How to Draw a Cute Owl Directed Drawing

how to draw an owl easy directed drawing sheet

If you are looking for how to draw a cute owl, than this easy directed drawing owl activity is for you. There are so many benefits to directed drawing when it comes to visual motor skill development, so adding a cute owl to the fun makes sense! In this post, you’ll find a printable “how to draw an owl-easy” worksheet that you can print and use over and over again.

How to draw and owl easy directed drawing sheet

a word about directed drawing worksheets

While this is a fun free occupational therapy worksheet, I have to say…sometimes “worksheets” get a bad rap. I mean, hands-on, occupation-centered function is what we do as OTs, right?

BUT, for some kids, meaningful and purposeful are centered around topics, or themes. Owls are one of those popular topics that draw kids in. And, to take this concept a step further, drawing and creativity is a powerful tool to support and develop creativity as a cognitive skill, but also part of one’s self Creativity and creating are what we do as humans so when a child has an interest such as drawing or learning more about owls, that is meaningful to them.

That’s where this how to draw an easy owl worksheet comes into play.

This How to Draw an Easy Owl activity is a directed drawing worksheet that can be used in owl activities in OT or in the classroom. Draw an owl with step by step directions to work on visual motor skills, direction following, pencil control, and more. This easy owl drawing activity uses basic shapes and pencil lines, so it’s a great owl drawing activity for kids!

how to draw an owl

How to Draw an Owl

Owl directed drawing activities like this one is a great way to help kids develop visual perceptual skills and visual motor skills. When kids follow the step-by-step directions on the drawing worksheet, they are developing several skill areas:

  • Visual perceptual skills (form constancy, visual discrimination, visual attention, visual closure, visual memory, sequential memory, visual spatial relations)
  • Pencil control
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Direction following
  • Working memory
  • Copying skills needed for handwriting

Directed drawing activities like this owl drawing easy directed drawing page are fun ways to help kids strengthen a variety of areas in a creative way!

The directed drawing sheet walks users through the steps to form an easy owl drawing. From a circle, to adding circle eye details, and the beak, and horns, this easy owl directed drawing activity is step-by-step and supports developmental skills.

Use this directed drawing sheet along with a woodland animals theme in therapy. Think: owl activities, deer crafts, mushrooms to hop along in obstacle courses and forest animal puzzles. There are so many fun ways to incorporate this directed drawing activity into therapy plans!

Free how to draw an Owl (Easy) Worksheet

If you are part of the OT Toolbox newsletter list, then you may have seen this free OT worksheet before. Be sure to subscribe by entering your email address into the button at the top of this page to access weekly free resources!

I wanted to create a how to draw an owl EASY worksheet for younger kids starting out with pencil control, but also older students who need to work on skills outlined above. In this easy owl drawing, kids can use simple pencil lines to make the cartoon owl drawing.

This owl drawing easy activity uses simple pencil strokes and only 4 steps to complete the owl cartoon. Kids that are moving from simple drawing lines like circles and curved lines can benefit from the four simple steps to add details to the owl drawing.

Want to grab a copy of this free how to draw an owl EASY worksheet?

Just enter your email address into the form below. You can print off the directed drawing sheet and use this to work on copying skills.

FREE How to Draw an Owl (EASY) worksheet

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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.

    What you Need to Know About a Thumb Wrap Grasp?

    thumb wrap grasp

    If you’ve worked with kids on handwriting skills, then you’ve probably seen a thumb wrap grasp at one time or another. Also known as a crossover grasp, a cross thumb grasp, a thumb wrap grasp, (or other descriptive names), a thumb wrap grasp is just that: a holding the pencil with the thumb wrapped around the pencil shaft. Here we are talking about what this type of pencil grasp looks like and what to do about it. Let’s discuss!

    Thumb wrap grasp information

    Thumb Wrap Grasp

    Kids can use some pretty interesting grasps on pencils.  You can see the thumb squashed up against the pencil, the pointer finger wrapped around the pencil, or the thumb wrapped around the fingers.

    Very often, the pencil grasp that a child is using is not one of stability and rather, is a demonstration of instability as weakness in the muscles of the hand is compensating during handwriting. This thumb wrap pencil grasp exercise is an easy one to put together and one that will help kids gain strength in the muscles that make up a functional grasp.  Read on to find out how to work the muscles of the hand to improve the “dreaded” thumb wrap grasp!

    I’ve had a few questions from readers about the thumb wrap grasp.  It seems like this pencil grasp is becoming more prominent in classrooms.

    So, what does a thumb wrap grasp look like?

    The thumb wrap grasp is what you see when you the end of the thumb is wrapped around the pointer finger.  The pencil is supported with the tip of the pointer finger, and supported by the middle finger. The end of the thumb wraps around the pencil to support and stabilize the pencil. With a thumb wrap grasp, typically mobility of the pencil strokes are limited by the thumbs positioning on the pencil.

    However, a thumb wrap grasp can be functional as well. While it’s not a completely horrible pencil grasp, it isn’t a great grasp for speed and efficiency in writing.

    Several anatomical components are involved with a thumb wrap grasp:

    • Opponens Pollicis
    • Flexor Pollicis Longus
    • Interphalnageal Joint (IP Joint) of the thumb
    • Intrinsic muscles

    An open thumb web space is a skill that can help to fix the thumb wrap grasp. Try these fine motor activities to promote an open thumb web space.

    A thumb wrap or thumb tuck grasp can be a part of developmental progress of pencil grasps, but might be one to address during this progression. Read more about pencil grasp development for more information.

    A thumb wrap grasp can also be called different names:

    • Thumb wrap grasp
    • Thumb tuck grasp (pencil is tucked under the pencil, but similar anatomical positioning exists and strengthening can be used to address a thumb tuck)
    • Crossover grasp
    • Cross thumb grasp

    A thumb wrap can also exist in combination with other grasp patterns:

    • Tripod grasp with thumb wrap
    • Lateral thumb wrap grasp
    • Quadrupod grasp with thumb wrap
    Pencil grasp exercise to work on an open web space and flexed thumb needed to remedy the thumb wrap grasp.

    Is the THumb Wrap Grasp Functional?

    *Note* I am one who takes pencil grasps in stride.  So, when I say “dreaded” thumb wrap grasp, I am not completely serious in that this grasp is dreadful or something to fear.  Many (many) of us have unique and very functional pencil grasps.  The issue is when a quirky grip on the pencil becomes a cause for illegibility, fatigue, joint strain, or other concern.  In those cases, a grasp should be addressed. Read more about functional pencil grasp and how a functional grasp can exist even if it doesn’t look like they typical tripod grasp.

    Remember that a functional pencil grasp is the one we want to see. A functional pencil grasp might look like various things. Every child may have different tendencies when it comes to “functional” 

    Functional means the student can hold the pencil, write with legible handwriting, and doesn’t have joints that are hyperextended or otherwise inefficient in joint positioning. Fatigue and endurance play a part in a functional pencil grasp.

    This resource on what therapists want parents to know about pencil grasp is a great read.

     



    Pencil grasp exercise to work on an open web space and flexed thumb needed to remedy the thumb wrap grasp.
     

    What is happening when a child uses the Thumb Wrap Grasp?

    Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

    The tip of the thumb bends over the pencil and pointer finger, providing stability to the grasp.  Instead of using the opposition muscle of the thumb to grasp the pencil, the child is using the adductor muscle.  The thumb wrap grasp provides stability but it does not allow for quick pencil movements.

    As a child is required to write faster to take notes, the legibility of their handwriting will be sacrificed. Rather than moving the pencil with the tips of their thumb and index finger, the child is manipulating pencil motions with their wrist and forearm.

    In order to improve this grasp, a child needs to strengthen the opposition muscle, Opponens Pollicis, along with Flexor Pollicis Longus to bend the tip of the thumb or the Interphalnageal Joint (IP Joint) of the thumb. Strengthening the intrinsic muscles along with addressing an open web space will improve IP flexion in pencil grasp. 

    Working on precision skills will also help with a thumb wrap grasp.

    Pencil grasp exercise to work on an open web space and flexed thumb needed to remedy the thumb wrap grasp.

     

    Exercise to Work on a Thumb Wrap Grasp

    Pencil grasp exercise to work on an open web space and flexed thumb needed to remedy the thumb wrap grasp.

    This is such an easy activity.  Use store bought Play Dough or homemade sensory dough.

    Press flower beads into the play dough with a bent thumb. Encourage your child to press the flowers into the dough using a their their thumb in a bent position on the edge of the flowers.  This is important, because it works the muscles needed to oppose with an open web space and flex the tip of the thumb.  This is the mobility needed to advance the pencil fluently.  These flower beads are perfect for this exercise because of the length of the flower that can press into the Play Dough.

    Pencil grasp exercise to work on an open web space and flexed thumb needed to remedy the thumb wrap grasp.

     

    Next, ask your child to pull out all of the flower beads by using the tips of their pointer finger and the tip of the thumb, while ensuring that your child maintains a slightly flexed (bent) thumb IP joint.

    Encourage learning and playful math by counting as your child pulls out the flowers.  If your kiddo is like my preschooler, those flower beads will be hidden pretty far into the play dough.  The search and find is a great overall hand exercise and a fun math activity as you add up the beads!

    ONE Simple Trick to Help Kids With Their Pencil Grasp

    SO? How can you use this info to help kids with their pencil grasp? Make them aware of that little bent thumb joint.  Point it out as they are doing the play dough activity and then again when they are holding a pencil.  Remind them of that bent knuckle when they write.  Too much for your kiddo?  Don’t fret. 
     
    Another tip is to use the pencil grip needed for a thumb wrap grasp. This blog post includes pencil grips for each type of grasp.

     

    Pencil Grasp Tricks and TIps

    Working on the underlying skills of a functional pencil grasp? Battling a thumb wrap grasp that slows down handwriting so much that the kiddo you are seeing on your caseload falls behind in writing speed? Know a child who has hyper-extended joints when holding the pencil?

    Here are some pencil grasp tricks that can help to improve functional grasp. These strategies can address pencil grasp issues such as thumb wrap, inefficient joint positioning, a closed thumb web space, poor separation of the sides of the hand, and other pencil grasp concerns.  

    Use this pencil grasp tricks to help kids improve pencil grasp when writing.
    human hands with pencil and erase rubber writting something

    Pencil Grasp Exercise

    • Try this trick: Ask the child to hold and manipulate a small item such as a kneadable eraser in the non-dominant (non-writing) hand while holding the pencil with the dominant hand. Ask them to manipulate the object with just the thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger. Sometimes that symmetrical movement makes a big difference!
    • This pencil grasp trick uses an item you probably already have in your therapy bag: a clothes pin!
    • This pencil grasp trick helps to work on thumb IP joint flexion…and requires only a marker.

    The pencil grasp exercise and tricks above will help with many kids that need to work on an open web space, not just the thumb wrap grasp.  Try it and let me know how it goes!

    MORE PENCIL GRASP HELP

    Working on a functional pencil grasp with your child or occupational therapy caseload? Need activities to improve pencil grasp that kids WANT to do? These games that improve pencil grasp through fine motor activities are activities that boost the skills kids need for pencil grasp and games that strengthen the hands. Working on pencil grip to make and efficient and functional pencil grasp can be as easy as adding a few fine motor games to your therapy toolbox!

    • 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?
    • Need help with carryover of pencil grasps?

    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.

    know about the skills that make up a functional pencil grasp. You’ll learn what’s going on behind the inefficient and just plain terrible pencil grasps you see everyday in the classroom, clinic, or home. Along with loads of information, you’ll gain quick, daily activities that you can do today with a kiddo you know and love. These are easy activities that use items you probably already have in your home right now.

    Besides learning and gaining a handful (pun intended) of fun ideas to make quick wins in pencil grasp work, you’ll gain:

    • 5 days of information related to pencil grasp, so you know how to help kids fix an immature pencil grasp.
    • Specific activities designed to build a functional pencil grasp.
    • Free printable handouts that you can use to share with your team or with a parent/fellow teachers.
    • You’ll get access to printable challenge sheets, and a few other fun surprises.
    • And, possibly the best of all, you’ll get access to a secret challengers Facebook group, where you can share wins, chat about all things pencil grasp, and join a community of other therapists, parents and teachers working on pencil grasp issues.

    Click here to join the Pencil Grasp Challenge.

    free pencil grasp challenge
    Pencil grasp exercise to work on an open web space and flexed thumb needed to remedy the thumb wrap grasp.

    More fine motor activities you will love:   

    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.

    The Handwriting Book is a comprehensive resource created by experienced pediatric OTs and PTs.

    The Handwriting Book covers everything you need to know about handwriting, guided by development and focused on function. This digital resource is is the ultimate resource for tips, strategies, suggestions, and information to support handwriting development in kids.

    The Handwriting Book breaks down the functional skill of handwriting into developmental areas. These include developmental progression of pre-writing strokes, fine motor skills, gross motor development, sensory considerations, and visual perceptual skills. Each section includes strategies and tips to improve these underlying areas.

    • Strategies to address letter and number formation and reversals
    • Ideas for combining handwriting and play
    • Activities to practice handwriting skills at home
    • Tips and strategies for the reluctant writer
    • Tips to improve pencil grip
    • Tips for sizing, spacing, and alignment with overall improved legibility

    Click here to grab your copy of The Handwriting Book today.

    Play Dough Activity for Fine Motor Skills

    playdough activities for fine motor skills

    Looking for a play dough activity (or many) that develop and strengthen fine motor skills? Here, you’ll find playdough activities for fine motor skills, and specifically play dough occupational therapy ideas to strengthen the hands, improve eye-hand coordination, and address underlying skills that kids so very need? You’ll find a lot of fine motor activities here on The OT Toolbox…today we’re sharing fine motor activities with play dough. Whether it’s homemade play dough or store bought, play dough is a great way to build motor skills needed for precision tasks like pencil grasp, scissor skills, precision in buttoning, zippering, or tying shoes? Fine motor play is a great way to build the skills kids need.

    playdough activities for fine motor skills

    occupational therapy fine motor skills

    In occupational therapy, fine motor skills are a huge area of consideration. OTs often address fine motor skills and the impact on play, self-care, and other functional skills. A play dough activity is one way to make strengthening fine motor skills fun!

    Here are ways to use a fun play dough activity to strengthen small motor skills…let’s use play dough to work those hands!

    Speaking of occupational therapy and fine motor skills, using other commonly found materials (play dough being one, there are other items that work little muscles of the hand in OT sessions…playing cards, craft pom poms, beads, and paper clips are some ideas.

    Catch up on the latest tools on The OT Toolbox.

    • These activities and paper clip activities are an easy way to address a variety of fine motor needs on the go.
    Use play dough to improve fine motor skills with these fine motor activities using play dough.

    Fine Motor Activities with Play DOugh

    Here’s the thing: play dough is an easy and effective means for building fine motor skills for preschoolers. The soft and squishy dough provides a tactile sensory challenge with proprioceptive sensory feedback. The bonus is the strengthening of the arches of the hands and precision of grasp.

    Fine motor activities like playing with playdough build many fine motor skill areas:

    • Precision- Precision occurs with development of grasp when child to use the pads of the index finger, middle finger, and thumb to manipulate objects with opposition.  
    • Hand strength
    • Open thumb web space
    • Separation of the sides of the hand
    • Finger isolation

    Here are all of the intricacies of fine motor skills. Read about the definitions of fine motor skills and how each skill area is needed for tasks like pencil grasp, buttons, and other fine motor tasks.

    Playing with play dough builds other skills as well:

    Build fine motor skills using play dough to improve coordination, dexterity, and grasp.

    playdough activities for fine motor skills

    We’ve covered all of the various ways play dough supports fine motor development. Now, let’s discover how to use play dough for fine motor skills.

    Let’s get to those playdough activities for fine motor skills! A tub of play dough has so many options for building fine motor strength and dexterity.

    • Roll balls of dough between the thumb and pointer/middle fingers.
    • Make a rainbow with rolls of different colors of play dough.
    • Use a play dough mat like this ice cream play dough mat and others on this site.
    • Make play dough snakes and cut with scissors
    • Roll a long rope of play dough and roll it into a cinnamon bun
    • Hide beads and have a race to find them
    • Create an obstacle course for the fingers with hurdles and jumps
    • Spread the play dough out into a pizza. Use scissors to cut it into slices
    • Make a small world with hills and mountains for small animal figures
    • Make a maze for a ping pong ball. Blow the ball through the maze with a straw
    • Make a small keyboard using balls of dough. Press on the play dough balls with one finger 
    • Make a play dough pie. Pinch the crust, create play dough berries.
    • Form letters using the play dough
    • Mix water into the play dough for a squishy, messy dough
    • Build structures using popsicle sticks and play dough. Add details with feathers scraps of paper, etc
    • Make play dough emoji faces 
    • Roll play dough into a sheet. Cut it with scissors.
    • Cut with cookie cutters
    • Press google eyes into play dough
    • Press buttons into playdough
    • Push pegs into play dough
    • Press straws into play dough to make circles
    • Press kitchen utensils into play dough
    • Press feathers into playdough
    • Nature sculptures- add leaves, pine cones, acorns, etc.
    • Make play dough muffins with muffin tin
    • Press rocks into play dough
    • Use candles or pipe cleaners and craft sticks to create playdough birthday cakes
    • Press craft sticks into play dough to make a STEM fine motor building set

    Several of the play dough activities above mentioned using scissors. Here is a resource on types of scissors to start with to address various fine motor needs.

    Printable Fine Motor Play Dough Activity

    One way to support fine motor skills with play dough is using a printable play dough mat. We have many play dough mats here on the site. These are also available in our Membership Club as well as in our fine motor kits.

    What would you add to this list of fine motor activities using play dough?

    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.

    Farm Small World Play Dough Activity

    farm small world

    If you have kids, you’ve probably been aware of the fascination with play dough…and this farm small world hits the mark! We created a farm play dough world using different colors of play dough and a few miniature farm animals to develop fine motor skills, sensory play, and so much more. This was a huge hit when my kids were smaller and one that I love to go back on and look at the pictures! This farm animal play dough idea is a great addition to a farm activities theme for therapy or the classroom!

    Farm small world play dough activity with a farm play dough idea

    Farm Small World

    Play dough farm animals are fun ways to support skills in kids…So, what is a farm small world and how can we use this play dough activity to support skill building in kids?

    First of all, a farm small world is just that: a miniature farm play activity on a small scale. For kids, play is all about pretend, and play is a powerful means to develop skills: motor skills, cognitive, sensory, etc.

    Occupational therapists involve play in therapy sessions to support development of skills through the child’s primary occupation, play!

    A farm small world is a play set-up with a farm theme to inspire skills in areas such as:

    • Fine motor work– Using the fingers to manipulate farm animal figures in play dough for strengthening and precision
    • Heavy work (proprioceptive input) through the hands– By pressing play dough into a small world surface and pressing farm animal figures into the play dough
    • Creativity– Imaginative play to create scenarios, and pretend play scenes using the farm play dough creations
    • Communication skills– Using receptive language and expressive language to communicate between farm animals or farmer, etc.
    • Self-awareness and body awareness– Moving the body through space to manipulate animals and farm figures
    • Crossing midline– Moving on the floor or table surface to reach across the small world farm
    • Floor play– Playing on the floor for heavy work. Also using principles of DIR Floor Play as a therapy modal
    • Visual Processing skills– Eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills, visual scanning, form constancy

    A DIY Farm play dough kit can develop so many skill areas!

    You can even use the play dough farm animals set along with our Farm Brain Breaks for whole-body therapy fun.

    Farm play dough small world with farm animal minifigures

    How to Make a Farm Play Dough Small WOrld

    To create a farm small world play space, you can gather a few materials:

    1. Play dough in various colors (brown, blue, and green)
    2. Farm figures: miniature farm animals, plastic fence, and small trucks or tractors if you have them
    3. A surface- We used a plastic frisbee for our farm small world, but you could use a plastic plate, a small bin, or a box.

    To make the farm playdough world, first press the play dough into the surface of the container. Use fingertips to press the brown, green, and blue play doh into the surface.

    Next, add miniature cows, horses, chicken, ducks, pigs, etc. Press the farm animals into the play dough to create animal footprints.

    Add farm details such as plastic fencing, miniature tractors, etc.

    Then play with the farm play dough kit!

    Little Guy loved playing with this little play dough set up.  We pulled out our farm animals and a few colors of play dough, and played farm!   Little Guy said we needed to get a couple of his cars too.  Because the animals needed to go places on his farm 🙂

    Use a tractor vehicle in a play dough farm small world activity.

      We explored footprints and tire impressions in the play dough.    

    Child pressing a toy tractor into a farm play dough activity, with tractor tracks in the play dough.

      The pigs had the mud to themselves…

    Farm play dough small world with miniature pigs in brown play dough

      …and all of the birds stayed in the “lake”.

    Play dough farm with chicken, ducks, and geese minifigures.

       And then all of the animals got hot and had to take a dip in the lake 🙂  

    Farm animals in play dough in a play dough small world

    This was a fun way to spend a little time playing with my Little Guy and exploring that imagination of his.  He is such a sweet little dude with big ideas and loves having FUN.  

    We thought it was pretty funny to make animal impressions in the play dough, too.  This is a great way to work on fine motor strength and visual motor skills such as visual closure.

    We played a little guessing game where one of us would cover our eyes and the other would make an imprint in the play dough.  Then the other person would guess what animal made the shape.  We did this for a long time…doing each animal.

    Press animal mini figures into play dough to guess the animal by shape.

    And then back to the farm we went.  And the animals took a few joy rides on their cars and trucks!  

    Goose toy on a farm tractor in a play dough small world farm activity

    So, what do you think? Does this farm small world play look like a fun idea or what? Farm small world animals and a few containers of play dough can support so many developmental areas!

    Looking for more fine motor and pretend play skill-builders? Check out our fine motor kits for themed OT work, including these:

    Free Farm themed Scissor Skills Sheets

    You’ll also love our Fine Motor Kits:

    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.

    Types of Scissors

    Types of scissors

    Did you know there are many different types of scissors to support development of scissor skills? It’s true! No matter the motor skill ability, there are different type of scissors that supports that ability or skill development. Cutting skills, like writing, are a foundational fine motor skill.  Just as you would spend time selecting the right pen/pencil, makeup, hair accessory, or pair of shoes, it is important to select the correct types of scissors.

    Types of scissors and why each different type is used

    Why do different types of scissors matter?  

    What do you look for when selecting that perfect pair of shoes?

    • Fit
    • Size
    • Price
    • Durability
    • Reputation, reviews
    • Quality
    • Functionality 

    Believe it or not, the same care can be placed in selecting the correct pair of scissors.  This is especially important if your learner has fine motor delays, hand weakness, difficulty with motor planning/coordination, small/large/irregular hands, or a diagnosis impacting their skills.

    Here are a few real life examples:

    • Lula is 4 years old with dwarfism.  Her hands are tiny.  Her parents would be very unlikely to buy her shoes that fit a grown man.  At her school, Lula was provided with regular sized scissors, thus struggling to learn this important skill.
    • James is 7 and has Down Syndrome.  Not only are his hands weak, but they are small.  While care is taken to select the right shoes and clothes for him, selecting the right scissors is just as important.
    • Marcy is 5 year old and has cerebral palsy, limiting her hand and arm movements.  She too should have extra consideration in the type of scissors that she uses.
    Different types of scissors

    What are the options for types of scissors?

    *Disclamer – Many of the following product recommendations are affiliate links from AmazonThis does not mean these are the best, just the easiest to find.  If you prefer another vendor, check out the examples below, then type them into your Google search bar.

    1. Small Sized scissors

    Beginner small-sized scissors- These scissors are all small in size.  They are not just for small hands.  These are great for learners with all types of fine motor issues, and hand weakness.

    • I like these toddler sized scissors because they are very small.  They are great for tiny hands, or learners with fine motor weakness.
    • This learning pack of scissors contains toddler sized scissors, as well as training scissors.  See below for more information about training scissors.
    • Sewing scissors are great because they are tiny, however, they are SHARP!  If you are going to use these, either dull the edges with a file, or be extra careful with your learners.
    • These Benbow Scissors, made by Mary Benbow are the gold standard of training scissors.  

    2. Training Scissors

    Training scissors should be used as a stepping stone to graduating to a higher level type of scissors, once they are mastered.  If training scissors are not mastered, your learner can use these indefinitely.

    • Self-opening scissors: many learners are able to pinch their fingers together long before they can open them during cutting at will. The key to motivation is success.  While using these scissors, the hands get valuable feedback of this cutting motion. These self opening scissors fit the price and durability category, but they do not fit the functionality definition. These blunt scissors, while inherently safer than sharp scissors, do not cut well, and cause more frustration than progress.
    • Spring-assist scissors- This pair of self opening scissors or these soft-grip scissors fit the function, and durability categories. They are more expensive, but cut better than safety scissors.  They are larger than the toddler scissors, so be sure that size is not a concern first
    • Double loop scissors – While I do not like that these are labeled “mother and child scissors” (because this is not inclusive), they work well.  People learn by doing.  Kinesthetic awareness is learning by moving.  These double loop scissors give your learner the feedback needed to practice and learn the cutting motion
    • Trialing two kinds of scissors- This scissor pack has double loop scissors and self opening scissors to trial different kinds of scissors with your learners, or progress forward as they develop skills.

    3. Scissors for Special Needs

    There are times when traditional scissors do not work and a specific adaptive scissor type is required. If your learner has weakness, a hand injury, tremors, increased/decreased muscle tone, or another long term condition, various scissors for special need areas are a good option. 

    Scissors in this category include loop scissors, block scissors, tabletop scissors, and electric scissors.

    For learners with small hands, or who are developing hand strength, I would recommend self opening scissors first, or using these adaptive scissor types for a very short period of time.

    Loop scissors – These are also described as self-opening scissors.  Some learners can not isolate their fingers enough to work traditional scissors, or have a sensory aversion to sticking their fingers into the little holes on the handles of the scissors. These spring open once depressed.  They do take a fair amount of strength to grip for a prolonged amount of time, so these may not be the best choice for your learners with low tone or decreased strength (unless of course you are looking for a tool to increase strength).  

    • While these mini loop scissors at 5.5 inches are smaller and take less grip strength, they also do not cut very fast, instead making small snips.
    • These larger loop scissors at 8 inches are a great choice for stronger hands.
    • These self opening loop type scissors are popular. They require less dexterity than traditional scissors, but they do not cut very well.  Because the mouth of the scissors does not open wide, they do not make large cuts.

    Scissors for Limited mobility –  For learners missing digits, or with limited grasp, such as amputees or quadruplegic patients, use of just one upper extremity, visual challenges, or other mobility and coordination concerns, these tabletop scissors can be fastened to a table with a clamp or velcro to assist in opening containers.  They are not great for intricate cutting, as they are labor intensive and can be frustrating, but more usable for self help skills. 

    Power option – for learners with limited mobility or fine motor dexterity, electric scissors can be a motivating option for cutting.  They take some strength and coordination, but can be helpful for learners who can not use traditional scissors. These types of scissors take some practice to get used to them.

    Left handed Scissors

    Similar to questions on left-handed writing, teachers and parents are forever inquiring about left handed scissors and how to help with left handed cutting. 

    What is the left handed scissors difference?

    There is definitely a difference between left-handed scissors and right-handed scissors. Right-handed scissors have the right blade positioned on top, whereas left-handed scissors have the left blade positioned on top. This prevents unnecessary bending and tearing of the paper. This difference between left and right handed scissors also allows each user to maintain a clear visual view of the cutting line.


    Scissor handles are often molded to accommodate either the left or right hand. When manufacturers claim they have created a pair of ambidextrous scissors, be aware that such a thing does not exist. They have simply created a “neutral” handle accessible for the both left and right hand. The blades are still right-hand oriented. Thus, left-handed users should not be given scissors marketed as being appropriate for both left-handers and right-handers.

    True left handed scissors have the cutting blade positioned on the top. Neutral scissors or scissors that can fit both left and right hands may cause additional frustrations.

    Read more on the term ambidextrous and what this means for functional tasks such as cutting with scissors.

    There are several types of scissors for lefty’s available, but what are the best left handed scissors?

    These basic lefty scissors are ideal.  If it wasn’t such a right handed world, I would recommend these to all lefties. 

    Being a lefty myself, I understand the benefit and fit of left handed scissors. The majority of scissors your learner will encounter will be right handed, so it is better to learn and adapt to traditional scissors. There are only a few left handed items that are necessary (can opener, ice cream scoop, binder, ladle, vegetable peeler.)

    Tips for Left handed cutting:

    • Use sharp scissors – this way the blade has less chance of just bending the paper instead of neatly slicing through it
    • Don right handed scissors upside down – for some reason putting the thumb in the fingers hole changes the blade position, and makes cutting easier. 
    • Lefties cut CLOCKWISE.  Righties cut COUNTERCLOCKWISE.  This is important.  If your learner cuts in the wrong direction, this leaves them without the ability to hold onto and turn the piece of paper that is being cut.  Try it!

    time to learn to cut

    Now that you have selected the right fit, durability, functionality, and quality of scissors for your learner, it is time to learn to cut!  The OT Toolbox has multiple posts and products available for practicing scissor skills.  There is a comprehensive scissor skills guide available also.

    The key to cutting skills

    • Thumb and middle finger in the scissor loops.  You can add ring finger into the loops if they are large.  Pointer finger stays out and points the way.  This adds to hand stability and opens the arches of the hand further.
    • Thumbs up!  The helper hand grips the object being cut, with their thumb facing up.  This gives the object being held greater stability, and ease of movement. All of the various types of scissors could have a sticker added as an additional adaptation to help with positioning.
    • How to hold scissors – check out this helpful post on the OT Toolbox
    • Steps of scissor skill development
    • Scissor Skills
    • Scissor Skills Crash Course

    Guide to Types of Scissors

    Want a printable guide to the various types of scissors? You are in luck. We have a one page printable guide that shows images of the different versions of scissors on the market. These are the different scissor types you might see in a therapists’ therapy bag!

    Now you can quickly share information on why each type of scissor might be used and determine which type of scissor to use based on the individual needs of the learner.

    To get your copy, just enter your email into the form below.

    This handout set is also available in our OT Toolbox Member’s Club.

    Current Membership Club members can log into your account and head to the dashboard toolbox labeled “Scissor Skills Downloads“. Print off the handouts without the need to enter an email address.

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

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

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

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

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    FREE Handout: Types of Scissors

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      a final note on selecting the correct types of scissors

      Pamper your learner with a great pair of scissors, just like you do when you purchase those amazing shoes.  Fit and function over price. Quality always wins.  Fiskars are the gold standard for traditional scissors, and the one type almost every therapy provider has in their OT bag of tricks.  They cut paper well and come in tons of sizes and designs. 

      So…what are the worst scissors?  Most therapists agree that those “safety scissors” that don’t cut anything except maybe playdough are absolutely the worst.  Save those for playdough, and upgrade when it comes to cutting anything else. 

      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.

      *The term, “learner” is used throughout this post for readability, however this information is relevant for students, patients, clients, children of all ages and stages, or whomever could benefit from these resources. The term “they” is used instead of he/she to be inclusive.

      Looking for tips, strategies, and activities to support development of scissor skills? Grab a copy of The Scissor Skills Book!

      The Scissor Skills Book breaks the functional skill of cutting with scissors into several developmental areas including:

      • Developmental progression of scissor use
      • Fine motor skill involvement
      • Gross motor development
      • Sensory considerations and visual perceptual skills

      Each section includes strategies and tips to improve these underlying areas.

      • Help for kids who struggle with cutting accurately
      • Creative tips to keep things interesting for kids who lose interest easily
      • Quick, practical strategies that can be put into action today!
      • Ideas for kids who cut too fast or too slow
      • Support for kids who can’t grasp scissors efficiently
      • Strategies for right-handed and left-handed children

      Click here to get your copy today.

      How to Use Graph Paper

      graph paper uses

      Do you know how to use graph paper to meet specific OT goal areas? We can use grid paper in occupational therapy sessions to develop many goal areas. Did you ever see a student using graphed paper in occupational therapy and wonder about the pre-gridded paper purpose in supporting goals? Not only is graph paper a type of adapted paper for some, it can be a tool too! There are so many different reasons to use this type of paper to support specific handwriting or visual perception needs. Here we are discussing using graph paper and why this type of therapy tool can be helpful.

      Graph paper uses in occupational therapy for handwriting and other areas.

      Graph Paper Purpose in OT

      Graph paper comes in many sizes!  Specific activities can be easily graded in difficulty just by making it easier when boxes are large and of course more challenging as boxes become smaller in size. 

      Graph paper can be used as a tool to support many areas of development:

      How to Use Graph Paper

      Try these paper activities in occupational therapy sessions or at home. Here are ideas on using graph paper to meet specific goal areas in OT or at home:

      Graph Paper for Visual Perception

      Tasks like forming letters the correct size, using margins, aligning lists or columns are all visual perceptual areas of handwriting. You can use grid paper to support these needs.

      Graph paper is great to use for math problems! Simply place one number in each box and line them up so numbers are easily read and there’s a spot for each number in your answer. Your math work just might be easier to do and it will for sure be easier to read.

      Graph paper for visual motor skills

      Related to the visual perception aspect is the contribution of motor skills. In order to copy shapes, copy and write words, recreate graphs, plot lines, etc. one needs visual motor skills.

      Graph paper can be used to address visual motor skills with these activities:

      • Create a plot diagram. Use a ruler to connect lines.
      • Copy shapes and designs using the grid blocks on the paper.
      • Form block letters with or without a model.
      • Cut shapes and trace the shape using the graph paper template.
      • Create symmetry drawings by folding the graph paper in half.
      • Create pencil control exercises to work on precision with pencil use.


      I love to use graph paper for imitating drawings. I will draw an odd shape or maybe even a specific item and ask a student to copy my drawing by counting and using the boxes to replicate my shape. Students can also draw their own shape and try to “stump” the therapist or other player.


      If the adult/other player is creative, s/he can label the boxes with letters and numbers across the top and side edges (kind of like a BINGO board) and the student is asked to fill in box A-1, or C-3, etc. to create a picture that will mysteriously become visible at the end. The one helping here must do a little homework on their own first to make sure the colored in boxes will actually create a picture.

      Draw shapes

      The student can also be instructed (verbally or with written cues) to draw shapes, lines, letters, etc. in certain boxes or at the intersection of certain lines (e.g. put a yellow circle in box A-1, or draw a tree at line F-7 or similar). 

      This helps to follow written instructions, draw a specific shape, and locate the correct space on the graph paper.  Be creative and make it fun!

      Graph paper Letter Size Activity-

      Finally, it would be an injustice to graph paper if I didn’t mention the use it can play in creating letter boxes for a box and dot handwriting task.  Your student may already be familiar with this through OT sessions. 

      Graph lines can be used to outline the space in which a letter sits, using one single box for lower case letters.  Upper case letters and lower case tall letters: (t, d, f, h, k, l, b) will need to include the box ON TOP to make it a one wide by a 2 tall defined space. 

      Lower case letters that are descending below the line, or tail letters (q, y, p, g, j) must include the box BELOW, making it also a one wide by 2 space, but the box on bottom goes below the line on which the letters are written. 

      Missing letter activities-

      Making up a “key” of words, or a game, have the student place the letters in the proper defined word space that has letter boxes outlined or maybe even just the word outlined.  This may be a fun way to practice spelling words. 

      Cutting activity-

      If nothing else, you can always use graph paper to practice cutting on the lines, creating a colored picture, making paper air planes, or crumpling into a ball to play a game.  Graph paper is one style of cutting paper with a graded resistance we talk about in our scissor skills crash course.

      I’m sure your student can think of many non-traditional things to do with it on his/her own!

      If you don’t have graph paper on hand, below are resources I have found which may be helpful.

      More handwriting tips

      The Handwriting Book is a comprehensive resource created by experienced pediatric OTs and PTs.

      The Handwriting Book covers everything you need to know about handwriting, guided by development and focused on function. This digital resource is is the ultimate resource for tips, strategies, suggestions, and information to support handwriting development in kids.

      The Handwriting Book breaks down the functional skill of handwriting into developmental areas. These include developmental progression of pre-writing strokes, fine motor skills, gross motor development, sensory considerations, and visual perceptual skills. Each section includes strategies and tips to improve these underlying areas.

      • Strategies to address letter and number formation and reversals
      • Ideas for combining handwriting and play
      • Activities to practice handwriting skills at home
      • Tips and strategies for the reluctant writer
      • Tips to improve pencil grip
      • Tips for sizing, spacing, and alignment with overall improved legibility

      Click here to grab your copy of The Handwriting Book today.

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

      Travel Bar Soap Case Fine Motor Kit

      Travel Bar Soap Case craft

      I love this Dollar Store therapy idea because it develops so many skills, making the materials a great addition to any occupational therapy bag. If you are looking for a Dollar Store craft that builds several areas (and can be used with a variety of levels of your caseload), then this animal soap holder craft is a great one to try! If you’ve used a soap holder travel item in your travels in the past, then you may even have all of the items you need to make a mini fine motor kit! Plus, it’s a great addition to a list of spider activities if you are using this idea around a theme.

      All you need is a plastic travel bar soap case and a few items to create a ton of fine motor skill-building!

      travel bar soap case THerapy Kit

      Looking for a fine motor craft idea that boosts all of the underlying skills kids need? This fine  motor craft is a soap holder animal and it adds opportunities for skills like fine motor strength, precision of fine motor skills, dexterity, coordination, visual motor skills, and many more therapy areas.

      The best part is, after kids make this fun fine motor craft, they have a fine motor toolkit that can be used again and again to address the motor skills they need!

      Let’s take a look at how to make a soap holder animal and use this fine motor craft idea to maximize the therapeutic benefits!

       

      This fine motor craft for kids is a soap holder animal craft that helps work on to build fine motor skills, strength, bilateral coordination, and other areas that may be addressed in occupational therapy

       

      Dollar Store Craft for Therapy

      All you need is a colorful soap holder and a few other materials from the Dollar Store to create your own soap container craft.

      Soap holder animals are great busy box kits which are made with simple materials and come in their own storage containers. They address creativity, visual perception, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, problem solving and fine motor skills.

      Being stored within themselves makes them easily portable allowing a therapist to toss one quickly into their therapy bag or cart.

      Kids can make this soap holder animal fine motor craft to work on fine motor skills and other areas they need for holding a pencil and in handwriting.

      Kids love soap holder animal crafts and therapists will find they make for a cool and engaging therapy activity. Soap holder busy box kits fit the bill for many pediatric therapists who travel from site to site.

      They are a cheap and easy fine motor craft to transport, are easy to store, and are fun to create with an engaging focus on child skill development.

      Therapists will find soap holder animal make for a great send home activity too! 

      Make a soap holder busy bag into a fine motor craft by turning it into a soap holder animal while working on fine motor skills and visual motor skills.

      Occupational Therapy Bag Item

      Filling a plastic soap dish with small materials is great for the traveling occupational therapist, because you can add this mini container to your occupational therapy bag, and opening and closing the container is part of the therapy processes to further develop fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, and other areas.

      Children love opening the boxes to see what’s inside and they are intrigued by what they are able to create with them. They love crafting animals and making them come to life. 

      Soap holder busy box kits allow for children to expand on their skills while also enjoying the high level of creativity that can be achieved. 

      With these soap holder creations, children experience an improved feeling of success and achievement having used their own skills to create something fun and entertaining.

      Many skill areas are hidden within the process of this fun activity.  Just the developmental benefits of bead stringing alone would be enough to make the activity worth using!  Bead stringing activities can help improve overall fine motor, visual perception, visual motor and cognitive skills. Functionally, bead stringing can help a child improve their pencil grasp and control for drawing, writing and coloring as well as improve their ability to manipulate fasteners on clothing. 

      This soap dish kit is actually a piece of pediatric therapy equipment you may not immediately think of when you think of occupational therapy toys, but it’s sure to be a big hit!

      Use beads and a travel soap holder to make a fine motor craft that builds skills kids need.

      Use the travel bar soap case craft to build skills

      The skills and target areas addressed with soap holder animal crafts and use of these fun busy box kits include:

      Bilateral coordination – The act of opening and closing the boxes, threading and un-threading the beads, and building legs or other appendages requires the child to use two hands together in a coordinated manner.

      Pincer grasp and finger strength – Pinching small beads for placement and threading them requires a thumb to index finger pinch pattern and small muscle strength to manipulate and place the bead.

      In-hand manipulation – Pinching small beads and turning them around within the fingers for placement requires coordination of the small hand and finger muscles working on shift and rotation movements.

      Eye-hand coordination – Threading and un-threading beads and building legs or other appendages requires the child’s eyes and hands to work together.

      Visual perception – Recalling the bead color pattern while searching for one specific bead color from a group of assorted beads requires visual memory, visual scanning and visual discrimination skills.

      Executive functioning – Deciding what type of creature the child wants to make and organizing and planning their approach while also determining what kind of pattern they want to use and where to place the appendages requires organization, planning and problem-solving skills.

      Use a travel bar soap case to make a fine motor kit for travel pediatric occupational therapy bags

      Graded Fine Motor Craft Kids Love

      Travel soap dish with lid are nice because you can fill the mini fine motor kit with any item that meets the needs of the child you are working with.

      Soap holder busy box kits can easily be downgraded or upgraded by matching the type of materials used to the needs and abilities of the child or by modifying the approach and the necessary skills required to complete the activity.

      A few considerations on adjusting this fine motor craft to meet the needs and skills of various children:

      1. Consider the use of larger beads vs. smaller beads. Determine if the bead hole diameter is small enough or large enough to meet or challenge the child’s skills.

      2. Use flexible string vs. pipe cleaners. (Be sure the string is flexible enough that the box lid can close once they are inserted and that beads do not easily fall off.)  Flexible string can provide a good challenge for some children.

      3. Keep pipe cleaners full length or cut in half to make the activity more challenging for appendage placement, manipulation, and orientation.

      4. Consider keeping the process simple by having the activity set-up for the child and then have them only string the beads.

      5. Have the child simply string beads at random vs. following a color pattern.

      6. Work on opening containers using the travel soap dish with lid.

      Work on fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, precision grasp and more with this fine motor craft to make a soap holder animal.

      How to Make a travel bar soap case craft

      Now that you know the total benefits and a few ways to grade the activity, here is what you need to create your very own soap holder animal using a travel bar soap case.

      First, gather your materials:

      Amazon affiliate links included below.

      Use a soap holder to make a fine motor craft into a soap holder animal craft that builds fine motor skills kids need.
      1. Place all of the materials in the travel bar soap case. It’s ready to go into your occupational therapy bag.
      2. When you are ready to use the travel bar soap case in therapy sessions, pull out the travel bar soap case filled with fine motor items. Kids can open the container and use the materials to thread beads or explore.
      3. Bend the pipe cleaners to make legs for a spider or wings for a butterfly. 
      4. Thread beads onto the pipe cleaners.
      5. Place the ends of the pipe cleaners onto the edge of the travel soap container and close the lid. 
      6. Decorate the top with googly eyes.

      They never get old as they may never be the same creation twice!

      Soap holder busy bead kits are easy to assemble for use as a therapy activity or home busy box. Take a short time to gather the materials and use it all year long to build a multitude of skills with children.

      Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.

      Let us know if you make this soap holder animal fine motor craft!

      Regina Allen

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

      Looking for more fun ways to develop fine motor skills? Grab one of our digital Fine Motor Kits!

      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:

      Homemade Colored Sand

      Color sand for sensory play

      Have you ever thought about making colored sand? It is possible to color sand, easily, and get the kids involved in the process, too. Here, we are covering how to color sand as a sensory play material for the sandbox, for art, and for homemade colored sand fun!

      We have been playing outside so much recently.  Our sandbox is right outside and the kids are in there daily. We added a little color to some of the sand this week and have been having fun with our colored sand!

      Color sand for a sensory play experience with many therapy benefits.

      Color Sand for Developing Skills

      Kids love to color sand, and the process is a fun motor and sensory activity to support development of a variety of skill areas, too:

      • Eye-hand coordination to pour and scoop the sand
      • Bilateral coordination to pour sand into a bag or container
      • Gross motor skills, heavy work, proprioception, and motor planning skills to shake the containers of sand and paint
      • Executive functioning skills to mix and color the sand
      • Tactile sensory play to manipulate the mixed textures of dry sand and wet paint.
      • Fine motor skills to pinch the crumbled dry clumps of colored sand
      using food coloring to make colored sand

      How to Color Sand

      We made a simple batch of colored sand very easily.  This simple recipe is a great activity for kids to make as a cognitive and direction-following activity. Read on for directions on how to make colored sand…

      Big Sister helped me with this and we had fun while the little kids were napping.   So how did we make our colored sand?  

      1. Scoop a little sand into plastic baggies.
      2. Add around 10-15 drops of food coloring.
      3. Seal the baggie and shake it up. (great for some gross motor play!!)  
      4. Let the sand dry and have fun playing.  

      We left our sand right in the open baggies and let it dry overnight.  If you wanted to play right away, you could spread the sand out on a tray and it would dry much sooner.

      Color sand for sensory play
      add food coloring to baggies of sand

      Color Sand Activities

      Once you have mixed a batch of colorful sand, you can use it in various sensory and motor activities.

      Make Color Sand Pictures

      So the next day, we spread the sand out on a tray and played!  She loves making pictures in the sand and telling stories (like Nina on Sprout!)  This was such a fun activity.  

      Practice Writing Letters with Colored Sand

      We spread out the sand onto a low tray and used it as a writing tray. My preschooler told me all kinds of stories, made words, and we practiced some lower case letter formation.

      Big Sister is knows how to make most lowercase letters and can copy all of the letters.  This is a great activity for letter formation and practicing handwriting.  

      Use Colored Sand for Pre-Writing Skills

      For kids that are still working on diagonals, crossed lines, and shapes, a sand sensory writing tray is a great tool to work on pre-writing skills. The tactile feedback offers muscle memory for forming lines and shapes.

      The sand adds a sensory aspect to letter formation. Using a large tray like this one adds whole arm movements which are perfect for the young child who is just learning letter formation.  I love the contrast that the white tray adds to the colored sand.  

      We played for a long time with this (again during Little Kid nap time).

      colored sand on tray for child to form letters

      Of course, when you have bags of colored sand, you have to mix the colors together to see what happens 🙂  

      Color sand for a sensory tray.

      Grade the colored sand activity for therapy

      How can you grade this activity for different aged children? There are many ways to color sand and use one batch with several ages. This is especially good for families with children at various ages. Consider the contamination aspect when using a batch of colored sand in the therapy setting.

      • Toddlers would love to explore the colors and sensation of the sand on their fingers.
      • Pre-writers can copy and trace shapes, zig-zag and intersecting lines
      • Early writers can trace upper case letters.
      • Older hand-writers can copy a word from a card positioned off to the side. 
      • Practice spelling words with school-aged kids.

          We saved our bags of colored sand and will be using them again.  Have you done any projects with colored sand? 

      Finally, after playing with your homemade colored sand, use the opportunity to add this tactile sensory play experience to your toolbox of handwashing activities!

      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.

      Working on other fine motor skills through play? Grab one of our Fine Motor Kits to get started!

      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: