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. 

SHAMROCK ACTIVITY: Fine Motor Clip Cards

Shamrock activity fine motor clip cards

Today on the site we’ve got a great Shamrock activity…Fine motor clip cards with a shamrock theme! This is a great addition to St. Patrick’s Day activities in therapy, home or the classroom, and they work on a ton of different skills. Print them off, laminate the clip cards if you like, and you have a literal therapy pot of gold!

These shamrock activity fine motor clip cards can help with hand strengthening skills, fine motor control and much more.

This week as we roll out these fabulous Shamrock Activity (Fine Motor Clip Cards), let us take a moment to be thankful the weather is warming up and we can finally celebrate spring. If you are not fortunate enough to have spring weather yet, I feel for you. 

According to the news report, people are moving out of California, New Jersey and New York in droves. I am surprised more of y’all from Wisconsin and North Dakota aren’t rustling out of there too!  No matter what the temperature is outside, this cute Shamrock Activity Fine Motor Clip Card spring themed activity will help get you motivated for warmer weather. 

Shamrock activity for Fine Motor skills

There is something magical about rainbows and unicorns.  Throw some shamrocks in there for good luck, and it is the perfect spring trifecta! 

Add them to these other shamrock and St. Patrick’s Day themed activities that support the development of fine motor skills:

These Shamrock Activity fine motor clip cards are so versatile, they  will be able to be modified for most, if not all of your learners.  Read below for ways to adapt and modify this fine motor activity.  

How to use this shamrock activity:

  • Have learners count the number of shamrocks and place a mark to designate the number of items on the card.  These cards would be great with a (Amazon affiliate link) Dot or Bingo marker!  
  • Learners can color in the rainbows as they go
  • Cut these ahead of time, or make cutting a part of this fine motor counting clip activity
  • Use clothespins to attach to the shamrock cards to count the numbers.  Decorated clothespins are even more fun!  They are great spray painted gold, or dipped in glitter
  • Color and laminate these cards for reusable fun.  Learners can use dry erase markers to count the objects
  • Enlarge or shrink this page to change the level of difficulty
  • Change the type of paper, heavier weight is easier to handle, but may be harder to cut
  • Colored paper might be more motivating, or provide better contrast
  • Project this onto a smart board to make it a touch task, or have students follow along with the diagram
  • Scatter the cards around the room to include a gross motor component
  • Add these cards to an obstacle course having learners complete the challenge, collecting clips along the way
  • Scavenger hunt to have learners find all of the cards in order
  • Crab walk from one card to the next
  • Create an entire St. Patrick’s Day theme for the week!
  • Add spring fine motor tasks with this great fine motor bundle found on the OT Toolbox
  • The possibilities are really endless, don’t let yourself get stuck doing this fine motor activity  just one way

Things to Observe with these Shamrock Activity Clip Cards

When working on this shamrock fine motor activity, there are several observations that can be  made: 

  • Can your learner scan the page and count all of the shamrocks?
  • How many items can your learner correctly count?
  • Does your learner correctly hold and manipulate the scissors, crayon, or bingo marker? How much assistance do they need to grip scissors, cut the paper, or color the rainbow?
  • Do your learners have the strength to open and place the clothespins?
  • Can your student motor plan all of the skills needed for this task?
  • Will you need to modify this activity for success?
  • Can your student continue to hold the clothespins while trying to manipulate the paper?
  • What is the number of times you need to repeat the directions so your learner can follow them?
  • How many reminders does your learner need while doing this activity?

Use these notations in your documentation to document data and support the development of fine motor skills.

what skills do my learners need?

While cutting, coloring, counting, and placing clips is a straightforward task for higher level learners, beginners will struggle with all of the parts needed to complete this task. 

Think about all that has to be involved to do this counting shamrock activity:

  • Fine motor skills – Resources can be found in our fine motor skills library at the OT Toolbox
  • Strength
  • Bilateral coordination
  • Visual perception
  • Executive function/behavior/social skills
  • Following directions
  • Attention to detail
  • Work tolerance
  • Cutting on a line
  • Coloring
  • Counting
  • Multistep directions 
  • Processing skills

This is just the start of the list when using these Shamrock fine motor clip cards! 

Perhaps focus your attention on addressing, or observing, just one or two of these skills.  For example, work on following directions or counting, rather than all of them.

Need more great Shamrock and St. Patrick’s Day tools?

Here are a few more spring activities and ideas from the OT Toolbox to get you started. Round out your shamrock theme with this new Color Handwriting Kit with Bonus Rainbow Sheets!

While spring is a lovely change of pace from winter, summer is really my jam! Bring on the heat!

Free Shamrock Printable Clip Cards

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 Shamrock Activity- Fine Motor Clip Cards

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.
    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.

    • NOTE: The term, “learner” is used throughout this post for consistency. This information is relevant for students, patients, clients, school aged children/kids of all ages and stages, or whomever could benefit from these resources. The term “they” is used instead of he/she to be inclusive.

    RAINBOW TEMPLATE PRINTABLE

    Rainbow template printable

    Coming up is the Rainbow Template Printable! This March activity is perfect for a St. Patrick’s Day theme or a rainbow theme in occupational therapy sessions. Whether you are working on pencil control, scissor skills, eye-hand coordination, or direction-following, this rainbow template can be used to address any skill area.

    This free rainbow template printable is a resource that can be used to work on pencil control, eye-hand coordination, letter formation, scissor skills, and more.

    free rainbow template printable

    What is so enticing about rainbows?  Could it be the pot of gold at the end?  Or the promise of sunshine? I think rainbows don’t make you choose.  You can have all of the colors at once.  For a lot of people, especially those with anxiety, choosing one or two of anything is difficult.  It seems so final and limiting.  Not so with rainbows, you can have it all!

    When I was a child we sang The Rainbow Song, “red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue. I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow too.”  Is indigo the new pink?  Maybe it is because we learned this in Australia.  Do rainbows look different there?

    Do you remember the mnemonic for the colors of the rainbow? ROY.G.BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). 

    However your learner decides to design their rainbow in this Rainbow Template Printable activity, there are a dozen ways to make this activity fun and functional. 

    Add the printable rainbow activity to our rainbow breathing exercise for more rainbow fun in therapy sessions (or the classroom or home!)

    What ways can you think of to design this rainbow  printable? 

    • Draw vertical lines in each section with the desired color, making sure the lines stay between the top and bottom borders
    • Make small circles in each section, controlling the pencil to stay between the lines
    • Write the first letter of the color,like RRRRRR, across each section
    • If your learner is more of a beginner, simply coloring each section will help develop fine motor skills in this pencil control activity
    • Copy a pattern like wavy, zigzag, or swirl lines in each section
    • Add glitter!  There is never a wrong time to add glitter

    All of the OT Toolbox resources, including this rainbow printable template, can be modified to meet the needs of all of your learners.  There are several posts related to Pencil Control and Rainbows on the OT Toolbox. Here is a post on Rainbow Activities to make lesson planning easier.

    Ways to adapt and modify this rainbow template printable task:

    • Laminate the page for using markers and wipes. This can be useful for reusability, as well as the enjoyment learners have using dry erase markers. Note: not all learners like reusable items, some prefer to take their work home.
    • Printing this rainbow template or some of our other great pencil control worksheets on different colored paper may make it more or less challenging for your learner
    • Enlarging the font may be necessary for beginning learners who need bigger space to write.
    • Have students cut out each section of the rainbow and paste in order on another page – this adds a cutting and gluing element
    • Make changes to the type of writing utensil, paper used, or level of difficulty
    • Have students write on a slant board, lying prone on the floor with the page in front to build shoulder stability, or supine with the page taped under the table
    • Project this page onto a smart board for students to come to the board and write in larger form.
    • More or less prompting may be needed during this activity depending on the level of the task and that of your learners
    • Make this part of a larger lesson plan including gross motor, sensory, social, executive function, or other fine motor skills
    • The OT Toolbox has a great Color Handwriting Kit incorporating fine motor skills, colors, and handwriting
    • A classic book, (Amazon affiliate link) the Rainbow Fish, would be a great addition to this rainbow fine motor worksheet, or lesson plan.  Plus it has GLITTER!  

    What skills are you addressing when using this rainbow template printable

    There are no wrong or right answers to this question.  Your focus can vary from learner to learner, or follow a common theme. 

    • Pencil control
    • Fine motor skills
    • Pre-writing skills

    The three above are the obvious, and more common skills to be measured during this task.  In addition, it is possible to shift the focus and attend to different aspects of the task:

    • Following directions
    • Task avoidance/compliance
    • Frustration tolerance
    • Behavioral reactions
    • Attention, focus, impulse control
    • Ability to complete a task
    • Level of independence
    • Social skills – sharing, turn taking, waiting

    there are no right or wrong answers

    Again there are no right or wrong answers.  The focus might be entirely on developing fine motor pencil control without regard to behaviors, social function, or executive function. 

    Conversely, the data you gather might not include how their fine motor skills look at all.  Of course you can combine all of the above.

    document, document, document

    Be sure to clearly document what you are observing and measuring.  Data collection is what’s required now.  Use percentages, number of trials, number of verbal or physical prompts, or minutes of focus.

    Gone are the days of writing, “learner completed task with min assist.” Min assist can look different to five different observers.  The only clinical phrases that are somewhat accurate are “independent” and “dependent”, meaning 100% or 0%.

    After all of this activity, maybe your learners need to slow down and take a breather with Rainbow Breathing Exercises. However you choose to create your treatment plan, find ways for it to be motivating and meaningful.

    Free Rainbow Template

    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 Rainbow Template Printable

      We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.
      • Note: the term, “learner” is used throughout this post for consistency, however this information is relevant for students, patients, clients, school aged kids/children of all ages and stages, or whomever could benefit from these resources. The term “they” is used instead of he/she to be inclusive.

      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.

      Heart Crafts That Build Skills

      heart crafts to support fine motor skill development

      Let’s face it, the heart candy and chocolates are already in the stores and children are already anticipating the consumption of all the sweet treats they are going get.  Some children have even begun to plan their Valentine’s gifts and handouts for their friends and family.  Add these heart crafts to your Valentine’s Day occupational therapy activities!

      One of our newest heart crafts is this free Valentine’s Day Hat Template. Kids can color, cut, and assemble the heart hat in OT sessions, in the classroom, or at home. This printable heart hat makes a great craft during February, but it doubles as a skill-builder: Use it to work on fine motor skills, hand strength, scissor skills, eye-hand coordination, executive functioning skills, and more.

      heart crafts to support fine motor skill development

      Heart Crafts for Occupational Therapy

      Whether it is a pink, red, or purple heart, OT practitioners simply love crafts that incorporate a variety of skills and give the flexibility for each step to be modified, so as to upgrade or downgrade as needed, to allow all children to engage in the craft making process while achieving some level of success.

      You’ll find heart craft creations that range from easy to more complex, making them accessible by younger or novice learners that have fewer hand skills, or more advanced learners that need more skill advancement and require increased time to complete. 

      There are numerous enjoyable heart craft ideas in this post. If you need something sweet to jazz up your therapy session, classroom, or at-home theme, this post is right where you need to be. Read on and get ideas that don’t include tasty sweets, but do include all the sweetness of the Valentines holiday!

      Wearable Heart Crafts:

      These fun, festive heart crafts can include wearable jewelry, ornaments, or provide a source of Valentine’s Day gifts. They will encourage separation of the two sides of the hand, in-hand manipulation, precision grasp, and arch development, making them purposeful and productive.

      Paper Crafts: 

      These paper crafts include folding, painting, cutting, pasting, weaving, and writing.

      All of these actions will help your learner of most any age and skill level to work on bilateral hand use, eye-hand coordination, scissor grasp, hand dominance, delicate touch, grasp patterns, and visual motor skills. 

      Foam Crafts:

      These foam crafts are not only cute, but they help learners develop skills such as proper scissor grasp, cutting skills, rotational manipulation, sequencing, and precision skills.

      Once complete, some provide a functional use in the end – a bookmark!

      Cardboard Heart Crafts:

      Cardboard is a material that develops hand strength, pincer grasp, bilateral coordination, hand dominance, stability, and eye-hand coordination. Some of the crafts listed will provide opportunity for lacing, wrapping, poking, cutting, and tearing, all of which give hand skill development a real challenge.

      These fun cardboard crafts will allow focus on a variety of skills while being highly engaging and rewarding.

      Food inspired Heart Crafts:

      While these food inspired heart crafts, do use food as a medium, these festive food crafts will include only decorations and a few ideas for a way to feed the birds.

      Learners will work on building precision grasp, gross grasp, bilateral coordination, and eye hand coordination skills. 

      Tin Foil Crafts:

      These tin foil crafts are unique in appearance, but also help build maker grasp, fine motor control, and tool pressure. If the child tears off their own piece of foil from the roll and wraps the foil themselves, they will also be working on bilateral coordination and touch pressure.

      Older or more advanced learners can be presented with the opportunity to use a glue gun (always use caution with these as even the cold glue guns get hot at the tip). Learners can display their own creativity with these crafts. 

      heart and Valentine themed fine motor page to use in crumble art crafts
      The Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit is loaded with activities and craft ideas that promote fine motor skills. Grab your copy today!

      Printable Heart Crafts

      In The Valentine’s Day Kit offered by the OT Toolbox, you will find printable heart activities and craft materials. Just download, print, and start building skills. This pack is a great tool for developing a variety of fine motor skills for Valentine’s day or all year round!

      We hope you enjoyed all of the crafts included in this round-up of ideas and that you have found exactly what you are looking for to help the learners in your life enjoy Valentines day and celebrate the LOVE of this season!  

      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!