Fall Fine Motor Worksheets

Fall fine motor worksheets

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

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

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

Fall Fine Motor Worksheets

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

Clipping clothes pins to paper develops several skill areas:

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

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

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

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

Free Fall Worksheets

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

Fall Fine Motor Clip Cards

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

    Fall Pumpkin Cutting Activities

    pumpkin cutting activities

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

    Pumpkin Cutting Activities for Fall themed occupational therapy activities.

    Fall Pumpkin Cutting Activity

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

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

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

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

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

    Extend the Pumpkin Cutting Activities

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

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

    Free Pumpkin Cutting Practice Worksheets

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

    Pumpkin Scissor Skills Worksheets

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

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

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

      Fall Leaves Slide Deck

      fall leaves slide deck for teletherapy

      If using a Fall leaves theme in therapy or the classroom is on your Fall to-do list, then this Fall Leaves slide deck is a resource you’ll want to access. I wanted to put together a free slide deck that uses the fun of Fall leaves to work on visual perceptual skills and handwriting. Add some of our favorite Fall Fine motor activities to make a Fall themed therapy session!

      Today’s Fall leaves slide deck is just one of the many free slides here on the website, and a great resource for both occupational therapy teletherapy and face-to-face therapy sessions.

      Free slide deck with a Fall leaves theme!

      Be sure to check out our Fall worksheets designed to build fine motor skills, our Fall leaves slide deck, and our free Fall Fine Motor Kit, all at the bottom of this post. The activities in this free booklet are a fun way to encourage fine motor and gross motor movement and development through fall activities. Scroll to the bottom of this blog post to grab your copy!

      You’ll also want to snag this Fall Leaves worksheet. It’s a tic tac toe activity board designed to help kids build skills through play and fine or gross motor activities using Fall leaves.

      Fall Leaves Slide Deck

      This fall leaves slide deck is a virtual therapy activity that you can use to work on visual perceptual skills. The fall leaves slide deck includes a Fall leaves I Spy game.

      Users can look for matching fall leaves and count the number of leaves that match. This I spy activity is powerful in developing visual skills such as visual scanning, visual attention, visual discrimination, figure ground, and form constancy.

      This is a great tool for both virtual therapy students and face-to-face activities:

      Virtual Therapy Sessions– Open the slide deck on google drive and students can type their answers right on the slide.

      Face-to-Face therapy sessions– open the slide deck to use as an outline for interventions. More students are copying written work from a smart screen in the classroom, so the visual shift from vertical to desk top is improtant to address. Print off the screen and work on the I spy sheet right at the desk, or taped to a wall, with movement actions between each type of leaf that the student finds. The options are limitless.

      Leaf Handwriting Activities

      The free slide deck continues with the fall leaves theme and offers handwriting challenges for users. This can be used to address a variety of needs: letter formation, line use, spacing, sizing, overall legibility, copying from a near source, copying from a distant source, and much more.

      Want to access this free therapy slide deck?

      Want this free slide deck with a leaves theme? Work on visual perceptual skills and handwriting. Get it here:

      Get a free “I Spy” and Write FALL LEAVES Slide Deck

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        Fall worksheets including printable fall sheets for scissor skills and visual motor skills.

        You’ll also love this 8 page packet of fall leaves cutting activities, fine motor pages, and more. This freebie has been added to the subscriber-only library. Join our email list for access.

        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.

        Paper Plate Activities

        Paper plate activities and paper plate crafts for occupational therapy

        In occupational therapy, paper plate activities are one of those OT intervention tools that are low-cost and can be used in a multitude of ways to support many different developmental skills. From paper plate interactive activities, to scissor activities, to fine motor development, paper plate crafts and sensory activities can be used to promote many skill areas in occupational therapy interventions or at home and in the classroom.

        Paper plate activities and paper plate crafts to develop skills like fine motor skills, social emotional skills, and gross motor skills.

        Paper Plate Activities

        I get really excited when I talk about the next subject – paper plate activities! Paper plate crafts and activities are so fun and often require very little materials with the end result being so wonderful for kids! 

        Paper plates can easily be used for arts and crafts, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, subject or topic learning, visual motor and perceptual skills, emotions and self-regulation as well as a myriad of games.

        Paper plates can be a go-to when you need a quick activity in any setting or on those cold, rainy days when you need something to keep the kids busy. They are a great motivator for kids and can help build important skills that a child needs to continue to learn and to grow. 

        Paper plates are a thrifty tool for therapy to build those motor and perceptual skills while providing a fun activity that any child will want to engage in during sessions. The use of paper plates in the classroom can be for exploring emotions and self-regulation, creating after reading a book and lots of subject and topic learning fun. Their use in the home can include arts and crafts, instrument making, and games that result in some fantastic family entertainment.

        Paper plates will give you the variety you need to help many kiddos on your caseload, in your classroom, or in your household. So, the next time you’re at the store, grab some plain or even festive paper plates and see what fun you can create with kids and you may find that you enjoy the fun too! 

        Use these paper plate crafts to work on scissor skills, hand strength, dexterity, eye-hand coordination, and more.

        Paper Plate Crafts

        In occupational therapy interventions, we often use crafts as a medium for developing skills (taking us back to our roots of our profession!) These paper plate crafts are great for developing fine motor skills, scissor skills, bilateral coordination, motor planning, executive functioning skills, and more.

        • Mini Beach– Work on hand strength, utensil use, and more to make a paper plate beach craft.
        • Paper Bowl Scarecrow Craft– Use this paper plate craft to work on fine motor skills like precision, dexterity, and mixed medium use. Add in emotional learning to make the scarecrow personalized. Kids can take this craft and add their own unique twists for a multi-sensory craft with open-ended results.
        • Paper Plate Snail Craft– Work on precision, in-hand manipulation, arch development, and other fine motor skills with this paper plate snail craft.
        • Paper Plate Cars This craft is great for addressing scissor skills.
        • Paper Plate Baseball Craft– Improve scissor skills with this paper plate baseball craft.
        • Paper Plate Bubble Gum Machine Craft– Work on eye-hand coordination skills.
        • Thanksgiving Feast Plate – Use this craft to work on functional tasks such as meal skills and utensil use, as well as hand strength.
        • Tin Foil Moon– This is a great craft for working on graded hand strength and bilateral coordination skills.

        Paper Plate Activities for Emotions and Self- Regulation

        The best thing about occupational therapy professionals is that they can use ANY material to work on a variety of skill areas. Use paper plates to address social emotional learning and self-regulation skills!

        Paper Plate Fine Motor Activities

        Paper plates are a great fine motor activity to support hand strengthening, scissor skills, bilateral coordination, and more.

        Paper Plate Gross Motor Activities

        Paper plates can be used in therapy to support gross motor skills, too.

        Paper Plate Learning Activities

        Use these activities to work on functional tasks and executive functioning skills needed in daily occupations such as learning, math, using a phone, telling time, name writing, and more.

        Paper Plate Auditory Processing with Paper Plate Instruments

        You can use paper plates to work on auditory processing, too.

        Paper Plate Visual Motor Activities

        Paper plates are a great tool to use in therapy to address visual motor skills.

        Now, what are you waiting for? Go grab some paper plates and pick an activity!!

        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!

        How to Draw an Owl Worksheet

        how to draw an owl

        Today, I have another fun free occupational therapy worksheet for you. This How to Draw an 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!

        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.

          Scoop, Pour, Transfer Activities

          scooping, pouring, transferring activities

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

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

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

          Scooping Activities for Toddlers

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

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

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

          Benefits of Scooping, Pouring, and Transfering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Other areas of fine motor development include

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Scooping and Pouring Activities

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

          Materials for this scooping and transferring activity include:

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

          This activity is very easy to set up.  

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

          Precautions for Pouring and Scooping Activities with Toddlers

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

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

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

          Development of Scooping and Pouring skills in Toddlers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Scooping and Pouring Preschool Activity

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

          Preschoolers can use scooping, pouring, and transferring activities for functional tasks and learning activities, but also development of motor skills needed for tool use like pencils, scissors, crayons, etc.

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

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

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

          Hand preference in Preschool

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

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

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

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

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

          Kindergarten Scooping, Pouring, and Transferring Activities

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

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

          Pouring, Scooping and Transferring Activities

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

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

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

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

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

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

          More fine motor activities you will love

          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.

          Tear Paper for Fine Motor Skills

          Tear paper fine motor activity

          Did you know you can tear paper to improve fine motor skills using materials you already have in your home? I have an incredibly easy fine motor activity to share: tearing paper! When kids tear paper, they are developing fine motor skills like grasp, hand strength, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, and more. So often, parents are looking for easy ways to help kids develop fine motor skills, and the very material that can improve all of these areas is found right in the home. Let’s break down tearing paper as an amazing fine motor activity for kids.

          Tear paper to build fine motor skills and to use in occupational therapy activities like improving coordination, visual motor skills, and more.

          Tear Paper for Fine Motor Skills

          Tearing paper a simple fine motor activity that requires only scrap paper and your hands. In fact, tearing paper actually helps children develop so many essential skills: hand strength, hand eye coordination, precision, refined movements, bilateral coordination…

          When a child tears a piece of paper, they improve hand strength and endurance in the small muscles in the hand.  These intrinsic muscles are important in so many fine motor skills, including those important to handwriting and coloring, managing buttons and zippers, manipulating pegs, and more.  

          When paper is torn, the hands assume a great tripod grasp which is effective and a mature grasp for writing and coloring.  The non-dominant hand is assisting in the tearing and encourages appropriate assistance for tasks like holding the paper while writing, and managing paper while cutting with scissors.  

          Just look at the skills kids develop with a tear paper activity:

          • Hand eye coordination
          • Bilateral coordination
          • Pinch strength
          • Arch development
          • Intrinsic hand strength
          • Separation of the sides of the hand
          • Open thumb web space
          • Shoulder and forearm stability
          • Precision and refined grasp
          • Proprioceptive input
          • Motor planning
          Tearing paper is an amazing fine motor activity for kids to build coordination and hand strength.

          Paper Tearing Activity

          In this paper tearing activity, we use recycled artwork to create Torn Paper Art that would look great on any gallery (or family dining room) wall!

          Tearing strips of paper is especially a great fine motor task.  To work those fine motor skills, start with some junk mail or recycled paper materials and practice tearing.

          Tear paper into strips- To tear a long sheet of paper, you need to grasp the paper with an effective, yet not too strong grasp.  Tear too fast, and the paper is torn diagonally and not into strips.

          Make slow tears in the paper- Tearing the paper slowly while focusing on strait torn lines really encourages a workout of those intrinsic muscles.  

          Tear different weights of paper- Paper comes in different thicknesses, or weights. Practicing tearing different thicknesses really hones in on precision skills. We tore an 9×11 piece of painted printer paper into long strips, lengthwise.  The thin paper isn’t too difficult to tear, but requires motor control. Thicker paper like cardstock or cardboard requires more strength to grip the paper. The thicker paper also requires a bit more strength to tear with accuracy and precision. Tearing paper that is thicker like cardstock, index cards, or construction paper adds heavy input through the hands. This proprioceptive input can be very calming and allow kids to regulate or focus while adding the sensory input they need.

          Tear paper into shapes– Use the paper to create simple shapes like a circle, square, etc. You can make this task easier by drawing pencil lines and ripping along the lines. This is a fantastic way to build motor planning skills. Or, work on visual perceptual skills and try ripping paper into shapes without a template.

          Vary the texture of the paper– You can add a sensory component and use different textures of paper. Try painted or colored paper. Try printed paper or a rough paper like last year’s paper calendar. Try ripping cardstock or textured crepe paper.

          Work on tearing paper fringes- Tearing into the edge of the page, and stopping at a certain point requires refined motor work. It’s easy to tear right across the page, but requires precision and coordination to stop tearing at a certain point. To grade this activity easier, try marking the stopping point with a pencil mark.

          tearing paper is a fine motor skills workout for kids.

          Types of paper to use in tearing paper activities

          There are many benefits to using different textures and types of paper. Let’s take a look at some of the possible types of paper. These are materials that you may already have in your home. Varying the paper type in torn paper activities can help to grade an activity, or make it easier or more difficult. These are great ways to vary the amount of fine motor strength and precision needed, thereby improving fine motor skills and visual motor skills.

          Types of paper to use in tearing paper activities:

          • Junk mail
          • Old phone books
          • Recycled newspapers
          • Magazines
          • Flyers from school or the community
          • Printer paper
          • Notebook paper
          • Cardboard
          • Recycled food boxes (cereal boxes, tissue boxes, etc.)
          • Paper bags
          • Tissue paper
          • Crepe paper
          • Toilet paper
          • Paper towels
          • Napkins
          • Paper plates
          • Recycled artwork
          • Used coloring books
          • Cardboard tubes (toilet paper tubes, paper towel rolls)
          • Old calendars
          This torn paper art is a paper tearing activity for kids that uses recycled artwork to build fine motor skills and motor control while tearing paper.

          Torn paper art  

          This ripped paper art is a craft that is so simple, yet such a fun way to create art while working on fine motor skills.  

          Tear paper into strips to work on fine motor skills with kids.

          You’ll need just a few materials for ripped paper art:

          • Paper (Any type or texture will do…old crafts, kids artwork, or paper that has been painted)
          • Glue
          • Paper to cardstock to use as a base
          • Your hands!

          We all have piles of kids’ artwork that is gorgeous…yet abundant.  You keep the ones that mean the most, but what do you do with those piles of painted paper, scribbled sheets, and crafty pages?  You sure can’t keep it all or your house will become covered in paper, paint, and glitter.  We used a great blue page to make our torn paper art.

          Making the torn paper art is very simple. It’s a process art activity that will look different no matter how many times you do the activity.

          How to create torn paper art:

          1. Select a variety of paper colors, materials, and textures.
          2. Tear a sheet into long strips.  This will become the sky of our artwork.
          3. Use white paper to create cloud shapes. Tear the paper into shapes.
          4. Use green cardstock or other material to create grass. Tear small strips into the paper but not through to the edge. Create a fringe with the paper.
          5. Glue the torn paper onto the base page in layers.
          6. Use your imagination and have fun!

          A few tips for creating torn paper art

          Have a variety of paper types, colors, and textures available. Some ideas include using junk mail, recycled artwork, cardstock, construction paper, printer paper, crepe paper, cardboard, cereal boxes, etc.

          Use your imagination. You can start with an idea to create or you can go with the flow of the art creation and start without an idea.

          If you have trouble coming up with an idea for your torn paper art, try some of these:

          • Create a torn paper landscape
          • Create an object from ripped paper textures
          • Make a torn paper abstract artwork
          • Copy real life objects and make representational art
          • Create a ripped paper still life
          • Use all one color of paper in different textures to make a monochromatic artwork
          • Make abstract portraits
          • Tear the paper into shapes to make geometric artwork
          • Explore art concepts such as size, shape, color, lines, form, space, texture
          • Explore multimedia: Incorporate printed paper, painted paper, glossy paper, cardboard in different textures, crayon colored paper, etc.
          Tear paper into strips of ripped paper to work on eye-hand coordination in an occupational therapy activity with recycled materials.
          Tearing paper builds fine motor skills and endurance in fine motor precision, making it a fine motor workout!
          Ripping paper is a fine motor activity for kids in occupational therapy or working on fine motor skills at home.

           More paper activities

          Tear and paste activity with blue paper and green cardstock to create a torn paper collage.

          We used one of the long strips of green cardstock to create grass by making small tears.  Be careful not to tear the whole way across the strip!  What a workout this is for those hand muscles.  

          Use recycled art like painted paper to create torn art collage while building fine motor skills in kids.

           Next glue the blue strips onto a background piece of paper.  Tear white scrap paper into cloud shapes.  They can be any shape, just like clouds in the sky!

          Tear paper to help kids strengthen fine motor skills.

           Grab a piece of yellow cardstock and create a sun.  This is another fabulous fine motor workout.  Tearing a circle-ish shape and creating small tears really works those muscles in the hands.

          Tearing paper activity for kids

           Glue the sun onto the sky and enjoy the art.  

          More paper activities that build skills:

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

          Coin Activities for Kids

          Coin Activities

          These coin activities are fun ways to develop fine motor skills AND functional money skills. The fact is that coin sorting activities and counting coins activities are functional…they are tasks kids need to develop for daily living skills. But, did you ever stop to think about the fine motor benefits of playing with coins? There are a handful! So, grab a handful of coins and use these coin activities to help kids with fine motor skill development!

          Coin activities for counting coins and sorting coins as an occupational therapy tool and a functional task for kids as they use money in IADLs.

          Coin Activities

          This is an older blog post on the website, but one that has so many fine motor activities using just coins. You’ll find coin sorting activities, coin rubbing art, money counting skills, and counting coin activities that build math and money skills as well as fine motor skills.

          But, I also wanted to go into detail on the various ways kids can use a stack of coins to develop skills needed for fine motor tasks.

          You may have seen a previous blog post detailing the use of plastic gold coins to develop fine motor skills…today’s article covers real coins you have in your purse or pocket, and can be used for teaching money to kindergarten or first grade students.

          Coin Sorting Activity

          A warm-up activity with sorting coins is a nice start to the therapy session because it can help to connect with the child and that they are engaged in the process, using a functional task that is needed for IADLs.

          Coin Sorting Activity #1

          A nice warm-up to an occupational therapy session is this coin sorting activity: Once we’ve said hello and I have checked in with how my client is doing its time to ‘show me the money’. Place a pile of coins on the desk, and spend some time sorting coins into piles. I ask the child to show me the coins that match and we discuss what pictures we can see on the coins, what numbers we can see and how much the coins are worth. Sorting coins is a great task to work on a variety of skills:

          • Visual discrimination
          • Form constancy
          • Size awareness
          • Visual closure
          • Visual figure-ground
          • Visual memory

          Coin Sorting Activity #2

          Once we have looked through all our coins I ask the children to place the coins in a pile in front of them and close their eyes. With their eyes closed they must pick a coin and show me which one they have collected.

          I have a list of corresponding whole body, gross motor exercises that they must perform depending on the coin they have selected. These exercises will target specific gross motor goals that we are working on.

          The gross motor skills addressed with these coin sorting exercises include:

          • Core stability
          • Shoulder stability
          • Balance
          • Bilateral coordination
          • Posture and positioning changes
          • Vestibular input
          • Proprioceptive input
          • Eye-hand coordination 

          Grab this handout by entering your email address into the form at the bottom of this blog post.

          Coin Activities for Fine Motor Skills

          Once we are all warmed up and feeling focused and attentive, we are ready to work on our fine motor skills. One aspect of money counting skills that can be difficult for children is the fine motor component. These coin activities take into consideration, all of the fine motor skills needed for counting and sorting coins.

          In-hand manipulation activities are a great way to boost fine motor skills needed for tasks like managing clothing fasteners, using a pencil when writing, manipulating items like coins or beads, and more. 

          The dexterity that is worked on when picking up coins from a flat surface is huge!  You need to pick up the edges with a tip-to-tip grasp and perform in-hand manipulation to “squirrel away” the coin into the palm of the hand.  In-hand manipulation is moving an object within the hand, without help from the other hand. This resource explains ways to work on in-hand manipulation with coins.

          Stacking coins is another great exercise.  We put the quarters into piles and counted out dollars.  But at the same time, we were working on translation of the coin from the palm of the hand to the tips of the fingers.   Translation is a type of in-hand manipulation that you use when moving an object from the finger tips to the palm and vice versa.  Stacking requires a lot of controlled dexterity!  

          Stack coins for a fine motor workout and to improve coin sorting skills.

          Why are these skills important? Kids need to refine their fine motor skills and in-hand manipulation in order to manipulate the pencil with slight movements while writing, erasing, and coloring.  They need the small motor control to manage fasteners like zippers, snaps, buttons, and shoe ties. 

          Using coins is a wonderful way to work on so many fine motor skills. You can target selective finger movements, tactile discrimination, in hand manipulation and finger strengthening. 

          For these fine motor coin counting activities, ask the children to count out a certain number of coins. I have been working with the number range between 10 and 20 depending on the child’s age. 

          1. Use plastic coins to build fine motor skills– This blog post includes a free printable handout detailing coin activities. This is a great home exercise program for parents.
          2. Count coins. Use these ideas to work on counting money and building fine motor skills.
          3. Use coins to work on patterns and skip counting, but also finger isolation skills. This blog post includes a free handout to use in skip counting with coins.
          4. Coin road – line the coins up in a row as quickly as you can using only your right hand. The children enjoy competing with me during this task. Once completed ask them to perform this activity again using their left hand. 
          5. Coin flip – line the coins up in a row. Using only one hand flip each coin over starting at one end and flipping each coin until you reach the end of the row. Work from left to right to reinforce directionality. Repeat with the other hand.
          6. Coin stack – see how high you can stack your coins. Keeping going (and counting) until your stack falls over.
          7. Coin grab – using one hand see how many coins you can pick up and keep safe in your hand. Don’t drop any coins while you are collecting. 
          8. Coin counting – this requires a piggy bank or a parent to assist with making a simple money counting receptacle from a cardboard box or recycled container. See you many coins you can count within a time limit. 
          9. Playdough and coins – this activity requires the addition of playdough. Where this is available encourage children to make impressions of their coins with playdough, roll small balls of playdough and build coin sandwiches or roll snakes of playdough and stand coins in the roll to represent the scales. 
          10. Dice and coins – If your child has a dice available try the following activities. Roll the dice and see if you can pick up the number of coins the dice lands on. Roll the dice and set out your coins in the same position as the dots on the dice (re-create the dice number pattern).
          Make coin rubbing art to work on learning coins, and building fine motor skills in kids.

          Coin rubbing art

          Coin rubbing art is a fine motor activity with huge benefits that you can add to your math art ideas. Rubbing the textures of coins onto paper builds so many fine motor skills: precision, bilateral coordination, pinch and grip strength, and eye-hand coordination skills.

          To make a coin rubbing, you’ll need a few materials:

          • A handful of coins
          • Paper
          • Crayons
          1. First place the coins on a table. Be sure to place some coins heads side up, and others tails side up. This helps children to identify both sides of the coin.
          2. Place a piece of paper over the coins.
          3. Use the side of a crayon to rub the texture of the coin through the paper. The image of the coin will show up on the paper.

          Work on holding the coin below the paper without moving the coin (bilateral coordination.

          Work on rubbing the crayon at the “just right” level of pressure (proprioceptive input)

          Read more about the benefits of coin rubbing art projects in this sight word crayon rubbing activity that we did.

          Coin Activities for Visual Perception

          An important part of money lesson plans is identifying different images on the coins, to enable counting and money use. But, visually discriminating between coin size and images can be very difficult for some children. Then consider that each coin has a different “heads” side and a different “tails” side. Then, consider that there are different versions of each coin. In the U.S. for example, each state has it’s own version of the quarter. This can make coin counting very difficult for children with visual perceptual skill challenges.

          Visual perception Coin sorting – this is a great way to work on visual discrimination. I ask my children to draw four or five circles on a piece of paper depending on the different denominations of the coins. Then we sort out pile of coins into the different denominations. Each circle is home to a certain denomination of coin.

          The coin whole body movement exercises listed in the form below is a fantastic way to work on discriminating between coin differences. Sometimes adding movement to learning is a game changer, and this multi-sensory learning activity is sure to be a hit.

          Coin activities for kids to improve fine motor skills, gross motor skills, pencil control, and visual discrimination.

          Teaching Money to Children and Pencil control  

          Finally, the following money activities incorporate the skill of pencil control. Right around kindergarten and first grade level, students are gaining more precision and dexterity with pencil control. Why not work on both coin sorting and coin identification AND pencil control for a doubled functional task?

          Coin decorating – Ask your child to write their name in large letters and then place coins over each letter to decorate their name. This can be done with individual letters or numbers if you are working on number formation or letter formations

          Coin race track – encourage your child to draw a race track. Use the coin as a car and demonstrate how to drive the car along the track using an individual finger. Each finger can have a turn to drive the car. 

          Coin rubbings – place a few coins on the table and place a piece of paper over the coins. Rub over the coin with a crayon or pencil to produce the impression of the coin on the page.

          Free coin exercises or learning money with multisensory learning.

          More Activities for a Money Lesson Plan

          Occupational therapists know the value of multisensory learning and this list of coin counting and sorting activities are sure to build knowledge and functional skills in children. For a whole-body, movement based resource on learning coins, grab this coin exercise handout.

          Free Coin Sorting Exercises

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            Be sure to wash hands after manipulating coins!  And as always, keep a close eye on your child when coins are part of fine motor play to ensure safety.

            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.