Pencil Grasp Activities with Fine Motor Play

Helping kids with pencil grasp can be a complicated matter. Kids can hold the pencil too tightly or with an immature grasp no matter how many pencil grips you try. But, there is hope. These pencil grasp activities are fun ways to improve pencil grasp with fine motor play. By using play activities to help kids build a better pencil grasp, kids develop a grasp that is strong and dexterous in ways that carryover to holding a pencil. Try these tripod grasp activities to help kids with pencil grasp development. This is something that therapists want parents to know about pencil grasp development…that a functional pencil grasp might not look like a traditional tripod grasp…and that there are fun ways to work on grasp development!

pencil grasp activities

That said…this is the place for all things pencil grip activities that actually make a difference!

Pencil grasp activities for kids

Pencil Grasp

I love to share easy tricks to work on things like fine motor skills. Working on pencil grasp and the fine motor skills needed for handwriting are two of my favorite ways to build functional skills as an Occupational Therapist.  This blog post is a round up of some of the best pencil grasp activities and ways to develop a more functional pencil grasp through fine motor play activities.  I’ve updated this resource to include more recent pencil grip occupational therapy ideas and grasp activities that I’ve shared. 

A functional pencil grasp might not “look like” the traditional tripod grasp. One thing to read up on is grasp patterns, because this plays a huge role inholding the pencil.

Want to know how to fix a problem with pencil grasps? Need help knowing where to start when it comes to immature pencil grasps or a child hating to write because their hand hurts? The Pencil Grasp Challenge in open for you! In this free, 5 day email series, you’ll gain information, resources, specific activities designed to promote a functional, efficient pencil grasp.

Click here to join the Pencil Grasp Challenge.

Pencil grasp challenge to help kids improve their pencil grasp.
Pencil grip activities kids will love for playing while working on pencil grasp perfect for occupational therapy activities.

Improve Pencil Grasp with Fine Motor Play Ideas

First, if you’ve go questions about pencil grasp, check out this resource on building fine motor skills through play.  You will find TONS of info about the fine motor “parts” of a functional grasp.  

Try these awesome activities to improve pencil grasp through play and fine motor development.

Fine Motor Play Activities to Improve Pencil Grasp

We love incorporating fine motor activities into our play.  These posts are some of our favorites from the past year, and as a bonus, will help with the development of the small muscles of the hands.  An efficient grip on the pencil uses a tripod grasp (thumb, index, and middle fingers) with an open space between the thumb and index finger.    This grasp on the pencil allows kids to better form letters correctly and in a given small space using the fingers to make the pencil movements, vs. using the wrist or whole arm.  If your child is struggling with their handwriting, look first at their grasp on the pencil and go from there.  Try one of these activities for improved muscle strength and pencil control.  

If you are interested in improving pencil grasp, and wondering about all of the fine motor skills that impact a functional pencil grasp, you will definitely want to join the pencil grasp challenge. This free 5 day email series explains everything you want to know about pencil grasp activities that have a powerful impact. Click here to join the Pencil Grasp Challenge. 

Pencil activities to help kids write with a functional grasp

So let’s get moving on some of the best pencil grip activities that actually make a difference in a functional pencil grasp.

Pencil Grip Activities

We have many pencil grasp tricks up our sleeve as school based OTs…but there are many ways that you can target specific needs with fun and engaging pencil grip activities! Most of these ideas don’t even use a pencil. They target the underlying skill areas like hand strength, dexterity, and precision. Other tasks DO use a pencil though!

While these wouldn’t be specified in a manual dexterity goal, you would target functional skills of handwriting. These ideas are the play-based strategies, or tools.

Fine motor play idea that promotes pencil grasp with beads and play dough

Pencil Grasp Exercises with Play Dough is fun with these mini fluted flower beads.  They build a flexed thumb IP joint which is needed for an efficient pencil grasp. 

Strengthening activities for fine motor skills like handwriting activities

Hand Strengthening Exercises are fun with tongs! They are an easy tool to  build so many handwriting skills.

Fine motor play activity using tweezers made from craft sticks

These Craft Stick Tweezers build muscle strength, an open web space, and tripod grasp.

Use play dough and this free play dough mat to work on intrinsic muscle strength in the hands.

 Play Dough Strengthening Mat works on building the intrinsic muscle strength of the hands.

creative ways to build and work on a functional pencil grasp
Improve pencil grasp through fine motor play with blocks.

Fine Motor Development with Blocks is a great way to build many skills needed in handwriting.

Use coins to work on fine motor skills like in-hand manipulation

In Hand Manipulation with Coins can help build skills needed for pencil grasp like manipulating the pencil during letter formation.

Work on fine motor skills with paperclips to improve thumb opposition.

Thumb Opposition is an important skill needed for an open thumb web space and functional and efficient grasp on the pencil.

Mini Circles Pencil Control Exercises

Mini Circles Pencil Control Exercises help with building small motor movements and tripod grasp through improved intrinsic muscle strength.

Help kids with fine motor skills using small balls of play dough.

Finger Isolation with Play Dough helps with minute movements of the hands and individual finger movements in managing the pencil. 

Use clay to work on fine motor skills

Clay Exercises can help strengthen the muscles of the hand for increased endurance of pencil grasp.

Improve hand dominance using fine motor activities.

Motoric Separation of the Hand is essential for managing the pencil while utilizing the ulnar, stability side of the hand.

Kids can work on fine motor skills by playing with masking tape on a table surface.

Fine Motor Table-Top Play addresses intrinsic muscle strengthening.

Work on fine motor skills by playing with waterbeads

  In-Hand Manipulation: Two Activities In hand manipulation is necessary during pencil grasp to manipulate and advance the pencil while writing, as well as making adjustments with the pencil while erasing.  

Fine motor play using tissue paper

Fine Motor Play with Tissue Paper is a great way to build intrinsic muscle strength. Strength in the intrinsic muscles ensure a functional tripod grasp.

Make DIY lacing cards to help kids with fine motor skills.

DIY Lacing Cards improves bilateral coordination, needed for holding the paper while writing.

   

Use pipe cleaners to work on fine motor skills.

Pipe Cleaner Fun builds tripod grasp for use with handwriting.

Use clothespins to work on hand strength.

  Fine Motor Strengthening Color Match works on increasing the intrinsic muscle strength of the hands.

Make your own pencil control worksheets.

Pencil Control Worksheets You Can Make at Home These worksheets build pencil control, line awareness, and spatial awareness during handwriting.

   

Use dry pasta to work on fine motor dexterity

Learning With Dyed Pasta provides a fun activity for building eye hand coordination.

Play with coins to improve fine motor dexterity.

  Manipulating Coins for Fine Motor Development is a great way to work on in-hand manipulation needed for manipulating the pencil during handwriting.    

Tracing letters with sidewalk chalk improves hand strength.

Rainbow Writing provides a resistive writing surface, providing proprioceptive feedback and a way to work on motor planning in letter formation, as well as tripod grasp on the pencil.  

Use Wikki Stix to build hand strenth

Tripod Grasp with Wikki Stix Pushing the wikki stix into the container works on tripod grasp and intrinsic muscle strength, as well as bilateral coordination.  

Use pipe cleaners and a plastic bottle to work on tripod grasp.

Using Pipe Cleaners in Fine Motor Play also improves intrinsic muscle strength and bilateral coordination with a brightly colored stick.  Using the plastic bottle provides great auditory feedback.  

Here is more information on pencil control and distal mobility in handwriting.

Here are games to improve pencil grasp.

Creative ways to work on pencil grasp

tripod grasp activities

Working on tripod grasp is fun when you add activities! Some tripod grasp activities that strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the hand include:

  • Tearing paper
  • Playing with tweezers
  • Dropping coins into a bank or slot
  • Rolling balls of play dough
  • Pushing paper clips onto paper
pencil grip occupational therapy ideas for fine motor skills and pencil grasp

More ways to support this skill include the ones below.

developing pencil grip activities

The ideas listed below are simple tasks you can do to help kids with developing pencil grip. These are the ideas OTs usually have on hand.

Creative ways to work on pencil grasp
Teaching pencil grasp? Use these fun fine motor activities to improve pencil grasp through play.

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

Fine Motor Activities with Beads

beading activities

A while back, I started putting together lists of activities that require just one supply. These are items that you probably already have in the home. I wanted to put these activity lists together to help kids work on fine motor skills with little to no supplies. Some of the activity lists that we have so far include fine motor activities using paper clips, activities using just craft pom poms or cotton balls, and activities to improve fine motor skills with just playing cards. I have a lot more activity lists to come. These will all use just one item, and the fine motor ideas are great for building skills with limited supplies. Send a copy of these links to any friends or families looking for activities for kids to do at home to work on fine motor skills. They are also great for adding to teletherapy services and working on skills with kids as the families probably have these simple items in their home.

Beading activities

Having a small portable fine motor kit with beads and pipe cleaners can be a a great tool for supporting fine motor development. This is a great addition to the therapy bag for any school based OT.

stringing beads occupational therapy

Occupational therapy as a profession was centered around crafts at it’s roots. Historically, OTs used crafting as a tool to support physical and social emotional recovery. It’s fun to think about how stringing beads and occupational therapy is stull a very functional craft that supports skill development!

For example, check out our empathy activity that uses bead stringing!

fine motor activities using beads

For now, let’s talk about fine motor activities that can be done using just beads! HERE are all of our fine motor activities in one place.

FINE MOTOR ACTIVITIES KIDS NEED

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 in working on these fine motor skill areas.

Activities using what you have in the Home

Here are some of the other OT activity ideas that I’ve created so far in this series:

Activities using just a deck of playing cards

Activities using just craft pom poms or cotton balls

Activities using just paper clips

Fine Motor Activities using Beads

Now onto the fine motor activities that require just beads! Let’s talk about the WHY behind using beads as a fine motor tool in occupational therapy activities. There are several fine motor sill components that can be strengthened with beads.

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 skills is an essential fine motor precision skill needed for so many functional tasks. Craft pom poms can be a powerful way to work on this skill area.

Visual Motor Skills- Coordinating visual information with motor movements of the hands is essential for handwriting, cutting with scissors, and many other tasks.  Manipulating lacing cards is an excellent way to address these needs. 

Read more about visual motor skills.

Motor Planning- A motor plan is functional execution of a task which is viewed with the eyes and carried out with the hands in order to complete tasks, such as mazes, walking around obstacles, cutting along a line, and writing within a space on a form.  Visual motor skills can be difficult for children with visual processing difficulties.  Identifying and organizing information is in a motor plan works on problem solving skills.  

Read more about motor planning activities for kids.

What kind of beads help with fine motor skills?

This is pretty open-ended! Use what you’ve got on hand to really home in on the skills listed above. Some beads that would work include: pony beads, perler beads, pop beads, jewelry making beads, or even beads from an old necklace would work. The point is that you need small manipulatives that can fit into the palm of the hand and really challenge those fine motor skills.

fine motor activities using beads and activities in the home

Use beads to work on fine motor skills in the following ways:

  • Press beads into play dough
  • Stick toothpicks into foam. Place beads onto toothpicks.
  • Sort onto pipe cleaners by color
  • Thread onto string
  • Tape ribbons to an easel or wall. Slide beads up the ribbons from the bottom
  • Place beads and hair gel in a gallon size bag. Tape the top. Move beads with fingertips.
  • Drop beads into spice containers
  • Drop beads into recycled water bottle
  • Draw a large letter on paper and fill the lines with beads to form the letters. Use bubble writing to fill the space inside or place the beads right on the lines of the letter.
  • Add beads to a marble maze
  • Sort beads by color
  • Copy patterns on play dough
  • Place beads on shapes and lines
  • Press beads into slime for a fine motor workout.
  • Use beads as counters
  • Create arrays with beads on cardstock
  • Use letter beads to place on letters of spelling words
  • Write letters on the sides of some beads like wooden ones that we used in this fine motor activity.
  • Roll dice. Count out same number of beads
  • Use other items to create beads like this foam curlers activity.
  • Scoop and count beads into groups of ten
  • Use tweezers to pick up beads
  • Slide beads onto feathers
  • Line up beads on a craft stick placed on a table surface
  • Perler beads can be melted to create a pegboard like we did in a previous post.

More fine motor activities

Beading Activities

It’s not just about stringing beads on a pipe cleaner or string! You can work on other areas, too! Some ideas include:

  • Work on patterns with the beads
  • Copy a series of colors or bead types to work on visual motor skills
  • Use a variety of bead types to encourage fine motor skill work
  • Hide beads in theraputty and then use them to string the beads

These are just some of the ways to use beads in OT sessions! How do you incorporate bead activities?

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

Check out the seasonal Fine Motor Kits that kids love:

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

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

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

Cherry Blossom Tree Craft- Fine Motor Activity

Cherry blossom tree craft

This cherry blossom craft is one of my favorites this time of year because it’s a fine motor power tool that supports so many areas of development with a single craft. We made the tissue paper cherry blossom tree many years ago, and it’s still a favorite when it comes to one craft that supports many areas! This is just one of the fun Cherry blossom crafts here on the site that promote fine motor skills, strengthening, and precision in big ways. Let’s explain…

Cherry Blossom Craft

We made these Cherry blossom trees one day as a Spring occupational therapy activity for kids.  This was the perfect way to brighten up our dining room.  We had a bunch of paper snowflakes hanging on our window and decided we needed to pull those down and make a few fun spring crafts!  This Cherry Blossom Tree craft hit the mark!

Not only were our trees fun to make, they had a great fine motor component to them…and we love fine motor activities!

 

Cherry blossom tree craft

 
 This post contains affiliate links. 

 

Cherry Blossom Tree craft

We made this tissue paper cherry blossom craft using simple materials that we already had on hand:

  • Green construction paper
  • Pink tissue paper
  • Glue
  • Clothes pins
  • We also used scissors, a pencil, and a lid (to create the tree circle)

The craft is ideal because there are many skills that are addressed using these materials. We show them in the image at the top of this page, and they include:

  • Finger strength– needed to pinch the clothes pins as a trunk onto the tissue paper cherry blossom craft.
  • Open thumb web space– needed to tear and crumble the tissue paper
  • Scissor skills– necessary to cut the circles
  • Arch development– crumbling the paper into small bits requires refinement of the arches of the hand
  • Pincer grasp– to pick up and manipulate the small crumbled tissue aper pieces and to place them onto glue spots on the tree

There are other skills that are used as well: tripod grasp, gross grasp, bilateral coordination, intrinsic hand strength, etc.

 

Trace a lid to make circles for cherry blossom tree craft.
 
We started with green Construction Paper and a peanut butter jar lid.  I traced a bunch of circles (and Baby Girl had to try her hand at tracing, too!)
 
Holding the lid and tracing around it is a great way to incorporate bilateral coordination and crossing midline. This is a nice precursor to the task of cutting out each circle. 
 
To address scissor skills, consider using thicker paper or cardstock to make the cutting activity easier. Here are strategies for working on scissor skills and cutting accuracy.
 
Cut circles for a Cherry blossom tree

 

These were cut out and we were ready to get started on our trees.

Dots of glue for cherry blossom tree craft

I put a bunch of dots of glue on the circles.  Older kids could do this part.  Squeezing the glue bottle is a great fine motor strengthening exercise for little hands.

For kids that need help working on graded resistance and grasp when managing a bottle of glue, practicing glue spots onto different sizes of circles like in a glue exercise is a good way to help with this functional task. 

The Glue Spots worksheets in the Spring Fine Motor Kit is a good exercise for this activity.

Crumbling tissue paper is great for fine motor skills.
 
Next, Big Sister pulled small bits of pink tissue paper from a big old sheet. 
 
Tearing tissue paper is such a GREAT fine motor strengthening exercise for kiddos. 
 
Crumbling those little bits works the intrinsic muscles of the hands (the small muscles that are in the hand and make up arches of the palm.  Strength of these muscles is so important to endurance in handwriting and coloring, maintaining adequate pressure when coloring, holding the pencil accurately…the needs for defined arches of the hands could go on and on and on!
 
Crumbling tissue paper for crumbled paper art is a functional fine motor craft that kids can hang up and admire their hard work. You’ll find more Crumble Art crafts in the Spring Fine Motor Kit, including templates for 5 different crumble art crafts: flowers, mushroom, rainbow, and Easter egg crafts.
 
Pinching tissue paper works on hand strength and tripod grasp.
 
Pressing those little tissue paper crumbles into the glue required a tripod grasp.  And, we had a ton of glue spots…so this was a good long activity!
 
Tripod grasp is worked on with this cherry blossom tree craft.

 

Cover all of those glue spots!

Make Cherry Blossom tree crat to work on fine motor skills with clothes pins for trunks.

 

Once our tissue paper/glue was dry, we clipped on clothes pin “trunks” onto our trees.  Pinching those pins was another way to encourage hand strengthening.  We had a whole forest of Cherry Blossom trees and got them involved on our train table, with the Little People stuff, with little dinosaurs.  We played with these Cherry Blossom trees until they fell apart!

Be sure to check out this other cherry blossom fine motor math activity, where we used pink tissue paper to make cherry blossoms and worked on tripod grasp and eye hand coordination skills.

 

Spring Fine Motor Kit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cherry Blossom Tree craft for kids with fine motor activity

Pipe Cleaner Bunny and Carrots

pipe cleaner bunny craft

These pipe cleaner bunny crafts are a fun Easter craft that supports fine motor skills. We LOVED making these and then using them over and over again!

With Easter being right around the corner, these pipe cleaner bunny crafts and pipe cleaner carrots are a great way to add fine motor skills to your Easter occupational therapy line up. These bunny cuties were easy to make and have been seen a lot in our play time recently.  This isn’t the first time that we’ve made Easter Bunny fine motor activity.

pipe cleaner bunny craft

Pipe Cleaner Bunny and Pipe Cleaner Carrots

So WHAT is a manipulative?? (Even spell check doesn’t know, so maybe we should explain…) These cute little bunny manipulatives can be used for so many fun activities: counting, patterning, sorting, arranging…so much learning can happen with little objects that kids can manipulate. 

We use these in Easter sensory bins and to develop a few fine motor skills, too!

You’ll also want to check out our other Bunny Activities:

Pipe Cleaner Bunny

So we love making fun kids crafts that double as a therapy tool. When you bend and fold pipe cleaners into shapes, you’re actually working on several skills:

I’ve caught baby Girl playing with these bunnies and carrots as she made them talk to each other.  What a great way to work on language and conversation!  Throw these bunnies and carrots into a sensory bin and you’ve got a sensory activity where the kids can explore textures and senses. 

There are SO many ways these manipulatives can be used in learning and play. 

How to make a Bunny with Pipe Cleaners

Here’s what we did to make the pipe cleaner bunnies…

First, you’ll want to gather your materials:

  • White pipe cleaners
  • Pink pony bead
 
 
 
Easter bunny and carrot craft for kids
 
 
Check out the directions to make the pipe cleaner bunny craft under each picture. We wanted to add a step-by-step visual.

Fold the pipe cleaner to make Bunny ears.
 
To start, I created a handful of Easter Bunnies using off-white pipe cleaners.  It’s not hard to do…
 
1. Bend the pipe cleaner to make two bunny ears.
 
Ben a pipe cleaner to form an Easter Bunny
 
2. Twist the pipe cleaner around and through the first “ear”, then through the second “ear”.  The second ear is not a complete loop, so the tail end of the pipe cleaner doesn’t really go through the ear. 
You’ll pinch the pipe cleaner so it stays put.  See the next picture.
 
How to make an Easter Bunny using a pipe cleaner
 
3. Pinch the “ears” in place and pull the long end strait down. 
4. Thread a pink bead onto the pipe cleaner for the bunny’s nose.
 
Use these pipe cleaner Easter bunnies and carrots for pretend play and counting activities
 
5. Wrap the long end of the pipe cleaner straight up and around your thumb. 
6. Repeat twice, making one loop to the right of the bead and one loop to the left of the bead. 
7. Pinch it so it stays in place.  You can kind of squash the bunny down to make it stay put.
 
counting, sorting, patterns with pipe cleaner Easter bunny and carrot manipulatives.
 

Pipe Cleaner Carrot

 
The pipe cleaner carrots are just a piece of an orange pipe cleaner bent into a carrot shape and a small piece of green pipe cleaner  twisted around to make a stem.  Super easy to make.
 
Make a handful of each and you’re ready for counting, patterns, sorting, adding, and subtracting…
 
How many ways can you think of to learn and play with these guys?
 
Pipe cleaner Easter Bunny and carrots for pretend play
 
Our bunnies have been found all over the house this last week.  The carrots made their way into the Little People house and eaten by the Lalaloopsy friends.  The bunny manipulatives have even been caught hanging out with a few Ninja Turtles! 
 
Let us know if you make these bunny and carrot manipulatives.  We would love to see how you’re learning and playing!
 

For more Easter fine motor activities, check out the Spring Fine Motor Kit.

Spring Fine Motor Kit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oral Motor Exercises with a Cotton Ball Bunny

bunny craft

Working on oral motor exercises as a sensory processing strategy for self-regulation, or as an oral motor tool to address physical needs? Ok, so we made a cute little cotton ball bunny to use in an Easter sensory activity as a small world play area to work on fine motor skills with an Easter theme. However, using them in imagination play, but, there are so many oral motor benefits to using these little cotton ball bunnies, too.

It was so much fun with that little cotton ball bunny family that we turned it into a big old collection of bunnies! That’s not all…we used them in an oral motor exercise, with major self-regulation benefits. Here is a how to for this Easter craft for kids as well as a run-down on oral motor skill work with everyday items.

One thing I love about this is that we were blowing cotton balls with straws as a calming and regulating activity, but it was a lot of fun, too!

You’ll also want to check out our other Bunny Activities:

oral motor exercises with an easter theme using a cotton ball bunny craft

Oral Motor Exercises with an Easter Theme

Oral motor skills play a big part of feeding. In fact oral motor problems and feeding can impact food preferences as well as ability to eat certain food textures. There is a lot of information on oral motor skills on The OT Toolbox.

We’ve covered development of oral motor skills to the physical traits you may see with oral motor issues such as exaggerated jaw movements and issues that arise with stability bite patterns. Here is more information if you are wondering if feeding issues are related to oral motor skills or sensory concerns…or both.

Adding sensory work through the mouth in the form of proprioception is a powerful way to help kids recenter and gain input that is calming and regulating. That input “wakes up” the muscles of the mouth.

There is a mindfulness portion to this oral motor strategy, too. Taking deep breaths is so important in relaxation it brings awareness to your body. In this Easter oral motor activity, kids can blow through a straw to move the cotton ball bunnies while focusing on a static viewpoint at the end of the straw.

Did you know that blowing cotton balls with straws can do all of this??

Talk about centering and regulating! You can even ask the child to breathe in while you count to 5 and then breath out as they move the bunny with the power of their breath.

This oral motor exercise uses straws and cotton ball bunnies for an Easter themed

Oral Motor Exercises for Heavy work

To do this self regulation activity, it’s actually pretty simple.

  1. Line up a row of cotton ball bunnies on the table.
  2. Give the child a straw and ask them to blow into the straw to push the bunny toward a target.
  3. You can ask them to move a certain number of bunnies in a specific amount of time, or they can simply move all of the bunny family with their breath.
bunny craft

Oral Motor Exercise

I wanted to try a little Easter-themed game with Big Sister.  (She didn’t know that it was actually an oral motor exercise that supports development!)

I put the cotton ball bunnies out on the table, along with the grass and some straws.    She had to blow the bunnies into the grass using a straw. 

Scroll below for instructions on how to make the DIY grass matt to use in sensory play activities.

To make the oral motor exercise easier or harder:

  1. Try using different lengths of straws to change the breath power and amount of deep breathing they need to take.
  2. You can also pinch the straw to require more effort in the oral motor therapy idea.
  3. Try using different types of straws, too. Some ideas include using a large sports straw like we did in the pictures here, or a coffee stirrer straw.

The options are endless and can be means of grading this activity up or down to meet the specific needs of the child.

This is a fun exercise/game for kids with oral-motor problems including poor lip closure, stability of the jaw, or muscle development of the mouth, jaw, and tongue.  Blowing through a straw can also help with sensorimotor integration. 

Older kids who constantly put things into their mouth (pencils, clothing, fingers…) may be seeking oral input/sensorimotor input that their body needs.   

This game is a fun way to work on any of these areas.  Use fatter straws at first and work toward thinner straws for a graded exercise.  If this activity to too difficult for your child with oral-motor or sensorimotor needs, try a smaller item such as a feather or a crafting fuzz ball.  

You could also work on oral motor skills and the proprioceptive heavy work with this Egg Boat activity.

Oral motor exercises like these are beneficial to add heavy work input through the mouth and lips that is calming and regulating.

These oral motor exercises have an Easter theme anc can work on oral sensory needs for self-regulation or oral motor therapy.
Make this Easter fine motor activity using a cotton ball bunny craft. Kids will love to use this in an Easter play activity with preschoolers and toddlers

Fine Motor Skills Activity

These little Easter bunny crafts were perfect to in a fine motor skills activity, too. With a tray, a handful of river rocks, and a DIY crepe paper matt, we made an Easter-themed small world to work on fine motor skills with my littlest one.

My daughter, who was a toddler in these photos, loved to explore and play as she picked up and moved the cotton ball bunnies, the rocks, and small carrots.

Easter play ideas using a DIY sensory mat and cotton ball bunny crafts for kids to use in fine motor work.

To make the grass matt, we used a roll of green crepe paper. It was glued on one side to a sheet of construction paper. I asked my preschooler to snip into the edges of the top side of the crepe paper, so it made a fringed edge. This was a great scissor activity for her.

This Easter play activity turned out to be a fun fine motor activity for toddlers and a fine motor ideas for preschoolers, too! I think the quote from my preschooler was… “Wow, this is cool, Mom!”

This cotton ball bunny craft is so much fun for fine motor skill activities and oral motor skills work.

Easter Play IDEA

Play idea for toddlers- Baby Girl especially loved playing with the little bunnies in an Easter small world play set-up.  She would move the bunnies, stones, and carrots one at a time from the bowl to the grass…and then back again.

Play idea for preschoolers- Big Sister had fun using the bunnies for imagination play, making them go into their garden, lining up the rocks, and making the bunnies steal the carrots.  

Little Guy wanted nothing to do with any of this. I guess there were not any superheroes or bad guys involved.  Cute little bunnies are not his thing 🙂  

This Easter play idea is great for workingon fine motor skills with toddlers and preschoolers.

We are having a lot of fun with our little bunnies!

Make this cotton ball bunny craft to use in easter themed sensory play and fine motor skills activities

TO make the Cotton Ball Bunny Craft

Making this Easter bunny craft is super easy.

  1. We used a glue gun to make sure the pieces were securely attached for sensory play with my toddler. However, regular craft glue would work as well.
  2. You’ll need a cotton ball, white foam sheet, and a pink felt sheet.
  3. Cut out two large white ears and two smaller pieces for the inner ear.
  4. Use the craft glue to hold these pieces in place.
  5. Add gentle pressure to make sure all of the pieces are securely attached.

This bunny craft came together fairly quickly, so I was able to create a whole set of the bunnies.

Then, use them to play!

This Easter craft idea is great for fine motor activities for preschoolers and toddlers with an Easter theme.

Spring Fine Motor Kit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Easter Activities

It’s that time again!  Easter is around the corner and so you may be searching for a few Easter activities. These spring activities are ones that have a movement and play component so that kids build skills they need while celebrating the season. Below, you’ll find Easter ideas, Easter crafts, egg activities, songs, and bunny games are all themed on Easters, eggs, and bunnies. Things like our Easter scissor skills activity are just part of the fun. So if you’re planning a few fun activities for the kids this Easter, look no further.  We have got you covered on the bunny cuteness overload!

Easter Activities for Occupational Therapy

Sensory Input- Add sensory input for a functional sensory diet or self regulation needs using these sensory egg dying activities.

Scissor Skills– Use fake Easter grass to work on scissor skills.

Visual Perception/Fine Motor– Work on visual discrimination, bilateral coordination, and hand strength with this color matching egg hunt.

Oral Motor Skills/Proprioception– Build oral motor skills and add calming proprioceptive input through the mouth with this bunny race activity.

Oral Motor Skills/Fine Motor– Use plastic eggs to make boats that really float and are powered by breath, a great calming self-regulation activity. It’s a fun fine motor STEM activity, too.

Intrinsic Hand Strength– After dying eggs, use the extra egg cartons to build in-hand manipulation and precision in dexterity with this fine motor activity.

Open Thumb Web-Space/Eye-Hand Coordination– Build motor skills in the hands using egg dying tongs to sort and manipulate small objects.

Fine Motor Skills– Use pipe cleaners to make mini-bunnies and mini-carrots for fine motor manipulatives.

Shoe Tying– Or, use that egg carton to work on shoe tying.

Pre-Writing Lines– Grab some wikki stix and work on pre-writing lines and handwriting with an egg theme.

Easter activities, crafts, and games that build skills for occupational therapy sessions and goal areas.

Easter Crafts

These Easter craft ideas use everyday materials, so you can easily set these up for your therapy sessions.

Make bunnies and carrots from pipe cleaners for an Easter occupational therapy tool.

Make a set of these pipe cleaner Bunny and Carrots to use in fine motor activities, play, counting, and imagination play. 

Easter fine motor manipulative to help with fine motor skills in kids.

Try these cotton ball bunny craft manipulatives to use in play, fine motor activities and imagination play.

RELATED READ: Simple Spring Sensory

Easter Bunny Activities for Kids

This 5 Little Bunnies Finger Rhyme from Let’s Play Music is a great way to work on finger dexterity and coordination.

Bunny lacing activity to build fine motor skills

Easter Lacing Cards from Totschooling helps with bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills, and more. Here is more information on the benefits of lacing cards for kids

Easter activity with plastic easter eggs

Plastic Egg craft- Use plastic Easter eggs to make boats with a sensory benefit. It’s a calming sensory activity that kids will love.

Grab a handful of Easter eggs and use them to work on color identification in a color scavenger hunt.

Easter writing activity to help kids wrok on pre-writing lines and pencil control with an Easter egg theme.

Use this Easter egg writing activity to help kids work on pre-writing lines and pencil control, as well as coordination and visual motor skills.

Gross motor easter activity

Try this Bunny Hop ABC Game from Fantastic, Fun, and Learning to add gross motor skills, motor planning, and coordination skills in outdoor play.

Easter activity with coloring pages and dot to dot pages

Try these Bunny Coloring Pages from Kids Activities Blog for visual perception, visual motor skills, pencil control, and more.

Use this bunny activity to work on bilateral coordination, eye hand coordination and fine motor skills.

Grab a pair of Bunny Tongs from the dollar store for a fine motor Easter activity that builds scissor skills and eye-hand coordination. 

Bunny craft for kids at Easter time, using toilet paper tubes to make an Easter craft while building fine motor skills.

Make Toilet Paper Roll Bunnies like this Easter craft from Toddling in the Fast Lane for a fine motor workout with cute results.

Easy Easter Activities

Busy occupational therapy practitioners know that time is limited. So coming up with a few therapy activities that work with the whole caseload is key.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Egg Decorating: Using stickers to decorate plastic Easter eggs. This activity supports fine motor precision, bilateral coordination, and hand-eye coordination.
  • Egg Transferring: Use spoons to transfer small eggs from one basket to another. This activity works on visual motor skills and grasp precision. This is a nice activity if helping kids to hold a spoon and fork when eating.
  • Easter Egg Cutting: Draw a simple oval on paper and ask kids to cut out the shape. This activity focuses on scissor manipulation and hand-eye coordination.
  • Paper Easter Baskets: Children can cut out and assemble paper baskets by weaving strips of paper.
  • Egg Hunt Obstacle Course: This one is one of my favorites! Hide plastic Easter eggs in different places in an occupational therapy obstacle course. You can really focus on different gross motor skills as kids move through the course and collect eggs. Then, ask them to go back through the course and re-hide the eggs to work on memory skills.
  • Matching Games: Use the egg matching cards in the Easter Egg Therapy Kit and have your students connect two sides of plastic eggs to match the colors on the cards. The kit has pre-colored cards or you can use the blank template to have kids color their own color mix ups.
  • Easter Sensory Bins: Fill sensory bins with items like Easter grass, plastic eggs, and small toys, allowing children to explore different textures and sensations.
  • Egg Shakers: Fill plastic eggs with dry beans or beads and tape the eggs shut. Children can create their own egg shakers using plastic eggs filled with various materials like rice or beans, which provides auditory and tactile feedback.
  • Planning an Easter Craft: Encourage children to plan and execute an Easter craft, which can help develop their organization, sequencing, and problem-solving skills.
  • Easter Cooking Activities: Following a cooking with kids recipe to make Easter-themed snacks can enhance planning, sequencing, and task initiation.
  • Easter-Themed Yoga: Incorporate yoga poses inspired by Easter themes (like bunny hops or egg stretches) to help children practice self-regulation and body awareness. We have activities like this in The OT Toolbox Membership.

One resource we love is our $5 therapy kit…the Plastic Egg Therapy Kit! It has 27 printable pages of activities with an Easter egg theme. In the kit, you’ll find fine motor activities, handwriting prompts, letter formation pages, pencil control sheets, plastic egg activities, matching cards, graphing activities, STEM fine motor task cards, and more. There are several pages of differentiated lines to meet a variety of needs. This therapy kit has everything done for you.

Get your copy of the Easter Egg Therapy Kit here.

Spring Fine Motor Kit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter Fine Motor Activities

winter fine motor activities

Looking for winter fine motor activities that boost the skills kids need? These fine motor ideas develop the skills that kids need for tasks like handwriting, pencil grasp, cutting with scissors, managing clothing fasteners, and more. You’ll find winter activities that boost hand strength, grasp, precision and endurance in the hands…all through play! We’ve even got a winter fine motor kit, loaded with resources, activities, crafts, and no-prep materials designed to help kids develop fine motor skills. So scroll on! 



First, stop by our fine motor skills library for tons of ideas to work on the motor skills kids need.


It has been fun sharing winter activities this week! If you missed any of the posts, be sure to check them out below. We’ve talked about indoor recess ideas for winter, brain break ideas, and activities to address bilateral coordination skills, and even mindfulness! You will have ideas for a season of development!


Check out the Winter Activities on the site this week: 


Monday- Indoor Recess Ideas

Tuesday- 
Winter Brain Break Ideas

Wednesday- 
Winter Bilateral Coordination Activities

Thursday-
Winter Mindfulness Activities (Be sure to check out these hibernation activities, too. They make a great calm down space!)

Friday- 
Winter Fine Motor Activities (TONS of  Free Printables!)


Now on to today’s topic, fine motor activities!

These winter fine motor activities can help kids develop the hand strength and fine motor skills needed for every day tasks, all with a winter theme.

Winter fine motor activities are fun ways to build hand strength.

Winter Fine Motor Activities

Winter is a great time to work on fine motor skills. It’s so functional! You can help kids by getting those hands moving so they have the finger dexterity, pinch strength, and finger isolation to put on a pair of gloves.

You can address gross hand grasp, arch development, and bilateral coordination skills so kids can pull on a pair of boots. You can work on precision, separation of the sides of the hand, eye-hand coordination, and in-hand manipulation skills so kids can zipper and button winter coats. All of these are functional winter tasks!

We used those same hole reinforcer stickers to make a fine motor snowman craft that boosts skills like tip to tip precision, separation of the sides of the hand, and arch strength. 

Many winter fine motor activities can be adjusted to meet the needs of the individual. For example, these snow globe letter puzzle cards can address fine motor skills to color and manipulate the cards. The winter-themed activity can be modified to meet the needs of the individual: using less or more cards, incorporating fine or gross motor input, and positioning the cards in different planes or surfaces to work on various levels of fine motor control. It’s just one more way to make therapy skills like fine motor dexterity fun with a winter theme!

Similarly, this snow globe deep breathing exercise can be modified to address fine motor skills. Ask users to point and trace the breathing lines to integrate finger isolation, separation of the sides of the hand, and eye-hand coordination. Then, they can “draw” the same shape on their palm using their finger to point as they breathe. It’s a bilateral coordination and fine motor task that addresses self-regulation, too.

Print off this mitten printable for fine motor skill work while developing other areas like eye-hand coordination, motor planning, precision, and more.

This winter clothing worksheet is focused on tracing numbers. But, this hands-on activity can address many fine motor skills, too. Ask kids to color the pictures. then, they can cut out each number strip to work on scissor skills. Then, ask them to write the winter clothing word. Finally, they can write the number to work on number formation skills. But what if you asked them to then roll the same number of play dough balls for each number? What a great way to work on hand strength. If you asked the child to place the correct number of mini erasers or coins on the table or in a slotted top, they can incorporate in-hand manipulation skills, too.

Another fine motor worksheet is our Also be sure to grab our new winter crossword puzzle. The printable can be used to support pencil control by circling words and individual letters. Or, use the end of a pencil as a stamp to stamp out the letters of the winter words for more fine motor fun.

This beaded snowflake craft from Early Learning Ideas encourages bilateral coordination, separation of the sides of the hand, precision, in-hand manipulation, and a tripod grasp…with pretty results!


Use paper hole reinforcers to improve precision and dexterity by forming letters and names like Fun-a-Day did. 


If you’re looking for another craft idea, then this clothespin snowman craft uses a clothespin clip to really work the muscles of the hand. Move that snowman around and clip him onto bags, coats, and books! 


If you’re looking for a fine motor activity for kindergarten kids, then this sight word tic tac toe game is the ticket! Kids can make the game pieces, and move them around to play a game of tic tac toe while strengthening skills like tip to tip grasp, arch development, separation of the sides of the hand, and finger isolation.


For more craft ideas that boost fine motor skills, check out all of these winter bird crafts. You’ll find ideas for strengthening the hands and other fine motor skills while making cute bird crafts, bird feeders, and other activities. 


If working on scissor skills is a priority, a paper snowflake is the way to go this winter. But what if you took the paper snowflake up a notch by cutting cupcake liners? This cupcake liner paper snowflake activity boosts hand strength with a pretty result!


Working on pencil grasp? You don’t need a pencil! Make this snowflake stamp art and promote the fine motor skills that are needed for a functional grasp: separation of the sides of the hand, arch development, and an open thumb web space for example. This creative winter painting idea has a sensory component, too.

Winter Fine Motor Worksheets

Worksheets can get a bad rap. But, for the occupational therapy professional that thinks outside of the box, it is possible to use a printable tool to address hands-on skills like in-hand manipulation, separation of the sides of the hand, and more than just handwriting or scissor skills.

Some of our favorite winter worksheets include:

The Penguin Therapy Kit, the Snowman Therapy Kit, and the Winter Fine Motor Kit all include resources that address so many fine motor areas:

  • dexterity
  • hand strength
  • in-hand manipulation
  • separation of the sides of the hand
  • finger isolation
  • arch development
  • finger opposition
  • pinch and grip strength
  • bilateral coordination
  • wrist stability
  • and more!

Print off the pages that you need and you’ll never run out of fresh fine motor activities this winter!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Handwriting Sensory Bin Materials- You and the kiddos will love these A-Z uppercase and lowercase tracing cards with directional arrows, 1-10 tracing cards with directional arrows, 1-10 counting cards. Using the sensory bin materials can develop tactile handwriting, letter and number formation, finger isolation, crossing midline, sensory challenges.

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

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

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

Get the Winter Fine Motor Kit Here.

winter fine motor kit

 

 

These fine motor winter activities will keep the kids active and moving all winter long.

Free Winter Fine Motor Set

Today, we have a fun fine motor activity set to build fine motor strength, dexterity, and coordination skills. It’s an Arctic Animal Fine Motor set that includes play dough or coloring mats and handwriting pages right on the same page, all with a Winter arctic animal theme.

This item is also found inside our Membership Club.

FREE Arctic Animal Fine Motor Set!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

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

    Snowy Farm Sensory Bin

    farm sensory bin

    Welcome to a winter wonderland on the farm! In today’s blog post, we’re diving into the magical world of sensory play with a snowy farm sensory bin. This delightful activity combines the charm of a farm theme with the sensory joys of winter, creating an engaging and therapeutic experience for children. This is one of our favorite winter sensory bins because you can focus on so many different underlying skills through play.

    Farm sensory bin

    Whether you’re a parent looking for creative winter activities or a therapist seeking effective tools for skill development, this farm sensory bin is tailored to captivate young minds while addressing various therapeutic areas. Read all about sensory bins in general as a therapy tool to support skill development.

    Farm Sensory Bin

    We love a great occupational therapy sensory activity because cold winter temps and less daylight hours mean you might not have a chance to get little ones outside as often as you might like. Plus, a farm sensory bin goes great with a Farm theme in preschool or in occupational therapy sessions.

    This farm sensory bin has a winter theme, but you could actually set up a farm sensory bin any time of year. In fact, we loved this play dough farm activity that goes along with a farm theme and supports fine motor skills as well as sensory input.

    The base of shredded paper sets the stage for a snowy landscape, providing a tactile experience that stimulates sensory exploration and fine motor skills.

    This winter-themed sensory bin features a collection of farm toys and mini figures, turning the snowy setting into a farm scene ready for imaginative play.

    Farm Animal Sensory Bin

    The farm animal sensory bin takes the excitement a step further, introducing miniature figures of beloved farm animals. As children dive into the bin, they engage in hands-on exploration, feeling the textures of the shredded paper, maneuvering the farm toys, and creating their own farm stories.

    This sensory-rich experience enhances tactile input, encouraging self-confidence as children express themselves through play.

    Farm Theme Sensory Bin Setup

    Setting up the farm theme sensory bin is a breeze:

    1. Begin with a large container filled with shredded paper to create a snowy base. You could also use other sensory bin base materials if you don’t have shredded paper on hand.
    2. Add farm toys such as barns, tractors, and mini figures of animals to bring the farm to life.
    3. Encourage creativity by incorporating small props like faux trees or fences. This simple yet effective setup provides a canvas for endless imaginative scenarios.

    Before this weekend, we’ve had a super cool spring.  With a handful of days where it snowed.  We are ready for outside play in short sleeves, running in the yard, and grass stained knees.

    But, we have been loving this fun play activity too 🙂

    We had a boat load of shredded paper from doing taxes recently.  It came in pretty handy for a small world snowy farm scene!

    We put some farm animals, the Little People barn, and of course, Little Guy’s construction vehicles.

    (how else can the farmer move allll that snow??)

    Little Guy went to farm-town with imagination stories and pretend play.

    Baby Girl loves to make the animal sounds and had a blast finding them in the shredded paper.

    Why This Farm Sensory Bin Helps Development


    Beyond simply playing in the sensory bin, this farm sensory bin serves as a therapeutic tool to foster development in various areas.

    You can target areas in:

    Fine motor skills are particularly important in early childhood development, as they lay the foundation for more complex tasks in the future. 

    Tactile discrimination, exploration, and sensory desensitization are effectively addressed with sensory bins as they are playful and present in a non-threatening way. The playful nature of sensory bins allows children to control their tactile experiences, fostering confidence in their interactions with materials and gradually increasing their comfort with different sensations. 

    The hands-on nature of the activity promotes fine motor skills as children manipulate the farm toys and engage with the sensory materials. Communication skills blossom as they create farm narratives, fostering language development.

    In addition, occupational therapy providers love sensory bins because they can offer a unique and enjoyable way to engage reluctant children who may initially be hesitant about engaging in the sensory elements of tactile defensiveness challenges.

    Tactile input and sensory exploration contribute to a holistic sensory experience, supporting overall sensory processing.

     

     
     
     
     
    My fun-loving Baby Girl instigated this little incident…
     
    she just couldn’t help herself 🙂
     
     
    What are we learning through play?

    Imagination Play

    Pretend Play

    Learning Animals

    Animal Sounds

    Visual Scanning

    Sensory Play

     

    Farm Sensory Bin Ideas

    You can pair this farm sensory bin with other therapy ideas, too. Use some of these tools and resources to support skills like gross motor skills, coordination, brain breaks, and more:

    • These Farm Brain Breaks can add movement and gross motor input to a child’s day and fit in great with a farm animal theme. Print off the cards and use them in the classroom or home.
    • These heavy work cards includes a set of 8 farm themed heavy work activities that can be used as a brain break or added proprioceptive input.
    • Free Farm Scissor Skills Packet
    • This barn craft is fun because kids can make a barn and use it in the farm animal sensory bin.
    • This Farm Fingerprint art activity supports visual closure, visual tracking, and visual scanning activity, too.
    • The Farm Therapy Kit has a bunch or activities to support sensory needs, handwriting, motor skills, dexterity, and more.

    Get your copy of the Farm Therapy Kit.

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

    Fine Motor Play with Tissue Paper

    Colorful tissue paper squares crumbled up and placed in two plastic water bottles. Text reads Crumbling paper activity and lists the fine motor benefits of crumbling paper.

    Today we have a tissue paper crumpling activity (or paper crumbling!) that builds many fine motor skills, including hand strength. In this easy tissue paper fine motor activity, we are working on pinching and crumbling paper is an excellent fine motor exercise for children.  It is an activity that works the small muscles of the hand and really strengthens the arches of the hands

    Colorful tissue paper squares crumbled up and placed in two plastic water bottles. Text reads Crumbling paper activity and lists the fine motor benefits of crumbling paper.

    There are many fine motor benefits of crumpling paper into small pieces!

    Paper Crumpling

    Paper crumpling (or paper crumbling) is a great way to play with paper that builds fine motor skills in the hands.

    If a child has weak muscles in their hands and the arches are not defined, you may see them holding a pencil or small items between their thumb and the side of their index finger.  The arches of their hand may not be defined and nice and round.  You may also see them holding their hands close to their chest as they attempt to gain stabilization of their arms to do the small motor task.

    To really work those muscles, you could have your child first tear the bits of tissue paper before they crumble them up.

    Defined arches are very important in shoe tying, handwriting, and managing clothing like buttons and snaps.

    You can see how to incorporate tearing paper into this activity using the video below. Towards the end of the video, you’ll see ways to build fine motor strength and finger dexterity using crumbled paper pieces. The tissue paper squares that we are using in our activity today can be used like shown in the video for more finger strengthening exercises.

    Working on fine motor skill development through play supports functional tasks, plus it’s fun!

    Paper Crumpling Activity

    We came up with this tissue paper crumbling activity many years ago, and it still stands as a great way to work on skills:

    We’ve talked about the benefits of tearing paper before, and this activity expands on the skills a bit, because after you tear the tissue paper, you can have your student crumble the paper and then push it into the mouth of a water bottle.

    While this is a really simple fine motor activity, it’s great because you build so many skills, and kids typically enjoy this simple task.

    Tissue Paper Crumbling Activity

    For this activity, you really can use items you have on hand. We used empty plastic water bottles, and colorful tissue paper squares.

    1. Cut tissue paper into small squares.
    2. Remove labels from plastic water bottles.

    To increase the fine motor work, you could have the student rip pieces of the tissue paper to really increase grip strength work.

    Ask the student to take one piece of tissue paper, and crumble it up with their finger tips.

    Then, they should push the crumpled tissue paper into the empty water bottle.

    You can make this activity a game by asking them to roll a dice and place that many squares of tissue paper into the bottle. Or you could have them sort colors by filling each water bottle with a single color.

     

    plastic water bottles full of crumbled tissue paper and tissue paper squares on a table
     
    This was an easy and fun little activity to throw together.
    We have a bunch of little tissue paper squares in our craft supplies.  Put them next to a couple of empty plastic bottles, and the kids know what to do!
     
     
     
    Pushing the tissue paper into the spout of the water bottle is great for encouraging a tripod grasp (using the thumb, index, and middle finger).
     
    Holding the bottle with the non-dominant hand allows the child to work on their bilateral hand coordination (using both hands together in a coordinated manner…kids need this when they begin shoe tying and managing the zipper on their coat).
     
    When you ask kids to crumble paper using just the tips of their fingers, you really isolate thumb IP joint flexion as they bend the tips of the fingers. This is needed for dexterity and precision skills in functional tasks such as writing with a pencil.
     
    collage of child placing crumpled tissue paper into an empty plastic bottle, child holding plastic water bottle full of crumbled tissue paper, and water bottle and tissue paper squares
     
    …And everyone loved the cool crunchy sound the bottle made when you squashed it!
     
    Child holding a plastic water bottle full of  colorful tissue paper
     

     

    There are so many ways to build skills with this simple tissue paper crumpling activity!

    More fine motor fun…

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

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