Bilateral Coordination Toys

Bilateral coordination toys

Here we are covering all things bilateral coordination toys. When it comes to bilateral integration, coordinating both sides of the body in play can be a challenge for some children. These bilateral skills impact functional use of the body, motor planning, and bilateral integration as a whole. It’s through play with occupational therapy toys targeting bilateral skills that children can strengthen and develop this essential motor skill. Let’s dissect a few select toys that promote this skill.

Bilateral Coordination Toys

We’ve previously covered both fine motor toy ideas and gross motor toys. Today’s topic closely mirrors those areas. Today is all about the bilateral integration that goes into motor play. 

First, let’s talk Bilateral Coordination Toys!

Bilateral coordination toys are an occupational therapy intervention that helps children develop essential skills in bilateral integration. Toys that use both hands in a coordinated manner help children with bilateral coordination, crossing midline, and using both hands in tasks. These are essential skills that allow for an integration of both sides of the body, but more than that, bilateral coordination tells us that the brain is communicating effectively and sharing information between sides of the brain.

Today, I’m excited to share bilateral coordination toys and games to help support this essential skill.

Bilateral coordination toys for kids to develop coordination of both sides of the body.

Bilateral integration

Bilateral coordination in functional tasks makes up much of our day! Think of all of the other areas where you are using both hands or both sides of the body at the same time: getting dressed, tying shoes, cooking, typing, holding a book while reading, pouring a glass of water…the list could go on and on!

This integrated use of both sides of the body can be developed through play.

Using both sides of the body together is a skill needed for many tasks: writing with a pencil with one hand while stabilizing paper with the other hand is one such activity.

Another bilateral coordination task is cutting with scissors with one hand while holding and manipulating paper with the other hand.

For children with difficulty in crossing midline, or using integrated bilateral skills, using toys in play is an effective way to work on and nurture this skill.

Looking for a toy to work on bilateral coordination to add to your gift giving this holiday season? Today we are covering ways to build bilateral coordination skills using toys and everyday items. We also have another giveaway to share today. This time it’s a fine motor toy that promotes a variety of sills, bilateral integration being one of them. I wanted to highlight this as a toy for building bilateral coordination because as we know, promoting this skill is a valuable building block to other tasks such as handwriting, cutting with scissors, self-care tasks, and more.

Working on bilateral coordination in play is a means and a strategy for building this essential skill. So, why is bilateral coordination so important? And what exactly does bilateral coordination mean?

DIY Bilateral Coordination Toys

We’ve shared quite a few bilateral coordination toys and DIY activities here on this site in the past.

A bilateral coordination lacing plate is a DIY toy and activity that can be used to work on coordinated use of both hands with a variety of themes.

Using puzzles and games that you already have with an extra special addition can be a great way to work on bilateral coordination with puzzles.

Play dough and sensory doughs are fun ways to play while working on skills like bilateral coordination and other motor skills.

Stickers are an easy way to work on bilateral coordination and can be used in the classroom, clinic, or home and in combination with obstacle courses and other motor activities.

Pegboards (both DIY and store-bought versions), are a fantastic way to work on bilateral coordination in play and in developing visual motor skills and coordination.

DIY pick-up sticks are a fun way to address bilateral integration and coordinated use of both hands together.

Making DIY lacing cards are a fun way to work on bilateral coordination. Making the lacing cards is part of the fun.

Miniature rhythm sticks can be a musical and creative way to encourage bilateral coordination.

Lock and keys games like with this DIY lock and key activity makes fine motor development an out of the box way to work on skills kids need for independence and instrumental activities of daily living.

Bilateral Coordination Toys

There are many bilateral coordination toys on the market as well. Let’s take a look at some toys and games that you can add to your therapy toolbox.

Amazon affiliate links are included below.

Pop Tubes Toy for Bilateral Coordination– Pop tubes can be used in many ways to work on bilateral skills. Use them for a fine motor bilateral coordination task, or use them to work on a large scale or small scale. Wrap one around a wrist and build off of that tube. Or create a chain of tubes. Hold one and drop objects through the tube and into a container. How will you use this bilateral coordination toy?

Bilateral coordination toy for use in bilateral coordination obstacle courses and other occupational therapy interventions.

TruBalance Bilateral Coordination Toy This toy requires both hands as well as the eyes to challenge balance, coordination, and bimanual skills. Kids can work with this toy while sitting, standing, or in more challenging positions. Try incorporating couch cushions for a balance activity. Use this toy in a bilateral coordination obstacle course. Kids can use the pieces in a scavenger hunt type of activity where the parts are scattered at various levels and positioning, allowing the child to crawl, climb, walk, or squat while balancing the toy. The options go on and on!

Use nuts and bolts activities to help kids develop bilateral coordination.

Nuts and Bolts Bilateral Coordination Toy– This nuts and bolts activity is great for developing fine motor skills as well as bilateral coordination by requiring the child to use one hand to manipulate the parts while the other hand acts as a stabilizer. This is a nice way to develop skills needed for tasks like handwriting, pouring, stabilizing, cooking, etc.

Zoom ball in therapy can be used to work on bilateral coordination, visual convergence, core strength, shoulder stability, and motor planning.

Zoom Ball– This classic toy is such a great way to work on many skills: bilateral coordination, core strength, shoulder stability, visual convergence, motor planning, and coordination. Just like the TruBalance toy, a zoom ball can be used in different positions to challenge balance and vestibular input: Try using the zoom ball in sitting, standing, kneeling, standing on couch cushions, a slant…again, the options are limitless!

Thumbs up is a bilateral coordination game for kids.

Thumbs Up Game– This bilateral coordination game requires players to place rings on their thumb in a “thumbs up” position while they race to scoop and find the correct combination of colored rings to add to their thumb. It’s a fun racing game that builds visual perceptual skills too: figure ground, visual discrimination, visual memory, as well as the visual processing skill of scanning.

Lacing cards help kids develop bilateral coordination skills.

Lacing Buttons– There is no doubt about the power of lacing cards when it comes to developing bilateral coordination skills. However, this lacing buttons activity takes it up a notch with the eye-hand coordination and visual processing skills. Kids can lace buttons onto wooden shirt pieces while building bilateral skills, fine motor skills, and eye-hand coordination. However, the set also includes puzzle cards that ask the child to lace on colored buttons in specific order so it matches the cards. What a workout in visual processing skills, too!

use lacing beads to help kids with coordination, fine motor skills, and bimanual skills.

Animal Lacing Beads– These lacing beads are chunky wooden animals that help kids develop bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, and visual perceptual skills. As an occupational therapist, I am drawn to this toy because of the different animals that could be used in sequencing activities, sensory bins, pretend play, stacking activities, and so much more.

Apple lacing activity for bilateral skills.

Wooden Lacing Apple– This lacing puzzle challenges bilateral coordination skills and can be used to work on eye-hand coordination, tripod grasp, and motor planning. Use this activity to help with stabilization as well.

Press blocks offer a sensory feedback opportunity for building bilateral coordination.

Press and Stay Blocks– These building blocks require bilateral coordination with a press so they stay, helping kids to develop bilateral coordination and get proprioceptive input to push them together and then take them apart. Building blocks are a great way to build fine motor skills and visual perceptual skills, and these are a great addition to your therapy toolbox collection.

Labyrinth Game This maze game is a favorite in our house, and a tool for building bilateral coordination and visual perceptual skills too. Kids need to manipulate two knobs at the same time and coordinate visual information with one hand or the other…or both. It’s a brain building challenge that involves both sides of the body. Challenge kids to do this activity in a kneel or while standing on their knees at a low table to challenge balance and offer proprioceptive input as well.

fine motor toy for kids

Octi Buckle Plush Toy with Hook and Loop Straps– This play toy is a strategy to encourage development of fine motor skills, problem solving, color matching, coordination, and more. This stuffed play buddy is a toy that promotes development of many skills, bilateral coordination being one of them.

Using toys that double as quiet time activities, busy bags, or travel toys…all while working on skills is what makes toys like the buckle plush toy a therapist-approved toy. A buckle toy, with bright colors, shapes, straps, and zipper pouch will provide countless hours of recognition activities, brain building games and development puzzles. Your little one will stay busy counting the number of straps, connecting them together, pulling them apart, and starting over again. Kids can hide small items and treasures in the zip pouch, then unzip it later and get excited over their discovery!

More Bilateral coordination activities

Some of the smartest and most creative folks I know are the readers of The OT Toolbox. I asked readers to tell me sensory strategies they personally love and use to address sensory modulation. Scroll through the comments…you might just find some new sensory strategies that will work for you! Hopefully we can learn from one another!

Also, check out these other soy suggestions based on therapeutic development through play.

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

Printable List of Toys for Bilateral Coordination

Want a printable copy of our therapist-recommended toys to support bilateral coordination?

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

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

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

therapy toy

Bilateral Coordination Toy Giveaway

⚠️ Day 7 ⚠️ of the Therapy Toys & Tools Giveaway!

This pop tube set is not only a major way to develop bilateral coordination skills…it’s also super popular with kids right now as a fidget toy! It includes 72 pop tubes, so you can give one to each client on your caseload…or use them to:

  • Add them to your therapy toolbox to build chain links,
  • Build a big marble runs
  • Create X-Large letters
  • Make a maze path students can walk through and crawl under
  • Coordinate both hands or both sides of the body (upper/lower) to create a marble maze around your arms and legs
  • Use one hand to hold the tube and another to drop beads into a target.
  • Make pop tube chain links. Or work on a smaller scale to strengthen fine motor skills with the mini tubes
  • Build a giant snake with bends and loops

Want to add this tool to your therapy toolbox??

And 5 winners will get a set of tools from The OT Toolbox Shop.

Want to enter?

  • Go to the email form below.
  • Enter your email address in the form.
  • That’s it!

Fine print: This giveaway is in no way affiliated with Facebook or Instagram. There are 6 winners each day. One winner gets the toy, the other 5 get OT Toolbox materials. Giveaway ends 12-6 and winners will be selected and notified 12-7-22. 🗓Open to international entries! Be sure to enter a correct email address into the form: that’s how I’ll contact winners!

Bilateral Coordination Toy Giveaway

and Therapist-Recommended

BILATERAL COORDINATION TOYS HANDOUT

    We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    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.

    Toys to Improve Pencil Grasp

    Pencil grasp toys

    Have you ever used pencil grasp toys to support development of handwriting? Helping kids with pencil grasp can be a challenge, so using motivating and fun activities to support the underlying skill areas is essential. Today, we’re going over the best occupational therapy toys that target pencil grasp development. Pencil grasp toys to challenge precision, dexterity, endurance, separation of the sides of the hand, and other skills needed for a functional pencil grasp. All of this can happen through play using toys to support stronger hands!

    The best pencil grasp toys to support the fine motor skills needed for a better pencil grip.

    Recently, we shared fine motor toy ideas and then gross motor toys. Both of these areas are closely related to a functional pencil grasp, so be sure to check out those toy suggestions, too.

    Pencil Grasp Toys

    We love coming up with fun play and craft activities designed to work on the development of an efficient grasp.  Being the season of gifting to others, we thought it would be fun to bring you our top recommended toys to work on tripod grasp, intrinsic muscle strength, rotation of the pencil while handwriting, and an open thumb web space

    Children who have difficulty with handwriting may completely HATE to work on letter formation and pencil grip.  Why not gift them with a fun toy this holiday that will work on the developmental skills necessary to improve their grip on the pencil?  Make the exercise fun as they PLAY their way to a better pencil grasp!

    Handwriting is more than just pencil grasp! Manipulating a pencil to write letters and numbers has a lot to do with visual perceptual skills. You’ll find easy and fun ways to work on visual perceptual skills through play here. 


    You will also love these Games to Improve Pencil Grasp

    Best Toys to Improve Pencil Grasp

    Toys that will help improve pencil grasp

    {Note: This post contains affiliate links.}

    Toys That Improve Pencil Grasp

    Coming up with this list, we thought about the skills needed for an appropriate pencil grasp and age-appropriate handwriting.  This toy gift guide is broken down into toys that will help with different sets of problem areas when it comes to a poor pencil grasp.

    Let’s take a closer look at toy suggestions for these areas:

    • Toys for Tripod Grasp
    • Toys for an Open Thumb Web Space
    • Toys for Hand Strength
    • Toys for Extended Wrist

    Toys for Tripod Grasp

    Tripod grasp: The most efficient way to hold the pencil when writing is with a dynamic tripod grasp.  So WHAT is a tripod grasp? 

    A Tripod grasp starts with a nice round circle made with the thumb and index finger.  The pencil is pinched with the tips of the thumb and index finger and held close to the point of the pencil.  The pencil is resting on and assisted by the middle finger.  The ring finger and pinky fingers are tucked into the palm.  All movement should happen with the fingers and thumb.  The wrist and arm should not move while writing, coloring, or drawing. 

    Often times, new pencil and crayon users will hold the writing utensil in a different way.  You might see four fingers opposing the thumb to hold the pencil.  You might see the pencil positioned in the knuckles between the index and middle fingers.  Maybe they hold the pencil away from the tip where the lead is and instead hold it in the middle of the pencil shaft.  There are SO many variations of awkward and inefficient pencil grasps.  If your little hand writer is showing some version that affects their letter formation and pencil control, try a few of these fun toys…

    A few toys that help to encourage a tripod grasp:

    Light Brite: Picking up and manipulating those little colored pegs encourage a tripod grasp.  Pushing them through the paper and into the holes is a great resistive exercise…disguised as FUN! 

    We have this Lite Brite Flatscreen – Red from Hasbro and love making pictures with the pegs!  When the child holds the pegs in his hand, it’s a great way to encourage the ring finger and pinkie finger in a tucked position.  Show your child how to pick up a handful of pegs and “squirrel them away” in their palm while they push one peg into the board.  What a great fine motor exercise!  Not to mention, the dots of the guide paper is a great visual motor activity…so important in handwriting!

    Lacing Cards:  Lacing cards are a great way to encourage a tripod grasp.  This set of Lacing Shapes from Patch Products come in simple shapes with bold colors. The child must hold the tip of the string in a dynamic tripod grasp to push through the holes of the card.  If your child has their thumb squashed up against their index finger while threading the cards, be sure to show them how to make a nice round circle for an easier time.

    Peg Boards: Grasping pegs encourage a tripod grasp especially while pushing them into the holes of a peg board. 

    This Lauri Tall-Stacker Pegs Building Set from Lauri is great for building peg towers while learning colors and shapes. 

    Older kids might love Fusion Beads like the Perler Beads 6,000 Count Bucket-Multi Mix from Perler.

    Spike the Fine Motor Hedge Hog– This fine motor toy builds a stronger tripod grasp, and when positioned appropriately, can place the wrist into an extended position, too. This helps to further refine precision movements for accuracy and dexterity. These are great skills to carry over to pencil control and pencil movements during handwriting tasks.

    Learning Resources 3 Prong Tong– This tong tool promotes a better grasp on objects…but only if the hand is positioned correctly. If you allow kids to just pick up the 3 prong tongs and start using them, they likely will position the tong into their hand with a gross grasp, or by using all of the fingers along the length of the prong. This can actually strengthen the wrong muscles, and promote an ineffective motor plan that becomes muscle memory when writing with a pencil.

    When kids use these tongs, they should have their hand positioned almost under the tongs, as if it were a pencil. When used this way, the tongs can strengthen the intrinsics and promote a tripod grasp. These 3 prong tongs can work well when used correctly, but be sure to work along side a child with this one.

    Toys for Open Thumb Web Space

    Sometimes you will see a child who is holding their pencil with a closed web space.  This happens when the thumb web space is the area between the thumb and the index finger.  If the thumb is squashed up against the side of their index finger, they are not able to manipulate the pencil with small movements.  They might move their whole arm to make letters instead of just the hand.  A closed web space is an inefficient way to grasp the pencil and will lead to poor handwriting.  This type of positioning requires activities that strengthen and stabilize the thumb.

    A few toys that help encourage an open web space:

    Tweezer Games:  Tweezer activities promote an open web space and stabilization of the thumb.  This Avalanche Fruit Stand from Learning Resources is a colorful way to encourage an open web space.  The vertical surface is perfect for encouraging an extended wrist (see below).

    Bead Sets: Stringing beads is a good way to encourage an open web space.  The child must hold the bead and string between their thumb and index fingers.  Collapsing of the thumb web space will happen when the child demonstrates weakness in the muscles of the thumb.  Beading is a repetitive activity and promotes strength. 

    This Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Stringing Beads with over 200 beads from Melissa & Doug has over 200 beads in different colors and shapes, and even letters!  You could even form sentences for the child to copy and practice their improved pencil grasp!

    Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots:  Often times, a child will wrap their thumb around the index finger when they are writing with a pencil.. This indicates instability in the thumb and the muscles that allow for smooth pencil motions. 

    Pushing down on the buttons of the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em ROBOTS Game from Mattel really strengthens the muscles of the thumb and allows for more stability leading to an open web space and ultimately more fluid motions of the pencil in letter formation.  Plus, this game is just plain old FUN for kids of all ages!

    Toys for Hand Strength

    Hand Strength:  If a child has weakness in their hands, they may complain that their hand is tired when they write or color.  Then, to compensate for muscle fatigue, they resort to an inefficient hand grasp.  They may grip the pencil with four fingers or with their whole palm.  many times, a child will start off with a nice tripod grasp and then switch to a less efficient grasp…or even switch hands!  Do they complain that their hand is tired or that it hurts?  These kiddos need to work on hand strength.  To allow for increased endurance when writing and coloring, this child would benefit from strengthening exercises.

    A few toys that help encourage hand strength:

    Pop Beads:  Pushing pop beads together is a perfect way to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the hands including the arches of the hands. 

    Pop beads are such a fun toy that can be used to make patterns, different lengths, bracelets, necklaces, and even shapes. This Pop Beads from ConstructivePlaythings are unique in their shape, color, sizes, and textures. A twist on the classic bead, this set will excite girls and boys of all ages.  Be sure to shop for size-appropriate beads for your child’s hands.

    Play-Doh:  Play dough is the ultimate open-ended toy for hand strengthening.  There are unlimited ways to play all the while encouraging hand development. 

    We love this Play-Doh 24-Pack of Colors for lots of creative play!  Hide coins, beans, or beads in the dough and allow the child to find the items.  Roll small balls of dough using just the thumb, index, and middle fingers. 

    Roll a play dough snake with the dough and have the child pinch the dough between their thumb and index finger.  Just get creative and make some things with your play dough.  Most of all, have fun!

    Tissue Paper Art:  There is possible no better art project for hand strengthening than tissue paper art!  Crumbling little bits of tissue paper is perfect for strengthening the small muscles of the hand. 

    Encourage your child to use just their finger tips to crumble the bits of tissue paper rather than two hands to crumble.  This ALEX® Toys – Early Learning Tissue Paper Art -Little Hands 521W from Alex Toys is bold, colorful and just plain fun art!  Even better for the intrinsic muscles of the hands is tearing bits of paper before crumbling.

    Squeeze Toys: a gross grasp is using the whole hand to squeeze and flex into a grip. 

    What a great way to strengthen the muscles of the hands!  This Melissa & Doug Louie Lobster Claw Catcher from Melissa and Doug is a fun way to encourage hand strength and endurance for coloring and writing.

    Geoboard Activities– Using a geoboard supports hand strength to enable endurance in handwriting. Manipulating the rubber bands promotes finger isolation, open thumb web-space, and and extended wrist.

    Learning Resources Helping Hands Fine Motor Tool Set Toy– This set of fine motor tools includes an eye-dropper, scissor scoops, and tongs. The sensory bin scoops and tools support hand strength through manipulating small objects or water.

    These tools are a great way to strengthen the exact muscles needed for a functional pencil grasp.

    Toys for Extended Wrist

    Extended Wrist:  An Extended wrist is a slightly bent back wrist.  When a child’s hand is bent forward toward the palm, they typically exhibit inefficient grasp on the pencil and weakness in the hand. A slight bend in the wrist towards the back of the hand (bent up toward the ceiling when writing) allows for better movement and flow of the fingers when forming letters.  Often times a child with a poor handwriting demonstrates a “hooked wrist” or a flat wrist and it leads back to inefficient control of the pencil and messy handwriting. 

    A few toys that help encourage an Extended Wrist:

    Easel: An easel can be used in so many ways while encouraging an extended wrist.  Paint, draw, color, or write on the elevated surface.  We love taping contact paper to our easel and sticking all kinds of craft supplies. 

    This really encourages an extended wrist while using a tripod grasp or tip to tip grasp to manipulate little items (think tissue paper, sequins, foil squares…the possibilities are endless!) This Easel is great for extended wrist activities.  And, it even folds down to reveal a desk surface.  It’s the perfect gift to promote improved handwriting!

    Ker Plunk: The Ker Plunk Game from Mattel encourages an extended wrist as the child pushes the sticks into the holes of the game.  They are encouraged to use a tripod grasp to hold the sticks as well.  Rotating the sticks encourages two types of in-hand manipulation.

    Take this game a step further in handwriting exercise for strengthening and play laying down on the floor, propped up on your elbows.  Getting down on the floor to play will activate the large muscles of the back and the shoulder girdle to improve precision in pencil grasp.

    Montessori Boards– Precision and dexterity activities are needed for pencil grasp and when you add in dexterity tasks and manipulation of tongs, spoons, or tweezers to move and place objects, it’s a win-win.

    This precision Montessori board builds the skills needed for pencil grasp: a stabile wrist, in-hand manipulation, open thumb web space, and dexterity.

    Best toys and ideas to help kids improve their pencil grasp

    Looking for a few activities to improve handwriting skills? Check out our round-up of the best handwriting activities from our blog and these other toy suggestions:

    More Therapy Toy Ideas

    Want to find more therapy recommended toys to help kids develop specific skills? Check out the list of skill areas below.

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

    Printable List of Toys for Pencil Grasp

    Want a printable copy of our therapist-recommended toys to support pencil grasp?

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

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

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

    therapy toy

    ANNUAL THERAPY TOYS AND TOOLS GIVEAWAY

    This year’s Therapy Toys and Tools Giveaway is BACK!

    This year, it’s better than ever! We’re giving away a therapy tool each day for 12 days. You can enter each giveaway for a chance to win a themed therapy toy! Today’s toy is a pencil grasp tool.

    🏆 12 days of giveaways

    🏆 72 prizes

    🏆Automatic entry for Member’s Club members!

    🏆Toys specifically selected to help kids thrive!

    Want to enter?

    1. Go to the form below.
    2. Enter your email address in the form.
    3. That’s it!

    Today’s giveaway is a fine motor/visual motor, and pencil grasp goldmine: the therapist-favorite, a Montessori Board with color matching cards, colorful manipulatives, and fine motor tongs!

    Check out this toy here: (Amazon affiliate link) Pencil grasp toy

    Plus, 5 winners will get fine motor tools from The OT Toolbox Shop. Each day will be a different skill area, and you can enter those giveaways, too.

    This is going to be fun!

    Fine print: There are 6 winners each day. Giveaway ends 12-6 and winners will be selected and notified 12-7-22. Be sure to enter a correct email address into the form: that’s how I’ll contact winners!

    PENCIL GRASP TOY GIVEAWAY

    and get a handout: Therapist-Recommended

    PENCIL GRASP TOYS HANDOUT

      We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

      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.

      Fine Motor Toys

      Awesome fine motor toys for kids

      Working on fine motor skills through play is natural. Here, you’ll find the very best fine motor toys designed to promote and support a variety of therapy skills. These occupational therapy toys support the development of precision, dexterity, hand strength, and coordination, through play. Let’s talk Fine Motor Toys!

      Fine Motor Toy Ideas

      Today is going to be FUN! I am beyond excited to share the very best fine motor toys that support development of hand strength, dexterity, precision. We’ll also cover why these occupational therapy toys support fine motor development, and cover a little about an occupational therapist’s perspective on what makes them such amazing tools for building hand strength, dexterity, motor control, and fine motor coordination.

      Here’s why: I love to share my OT perspective on helping kids develop skills, using fun and engaging therapy toys that kids are excited about.

      Check out the items below, and add one of these fine motor toys to your therapy toolbox!

      These fine motor toys are therapy toys that help kids build motor skills like hand strength, coordination, and more.

      Fine Motor Toys

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

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

      Because of that, I’m excited to share with these fine motor toys that help kids develop the motor skills they need!

      Fine Motor Skills Toys

      Here on The OT Toolbox, I’ve shared a lot of different toy suggestions, that are perfectly suited to meet specific needs, like fine motor strength, grasp, pincer grip, and dexterity. Some of these specifics can be found here:

      Today, I wanted to go through some specific toys that develop fine motor skills. AND…as part of the Therapy Tools and Toys Giveaway, you can enter to win these items!

      Therapy Toys for Fine Motor Skills

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

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

      Learning Resources Avalanche Fruit Stand– This toy is one of my FAVORITE ways to develop fine motor skills in kids. Kids use tweezers to manipulate fruit pieces and can work on colors, counting, matching, and other learning skills. The fine motor components are impressive! Address skills such as:

      • Pincer and Tripod grasp development
      • Hand strength
      • Arch development
      • Separation of the sides of the hand
      • Wrist stability
      • Wrist extension
      • Eye-hand coordination
      • Motor control
      Build fine motor skills with this Avalanche Fruit Stand game that helps with fine motor skills.

      Pop Tubes– There are so many ways that these fine motor tools build skills in kids. You can read about using Pop Tubes for bilateral coordination skills in this previous blog post, but beyond bilateral coordination, these bendable tubes can be used to help kids develop body awareness through tactile stimulation, fine motor skills auditory feedback, AND fine motor skills such as:

      • Grasp
      • Arch development and hand strength
      • Separation of the sides of the hand
      • Eye-hand coordination
      • Bilateral coordination
      • Proprioception to the hands (use them as a fidget tool)
      Pop Tubes are a fine motor toy that helps kids build hand strength.

      Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog– Have you seen this cute hedgehog toy? It’s a great way to help kids develop fine motor skills in a fun way. The bright colors are a nice way to work on matching, sorting, math skills, and color recognition, too. The chunky pegs make this fine motor tool a great toy for toddlers, but the hedgehog’s cute factor makes it a great fine motor activity for older children as well. These fine motor skills are addressed with this toy:

      • Eye-hand coordination
      • Pincer grasp
      • Grasp development
      • Hand strength
      • Motor planning
      The fine motor hedgehog toy helps kids with fine motor skills.

      Bucket of Perler Fuse Beads– This bucket of beads is the perfect way to build so many fine motor skills. I love working with perler beads with children because you can target many skills, and it’s a great fine motor activity for older children that may benefit from fine motor work. This bucket of perler beads makes my recommendation list for it’s fine motor benefits:

      • Pincer grasp
      • In-hand manipulation
      • Separation of the sides of the hand
      • Open thumb web-space
      • Dexterity
      • Precision
      • Wrist stability
      • Eye-hand coordination
      Perler beads are a great fine motor toy for kids.

      Jenga Game– This classic game is a fine motor powerhouse that kids love. As a therapist, I love to use this game to build fine motor skills, because it’s such an open-ended activity. You can play the Jenga game, but you can use the blocks in building activities and pretend play activities, too. Consider the fine motor benefits of this game:

      • Precision
      • Dexterity
      • Separation of the sides of the hand
      • Eye-hand coordination
      • Motor planning
      • Motor control
      Use Jenga to help kids develop fine motor skills and coordination

      Coogam Wooden Mosaic Puzzle– This pixel puzzle comes with a wooden board, a puzzle booklet, and 370 small block pieces in 8 different colors. Children can use this fine motor toy to develop so many fine motor and visual motor skills. Use it to copy and build letters and numbers, shapes, and pictures. This toy is great for math concepts, too. This is a powerful toy!

      • Precision
      • Eye-hand coordination
      • Visual motor skills
      • Pincer grasp
      • In-hand manipulation
      • Open thumb web-space
      Use this shapes puzzle to help kids develop fine motor skills, coordination, and motor control.

      3D Building Block Gear Shapes– This building toy is a fine motor goldmine. Kids can construct 3D shapes or they can copy figures and work on visual motor skills. Use this fine motor toy to work on skills such as:

      • Hand strength
      • Arch development
      • Separation of the sides of the hand
      • Bilateral coordination
      • Pinch and grip strength
      • Wrist stability
      Use these gear building toys to help kids develop fine motor skills like hand strength.

      Coogam Wooden Blocks Puzzle Brain Teasers Toy Tangram– This puzzle toy is a fantastic addition to have in your therapy bag, classroom, or home. Kids can complete the fine motor puzzles and use it as a brain break to learning. Plus, there are so many visual motor benefits to this toy:

      • Visual motor integration
      • Eye-hand coordination
      • Precision
      • Wrist stability
      • Wrist extension
      • Separation of the sides of the hand
      • In-hand manipulation
      • Open thumb web-space
      Children can develop precision and dexterity with this tangram activity.

      Mini Squigz– Squigz are such a great fine motor toy for kids. Use them to build on one another or to stick to a wall or protective plexiglass surface. The sticking suction cap toys provide resistive feedback that not only strengthens little hands, but offers a proprioceptive sensory feedback, too. Here are more fine motor benefits to this toy:

      • Hand strength
      • Arch development
      • Separation of the sides of the hand
      • Eye-hand coordination
      • In-hand manipulation
      • Precision and dexterity
      Use squigz to help kids build hand strength.

      Straw Constructor STEM Building Toy– Using STEM toys to support fine motor skills is a powerful strategy. Read more about STEM fine motor activities.

      This fine motor toy is such a fun way to help kids develop and strengthen motor skills. Even better, is that this building toy can become a gross motor toy, too. Containing 300 pieces of plastic straws and connecting pieces, this construction toy helps kids develop so many areas:

      • Bilateral coordination
      • Visual motor skills
      • Eye-hand coordination
      • Pincer grasp
      • Tripod grasp
      • Hand strength
      • Arch development
      • Separation of the sides of the hand
      • In-hand manipulation
      A straw construction toy is great for fine motor skill development.

      Pincer Grasp Toys

      Toys to improve pincer grasp include:

      Hand Strength Toys

      Fine Motor Games

      More Therapy Toys

      Check out the therapy toy ideas listed in the blog posts below. Each article covers a different area of child development.

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

      PRINTABLE LIST OF TOYS FOR Fine Motor Skills

      Want a printable copy of our therapist-recommended toys to support fine motor skills?

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

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

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

      ANNUAL THERAPY TOYS AND TOOLS GIVEAWAY

      This year’s Therapy Toys and Tools Giveaway is BACK!

      This year, it’s better than ever! We’re giving away a therapy tool each day for 12 days. You can enter each giveaway for a chance to win a themed therapy toy! Today’s toy is a fine motor tool.

      It’s here! The 2022 Therapy Toys & Tools Giveaway is here…and it’s better than ever!

      🏆 12 days of giveaways

      🏆 72 prizes

      🏆Automatic entry for Member’s Club members!

      🏆Toys specifically selected to help kids thrive!

      Want to enter?

      1. Go to the form below.
      2. Enter your email address in the form.
      3. That’s it!

      Today’s giveaway is a fine motor goldmine: the therapist-favorite, Fruit Avalanche game! Plus, 5 winners will get fine motor tools from The OT Toolbox Shop. Each day will be a different skill area, and you can enter those giveaways, too.

      This is going to be fun!

      Fine print: There are 6 winners each day. Giveaway ends 12-6 and winners will be selected and notified 12-7-22. Be sure to enter a correct email address into the form: that’s how I’ll contact winners!

      FINE MOTOR TOY GIVEAWAY

      and get a handout: Therapist-Recommended

      FINE MOTOR TOYS HANDOUT

        We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

        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.

        Crayons for Toddlers

        crayons for toddlers

        One question therapists get all the time is about the best crayons for toddlers and specifically which crayons are best to support development. During the toddler years (preschool stage as well), there is a lot of motor and cognitive development happening, making it a great stage to introduce crayons. Let’s talk about the best types of crayons for the toddler years and beyond!

        crayons for toddlers
        Crayons for toddlers

        Crayons for Toddlers

        There are many benefits to coloring with crayons and for many toddlers, it is natural to want to color, making it a win-win in building sensory motor skills.

        There is a plethora of  information floating around the web about correct crayons and writing utensils for young people. There are a lot of choices, some great, others not so good.

        When thinking about crayons for toddlers, there is more to it than simply placing a crayon in the palm! Some things to consider include:

        • Coloring with a crayon both develops and requires a grip on the crayon. Forcing coloring too early can promote an immature grasp on the crayon when used in small hands.
        • Coloring offers resistive feedback through the hands by marking the paper. This is a great strengthening activity, but for babies and young toddlers, this can strengthen and add feedback to immature grasps.
        • Likewise, coloring at the toddler stage can be developmentally great when offering the “just right” strengthening and sensory motor feedback needed to move through grasp patterns.

        If you’re thinking about shopping around for the best crayons for toddlers, you’re already in the right frame of mind, because coloring is a tool for creativity that kids need at such a young age.

        Coloring with toddlers is all about the unique shape of the crayons out there on the market that are designed to fit small hands: Think rock crayons, egg crayons, and even something called honeysticks.  

        Do these options surprise you? 

        Then consider the other options out there to worry about:

        • Jumbo crayons vs. Triangular crayons
        • Thick crayons vs. regular sized crayons
        • 96 pack of crayons vs. 8 crayon pack
        • Brands like Crayola crayons vs. Melissa & Doug crayons
        • Washable crayons vs. paraffin wax crayons
        • Pure beeswax crayons vs. crayons with vibrant colors 
        • Non-toxic crayons vs. natural ingredients crayons
        • Large crayons vs. choking hazard sixed crayons
        • Food-grade pigments vs. non-toxic natural wax

        With all of these considerations, how do you choose crayons that make THE very best crayons for toddlers??

        crayons for kids
        Crayons for kids based on development

        Best Crayons for Toddlers

        Before deciding which crayons are best for toddlers, understanding the “why and when” is most important. To do so, we need to run through the developmental stages leading up to toddlers coloring with crayons. This is important because you may see some of the earlier considerations in place when a child is not developmentally ready to color. In those situations, is a good idea to back up and build on skills from a developmental standpoint.

        Birth to one year: This article from Parents magazine highlights the hand development of babies from birth to one year.  In the article it does not mention crayons at all.  

        Why? Because babies’ hands are not ready for crayons of any kind. Crayons for babies exist out there on the market…but it’s just not developmentally appropriate. The hands of babies do not have the muscle control for handling objects like crayons until about 11 months. 

        To prepare toddlers to use crayons to support development, the preparation is a must. Spend the time before the toddler years working on overall fine motor development through picking up objects, self feeding, exploring the environment, cause and effect toys, and dumping objects out of containers. This resource on baby play has a lot of great ideas.

        If crayons are introduced too early, maladaptive grasping patterns will develop.  

        From 12-18 months, the toddler stage, little ones begin to refine their hand development. You’ll see in our resource on fine motor milestones, that there is a lot happening during the toddler years. 

        Around 12 months, children may find it challenging to manipulate small objects with dexterity. At this stage, they are picking up small objects like food pieces with their thumb and pointer finger in a pincer grasp. However, it is difficult for children this age to use dexterity in the fingers of the hand or by isolating fingers or hand separation.

        In six months time, by around 18 months of age, manipulating objects such as toys, utensils, and household objects becomes more coordinated.

        Is it time for crayons yet?  Yes and no. 

        Making marks on paper, and starting to make strokes, but not with pencils or traditional crayons quite yet. 

        Remember, those hand muscles are still very primitive at this point, thus the tools need to be also. Think about how large the knobs on toddler puzzles are, or how chunky beginner spoons are. Writing tools need to be designed the same for little hands.  

        Here are some fine motor and coordination activities to support use of crayons for toddlers:

        Amazon affiliate links are included below.

        • Writing and creating lines with fingers in shaving cream or pudding
        • Finger painting
        • Egg shaped chalk (Amazon affiliate link) like these Egg shaped pieces of chalk fit the whole hand without forcing the fingers to grasp the writing tool
        • Egg shaped crayons like these also offer resistance when coloring or marking using the whole hand to grasp rather than force a grasp using the fingers which are not ready for that stage yet.
        • Make your own crayons by melting crayons into muffin trays.
        • While there are several iPad apps for writing using finger pointing, research shows children under age 2 should have no exposure to electronics.  Stick with the basics.

        Some coordination activities for 12-18 months can be used to promote eye-hand coordination, proprioceptive input, shoulder stability, and motor coordination. These activities include:

        Children ages 2-3: At this stage of toddlerhood, hand development is starting to become more defined. 

        This is the stage when the young child begins to develop more muscle control needed for precision and dexterity of motor skills in the hand.

        You’ll begin to notice finger isolation, hand separation, and arch development. You’ll also see more refined movements with the thumb in finger opposition. This is where precision in fine motor skills is seen.

        This is also a stage of visual motor growth. Children will begin to integrate the visual input with motor output needed to copy a straight line. A word of caution: at this stage, don’t be concerned with tracing letters or shapes, or copying shapes. Focus is on the simplest of lines: horizontal, vertical lines, circles, and a cross. Read here about pre-writing lines development.

        Is it time for regular crayons yet? 

        Again, yes and no.

        Those tiny hands, while that can certainly hold a regular or chunky crayon, are not ready to do so correctly. The grasp starts out as a gross grasp, then to a pronated grasp, finally ending with a tripod grasp around age 4.

        Children often get stuck in one of these primitive grasping patterns when given crayons too early. A gross grasp is an appropriate stage of hand development, as is a pronated grasp, however the grasping pattern is supposed to continue to develop to a mature tripod grasp over time.

        It often fails when tiny weak hands are holding onto small pencils, crayons, or pens. 

        Coloring can happen, but it’s at the child’s interest, and shouldn’t be forced.

         Here are some crayons for toddlers and preschoolers using this information:

        • Continue to use the large egg shaped crayons and chalk, as well as finger paints
        • These unusual looking rocket type crayons have a large bulb for palmer grasping that support development but also don’t force young children into holding utensils with an underdeveloped grasp.
        • I also love these crayon rocks for toddlers and preschoolers:
        • Dot markers, while fun and entertaining, also promote the gross and pronated grasps appropriate for this age.
        • Bath finger paints are a great alternative to using crayons.

        Ages 4-5 the preschool age.  Is it time for crayons yet?  Yes!  However, not all children are ready for traditional crayons. 

        One-two inch crayons are the best for children through elementary school.  It is almost physically impossible to get a fist around a one inch crayon. This promotes a tripod grasping pattern.

        During each stage described in this blog post, but especially during the 4-5 age range, don’t feel rushed to put a pencil in the hands of a preschooler. It is common for preschool teachers to think tracing lines, doing simple “prewriting” mazes, tracing their name, and even letter writing activities (including sensory writing trays) is appropriate. Developmentally, it is not. More important at this stage and each stage before, is the PLAY. Play builds the motor, cognitive, sensory, and emotional skills needed for pre-writing.

        If you have children do not like the idea of broken crayons, there are ready-made flip crayons.

        What about the chunky crayons? 

        You have probably seen the jumbo sized crayons out there. They are commonly offered to the kindergarten age range. You may have even seen these large, chunky sized option in a triangular shape. 

        However, when it comes to oversized crayons, one size does not fit all. This goes for crayons too. The problem with handing out boxes of large, over-sized crayons to the entire kindergarten class is that, the children that are receiving these boxes of crayons have small fingers, hands, and wrists. 

        In fact, some hands are much too small for chunky crayons, thus leading to more of a gross grasping pattern, or all fingers around the crayon. 

        Other children are able to use a tripod grasp but need a larger size to form this grasp properly. 

        The one benefit to using triangular crayons is that in the classroom setting, they don’t roll across the desk or table and fall on the floor. This is a huge benefit to using the triangular shape because at the kindergarten and first grade age, managing materials as well as body awareness can be a challenge for some kids.

        What about traditional crayons? 

        These can be used if your child has an appropriate grasping pattern such as a tripod, or alternate tripod with two fingers on top.

        The thumb wrap grasp, underwrap, and too many fingers on the writing tool are signs your child is not ready for traditional crayons yet.

        Understanding the why and when behind hand development and tool use, is critical to selecting the correct tools for each stage of development.

        Important note about the ages and stages listed above: Do not rely strictly on the ages above, as children will develop at different ages. These are ballpark ranges for hand development. 

        While it is going to be impossible to convince “the powers that be” to slow down preschool and kindergarten curriculum, being armed with tools and resources will help children be ready to face this onslaught of demands. 

        The OT Toolbox is a great resource for articles, worksheets, printables, crafts, and thousands of ideas and products to work on development.

        *The term, “child” is used throughout this post for readability, however this information is relevant for students, patients, clients, children of all ages, etc. The term “they” is used instead of he/she to be inclusive.

        Victoria Wood

        Victoria Wood, OTR/L has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.

        Easy Ideas for Motoric Hand Separation

        Motoric hand separation

        There are many times throughout the day that hand separation in fine motor dexterity is used to stabilize and manipulate objects. But what do we mean by this phrase, “hand separation” and exactly What is Motoric Separation of the Two Sides of the Hand? We’ll get into that here, as well as cover specific separation of the sides of the hand to develop precision and refined fine motor skills.

        Motoric hand separation
        Hand separation, or motoric separation of the two sides of the hand, plays an important role in fine motor skills.

        Motoric Hand Separation

        Motoric hand separation is another term for separation of the two sides of the hand and is an important aspect of fine motor skills.

        The term “motoric” refers to the motor actions, or the motor skills of the hand. This includes movements, grasp, precision of the fingers, intrinsic muscle strength needed to grasp and manipulate items.

        When we refer to motor skills, we are talking about the physical movement of the hand to manipulate, grasp, and use objects by moving the hands.

        Motoric skills requires coordination and refined motions of the muscles, joints, skin, and ligaments in the hand. Motoric use occurs in the fingers, palm, and wrist using the following joints:

        • Wrist
        • MCP joints
        • PIP joints
        • DIP joints
        in hand manipulation with beads

        Definition of Hand Separation

        Hand separation refers to the fine motor skill in which the two sides of the hand are separated into a “power side” and and “precision side”.

        Refinement of fine motor skills like pencil grasp, manipulation of very small items, and managing zippers, shoe laces, and buttons with the precision half of the hand (the radial side) happens when the power half (the ulnar side) is stabilized.  

        You can imagine a line drawn from your wrist directly down the middle of your hand and between your ring finger and middle finger, separating the precision side of the hand (thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger) with the power side of your hand (pinkie finger and ring finger).  

        These two sides work together in skilled activities with precision and power grasp in functional activities. This motoric separation of the hands allows for in-hand manipulation skills.

        You’ve seen hand separation day in and day out:

        • A child is fumbling to manage the buttons on their sweater.
        • A little one is zipping up their coat and they have the zipper and coat clenched between their pinkie fingers and thumbs.
        • A Kindergarten student is learning to write letters on lines, but they’ve got the pencil in a clenched grasp, using their whole hand.

        All of these examples indicate a fine motor need to work on motoric separation of the two sides of the hand.

        The fingertips are used in so many small motor activities throughout the day, in functional tasks like self-care, dressing, eating, and everyday tasks. Part of these activities involves holding objects in the palm of the hand, manipulating the small objects, and using those materials in daily tasks. Most of this is done without even thinking about the process. 

        An alternative to a flexed position of the ring and pinkie fingers are when theses two digits are fully extended out and stretched out away from the hand (abducted).  This positioning stabilizes the MCP arch and allows for control of the pointer and middle fingers.


        Separation of the two sides of the hand allow for more precise use of the thumb.


        Try this fun activity to work on separating the sides of the hand, using sponges you might have in your kitchen right now.

        Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

        Motoric Separation of the hands

        Assessing for Hand Separation in an OT Evaluation

        As always, when completing an occupational therapy evaluation, the primary focus is on function, or the occupation that the individual needs to or wants to accomplish.

        What is functionally happening? This is the main place to look when completing an OT eval.

        When it comes to the fine motor aspect of functional performance, hand separation can impact precision, dexterity, refined motor skills, coordination. This can lead to safety issues in daily tasks. It can impact learning or performance of self-care. It can mean the individual can not accomplish a great number of functional tasks.

        Hand separation is needed for dexterity. A functional fine motor grasp and manipulation of objects is more accurate when the ring and pinkie fingers are flexed (bent) into the palm.

        Another intricate part of this fine motor puzzle is the stability offered through the upper body, including the core, shoulder girdle, elbow, and wrist. These areas can impact function, and as always, you should consider proximal stability before distal mobility.

        Important things to consider in an occupational therapy evaluation include:


        Motoric separation of the two sides of the hand is needed for precision in fine motor tasks, including activities that require in-hand manipulation. Simple ideas to help work on this important fine motor skill.

        How does motoric separation of the hands develop?

        Development of hand separation begins at a young age. We cover this progression in our resource on fine motor milestones.

        Hand separation starts when a baby bears weight through their arm and ulnar side of the hand while carrying a toy in the radial side.  

        This simple activity developmentally lengthens the muscles of the ulnar side.

        It’s through play that the separation of the hand develops. As toddlers become more refined at fine motor activities, they gain more dexterity in using just the precision side of the hand.

        You’ll see this progression also with the development of pencil grasp.

        Whole Hand Grasp- (Typically seen between 12 months-1.5 years) the child holds objects with their whole hand. I​t looks like they are holding a paint stirrer or potato masher.

        Digital Pronate Grasp/ Pronated Wrist Grasp- (2-3 years) The child holds objects with a gross grasp and the wrist facing the ground, or in a pronated position.

        Four Fingered Grasp- (3.5-4 years)- Items are held in the fingertips but using the thumb and all four fingers. There is not yet a clear separation of the sides of the hand.

        Static Separation of the Sides of the Hand- (3.5-4 years)- The child will hold objects with the precision side of the hand, but there is not joint mobility in the precision side: The joints of the thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger do not move in isolation or as a group to manipulate objects. If there is mobility in the joints, it is crude with objects falling at times and manipulation skills needing more refinement. For example, a child at this age can place a coin into the slot of a vending machine, but they will drop the coin.

        Dynamic separation of the Sides of the Hand- (4-6/7 years) With age, the child develops more refined motions in the precision side of the hand, and they are able to move the joints in isolation as they manipulate objects within the hand.

        Lateral Separation of the Sides of the Hand- As the child gains more experience with precision skills, they are able to use more motor combinations in fine motor tasks. This looks like holding a key with the side of the pointer finger against the pad of the thumb as they insert a key into a door. Still more refined is holding a keychain of keys in the hand and moving the keys around to find the correct key and then position it between the thumb and lateral finger to unlock a door.

        separation of the hand activity

        Activities to Improve Motoric Separation of the Two Sides of the Hand

        • Flip coins
        • Roll play dough into small balls
        • Squeeze a spray bottle with the pointer and middle fingers
        • Pick up small items and “squirrel them away” into the hands: mini marshmallows, cereal, small beads, coins, waterbeads. (This is also called translation toward the palm.)
        • Release the items (This is also called translation away from the palm.) Place coins into a piggy bank or beads into a cup.
        • Hold a cotton ball in the palm with the ring and middle fingers while coloring, writing, or cutting with scissors.

        Other activities to work on motoric separation of the hand include:


        One way to develop hand strength and the refined motor skills needed for motoric separation of the sides of the hand is this beads sorting activity.

        You’ll need just a couple of materials to set up this fine motor therapy exercise:

        • Beads
        • Two bowls or containers

        This is one of the most simple therapy exercises and it has a powerful impact on developing motoric separation of the sides of the hand.

        1. To set up this therapy exercise, place all of the beads into one of the containers. We used star beads but any beads or small items can work for this activity. You can find the star beads here.
        2. Next, I placed the beads into a shallow basket and asked my kids to grab only one color that they liked best.  
        3. They then tried to hold as many of that one color in their hand while picking up more beads.  
        4. When they couldn’t possibly hold anymore beads in their cute little hands, I showed them how to drop them into a small cup one at a time, while counting how many beads they had.

        This type of activity is a version of in-hand manipulation called translation.

         
         
         
         

        Motoric separation of the two sides of the hand is needed for precision in fine motor tasks, including activities that require in-hand manipulation. Simple ideas to help work on this important fine motor skill.

         




         

        Motoric separation of the two sides of the hand is needed for precision in fine motor tasks, including activities that require in-hand manipulation. Simple ideas to help work on this important fine motor skill.
         
         
         
        More fine motor activities that 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.

        STEM Fine Motor Activities

        Fine motor STEM activities

        Occupational therapists work with fine motor development as a cornerstone of treatment.  With the current trend toward STEM education, it makes sense to blend the two into fine motor STEM activities and treatment in order to be more efficient and effective.

        Fine motor STEM activities

        What is STEM?

        STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 24%, while other occupations are growing at 4%.  Children in the United States score lower on science and math than students in other countries. 

        The push for STEM curriculum helps bridge the gap between genders and races, that are sometimes found in science and math fields.  Students with special needs also lag in these academic areas. Research shows there are not enough students pursuing science, technology, engineering, or mathematic degrees, as compared to the available jobs.

        According to the National Science Foundation, “In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.”

        Why Fine Motor and STEM?

        Science, technology, electronics and mathematics do not just involve cognitive ability. Fine motor skills are needed for STEM careers that involve typing, building, writing, solving equations, experimenting, research, surgery, as well as everyday function. 

        STEM fine motor activities are going to be much more important to build these important skills. As technology gets more scientific and advanced, so too will the need for precise fine motor skills.  Surgeries are much more advanced than 100 years ago.  Engineers are working on tiny circuits and micro computers.

        I saw a BMW prototype last week that morphs from a car to a plane that can soar over traffic!  Imagine the dexterity it takes to build that kind of machine!

        When should I start working on STEM fine motor activities?  

        Caregivers start addressing fine motor skills in babyhood. Encouraging a passion for science and technology can start at the same time.

        Selecting a few fine motor toys for young learners that address fine motor skills while developing STEM education. 

        For example, check out this super cute (Amazon affiliate link) Frog Balancing Game that can be modified for many different levels of learners. This one game involves:

        • math – counting, sorting, adding, number recognition
        • science -measuring weight, comparison
        • fine motor skills – pick up and manipulate the small objects, hold the cards
        • visual motor skills – read the cards and process the information

        How do I make this transition to fine motor STEM?

        Change is hard. Especially for seasoned therapists who have used a certain system for a long time, or feel that what they are doing works.  The good news is, you have already been doing STEM fine motor activities with your learners. 

        Check out this link on Amazon (affiliate link) to toys/activities that address STEM fine motor activities and skills.

        On The OT Toolbox, we share tons of fine motor activity ideas to incorporate STEM into fine motor treatment. Occupational therapists do not usually correlate these activities with STEM, but they fit into both categories.  

        Remember pegboard Geo Boards?  This classic game builds fine motor strength, following directions, coordination, motor planning, visual motor skills, visual perception, frustration tolerance, and executive function.  It ALSO addresses math using measurement, shape recognition and patterns; science learning about rubber bands and tension; and engineering to create patterns from a picture.

        Fine motor STEM and Lego  

        Legos are another classic toy. Use activity analysis to break this game down into its fine motor components, as well as incorporating math, engineering, or technology. 

        There is more to LEGO bricks than being able to follow a diagram to make a Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle (love this by the way!).  Speaking of the Hogwarts castle, there was definitely math, engineering, AND fine motor skills needed to build that superstructure. 

        Learners can also make graphs of their LEGO, use them for adding/subtracting, use engineering to create items with moving parts, and that is just the beginning. 

        By thinking outside the box, learners with special needs can find their special ability using Legos also.

        classic toys for STEM fine motor activities

        The lists of (Amazon affiliate link) classic toys occupational therapists incorporate into treatment plans is endless.  Take another look at these classics to see how they fit into science, technology, engineering or math.  

        • Peg boards
        • Lacing cards
        • Magnets
        • Measuring tape
        • Swings
        • Pop the Pig, Connect 4, Trouble, Candy Land
        • Lincoln Logs, Connex, Erector Set
        • Baking
        • Slime

        Fine motor and STEM activities do not have to include experiments, games, and hands-on activities.  Worksheets serve the purpose of addressing both categories very well. 

        The OT Toolbox has great fine motor kits for each season that incorporate math and science along with addressing those needed fine motor skills. 

        More ideas from the OT Toolbox

        As a seasoned therapist myself, I may dig my heels in at the idea of changing the way I do treatment, or learning a new method. I give a heavy sigh of relief knowing I have been doing STEM all along. I just didn’t call it that. 

        Even though occupational therapists are providing the right activities to work on goal achievement, they may be running into students with lack of motivation, refusal, and general dislike of many of the treatment ideas asked of them. 

        Teachers and therapists need to help bridge this gap early on, and find a way to teach all learners a respect for STEM and fine motor education.

        You are doing a great job incorporating what you already know, into something new!

        Victoria Wood

        Victoria Wood, OTR/L has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.

        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:

        Fine Motor Activities and Games with Paper Clips

        games with paper clips

        Occupational therapists love to use everyday items in therapy, so these fine motor paper clip activities and fine motor games with paper clips are the best! Be sure to check out all of our fine motor activities with everyday items. You know what I’m talking about…those craft items, things, and tools that we all have in our therapy bags or supply closets. Today we’re covering fine motor activities with paper clips. Scroll down, friends. Below, you will find easy fine motor activities and quick tips to improve fine motor skills all using the simple paper clip!

        Games with paper clips

        Catch up on the latest tools on The OT Toolbox. Use other everyday items in your therapy bag to with these fine motor activities with craft pom poms and fine motor activities with playing cards.

        Paper clip Ideas

        The paperclip. You probably have 6 of them sitting in your junk drawer right now. But have you ever stopped to think about how a simple item can be used as a fine motor powertool to ramp up the motor skills needed for tasks like a functional pencil grasp? Have you considered how a simple item like a paperclip can be used to strengthen and refine fine motor skills? It’s true!

        In fact, paperclips are a really great item for improving fine motor skills in preschoolers. The preschool age range is a great time to develop and strengthen particular skills that preschoolers will need for tasks like cutting with scissors, coloring without fatigue, and holding a pencil.

        These fine motor ideas are easy and quick ways to boost fine motor abilities using an item that is probably already in your craft supply bin or therapy bag.

        Paper clips are a great tool for fine motor development while improving dexterity and the motor skills that preschool (and older) kids need. Read on for fun and easy ways to use paper clips in fine motor play!

        Paper clips are some of the best tools for building fine motor, bilateral coordination, and eye-hand coordination skills. Why? You can use them in the typical fashion, or for educational purposes like counting, or you can think outside of the box and add other elements that can address a variety of hand skills that make activities therapeutic and engaging. This even includes creating some games for paper clips, that’s right, games!

        Simply adding a die, a spinner, or even a magnetic fishing rod can turn the use of paper clips into a game that kids will enjoy for therapy fun and hand skill development.

        One fun idea we use in our Fine Motor Kits is using a paper clip to make a paper clip game spinner that you can easily create for use with many games if you follow the directions in the post and print the spinner templates.

        Below are some easy-to-create paper clip activities and games that can build the skills children need to further important development in therapy and beyond. You can make fine motor kits or baggies for the classroom or the home which can generate family engagement and build the skills outside of the therapeutic environment without breaking the bank. We all know that therapists (and teachers) pay for things out-of-pocket, so cheap and easy to implement makes for the perfect set-up.

        Games with paper clips

        Using everyday materials like paper clips can support development of skills. From using paperclips as a game spinner, or as a game piece counter, you can develop fine motor skills, coordination, and hand eye coordination using a functional item.

        The school based OTs will love that playing games with paper clips is a frugal way to extend occupational therapy games and toys with a new spin on typical game play. Plus playing games with paper clips are fun activities kids will get a kick out of!

        Kids need fine motor skills for school and play. The problem is when we see functional concerns that limit independence. We might see kids who really struggle with hand strength, dexterity, joint mobility, or precision. We may notice these issues in how a student grasps their pencil.

        We may see kids having trouble with buttons, zippers, or snaps because of the fine motor skills they really need to develop. Simple fine motor activities can make a real impact!

        Games with paper clips include:

        • Use paper clips as a game spinner- Place the paperclip on a paper. Point the tip of a pencil down into one of of the paper clip loops. Hold the pencil straight up and down. Use your other hand to spin the paperclip around the pencil. This is a great exercise in bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination skills, and crossing midline.
        • Play games with paper clip counters- Many games can be played using paper clips as game counters. Ask the students to pick up and hold several paper clips in their hand. They can place the paper clips on the game board or use them in various games.
        • Play checkers with paper clips- Use a Checkers board and use two different colors of paper clips. Move the clips to play Checkers.
        • Play Tic Tac Toe with paper clips- Select two different colors of paper clips. Use the clips as game pieces to play tick tack toe.
        • Use magnets and paper clips in game play- Move paper clips using a magnet wand to incorporate bilateral coordination and eye-hand coordination.
        • Flip the paper clip game- Just like paper football, you can flip a paper clip to work on fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and proprioception. Don’t flip too hard or too fast by using the “just right” amount of force..
        • Make fun game markers with paper clips- Cut out and glue shapes, images, or icons onto the end of a paper clip. Then use the paper clip game marker in play dough, on games on the edge of a piece of paper, or to keep score along the edge of a piece of paper. We’ve made several paperclip game markers in our Fine Motor Therapy Kits.
        • Hanging Paper Clip Game- Attach string to a table, wall, or between two chairs. Set a timer for one minute. Ask students to clip up as many post its, or pieces of paper as they can in one minute. This is a great activity for upper body strengthening in the upper extremities and working on a vertical plane to develop strength and stability in the core.
        • Find paper clips game- Hide paper clips in a lump of play dough, slime, or thera-putty. Ask students to find the paper clips as quickly as they can.
        • Play a paper fish game with paper clips- Cut out a fish shape from paper. Fold it in half and glue it over a paper clip. Then use a magnet tied to the end of a string in a paper fish fishing game.
        • Creativity Games- Use paper clips to make bracelets, necklaces, and bookmarks. Then, use them as creative prizes in games!
        • Guess the size- Connect several paper clips together and use a ruler to measure how long the string of paper clips is. Then, guesstimate how many paper clips tall things are such as a shoe, a door, or a building! 
        • Timed Clipping- Set a stop watch and clip as many paper clips to the edge of a piece of paper as possible. This is a great activity to support fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, and using a functional task.
        • Paper Clip Threading- Pour a bunch of paper clips on a table. Set a timer for one minute and ask students to pick up and thread as many paper clips as they can onto a pipe cleaner, straw, or piece of thread. This is a great activity to develop refined precision skills needed for dexterity.
        • Build a Tower- Use paper clips and a deck of cards to build a tower as high as you can. This is a powerful fine motor STEM activity.
        • Alphabet Paper Clip Necklace: This is an activity that links paper clips into a chain similar to a necklace by either simply identifying the letters and linking or by linking in alphabetical order. 
        • Magnetic Letters and Numbers Fishing – Place all magnetic letters and numbers into a bowl and then play a fishing game using a paper clip and fishing rod where children ‘go fish’ for letters or numbers and then when caught, they can work on letter identification and formation. 
        • Play number Games with paper clips- Number Game with Paper Clips is a YouTube video explaining how to play. This is a fun activity for kids to create and then do with adult support. It involves a craft-like activity that later allows for the child to use paper clips and number counting as the game.
        • Paper Clip Fishing Game– Use paper fish and draw onto the bodies different shapes or even letters, then attach a paper clip to each fish.  Use a magnet pole to have children fish for different shapes or letters. This one can be tailored to meet the needs of the child making it very versatile. 
        • Paper Clip Fishing Putty – Therapists grab your therapy putty and insert some paper clips vertically for children to use a paper clip and ‘go fish’ for colored paper clips. How do you create?  Place any size paper clips into putty, tie a piece of yarn onto a pencil along with a paperclip, and well, go fish! This makes for an awesome upper extremity activity – grasp, finger strength, upper arm stability, strength, control, and eye-hand coordination! Here is an example of this paper clip game.
        • Play Paper Clip Math Games- Paper Clip Math is an idea makes for a great busy bag or calm-down time activity.  It’s perfect for indoor playtime and hands-on learning.  Not only that, but it is a great way to work on fine motor skills like thumb opposition. 
        • Paper Clip Pattern Hair – This one is cheap and easy and well, fun to create! Cut a piece from a paper towel tube, draw a simple face onto the paper towel tube piece, and then use paper clips along the top to create fun hair. This is part of the back-to-school fine motor kit that can be found here at The OT Toolbox.
        • Also, check out my Crazy Hair Buddies which are created similarly with a variety of tools that can be used such as paper clips, binder clips, and large and small clothespins. 
        • Paper Clip Patterns – All you need for this one is simply just the paper clips! This is an easy visual perceptual activity for older kiddos where you simply use colored paperclips in various orientations and sizes that will help address visual discrimination skills in children. It’s an easy activity to set-up, but highly effective for therapy.
        • Paper Clip Pick-Up – This one is all about paper clips and picking them up one by one.  This is the perfect game to work on fingertip to palm and palm to fingertip translation skills.  First, roll a die and count the dots. Then pick up that number of paper clips using one hand using fingertips to palm translation skills. End with walking them out of the palm one by one using palm to fingertip translation skills and inserting them into a coin bank or other container.
        Kids can develop and strengthen fine motor skills using these fine motor activities with paper clips!

        paper clip fine motor activities

        Adding more fine motor activities into a child’s day can be a struggle. So having an easy list ready to go makes recommending fine motor activities a no-brainer. Use these activity ideas in fine motor home programs or in the classroom for fine motor centers.

        Adding them to math centers would be easy…craft pom poms are fun to sort, count, and manipulate!

        Why Use Paper clips in FIne Motor Activities?

        Paper clips are a tool you need in your therapy bag! They can be a small item that can be used in big ways. Here are just some of the ways that paper clips can address fine motor needs:

        Separation of the sides of the hand– Paperclips are the perfect small item to hold in the palm of the hand, engaging the ulnar side of the hand, while encouraging movement and precision with the pointer finger, middle finger, and thumb. This skill is so important for fine motor precision in tasks like pencil grasp and managing clothing fasteners or tying shoe laces.

        Pincer grasp– Paper clips are a powerful means of promoting the precision grasp between the thumb and pointer finger. This motor skill is essential for tasks that require strength and dexterity to manage small items like coins or turning pages in isolation.

        In-hand manipulation– Paperclips can be used as a manipulative item for transferring from the palm to the fingertips or vice versa. This is an essential skill needed in pencil grasp and other functional tasks.

        Finger isolation– Paperclips can be used in various ways to promote finger isolation needed for fine motor dexterity and functional tasks.

        Eye-hand coordination– This skill is an essential fine motor precision skill needed for so many functional tasks such as managing small items, copying letters, and other visual motor skills. Paperclips can be a powerful way to work on this skill area.

        Use these fine motor activities using paperclips to improve fine motor skills in tasks like pencil grasp.

        Paper clip Activities

        Here is a big list of activity ideas for using craft pom poms to work on fine motor skills. What would you add to this list? To start, here are more fine motor activities that use craft pom poms. Using this craft item in fine motor development requires easy set-up with activities like the ones listed below. You’ll see using a water bottle to work on fine motor skills in the list. Here’s a better description of how to make that craft pom pom fine motor activity work.

        fine motor paper clip activities

        Paperclip FIne mOTOr Activities

        So, what can you do with a paperclip to support fine motor skills?

        Here they are…loads of fun and easy ways to work on fine motor skills using paper clips! Use these ideas in centers, therapy activities, home programs, and play! Use these ideas in part of an occupational therapy fine motor toolkit!

        • Link the clips together to form a chain. Use those paper clip chains for math!
        • Create shapes with linked paper clips
        • Create letters with linked paper clips
        • Write a number on a piece of papers add that same number of paper clips onto the paper
        • Use the paper clips as a stand for small paper puppets
        • Use four paper clips as legs in animal crafts 
        • Sort paper clips by color
        • Press paper clips onto play dough. Use them to make paper clip flowers!
        • Slide onto color coded paper strips
        • Freeze into ice cubes to paint with water on chalkboard
        • Tie to string and use to thread around chairs
        • Poke holes in a plastic lid. Push paper clips through the holes
        • Slide onto edge of a paper plate
        • Use paper clips to make a DIY fidget tool
        • Pick up with a magnet tied to a string
        • Use to draw in sand
        • Chain together to make number strips
        • Connect pieces of paper to create sculptures
        • Place pencil tip in one end and spin
        • Tape label with number to one end. Slide onto edge of toilet paper tubes
        • Paper Clip Playing Cards – Simply use playing cards and paper clips to draw a card and place that number of paper clips onto the cards. Works on number identification and counting along with fine motor skills. 
        • Paper Clip People – This is a fun activity where you draw a picture of a person and cut it out. Then, you simply place paper clips onto the edge of the paper to create “legs” and “arms” the people. This is a fun way to work on fine motor skills, bilateral skills, and the separation of the two sides of the hand. 
        • Paper Clip Pick-Up – This one is all about paper clips and picking them up one by one.  This is the perfect game to work on fingertip to palm and palm to fingertip translation skills.  First, roll a die and count the dots. Then pick up that number of paper clips using one hand using fingertips to palm translation skills. End with walking them out of the palm one by one using palm to fingertip translation skills and inserting them into a coin bank or other container.
        • Paper Clip Porcupine: This is a fun activity that makes the playdough porcupine a paper clip porcupine! This activity is all about paperclips by creating a playdough porcupine, inserting small paperclips, and using a larger paperclip to pluck out the paperclips. A fun activity for fine motor and eye-hand coordination!
        • Paper Clip Rolls – This is also a cheap and easy activity that allows for color matching and number counting. Great for fine motor, bilateral hand skills, and eye-hand coordination, plus a little visual perception as you have to figure out exactly how to put that clip on.
        1. You can keep it simple by just writing a number on the roll and adding that number of paper clips. 
        2. Use a colored dot sticker, write a number on it, and then match colored paper clips by adding that number.
        3. Use a colored dot sticker, write a number on it, and then use colored paper clips to match the dot while also counting that number of paper clips. 
        4. Simply forget numbers and colors altogether and just clip away.
        • Paper Clip Sculptures and Linked ShapesUse several paper clips together to create a variety of sculptures or even link them together to create shapes and images. Be creative and try some linked-together paper clips for letter formation too!
        • Match play dough and paper clips- We shared this idea in our Play Dough Paper Clip Color Match. This is a simple activity that includes colored play dough and paper clips and facilitates a tripod grasp and allows for strengthening of the hand, especially the arches by pressing the paper clips into the dough in a vertical fashion. This activity is a great warm-up activity for kids before coloring, drawing, or writing. 
        • Simple Paper Clip Chain:  With the use of just paper clips, a child can create a paper clip chain and build important developmental fine motor skills. Use colored clips, large and small clips, and plain clips to create a variety of chains.  This activity works on fine motor skills, but also visual perception as the child works on correctly orienting the paper clips for insertion and rotation of each clip as the chain is being built.
        • Add visual perceptual work to fine motor activities with fine motor color sorting activities for improved eye-hand coordination.

        Now, that you have the inspiration and ideas, go gather some paper clips and a few other cheap materials and make some fun games and activities that will motivate children to build important hand skills and other areas of development. Why not have them help you create the kits too? They’d love it and it would be a huge help to you! Grab some baggies, pencil bags, or boxes, or even toss all of the goodies into a plastic storage container and you’ve got a paper clip toolkit! 

        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.

        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:

        Bat Template Fine Motor Activity

        Bat stencil template

        This bat template is a fine motor activity, perfect for building motor skills with a Halloween twist. Use the bat printable as a stencil to cut out, trace, and then use in fine motor work. Add this to your Halloween occupational therapy activities!

        Bat Template

        Fall is here and that means it’s time to pull out the Halloween crafts! This bat Halloween craft is a favorite in our house, and it’s actually a fun way to celebrate Halloween with kids without spooky decorations.

        We also used this bat template in a Stellaluna activity that also challenged visual processing skills. Be sure to check that activity out for another way to use this printable bat stencil.

        The nice thing about using our bat template is that it becomes an open-ended Halloween craft idea is one that doesn’t need a lot of materials. In fact, it’s a simple craft idea that is big on the fine motor skill development! When kids make this bat craft, they will be boosting skills such as fine motor strength and dexterity in a big way.

        For more Halloween craft ideas, check out some of the ideas at the bottom of this post…it’s the perfect addition if you’re looking for Halloween crafts for toddlers or Halloween crafts for preschool parties.

        Related, check out these spider activities for more spooky but fun ideas.

        Printable bat stencil to use in fine motor crafts for Halloween


        Bat Template Craft

        We made this bat craft with a fun sensory twist.  And, since we have a certain second grader that is cursive handwriting obsessed, we decided to add a cursive handwriting twist to this activity.  This activity could work to help kids with letter formation of upper case letters, lowercase letters, or numbers too. The possibilities are endless. 

        We arranged the bat template so you can print out one bat printable page and then get 3 bats from the one page.

        Or, if you are using the bat templates with a group of kids like in a classroom Halloween party activity, you can easily cut the bat template page into three sections with one bat stencil for each child.

        This post contains affiliate links.

        Cut out bat template and trace onto black paper with yarn

        Bat Printable

        To make your bat craft, you’ll need just a few materials.

        Affiliate links are included.

        • Bat printable (get your copy below)
        • black cardstock 
        • black yarn 
        • Glue 
        • Scissors (THIS is my favorite brand and the ones that I always recommended as an Occupational Therapist!)
        • Pencil or marker

        This is a great Halloween craft for preschoolers because it’s a fantastic way to work on scissor skills with a Halloween activity.

        Make the Bat Template

        1. First print out the Pat printable onto printer paper.
        2. Cut out the bat templates on the page. Each template has three bats. Students can cut out the bat printable or the adult can do this as preparation work.
        3. Trace the bat template onto cardstock or black construction paper. This is another good task for students to do as tracing the bat template supports development of bilateral coordination skills, eye-hand coordination, crossing midline, and pencil control skills.  
        4. Cut out the bat template.

        Kids can cut out the shape using their Scissors for great scissor skill work.  The bat shape is a complex cutting shape and can be done by Elementary aged students.  

        Cutting the angled wings and curves can be difficult, but by using the cardstock, kids will get a bit fore proprioceptive feedback from the thicker resistance of the paper material.  

        To make the task easier, cut wings without the jagged lines or use thicker cutting lines when you draw the bat shape.  

        Decorate the Bat Cutout

        Once you have the bat, you’ll need to cut pieces of the black yarn.  Have your child cut long or short pieces, it doesn’t really matter what length they wish to cut for their bat’s texture.  

        1. Cut black yarn for the bat cutout.

        Cutting the yarn is a great material to practice appropriate scissor positioning and bilateral hand coordination.  

        If a child is holding the scissors on an angle, cutting the yarn will be more difficult.  (You may see them trying to “saw” at the yarn!) Encourage them to hold the scissors straight up and down and the blades of the scissors at a 90 degree angle to the yarn.  You can find more of our Scissor Skills activities.

        Child dipping black yarn into glue to stick to the bat printable

        2. Next, pour some glue into a shallow dish or plate.  Show your child how to drag the yarn through the glue and get it nice and saturated with the glue.  Use both hands to pinch and “scrape” off excess glue from the piece of yarn.  

        3. Next, drape the black yarn on the bat shape.  You can let your child get as creative as they wish with this part.  Some might like to outline the bat shape and others, just pile it up on the bat.  

        4. Let the glue and yarn harden and you’ll have a textured bat craft to use in Halloween decorations this Fall.  You will have to wait for the glue to dry, probably overnight.

        Use the Bat Printable in Handwriting Practice

        Occupational therapy practitioners know the value of using a single activity or material to develop a variety of skill areas. That is the case with this bat printable…use it to work on handwriting skills too!

        We used those saturated yarn pieces to build cursive letters, but you could build printed letters as well, using our letter construction method.

        This would be an excellent way to practice cursive letter formation in our Creative Cursive handwriting journal activity.

        Make letters with yarn and decorate the bat printable.

        Use this Bat Craft for kids to work on letter formation of any kind. It’s a creative writing activity that they will be sure to remember. Work on forming individual letters, spelling sight words, or making Halloween words.

        Bat template and letters made with black yarn.

        Use the Bat Printable in Learning

        This would work as a very fun…and very sensory…classroom Halloween party idea or learning activity for this time of year, while working on team work skills, and learning components.

        1. Split kids up into teams. Give each team a collection of cut black yarn and a bowl of glue.
        2. Write a spelling word, or a Halloween word on the board or hold up a sign with a Halloween word.
        3. Each team has to work together to use the cut yarn and glue to spell the Halloween word on a piece of paper or cardboard.
        4. Once a team has completed the word, they have to hold up their paper or cardboard. The first team to spell the word with the letters sticking wins! (Too much glue or not enough glue will make this a fun race for Halloween parties for kids of all ages.)
        Use black yarn to decorate the bat printable template and then write words with black yarn.

        Build printed letters with the glue yarn, too.  We had a lot of fun with this Halloween craft and it was a hit with all of my kids…from preschool on up to grade school.

        Check out some of these other Halloween activities and crafts:

        Free Bat Template

        Want a copy of this free bat template printable? Enter your email address into the form below to get a copy of this Halloween printable. This activity is also available inside The OT Toolbox Member’s Club under our Bat Therapy Theme. Members can log in and get the bat template there without entering an email address. Not a member yet? Join us today.

        Free Bat Stencil

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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.