick as a Cricket Art from Fun-a-Day inspires fine motor skills and motor development.

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

    References on empathy skills

    Schrandt, J. A., Townsend, D. B., & Poulson, C. L. (2009). Teaching empathy skills to children with autism. Journal of applied behavior analysis42(1), 17‚Äď32. doi:10.1901/jaba.2009.42-17  

    What is Empathy?

    Empathy is the development of care for others. When I was young, my mom always told me to say ‚ÄúI‚Äôm sorry‚ÄĚ when I was in a conflict with my cousin. Sometimes I didn‚Äôt feel sorry (after all, he‚Äôs the one that took the ninja turtle from me first,) but I did what I was told. After a while, saying ‚ÄúI‚Äôm sorry‚ÄĚ felt repetitive with no actual meaning behind it. 

    Instead of teaching children to say ‚ÄúI‚Äôm sorry,‚ÄĚ what would happen if we helped our kids understand how another person is feeling, and respond with care for that person‚Äôs feelings. This is called empathy. 

    Empathy Development in Kids

    Did you know the ability to use and practice empathy in everyday situations is not a born skill and that there are actually specific and defined stages of empathy development? It’s true!

    There is real power to the development of empathy in the first five years of a child‚Äôs life. Not only do children need to understand who they are as a person, but how others feel. Empathy isn‚Äôt something that can be forced on a child, but it is something they can become familiar with and understand through adult support and play based activities. 

    stages of empathy development

    Here, we are covering the stages of empathy development and some activities that preschoolers can participate in, to understand and practice empathy. 

    Empathy is a complex skill that is learned over time.

    From the time a child is born, they open their eyes and notice that they aren‚Äôt the only being! There‚Äôs mom, dad, nurses and they all do everything possible to get the baby’s needs met. As a child grows, they are introduced to siblings, cousins, peers and other adults. Every interaction a child has, provides them with opportunities to understand social structure and engagement. 

    According to this article by Professor Martin L. Hoffman, the main theorist on the development of empathy in childhood, ‚Äúthere must be parallelism of feelings and affections with thoughts, moral principles, and behavioral tendencies.‚ÄĚ

    According to this article in ‚ÄúThe Matter of Style‚ÄĚ the 4 stages of empathy include the following:

    “ First stage (global empathy)

    It comprises the first year of a person’s life and consists of the fact that the child does not yet perceive others as different from himself. For this reason, the pain that he perceives in the other is confused with his own unpleasant feelings, as if it were happening to himself. For example, the baby who, on seeing his mother crying, dries his own eyes.

    Second stage (egocentric empathy)

    It corresponds to the second year of life, and the child is aware that it is the other person who is going through the unpleasant situation. However, she assumes that the internal states experienced by the other person are being felt by herself.

    Third stage of the child’s development of empathy (empathy for the feelings of others)

    It runs from the second to the third year. The child is aware that the feelings he experiences are different from those of the other person, and is able to respond to them in a non-self-centered way. At this point, she is already in a position to understand that the other person’s intentions and needs differ from her own and, therefore, that person’s emotions may also differ from her own. Thus, for example, she becomes able to console.

    Fourth Stage (empathy for the life condition of others)

    It comprises the final period of childhood. The feelings of others are perceived not only as reactions of the moment, but also as expressions of their general life experience. That is, they respond differently to transitory and chronic states of pain, since they take into consideration the general condition of the other.‚ÄĚ

    How to support empathy development in each stage

    Ages 0‚Äď12 Months:  Supporting strong, secure attachments in infants, is essential at this age. As children learn that others are understanding how they are feeling, and are supported by getting their needs met, babies learn that their emotions and feelings can be understood by other, even before they can talk. 

    Ages 1‚Äď3 years: To help toddlers develop empathy, describe their feelings to them, and the feelings of others around them. This is helpful when they are engaging in play with other kids, as toddlers have a harder time managing their emotions. For example, ‚ÄúWhen Sandy was sad, it was so nice that you gave her some ice to help her leg feel better.‚ÄĚ 

    Ages 3‚Äď5 years: In the preschool years, children are learning how to respond to their feelings and the feelings of others. Adults can support empathy development by asking open ended questions and providing concrete ways for children to calm down and express their feelings. Through using emotional tools such as pretend play-based activities, children are able to regulate their feelings and learn how to communicate their needs to others.

    A 6 year old boy recently saw his 3 year old brother become upset because he couldn‚Äôt climb as high on the play structure. The 6 year old could use toys to help his brother and asked him if he needed help calming down. Once calm, his brother helped his 3 year old get a step stool so he could reach the rung on the bottom of the play structure. 

    The social and emotional measures in this preschool rating scale, includes empathy goals for children ages 19 months and up. As empathy development becomes a focus in Early Childhood and essential for Kindergarten readiness, teachers and parents are looking for more easy to teach empathy through play. 

    A final note on empathy

    Empathy is something that isn‚Äôt taught to children, but a skill developed over time. Starting with strong, positive attachments in early childhood. When children have the opportunities to practice developing their social skills by being provided a variety of opportunities to engage in play throughout early childhood, their empathy grows exponentially. Adults can support the development of empathy in early childhood by asking open ended questions, creating opportunities for children to practice developing friendships through play, and providing children with concrete ways to respond to big feelings in themselves and others. 

    105 Creative Painting Ideas

    creative painting

    This list of 105¬†creative painting¬†ideas is a¬†fun way¬†to build skills through creative art. We’ve pulled together¬†creative painting¬†to support child development through creation play! Whether you are looking for¬†painting ideas¬†for¬†toddlers, preschoolers, for the¬†classroom, or for the occupational therapy clinic, these¬†creative paint¬†activities will get your brain ticking with ideas to support creative expression,¬†emotions, sensory play,¬†fine motor skills, and more!¬†

    Add these ideas to your list of occupational therapy crafts that build skills.

    Creative painting

    Creative Painting

    In Occupational Therapy interventions, OTs and OTAs love to support their clients through creative outlets, specifically those that are meaningful to the client. For some children, art and painting is just that: a tool that inspires movement, sensory challenges, visual motor integration, crossing midline and more. OTs can use creative painting as a motivating strategy to develop skills…and maybe add in a bit of creative expression at the same time! Some of these are sensory paint ideas but most involve problem solving and creativity expression through creative paint!

    Why Use Creative Painting?

    Creative painting with clients develops skills. When painting in creative ways, you’ll see movement and sensory experiences that they typical canvas and brush don’t allow:

    • Fine motor skills
    • Gross motor skills
    • Crossing midline
    • Problem solving
    • Executive functioning skills
    • Motor planning
    • Tactile exploration
    • Sensory experiences
    • Bilateral coordination
    • MORE!

    Creative Painting materials

    The ideas listed below will get your creative juices flowing for your next paint project. Kids love when a creative painting idea is presented to them because it’s a bit of the unexpected! Out-of the box thinking when it comes to painting ideas is part of the magic.

    Gather some of these materials for your next painting adventure:

    • Paints–¬†tin of watercolors,¬†washable paints, acrylics,¬†finger-paints, etc.
    • Painting surfaces–¬†canvas,¬†cardboard¬†box, paper, newspaper, paper towel, clothing, paper plates, styrofoam,¬†bubble¬†wrap,¬†piece of paper, watercolor paper, etc.
    • Sensory mediums to mix paint into–¬†shaving cream, sand, salt, dough,¬†bubbles, etc.
    • Tools to paint with–¬†brushes,¬†paintbrushes, rolling pin, flowers, feathers,¬†forks, ice,¬†crayons, cotton swabs,¬†pencils¬†erasers, etc. You can even go on a¬†nature walk¬†to gather items to use to paint with.

    This list is just a starting point…the¬†creative ways¬†to paint is literally in your imagination. Take these ideas and run with them to make your next¬†creative painting¬†masterpiece.

    The Mess of Creative Painting

    It can be common to immediately think about the mess involved with all of this creative art making, however there is therapeutic benefit as well, and focusing on those aspects can help with the mess issue.

    Plus, the clean up portion of painting is a great time to work on those OT self-care goals that aren’t some of the more fun parts of¬†childhood:¬†

    • hand washing – a paint activity is great motivation for washing little hands!
    • cleaning the body
    • scrubbing hard enough to remove the paint
    • cleaning up one’s surroundings
    • wiping down a table
    • cleaning out a sink
    • washing paintbrushes
    • drying a table

    Creative Painting Ideas

    There are so many fun ways to explore color, texture, and creativity through paints listed here. We can not wait to try them ALL!¬†¬† There is just something about painting that is relaxing and satisfying…

    1.  Textured Paint Sensory Play
    2. Paint with Bottle Caps
    3. DIY Shape Stamps 
    4. Paint with kitchen utensils
    5. Paint with feathers
    6. Paint cardboard boxes
    7. Painting Bubble Wrap
    8. Feather Flower Craft
    9. Paint snow
    10.  Paint snow painting with watercolors
    11. Paint with flowers
    12. Stamped Art Flower
    13. Noodle Garland
    14. Goop Painting
    15. Paint with water on a sidewalk or driveway
    16. Gift Bow Stamp Art
    17. Painting With Yarn
    18. Paint a shower stall or bathtub using bath paints
    19. Paint a driveway with liquid chalk paint
    20. Concentric Circles Stamp Art
    21. Sparkle Collage Art
    22. Creative Painting Art Ideas
    23. Concentric Circles Stamp Art
    24. Paint your body with body paints
    25. Sparkle Collage Art 
    26.  Creative Painting Art Ideas 
    27.  Monster Cupcake Liner Craft
    28. Paint your hair with hair chalk (watered down hair chalk works best for this)
    29. Paint an old egg carton
    30. Baking Soda Paints 
    31. Painting With Pinwheels
    32. Fireworks Art
    33. Paper Roll Apple Stamps
    34. Paint a brick wall with the hose
    35. Paper Roll Turkey Stamp Art
    36. Paper Roll Pumpkin Stamps
    37.    Glitter Paint Snowman Craft
    38. Paint newspaper
    39. Snowflake Stamp Art
    40. Fine Motor Sparkle Craft
    41. Paint with a comb and hairbrush
    42. Noodle Garland
    43. Goop Painting
    44. Shamrock Thumbprint Art
    45. Feather Flower Craft
    46. Stamped Art Flower
    47. Make Your Own Textured Paint
    48. Make Your Own Colored Sand
    49. Stamp Roll Painting
    50. Clay Rocks Outdoor Decoration Craft
    51. 3D Drip Paint
    52. Make flour paint
    53. Mix baking soda and food coloring and then add vinegar for science art
    54. Paint toilet paper rolls
    55. Paint paper towels
    56. Paint toilet paper
    57. Paint recycled materials
    58. Scrape painting on a canvas
    59. Ice painting with ice cubes
    60. Fingerpainting with watercolours
    61. Make a paint pendulum with an erector set or tinker toys
    62. Preschool Paint Decorating from From ABCs to ACTs
    63. Painting with Trains from Where Imagination Grows
    64. Number Painting Boards from Left Brain Craft Brain
    65. Color Theory Activity from Gift of Curiosity
    66. Paint with Carrots from Stir the Wonder
    67. Paint pumpkins
    68. Paint rocks
    69. Paint sticks
    70. Paint using a cotton ball in a clothes pin
    71. Paint with toothpicks
    72. Paint with a plastic fork
    73. Paint a paper plate
    74. Paint on a window with soap paint
    75. Paint bark on a tree
    76. Paint with dirt paint (painting outdoors is a good idea with this one! And keep the hose handy!)
    77. Paint on styrofoam for beaded paint
    78. Paint with a turkey baster
    79. Pour paint to work on bilateral coordination
    80. Paint with string
    81. Paint with tweezers holding a craft pom pom
    82. Paint using a rolling pin
    83. Paint with homemade water colors
    84. Paint wooden crafts using acrylic paints
    85. Paint on a swing
    86. Paint with your body
    87. Paint a ball and roll it on paper
    88. Paint on Easter eggs
    89. Paint on coffee filters
    90. Mix up marbled milk paint
    91. Make homemade puffy paint
    92. Paint sand
    93. Paint on an easel or vertical surface
    94. Face paint on a baby doll
    95. Paint your hand and make handprint art
    96. Paint with a potato
    97. Paint with magnets by moving one magnet under a box and the other magnet moving through paint on the inside of a box
    98. Paint on large paper using a broom
    99. Paint a cardboard box using a paint roller
    100. Paint DIY cardboard bricks
    101. Paint with cotton swabs (Qtips)- Here is a cotton swab painting activity for Spring
    102. Paint a rubber duck
    103. Paint inside a plastic baggie
    104. Make 3D drip paint
    105. Paint on a train table or water table

    These creative painting ideas are fun crafts to build skills through fantastic fun! Which self-expression activity are you going to choose first? 

     
     

     

     
     
    Check out these great ideas for creative ways for kids to paint!
     
        

     

     
     

     

     

     

     
    40. Pour Painting with Pixie Stix from Fantastic Fun and Learning
     
    41. Outdoor Window Painting from Simple Fun for Kids

     

     

     
     

     

     

     
    Some of our favorite ways to paint from past blog posts:
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
     

    Valentine’s Day Occupational Therapy Activities

    Here, you’ll find Valentine’s Day Occupational Therapy Activities that you can use this time of year to help kids develop skills. This is the time of year that red and pink hearts are everywhere, so why not use the theme of love and friendship in therapy interventions with fun Valentines day activities? Add these heart crafts, and love ideas to your therapy toolbox to work on things like fine motor skills, regulation, scissor skills, and more, all with a Valentine’s Day theme!

    Be sure to grab these printable Valentine’s Day cards, too!

    Use these valentine's day occupational therapy activities in therapy planning, classroom activites, and to work on skills like handwriting, fine motor skills, scissor skills and other developmental areas.

    Valentine’s Day Occupational Therapy Activities

    There are so many love and heart themed activities here on The OT Toolbox. Over the years, we’ve done a lot of fun activities that double as a skill building strategy. Check out these ideas and pick a few to add to your therapy line up and plans over the next few weeks. Some of these hear crafts and sensory ideas or games would make great additions to a Valentine’s Day party that builds skills, too!

    One great tool is our Valentines Day I Spy activity for visual motor and fine motor skill-building.

    Free Valentine’s Day Printables

    We love to create multi-purpose free worksheets and printable activities that support development. Worksheets can get a bad rap, but we at The OT Toolbox attempt to create occupational therapy worksheets that focus on play as a function.

    When we can use a printable founded in play, the user is performing a daily occupation that is important to them, and the play is both the tool and the skill that is being developed. That’s why these Valentine’s Day worksheets are so loveable!

    Conversation Heart Sort– Print off this sorting worksheet for a fine motor activity with conversation hearts.

    Valentine’s Day Hat Craft– Print off this hat template and work on coloring skills, scissor skills, and executive functioning to build and create the Valentine craft.

    Valentine Hole Punch Cards– These free pintables are perfect for occupational therapy Valentine parties. Use the printable activity to build skills in eye-hand coordination, hand strength, bilateral coordination, arch development, visual scanning, and more.

    Heart Deep Breathing Exercise– Print off this heart poster and use it to develop skills in mindfulness, self-regulation, and even proprioception through the chest and upper body. It’s a very calming activity that can be a great addition to the sometimes chaos and unexpected situations in a classroom Valentine’s Day party. use it to support sensory needs at a Valentine’s Day party!

    Valentine’s Day Activity Sheet– This printable tool is a great activity that can be used to develop many different skills depending on the needs of the individual. Use a single activity sheet to target: visual scanning, visual memory, visual peripheral skills, form constancy, fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, dexterity, pencil control, motor planning, coloring and more.

    Valentine Matching Alphabet Cards– Cut out these love letter cards and match uppercase to lowercase letters. These cards are used for cursive letters to build skills in letter recognition, visual discrimination, and more.

    Valentines Fine Motor Worksheet– Print off this Valentine worksheet and build motor skills in many ways. have fine motor races with small objects like beads or mini erasers. Use tweezers to move items along the path. Work on pre-writing lines by using the paths on a vertical or diagonal. Work on a vertical plane to build core strength and shoulder stability. Use the sheets to practice letter formation by writing in the circles. There are so many ways to play and develop skills with a heart theme!

    More Valentine’s Day Activities

    That’s not all! Use the activity ideas below in planning OT sessions, or in Valentine’s day parties that also build skills.

    One thing I love about holiday events this time of year is that kids are excited about Valentine’s Day activities. It’s fun, friendly, and full of kindness and empathy. However, there are so many ways to develop skills with the old-fashioned Valentine fun:

    • Cut out paper hearts- Cut hearts from cardstock or construction paper for more resistance
    • Fold paper hearts in half- This is great for bilateral coordination, hand strength, pinch strength, eye-hand coordination, motor planning, and visual perception.
    • Stick heart stickers on paper- Add small targets by drawing dots and placing the heart stickers on the dots. This is great for fine motor precision and eye-hand coordination. Place the paper on a vertical surface and further develop core strength and balance.
    • Write on Valentine’s Day cards- what a functional and fun way to work on handwriting and to teach kids to write their name.
    • Make a Valentine’s Day box- Don’t worry about the fancy Pinterest V-Day boxes! Some of those require way too much parent help. Help a child wrap the box in wrapping paper (anther great functional life skill!) and then cut out hearts or draw right on the box.
    • Make a Valentine’s Day snack– Work on executive functioning skills, direction following, fine motor skills, and more.

    Valentine’s Day Therapy Slide Decks

    Working virtually? Use a done-for-you therapy slide deck. These are therapist-created and designed to meet the needs of a variety of levels of users. Adjust the slides and therapy activities to meet your needs and the needs of the learners you are working with.

    If you are needing occupational therapy teletherapy resources, check out the hands-on Valentine’s Day activities below. They are great for February parties and therapy at home activities for this time of year, too.

    Valentine’s Day Sensory Activities

    From sensory bottles, to discovery activities, to heart painting and more, these sensory play activities can be a fun way to help kids develop skills through the senses. How can you use these Valentine’s Day occupational therapy activities in sessions or at home?

    Valentines day sensory bottle for self regulation and sensory processing or visual processing

    Valentine’s Day Sensory Bottle– Use this sensory bottle activity as a way to build fine motor skills while kids help to create the sensory bottle and add materials. Then use it in self-regulation, sensory processing needs as a calm down bottle. Sensory bottles are fantastic to work on visual processing skills like visual discrimination, figure-ground, and other visual perceptual skills.

    Olive You Thumbprint CraftFingerprint art is a great way to work on finger isolation, an essential fine motor skill that kids need to manipulate items and improve pencil grasp. Here is more information on how fingerprint art improves fine motor skills. Add this artwork to a card or Valentine’s Day craft for fine motor fun.

    Valentines Day play dough to build fine motor skills

    Valentine’s Day Play Dough Activity Use a recycled chocolates box in a play dough activity that builds skills like strengthening of the intrinsic muscles and arches of the hands. This is a fun Valentine’s Day activity that can be used in classroom parties or in the therapy room to build skills.

    Bilateral coordination activity for valentines day

    Bilateral Coordination Heart Sensory Tray Use sand, rice, or other sensory bin material to create a bilateral coordination and visual motor activity for kids. They can work on eye-hand coordination, motor planning, and other skills. The point of the activity is to establish direction and orientation relative to the child‚Äôs body.  The movement activity addresses hand-eye coordination in different visual fields, promotes spatial awareness and visual discrimination, addresses left and right awareness, improves peripheral vision, promotes body awareness and coordination with specialization of the hands and eyes, and works on gross motor movement skills.

    Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Activities

    Try these Valentine’s Day fine motor activities in your occupational therapy interventions or home programs. The activities here are fun ways to help kids develop hand strength, dexterity, precision, grasp development, and motor control.

    Be sure to check out the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit. In the 25 activity printable kit, you’ll fine hands-on activities to build fine motor skills. Activities include coloring and cutting cards, pencil control sheets, heart crafts, Valentine’s Day write the room activities, hole punching exercises, and so much more. Grab the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit here.

    Visual perception activity and heart maze for valentines day

    DIY Heart Maze- Look out visual motor skills…this heart maze is one you can make and print off for your whole caseload. Adjust the use according to your kiddos. Children can place objects like paper hearts, mini erasers, etc. on the hearts in the maze to double down on fine motor work, or color in the hearts to work on pencil control. This maze is a visual processing powerhouse. Find more information on visual processing here.

    Fine motor heart activity

    Teeny Tiny Sprinkle Heart Activity– This is a fine motor activity that builds precision and dexterity in the hands. It’s a fine motor workout kids can use to build hand strength and endurance for fine motor tasks. Use it in math centers to work on one-to-one correspondence and counting or sorting.

    Heart fine motor and eye hand coordination activity

    Heart Eye-Hand Coordination Activity– Work on eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills tongs and heart s cut from cardboard. If you are like me, you have a ton of delivery boxes coming to the house. Use those boxes in a fine motor skills building activity. Write numbers or letters on the hearts to make it a sorting, math, or spelling activity.

    heart keychain made with salt dough

    Salt Dough Keychain– This is a fun heart craft that goes along with the children’s book, “The Kissing Hand”. Use it to help kids work on fine motor skills, and hand strengthening. This keychain craft makes a great Valentine’s Day gift idea too!

    Valentines Day crafts

    One Zillion Valentines Book and Craft– Pairing a book with therapy or when working on skills with kids is a fun way to open up conversation, problem solving, and strategizing to create a project or activity based on the book. This Valentine‚Äôs Day book for kids is just that. One Zillion Valentines is one children‚Äôs book that pairs nicely with a fine motor craft for kids.   Kids can work on fine motor skills, motor lanning, direction following, and executive functioning skills while folding and making paper airplanes, and the cotton clouds in this fun craft idea.

    Valentines day handprint art

    I Love Ewe Handprint Craft– Use a handprint art activity as a tactile sensory experience. Pair scissor skills, pencil control, direction following, and copying skills to work on various areas needed for handwriting and school tasks. Pls, this makes a great Valentine’s Day craft or addition to a card!

    Valentines Day activities to build skills for kids
    valentines day color sorting fine motor activity

    Valentines Day Color Sorting Fine Motor Activity– Grab a couple of cookie cutters and some beads. This is a fine motor activity that kids can use to build skills like in-hand manipulation, separation of the sides of the hand, finger isolation, open thumb webspace, and more.

    love bugs valentines day crafts

    Love Bugs Crafts– Work on fine motor skills, scissor skills, direction-following, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, and more with these cute bug crafts for kids.

    valentines day sensory bin

    Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin– There are so many benefits to using a sensory bin in building fine motor skills. Pour, scoop, and stir with the hands for a tactile sensory experience. Using a sensory bin can be a great way to work on visual perceptual skills like figure-ground, visual discrimination, and other essential visual processing areas. Find and ovate objects or add a learning component by writing sight words or math problems on hearts. This is an open-ended activity that can be used in so many ways.

    valentines day books

    I Love You Books for Kids– These Valentine’s Day books for kids are a fun way to combine books with crafts or love themed activities. Use them to work on copying words or sentences for handwriting practice. The options are limitless. What love and heart themed books would you add to this list?

    Valentines day activities to build fine motor skills
    heart play dough

    Valentine’s Day Crayon Play Dough– Use play dough to work on so many areas: hand strength, arch development, separation of the sides of the hand, endurance, eye-hand coordination…But have you ever had trouble getting a a really vivid red play dough when using food coloring? The answer to the red play dough problem is using vivid crayons! Here is our crayon play dough recipe that gives you the brightest colors, perfect for using in Valentine’s Day play dough activities!

    heart craft to work on fine motor skills like scissor skills

    Heart Bookmark Craft– This is such a fun and easy Valentine’s Day craft to use when working on scissor skills with kids. The strait lines of the bookmark and curved lines of the heart make it a great activity for kids just working on the basics of scissor skills.

    Valentines day craft for kids

    Heart Butterfly Craft- Work on scissor skills, handwriting, and fine motor skills to make this fun card. The directions to make this Valentine’s Day craft are over here on a guest post we did for Hands On as We Grow. Use this fun craft with a group. It’s a great Valentine’s Day party idea!

    Valentines Day craft for kids to work on fine motor skills and scissor skills

    Valentine’s Day Tea Craft– This Valentine’s Day craft is a fun way to work on scissor skills, handwriting, and fine motor skills. Kids can make this craft as a gift for friends or parents and work on skill development, too.

    More Valentines’ Day Activities

    Try some of these other ideas:

    Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin with Fine Motor Paper

    Valentine’s Day Snacks for Kids

    Valentine’s Day Goop Painting

    Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Sparkle Craft

    Crunchy (Sensory Diet!) Heart Tortilla Snack

    Teach Buttoning with Heart Buttons

    So, what are your favorite ways to work on skills with a holiday theme? Try some of these heart activities at Valentine’s Day parties, at home when making cards for loved ones, or in therapy planning! Have fun!

    Want to add more Valentine’s Day activities and movement tools to your skill-building?

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

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

    Valentines Day fine motor kit

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

    Christmas Tree Activities

    Christmas tree activities

    Check out the Christmas Tree Activities on this blog post for creative ways to incorporate a Christmas tree theme into occupational therapy interventions. Tis the season for Christmas tree crafts and festive holiday activities that develop skills and learning. A lot of these Christmas crafts and sensory ideas only require a few items to make and they can last for many years to come. Add these Christmas occupational therapy ideas to your therapy toolbox.

    Christmas tree activities for kids including fine motor Christmas tree crafts, and Christmas tree sensory activities.

    Christmas Tree Activities

    These activities are listed below in sections, so you can pick and choose the holiday activities that meet the needs of the child you are working with in therapy (or at home as a parent).

    Kids can work on fine motor skills, visual scanning, visual tracking, in-hand manipulation skills and grasp patterns with a holiday theme. The tree activities below develop skills through Christmas tree ornaments, garland and Christmas themed sensory bins.  

    Christmas Tree Crafts

    These are fine motor crafts that build motor skills, coordination, planning, and hand strength with a Christmas tree theme.

    Make a bottle cap Christmas tree

    Bottle Cap Christmas Tree craft-Save those bottle caps and make a Christmas tree. Help you kids paint and arrange the bottle caps into a Christmas tree. This is a great fine motor eye- hand activity for kids.

    Fine motor Christmas tree craft
    Clothes pin Christmas tree

    Christmas Tree Craft– Have some clothespins siting in a drawer? Gather those up with some paint, stickers and paperclips to make a fun craft for the holidays.

    Gift tag Christmas tree art
    Christmas tree stamp art

    Christmas Tree Stamp Art– have your child make homemade gift tags. This activity will work on fine motor skills (scissor skills and grasp patterns). 

    A Very Merry Occupational Therapy Christmas ‚ÄďThis article provide a variety of activities focused around Christmas for the whole month! Scroll down to activity eight to make a craft of stringing  cranberries and popcorn to make garland for your tree. Stringing items works on so many important skills. Bilateral coordination, visual tracking and visual scanning, fine motor skills and patterning. 

    Christmas tree made from egg cartons

    Fine Motor Egg Carton Christmas Tree Craft-Save your egg cartons to make this fun Christmas tree craft. Grab some green paint and decorations to help your child make a table decoration. 

    Christmas Tree Fine Motor Craft– Grab a hold punch and paper and let your kids have fun by making Christmas trees with various amounts of holes. Can be used as a great way to count as well. The squeezing of the hole punch provides proprioceptive input and strengthening to the hands. 

    Christmas Tree Scissor Skills Craft– Use the same concept and have kids work on scissor skills with this easy cutting activity. These Christmas trees would look great on a holiday garland.

    Make a pine cone Christmas tree and build fine motor skills.

    Pine Cone Christmas Tree  Ornaments-Take a walk outside and gather up pinecones. Grab some paint and glitter, pom poms and make these cute ornaments with your kids. 

    Christmas suncatcher craft
    Christmas tree suncatcher

    Christmas Tree Suncatcher Craft-what is better then seeing the sun in the winter? Having a beautiful sun catcher to see it through. This activity works on pincer grasp and in-hand manipulation skills. 

    Make a pattern Christmas tree with beads

    Pattern Christmas Tree Ornament– This fine motor craft is a fun one to work on pincer grasp, tripod grasp, in-hand manipulation, and more.

    Christmas Tree Sensory Activities

    Christmas tree sensory activity
    Christmas tree sensory play

    Christmas Tree Sensory Play-make a fun Christmas tree with foam shapes and water. A fun sensory activity that works on cutting, patterning and sorting. 

    Christmas Sensory Binkids love playing in sensory bins. We used green peas and potpourri as the items in the bin. To make it a Christmas tree them use the green peas and add round ball for ornaments.

    Fine motor Christmas card craft
    Christmas tree card to build fine motor skills

    This Christmas tree card kids can make is a fine motor skill activity that builds scissor skills, hand strength, eye-hand coordination, and more.

    Christmas tree drink wrap

    Christmas Tree Oral Motor Activity– Did you know that drinking from a juice box offers kids heavy work through the mouth as they suck on the small juice box straw? This Christmas tree craft can be used with a juice box for a bit of calming sensory input through the mouth.

    Use this Christmas mindfulness activity as a coping strategy for kids during the holidays.

    Christmas Tree Mindfulness Activity– Use this Christmas tree deep breathing activity as a sensory break to address self-regulation for sensory needs or emotional needs. Print and go!

    About Christina: Christina Komaniecki is a school based Occupational Therapist. I graduated from Governors State University with a master’s in occupational therapy.   I have been working in the pediatric setting for almost 6 years and have worked in early intervention, outpatient pediatrics, inpatient pediatrics, day rehab, private clinic and schools. My passion is working with children and I love to see them learn new things and grow. I love my two little girls, family, yoga and going on long walks.

     

    Christmas Activities Calendar

    Christmas activities calendar

    If you are looking for a few Christmas activities (or a holiday calendar to send home for the Christmas break), then this December occupational therapy calendar is for you! We pulled a few of our favorite Christmas occupational therapy activities and put them onto a printable holiday activities calendar so you can print and go!

    You’ll also want to check out our 25 days of Christmas ideas because you can grab 25 printable OT ornaments…perfect for decorating the tree in a therapy clinic!

    Christmas activities calendar

    Christmas activities calendar

    The Christmas season is a hectic and chaotic time.  With holiday parties, altered schedules, and never-ending to-do lists, Christmas can be overwhelming for adults and kids.  Children see and hear everything and the Christmas time stress is no exception. These Christmas occupational therapy activities can be used in the clinic, home, or in a home program during the holidays. Scroll on for some fun OT holiday activities the whole family will enjoy while targeting various needs!

    Christmas Occupational Therapy Activities

    Adding to the therapy plans, a few occupational therapy Christmas activities is as easy as adding a holiday themed therapy activity or a planning to use a Christmas item such as a stocking, wreath, or candy canes into therapy games.

    Children with sensory or developmental needs and typically developing kids feel the sense of chaos this time of year. The overload of sensory input can be exhausting to children with difficulty in processing input from their environment.  I mean, it’s overwhelming for me, too! 


    With all of the excitement of the season, it can be hard to keep to sensory integration strategies to help with coping in over stimulating situations. Sensory kiddos can also show over or under-responsiveness to new situations, too.  Imagine walking into a crowded holiday party with music, lights, a dancing crowd, scents of different and weird foods, and lots of overlapping voices.  


    A child can easily become over excited or over protective as they attempt to protect themselves from this noisy, smell party!

    OT Christmas activities

    Christmas OT Activities for kids

    Kids who are working on specific skill areas like fine motor or gross motor development can easily become distracted in the excitement of the season and allow practice areas and goals to slide just a bit.  I mean, there are a lot of fun things a kid can be doing…why would they want to work on their letter formation and handwriting??! Adding a few Christmas OT activities for kids to work on various needs can make the therapy “work” more fun and meaningful.


    So, with the upcoming season of busy craziness, I wanted to put together this Occupational Therapy Christmas Calendar.

    Celebrate the Christmas season with Occupational Therapy goal areas and calming strategies during this hectic season, allowing families to connect and focus on the true meaning of the season while working on developmental areas.

    It’s a way for kids and families to connect and cope during this busy season through holiday festivities, while simultaneously working on many Occupational Therapy goal areas.  Work on fine motor skills while building that gingerbread house.  Calm down with proprioceptive input while snuggled up in a blanket with the family and a good Christmas book.  These are Christmas-y ideas that will keep your whole family connected this year.

    This post contains affiliate links.

    Occupational Therapy Christmas Activities

    Celebrate the Christmas season with Occupational Therapy goal areas and calming strategies during this hectic season, allowing families to connect and focus on the true meaning of the season while working on developmental areas.



    Add these ideas to your Advent calendar for a Very Occupational Therapy Christmas!


    NOTE:  Many skill areas are addressed with each activity.  You might be working on specific areas like calming activities, or handwriting.  Try to adapt the activities below to fit your child’s needs.


    The list below can be done in any order.  This is meant to be an easy way to fit Occupational Therapy practice areas into everyday Christmas fun.  

    If a day is a little too hectic to fit in an activity, switch it around and do a different activity.  The most important message is to connect with your family and meet the needs of each member in fun and festive ways this Christmas!

    Christmas OT activities

    Christmas Calendar Ideas

    Note that some of the calendar days are slightly different than on the printable Christmas activity calendar below. From playing in the snow to creating your own Christmas memory game…the options are limitless when it comes to making memories and building skills!

    Day 1 Make gingerbread salt dough to address fine motor, proprioceptive, and olfactory areas. ¬†Cut out gingerbread men and make a garland…or just play with the dough! You can keep it in a covered dish or plastic bag to play again and again.


    Day 2 Wrap up tight in a blanket and read Christmas stories for proprioceptive input.  A warm blanket is calming.  Wrap your child up like a burrito or full body proprioception.


    Day 3 Write a letter to Santa.  Provide creative handwriting modifications for fun.


    Day 4 Play outside and collect nature items.  Use them to make collage art or create a table-top sensory table.


    Day 5 Carry boxes of donations for heavy work input. This time of year, many families donate to others.  Kids can carry boxes and bags for proprioceptive input while doing a good deed.


    Day 6 Make snowballs and throw at targets. ¬†If you don’t have snow where you live, make fake snow for sensory fun. ¬†Be sure to take this activity outside! Throwing at a target is a great hand-eye coordination activity. Packing together snowballs requires bilateral hand coordination and proprioceptive information to determine how much pressure is needed. Don’t let that snowball smash in your hands by packing it together too hard!


    Day 7 Have a family dance party to Christmas music. Be sure to swing, twirl, jump, and spin or loads of vestibular input.


    Day 8 Work on fine motor skills and string cranberries and popcorn on thread with a needle. Managing a needle and thread is a fine motor skill similar to tool use.  Threading popcorn and cranberries works on tripod grasp, bilateral hand coordination, hand-eye coordination, visual scanning, visual tracking, patterning, and more.


    Day 9 Carry shopping bags in both hands for bilateral coordination and proprioceptive input.  Not going shopping?  Fill shopping bags at home with cans from the cupboard.  Create an obstacle course to work on motor planning.


    Day 10 Cut paper snow flakes to work on scissor skills.  Try cutting coffee filters, newspapers, cardstock, foam craft sheets. and tissue paper for lots of textures and line accuracy practice.


    Day 11 Build a gingerbread house and work on fine motor skills. Encourage tip to tip pincer grasp by providing very small candies.  To amp it up a bit, add a pair of tweezers and have your child pinch with a tripod grasp.  Provide an icing bag to work on gross grasp, too.


    Day 12 Play Christmas Charades for gross motor and vestibular input.  Encourage movement actions like Santa filling his bag, building a snowman, wrapping presents, and shopping.


    Day 13 Encourage proprioceptive input by showing your kids how to build a Santa’s workshop with couch cushions and pillows. ¬†Lifting heavy cushions is a great heavy work activity. ¬†Once done, kids can calm down in their couch cushion workshop under blankets and pillows. ¬†Add a few toys and pretend hammers from a toy tool set for pretend play and problem solving in this Santa’s workshop activity.


    Day 14 Make scented potpourri with scents of the season.  Kids can work on scissor skills and fine motor skills by cutting evergreen stems, orange peels, and pulling bits of bark from evergreens.  The scents of this potpourri will fill the home and a fun way to explore the olfactory sense.


    Day 15 Make a Christmas Tree Craft and work on fine motor skills, bilateral hand coordination, and strength. Kids will feel a sense of accomplishment when they see their tree decorating the house all season long.


    Day 16 Provide a visual sensory activity by stringing a strand of Christmas lights in a surprising place like on the ceiling, along the tops of doorways, or under a dining room table.  Twinkly lights can be used in a calm-down area. Kids can help to string the lights and use bilateral hand coordination, executive functioning and motor planning to figure out where to place lights, hold up the strand, peel and tear tape, and stick it to the lights. 


    Day 17 Work on visual scanning and other visual perceptual skills like figure ground by playing a Christmas version of “I Spy”. ¬†Use the decorated Christmas tree as a decoration station: Ask your child to locate a specific colored ornament as they visually scan the tree. ¬†For more fun, play the game while lying on the floor and looking up at the tree.¬†


    Day 18 Make and drink hot cocoa.  The warm drink provides a temperature sensation that is different and new.  Add ice cubes and candy canes for more textural taste sensations. Following multiple step directions in a cooking with kids activity works on so many problem solving, math, and sensory skill areas.


    Day 19 Use Christmas lights to create a DIY light table.  Use it for handwriting practice including line awareness, spatial awareness, letter formation, tracing, and drawing.  This is a visual activity that kids will love.


    Day 20 Cook up goodies (or wrap pre-packaged treat!) and plan a good deed for neighbors.  Load up a wagon or sled and deliver the treats around the neighborhood.  Pulling a wagon or sled is a proprioceptive activity that can be calming and grounding.


    Day 21 Improve hand strength with this fine motor Christmas Tree craft using a hole punch for proprioceptive input to the hands.  Decorate the house with the trees, or create a banner for the mantle.


    Day 22 Work on gross motor skills by playing “Santa Says”. ¬†Just like the game Simon Says, kids can copy and listen to directions and motor plan, actions. ¬†Be sure to incorporate bilateral coordination and crossing midline for a brain break activity. ¬†Use these Simon Says commands to get you started.


    Day 23 Explore the sense of touch and scent with this Candy Cane Moon Dough sensory bin.  Work on fine motor skills and tool use by scooping and filling cups and cookie cutters.


    Day 24 Wrapping presents is a powerhouse of developmental activities:  Measure paper to fit packages, Cut paper with scissors in a strait line, Fold paper, Tear and Cut tape, Stick tape along edges of paper.  Practice motor planning, problem solving, and executive functioning by crossing an item from your to-do list and wrapping a present or tow with your child.


    Day 25 Celebrate Christmas Day with big Christmas bear hugs with family and friends. Hugs are great for proprioceptive input to the body. 


    Enjoy the season with your family and make each and every moment count

    Printable Christmas Activity Calendar

    Want to print off a calendar of occupational therapy ideas to support parents? It’s a great way to send kids off to the holiday break with therapy ideas that support skill-building AND celebrate the season. You can grab a copy of this printable calendar by entering your email address into the form below.

    The OT Toolbox Member’s Club members will also find this printable calendar inside the Member’s Club in the Therapist Tools section (Level 1 members) and in the Christmas Therapy Theme (Level 2 members).

    FREE Christmas Activities Calendar

      We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

      OT Christmas ACTIVITIES

      Extend the OT Christmas activities further by asking kids to write out the therapy schedule on Christmas modified paper to work on handwriting. This is a great holiday activity for the clinic while working on a variety of occupational therapy goals. Clients can then cross off items as they are completed. Grab a copy of this modified Christmas handwriting paper here and work on handwriting with bold lined paper, highlighted lined paper, and color coded paper…all with a Christmas theme!

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

      Christmas Crafts for Kids

      Christmas crafts for kids

      If you are looking for therapy ideas that build skills this time of year, then you will love these Christmas crafts for kids. These are craft ideas driven by fine motor skill development but also promote skills like hand strength, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, precision of grasp, motor planning, direction following, and creativity. These holiday crafts are perfect for adding to your Christmas occupational therapy ideas.

      From garlands to DIY Christmas ornaments, you AND the kids will love these holiday craft ideas. We’ve pulled our favorite Christmas tree crafts, reindeer crafts, snowman crafts, and Santa crafts all into one place. The best part is that these crafty ideas are perfect for the whole family (or therapy caseload…check out the fun Christmas crafts below for ideas that suit kindergarten up through the older kids! 

      Christmas craft for kids


      Christmas Crafts for Kids

      If there is one most of us are short on this time of year, it’s time. There is just NO time to search Google for fine motor craft ideas or Christmas crafts to add to the occupational therapy activities in December. That’s why I wanted to put together a list of tons of ways to be creative with a Christmas craft for kids.

      One of our favorites, and the most easy holiday craft has to be your own set of Christmas memory game cards. Start there, or check out the ideas below!

      Christmas Crafts for kids for the holiday season crafting. These Christmas crafts for kids will keep the kids happy while strengthening fine motor skills, visual motor skills, coordination, and more while working on the skills kids need, all with Christmas crafts!


      Most of these Christmas crafts are process-based but some are not, making them the perfect mix for the therapist looking for crafts that meet the needs of a varied occupational therapy caseload. Use the Christmas craft ideas below to add a holiday theme to your therapy plans this month!

      This post is part of our Christmas Activities for Kids series we’ve got going on this week. It’s all designed to share holiday activities so you don’t need to search all over the internet! If you missed yesterday’s post, you’ll want to check out Christmas Activities for Toddlers to find occupational therapy activities designed for the 2-3 year old age range.

      These are activities, games, and ideas for kids with a Christmas theme that can be used in occupational therapy treatment in the home, school, or clinic!

      If you missed the announcement post on our Christmas Activities for Kids series, you’ll want to check it out. We’ll have a different Christmas activity theme each day this week!

      Christmas Craft for Kids Supplies

      This time of year, it’s a great idea to have a craft supply center out for kids to get crafting. Use the kid-made crafts as holiday gifts for family, package toppers, or to attach to a family holiday card. You can even attach a small craft to a candy cane for easy gift-giving.

      Most of the Christmas crafting supplies can be found in a dollar store or for fairly cheap, making this December bucket list item easy and a fun way to spend days leading up to the holidays. 

      Some Christmas craft supplies you can have on hand include:

      • Pipe cleaners
      • Glitter
      • Craft pom poms
      • Glue
      • Cotton balls
      • Paper plates
      • Clear plastic Christmas ornaments
      • Clothes pins
      • Googly eyes
      • Popsicle sticks
      • Beads
      • Buttons
      • Construction paper or card stock
      • Yarn
      • Ribbon
      • Hot glue
      • Thread
      • Plastic lid
      • Wreath form
      • Mason jar

      Once you have a collection of materials, you can start making an easy Christmas craft!

      As a therapist, I love to see the fine motor skills, scissor skills, and sensory input accomplished through crafting as an occupation. But there is the opportunity for creative thinking, executive functioning skill work, and motor planning at work too. 

      Set out a bin or basket of the crafting materials above and let the child explore and create. You can give them an idea of what to create…Ask them “Do they think they can make a Santa Claus using the materials they have in front of them?” By offering a crafting target and the materials with an open-ended craft idea, you are adding in skills such as planning, prioritization, working memory, problem solving. These skills are very much related to the emotional regulation when a project is needing completed but there are challenges in the way. A simple holiday craft can be a fun way to address and develop this skill. 

      Some Christmas crafting ideas include:

      • Santa Claus
      • Elf
      • Angels
      • Christmas gifts
      • Rudolf 
      • Reindeer
      • Christmas tree ornaments
      • Snowman craft
      • Christmas wreath
      • Gnome
      • Santa’s beard
      • Cookies
      • Christmas tree
      • Christmas art

      You can also challenge kids to use specific forms of crafting: fingerprints art, handprints, salt dough crafts, or one of our Christmas templates. Whatever the type of craft, you’ll find tons of ways to develop skills.

      Christmas Craft Ideas

      Some of our favorite ways to craft this time of year include:

      Our new hot chocolate craft uses a printable template that you can modify to meet the needs of each child on a therapy caseload (or at home or in the classroom!) Just print off the template and go. There are even visual step-by-step directions and a data collection form for this holiday craft.

      Bear Christmas ornament craft
      Bear Christmas ornament craft



      Scissor Skills Reindeer Craft- Another Christmas craft that is based on a children’s book is this Olive the Other Reindeer Ornament that doubles as a scissor skills craft. Wouldn’t it be fun to make a whole Christmas tree full of ornaments made in therapy sessions?

      Bilateral Coordination Bear Craft- This bear craft Christmas ornament helps kids use bilateral coordination and motor planning to wrap twine around a bear, making it a fun craft and a powerful therapy tool too! This Christmas craft goes along with a popular children’s book, making it a great craft to share as “occupational therapy homework” over the holiday break!

      Christmas tree craft



      Hand Strength Christmas Tree Craft- Use this Christmas Tree Fine Motor Craft activity to develop strength in the hands and more. This activity uses a hole punch to create lights for each Christmas tree. The bonus with this craft is the learning and math component. Add a colorful twist by adding colored tissue paper to the backs of the trees with glue.

      Fine motor Christmas tree craft
      Build a Christmas tree with clothespins

      Clothespin Christmas Tree Craft- Paint clothes pins and a painters stick and ask students to build a Christmas tree while developing fine motor skills. You can use this activity over and over again in therapy sessions. Read the instructions and the why behind this Christmas tree craft.

      Pinecone Christmas tree
      Pine cone Christmas tree

      Pine Cone Christmas tree- This is another Christmas tree craft that kids will love. It builds fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and bilateral coordination skills, too. Read the instructions to make a pine cone Christmas tree of your own.

      Fine motor Christmas card craft
      Christmas card with tree




      Hand Strengthening Christmas Card Craft- This Homemade Christmas Card for kids is a fun Christmas card kids can make for family or friends. It provides an opportunity for hand strengthening with the hole punch Christmas tree. Sneak some handwriting practice in, too!

      Bottlecap Christmas tree craft
      Bottlecap Christmas tree craft




      In-Hand Manipulation Bottle Cap Christmas Tree- Use recycled bottle caps to make this Bottle Cap Fine Motor Christmas Tree Craft. This fine motor activity can be a holiday decoration that boosts fine motor skills such as precision, in-hand manipulation, tip-to-tip pincer grasp, rotation and dexterity of the fingers needed for in-hand manipulation, and bilateral coordination.

      Christmas tree fingerprint
      Christmas tree fingerprint craft



      Finger Isolation Ornament- This ornament craft is based on the well-known children’s book, Little Tree. Read the book and then make the ee cummings Little Tree Christmas Ornament AND sneak in fine motor skills like finger isolation, scissor skills, and so many other skills.

      Christmas holly craft made with bottle caps
      Christmas holly craft made with bottle caps




      Process Art Ornament- This Bottle Caps Holly Ornament  is a creative process craft and if you make them with friends or in a classroom setting, there will be no two that look exactly alike. This Christmas craft for kids is a powerhouse for the fine motor development that occurs:  Scissor skills, bilateral coordination, eye hand coordination, and more.

      Plastic lid ornament craft.
      Plastic lid ornament craft.

      Plastic Lid Ornament Craft– Use recycled plastic lids to make an ornament craft using washi tape. We then used a bunch of the lids to make an ornament garland. Read the instructions for this ornament garland craft.

      Snowman craft for Christmas
      Snowman craft to build fine motor skills.



      Paper cup snowman craft- This snowman craft uses crafting materials that build fine motor skills and pencil control skills. Add details with a fine tipped marker to work on pre-handwriting or pencil control skills.

      Egg carton snowman craft
      Snowman egg carton craft

      Snowman Fine Motor Craft- Creating this Snowman Fine Motor Craft is a fun way to develop skills like bilateral coordination, pincer grasp and more. This craft is one that builds fine motor strength and precision while creating a fun holiday decoration.

      Make an egg carton Christmas tree
      Make an egg carton Christmas tree to build fine motor skills.




      Fine Motor Christmas Tree Craft- This¬†Fine Motor Christmas Tree Craft¬†addresses many skills needed for development and function.¬†This craft has been very popular here on The OT Toolbox, and for a good reason!¬† It’s a way to recycle egg cartons while working on various skills: bilateral coordination, fine motor strength, precision, eye-hand coordination, visual attention, spatial awareness, arch development, wrist extension¬†and stability, and more.

      Pipe cleaner Christmas tree craft
      Pipe cleaner Christmas tree craft builds fine motor skills.


      Tripod Grasp Christmas Tree- Kids will love this Pattern Christmas Tree Craft because they can make it as sparkly as they like! Encourage a little math and visual motor work with patterns on the Christmas tree while promoting a tripod grasp. 

      spaghetti wreath christmas craft
      Spaghetti wreath craft is a great sensory craft for Christmas.



      Tactile Sensory Play Wreath Ornament- This Spaghetti Wreath Ornament is another process art Christmas craft that kids will love. In fact, it’s a sensory goldmine and can be used for sensory play along with fine motor work and crafting! 

      Christmas tree suncatcher
      Christmas tree suncatcher craft



      Precision Christmas Tree Suncatcher Craft- Need a Christmas craft that helps with precision and dexterity? This Christmas Tree Sun Catcher Craft will make the windows look festive!




      Holiday Crafts without a Christmas Theme- To switch things up, here are several Winter Bird Crafts that boost fine motor skills and can be done this month or all winter long.


      Kid-Made Christmas Ornament Crafts Looking for ornaments the kids can make? This collection of ideas has something for everyone. It’s a great way for kids to make a holiday gift for their family while working on fine motor skills and other occupational therapy goals.

      Easy Christmas Crafts

      Therapy professionals are always looking for craft ideas that can be graded to meet the different needs of a variety of skill levels. Especially during this busy time of year, it can be so difficult to manage all of the holiday events in a school day (holiday parties, parades, school-wide assemblies, special events, sick kids that miss days of school, etc.) that meeting required IEP minutes during the month of December is tricky sometimes.

      That’s why a school based OT needs a quick craft idea that builds skills no matter what level the student is at: from preschool or pre-K up through high school and with a variety of skill-building areas. These craft ideas are simple, and can be graded up or down depending on the abilities of the student:

      Pipe cleaner stars are an easy Christmas craft for kids
      Thread beads onto pipe cleaners to work on fine motor skills.
      1. Thread beads onto pipe cleaners like we did in at our winter party.
      Popsicle stick snowflake
      Use craft sticks to make a snowflake.

      2. Use popsicle sticks to make a snowflake to challenge tactile sensory touch and fine motor skills.

      paper icicle craft
      Cut paper icicles to work on scissor skills.

      3. Cut out paper icicles (we have a template in that post) to work on scissor skills and eye-hand coordination.

      Need more Christmas ideas? These Christmas Activities for Preschoolers are a big hit, too!

      Need Christmas craft ideas for this holiday season? These Christmas crafts for kids will keep the kids happy while strengthening fine motor skills, visual motor skills, coordination, and more while working on the skills kids need, all with Christmas crafts!

      More Christmas Activities for Kids


      Working on handwriting with kids this Christmas season? Grab your copy of the Christmas Modified Handwriting Packet.

      It’s got three types of adapted paper that kids can use to write letters to Santa, Thank You notes, holiday bucket lists and much more…all while working on handwriting skills in a motivating and fun way! Read more about the adapted Christmas Paper here.

      Need Christmas craft ideas for this holiday season? These Christmas crafts for kids will keep the kids happy while strengthening fine motor skills, visual motor skills, coordination, and more while working on the skills kids need, all with Christmas crafts!

      Christmas Crafts and Handwriting

      Pair the Christmas crafts with Christmas handwriting. Use one of the Christmas crafts for preschool parties or school holiday parties this time of year.

      Then, students can use the modified paper below to write a list of holiday words or even directions to complete the Christmas tree craft or reindeer antlers!