Fall Cootie Catcher Template

Fall fine motor cootie catcher template

Working on handwriting with kids? This Fall cootie catcher template is a Fall writing prompt activity that builds fine motor skills. Just print off the cootie catcher templates, pick the one that works best to meet the needs of the child you are working with, and work on copying letters, words, and sentences. This cootie catcher PDF is a fun way to work on so many skills!

Fall cootie catcher for a fine motor writing prompt activity

We shared this Spring cootie catcher earlier this year and it was a huge hit, so this Fall themed printable will be loved as well.

Add this printable activity to Fall fine motor activities and Fall writing prompts.

What is a cootie catcher?

A cootie catcher is a folded paper game that includes squares and triangles that can be opened to contain written words or pictures. Cootie catchers are often used as a paper fortune teller game. A cootie catcher is an form of origami that kids can make, using a cootie catcher template. Once they practice using the blank template, children can learn the motor plan to create paper fortune tellers on their own.

In our case, we are using a cootie catcher as a fine motor tool for kids.

This one in particular includes writing prompts to make handwriting skills motivating and engaging for kids, with a Fall theme.

When you use this cootie catcher, kids can develop so many skills:

  • Bilateral coordination- When children fold paper, they use both hands together in a coordinated manner.
  • Hand strength- Pressing the paper into folded shapes requires strength in the hand to create a sharp crease.
  • Separation of the sides of the hand- Opening and closing the cootie catcher requires both hands to open and close at the thumb web space, and is a separation of the sides of the hand activity.
  • Arch development- Using fingers to fold paper develops arch development in the hand, which is needed for endurance in fine motor activities.
  • Finger isolation- Using a finger to fold and crease paper focuses on finger isolation, a dexterity skill in fine motor tasks.
  • Eye-hand coordination- Using the eyes and hands together to create and use the paper fortune teller develops and refines eye-hand coordination skills.
  • Letter formation- copy the words on the printable.
  • Spacing between letters and words- Copy the words and sentences and work on spatial awareness, letter formation, and legibility.
  • Letter size- Write words on the spaces on the blank template to work on fitting letters and words into the given space.

And those skills are just developed with kids use and play with the cootie catcher!

Cootie Catcher Template

This Cootie catcher printable includes four templates.

  1. You’ll find a printable fortune teller template pdf with instructions to write a word, sentence, or number.
  2. Next is a cootie catcher with sentence writing prompts in a Fall theme.
  3. There is a cootie catcher with Fall images which kids can write the name of the image.
  4. Finally there is a blank cootie catcher template.

This free printable cootie catcher worksheet is another Fall freebie in our Fall week.

Be sure to grab the other Fall printables that work on various skills:

Want to print off this free cootie catcher? Enter your email to the form below and you’ll receive this printable in your inbox.

Fall Cootie Catcher Writing Prompts

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

    Free All About Me Worksheet

    all about me worksheets

    Today, I have an exciting free printable for back-to-school: An free All About Me Worksheet! This free all about me PDF is a writing and drawing activity designed specifically to focus on handwriting skills while allowing kids to tell all about themselves. Just print it off and get to know your new students this school year!

    Free All About Me worksheets for students aged kindergarten through middle school. Use this for back to school handwriting tasks and getting to know new students at the start of a school year.

    All about me worksheet

    I wanted to create an all about me printable worksheet that is slightly different than the others you may find available online. This worksheet focuses on list writing, use of spaces on a page, and drawing skills. Here’s why: I wanted this resource to tell us more about the child’s specific interests and facts like birthdates…I wanted this about me worksheet to help the therapist or teacher gain knowledge about the child’s handwriting and spatial awareness skills.

    This all about me worksheet tells us several things about the student:

    Favorite Things List

    Students can list out their favorite things on the lined paper. The worksheet includes a list so they can write out their favorite foods, sports, animals, colors, etc. Kids have the choice to write a list of the things that are most important to them, making the sheet personalized and not a cookie cutter worksheet.

    When the student writes out a list of words on the about me sheet, we can see how they use lines, spatial awareness, margins, letter size, and formation in a list.

    All About Me Drawing

    Students can draw a picture of themselves in the given area and we can look at their eye-hand coordination, spatial relations, body awareness, and pencil control.

    All About Me Worksheet for Middle School

    This All About Me worksheet is great for both younger ages (kindergarten through third grade) because one sheet includes a double rule writing lines. The second page is a duplicate worksheet, but contains single rule writing lines, making it great for older students (fourth grade through middle school).

    There aren’t many about me handouts for older students, so it was important to me to create a writing activity for students using a smaller writing area.

    When I Grow Up

    Students can write out what they want to be when they grow up on the writing lines. Not only can we take a look at their handwriting in this space, but we can then see their interest and focus learning and therapy activities on that functional task.

    All About Me (and My Family)

    All about the student includes the family unit, too! Students can write or draw about their family in the open space, and we can take a look at detail orientation of the child. Also, we can then ask the child about sending home notes and home exercise programs to parents when they complete this section of the About Me worksheet.

    My Favorite Quote

    Finally, there is a space on the All About Me Worksheet for a favorite quote. Students can either write a quote that they like or can make up a personal saying that they enjoy. This space can tell us a lot about the child’s mindset, motivation, and mindfulness awareness.

    Free All About Me Worksheet

    Want a copy of this about me PDF? Enter your email address below and grab this printable freebie!

    FREE All About Me Worksheet

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      More Back-to-School Freebies

      Don’t miss these free back-to-school materials and tools:

      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.

      Back to School Writing Prompts

      Back to school writing prompts

      It’s that time of year! Getting back into the classroom means switching from summer fun mode to handwriting, reading, writing, and learning. These Back to School Writing Prompts are a fun way to get to know new students and get those pencils moving. Handwriting can be an overwhelming topic to dive into at the start of the school year, so let’s make it easy and low-stress. Print off these free back to school writing ideas and start the school year off right (or write)!

      Free back to school writing prompts for first day of school writing ideas

      Back to School Writing Prompts

      Sometimes you need some back to school activities and specifically, ideas for back to school writing that are “no brainer” for the student. In other words, kids can struggle with getting back into routines of the classroom. They might not have picked up a pencil all summer long, in some cases! That’s where these back to school writing activities come into play.

      There are several ways you can use these free writing prompts with kids this school year:

      First day of school writing

      The first day of school is all about learning the classroom, setting up expectations, getting to know the building, the schedule, and getting to know the teacher and peers. But what about easing into handwriting and writing tasks? Setting up a first day of school writing activity that is low-key, fun, and all about the student is the way to go. Use these first day of school writing prompts to get kids back into the routine of a daily writing prompt.

      Writing prompt of the day

      Continuing with the thought that returning to school after a summer break means a few days of getting used to classroom rules and schedules, you can use these writing cards for the first week or more. Print off the cards and randomly select a card each day of the first week of school. This is a great way to get to know students and incorporate handwriting into each day of the first week of school.

      Give the student a choice

      Handwriting can be like pulling teeth for some kids. It’s just hard. Whether their hand hurts when they hold the pencil, or handwriting is hard to read, it can be a real challenge for some kids. Offering a choice can give the student some say in the matter. Allow them to select a card randomly and then they can write out their response to the writing prompt. Or, give them a choice between two writing prompts.

      Play a writing game

      Use these printable writing prompts in a game! Print off the writing prompt cards and then allow the students to pick one card. They can use that card as their back to school writing topic. It’s a great way to get to know the students in the classroom or on your therapy caseload while getting an idea of their current handwriting levels and abilities.

      So, how will you use these back to school writing prompts?

      Print off these back to school writing prompts for a writing prompt of the day the first week of school.

      To grab your copy of this free resource, just enter your email address into the form below. Print them off and get ready to start the school year off on the right foot!

      FREE Back-to-School Writing Prompts

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        More Back to School Writing ideas

        Add these writing prompt cards to your back-to-school line up of activities:

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

        Memory Card Games

        memory card games

        Occupational therapy professionals know the benefit of using memory card games to build skills in therapy sessions. OTs love to use games in therapy sessions to address a variety areas in novel and fun ways…and kids love the gaming aspect of therapy!

        Memory card games as an occupational therapy activity to work on working memory, attention, concentration, spatial relations, visual motor skills, and handwriting.

        Memory Card Games in Occupational Therapy

        There are so many reasons to play memory games in OT! Areas like executive functioning skills, to working memory, attention, focus, to fine motor skills, visual motor skills, visual perceptual skills, and even handwriting can be improved through the use of memory card games.

        We’ve talked about using games in a variety of ways…today, we’re covering the use of a Memory Card Game to work on various skills in OT. Here’s why this simple game is such a powerful tool for impacting function:

        Memory games are a powerful way to work on sort term memory, working memory, and executive functioning skills such as attention organization planning prioritization organizational skills.

        Memory games are fun way for kids to work on short term memory and other skills that are beneficial for learning in the classroom and at home.

        When kids play memory they can work on holding short term information in their memory In their short term memory. This allows them to use visual attention and visual memory while they remember where pictures are located playing a classic memory game.

        Kids with other executive functioning issues me to be struggling with the same challenges in the classroom or at home. By playing a game such as memory kids can work on these executive functioning skills in a fun and low-key manner.

        When they play memory kids can work on prioritization such as choosing which card to pick first.

        When you play memory you pick a card and if you seen it before you you need to remember where you’ve seen that location of the card. This scale requires time management self-regulation and self-control. You don’t want to pick up the next card in a rush without thinking through your your process of where you saw that picture last.

        Memory card games can be used to address visual motor skills.

        Playing a game of memory can help with short term memory and retention of information as well. When kids need to recall where they saw a card in a previous play they need to think back and use their mental memory skills in order to recall where that card is located in the board. This visual component of working memory skills carries over to the classroom when kids need to remember to do it to do their homework or what skills have worked in the past in order to solve problems on tests or in situations of game or learning at school.

        A memory game also helps with multitasking and helping kids to stay and complete a task through to completion. All of these executive functioning skills are powerful skills to develop through play such as using a memory game.

        “Grading” Memory Card Games to Meet Different Needs

        When therapists add a toy or game to their “OT toolbox”, they need to use the material in a variety of ways to meet the needs of different levels of children and while addressing different skill areas.

        This refers to grading activities.

        Grading, in occupational therapy, means making an activity more or less challenging in order to meet the needs of the individual. This can also refer to changing an activity in the middle of the task, depending on how the client or child is responding. Grading is important when it comes to finding the “just right” amount of support or adaptations that need to be made to a task that challenge the client while also allowing them to feel good about doing the therapy intervention.

        If the activity is too easy, you would grade it up to make it a greater challenge.

        If the activity is too hard, you would grade it down to make it easier to accomplish a sub-goal or skillset, while also challenging those skills.

        Memory card games are a great tool to use to challenge a variety of skill levels and abilities.

        • You can help to boost skills by changing the number of matches that you are using in the memory card game. If a child who struggles with attention, focus, impulse control, visual perception, eye-hand coordination, or working memory, you might play the memory game with only two matches or four matches so that there are four or eight cards total on the playing board.
        • You can further adapt this game by giving clear and concise instructions or hints in other words. Try to help the child use their memory, attention, working memory, and recall skills by defining the match that they are looking for and details that are on that image. This can be accomplished by saying things like, “I’ve seen that card before. Have you?”
        • Another strategy to grade memory games is to ask the child to talk through their moves. This self-reflection can build self-confidence, and it’s a helpful way to remember where they seen a matching card before. And, this self-talk skill also translates over to functional tasks. When a child performs a task such as a chore or a homework assignment they can talk through the task at hand. This allows them to recall what they’ve learned and what’s been successful. They are able to use skills they’ve established in the past. Self talk skill is a great strategy for kids who both struggle with executive functioning skills and anyone in general.
        • Another modification to memory card games include offering visual cues or verbal cues of what the child has seen. You can support this by asking the child “Have you seen this picture already?” Ask them to recall what the image was near on the board and see if you can picture in your mind where that card is in relation to others on the board. This involves a spatial-relations component as well as other visual perceptual skills.
        • Finally it’s helpful to reduce distractions while playing memory game. Sometimes the aspect of attention is limited by other things happening around a child which can’t be addressed in a situation such as a classroom or a community situation however you can work on specific skills such as showing the child how to self regulate like taking a deep breath or preparing themselves before they make their move. This can help with over feelings of overwhelm and stress the kids sometimes get.

        How to play memory games in therapy

        When kids play memory they are playing the classic memory game that you’ve probably played in your childhood.

        1. The game uses matching cards which are placed facedown on the table.
        2. Players take turns selecting to picture cards they turned one over at a time and see if they’ve got a match. If they’ve got a match they can go again.
        3. If the player doesn’t have a match they turn the cards back over so they were they are facedown on the table.
        4. Then the next player goes. The second player selects two picture cards and turns them over one at a time. It’s important to turn the cards over one at a time because if you have a card because if the first card that is turned over is a card that you’ve seen before then you need to remember where that match is on the board. This aspect of playing the game of memory really works on attention focus and impulse control.
        5. Players continue finding the matches until all of the cards are selected.
        6. The player with the most number of matches wins the game.

        What’s missing Activity with memory cards

        “What’s missing” is also another great way to use a memory game to work on specific skills of executive functioning including the ones listed above.

        How to play what’s missing with Memory Cards

        1. To play what’s missing you would set out a spare set number of memory cards on the table face up.
        2. Then the player gets to look at the cards for a set amount of time.
        3. The player tries to memorize every card on the table.
        4. Then the player closes their eyes or looks away from the table while another player removes one or more cards.
        5. Then the first player looks back at the table and tries to recall and identify the missing images.

        What’s Missing games address a variety of visual perceptual skills, visual memory, visual attention, spatial relations, form constancy, and visual discrimination.

        This activity can be graded up or down in a variety of ways by adding more cards shortening the amount of time to look at the cards and remember the cards or to add more matches and to remove more or less cards. To make this harder you can have two all different cards or you can have matches and some without matches.

        Memory games in sensory bins

        Memory cards make a great addition to sensory bins. Children that especially enjoy specific themes can use memory card games in a variety of themes with specific characters or topics such as vehicles, princesses, sports, animals, ect.

        To use memory cards in sensory bins, you need just a few materials. This can include a dry sensory bin material, the memory cards, and possibly scoops, tweezers. Dry sensory bin materials include such as dry beans, rice, sand, shredded paper, etc. Then memory cards can be added to the sensory bin and hidden away, much like we hid sight word cards in this sight word sensory bin.

        Another bonus is then building and refining fine motor skills through the scooping and pouring of the sensory bin materials.

        In the sensory bin, children can look for the matching memory cards. This activity builds skills such as:

        • visual discrimination
        • form constancy
        • visual memory
        • attention
        • sensory tolerance through play
        • fine motor control
        • transferring skills
        • bilateral coordination
        • controlled movements
        • MORE

        Memory Card Games and Handwriting

        Therapists are often looking for short and functional means of working on handwriting skills through play. Memory games are a great way to address this need.

        With a memory card game, children can write down the matches that they’ve found when matching cards. The same is true when playing “what’s missing” games. They can write down the words of the images that they’ve found on the playing board. And, by writing down these words, they can then work on letter formation, letter size, spacing, and legibility. This occurs in a in a short list format that is motivating for kids.

        Yet another benefit of working on handwriting skills with a memory game is that children are excited to find matches. This excitement can translate to the handwriting portion. Kids will want to write more words because that means they are finding more matches. This is a very rewarding and positive way to work on handwriting skills, which can often times, be a challenge for kids.

        Memory Card Games for Therapy

        Memory cards are a powerful tool to add to a therapy toolbox! This is especially true if memory games are focused on an interest of the child. You will really enjoy a new series of themed memory cards with handwriting pages that I have coming to the website shop.

        First up is our Back to School Memory Game and List Writing Prompts!

        Work on attention, memory, focus, visual skills, executive functioning skills, visual perceptual skills, concentration and a variety of other skills. PLUS, the themed cards include handwriting pages with a variety of lined paper options.

        This Back-to-School resource is a great way to quickly assess your caseload for handwriting, coloring, cutting, motor skills, midline crossing, visual memory, visual perceptual skills, motor planning, executive functioning, and more. And, such a fun and motivating activity to quickly and informally reassess each child on your caseload at a “just right” level.

        This memory card activity can be printed off, laminated, and used again and again.

        Click here to add the Back-to-School Memory Game and List Writing Prompts resource to your therapy toolbox.

        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.

        Left Handed Writing Tips

        left handed writing tips

        Handwriting for lefties is a common concern among parents and teachers who work with children who are left handed. Here, we are covering left handed writing tips to address common concerns with teaching left handed handwriting. Be sure to check out all of the handwriting resources here on the website.

        Left handed writing tips and tricks from an occupational therapist. Perfect for teaching a lefty to write.

        Left Handed Writing Tips

        I am use to working with the occasional left handed person but at the moment I have SIX left handers on my caseload. This motivated me to review some of the recent research on left handers and put together some tips on how to support left handed learners in the classroom.

        While most people believe that a person is left or right handed, there are many different types of handedness (1). True handedness When a person uses one hand for more than 70% of tasks this hand is considered their dominant hand. This means a child can still use their non-dominant hand for some tasks.

        Below are some common terms that come up when addressing left or right handedness, or the mixed use of hands in tasks. These are important terms to be aware of when it comes to using a set hand in handwriting tasks.

        Read this article on ambidexterity vs. mixed handedness for more information on these two concepts.

        Ambiguous handedness

        Ambiguous handedness refers to when a child changes from one hand to another hand during the performance of a task. This can be seen in younger children as hand dominance can become established anywhere between the ages of three years and five years.

        Mixed handedness

        Mixed handedness is the term for when a person uses either hand for a specific task. An example would be a left hander being able to use their left or right hand to use a computer mouse. Most left handers have some degree of mixed handedness.


        Ambidexterity is the ability to use both hands equally well for all tasks. This is extremely rare and only 1% of the population are considered truly ambidextrous. Getting more information on ambidexterity will help to encourage hand dominance in children for functional use.

        Using the Left Hand in Handwriting

        So most of us in the world fall into either the right handed or left handed category. A recent worldwide study confirmed that 10.6% of the world’s population are left handed (2). Left handedness is found in more boys than girls and it appears to run in families. There has been much debate on the exact role that genetics have to play in establishing handedness.

        There seems to be a hereditary element but handedness does not appear to have a simple pattern of inheritance. Cultural and social factors have an important role to play in the development of handedness (3).

        Left Hand Dominance- Development

        Hand dominance can emerge anywhere from 14 months to three years and by the age of five most children have settled on a hand of preference for gross and fine motor tasks. In left handers this establishment of a dominant hand can take longer and there is also a greater tendency for them to use one hand for fine motor tasks and a different hand for gross motor tasks (4).

        One a more practical note left handers typically experience difficulties in a world that was designed for right handers. I had been aware of some of their struggles but was further enlightened when I went on a course a few years ago. The lecturer described how everyday tasks like handshakes and giving someone a hug could feel so unnatural for a left hander.

        In these instances left handers have to go against their natural instinct and reverse the hand that they would naturally use to shake some ones hand with or change the direction they would naturally step in to hug someone.

        Left Handed Writing Tips

        In the classroom there are a number of ways we can help left handers complete the tasks expected of them. Try these left handed writing tips and tricks to help your lefty use and hold a pencil when writing in the home or classroom so they can write at a functional level.

        1. Left handers should sit on the left hand side of the table if they are sharing a table or on the left side at the end of the row. This ensures there is no elbow bumping if they are sharing table space with a right handed person.
        2. Students who are left handed should be encouraged to tilt their page to the right when they are drawing or writing. The page can be tilted at 30-40 degrees clockwise. This allows them to have a clearer view of their work and prevents some of the smudging that typically happens when a leftie moves their hand across the page.
        3. Encouraging a left handed person to hold their pencil slightly further up the shaft of their pen or pencil will also assist in their ability to see their work and prevent smudging. A pencil grip or elastic band wrapped around their pencil can provide a guide of where to place their fingers when they start developing their pencil grip.
        4. I have found that working on an inclined surface can also be helpful for left handers. Slant boards prevent the flexed / hooked wrist that typically develops in left handers. Slant boards are commercially available or a lever arch file can be used to create an elevated surface.
        5. Use these toys and games to develop wrist stability to address a hooked or flexed wrist that commonly occurs during left handed writing.
        6. Directionality can be challenging as the natural inclination for left handers is to work from right to left. Place stickers in the top left hand corner of the page as a reminder to work from right to left.
        7. When copying words, number, letters or pictures ensure that the model /example is on the right side of the page. This prevents the left hander from covering the work that they need to copy with their left hand.
        8. Finger spaces are difficult for a left hander to incorporate when they develop their writing skills. I have found that using an ice-cream stick or strip of paper to mark out finger spaces can be helpful in the early stages of writing. We usually decorate our ice-cream stick or strip of paper with a stick figure who becomes Mr/Mrs Space.
        9. Additional advice regarding cursive writing for left handers can be found in the following blog on cursive handwriting for left handed students.
        10. Other products that may make a left handers life easier are left handed pencil sharpeners and a left handed computer mouse.
        11. For a comprehensive resource on teaching handwriting skills, use The Handwriting Book. This resource includes tips and strategies for all aspects of handwriting and the book breaks down each underlying skill that impacts functional handwriting skills.

        Left Handed Scissor Skills

        Using scissors can be another difficult task for left handed students. Try some of these tips to teach lefties to use scissors functionally.

        1. Left handed scissors are essential for left handed learners. The leading blade of left handed scissors is on the opposite side to that of right handed scissors making it much easier for the left handed person to line up the blade and the line they are cutting out. Ambidextrous scissors tend to be misleading as the lead blade has to be on the left or the right side.
        2. Left handers should be encouraged to cut to the left and in a clockwise direction. This enables them to comfortable feed the page with their right hand and ensures that they can see the line they are cutting throughout the task. For more information on cutting skills and additional advice for left handed cutting get the resource The Scissor Skills Book, a comprehensive guide on using and cutting with scissors.

        I hope some of these suggestions will be helpful for the left handers that are in your lives. The 13 th August marks World Left handed Day so take some time to acknowledge the left handers that you know and the adaptations they have had to make to fit into the very right handed world we live in.


        1. Left hand Learning: Teaching the preschool and foundation phase learner (Workshop byTracy van der Merwe, 2008, Durban, South Africa).
        2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-asymmetric-brain/202004/the-world-s-biggest-study-left-handedness
        3. McManus, Chris (2003) Right hand, left hand. Great Britain: Phoenix publisher. ISBN 978-0753813553
        4. Sara M Scharoun and Pamela J. Bryden – Hand preference, performance abilities, and hand selection in children. Frontiers in Psychology Published online 2014 Feb
          18. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00082

        Contributor to The OT Toolbox: Janet Potterton is an occupational therapist working predominantly in school-based settings and I love, love, love my job. I have two children (if you don’t count my husband!), two dogs, one cat, two guinea pigs and one fish. When I am not with my family or at work I try to spend time in nature. The beach is my happy place.

        Mermaid Sandcastle Activity

        mermaid sandcastle

        Do you know kids that love all things mermaids? Or, are you heading to the beach this summer and want to add a sandcastle activity to your skill building? This mermaid sandcastle is going to be a hit this summer! Kids can decorate the mermaid and build a sandcastle in an interactive slide deck for therapy goals!

        Use this mermaid sandcastle activity to work on therapy skills- decorate a mermaid and a sandcastle and then complete the mermaid writing prompts and sandcastle writing prompts.

        Mermaid Sand Castle Activity

        Did you ever see a kiddo or little girl who loves all things mermaids? Using mermaid themes in therapy activities can be a fun way to engage kids in something that interest them like mermaids.

        In this interactive slide deck children can move the pieces to add accessories to create a decorated mermaid.

        This mermaid slide deck is mirrored off of our popular disguise a turkey slide deck from Thanksgiving and our fun decorate a gingerbread house from Christmas time. Both free slide decks were really popular during the pandemic when all therapy was virtual. Just like those interactive slides, this mermaid sandcastle activity allows kids the freedom of expression and creativity to decorate a mermaid and a sandcastle with movable pieces right on the slides.

        This slide deck is a great summer occupational therapy tool to work on several areas.

        Skills like eye hand coordination, visual motor skills, visual memory, visual attention, and visual discrimination can be used to move the different necklaces and crowns for the mermaid.

        On the first slide children can select accessories for the mermaid by clicking and dragging on different accessories. They have to work on mouse control or finger isolation to click and drag.

        Mermaid Writing Prompts

        Next the slides prompt kids to write about what they selected to create their mermaid.

        Depending on the child’s individual goals or needs they can work on hand writing and write out the sentence prompts on paper or they can type right on this the scrub slide deck.

        The slide asks kids about the accessories they used to decorate their mermaid, so the prompts work on using visual memory and working memory skills as part of executive functioning. Children can try to recall the specific details about the accessories that they selected like the color the shape the form and other details.

        This helps with awareness skills and recognition as well as discrimination and visual memory. All of his skills are essential for hand writing when copying materials or writing from memory to form letters and numbers.

        Decorate a sandcastle activity

        Next the slide deck continues with the sea theme with an interactive decorate a Sandcastle slide. On this slide, children can decorate this the Sandcastle using features such as colorful and fun windows, doors, and flags.

        Sandcastle Writing Prompts

        Then the next slide continues with a handwriting or typing prompt and asks about details that they selected for their Sandcastle.

        Children can again work on working memory skills and attention to detail.

        Both of the slide decks both of these slides are fun ways to use a mermaid and sandcastle theme in therapy.

        Free mermaid sandcastle slide deck

        Would you like to add the slide deck to your therapy Toolbox? Enter your email address into the form below to access the slide deck. You will receive an email with a PDF that you can click to cook to connect the slides to your Google Drive. When used in the edit mode the clickable pieces on the interactive slide deck will be movable. Note please consider using a personal email address as school email addresses and work email addresses may block the delivery of this PDF via email.

        FREE Mermaid Sandcastle Slide Deck Activity

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          Working on building skills this summer? The Summer OT Bundle is for you!

          Summer occupational therapy activities bundle

          Work on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, scissor skills, and much more so that kids can accomplish self-care tasks, learn, and grow through play all summer long.

          This bundle is perfect for the pediatric occupational therapist who needs resources and tools to use in summer therapy sessions, home programs, or extended school year therapy plans.

          This bundle is perfect for parents, grandparents, and caregivers looking to provide developmental fine motor activities designed to help kids build skills.

          • Send kids back to school in the Fall without worrying about the “Summer Slide”.
          • Use these materials to work on areas like hand strength, fine motor development, scissor skills, handwriting, pencil control, pencil grasp, sensory play experiences, and much more. Just pull out the pages or activities you need for your child, and develop skills through play!

          The Summer OT Bundle includes 19 resources that you can print and use over and over again:

          Helping children develop and achieve functional skills this summer was never so easy (or fun!)

          Be sure to grab the Summer OT Bundle, a HUGE resource of therapy tools and activities for all things building skills this summer.

          Grab the Summer OT Bundle here.

          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.

          How to teach number formation

          number formation activities

          Learning to write numbers is a big deal for youngsters and learning number formation correctly is an important handwriting skill to master in the foundation phase of school. As with most of the skills taught at school some children pick it up really quickly while others need a little bit of guidance before they are writing their 1,2,3’s. Much like letter formation activities, there are lots of fun, creative ways to reinforce correct number formations and methods to ensure that forming numbers correctly becomes second nature.

          number formation activities for teaching kids how to correctly form numbers

          Why correct number formation is important

          It’s always rewarding to see a young child start to recognize numbers and to attempt to copy what they see. Is it really that important how they form the numbers?

          Surely if a 5 looks like a 5 it doesn’t have to be formed in a specific way? It does seem very prescriptive to insist on forming the numbers one way. But it is important to teach correct formations when children begin to write their own numbers.

          Teaching number formation with the correct staring points and the correct path to follow when forming a number allows a motor memory to be effectively laid down in the brain. You can read about motor planning and motor planning’s impact on handwriting in previous posts.

          Following the same pattern each time you form the number allows this motor memory to become strengthened more quickly and the child’s ability to form the number automatically develops. This frees up their brain to focus more on the content of what they are working on as opposed to using brainpower to figure out how to make the number.

          How to teach number formation

          There are a few tips that will really help when teaching number formation. These include:

          • using correct starting points
          • incorporating sensory input
          • repetition
          • rhythm / song

          Number formation starting points

          The most important idea for me to get across to children learning to form numbers is that they must start from the correct place.

          We call this the starting point or the starting spot. I tell the children when we are learning to write numbers that we are always going to drive the same way on the “number road’’ of whichever number we are learning to write. We will always start at the same place and drive the same way – no reversing, changing direction or starting in the wrong spot!

          All of the numbers start at the top so we make sure that we always start ‘up there’. I have permission from the children to tickle their feet if I catch them starting any numbers from the bottom!

          Then I use a visual cue to show the children where we are going to start. This visual cue could be a sticker, smiley face, star, small picture, anything that is going to remind them of the correct place to start that number. Below is a picture of how to use round stickers to demonstrate where to start the number. You can also add arrows to indicate the direction you must travel from the starting point.

          • In the early stages of number formations allow children to trace over numbers or dotted lines making up the numbers.
          • Work on numbers 1 to 5 first and once we are feeling confident and happy about starting in the right spot we move on to number 6 to 10.

          Using sensory input for number formation

          Once children have started grasping the concept of how to form the numbers correctly you can use sensory input to pin down the map of how the number is formed.

          I have found movement and tactile inputs a sure fire way to reinforce correct number formations. Movement often involves forming large numbers on a blackboard or white board or ‘drawing’ these numbers in the air with your hand.

          Painting– Forming numbers in paint on an easel or drawing large numbers on the driveway are also ways to incorporate movement when learning number formations.

          Air Writing– By virtue of the big bold movements performed by the arm and hand more parts of the brain are activated in the process of laying down the motor pattern for that number. Children can get a real feel of how the numbers should be formed when their whole body and arm moves to make the number.

          Writing Trays– Tactile input is an equally powerful tool when it comes to reinforcing number formations. Forming numbers in sand trays and sensory bags reinforces the correct way the number should be written and makes learning numbers lots of fun. Try these writing tray ideas to work on number formation.

          Here are more ways to incorporate sensory input into formation of letters and numbers.

          Using repetition in writing numbers

          Like so many things that we learn practice makes perfect. And number formations are no different. A huge part of achieving success with number formations is repetition repetition repetition. Look for fun ways to encourage the repetition of the number you are working on.

          • Select a number to practice. Use a dice to see how many of that specific number you need to draw
          • Draw rows of each number
          • Draw the number on a chalk board, wipe it clean with a sponge and repeat
          • Turn each number into a rainbow number. There are some lovely ideas on rainbow writing that can be adapted for numbers.

          Rhythm and Songs for teaching how to write numbers

          Nothing sticks in your head like a catchy tune and using rhythm and song can be an effective way of cementing number formations in your brain. A simple example of a number formation is given below.  

          Here is more information on using rhythm in handwriting skills.

          e.g. Whoa its high up here but down I go. I’m number one I told you so (video 1)

          Here are a few ideas of number formation songs from youtube. I did notice quite a few sites form their zero in a clockwise direction. I always encourage anti-clockwise circles to prevent letter reversals with children start writing.

          It’s important for the child’s school, therapist and parent to use the same number formation stories to increase the effectiveness of the story being committed to memory.

          For more resources on number formation, grab a copy of The Handwriting Book, a comprehensive resource on development of handwriting, and specific strategies to promote legible and effective handwriting.

          Now you know your 1,2,3’s next time you can write with me!

          Contributor to The OT Toolbox: Janet Potterton is an occupational therapist working predominantly in school-based settings and I love, love, love my job. I have two children (if you don’t count my husband!), two dogs, one cat, two guinea pigs and one fish. When I am not with my family or at work I try to spend time in nature. The beach is my happy place.

          Kindergarten Learning and Play Activities

          kindergarten activities

          Below are kindergarten activities that promote development of skills needed during the kindergarten year. These are great activities to use for kindergarten readiness and to help preschool and Pre-K children build the motor skills in order to succeed in their kindergarten year. You’ll find kindergarten letter activities, Kinder math, fine motor skills to build stronger pencil grasps when kindergarteners start to write with a pencil and cut with scissors. You’ll also find kindergarten sight word activities for when that time of the Kinder year comes around. Let’s have some fun with 5-6 year old activities!

          Kindergarten activities and kindergarten readiness activities

          Kindergarten Activities

           What you’ll notice is missing from this massive list of Kindergarten activities, is handwriting, writing letters, and even writing names. (And writing letters in a sensory bin falls into this category too! Before kindergarten, children should not be copying letters into a sensory bin. You’ll see letters formed incorrectly, letters formed from bottom to top, and letters formed in “chunks”. The same rule applies to tracing letters and words and even “multisensory strategies” for writing. It’s just too early. Unfortunately, we see a lot of preschools and standards doing the exact opposite. You’ll even find online sites sharing preschool and Pre-K writing that is just in poor advice.
          Here’s why: prior to kindergarten age, kids are not developmentally ready for holding a pencil, writing with a pencil, and writing words. Their muscles are not developed, and asking them to write letters, copy words, and trace with a pencil is setting them up for improper letter formation, poor pencil grasp, and weak hands. 
          What children aged 5 and under DO need is play! They need exposure to sensory experiences, sensory play, coloring, cutting with scissors (even if it’s just snipping), puzzles, games, beads, blocks, stamps…there are SO many ways to help pre-K kids and preschool children develop the skills they need for kindergarten and beyond.
          Kindergarten is such a fun age.  Kids in kindergarten strive when they are given the chance to learn through play and hands-on activities.  These are our favorite Kindergarten activities that we’ve shared on the site, with Kindergarten math, reading and letter awareness, Kindergarten Crafts, and Kindergarten Play.   


          Kindergarten Functional Tasks

          Kindergarten is the stage when children go off to school for perhaps the first time. That’s why prior to kindergarten, it’s great to “practice” a lot of the functional tasks that children will need to do once they go to kindergarten. Some of these may include:

          Now…not all of these functional skills will be established for every kindergarten child…and that’s OK! Kindergarten can be the year to practice these tasks in the school environment. 

          Kindergarten Letter Activities

          Kindergarten is all about letters, upper case and lower case letters, and sounds.  They learn how letters go with sounds and work on decodable reading.  These letter learning activities will help your kindergarten student with identification, sounds, and beginning reading skills.

          Kindergarten Letter activities for letter learning

          Kindergarten Math Activities

          Kindergarten students work with manipulating items to discover and explore numbers and patterns.  They solve simple addition and subtraction problems, more or less, comparing amounts, and shapes.
          These Kindergarten math ideas will be a fun way to discover math ideas with playful learning.
          Kindergarten Math ideas




          Kindergarten Sight Words and Reading:

          Kindergarten students learn sight words throughout the school year. These sight word activities are fun ways to learn with play while reinforcing sight word skills.

          Sight Words Manipulatives | Outdoor Pre-Reading Letter Hunt

          Kindergarten Books and Activities

          Extending book ideas with crafts and activities are a fun way for Kindergarten students to become engaged with reading.  Listening to an adult read is a powerful tool for pre-readers.  They learn language, speech, articulation, volume, and tone of voice.  These book related activities will extend popular stories and engage your Kindergartner.

          Book ideas activities for Kindergarten




          Kindergarten Fine Motor Play

          Fine motor skills in Kindergarten students are essential for effective pencil control and handwriting, scissor use, and clothing and tool manipulation.  Kindergartners may have little experience with tools like scissors, pencils, hole punches, staplers, and pencil sharpeners. In fact, there are MANY fine motor skills needed at school. All of these items require dexterity and strength.  
          In-Hand manipulation play for fine motor skills: We had so much fun with water beads.  This post shares two ideas for improving in-hand manipulation skills which are so important for dexterity in self-care, handwriting, coin manipulation…and so much more!
          Finger isolation, tripod grasp, eye-hand coordination, bilateral hand coordination…Fine Motor Play with Crafting Pom Poms has got it all!  We even worked on color identification and sorting with this easy fine motor play activity.

          What play ideas can you come up with using common tools? These items are GREAT ways to build hand strength and dexterity that will be needed in kindergarten for pencil grasp development and endurance in handwriting. 

          • tweezers
          • tongs
          • beads
          • toothpicks
          • hole puncher
          • peg boards
          • lacing cards


          These fine motor activities will engage your student in fine motor skills for effective hand use in functional school tasks.
          Kindergarten Fine Motor activities

          Kindergarten Play:

          Play in Kindergarten is essential for so many areas.  Kindergartners are young students who need brain breaks from desk work.  Not only for that reason, but for turn-taking, language, social interaction, self-confidence, problem-solving, and interaction, play is an important part of your Kindergarten student’s daily lives.  

          Play builds skills! Check out this post on the incredible power of play. Play helps kids learn and develop cognitive experiences and the neural connections that impact their educational career, beginning right now! Occupational therapists know that play is the primary occupation of children, but what’s more is that play builds the very skills that kids need to learn and develop.

          Kindergarteners can gain valuable input through play:

          • Cognition
          • Problem Solving
          • Executive Functioning Skills
          • Attention
          • Strength
          • Balance
          • Visual Motor Integration
          • Visual Processing
          • Sensory Integration
          • Self Regulation
          • Language Development
          • Self-Confidence
          • Fine Motor Skills
          • Gross Motor Skills
          • Social Emotional Development
          • Stress Relief
          • Behavior
          • Imagination
          • Creativity

          Try these play ideas in the classroom or at home for fun learning (through play)!


          Kindergarten Crafts

          Crafts in Kindergarten are a great tool for so many areas.  Students can work on direction following, order, patterns, task completion, scissor skills, fine motor dexterity, tool use, and more by completing crafts in Kindergarten.  

          Kindergarten crafts can have one or more of the areas listed here to help and build skills:

          • Scissor practice (placing on hand and opening/closing the scissors)
          • Exposure to different textures and art supplies
          • Practice with using a glue stick and bottle of squeeze glue
          • Practice cutting strait lines and stopping at point
          • Practice cutting simple shapes
          • Practice cutting complex shapes
          • Coloring
          • Painting with finger paints and paint brushes
          • Experience washing hands after crafting
          • Opportunities for creative expression
          • Opportunities for rule-following and direction following
          • Multi-step directions
          • Experience copying a model for visual motor benefits

          Try a few (or all!) of these Kindergarten crafts for fun arts and play with your student. 

          Kindergarten Craft ideas


          Grand Old Duke of York Craft | Process Art Monster Cupcake Liner craft | Shoe Charm craft | Caterpillar Math Craft

          We’ll be adding more to this resource soon, so stop back to find more Kindergarten learning ideas.