If you are looking for a fun Easter egg game that the kids will love, then you are in luck. Add this activity to your Easter activities and use up a few of those plastic eggs. This color scavenger hunt uses plastic Easter eggs, and it’s a very fun way to play and learn! Use those plastic eggs to encourage gross motor skills, visual perception, and color learning in a way that kids won’t forget. While the kiddos are playing this Easter game, they are building cognitive skills AND underlying skill areas like visual scanning and other visual perceptual skills.
We set this Easter activity up years and years ago. (2013 to be exact!) However, it’s one of those activities that stands the test of time. If you’ve got plastic Easter eggs on hand, use them to build skills like the ones we worked on here!
COLOR SCAVENGER HUNT
This color scavenger hunt is so easy to set up…and so much fun. Kids can work on identifying color names, and color matching. I wrote different colors on slips of paper and put them into plastic eggs. The kids got to pick an egg from the bowl and “sound out” the color on the slip of paper. Ok, my 5 year old sounded out the color with help. The other two said the first letter of the word and guessed the color. They were pretty excited to “read” the color on their slip of paper!
An Easter Game Kids will Love
Now for the egg game…So then, they had to run off and find something that was the color of the written word on their slip of paper…and it had to FIT inside the egg. I sat and waited for them to run back and show me what they found while they tried to fit it in their egg. (completely genius way for this mom to finish a cup of coffee!)
They had a little trouble with some things, but this was a fun and different way to work on visual perceptual skills. Will that little doll fit in the egg? We weren’t sure by looking at it, but with a little fiddling, she did!
Fitting the eggs together with the little objects inside was a great fine motor exercise.
They found something for each color!
This Easter themed play activity could be modified in so many ways for learning words, colors…have fun with it 🙂
Want more ways to play and learn this time of year?
This time of year, one of our more popular products here on The OT Toolbox is our Spring Occupational Therapy packet. The best news is that, this packet has had a major upgrade from it’s previous collection of spring sensory activities.
In the Spring OT packet, you’ll now find:
Spring Proprioceptive Activities
Spring Vestibular Activities
Spring Visual Processing Activities
Spring Tactile Processing Activities
Spring Olfactory Activities
Spring Auditory Processing Activities
Spring Oral Motor Activities
Spring Fine Motor Activities
Spring Gross Motor Activities
Spring Handwriting Practice Prompts
Spring Themed Brain Breaks
Occupational Therapy Homework Page
5 pages of Visual Perceptual Skill Activities
All of the Spring activities include ideas to promote the various areas of sensory processing with a Spring-theme. There are ways to upgrade and downgrade the activities and each activities includes strategies to incorporate eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, body scheme, oculomotor control, visual perception, fine and gross motor skills, and more.
THE BEST THING ABOUT THE SPRING ACTIVITY PACKET:
One of my favorite parts of the Spring Occupational Therapy Packet is the therapist tool section:
Occupational Therapy Homework Page
These two sheets are perfect for the therapist looking to incorporate carryover of skills. Use the homework page to provide specific OT recommended activities to be completed at home. This is great for those sills that parents strive to see success in but need more practice time for achieving certain skill levels. This activity packet is 26 pages long and has everything you need to work on the skills kids are struggling with…with a Spring theme!
Looking for ways to keep the kids moving and active? Maybe you need some indoor play ideas. Perhaps you are looking for movement activities for children when getting out of the house just isn’t possible. Kids just aren’t moving like they used to. Need a few ways to add movement activities into each and every day? Adding extra movement breaks or brain breaks into the classroom or just daily play can be a helpful tool for improving the underlying skills kids need for strengthening or just getting the sensory input they crave and need to develop. Sometimes, it’s as simple as coming up with creative movement ideas. Other times, kids play the same favorite gross motor games over and over again. These monthly sensory movement activities provide the sensory input and gross motor movement that kids need!
Monthly Movement Activities
Add a few of the occupational therapy activities in this post into your therapy line-up. Having a few monthly themed activities for therapy can make the routines less boring and a great way to throw a wrench at the burnout machine.
Use the lists below to inspire therapy plans for the month or weeks ahead. Simply add the theme into your occupational therapy activities for the week. Then, use specific graded activities to meet the needs of each child on your caseload. This strategy can help in planning OT activities in the clinic or school-based interventions. (And, having a theme set up for the week totally helps with carting items from place to place in that trunk of yours, too!)
Monthly Movement Activities for Kids
Kids love a fresh occupational therapy activity, too. Adding a fresh and fun new game or activity can make a rainy indoor day more fun or can bring a little something different to a sunny afternoon outdoors. The best thing about these movement and play ideas is that they provide all of the right kind of sensory movement input that kids need to pay better attention, calm down, or self-regulate. Use these activity ideas as movement activities for preschoolers in planning lessons that meet movement needs.
The movement activities listed below are play ideas that promote proprioceptive input, vestibular input, gross motor skills, body awareness, fine motor skills, visual motor integration, bilateral coordination, crossing midline, core strengthening, motor planning, and so much more. Best of all, they are FUN!
Movement activities for Preschoolers
In the preschool setting, there is often an emphasis on writing letters. However, there is a much more important area that needs addressing…movement! Adding movement activities for preschoolers in learning builds the underlying skills that are many times, lacking in preschool-aged kids, and beyond. By adding movement activities to the preschool classroom, kids can learn letters, colors, numbers, and more through movement, and really gain that kinesthetic learning component.
Given that so many kids are spending more time on screens and have less opportunities to play outside, I wanted to provide a big old list of movement pay ideas that can be incorporated into every day of the year! These ideas cover each month and have themes but can be expanded on so that every day of every month is covered.
occupational therapy games and activity list
Therapists will love to use these movement activities as home programs or as part of therapy interventions. Adding themed activities is a fun way to work on specific skills or goals using occupational therapy games with this activity list.
Teachers could sneak some of these movement ideas into the school day as brain breaks, indoor recess activities, or movement breaks to improve attention. The list below separates each month into themed sets of activities that can be used in handwriting, gross motor games, fine motor activities, sensory movement activities, movement breaks, and more.
Parents will love adding these activities into everyday of the year to get the kid active and moving both indoors and outdoors!
This year of movement activity list is part of our A Year of Sensory Play packet. It’s a printable packet of TONS of themed activities that will last the whole year long. Each activity is designed to promote movement and sensory processing through sensory challenges and play activities. There are 67 pages in the Year of Sensory Play Packet and the activities cover every season. The packet also includes 12 months of sensory planning sheets, and the monthly movement activities listed below. There are also monthly sensory bin filler ideas so that every month of the year is covered when it comes to gross motor and fine motor sensory play.
The Year of Sensory Play packet is a resource for planning out and actually USING the sensory ideas that provide sensory input kids need to develop the skills they require for attention, focus, regulation, handwriting, learning, managing clothing fasteners, and overall functioning as a thriving kiddo!
Now onto the sensory play ideas!
Monthly Sensory Movement Activities
The ideas listed below are movement-based activities. Each sensory activity doubles as a gross motor or fine motor movement activity that builds on sensory based activities. These are fun ways to get the kids learning through play and are activities for toddlers to gain skills like balance, eye-hand coordination, fine motor development, and core strength.
When intending to improve various skills in preschool-aged kids, use these sensory movement activities for preschoolers, as well.
Try incorporating these ideas into each month for a year of movement and fun!
January Movement Activity Ideas
Jumping Jacks Indoor Yoga “Snowman Says” Indoor Tag Build a couch fort Hide and Seek Burpees Push-Ups Brain Break YouTube Videos Build with blocks Indoor parade Packing peanuts Blanket tug-of-war Bean bag toss Hop on paper snowflakes
February Movement Activity Ideas
Heart hopscotch Obstacle course Masking tape maze Paper plate ice skating Slide on cardboard on carpet Indoor snowball fight (paper) Draw on windows-dry erase marker Scrub floors with soapy water Build with cardboard boxes Gross motor Uno Bedsheet parachute play Crawl through tunnels Movement scavenger hunt Marching games Wash walls
March Movement Activity Ideas
Indoor trampoline “Leprechaun Says” Therapy ball Sit and spin Charades Tumbling Dance party Balloon ball toss Shamrock balance beam Hoola hoop Dribble a basketball Plastic Easter egg race on spoons Animal walks Roll down hills Easter egg hunt
April Movement Activity Ideas
Playground tour Jump in puddles Bear walks Dig in dirt Plant flowers Sidewalk chalk race Trace shadows with chalk Bounce ball on wall Flutter like a butterfly Grow like a flower Pick flowers Fill a recycle bin Wheelbarrow walks Crawl like a bug Draw big flowers with both hands
May Movement Activity Ideas
Leaf balance beam Hula hoop race Beach ball toss Ride bikes Mother May I Use a bike pump Outdoor yoga Swim relay Bouncing ball tic tac toe Lawn games Jungle gym Hike Outdoor picnic Bounce a ball on a line Collect sticks
June Movement Activity Ideas
Swimming Craw walks Log balance beam “King of the Mountain” Kick a ball course Throw paper airplanes Hammer golf tees into ground Climb trees Play catch TV Tag Limbo Ride scooters Collect nature Walk a dog Toy scavenger hunt
July Movement Activity Ideas
Fly like a bee Jump waves Creep like a caterpillar Catch fireflies Jump rope balance beam Leap frog Waterguns Freeze tag Shadow puppets Put up a tent Water balloon race Pull a wagon Pillow fight Cartwheels Blow bubbles
August Movement Activities Ideas
Slither like a snake Hop like a frog August Sensory Bin Catch bugs Gallop like a horse Sort seeds Small toys frozen in ice Finger paints Hang clothes on a clothes line Hunt for sounds Walk with a ball between legs Hit a kickball with tennis racket Run through sprinkler Pick fruit or berries Water table play
September Movement Activity Ideas
Write on sandpaper Pool noodle balance beam Balance board Hop on leaves Scurry like a squirrel Fall hike Bob for apples Roll like a pumpkin Fall leaf hunt Collect acorns Family walk Bike parade Wash the car Donkey kicks Waddle like a duck
October Movement Activity Ideas
Spin like a spider Carve a pumpkin Stretch spider web netting Punch holes in leaves Cut leaves Football toss Farmer in the Dell Jump in pillows Paper football “Scarecrow Says” Autumn art projects with leaves Wash apples Chair push-ups Make applesauce
November Movement Activity Ideas
Jump in leaves Rake leaves Catch falling leaves Waddle like a turkey “Turkey Pokey” Thread beads on feathers Flashlight Tag Thanksgiving Charades Crumble and stomp on leaves Trace leaves Turkey hunt Roll a pumpkin Run in place Cut feathers Blow a feather with a straw
December Movement Activity Ideas
Christmas themed yoga Wrap presents “Santa Says” Prance like a reindeer Shovel relay race Decorate a tree Roll and knead dough Pull a sled Crunchy walk on ice or snow Holiday themed charades Holiday march Jingle Bell Catch Relay with gift bow on a spoon Stocking guessing game Push boxes
Looking for more ideas to add movement throughout the day? Check out The Sensory Lifestyle handbook to add sensory input throughout daily activities to create a lifestyle of sensory success!
I’ve worked to create a book on creating an authentic and meaningful sensory lifestyle that addresses sensory needs. The book is now released as a digital e-book or softcover print book, available on Amazon.
The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook walks you through sensory diet creation, set-up, and carry through. Not only that, but the book helps you take a sensory diet and weave it into a sensory lifestyle that supports the needs of a child with sensory processing challenges and the whole family.
It’s that time of year! Halloween is just around the corner and so in your therapy clinic or school-based OT sessions, or even OT teletherapy, you may be thinking up Halloween occupational therapy activities that work on specific functional goals. Here, you’ll find a collection of Halloween fine motor activities, pumpkin occupational therapy activities, Halloween sensory play, and more. Use all of these ideas to help kids work on a variety of OT goals using a Halloween craft or ghost activity. This pumpkin deep breathing exercise is just one idea!
We LOVE to create and come up with fun crafts and activities that double as a tool for addressing specific skills! Here you will find a variety of Fall and Halloween activities that can address skills such as fine motor, visual motor, visual perception, scissor skills, hand strength, dexterity, core stability and strength, executive functioning, and so much more. Check out the variety of ghost crafts, pumpkin art, Halloween games, and other ideas. It just might be the perfect addition to your therapy plans this month!
Ghost Occupational Therapy Activities
We’ve come up with some fun ghost activities here on The OT Toolbox! Try some of these ideas in your therapy clinic or as a home program recommendation this Fall. I love that these ideas can be done on an individual basis or as a small group. Use them in a classroom Halloween party planning or as a fun Fall fest activity.
This ghost craft is an easy way to work on scissor skills. Kids can also address skills such as bilateral coordination, hand strength with a simple halloween craft that uses just paper, crayon, scissors, and a hole punch. Use these ghosts to decorate for Halloween and monitor scissor skills.
This ghost craft uses recycled materials and can be a tool for working on dexterity, precision of grasp, in-hand manipulation, bilateral coordination, hand strength, and more! These ghosts would make a fun addition to the therapy clinic, OT doorway, or even a bulletin board decoration.
This gross motor ghost game can be played over and over again while working on eye-hand coordination, visual tracking, visual convergence, core stability, reach, and other skills. Kids will participate in vestibular and proprioceptive input with a ghost theme!
Bat Occupational Therapy Activities
These bat activities will be an easy way to work on specific skills while making Halloween fun and not spooky for kids.
This bat Halloween craft is a fun on skills like scissor skills, bilateral coordination, fine motor skills, sensory input, and letter formation.
Looking to pair a Halloween book and activity for a party or small group? This Stellaluna activity can help kids with specific and purposeful skills such as sight word recognition or math skills while working on visual scanning, visual tracking, visual discrimination, figure-ground, bilateral coordination, crossing midline, and more.
Pumpkin Occupational Therapy Activities
Be sure to check out the many pumpkin activities are to be found here on The OT Toolbox! Use these fall ideas all season long from Halloween through Thanksgiving!
You’ll LOVE these free pumpkin scissor skills pages that allow kids to “cut the pumpkin” and work on line awareness, cutting curved and angled lines, and even coloring. It’s free to print and go!
The Pumpkin Activity Kit covers tons of fine motor skills, visual motor skills, coordination, and more.
Kids can make pumpkin stamp art using a paper tube while working on bilateral coordination, crossing midline, eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills, visual perception, and fine motor grasp. You can also make pumpkin stamps with a foam curler or other stamp.
Pushing into the classroom? Work on English Language Arts, math, or other classroom lessons by using small pumpkin stickers right in the classroom. This pumpkin activity can be a big boost to fine motor skills, visual scanning, eye-hand coordination, precision, distal mobility, and more.
We know how awesome carving a pumpkin is for fine motor, gross motor, and sensory needs. Once you carve that pumpkin, use the pumpkin seed in sensory play by dying the pumpkin seeds. It’s a great addition to Halloween sensory bins, fall fine motor activities, and other seasonal activities.
Love Halloween sensory bins? Make a set of pumpkins from an egg carton to work on fine motor skills. We’ve used these pumpkins in so many ways over the years.
Spider Occupational Therapy Activities
Spiders don’t need to be spooky! These spider activities and games can be a powerful way to work in some much-needed skills!
Work on bilateral coordination, motor planning, fine motor work, heavy work, vestibular input, and gross motor strengthening with this giant spider web activity.
Make a spider craft using recycled materials to work on fine motor skills such as hand strength, in-hand manipulation, separation of the sides of the hand, pincer grasp, and scissor skills.
Helping out with math or other classroom lessons? This math spider craft that we did addresses doubles and near doubles but you could use it to work on any math facts or ELA lessons. Sneak in bilateral coordination, scissor skills and more with this fun spider activity.
Make a noodle spider craft and help kids with fine motor skills such as in-hand manipulation, separation of the sides of the hand, and more.
Halloween Sensory ACTIVITIES
Recommending a sensory task for kids at home as part of a home program? This Frankenstein smoothie recipe is an awesome way to encourage calming proprioceptive input through oral motor work. Kids can get in on the recipe creation action to sneak in a few executive functioning skills, too.
Halloween Fine Motor Activities
So many of the activities we shared above work on and strengthen fine motor skills. Here are more Fall fine motor activities that use items such as fall leaves, scarecrows, or other Harvest items.
Fall Sensory Activities
We’ve shared a lot of Fall sensory activities here on The OT Toolbox! You can find all of the posts here:
Remember that the craft or activity is the means to working on specific underlying areas, but also, so often kids really struggle with completing aspects of play or crafts. Addressing certain skills right in the craft can make it meaningful and purposeful. When we talk about “Choosing Wisely“, we are occupation-based activities. AOTA has guided us in Choosing Wisely recommendations that we can consider when coming up with OT activities and ideas. Using scissors to work on a Halloween craft with kids is something they need help to become more independence (scissor use) via a fun activity that they are proud to complete and show off (a ghost craft for example). Consider the occupational performance components in crafts and activities that meet the specific needs of the child or individual.
In that way, using a craft in occupational therapy can address a variety of different skills, with different levels of accommodation or modification, input, cues, or difficulty, based on the specific needs as determined by the occupational therapy professional.
Halloween Activities for Occupational Therapy
What are your favorite Halloween Occupational Therapy activities? Is there something you do each year with the kids you work with? Let us know in the comments below!
Work on underlying fine motor and visual motor integration skills so you can help students excel in handwriting, learning, and motor skill development.
7 digital products that can be used any time of year- has a “pumpkins” theme
5 pumpkin scissor skills cutting strips
Pumpkin scissor skills shapes- use in sensory bins, math, sorting, pattern activities
2 pumpkin visual perception mazes with writing activity
Pumpkin “I Spy” sheet – color in the outline shapes to build pencil control and fine motor strength
Pumpkin Lacing cards – print, color, and hole punch to build bilateral coordination skills
2 Pumpkin theme handwriting pages – single and double rule bold lined paper for handwriting practice
Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to email@example.com.
Prone extension… this is a topic that comes up often when talking about occupational therapy activities! So often, we see kiddos who struggle with sensory modulation, core strength and core stability, body awareness, endurance, sensory processing needs. Prone extension activities can help strengthen and address other areas like those mentioned, and more. Below, you’ll find various prone extension activities that can be incorporated into occupational therapy treatment sessions and included in home programs.
Prone Extension Activities for Kids
Use the following prone extension activity ideas in games, play, and activities to improve skills like body awareness while providing proprioceptive and vestibular input. Many times, prone extension activities can be incorporated into learning activities too, or used to compliment other therapy goals such as visual memory or other visual perceptual needs.
What is prone extension?
Prone extension is that position you probably know as “superman pose”. When a child lies on their stomach and raises their arms and legs off the floor, they are assuming supine flexion. This positioning is an anti-gravity movement that promotes and requires an both sensory systems and motor skills to work in an integrated manner. A prone extension position can occur in other locations beyond the floor. A therapy ball, mat, swing, etc. can all be valuable tools in promoting and eliciting this movement pattern.
When assuming a sustained prone extension position position, there is a fluent and effective use of both the inner AND outer core musculature.
Observation of this position as well as other motor patterns are typically observed during an occupational therapy evaluation in order to assess strength, sensory and motor systems, body awareness, motor planning, bilateral coordination, as well as other areas.
Prone extension activities are a great way to encourage vestibular input as well as other areas mentioned above. Additionally, a prone extension activity can be an easy way to add proprioceptive input to a child seeking heavy pressure. To encourage longer prone extension positioning, try adding additional activities such as games, puzzles, or reaching activities while in the prone position to encourage the hands and arms to reach forward for longer periods of time.
Examples of Prone Extension
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Adding prone positioning into play can be easy. Try some of the ideas listed below:
1. Use a scooter board. Ask the child to hold onto a rope with strong arms as they are pulled down a hallway. To further this activity, ask the child to pull themselves along a length of space while lying in prone on the scooter board. Add additional resistance by using the scooter board on a carpeted surface.
2. While lying on a therapy ball or bolster, as the child to place bean bags or other objects into a bucket that is placed on a raised surface such as a scooter board. Move the scooter and bucket to various positions to encourage additional reach and extension. Once a bean bag makes it into a bucket, go in for a high five! What an encouraging way to promote that prone extension!
3. While lying on a mat or other surface, ask the child to toss rings onto a target area.
4. Using a chair or ottoman (couch cushions on the floor work well, too), show the child how to lay on their belly. Some children will want to keep their toes on the floor to steady themselves. Others may want to lift their legs and feet for additional vestibular input. Ask the child to reach out and pop bubbles.
5. For the child that appreciates vestibular input, ask them to lay their belly on an office chair. Using their hands, they can push away from a wall to make the chair move backwards. Other children may like this activity on a scooter board.
6. Ask kids to lie on their stomachs as they use straws to blow cotton balls or craft pom poms into a target. What an exercise in oral motor skills and breathing, too. Deep breaths in can promote the stability needed to sustain a prone extended position. However, breathing out in a lengthy, slow breath to move those cotton balls provides a chance to really engage those inner and outer core muscles.
7. Kids can hit targets (both high and low) using a pool noodle while in a prone position. Reaching forward with those hands to hit targeted areas promotes eye-hand coordination too while really engaging that core!
8. Add a home program with fun exercises that promote posturing, movement challenges, and activities. The options are endless when it comes to adding vestibular and proprioceptive input through prone extension positioning and activities. Think out of the box to come up with fun and unique ideas that provide heavy work input while addressing all of the other areas kids so often need!
What are your favorite prone extension activities for kids?
These following direction activities are directionality activities that can help kids learn directions or spatial concepts such as left, right, up, down, and compass directions (north, south, east, and west) with a motor component. This hands-on learning activity really gets the kiddos moving and learning!
Teaching kids to follow the directions they need to physically move right, left, up, down requires development of spatial concepts such as spatial reasoning. This can be a real challenge for some kids!
Following directions and understanding of spatial concepts is a foundation for understanding and utilizing compass directions or the cardinal directions of north, south, east, and west, and the use of maps.
Left Right Confusion Direction Challenges
It can be a real challenge for some kids who struggle with the spatial understanding of following directions, or understanding their left from right in a subconscious manner.
Have you come across the child who is told to raise their right and and they take a five second count to stop, think, and then raise their hand? They might hesitate when raising one hand or the other and still be uncertain whether or not they have held up the correct hand. Then, when the teacher, parent, or anyone else really, says the inevitable, “Your other right hand…”, the child feels a sense of discouragement and self-consciousness that doesn’t drive in the underlying need to really know the right from left!
That’s where a directionality activity or following direction activity can come into play. Adding a physical component to learning directions and the difference between right, left, up, and down and what that looks like in relation to the child’s body can be such a helpful force in driving home this concept.
Why work on directions with kids?
Working on the ability for kids to follow directions and spatial concepts is so important for kids. The direction/spatial relationship/preposition words that tell you where something is related to something else (beside, in front of, behind, over, under, around, through, last, etc.) are very important when teaching math and handwriting concepts. Directionality and the ability for kids to follow physical directions is important for discovering where their bodies are in relationship to objects. This translates to following directions when getting from place to place by following a map or the cardinal directions.
When kids picture a scene in their mind’s eye and use that image to draw a map on paper, they are using higher thinking skills and spatial reasoning.
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The fun idea below comes from a new kids’ activity book that we’re devouring. It’s the new Playful Learning Lab for Kids, by the occupational therapist and physical therapist team at The Inspired Treehouse. It’s a book full of whole-body and sensory activities that enhance focus, engagement, and learning through movement and interaction.
We used just a few materials to create this following directions activity:
This is a simple activity (perfect for the classroom or homeschool when teaching directions!). First, draw and cut out large arrows from the cardstock.
Next, place them along the floor in a path and start playing!
There are so many ways to use these arrows to work on following directions and directionality:
1. Place the arrows on the floor for a fun brain break or sensory walk that uses directions as the kids work on following directions to stand in the direction the arrows are pointing.
2. Name a cardinal direction or spatial direction and ask the child to point to the corresponding arrow.
3. Place the arrows in a compass rose on the floor and ask kids to “step into a map” on the floor as they move north, south, east, and west.
4. Stick the arrows to a wall using tape. Ask the students to write out a list of words that describe the directions the arrows are pointing (left, right, up, and down).
5. Hold up a sequence of arrows pointing in different directions. As the child to remember the pattern or order as they complete a series of side steps, front steps, or backward steps to follow the directions they see.
6. Work on left/right directionality by holding up an arrow pointing in either the left or right directions. Kids should call out “Left!” or “Right!” when they see the direction the arrow is pointing.
All of these following direction activities are ones that can be completed as on an individual basis or with a whole group. It’s a great mini brain break for the classroom and can be incorporated into the classroom curriculum by working on cardinal directions.
Want to grab more movement-based learning ideas that you can start on today? You will love the bright pictures, sensory-based activities, and whole-body activities in Playful Learning Lab for Kids!
It’s available now and is the perfect way to add movement to learning to improve attention, focus, brain function, remembering and learning!
This book will shift your entire mindset so you can begin to replace sedentary, one-dimensional lessons and worksheets with whole-body, multi-sensory activities that can instantly create a classroom or house full of active, engaged learners.
Upper extremity hand strength isn’t just about strong hands! Kids need upper extremity strength for tasks such as handwriting, coloring, managing clothing fasteners, and more! The thing is, upper extremity strengthening begins at a very young age. In fact, activities for toddlers can be loaded with the strengthening and dexterity activities that strengthen the upper extremities for improved endurance and coordination down the road. All of these components work together fluidly for strong upper extremities. Check out the upper extremity activities for toddlers to find out how and where to begin with upper extremity strength!
Upper extremity activities for toddlers
Working on upper extremity strength is a key factor in being able to have the endurance for handwriting. Working on the shoulder muscle strength and flexibility will help to improve the coordination needed for drawing and handwriting.
We covered some of the best crayons for toddlers with focus on the strength and motor skills that develops during the toddler years. Check out that blog post for information based on strength development during ages 1-3 years.
Importance of upper extremity activities for strength
Why is this important? If a child does not have adequate shoulder strength and core body strengthit will be difficult for them to have controlled hand movements. You may notice that when handwriting or coloring that they position their shoulder abducted and wrist will be flexed instead of in extension.Build muscle strength proximal to distal because if you don’t have strength in your shoulders, back, traps etc. then your distal function (example handwriting) will not be as controlled.
These are upper extremity activities for toddlers and kids who would benefit from strength and endurance in the upper body.
Gravity Resistive Sticker Activity
Have the child lay on the ground under a table. I will usually place a pillow or blanket to make it more comfortable. Tape a large piece of paper under the table and have the child, while laying on their back, place stickers on the paper.
I have drawn circles for the child to place stickers in or had a background theme. For example, a nature background and use stickers such as birds, trees, etc. The other activity I have done is had the child place stickers randomly all over the paper and then then have to use a marker to circle the shapes. Works great if you are working on a child’s pre-writing skills.
They could also put a square, triangle or make an X on the shapes.
Crayon Rubbing on a Vertical Surface
I remember when I was younger I really enjoyed taking coins, placing paper over them and then using a crayon to rub the print onto the paper. I also did this with leaves in the fall. How exciting to see the print come out on the paper!
One fun way to keep a child engaged with this great upper extremity activity for toddlers, is to tape crayon rubbing plates on the wall, place a large sheet of paper over them and then give the child crayons to rub the paper until they see the print.
Having a child color on a vertical surface is a great activity in itself for shoulder stability and flexibility and it puts the wrist in extension which helps encourage a better pencil/crayon grasp.
I have used crayon rubbing plates with animal pictures on them and girls love to color the fashion plates. To keep the child engaged I won’t let the child see what plates I am using. That way they continue to color on the vertical surface to see what pictures they get.
This activity also works on teaching children how to apply more pressure when writing/coloring, as you need to press hard to have the print come through and softer if the print is blurred because of how hard the child pushed on the crayon.
Looking for more upper extremity activities for toddlers?
Another great under the table activity is beading! Use resistance and gravity to strengthen and boost skills by beading under a table.
Christina Komaniecki is a school based Occupational Therapist. I graduated from Governors State University with a master’s in occupational therapy. I have been working in the pediatric setting for almost 6 years and have worked in early intervention, outpatient pediatrics, inpatient pediatrics, day rehab, private clinic and schools. My passion is working with children and I love to see them learn new things and grow. I love my two little girls, family, yoga and going on long walks.
So often, we see kids with weakness. They struggle with climbing monkey bars, maintaining grasp on a pencil, coloring with endurance, maintaining posture with a strong core, manipulating snaps and buttons, and so much more. A consistent home strengthening program can help with these skills.
A therapy band is such a power tool in providing needed and calming proprioceptive sensory input, too. Many times, therapists will add therapy band exercises to a sensory diet. There’s a reason why! Slowly pulling and maintaining a position on an expanded therapy band creates resistance, providing proprioceptive input that kids need.
Why use a Therapy Band Exercise Programs with Kids?
There are several motivating reasons to incorporate a therapy band exercise program into home programs and therapy regimens:
Use as a movement break for alerting input or calming input
Exercise for increased attention
A tool for coordination and strength
On-the-go therapy tool that can go anywhere a school-based OT or home therapist goes
Easily incorporated into home programs
Can be easily modified for use by a large caseload
Can be used with individuals or in a group setting
Therapy Band Exercise Program for Kids
There are a few things that a great therapy band exercise program has when it comes to strengthening programs or exercises for kids.
Here are a few MUST-Haves when it comes to a motivating therapy band exercise program for kids:
FUN- A therapy exercise program for kids must be more than a simple handout copy of exercises. That exercise sheet is sure to land on the top of your therapy clients refrigerator. A therapy program that has bright colors, fun characters, games, and interactive components is a win!
Creative- A therapy exercise program that uses animals, monsters, creatures, and fun characters is one way to get kids moving and coming back to try out those exercises again and again.
Easy- A home program that kids can (and want) to do themselves is one way to ensure carryover.
Engaging- A bright and colorful exercise program with fun fonts, hands-on flip cards, and creative characters who get in on the exercise action are all part of a exercise plan geared to create healthy habits.
Motivating- Checklists that kids can mark, erase, and rewrite, fun stickers, and a game make therapy band exercise programs fun and not boring…a plan that kids want to do!
Handee Band Therapy Band Exercise Program
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When Francesca Avelli, MS, OTR/L approached me about a therapy exercise program that she created, I was excited learn more. Handee Band is a therapist-created collection of fitness exercises for boosting core strength and upper body strength…and it meets all of the requirements listed above!
We tried out the Handee Band Exercise Kit and the Handee Band Exercise Cards, and had an absolute BLAST. All while exercising!
This exercise kit is definitely a product created by an occupational therapist. As my daughter was trying out the spinner board game and looking through the flip book for matching characters, that thought was on my mind.
All of the underlying skill areas that go into using this kit and playing the game are such a boost for kids.
Wen playing the game, kids spin a spinner board and need to match up characters to the exercise kit or flip cards. The visual scanning, form constancy, visual tracking, visual discrimination, visual memory, and visual closure was really being used for this game.
Then, my four year old flipped through the cards, strengthening her finger isolation and other fine motor skills until she found the matching character. Once she did the exercise, she used more fine motor skills to peel off a sticker…but it had to be the matching sticker, resulting in more visual perceptual skills!
THEN, I asked my daughter to mark off the exercise on our checklist, using more fine motor work while boosting pencil control skills and pre-writing strokes as she formed a vertical line in the given box, but not over the lines!
What a workout!
But, all of this doesn’t even tough on the real strengthening we did with the Handee Band.
There are so many exercises in the Handee Band kit and exercise cards. There are 15 to be exact, and they each have a corresponding character showing how to do the therapy band exercise. These handheld cards are perfect for the therapist that needs to tote supplies from building to building!
We left the Handee Band kit cards and band out on a table for a few days and there were countless times I saw my kids stopping over to do an exercise or two. The Handee Band program is just too irresistible!
If you are a therapist in a clinic looking for a therapy band exercise program that kids WANT to do, then the Handee Band is for you.
If you are a school-based therapist looking for strengthening exercises or proprioceptive input that calms, alerts, and adds to a sensory diet, then the Handee Band is for you.
If you are a home therapists, working with kids (or adults!) in the home and need exercises that can tuck into a tote bag, then the Handee Band is for you.
If you are a parent looking for creative and motivating ways to get the kids moving and focused on fitness, then the Handee Band is for you.
Have you been working on cursive writing with a student? Are you concerned about how to teach cursive writing to students? Are you a therapist who is looking for strategies and creative ideas to help students improve cursive writing as a means of functional and legible handwriting? The handwriting ideas below are for you! Below, you’ll find ways to teach cursive writing by assessing and promoting proper posture in cursive writing.
This post and the posts you’ll see here over the next month are part of our 31 day series on teaching cursive. You’ll want to check out the How to Teach Cursive Writing page where you can find all of the posts in this series.
For more ways to address the underlying skills needed for handwriting, check out the handwriting drop-down tab at the top of this site.
When we write in cursive it’s really no different than sitting at a desk to write and print it work.
Proper positioning can make a big difference however, between sloppy cursive writing and legible cursive writing. Here are a few a few key points to remember when positioning a child for cursive writing success.
Positioning at a desk when during cursive handwriting
The child must be seated seated comfortably and upright. They should be well-balanced and straight at the midline with 90° flexion posture at the knees, feet, and hips.
A proper sized desk and chair is essential for cursive handwriting as well as printed writing. The writing arm should be slightly abducted at the shoulder with the elbow flexed. The elbows should be even with the desk surface.
It’s essential that a child is not sitting at a desk that is too tall for the child. This is a common factor when it comes to positioning for any student in the classroom.
Environmental positioning issues when writing
When a child is learning to write in cursive or is practicing handwriting there should be sufficient light.
Especially when writing in cursive, a hand can get in the way so that little kids cannot see how they are forming letters. If their shadows reflecting onto the written work, it can interfere with self assessment of formation.
A sloped writing surface such as an easel or a three ring binder can help with extended wrist and with copying letters from a source like an overhead board or a SmartBoard.
Paper positioning for cursive handwriting
When a child is writing they should be able to move their hand and arm freely to position the paper. When writing in cursive, right-handed children should position the paper slightly to left side of the desk.
Left-handed children should position the paper slightly to the right side of the desk. This is especially true for the left-handed writer whose arm crosses over their body in front of them on the desk.
They can’t see what the letters have been formed and the amount of writing space that is available as they head towards the right margin of the page. The top of the paper should be parallel with the child’s dominant hand and at a 45 degree angle on the desk.
The tilt of the paper can help with slant of cursive letters. Left-handed writers will want to slant the paper about 20% to the right. The right lower corner of the paper should be pointing toward the child’s right armpit.
Right-handed writers will want to slant the paper about 20% toward the left. The left lower corner of the paper should point to the child’s left armpit.
Poorly positioned paper on the desk can result in cramped motions of letter formation and specifically reduced dexterity in the distal fingers.
Providing enough room and space on the desk and placement of the paper can allow for flow in rhythm in cursive writing. Here, you will read more about paper positioning when writing and find an easy desk modification that can be used in the classroom.
Posture and positioning make a big difference in legibility of cursive handwriting. Be sure to start each cursive writing practice session with a quick posture check and environmental check.