Spring Worksheets for Fine Motor Skills and Handwriting

Spring worksheets

How would you like some free Spring worksheets? Today, I have a fun freebie that I’m excited to get into the hands of little ones…our popular fine motor skills handwriting worksheets! These fine motor precision worksheets are actually Spring themed worksheets, BUT they can definitely be used year-round to work on handwriting and fine motor precision. You can get your hands on these printable Spring exercises and help little ones develop stronger hands!

Spring worksheets to help kids with fine motor skills, handwriting, and letter formation.

Spring Worksheets

These free Spring worksheets for fine motor and handwriting skills are one of our popular printables for precision and dexterity (and handwriting). Here’s why: These Spring worksheets are a powerhouse in building fine motor skills. Kids can use play dough to build the fine motor strength they need to hold and write with a pencil, color, and complete fine motor activities all with more dexterity, precision, and endurance!

We have so many themed fine motor worksheets like this one in our OT Toolbox Member’s Club. You can log in, click the ones you need and print them right away, without entering your email address for each printable.

These printable worksheets are great for using in school based occupational therapy sessions, because you can cover a variety of OT goal areas:

  • Fine motor skills
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Handwriting
  • Letter formation
  • Letter spacing
  • Letter size
  • Coloring

Spring Worksheets for Fine Motor Skills

Here’s how these Spring printable pages work: Kids can first roll a die (Great for in-hand manipulation, arch development, and separation of the sides of the hand!)

Then, they can use play dough to create that same number of balls of play dough. Be sure to ask kids to use just the fingertips for this part of the activiyt. Using the fingertips to roll balls of play dough is a powerful strengthening activity.

Using the finger tips and thumb of one hand at a time to roll a play dough ball is an intrinsic muscle workout that builds the muscles of the thenar eminence, hypothenar eminence, the interossei, and the lumbricals. All of these muscle groups make up the intrinsic hand muscles which are those located within the hands.  

We talked about this more in a post on building intrinsic hand strength using play dough.

Read about more fine motor activities using play dough here.

Spring worksheets for Handwriting

After working out the hands and getting them warmed-up for writing, the page asks kids to then write on the lines. I’ve left the writing portion open-ended so that kids can write words, letters, numbers, or sentences, based on their level, skills, and age.

The Spring themed worksheets come with a flower style and a fun snail activity page. But, each printable sheet is available in three different writing lines styles:

  • Double ruled lines
  • Single ruled lines
  • Double ruled lines with a highlighted bottom space

Print off these worksheets, slide them into a page protector sheet and start building those fine motor skills!

Free Spring Worksheet Set

Want to add this set of worksheets to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email address into the form below to access. NOTE- Due to changes in security levels, users have reported trouble accessing free resources when using a school district or organization email address. Consider using a personal email address.

FREE Spring Worksheets for Fine Motor and Handwriting

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    For more play dough activities and fine motor worksheets, grab the Spring Fine Motor Kit:

    Spring Fine Motor Kit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Join the Member’s Club today!

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

    Play Dough Recipe Without Cream of Tartar

    playdough without cream of tartar

    If you’ve been following this site over the years, you’ve seen many of our play dough recipes, one of them being this play dough recipe without cream of tartar. This easy play dough recipe is one that kids can help to make, and to use in occupational therapy interventions. Read more on how play dough benefits child development, and making the play dough is half of the fun!

    Use this homemade play dough without cream of tartar to work on fine motor skills, executive function, cognitive development, and more.

    Homemade Play Dough without cream of tartar

    Homemade play dough is a childhood staple. When kids are part of the playdough making process, they are active in the kitchen and can incorporate many executive functioning tasks as well as other skill-building.

    But most homemade play dough recipes include cream of tartar as an ingredient. However, purchasing this ingredient is just expensive, and there really aren’t many common uses for cream of tartar except in the playdough recipes.

    So, we decided to do some experimentation and come up with a play dough recipe that omits cream of tartar.

    Our recipe uses a common ingredent that is inexpensive, but also can be used in other kitchen recipes. So, when you purchase this ingredient, you can use it for other recipes as well, making the purchase a good buying decision.

    So? What is our substitute for cream of tartar in homemade playdough?

    Lemon juice!

    Lemon juice makes a great substitute for cream of tartar in homemade play dough recipes because it’s an easy to find ingredient in most stores and you can use it in so many other recipes. Plus, the lemon juice adds pliability to the play dough just like cream of tartar does.

    why is play dough good for child development

    Over the years, we’ve used many ingredients to make play dough as a sensory tool. These are all wonderful ways to incorporate various sensory input through sensory play.

    One of our most popular playdough recipes is our crayon play dough recipe. But other homemade dough recipes you’ll love include:

    All of these various doughs offer sensory experiences through play, using different scents and textures. We’ve strived to create sensory tools through easily accessible and inexpensive materials, mainly using ingredients that are on hand in the kitchen.

    When sensory and fine motor play is easily accessible, kids develop skills!

    And, playdough is a great tool for developing math skills, too.

    Making homemade play dough is a great occupational therapy activity for the clinic, school-based session, or a home recommendation to carryover skills in a family time activity.

    Play dough and hand strength

    Play dough is a fantastic easy and inexpensive tool to work on hand strength and pinch strength. We previously covered over 30 ways to improve fine motor skills with play dough.

    These are great ways to use playdough can be used as a warm up activity or to incorporate palm strengthening exercises into therapy through play.

    Another aspect of homemade playdough and fine motor skills includes the mixing and kneading aspects. Pouring, scooping, stirring, and kneading are all very functional tasks that

    Whether you are developing fine motor skills, addressing cognitive skills like direction following, or incorporating sensory play into occupational therapy interventions, a simple homemade play dough is the way to go. Play dough has many benefits and there are many ways to use a simple dough recipe into therapy.

    Playing with playdough improves fine motor skills such as:

    • Pinch strength
    • Eye-hand coordination
    • Intrinsic muscle strengthening
    • Separation of the sides of the hand
    • Pincer grasp
    • Opposition
    • Tripod grasp
    • Wrist extension
    • Bilateral coordination

    All of this occurs through play!

    Try these fine motor activities using play dough:

    1. This homemade play dough recipe is great for easy play dough activities like our play dough snakes.
    2. Match colored paper clips with play dough. This is a great pincer grasp, tripod grasp, and separation of the sides of the hand activity.
    3. Improve thumb opposition and address a thumb wrap pencil grasp using play dough and beads in this thumb IP joint activity.
    4. Explore all of the fine motor play dough activities.
    ice cream play dough mat

    Grab our free play dough mats available here on the website (or log into your Member’s Club dashboard to grab these in an instant download).

    play dough and cognitive development

    Play dough can be a great cognitive skill tool, too.

    Play dough is a multi-step task. It involves following a recipe, following directions, planning, prioritization, impulse control, working memory, and other executive functioning skills.

    Play dough is a great way to develop executive functioning skills while cooking.

    Kids can work on safety skills while working in the kitchen to prepare this recipe. There is the heat of the play dough after cooking, and stove safety to consider.

    Some users would benefit from using a stove to make the playdough and others may benefit by using an electric skillet in place of the stove.

    So, let’s get to the recipe making with our play dough recipe (without cream of tartar)!

    Playdough without cream of tartar

    To make this playdough without cream of tartar, first gather your ingredients, cooking items, and get started.

    You’ll need just a few ingredients:

    • 3 cups flour
    • 1 and 1/2 cup salt
    • 3 and 1/4 cup water
    • 3 Tbsp oil
    • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
    • food coloring

    How to make playdough without cream of tartar:

    Mix the flour and salt in a bowl, using a fork to stir. Add the water, oil, and lemon juice and stir until the dough pulls together. Move the wet playdough lump to a sauce pan and cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes until the dough forms. 

    Plop the dough onto a clean surface and knead for a few minutes. 

    Separate into portions and add food coloring.  Knead the dough to mix the food coloring. If you are making just one color of play dough, you can add the food coloring to the dough before cooking.

    Many times, we want a variety of play dough colors, though, so mixing the food coloring in after the dough has been cooked is one way to get several colors of play dough.

    Remember that the dough will be very hot to the touch after cooking. Use a dishtowel to mix the baggie so the color is absorbed throughout the dough.

    Keep in covered containers/sealed plastic bags.  Dough does not need to be refrigerated.  

    Playdough with cream of tartar

    If you do have a jar of cream of tartar, use this play dough recipe:

    • 3 cups flour
    • 1 and 1/2 cup salt
    • 3 and 1/4 cup water
    • 3 Tbsp oil
    • 2 Tbsp cream of tartar
    • food coloring

    The same cooking process listed above can be used to make this dough recipe, using cream of tartar instead of lemon juice.

    How to get Vivid Colors in Homemade PlayDough

    Want the secret to really bold and vivid colors?  Use (Amazon affiliate link) Wilton’s gel food coloring.  I have a bunch of these that I use for my cookies, and Big Sister had fun picking out the colors she wanted to mix up.  

      A lot of times, you can find these color sets on clearance (plus add coupons) for a Great discount!

    Little Guy had SO MUCH FUN playing with little straw pieces in the red play dough.   What a great

    Fine Motor Activity for a three year old

    This easy safe play dough recipe is great for toddlers and preschoolers, but also younger if closely watching young children.

    We used the play dough recipe above, and some cut straw pieces to create a toddler-friendly play dough activity that builds fine motor skills.

    Cut the straws into pieces. You can get preschoolers involved with this part of the activity for a scissor skills task.

     Then, show your toddler how to poke the straws into the play dough.

    He played with this one for a long time…hiding the straw bits in the dough, poking circles, bending the bendable part of the straw… So much fun!   

    Playdough Play Mats

    Use this easy playdough recipe (without cream of tartar) with our playdough mats to add play dough as a handwriting warm-up and then incorporate handwriting skills!

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

    Icicle Winter Scissor Skills Activity

    Paper icicle craft

    This paper icicle craft is a fun one for wintertime occupational therapy activities. If you are working on Scissor skills, cutting icicles into paper is a great fine motor task that builds eye-hand coordination, crossing midline, and visual motor skills to cut basic shapes. Be sure to add this paper icicle template for more tools for your winter occupational therapy toolbox.

    Paper icicle craft that helps kids develop scissor skills, a great preschool craft for winter.

    Paper Icicle Craft

    Do you have a little one who is just learning to master scissors?  Scissor Skills for children who have never picked up a pair of scissors before can be very daunting.  Frustrations can build and the next thing you know, your little sweetheart is spiking the scissors across the table!  

    Kids learn all things at different paces.  Every developmental milestone and functional activity are achieved at different paces. 

    Scissor use is no different.  Kids as young as two can start to snip paper (and probably with an awkward-two handed grasp on the scissors!)  And as their fine motor skills develop, will achieve more and more accuracy with scissor use.   

    This winter themed Icicle cutting activity is a great beginner project for new scissor users.  The strait cuts, bold lines, and even paper type are good modifications for a new little scissor-hands!  

    Icicle Craft Beginner Scissor Skills Activity

    Winter Icicle Craft

    Preschoolers are just beginning to gain more control over scissors.  Preschool activities like this icicle craft at the way to go when it comes to building motor skills.

    Strait lines are the perfect way to gain confidence when they are learning to cut…and ensure that they’ll want to pick up the scissors and try another craft again soon!  We started out with nice strait lines on these icicles.  Little Guy could cut the whole way across the page without needing to rotate the page to cut a curve or angle.

    Draw icicles on paper to work on cutting with scissors. Great for winter occupational therapy activities.


    Note: This post contains affiliate links.

    How to Modify this Icicle Craft

    The smallest icicle could have been a harder task for him to cut, if he turned the whole page around like he started out doing. 

    We used a few different strategies to scaffold this paper icicle craft:

    • Cut through the page instead of turning around corners
    • Adjust the paper weight to a thicker resistance
    • Thicker cutting lines
    • Trials with thinner lines to carryover the task with practice
    • Verbal and visual cues

    I prompted him to start one line from the edge of the paper and then instead of rotating the whole page (which would have probably given him a big chopped off icicle point), I showed him how to start the other side from the edge as well.  He was much more accurate with the lines and wanted to keep going!

    We had two different types of paper for our icicles.  The first set was drawn on a sheet of white cardstock

    Cutting from this thicker paper is a great beginning step for new scissor users and a modification often used for kids with fine motor difficulties. 

    The thicker paper requires slower snips and allows for more accuracy.  I also drew the icicles on the cardstock with nice thick lines.  This gave Little Guy more room to cut within the lines and allowed for less line deviation. 

    The second set of icicles were drawn with thinner lines on printer paper.  After practicing on the first set, he was game to cut more  icicles.  The thinner paper and lines requires more control of the scissors and better line awareness, and bilateral hand coordination.

    Work on preschool scissor skills using aa paper icicle craft.

      This looked like so much fun, that even Big Sister wanted to get in on the icicle-making action!

     
     
    Paper icicle craft for the window
     
    We hung our icicles in the window to match the icy conditions outside.
     
    Looking for more ways to practice beginning cutting? Check out this guide to scissor skills.

    More paper crafts for winter

    You’ll love these other cut and paste crafts for winter. Use them in winter fine motor ideas for occupational therapy activities

    • Winter crafts using paper and a variety of textures for sensory play, motor planning, and motor skills.
    • Paper Icicle Craft is an actual printable template that you can print off and use to work on the scissor skills we covered in this post. It’s a great way to make an icicle craft.
    • Build a Snowman Craft– Work on scissor skills and fine motor strength to build a paper snowman
    • Use these paper snowflake ideas from our list of snow and ice ideas.
    • Use activities in our Winter Fine Motor Kit.
    • Use the printable ideas in the Penguin Fine Motor Kit for building scissor skills and hand strength.
    • Incorporate snowman crafts and scissor activities using our latest Snowman Therapy Kit.

    Done-for-you motor tasks to help kids form stronger bodies that are ready to learn.

    Use fun, themed, fine motor activities so you can help children develop fine and gross motor skills in a digital world.

    Themed NO-PREP printable pages include tasks to address fine motor skills such as:

    • Endurance Activities
    • Dexterity Activities
    • Graded Precision Activities
    • Pinch and Grip Strength Activities
    • Arch Development Activities
    • Finger Isolation Activities
    • Separation of the Sides of the Hand Activities
    • Open Thumb Web-Space Activities
    • Wrist Extension
    • Bilateral Coordination Activities
    • Eye-Hand Coordination Activities
    • Crossing Midline Activities

    Click here to read more about the Winter Fine Motor Kit.

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

    Movement Activities Monster OT Slides

    Recently, I’ve been sharing some occupational therapy slide decks with you. These slide decks are OT activities that can be used in teletherapy sessions as part of distance OT or distance learning. Today, I’ve got movement activities with a monster theme to share. These are monster themed occupational therapy activities that cover a variety of areas. When you access the OT slide deck, use in to work on OT activities like a therapy warm-up, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, visual perceptual skills, visual motor skills, and finally, a self-regulation check-in. Each activity in the collection involves movement activities that build specific skills. Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter your email to access the latest free occupational therapy slide deck.

    Movement activities for occupational therapy sessions with a free OT slide deck that incorporates fine motor, gross motor, coordination, visual motor skills, regulation and other movement in monster theme activities.

    Movement activities

    As always, my mission here at The OT Toolbox is to help you help kids thrive through the use of easily accessible tools and resources.

    try these monster activities for a lesson plan for writing, letter identification through movement.

    The slides included in this set are acceptable movement activities for preschoolers because they use letters, helping preschoolers to recognize and identify letters. The slides would also work as a movement activity for kids in older grades as well, using the handwriting and visual motor activities to build specific skills like visual motor skills needed for handwriting tasks, copying lists of words, and visual perceptual skills needed for reading.

    Monster Movement Activities for Kids

    The slide deck promotes movement activities for kids in several ways. These are the slides and an agenda of activities to use in therapy sessions:

    Warm-Up– Use the gross motor movement activities as a warm up to help with body awareness and a sensory tool to add proprioceptive and vestibular input. Kids can copy the body positioning to challenge balance and coordination, as well as motor planning. I’ve added a visual perceptual component to the warm-up movement slides by asking children to identify a partially hidden letter as they do the whole-body movements. This challenges visual perceptual skills including visual discrimination, visual figure-ground, visual closure, form constancy, and visual memory. Read more about these skills that are needed to complete hidden pictures activities, for example.

    Monster activity with movement activities for preschool and movement activities for kids of all ages.

    Writing- The writing slides in this slide deck ask kids to identify the month they are born and the first letter of their name to create a wacky monster name. They can write this word phrase to practice handwriting. The visual scanning and tracking involved in this activity really challenges the visual processing skills and visual efficiency of the eyes. The movement activity of writing their name incorporates a functional task that they may be working on in their OT goals.

    Kids will love to work on handwriting with this monster name activity.

    Fine Motor- The fine motor portion of this movement activity slide deck involves tearing paper into small pieces. By ripping paper, kids are building hand strength, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, and efficiency of grasp. I’ve added a visual motor component to this activity by asking the child to use those paper scraps in shaping and copying specific shapes. The whole fine motor activity adds much-needed fine motor movement and eye-hand coordination to a shape building activity.

    Visual- The visual portion of this occupational therapy slide deck is a favorite for some kids (My own kids included!) Use the slides to work on visual perceptual skills as they find matching shadows for the monster figures in a series of three slides. After the child completes each slide, ask them to jump and and cheer!

    A monster visual perception activity for ot sessions.

    Calm Down/Check-In- Lastly, you’ll find a calm down slide that incorporates the colors of the Zones of Regulation program. Children can complete the calm down movement activities shown on the slides and then choose a color to check in for their state of feelings.

    Work on self-regulation activities with a monster theme.
    Use the zones of regulation with a monster theme

    Want these movement activity slides?

    Enter your email below. If you are currently on The OT Toolbox newsletter list, this will not add you a second time. It will simply send the slides your way. Enjoy!

    Get this Movement Activities slide deck

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      HERE ARE MORE Movement ACTIVITIES TO USE IN VIRTUAL OT SESSIONS

      Heavy work movement activity cards

      Monthly movement activities

      Teletherapy activities for kids

      Work on fine motor skills in teletherapy

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

      Pumpkin activity kit
      Pumpkin Fine Motor Kit

      Grab the Pumpkin Fine Motor Kit for more coloring, cutting, and eye-hand coordination activities with a Pumpkin theme! It includes:

      • 7 digital products that can be used any time of year- has a “pumpkins” theme
      • 5 pumpkin scissor skills cutting strips
      • Pumpkin scissor skills shapes- use in sensory bins, math, sorting, pattern activities
      • 2 pumpkin visual perception mazes with writing activity
      • Pumpkin “I Spy” sheet – color in the outline shapes to build pencil control and fine motor strength
      • Pumpkin Lacing cards – print, color, and hole punch to build bilateral coordination skills
      • 2 Pumpkin theme handwriting pages – single and double rule bold lined paper for handwriting practice

      Work on underlying fine motor and visual motor integration skills so you can help students excel in handwriting, learning, and motor skill development.

      You can grab this Pumpkin Fine Motor kit for just $6!

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

      Fall Fine Motor Worksheets

      Fall fine motor worksheets

      If working on developing fine motor skills this Fall is something you’re focusing on, these Fall fine motor worksheets are the way to go. Add these printable clip cards use clothes pins or paper clips to develop hand dexterity and grip and pinch strength to a Fall theme. Use these Fall leaves clip cards to several of our favorite Fall fine motor activities for developing hand strength, pinch, grip, and dexterity in the hands.

      You’ll love to add these Fall worksheets to more Fall fine motor activities!

      Free Fall fine motor worksheets for developing fine motor strength with a Fall leaves theme.

      Fall Fine Motor Worksheets

      These fall fine motor worksheets are clip cards that combine a print and play activiyt. Just print out the Fall leaves worksheets. Then laminate or use as a paper form. Cut out each circle. Then, kids can clip clothes pins or paper clips onto each circle as they count and match clips to the Fall leaves on the cards.

      Clipping clothes pins to paper develops several skill areas:

      • Hand strength
      • Pinch strength
      • Bilateral coordination
      • Eye-hand coordination

      When kids hold the circle card, they use their non-dominant hand to hold the card, and can use their dominant hand to clip clothes pins onto the cards. Kids can count the number of leaves on each card and attach the same number of clothes pins.

      This repeated clipping task combines heavy work proprioceptive input through the hands and develops refined strengthening of the arches of the hands. All of this occurs while children count and combine fine motor skills with math.

      It’s a great Fall preschool activity or a Fall kindergarten math center where kids are combining math with fine motor skills…and a Fall theme!

      Free Fall Worksheets

      Want to add these Fall fine motor worksheet clip cards to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email address into the form below. You’ll receive these fine motor math worksheets in your inbox!

      Fall Fine Motor Clip Cards

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

        Fall Pumpkin Cutting Activities

        pumpkin cutting activities

        If you’ve been following out Fall week, then you will love adding these Fall themed pumpkin cutting activities! I love these pumpkin scissor skill worksheets for cutting practice with a fun Fall theme. The pumpkin images have simple cutting lines, making them a great pumpkin activity for preschool, or any child that is working on early scissor skills.

        Pumpkin Cutting Activities for Fall themed occupational therapy activities.

        Fall Pumpkin Cutting Activity

        Print out the pumpkin worksheets and then use them to work on scissor skills with kids. I wanted to create a simple shape (square) to hold the pumpkin shapes. This way, kids can work up to cutting the square as a “next step” in developing scissor skills after cutting strait lines, curved lines, and jagged lines.

        This resource is a great read on cutting skills progression for kids.

        Each pumpkin image includes a cutting line. You’ll find strait lines, diagonal lines, angled lines, jagged lines, and curved lines.

        Kids can “cut the pumpkin” to slice through the pumpkin pictures!

        The lines on each shape start at different sides, so kids can work on placement with their non-dominant hand.

        Extend the Pumpkin Cutting Activities

        There is more than one way to use these pumpkin shapes this Fall. Try these pumpkin cutting activities to address a variety of skills and abilities:

        • Start with the large pumpkin cutting pieces and work toward using the smaller pumpkins.
        • Color in the pumpkins to work on coloring skills, line awareness, and hand strength.
        • Trace the dotted line with a fingertip to work on finger isolation.
        • Trace the dotted line with a marker, crayon, or even a bottle of squeeze glue to work on line awareness and visual motor skills.
        • Cut out the pumpkin images. Cut the dotted lines. Then, these can be used as mini pumpkin puzzles to work on visual perceptual skills.
        • Place the separated pumpkin images around the room. Kids can complete gross motor actions like donkey kicks, balance beams, lunges, or hops to reach different pieces of the pumpkins. They can try to piece all of the pumpkins together.
        • After cutting the lines on the large shapes and the smaller pumpkins, then ask kids to work on cutting the square to work on turning the paper to cut around corners.
        • Use these worksheets as a pumpkin craft ideas for toddlers. If given the cut out pumpkin pieces (start with the strait lines and diagonal lines), toddlers can place the pumpkin halves together like a puzzle. Use glue to glue the pumpkin back together onto construction paper to make a pumpkin patch craft! This would be a great pumpkin craft for preschool, too.

        Free Pumpkin Cutting Practice Worksheets

        Want to grab these free pumpkin cutting practice sheets? Enter your email into the form below. Have fun this Fall!

        Pumpkin Scissor Skills Worksheets

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

          For more pumpkin and Fall activities, check out these tools:

          1. Free Pumpkin Deep Breathing Exercise
          2. Halloween Occupational Therapy Activities
          3. Pumpkin Activity Kit
          4. Fall Fine Motor Activities
          5. Fall Fine Motor Kit

          Playground Balance Activities

          playground balance activities

          Today I have a fun activity for kids…playground balance activities! This virtual playground activity has various movement and coordination tasks that challenge kids to work on posture, position changes, coordination, core strength, and much more. While playing at the playground is the way to go to develop gross motor skills, sometimes getting outdoors is just not possible. That’s where this playground therapy slide deck comes in!

          Playground balance activities for sensory play and coordination when going to the playground isn't possible. Use these in a playground theme in therapy activities.

          Playground Balance Activities

          When you think about playing at the playground, you think climbing, stooping, sliding, and balancing, right? There are so many ways that playing on playground equipment is such a powerful way to develop gross motor skills, balance, coordination, and overall strength.

          But, sometimes it’s just not possible to get out to the playground. Things like weather can impact playground use. Other times, limitations in using public spaces impacts use of the playground in the school setting. And, for therapists running therapy sessions, sometimes you want to incorporate all of the fun of a playground setting in the therapy clinic!

          When you access this playground balance activity slide deck, you get to pretend you are at the playground no matter what setting you are in. Then, by following the commands on each slide, children can get all of the benefits of stooping, crawling, balancing, and changing postures.

          Each slide on this free slide deck asks kids to follow the visual cue. There are visuals for different playground task. Things like:

          • Balancing on one leg by monkey bars
          • Stooping to pick up a ball
          • Kicking a ball
          • Squatting to play in the sandbox
          • Climbing on playground equiptment
          • Throwing a ball
          • Climbing on a merry-go-round
          • Jumping rope
          • Reaching up for monkey bars.

          Playground theme therapy

          By going through the playground exercises, kids work on a variety of areas:

          • Bilateral coordination
          • Motor planning
          • Core strength
          • Stabiliyt
          • Position changes
          • Sequencing
          • Motor control
          • Graded positioning
          • Posture
          • Balance
          • Direction-following

          These skills impact daily functioning in kids! Why not use a playground theme to work on these skill areas?

          When kids follow the directions on each slide, they are also gaining whole-body movements and heavy work input that can be calming as a regulation tool.

          If creating a weekly therapy theme works for your plans, then this playground theme is one you’ll want to add to your line up of occupational therapy activities and PT activities. You can use these playground balance exercises in therapy sessions to incorporate a therapy theme.

          1. Try using these visual playground strategies in between other tasks in a therapy session. Work on handwriting, scissor skills, and other functional tasks. And then come back to the balance activity. Then do another task and come back to the balance activity.
          2. Kids can work through the slides and try to remember all of the movements.
          3. Call out a piece of playground equipment and the child can recall the specific balance exercise. This is a great way to work on working memory and attention to detail.
          4. Incorporate handwriting: Ask students to list out all of the playground equipment. Work on letter formation, legibility, spacing, and line use. Then they can go through the slides and do the balance exercises.
          5. Add these activities to a sensory diet that helps kids regulate sensory input. Our outdoor sensory diet cards are the perfect combination to a playground theme!

          Free Playground Balance Activities Slide Deck

          Want to access this free therapy resource? It’s just one of the many free slides here on the website. All you need to do is enter your email address into the form below. You’ll receive a PDF containing a link to a Google slide deck. Copy it onto your drive and you are good to go! Start playing on the playground no matter where you are!

          Playground Balance Activities

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

            Scoop, Pour, Transfer Activities

            scooping, pouring, transferring activities

            Scooping and pouring.  Toddlers pour, and dump toys (or cereal, a cup of water, a bin of diapers…) as soon as they discover that they can. It’s a developmentally appropriate skill that happens as mobility develops.  When little ones pick up a bowl or cup and turn out the contents on the floor, it may be frustrating to a mama that’s just picked up all of the toys in the house for the third time, but it is such a great function that is the occupation of play.  

            These scooping and pouring activities can also help with questions of being ambidextrous or simply having a mixed dominance present.

            Today, we’re exploring how scooping, pouring, and transferring materials benefits toddlers and preschoolers, in big ways. You can use this fun fine motor and visual perceptual motor activity with children at the toddler, preschooler, and school-aged levels to improve the precision of skills, practice math, and discover skills, all through scooping, pouring, and transferring small items.  

            Use these scooping, pouring, and transferring activities to help preschoolers, toddlers, and older kids develop skills.

            Scooping Activities for Toddlers

            There are so many benefits to scooping, pouring, and transferring materials. These scooping activities for toddlers are an easy way to help to build motor skills in toddlers and preschoolers, at just the right stage of development. It’s during the toddler years that children develop more motor control, stronger eye-hand coordination skills. They are starting to gain more control of their arms in a coordinated manner, especially when manipulating tools like scoops, spoons, cups, and bowls. It’s through play and the weight of sensory materials that the benefits of scooping, pouring, and transferring of materials builds motor control, more refined movements, and tolerance of a variety of sensory materials.

            But, you don’t need to stop at the toddler years. Manipulating tools and sensory materials to pour, scoop, and transfer is great for preschoolers, too!

            Ice is a great scooping activity for toddlers to work on coordination and fine motor skills.

            Benefits of Scooping, Pouring, and Transfering

            Fine Motor Benefits of Scooping and Pouring– By manipulating sensory materials, cups, scoops, and bowls, toddlers and preschoolers refine and build motor experience in fine motor skills. Areas of development include: pincer grasp, precise wrist movements, arch development, wrist extension, and separation of the wrist from the elbow. Development of these areas promotes a more distal motor control while using the proximal arm (shoulder and elbow) to stabilize and support the movements of the distal arm (wrist, hand, thumb, and fingers).

            This separation of the proximal stability from the distal mobility is a needed motor development for coloring with the hand and fingers instead of using the whole arm to move the crayon.

            Work on hand dominance and fine motor skills with scooping, pouring, and transferring activiites.

            You can show a child of this age how to dump the dry cereal from the scoop into a large tray.  Kids in the Toddler range would benefit from scooping and pouring using larger scoops or small cups.

             In order to scoop food when eating or scooping like in this play activity, kids need precision of very small wrist motions.  

            Moving the wrist from side to side is called radial deviation (moving the wrist towards the thumb side) and ulner deviation (moving the wrist towards the pinkie finger side).  

            In addition, slight wrist extension (the wrist slightly bent back in the direction of the back of the hand) is needed to accurately and efficiently scoop and pour.

            Simply holding the scoop is an activity for grasp development by refining the arches of the hands and intrinsic muscles.

            Other areas of fine motor development include

            Hand dominance with Scooping, pouring, transferring Hand dominance is an area that they can be working on, depending on their age. It takes experience, or muscle memory through activities to refine and establish a dominant hand or side of the body. By scooping, pouring kids can hold the container, bin, cups, or bowls with their non-dominant hand while scooping and pouring using a spoon, cup, or bowl with their dominant hand.

            As children establish a hand dominance, this refined motor coordination becomes easier to control. Toddlers can start with larger objects and larger scoops. Progressing to more fluid or smaller materials like smaller pellets, flour, or liquids can help preschoolers further refine coordination and manipulation of materials.

            Self-Awareness Benefits of Scooping and Pouring– Pouring and dumping is discovery and exploration of gravity, weight, muscle control, cause and effect, and self-awareness. Not only are toddlers discover what they can do by pouring, they are learning about their environment while working on so many skills.

            Motor Skills Benefits of Scooping and Pouring– Scooping small items is important in development and refinement of motions needed for managing utensils during self-feeding.  This is an important independence step in the Toddler range. The establishment of visual input and motor output results in eye-hand coordination skills.

            Also needed is the muscle memory or “experience” in pouring materials. You’ll see this in action when pouring a liquid or something that really “flows”. You don’t want to pick up a pitcher of milk and pour with speed. The liquid will splash out of the cup and onto the floor. It takes motor skill development and experience to know that pouring different materials, liquids, and containers take different amount of force, accuracy, and controlled movements. 

            Learning by Scooping and Pouring- Adding in learning objectives makes this play activity a bonus. You can add themed materials, counting cards, letter cards, or sensory bin cards. Add math and reading activities by counting or using sight words. Add sensory bin cards. the options are limitless when making pouring and scooping activities educational.

            Scoop and Pour for Bilateral Coordination Skills- When pouring and manipulating containers, a development of bilateral coordination skills occurs naturally. A weighted material is in one hand, while the non-dominant hand stabilizes. This transfers to bilateral coordination tasks such as holding the paper while coloring or writing, using two hands in clothing fasteners, cutting with scissors and holding the paper, and the very functional task of pouring materials in cooking!

            Mindfulness Benefits of Scooping and Pouring- There is a mindfulness component to sensory play too. Have you ever tried using a zen garden to rake or manipulate sand using a sand tray? If so, then you know the power of mindfully manipulating sensory materials. This mindfulness activity works with children too. Many children find a scooping and pouring activity fun and relaxing. Use the scooping and pouring activity as a heavy work activity that adds calming proprioceptive input with visual attention. Help kids to focus on the sensory material as it slowly pours from the hands or from a cup to another cup.

            If kids are moving too quickly or if they become overly excited with the sensory material, add slow movement, a calm environment, a set of “rules” before beginning the scooping and pouring activity, and a broom to clean up!

            Sensory Benefits of Scooping and Pouring Activities– By experimenting with pouring, scooping, and transferring materials, children gain sensory benefits. This occurs through the proprioceptive input from manipulating the materials, as well as tactile sensory input.

            I’ve found pouring and scooping activities to be very calming for children.  They love to watch the beads as they fill the scoop and watch them fall into the bowl as they pour.  Other children can become overly excited by the visual stimulation of scooping beads and soon the beads will scatter all over the table.  You can eliminate mess by doing this activity in a large bin like an under the bed storage bin.  

            Scooping and Pouring Activities

            This post contains affiliate links, but you can use items that you already have in your home.  We used plastic scoops found in food like cocoa powder, coffee, or iced tea mixes.  For the scooping, we used plastic beads that we already had, however, this activity will work with any small item such as rice, dry beans, field corn, pebbles, or sand.  Use what you’ve got on hand to make this activity free!

            Materials for this scooping and transferring activity include:

            • Recycled plastic scoops (We do love our recycled materials activities around here!)
            • Small Plastic beads OR other materials to pour and scoop (Toddler-aged kids can use dry cereal or edible items. See below.)

            This activity is very easy to set up.  

            1. Simple set out a bowl or tray of beads and scoops in different sizes.  
            2. Show your child how to scoop, transfer, and pour the beads into another bowl.
            3. Play!  

            Precautions for Pouring and Scooping Activities with Toddlers

            Just be sure to keep a close eye on your little one. Materials like dry cereal are great for starting out. However, if you try scooping activities with other materials like beads, toys, corn, dry beans, etc, it can be easy for them to forget they are scooping beads and not cereal!  

            As with any activity found on this blog, use your best judgement with your children.  This activity, while beneficial developmentally, is especially a choking hazard for young children.  Always stay within hands-reach of young children with a developmental activity like this one.

            If you are concerned with your child placing beads in their mouth, simply don’t do this one and put it on hold for a few weeks of months.  

            Development of Scooping and Pouring skills in Toddlers

            Note: Use edible materials for this activity with Toddlers.  Dry baby cereal or broken up finger foods (like Cheerios) are great.  For Toddlers, they will be focusing on simply scooping and pouring with accuracy.    

            Grasping pellets (bead-sized items) is a fine motor skill that typically develops around 11 months.  Children at that age can grasp small pellets with their thumb and the pad of their pointer finger, with their arm positioned off the table.  Holding a scoop with either the dominant or non-dominant hand typically develops around 13 months of age.  

            Toddlers will use an exaggerated elbow motion when they first begin an activity like this one and until those small wrist motions are developed.  

            At around 15 months, Toddlers will be able to scoop and pour from a small scooping tool, although as soon as 13 months, many children are able to complete this activity.  

            Managing a spoon during self-feeding happens around this age, as well, as children scoop food and bring it to their mouth.  It is messy, but they are able to get food to their mouth.

            Using a scoop to move beads or spoon to eat develops with more accuracy at 15-18 months.

            At around 12-13 months, children will begin to develop unilaterality in hand dominance.  They will begin to show a preferred hand that manipulates as the other, non-dominant hand assists in holding the bowl or tray.  

            (Other kids don’t define a hand dominance until later.  You can use this activity in the preschool years to work on hand dominance!) You will want to use a wide tray or large bowl for improved accuracy in both scooping and pouring.  Try using a spoon for scooping the cereal pellets, too.  

            Scooping, pouring, transferring beads and developing fine motor skills and hand dominance in Toddlers, Preschoolers, and school-aged kids. Plus learning ideas to use in scooping activities.  From an Occupational Therapist.

            Scooping and Pouring Preschool Activity

            In the preschool years, sensory bin play with a concentration on scooping, pouring, and transferring is very powerful. It’s at the preschool age that motor skills become more refined. The dominant hand becomes stronger in preparation of pencil grasp and handwriting. The muscles of the hands are used in coloring and cutting activities.

            Preschoolers can use scooping, pouring, and transferring activities for functional tasks and learning activities, but also development of motor skills needed for tool use like pencils, scissors, crayons, etc. Use crayons based on development, as we covered in a resource on the best crayons for young children.

            Helping kids establish a hand dominance can be a pivotal moment for addressing fine motor skill development concerns. Kids can refine motor actions by using a preferred hand consistently.

            Preschool aged children can refine their scooping and pouring activity using beads.

            there are many benefits of scooping, pouring, and transferring. Include scooping activities for toddlers and preschool.

            Hand preference in Preschool

            While Toddlers begin to show a hand preference, a true hand dominance doesn’t typically develop until 2 to 3 1/2 years.  That is such a huge age range!  That is because while a toddler can show a hand preference, hand usage is experimented with during different activities throughout the Toddler and Preschool years.  

            There is typically variability in hand preference as toddlers and young preschoolers poke, pick up, throw, color, and play.  Another consideration is that often times, kids of this age are influenced in which hand they choose by position of toy, location of the adult or playmate, method materials are presented, and sitting position of the child.  True hand dominance may not be completely integrated in the child until around 8 or 9 years of age.   

            Knowing all of this, use this activity to practice and play while working on a hand preference.  If your child shows a preferred hand, set up the activity to work on scooping with the typically used hand.  If your kiddo uses their right hand most of they time in natural situations (You will want to watch how they do things on a normal day and in a variety of activities.), then set the bowl of beads on the left side of the child and the scoop on the right side.  

            When using pouring and scooping activities in preschool, try these strategies:

            • Show them how to scoop from left to right.  A set up like this one also encourages the left-to-right motion of reading and writing.
            • Use a variety of materials: dry beans, rice, beads, dry cereal, flour, sand, shaving cream, water, etc.
            • Use a variety of scoops: spoons, coops, small bowls, cups, pitchers, mixing cups, measuring cups, etc.
            Use beads, scoops, spoons, and bowls to work on scooping for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarten to develop fine motor skills.
            Scoop words for a multi-sensory learning activity that uses scooping and pouring in kindergarten.

            Kindergarten Scooping, Pouring, and Transferring Activities

            For children in kindergarten and older, scooping, pouring, and transferring activities are powerful as well! You can use this pouring and scooping activity in math, learning, and sensory play-based learning.  

            • Work on measurement
            • Work on reading, spelling, and letter awareness. This sight word scooping activity is a great multisensory reading activity for kindergarten.
            • Use scooping in math to add or subtract scoops
            • Count the number of scoops it takes to fill a container
            • Use letter or word cards in reading or handwriting activities
            • Work on prediction- Ask them to predict how many scoops it will take to fill different sized cups and bowls. They can count the number of scoops and see if their prediction was correct.  
            • Incorporate addition and subtraction as they move scoops of beads from one container to another.  
            • Address motor skill development- Scooping works on important skills like bilateral hand coordination, including using the non-dominant hand to assist as they would in holding the paper in writing, coloring, and cutting with scissors.
            Work on hand dominance, bilateral coordination, motor skills, and more by scooping, pouring, and transferring activities.

            Pouring, Scooping and Transferring Activities

            Try these various pouring scooping and transferring activities with each age range to develop specific skill areas depending on the individual child:

            Use a variety of materials for scooping besides beads to work on fine motor control and dexterity.  Other ideas include wet sand (heavier and great for coordination and strength) and a light material like foam pillow filler (for more coordination and dexterity).

            Water Sensory Bin Ideas– Use a bin and water, along with some scoops and other materials to work on motor skills, coordination, and refined movements. Scooping water takes precision and control, but it’s a great functional task for children.

            Scoop Nuts– Use seeds or nuts to scoop and work on scooping different sizes, different weights. This is a great activity for graded precision, sorting, and eye-hand coordination.

            Scoop Ice– This simple scooping and pouring activity uses just ice, water, and scoops. Children can work on eye-hand coordination skills to scoop up ice within a bin of water to work on controlled motor skills, utensil use, visual tracking, and more.

            Scoop, pour, and transfer dry corn– Grab some un-popped popcorn and some bins or spoons to transfer materials from one container to another. This simple scooping and pouring activity is easy to set up and works for all ages.

            More fine motor activities you will love

            Use these Fine Motor Kits for hands-on activity kits to develop fine motor skills, strength, dexterity, and manipulation. Kids LOVE these fine motor kits for the motivating activities. Therapists love them because it’s fresh, fun ways to work on pinch, grip, manipulation skills, and much more. Try some of these themed therapy kits:

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