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! 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:

Ultimate Guide to PLAY DOUGH MATS

Play dough mats

After reading below about the benefits of playing with play dough mats, go grab some of them for FREE. When using these fun play dough mats, you will start helping children work on important developmental skills. In addition to all the fun children will have while using these mats (which is a win), they will be developing the necessary fine motor hand skills needed for everyday functional tasks such as; fastener manipulation, classroom tool use, grasp patterns, and overall dexterity/manipulation used in multiple fine motor tasks. Be sure to check out our resource on playdough activities for fine motor skills to support this area.

Play dough mats

The benefits of using play dough mats

Play dough is an AWESOME tool in itself! 

With all of the attractive colors, and the sensory feel of it, playdough can be very enticing to children. With a little preparation and care, play dough mats can be almost mess-free! If pieces fall off, just tap with another blob of dough, and it blends back in with little need for clean-up. (Just avoid the carpet!) While engaging with these super fun play dough mats, children can stay occupied for a lengthy time in either independent play, or cooperative play with a partner.  

You can easily use play dough mats during an OT session, as part of a home program, or as a fine motor station in the classroom. Each mat provides a theme to compliment any learning or skill building you might be looking for. After you read about all of the benefits, you’ll want to get all of these mats and start right away, but first let’s look at those specific skills they help develop. 

Play dough can easily be made or purchased, and used with play dough mats to focus on developing so many skills.

Many Benefits of play dough mats:

  • Hand and finger strengthening skills – squeeze, press, poke, and pinch the play dough while manipulating. Hand strength is a skill needed for most functional tasks. This helps build intrinsic hand musculature, and improves fine motor endurance.
  • Grasp skills – Tools such as plastic knives, scissors, cookie cutters, pizza cutters, and rolling pins, provide the opportunity to work on varied grasp patterns.
  • Bilateral integration skills – use both hands together in a coordinated manner to manipulate the play dough, therefore building bilateral coordination. They adjust the dough’s size, shape, and weight as needed for mat play. Bilateral coordination skills are needed for functional tasks like writing, dressing, cooking, and essentially all functional participation.
  • Manual dexterity skills – manipulate the putty to shape and pinch the dough to match the theme the of each mat. This gives them the opportunity to develop precise finger movements and thumb opposition.
  • Self-regulation skills – When children squeeze, press, poke, pinch and roll out the dough, they get deep proprioceptive input, which can be soothing and calming to a child. 
  • Eye-hand coordination skills – While creating and placing the shapes on the play dough mats to match the theme, learners are coordinating their hand and eye movements, working on important visual motor coordination skills. Eye hand coordination skills can impact functional participation.
  • Gross motor skills – Engaging with play dough works the larger muscles of the upper extremity (shoulder and arm) in order to push, pull, press, and roll the dough. Don’t forget, development occurs proximally to distally, so those larger muscles need engagement!
  • Creativity and play skills – Learners use their play dough creativity and imagination to add their own details to the mats, with their own play dough creations.  They can add small beads, sequins, buttons, or pegs in addition to their playdough shapes. 
  • Social skills – If mats are used with a partner, children will have the opportunity for cooperative and collaborative play They will be learning self-control and communication, coupled with pretend play, as they work to build items together on a single mat, or by trading mats and sharing details. These would make a great tool for social skill groups!
  • Visual perceptual skills – Play dough mats work on visual figure ground skills, as learners visually scan the boards to locate the circles for play dough ball size, location, and placement. Visual discrimination skills are needed to identify any size differences in the circles, and make the play dough balls larger or smaller as indicated. 
  • Olfactory skills – Adding a little scent, such as an essential oil to the play dough will provide children some olfactory input, making the experience more multi-sensory. 
  • Tactile skills – The addition of a little glitter, rice, or sand to the play dough, will provide children further tactile input. For some learners with tactile aversion, working with playdough may be difficult at first.

Play dough does not need to be store bought. Go to our link here for some of the Best Dough Recipes.

how to use play dough mats

How to Use Play Dough Mats

Using play dough mats is pretty self explanatory. Kids love using the fun and engaging play activities and often times don’t realize they are developing skills at the same time. These steps will help with using your play dough mats in therapy, the classroom for a fine motor brain break, or in the home for a play activity:

1. You’ll need to print off the play dough mat that works for your needs. You can find different printable playdough mats for different themes.

2. Laminate the page, or slide it into a page protector sheet.

2. Select play dough, either home made or store bought. Select play dough consistency and resistance based on the individual’s needs.

3. Consider how to adapt the activity based on the needs of the individual. Some considerations include thinking about fine motor skills, bilateral coordination needs, visual motor needs, or sensory needs.

4. Position play dough mats and play dough to meet the needs and areas of development for the individual.

5. Work on opening and closing the play dough container if this is an area of concern (it’s a great functional activity!)

how to use play dough mats for occupational therapy

Adapting Play Dough Mats

Play dough mats can be used in occupational therapy to develop skills and work on goal areas through play. They can also be used to support needs and integrate adaptations in play for practice.

Play dough mats are a fun way to play and build skills at home, too. They can be used in the classroom for a brain break, a sensory break, or a tool to build fine motor skills with a classroom theme.

How can you adapt playdough mats for specific skill adaptations in OT sessions? There are so many ways…

Motor Skill Needs- For individuals struggling with motor skills, you can tape the page protector sheet to the table surface. Another idea is to use sticky tack on the back of the page protector. This can secure the play dough mat to the table and limit it’s movement during play.

Another motor skill strategy is to use a play dough mat with larger areas or smaller areas for the play dough. This can require more or less small motor movements, and can offer more or less opportunities for precision work.

Bilateral coordination needs- Encourage bilateral coordination by asking the user to hold the play dough mat on the table. This is a great way to encourage paper positioning during writing tasks, too.

Sensory needs- Play dough consistency will provide a varied tactile experience such as, sticky, slippery, firm, and partially dry. Much like different grades of thera-putty, different play dough recipes can be used to build fine motor skills or offer more or less heavy work through the hands.

Some play dough to meet tactile preferences and tactile challenges include:

Some play dough to meet tactile preferences and tactile challenges include:

Regulation needs- Building on the sensory aspect, you can offer movement-based heavy work through the hands and upper body by offering less resistant play dough (more of a silky and fluid feel to the play dough consistency) or you can offer more heavy work using a heavier grade to the resistance.

Visual needs- For users with visual processing needs, there are ways to adapt the play dough mats. Try outlining the areas where play dough is placed for a darker visual cue by using a dark marker. You can then slide the sheet into a sheet protector and play from there.

Core strength/Stability/Visual Gaze- For some, maintaining an upright posture is difficult. You can easily position play dough mats on a slant board, easel, or vertical surface using sticky tack, tape, magnets, etc. This positioning strategy can be used to either support positioning and visual gaze needs to to challenge these areas to reach a “just right” level in therapy sessions.

Free Printable Play Dough Mats

Each of the free play dough mats below can be printed off and used over and over again. A few tips for using play dough mats in therapy or in the home or classroom:

Space Play Dough Mat | gives learners the opportunity to strengthen their hands while developing essential skills that are needed for pencil writing, as well as the dexterity and precision skills that are needed for many daily, fine motor tasks. The simple thing about this outer space mat, is that it works on a specific set of muscles in the hand. 

Astronaut Play Dough Mat | can be used as part of space theme, or a solo activity. Ask your learner to pull off a small piece of play dough and roll it between the fingers and thumb of one hand. It’s important to use just that one hand as it’s part of the challenge! Doing this hand activity will help build hand strength, dexterity, coordination, and endurance of the smaller muscles of the hand and fingers. 

Play Dough City | complements any geography lesson as children fill in the circles of the city sky, while helping them to build their fine motor skills and endurance, which are needed for tasks like writing/coloring, pencil control for forming letters, functional pencil grasp, manipulation of clothing fasteners, opening/closing containers, and so much more. This cute mat can be used along with any other city activities including books, travel, and anything about city life.

Ice Cream Play Dough Mat | create small balls of play dough that fit on ice cream images, while working on hand strength and other motoric skills needed for pencil grasp, endurance for coloring, accuracy with scissors, and dexterity for manipulation of buttons, zippers, and coins. This mat can be a great take home mat for use over the summer break. Be sure to include instructions on what you want the child to do!

Toy Theme Play Dough Mat | helps children use their fingertip and thumb to roll a small ball of play dough, placing and pressing the dough onto the circles on the mat. They need just a small piece of dough to make the ball small enough to fit into the circles. This is a great activity for developing and defining the arches of the hand, strengthening the intrinsic musculature, and boosting visual perceptual skills too! This toy theme mat builds on the fundamental “job” that kids have, which is play! Use this themed mat during down time, or a rainy day, to add a little productive playtime.

Play Dough Bird Mat | gives kiddos a hand workout, while they create small balls of dough rolled with their fingers, to match the circle sizes on the mat. There are various sizes to challenge the child’s precision and dexterity. Children can count the birds and match the colors of the birds too.  Another way to use this mat is to write numbers or letters in the circles in random order and then have the child scan the mat to challenge their visual perceptual skills.

Roll and Write Play Dough Mat Bundle | all about helping kids warm-up their hands prior to handwriting. It makes handwriting more fun when using one of these 7 themed play dough mats. Children warm-up using dough, then work on letter formation, words, and sentences. 

These printable play dough mats include a themed play dough area plus a writing area. Use the play dough as a fine motor warm up and then move to the handwriting aspect.

Numbers 1-20 Sky/Ground Play Mats | helps children to work on 1-20 number formation, provides sensory input, encourages motor planning, and spatial relations. 

A-Z Sky/Ground Play Mats | work on upper case and lower case A-Z letter formation, provides sensory input, encourages motor planning, and spatial relations. 

Intrinsic Muscle Strengthening Play Dough Mat– This simple play dough mat limits the visual background and offers different sizes of circles. Users can create small balls of play dough to build intrinsic hand strength.

All of the free play dough mats are available in our Member’s Club. There, you can just click and download the play dough mats!

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

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

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

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

Join the Member’s Club today!

A final note on play dough mats:

Do you want to use any of the play dough mats multiple times? Simply laminate them, or place in a sheet protector so children can use them repeatedly, any time they want. Play dough mats are a fun and engaging way for young children to work on problem-solving, pretend play, pre-academic skills, and other developmental functions. They don’t even know they are doing it, as they are having so much FUN!

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!

Note: Only use play dough with the appropriate aged children. take sensible precautions with small or differently abled children, as play dough and small manipulatives can be a choking hazard. Adult supervision should be provided. 

Pincer Grasp Activities

pincer grasp activities

Pincer grasp and neat pincer grasp are precision fine motor skills that develop when babies start to pick up cereal in self-feeding.  The developmental skill is essential for development of fine motor skills and manipulation of toys and items in play and discovery.  These neat pincer grasp activities are creative ways that can help kids develop the small motor skill area.


Pincer Grasp

 

Neat pincer grasp activities for kids to develop dexterity and fine motor skills.



Neat Pincer Grasp Activities

Neat pincer grasp uses the tips of the thumb and pointer finger to stabilize objects.  When using a pincer grasp, children use the pads of the thumb and finger to stabilize the object.  

Pincer grasp develops around 9-12 months of age.  Neat pincer grasp develops between 12-18 months and is a much finer skill.

What is Neat Pincer Grasp?

Neat pincer grasp is used to pick up very small items such as perler beads, a thread from a surface, or a needle.  You might see the tip-to-tip grasp to pick up a sequin or fuzz from clothing.


Think about the “ok” sign with the thumb and pointer finger touching and a nice round “O” in the thumb web space.  That tip-to-tip pinch is neat pincer grasp.


If neat pincer grasp is not developed, kids can potentially present with less thumb IP joint flexion and difficulty opening the thumb web space when manipulating very small items.  This can lead to fumbling and decreased dexterity during fine motor tasks.


This post contains affiliate links.


Ways to build pincer grasp:



Pick up sequins.
Pick up toothpicks.
Stick embroidery thread to contact paper.  Then pick up back up.
Peel tape.  Try this process art activity to stick and peel paint to address neat pincer grasp for fine motor skills.
Pick up and peel stickers.
Pick up and use very small beads like these 2 mm. glass beads in crafts.
Make crafts with fishing line.
Create string art.
Try peeling tape in a group activity.
Pick up small pasta in a sensory play activity.
Pick up and manipulate pasta in a fine motor color match activity with play dough.
Thread feathers.
Pick up grass seed to work on letter formation. (Grass seed is very small!)
Play with clothes pins to work on grasp.
Drop thread into a sensory bottle.

 

Neat pincer grasp activities for kids to develop dexterity and fine motor skills.



More fine motor skills you will love to explore:

 

 Pincer grasp fine motor activity
 
 

 

Neat Pincer Grasp Fine Motor Activity Buttoning Tips and Tricks https://www.theottoolbox.com/2015/11/benefits-of-playing-with-stickers-occupational-therapy.html
 
 
 
 


In the Fine Motor Kits here on our website, you’ll find many precision activities that support development of pincer grasp. Specifically, there are tearing activities, crumbling activities, pinch activities, and other hand strengthening activities using themed fine motor activities.

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.

Occupational Therapy Fine Motor Game

occupational therapy fine motor game

Today, we’ve got a fun occupational therapy fine motor game up for grabs in our series on OT month free downloads. In case you missed the memo, April is occupational therapy month!  An entire month dedicated to you, the amazing occupational therapist. 

Be sure to grab the OT Match It game here,

the occupational therapy word search here,

and the occupational therapy coloring pages here.

Ready to add a new OT themed PDF tool to your toolbox?

Free PDF- Occupational therapy fine motor game for precision and dexterity skills.

Occupational Therapy Fine Motor Game

What makes us amazing?

We focus on the most important skills.  Physical therapists might teach people to walk, but I would like to be able to put clothes on if I am going for a walk, or open the refrigerator once I get where I am going!  Speech therapists work on speaking and language, but who am I going to talk to if I can’t make friends? 

Occupational Therapists (OTs) often get overlooked because people have no idea what we do.  What we do makes the MOST impact on people’s lives. Use this month to advocate for the OT profession. Use tools found on the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) website, or highlighted here at the OT Toolbox. The OT Toolbox is rolling out several great activities such as this Occupational Therapy Fine Motor Game to teach others what we do.  

The occupational therapy fine motor game is more than just a fun game. It is a tool to work on several skills, while providing a conversation starter to explain what we do, and how we do it.

WHAT SKILLS DOES THE OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY FINE MOTOR GAME BUILD?

  • Hand strength and dexterity – picking up and placing the beads one at a time builds coordination and the intrinsic muscles of the hands. Rolling the dice builds dexterity also
  • Visual motor skills –Combining what is seen visually and what is done motorically
  • Visual Perception – Developing figure ground to see where one item starts and finishes, scanning to follow the path, visual sequencing to follow the pattern, and visual memory to remember the number on the dice while counting the items
  • Proprioception – feedback from the muscles and joints to roll the dice, and grasp/release the beads onto the correct squares
  • Counting/Learning Numbers – Count the number on the dice to understand number concepts in addition to picking up and placing the correct number of beads
  • Executive Function – Following directions, task completion, orienting to details, multi-tasking, attending to task, and impulse control can be addressed using this occupational therapy fine motor game
  • Coloring – if you choose to have your students color the page first, this builds visual motor skills, along with neatness, accuracy, and attention to details.
  • Bilateral coordination – remembering to use their “helper hand” to hold the paper while playing.  Using one hand for a dominant hand instead of switching back and forth, is encouraged once a child is in grade school, or demonstrates a significant strength in one or the other.
  • Strength – core strength, shoulder and wrist stability, head control, balance, and hand strength are all needed for upright sitting posture and writing tasks.

How to Use this OT fine motor game in therapy sessions

This game not only develops the underlying skills mentioned above, but there are so many ways to grade this activity and to use it to work on the level that the child or individual is at to challenge and develop skills.

Other tips and tricks to play the occupational therapy fine motor game:

  • Lowest level learners can use larger items than beads such as pompoms, coins, buttons, or marshmallows
  • Middle level learners can write the words they see on the game board
  • Higher level learners can write an idea about the therapy tools in the game. This turns into a multilevel activity. They can also draw about their ideas, or copy the designs.
  • Laminate the page for reusability. This saves on resources, and many learners love to write with markers! Note: some children love to use wipe off sheets, while others become upset that they can not take their work with them.
  • Make this part of a larger lesson plan including gross motor, sensory, social, executive function, or other fine motor skills
  • Vary the size of the items to be picked up.  Swap out the dice for a spinner for a different fine motor experience
  • Talk about the items on the board, describe their characteristics, and give context clues to help your learner understand why they help students learn
  • Two students can play against each other in a head to head competition. This adds a social element to game play
  • More or less prompting may be needed to grade the activity to make it easier or harder.
  • More advanced learners can work on social skills by teaching beginners to play
  • Learners can explore other games they could make using this activity 

Occupational therapy, especially with younger learners, is all about play.  That is the occupation of a child. 

Use activities like the occupational therapy fine motor game, to build a conversation about how the tools we use help other people learn. 

Observations to make with this OT fine motor game PDF

While there are many skills being addressed with a single game like this one, we’ll cover the example of using the OT fine motor game to focus on the development of in-hand manipulation skills. Let’s go over some of the observations we can make while playing this fine motor game with a child.

Because this is more than just a game, think about what you are looking for while building in-hand manipulation:

In-hand manipulation observations:

  • Can your student pick up the beads one at a time without using a raking grasp or sliding them off of the table?
  • How many items can your student hold at once without dropping some?
  • Can your student move the items from the palm of their hand to their finger tips to get them out, or do they drop the beads by opening their fingers?
  • How many times do you need to repeat the directions so your student can follow them?
  • How many reminders does your student need while doing this activity?
  • What is your student’s frustration tolerance when they have to start over?
  • Is there any cheating or cutting corners going on? There always is.

All of these game observations can be monitored and documented to monitory for progression of skills.

Occupational Therapy is a growing profession.  Unfortunately there are more and more people needing our services every day. The good news is we are here to help people gain or regain vital skills for independence.

Free OT Fine Motor Game

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

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

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

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

Join the Member’s Club today!

Free Occupational Therapy Fine Motor Game

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    This month the OT Toolbox is highlighting occupational therapy month by providing insight into what occupational therapists do, along with offering FREE resources to add to your lesson plans.  Keep an eye out for more posts from this series, including:

    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.

    Occupational Therapy for Down Syndrome

    Occupational therapy interventions for down syndrome

    Occupational therapists (OT practitioners) provide skilled services to help many different people, with or without a diagnosis. In this article, we will talk about Down syndrome, more specifically common interventions and strategies when providing occupational therapy for Down syndrome.

    Occupational therapy interventions for children with Down syndrome.

    Occupational Therapy For Down Syndrome

    Occupational therapy practitioners work with many diagnoses. In pediatrics, the diagnosis of Down Syndrome may be seen in early intervention services, in school-based therapy, or in the outpatient setting.

    An occupational therapist will perform an evaluation and develop an individualized plan of action designed to meet specific needs. Occupational therapy interventions may be related to areas such as:

    • Oral motor concerns impacting feeding
    • Positioning and feeding techniques
    • Physical motor skills including gross and fine motor skills
    • Achievement of motor milestones including rolling, sitting, position changes, and use of the arms and legs, etc.
    • Facilitation of self-care skills
    • Refinement of fine motor skills
    • Sensory needs
    • Social or emotional needs
    • Self-regulation needs

    This list may not include every area addressed in occupational therapy. Let’s go into more detail about OT and the individual with Down syndrome.

    First, let’s cover the diagnosis of Down syndrome.

    WHAT IS DOWN SYNDROME?

    Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by additional copy of chromosome 21. In regard to functional performance, the typical characteristics of Down syndrome include:

    • Low muscle tone
    • Relatively short limbs, including hands, fingers, and thumbs
    • Mild to moderate intellectual disability
    • Developmental delays

    People with Down syndrome are often active members in their communities, able to participate well in school and social events, and can raise a family. Each case is unique, and health professionals such as occupational therapists are available to help improve functional independence along the way. 

    what is Occupational therapy for Down syndrome?

    In order to fully understand the involvement between the occupational therapist and person with Down syndrome, it is critical to learn the role of the OT.

    During the initial evaluation of a person with Down syndrome, the occupational therapist will assess many different skills to determine the specific needs. They will try to answer broad questions like, “How independent is the person with activities like eating, dressing, and playing?”, and specific questions, such as, “What types of grasps do they use?”.

    Developmentally appropriate assessments will be used to measure fine and gross motor skills, cognition, and sensory regulation. 

    down syndrome: Fine Motor Skills

    The whole body is responsible for strong fine motor skills; starting with core then shoulder strength, moving down toward strength and mobility in the hands and fingers.

    The general decrease in muscle tone and joint stability that is common in those diagnosed with Down syndrome, makes the development of fine motor skills more challenging. 

    Physical features impacting fine motor skills

    The hands of a child with Down syndrome have a typical pattern of development, including shorter hands, fingers, and thumb than the average child, that can further decrease dexterity.

    The palms may also lack the curvature that is required for skills like thumb opposition. We call these the arches of the hand, and they are useful during any skill that requires the hand to move around an object, big such as a water glass, or small like buttons. 

    Because of these physical features, coupled with general muscle weakness and loose joints, occupational therapy for Down syndrome will likely offer activities to increase fine motor skills.

    Gympanzees has a great article on developing fine motor skills for children with Down Syndrome.

    Dexterity and Down Syndrome

    • Use small items, like beads/pompoms/Cheerios/buttons, to pinch, place, string, glue down, or count.
    • You can increase the challenge by encouraging holding onto multiple items in one hand, but only placing one at a time – much like we hold a set of coins and use a singular hand to find and place the correct coin. This is referred to as in-hand manipulation

    Joint Protection and down syndrome

    • Braces or splints may be used to help support the joints in a functional position, while the child continues to build strength. 

    Arm Strength and down syndrome

    • Weight bearing through the arms is a great way to build shoulder strength for fine motor development – try animal walks, wheelbarrow walking, or crawling through tunnels!

    Hand Strength and down syndrome

    • Get those fingers moving by shaping playdough or putty; roll, squeeze, poke, smash, and pinch it! Increase the challenge as the skills develop by selecting firmer putty or by adding additional steps to the activity. 
    • The OT Toolbox has great resources for overall fine motor hand development

    Gross Motor Skills for down syndrome diagnosis

    Just like fine motor skills, the base of gross motor skills is the core. A person needs that proximal stability first, before they can build movement skills.

    Increasing the core strength leads to improved balance, coordination and dynamic movement control. These areas are addressed as they impact functional participation in feeding, self-care, learning in the school setting, and participation in functional tasks.

    Individuals with Down syndrome tend to have a more challenging time with strength and motor planning to move from one posture to the next due to low tone.

    For example, moving from a seated position on the floor to standing. The sequence should be: seated on the bottom, to a 4-point crawl position, to kneeling, to a single leg kneels, then standing. This sequence and combination of movements may pose an extra challenge due to limited mobility, strength, and muscle tone.

    Below are some ways to improve occupational therapy for Down syndrome can improve gross motor skills. 

    Core Strength and down syndrome

    • There are so many play-based activities that strengthen the core. Almost any activity can be done in prone (on the tummy), which can improve core strength and offer some weight-bearing in the arms at the same time
    • When you think core strength, think balance. Use balance beams, one-foot stand, wobbly surfaces, etc. Just make sure to prioritize safety and comfort. 

    Positional Changes and down syndrome

    • The more change, the better. Set up a game or obstacle course that encourages movement up/down, side-to-side, rolling, or scooting.
    • The most important goal is to get that body moving!

    down syndrome and Sensory Regulation 

    Are children with Down syndrome more or less likely to experience sensory differences? Yes. This is the reason occupational therapy for Down syndrome and sensory regulation will be an important part of the treatment process.

    There is one clear reason why people with a diagnosis of Down syndrome may experience more sensory processing difficulties – low muscle tone again. Individuals with low muscle tone may have a harder time processing proprioceptive input. This is the sense that our muscles and joints pick up to tell the body where they are in space. 

    Because of this decreased proprioceptive input, people with Down syndrome frequently need more input in order to grade the force of their movements.

    For example, they may experience difficulties in choosing how hard or how soft their movements should be. They may knock something down by pushing too hard, or drop something by mistake by not holding tight enough. 

    This can also skew how an individual with Down syndrome eats food. They may not feel the food in their mouth very well until it is full, and start over-eating or pocketing food in their cheeks. People diagnosed with Down syndrome often grind their teeth as a way to get more input and stability through the jaw.

    • Increased proprioceptive input
      • Weighted items: vests, lap pads, blankets 
      • Exercise, weight bearing, jumping 

    In addition to low tone, another common comorbidity to Down syndrome is hearing loss. This is important to address as a sensory need because an individual may react strongly or under react to auditory stimuli. Sensory tools should be trialed for a few weeks to see what will work best to regulate the child’s sensory system. These tools should be used intermittently throughout the day, and never forced on a child. In order to be effective, they should be voluntary and not be used as a reward or punishment. 

    • Auditory Processing Strategies 
      • Noise reducing headphones
      • Auditory feedback tube (like this)
      • Assistive technology for hearing loss

    A Sensory Diet is a great treatment option for sensory processing and Down syndrome. The OT Toolbox also has a great resource called the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook to address and understand sensory processing needs.

    For more play-based ideas for early intervention for working with learners with Down syndrome, here is a fun article on outdoor sensory activities.

    If you are a fan of the OT Toolbox, you can access all of these resources much easier by becoming a member. As a member, you will:

    • Be able to download each of them with a single click (No more re-entering your email address and searching through folders!)
    • Receive early access to new printables and activities before they’re added to the website (You’ll find these in the What’s New section.)
    • Receive a 20% discount on all purchases made in the The OT Toolbox shop!

    For all of these skills, the most important part of occupationl therapy for Down Syndrome is to meet the child where they are. An Occupational therapist will make an assessment of their learner’s current level of functioning, providing a “just right” challenge, that is motivating for that particular learner. Because of potential delays in cognitive ability, and the physical difficulties associated with Down syndrome, these new skills may not develop quickly, and may not progress at all. Occupational therapy can help with adaptations to approach these tasks in a different way, or modifications to the environment to increase independence. 

    Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
    background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
    providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
    a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.

    Fingerplay songs for ot

    finger play songs

    This post is highlighting Fingerplay Songs as an excellent developmental tool. An important skill in child development, is the ability to use the fingers individually and together. When holding a pencil, pick up cheerios, button, zip, or cut with scissors, you are using two or three fingers, and tucking the rest away! When typing on a keyboard, all of your fingers and thumbs must move individually, but at the same time, in order to type efficiently. Pay attention to what your hands and fingers do in a day, and you may be surprised!

    These fingerplay songs are perfect occupational therapy activities for developing fine motor skills.

    FINGERPLAY SONGS

    Finger skills development is essential to the preschool age, however play starts with babies! Check out this article on The OT Toolbox about Baby Play.

    There are many ways to encourage this fine motor development, but one of my favorites that doesn’t get enough attention (in my opinion, of course) is fingerplay songs! I do these silly finger plays all the time with my preschoolers during their OT time, or with any of my other students who wants to have fun.

    They won’t even know they are developing important motor skills while doing these finger play rhymes. Let’s break down the skills used in the most popular finger play song: Pat-A-Cake.

    Fingerplay Songs and Fine Motor Skills

    This is a classic finger play rhyming activity for thumb and index finger isolation! The term “finger isolation” will come up a few times in this article, so why is it important?

    When babies are born, their fingers all move together as one unit, and one hand tends to copy each other! The body of an infant can be seen as one moving piece, in comparison the movement as we develop, which is a complex system of moving pieces. In order to develop skills as we age, it is important to learn to isolate the movements of our hands and fingers from each other. 

    Activities that use the hands to complete motor tasks, sequencing of movements, and dexterous games include other fine motor skills too, including:

    You can see why fingerplay songs support child development!

    Pat-a-cake fingerplay song

    First, motor plan a pattern of movement. Add motor planning and bilateral coordination skills by alternating movements of patting hands on lap and clapping hands while chanting the words:

    • Pat-a-cake pat-a-cake baker’s man,   
    • Bake me a cake as fast as you can.  
    • Roll it. (rolling hands one over the other)
    • And pat it. (patting hands to lap)
    • And mark it with a B. (Index finger isolation to draw a B with your finger)
    • Put it in the oven for Baby and me! (reaching forwards with both arms)

    There are many ways to develop fine motor skills through play in addition to these fingerplay activity songs. Check out this post on Hands on Preschool Activities

    WHERE IS THUMBKIN Fingerplay song for preschoolers

    Where Is Thumbkin? | Songs For Kids | Sing Along With Tobee 

    This video does a great job of explaining the motions to this simple, easy to learn fingerplay rhyming song. The song starts at about marker one minute and thirty (1:30) seconds. 

    Fingerplay songs for fine motor

    Of course fine motor development comes from more than just fingerplay songs and rhymes, here is an article on developing Fine Motor Skills.

    FIVE LITTLE DUCKS interactive finger play song

    Here is a fingerplay song where the individual and cohesive movement of fingers really get to shine.  This video demonstrates the hand, finger, and arm movements to be used while singing. I find it best to sing to your child once you know the song, instead of playing the video for them. Make sure to show your child how it’s done by doing it with them! This is true for all of the preschool songs and fingerplays we share. 

    Five Little Ducks | Kids Songs & Nursery Rhymes | Learn to Count the Little Ducks

    While you watch the video and learn the movements, notice:

    • Finger isolation while counting,
    • Cohesive movement for the “quack, quack, quack”
    • Wiggling of the fingers as the ducks waddle away

    There are many books written to correspond to this song. Here is one I tend to reach for: Five Little Ducks. This one is “interactive” with little doors on the page that require a pincer grasp to pull open. This is another way to encourage important fine motor skills! 

    More fine motor resources for preschool

    If you are looking for more interactive books, to develop fine motor skill development, the OT Toolbox has you covered!

    Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities for developing finger and hand development

    ITSY-BITSY SPIDER silly fingerplay for preschoolers

    This is preschool fingerplay activity is by-far my favorite way to increase finger isolation and motor patterns in reluctant kids. In the video below, check out the wrist movements, wiggling fingers, and more, while interacting with a well recognized song! 

    The Itsy Bitsy Spider | Nursery Rhymes from Caitie’s Classroom

    Many young children, especially those with delayed fine motor control, are not able to motor plan the spider moving up the spout as shown in the video. However, they will adapt and create their own way, using the movement of only two or three fingers, while the rest are tucked away. This pattern is the building block for mature grasps. Sometimes, I teach the spider as the index fingers and thumbs touching in a circular pattern, instead of the L shape in the video. This adaptation may be less confusing for some. See what makes your child most successful! 

    boosting childhood development with action rhymes:

    Boosting Child Development with Action Rhymes and Fingerplay Songs

    OPEN AND SHUT THEM fingerplay chanting rhyme

    “Open and Shut Them” is a song I have used for years to keep babies occupied while I change their diapers. I knew a kindergarten teacher who used it to help transition her students to carpet time. This fingerplay song is useful for many different purposes, not just fine motor development and rhyming. It is a perfect addition to this list. There are many different versions of this song you can find online, but here is a video that clearly demonstrates the many different actions the hands and fingers can do!

    Open Shut Them Song| Circle Time Songs for Kids | Jack Hartmann Nursery Rhymes

    Did you notice the pinky finger isolation? What about the movement of two fingers, with the rest tucked away? These are advanced movements that are motivating and fun! 

    You may have noticed all of these fingerplay preschool songs are repetitive. This is perfect for increasing opportunities to practice and learn a new skill. They integrate movement of both hands and fingers in a particular sequence, which teaches and enhances motor planning. Additionally, singing songs such as these familiar preschool finger play rhymes in a group, or one-on-one develops social skills, and can build rapport with one another. It’s a win-win method to teaching important skills.

    If you are interested in teaching more fine motor skills, check out these resources from the OT Toolbox:

    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:

    Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
    background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
    providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
    a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.

    Fine Motor Feather Burlap Weaving

    burlap feathers lacing activity
    Fine motor feather burlap weaving activity is a creative way to build many fine motor skills  needed for functional tasks.  This creative weaving activity uses a few materials you might have in your craft area or can be easily found in craft stores.  Grab some feathers and get ready to work on those fine motor skills! If you re looking for easy ways to sneak in bilateral coordination skills, we’ve got a ton to share! 
     
    For another fun fine motor activity with feathers, be sure to check out this beaded feather activity
     
     
    Fine motor feather burlap weaving activity to build fine motor skills
     

    Burlap Weaving Activity

     
    This post contains affiliate links.
     
    This fine motor activity was last minute project that used feathers and burlap ribbon in a couple different colors.  
     
    Weaving colorful feathers and colored burlap fine motor activity
     
    To work on fine motor skills with this weaving activity, cut the burlap ribbon into squares.  Then, start weaving the feathers through the holes of the burlap material.  There is no right or wrong way to complete this activity.  It’s a true process art activity that works on so many fine motor skills.
     
    Overlap pieces of burlap ribbon for a colorful collage art that is hands-on and multi-textural.
     
    Feather and burlap fine motor activity for kids
     
     
     


     
    Neat Pincer Grasp Fine Motor Activity Buttoning Tips and Tricks http://www.sugaraunts.com/2015/11/benefits-of-playing-with-stickers-occupational-therapy.html
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Try “racing” one feather against another in a piece of burlap ribbon.  This is a great way to build spatial and positional awareness as well as eye-hand coordination.  

    Weaving Burlap Fine Motor Skills

    When weaving burlap, there are many fine motor skills that are addressed.

    So, what exactly are you working on when completing this project?

    Threading the feathers through the holes of the burlap ribbon is a fun way to work on many skills needed for skills like pencil grasp, handwriting, manipulating clothing fasteners, and tying shoes.  

    Click on each of the links above to read more about that skill area as well as additional creative activities designed to build that particular area.  

    Weave feathers through burlap for a fine motor activity.

    Looking for more easy fine motor activities?  Try these: 

    You’ll find more bilateral coordination and fine motor activities in 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.

    Recycled Ornament Garland Craft

    We are big fans of creating crafts and activities using recycled materials and pulled out a stash of recycled lids to make this ornament garland.  The kids loved making a Christmas garland, and I loved the fine motor skills that happened!  
    fine motor ornament garland with recycled lids.
    This post contains affiliate links.  See our full disclosure here.


    Fine Motor Threading Activity 

    The fine motor portion of this threading activity makes this garland a great way to practice many skills year-round.  The tripod grasp, bilateral hand coordination, and crossing midline during this activity make it a fun way to create and develop many important skills.
    Use plastic lids to make a garland craft

    We started with a big stack of recycled lids.  These are the plastic lids that come on children’s drink cups at restaurants. When you have three kids, you end up with a lot of drink lids!

    Use plastic lids and washi tape to make a fine motor garland


    Fine Motor Skills with a Roll of Tape



    We used decorative tape that has been in our crafting bins for ages.  You can use (Amazon affiliate link) washi tape to decorate those lids.  The fine motor benefits of a child and a roll of tape are immense; There are a TON of fine motor dexterity skills that can occur by allowing a child to use tape.   A neat pincer grasp is required to pinch and grasp the sticky tape, while using the other, non-dominant hand to grasp the dispenser just right.  Pulling the tape and tearing it at the metal teeth of the tape dispenser requires controlled motor movements and eye-hand coordination.  Children will inevitably pull and pull and pull the tape when they first begin using a roll of tape, unassisted.  That’s ok!  They learn as they play and a roll of tape is a fun and creative way to practice fine motor skill.


    Note:  If you give a child a roll of tape, you will end up with tape on the walls.  ((That should be the title of a children’s book! Ha!)) The urge to display artwork is just too great!


    Use plastic lids to make a fine motor garland craft

    Once all of the lids are decorated with tape, grab a long piece of yarn.  We used a piece of tape at the end to make threading easier.

    Thread plastic lids to make a lid garland
    Thread plastic lids for a fine motor craft.



    Baby Girl (age 3) loved this threading activity.  She asked to re-make this garland a few times in the week after we first made ours.  She did a great job of threading the yarn through the straw holes of the lids.  This is such a good way to work on tripod grasp and hand-eye coordination.

    Thread lids for a fine motor activity with lids



    Pulling the thread all the way through the hole and pulling the lid down the yarn requires bilateral hand coordination to use the hands together in a coordinated manner.  This is an important skill for many self-care tasks like shoe tying, zippering, and buttoning.

    Toddler fine motor activity with lids
    Lid garland for kids

    We used our garland as a Christmas decoration by hanging them from our window sill.  While this is a fun Christmas activity, I would definitely recommend doing this as a fine motor exercise year-round.

    Use lids to make a garland craft with kids

    Christmas Handwriting Activities

    Writing out that Christmas wish list is a difficult task that brings out tears instead of holiday excitement.  I’ve got a solution for your kiddo with handwriting difficulties: a packet of modified paper for all of the Christmas handwriting tasks that come up each year.  Use this handwriting pack to help kids who struggle with handwriting to participate in holiday traditions while even working on and developing their handwriting skills!

    Working on handwriting with kids this Christmas season? Grab your copy of the Christmas Modified Handwriting Packet. It’s got three types of adapted paper that kids can use to write letters to Santa, Thank You notes, holiday bucket lists and much more…all while working on handwriting skills in a motivating and fun way! Read more about the adapted Christmas Paper here