Fall Activities for Therapy

leaf activities

These leaf activities are fun ways to incorporate colorful fall leaves into occupational therapy sessions! Fall themed activities to use all week in done-for-you therapy planning. Use real leaves from outside, or materials on hand. Fall leaves make a great theme for weekly occupational therapy themes!

Leaf activities for kids to work on gross motor skills, fine motor skills, scissor skills, handwriting, and more.

Leaf Activities

Leaf Handwriting– These Fall writing prompts include leaf writing prompts, among other fall themed prompts. Includes sentence prompts and single words, all with a Fall and leaf theme.

Pre-Writing Lines Activity- Work on Pre-writing activity with real leaves. Use real leaves to work on eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills, and pre-writing lines with hands on fine motor work.

Bilateral Coordination Activity: Use this Leaf Craft to address bilateral coordination skills. Use real leaves to make a craft that builds bilateral coordination, heavy work proprioceptive input, and scissor skills.

Leaf Craft for Older Kids: This Sewing Skills Leaf Craft is great for older kids that need to address fine motor skills. Use a needle and thread, wire, lacing cord to thread around leaf shapes. We used plastic canvas, but you could use cardboard, cereal boxes, or even laminated paper.

Leaf Auditory Processing Activities– You can use leaves found out in the lawn to work on so many auditory processing skills including auditory discrimination and more.

Leaf Therapy Activities– This free printable home program uses a Fall leaves theme for a leaf tic tac toe game. Kids can complete different leaf themed therapy activities and score tic tac toe!

Hand StrengthLeaf Ten Frames are a great way to build hand strength using leaves. Use a hole puncher with leaves to work on hand strength and hands-on math.

Leaf Sensory Play– This Nature Water Table is perfect for sensory exploration, but is a fun toddler Fall activity with very little prep. Use a bin, water table, or bowl to explore Fall’s colors and textures and challenge the senses.

Leaf Sensory Activity– This corn husk painting activity is sensory activity art with the corn husk leaves of Fall! Sensory Painting- Use leaves, corn husks, and grasses for sensory painting. Then, practice handwashing!

Leaves Heavy Work Activity– We used play dough and Fall leaves in this Fall Play Dough Press to add heavy work through the hands. Use natural materials and play dough to add heavy work for the hands. This is a great visual perception activity, too.

Leaf Eye-Hand Coordination Activity– Use leaves to make these Fall tree crafts. They are great to work on eye-hand coordination and problem solving with a sensory experience to make these fall trees.

Fall Scissor Skills Activity– This Fall leaves scissor activity uses leaves found right outside the home or therapy clinic! Use leaves to work on line awareness, bilateral coordination, and visual motor skills.

Bilateral Coordination Activity– Work on bilateral coordination skills with this Fall leaf garland craft.

Shoulder Stability and Posture– Use a vertical surface to build strength, stability, posture, balance, coordination, and eye-hand coordination skills with this easel leaf activity. We used these easel leaves to work on sight words and trick words, but you could use this activity for any multi-sensory learning or math activity, too.

Leaf activities for occupational therapy to work on fine motor skills gross motor skills and other functional tasks.

Fall Crafts

 

 

 

This Fall Art Collage from A Little Pinch of Perfect adds a sensory and fine motor component to Fall art for preschoolers!

 

Incorporate movement, songs, and gross motor skills with this Leaves of the Trees Preschool Song from Growing Book By Book. 

These Autumn Leaf Hats from Mosswood Connections are a fun craft to work on scissor skills, bilateral coordination, and fine motor skills. 

Address bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, finger isolation, and precision skills to make these Leaf Stamping Tee Shirts from Mommy Crusader.

 

Make a Fall Nature Invitation like this activity from KCEdventures and this baby or toddler sensory table that we made using Fall leaves.

Make Leaf Peg Dolls from In the Playroom to work on fine motor skills.

Work on visual motor skills with this Leaf Color Sort from Stir the Wonder.

fall fine motor kit
Fall Fine Motor Kit

Working on fine motor skills this Fall? Grab the Fall Fine Motor Kit!

Printable 76 page, (no-prep) Fall themed fine motor activities and fine motor worksheets designed to build strong hands so kids can learn, hold & write with a pencil, and play.

This print-and-go Fall Fine Motor Kit includes no-prep fine motor activities to help kids develop functional grasp, dexterity, strength, and endurance. Use fun, Summer-themed, fine motor activities so you can help children develop strong fine motor skills in a digital world.

Includes Fall themed activities for hand strength, pinch and grip, dexterity, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, endurance, finger isolation, handwriting, scissor skills, pre-writing skills, and much more.

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

Scoop, Pour, Transfer Activities

scooping, pouring, transferring activities

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

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

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

Scooping Activities for Toddlers

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

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

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

Benefits of Scooping, Pouring, and Transfering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other areas of fine motor development include

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scooping and Pouring Activities

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

Materials for this scooping and transferring activity include:

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

This activity is very easy to set up.  

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

Precautions for Pouring and Scooping Activities with Toddlers

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

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

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

Development of Scooping and Pouring skills in Toddlers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scooping and Pouring Preschool Activity

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

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

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

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

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

Hand preference in Preschool

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

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

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

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

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

Kindergarten Scooping, Pouring, and Transferring Activities

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

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

Pouring, Scooping and Transferring Activities

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

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

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

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

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

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

More fine motor activities you will love

Want more ways to work on fine motor skills? Grab our seasonal Fine Motor Kits! Each kit includes different activities that can work on areas like fine motor strength, grip, precision, pinch, and coordination.

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.

Summer Occupational Therapy Activities

Summer occupational therapy activities

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.

Looking for summer occupational therapy activities or ideas to use in home programs for the summer? This year’s summer OT activities may look a little different than previous years. In years past, therapists may have been gearing up for an end of another school year and a break from in-person OT sessions. What hasn’t changed about the end of a school year is the carefree days of summer that are ahead. As an OT, I love the feeling of the start of summer. There is just something about back-to-the-basics play of summer. Running around the backyard, hopping on bikes, sidewalk chalk, sprinklers and water play…summer play is a goldmine of motor and sensory activities that can boost those underlying skills kids NEED.

Because of this, I wanted to put together a resource on summer occupational therapy activities that can be implemented today. These are strategies to use for your own child to boost development and challenge skills. These are ideas to use in teletherapy or in home programs. These are play ideas that help kids with the balance of screens and active play. Use the summer resources for parents, teachers, and therapists to develop underlying skills in very fun ways! These are AWESOME summer occupational therapy activities!

Check the summer activities for kids of all ages listed below!

In the bundle, there is the Summer Occupational Therapy Activities Packet. It’s a collection of 14 items that guide summer programming at home, at school, and in therapy sessions. The summer activities bundle covers handwriting, visual perceptual skills and visual motor skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, regulation, and more.

You’ll find ideas to use in virtual therapy sessions and to send home as home activities that build skills and power development with a fun, summer theme. Kids will love the Summer Spot It! game, the puzzles, handouts, and movement activities. Therapists will love the teletherapy slide deck and the easy, ready-to-go activities to slot into OT sessions. The packet is only $10.00 and can be used over and over again for every student/client!

Grab the Spring Occupational Therapy Activities Packet HERE.

NEW RESOURCE: The Summer Fine Motor Kit– This 90 page packet it specifically designed to build the motor skills kids have been limited in over the past year or so: handwriting, cutting with scissors, small motor manipulation, arch development and hand endurance, strength, pinch, and coloring. The Summer Fine Motor Kit includes different tools and materials than our other fine motor kits, but has some of the most-requested favorites in fun summer themes:

  • Summer Play Dough/Handwriting Mats (3 writing paper styles: single rule, double rule, and highlighted lines)
  • Lacing cards
  • Color and cut sensory bin cards
  • Sea Creature, Summer Play, & Summer Treats Silly Paths (great for pencil control and eye-hand coordination)
  • Tracing mazes/ Fine motor mazes
  • Symmetry drawing page
  • Fine Motor Flip Pages (flip a coin or small object and place them along a path)
  • Glue skills pages
  • Prewriting shapes sheets
  • Toothpick art activities
  • Pencil control worksheets/Fine motor placement paths
  • Scissor skills activities (simple and complex shapes)
  • Sensory bin cards

NEW RESOURCE: The Summer OT Bundle– Want to cover all your bases this summer? This bundle has everything you need for therapy planning, home programs, summer camps, Grandma’s house, or extended school year programs so you can just print and go. The bundle is $20 and includes:

Let’s help kids struggling from a year of mega-screen overload meet the goals they need to thrive. Plus…take more time for you this summer by using done-for-you resources!

Occupational therapists can use these summer occupational therapy activities when planning OT home programs for for summer programs.

Summer Occupational Therapy Activities 

In many areas, schools are winding down for the year. You may have a few weeks or a few days left. The daily countdown of number of remaining school days is dwindling.

You might be wondering how to balance work-from home and making summer days count.

You might be wondering how to keep the kids busy this summer without breaking the bank.

You might be a clinician thinking about summer programming and need a few fresh ideas.

You might be thinking about summer plans and ways to encourage development in fun ways the whole family can enjoy.

You might be a therapist putting together summer home programs.

You might be a teacher who is READY for the final bell to ring this school year 🙂

I wanted to put together a list of resources for summer activities that can boost the skills kids need. The “summer slide” can happen in handwriting and other school-based therapy goal areas, too!

Summer Occupational Therapy Activity Resources

~ Do some or all of the activities listed here in this Sensory Summer Camp at Home plan. All of the activities and ideas are free and use items you probably already have.

~ Sneak in handwriting practice while traveling with these motivating and authentic ideas. HERE are a few MORE natural writing experiences for summer that keep those pencils moving.

~ Try some of the activities in this Summer Activity Guide designed to encourage play and creativity in activities for the whole family.

~ Practice the motor planning and fine motor skills needed for handwriting and with a sensory twist using the ideas outlined in this Sensory Handwriting Backyard Summer Camp.

~ Try these Backyard Vestibular Activities for Summer to encourage movement and sensory experiences right in the backyard.

~ Print off this June Occupational Therapy Calendar for ideas to last the whole month. (It’s from a couple of years back so the dates are off, but the activities still work!)

~ These no-prep, basically free summer activities won’t break the bank and boost the underlying skills kids NEED, in fun ways.

~ Use sidewalk chalk to boost fine motor skills.  

~Make a summer time capsule with the whole family and create memories that can be looked back on years from now.   

~Create a summer kick-off bucket filled with toys and items for months of sensory play.     

~The kids will love these frozen fruit kabob snacks. It’s a great alerting sensory snack that doubles as a healthy summer treat.

The ideas listed above should help you create therapy home programs, and keep the kids loaded up on creative, open-ended, and movement-based PLAY that their little bodies NEED!

Use these summer occupational therapy activities when planning sensory activities, fine motor, and gross motor developmental ideas for kids.

Want to take summer play to the next level? Be sure to grab your copy of the Summer OT Activities Bundle!

Summer activities for kids

Rainbow Sort Color Activity

rainbow sort fine motor activity

This rainbow sort activity is a fine motor skills idea to help kids sort colors while developing dexterity and precision and learning colors. By sorting the colors of the rainbow into small containers, a rainbow fine motor activity is a colorful way to help kids develop fine motor skills. Add this idea to your rainbow theme in therapy interventions, or home activities for developing motor skills.

Rainbow sort activity for fine motor skills in kids
Rainbow sort activity to help kids develop fine motor skills with a rainbow theme

 

Rainbow Sort

We have been on a rainbow kick recently and have a ton of rainbow projects going on right now.  This color sorting activity was a fun one that the big kids and my toddler really got into. 

This rainbow sort activity is easy to set up. All you need is colorful craft pom poms and an ice tray or two. The ice trays are the perfect size for the crafting pom poms.

 

Rainbow sort activity for kids to develop fine motor skills
 
Kids can sort the colors of the rainbow to work on fine motor skills

 

Preschool Rainbow Activities

 
This color sorting activity is great for toddlers to develop fine motor skills in the preschool and toddler years. Baby Girl (17 months) got right in there.
 
In the preschool years, fine motor skills are a precursor for handwriting and pencil grasp. This pre-writing activity is perfect for preschool aged children. 
 
Add this rainbow fine motor activity to the preschool classroom or home by adding tongs, tweezers, or scoops to help kids develop the precision, motor coordination, and eye-hand coordination skills kids need at the preschool age. 
 
Plus, this rainbow sort activity is a great way to teach preschoolers colors, too.
 
To work on pre-writing skills in other ways, try this rainbow prewriting activity available on a free slide deck. 
 
Tongs are a powerful fine motor tool to use in occupational therapy activities that develop fine motor skills. To elevate this fine motor activity, ask kids to make their own craft stick tongs to manipulate these colorful craft poms. Preschool children can sort the colors using different colored tongs that are easy to make.
 
Rainbow sorting fine motor activity for preschool
 She is ALWAYS watching the big kids and copies everything!
 
Look at that concentration.  And that cute little baby belly!   

 

Rainbow activity for fine motor skills in toddlers
 
I can’t stand the cuteness!
 
Toddler fine motor skills

 

Rainbow sort color learning activity for kids

 

Rainbow fine motor skills activity
 
 
Colors Handwriting Kit

Rainbow Handwriting Kit– This resource pack includes handwriting sheets, write the room cards, color worksheets, visual motor activities, and so much more. The handwriting kit includes:

  • Write the Room, Color Names: Lowercase Letters
  • Write the Room, Color Names: Uppercase Letters
  • Write the Room, Color Names: Cursive Writing
  • Copy/Draw/Color/Cut Color Worksheets
  • Colors Roll & Write Page
  • Color Names Letter Size Puzzle Pages
  • Flip and Fill A-Z Letter Pages
  • Colors Pre-Writing Lines Pencil Control Mazes
  • This handwriting kit now includes a bonus pack of pencil control worksheets, 1-10 fine motor clip cards, visual discrimination maze for directionality, handwriting sheets, and working memory/direction following sheet! Valued at $5, this bonus kit triples the goal areas you can work on in each therapy session or home program.

Click here to get your copy of the Colors Handwriting Kit.

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.

Activities for Teaching Colors

teaching colors

There are so many ways to include multisensory play in teaching colors to children. Here, you’ll find hands-on, creative ways to teach colors of the rainbow using play that helps kids develop skills, move, and grow. Use these color activities in preschool or to teach toddlers colors. It’s a fun way to develop visual discrimination skills in young children.

Multisensory activities to teach colors to toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners.

I’m including color activities for kindergarten and school-aged children, as well, because this color themes can be used in therapy activities or to help kids develop handwriting, or visual motor skills in the older grades. There is a lot of fun, hands-on activities listed here that help children learn colors and explore through play!

Activities to teach colors to toddlers

Teaching Colors to Toddlers

Toddler play and development is all about the hands-on exploration of the world. We have a lot of toddler activities designed to develop motor skills and learning here on the website that you’ll want to check out.

To teach colors to toddlers, it’s all about making things fun. These toddler activities will get you started with hands-on development activities.

So many color activities in the toddler years involve sorting colors, identifying colors, and pointing out colors. All of these activities lay the building blocks for visual discrimination that kids will use in reading and writing down the road.

Try these activities for teaching colors to toddlers:

Toddler Color Sorting with Toys– This activity uses toys and items that are found around the home, making the color identification part of every day life. You can use items that the child uses and sees every day.

Teach Color Sorting Activity– This simple color sorting activity is great for families that have a preschooler and a toddler. The preschooler can cut foam sheets and work on scissor skills and then both the preschooler and toddler can sort the paper scraps by color. This is a nice activity that allows siblings to work together to learn concepts and grow skills together.

Color Sort Busy Bag– Toddlers love to drop items into containers, and put things into buckets, bins, and bags…and then take them back out again. It’s all part of the learning process! This color sorting busy bag gives toddlers colored craft sticks or dyed lollipop sticks and has them sort by color. It’s a great activity for developing fine motor skills and coordination, too.

Cup Sorting for Toddlers– This color sorting activity uses items in the home, like plastic toddler cups! There is just something about toddlers playing in the kitchen with baby-safe items…and this one builds pre-literacy and pre-math skills that they will use long down the road…through play!

Talk about colors– Pointing out colors during play, conversation, in reading books, and going for walks…there are so many ways to teach colors to babies and toddlers through everyday conversation. It’s as simple as saying, “look at that blue flower” to add descriptive terms to kids.

Color with painting– Incorporate all of the colors of the rainbow in multisensory activities from a young age. These art play activities incorporates colors into play and learning through art with toddlers.

Teach colors with a ball pit– Use ball pit balls in a baby pool. You can bring a baby pool indoors as a baby ball pit to teach colors.

Teaching colors to preschoolers with multisensory learning activities

Teaching Colors in Preschool

In the preschool stage, learning occurs through play! These color learning activities are designed to promote learning through hands-on exploration, because those are the ways that learning “sticks”…when hands are busy and developing motor skills that they will later need for holding and writing with a pencil. Let’s look at some ways to teach colors in the preschool years:

Teaching Shapes and Colors with Rainbow Rocks by Fun-A-Day- This activity is fun because it uses the heavy weight of rocks to teach colors and shapes. But, kids are also strengthening their hands and gaining motor feedback about objects as they explore colors and other discriminating factors like weight and size.

Color and shape sorting– This preschool color sorting activity gives kids fine motor experiences with wikki stix. Ask preschoolers to copy the shapes, too for extra fine motor skill building and visual motor integration.

Fine Motor Color Sort– Grab an old spice container or cheese container, and some straws. This color sorting activity lays the groundwork for fine motor skill development and math skills. Kids can count the straws as they drop into the container and work on sorting colors while developing open thumb web space, separation of the sides of the hand and arch strength.

Color Matching Water Bin– This color learning activity is a sensory motor activity that also teaches letters. It’s perfect for preschool and kindergarten or even older grades as kids are immersed in multi- sensory learning with letters and pre-reading skills.

Clothespin Color Match– Children will love this fine motor activity that builds hand strength in a big way.

Bear Sees Colors Book and Activity– We used a snack to explore colors with a beloved preschool book. This is multisensory learning at its finest.

Gross Motor Color Games– There are many ways to explore and teach colors using games. Try some of these to add movement and play into learning colors at the preschool level:

  • Color I Spy- Call out a color and kids can run to touch something that is that color. Add variations of movement by asking kids to skip, hop, leap, crawl, or bear walk to touch the colors.
  • Color Simon Says- Call out directions based on clothing colors that kids are wearing. Add as many variations of movement and auditory challenges. This is a great activity for building working memory skills in preschoolers.
  • Color Tag- Kids can play tag and when they tag another player, they need to say a color for that person to go to. Another variation is having the players who are tagged run to a color that the tagger calls out.
Teaching colors to kindergarten children with multisensory learning activities.

Teach Colors in Kindergarten and older grades

Once children are school-aged, teaching colors doesn’t end. In the school years, children explore color mixing, learning about primary colors, and more. Look at all of these color experiences that kids learn during the school years:

  • Spelling color names
  • Learning Primary Colors
  • Learning secondary colors
  • Color mixing
  • Color theory
  • Color wheel
  • Complimentary colors

Try some of these color activities for older children:

Color I Spy free therapy slide deck- This color themed scavenger hunt will get kids up and moving, using the items they have in their home as they work on visual perceptual skills, handwriting, and more. Kids can visually scan around their home to match the colors on the slide deck. Then, there is a handwriting component. This is a great slide deck for anyone working on handwriting skills with kids, virtually.

Color Exercises– Use gross motor exercises and stretches as well as fine motor exercises to get kids moving while working on SO many skill areas: bilateral coordination, motor planning, strengthening, core strength, precision, dexterity, visual motor skills…

Rainbow Deep Breathing Exercise– This free printable PDF is super popular. There’s a reason why: kids love the deep breathing activity and We love the mindfulness, coping skills, calming, and regulation benefits. Great for all ages.

Rainbow Binoculars Craft– Kids can use paper towel tubes in a craft that helps them look for and identify colors. Use these rainbow binoculars in visual scanning, visual discrimination, visual figure-ground, and other perceptual skills.

Colored pencils activities All you need is a couple of colored pencils (or substitute with a regular pencil if that’s all you’ve got on hand) to work on pencil control, line awareness, pencil pressure, and letter formation.

Benefits of coloring with crayons Just grab a box of crayons and build so many fine motor and visual motor skills.

Make crayon play dough– Explore colors with heavy work input through the hands and arms using all the colors of the rainbow. This crayon play dough recipe is a popular sensory recipe here on the website.

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.

Valentine’s Day Math Activity

valentines day fine motor activity

This Valentine’s Day math activity is an easy activity designed to promote hand eye coordination. Hand eye coordination, otherwise known as eye hand coordination, is a visual motor skill needed for so many functional tasks in children. This particular hands-on math activity was created to not only help with math skills around Valentine’s Day, but also to develop the essential coordination skills that kids need. It was easy to throw together and made working on a few Kindergarten math concepts more fun for my kiddo.  

Add this idea to your Occupational therapy Valentine’s Day activities.

Valentine's Day math activity to help kids with hand eye coordination and math concepts with a heart theme.

Hand Eye Coordination Activity

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To create this Valentines math activity, I cut a piece of cardboard into smaller pieces and then used them to make small heart shapes. On those hearts, I wrote numbers 1-20.  The hearts that we used were about 1 and a half inches tall but, you could create larger hearts, if coordination skills are something you need to address.

In our hand-eye coordination activity, we used a large red tweezer to work on picking up the hearts from a small container.  

Typically, using tweezers is a great way to work on fine motor skills like hand strength, tripod grasp, and arch development.  Here is information on the fine motor skills that tweezers help to establish, especially when using a smaller, hand-sized tong or tweezer.

With these extra large Jumbo Tweezers, the actual tweezer tool is larger than the hand. Because of this, different muscle groups are working.

The size of the Jumbo Tweezers requires the hands to open and shut with the thumb and all of the fingers.  This adduction and abduction of the thumb and slightly flexed MCP joints uses encouraged more of opposition of the thumb.  The wrist is extended and in an effective position for functional tasks.  

Grabbing up the cardboard hearts requires hand-eye coordination or visual motor integration.  The ability to effectively use hand-eye coordination in activities like handwriting, scissor use, games, and play allows children to write within given spaces, cut along lines, and move game pieces in a coordinated and fluent manner.  

Free therapy resources for Valentines

If eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills, and handwriting are tasks that you are working on with children, you’ll love both of these free therapy slide decks. Use them to outline occupational therapy interventions or to use in teletherapy sessions this time of year.

Free Spot It Handwriting Slide Deck

Free Gross Motor Valentine’s Day Activity Slide Deck

Hand-Eye Coordination Valentines Heart activity for math activities with Kindergarten kids or any school aged child. These jumbo tongs are great for visual motor integration skills and recommended by an Occupational Therapist.

Valentines Math Activity

These number hearts worked well with a few different hands on math activities, especially kindergarten math concepts. And, the heart counters made a great Valentines math activity for this time of year.

The activity is very open-ended, so there are many ways you could use this activity to work on math concepts at different levels. Here are some of the hands-on math activities that we completed:

Practice odd/even numbers- We then did a round of looking for and picking up the even numbers and then the odd numbers with the tweezers.    

Number order- To practice our hand-eye coordination with these hearts, I had my son try to find and pick up the hearts in number order.  

Counting by 10s- Practice counting up by tens and then count by tens into 100.

Number bonds- You can use the number hearts to build and take apart numbers to build and understanding of addition and subtraction facts. My son’s favorite was using the side without numbers to build and take apart numbers.  We did a snowman version of number building when my older daughter was in Kindergarten.  

Composing and decomposing numbers- With the cardboard hearts, we practiced composing and decomposing numbers.  I named a number, like “7” and my son had to use the hearts to build number 7 in many different ways.  He pulled out 7 hearts and separated them into two piles: one with 3 hearts and one pile with 4 hearts. We used more hearts to make other ways to take apart 7, too: 6 and 1, 5 and 2, 4 and 3, 2 and 5, and 1 and 6.  

More Valentine Math activities

Try some of these ways to play and learn using the

  • Practice number formation: pull out a heart with the Jumbo Tweezers
    and have your child write that number.
  • Ask your child to pull out a pile of hearts. They can count with one to one correspondence and then write the number.
  • Use the hearts in a ten frame.
  • Practice counting the hearts, starting at different numbers.

Here are more Valentine Math Activities:

Hand-Eye Coordination Valentines Heart activity for math activities with Kindergarten kids or any school aged child. These jumbo tongs are great for visual motor integration skills and recommended by an Occupational Therapist.

 

Valentines Fine Motor Activities

If you need more hand eye coordination activities for Valentine’s Day fine motor fun, try the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit.

The Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit is here! This printable kit is 25 pages of hands-on activity sheets designed to build skills in pinch and grasp strength, endurance, eye-hand coordination, precision, dexterity, pencil control, handwriting, scissor skills, coloring, and more.

When you grab the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit now, you’ll get a free BONUS activity: 1-10 clip cards so you can challenge hand strength and endurance with a counting eye-hand coordination activity.

Valentines Day fine motor kit

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.

Fish learning activity

We had some fish learning activities based on a penguin theme going on for a while around here.  Penguin activities are so much fun for learning and play!  This fish learning activity was a fun way to explore letters, words, and numbers AND incorporate our penguin theme.  We did this learning and counting activity one day after we made our penguin themed snacks. Add it to the penguin yoga activity and penguin deep breathing activities to round out full-body movement and learning.

Use these fish learning activities to work on sight words, math, letter identification, or spelling words with whole body learning.

Fish learning activity

Penguin math is fun when it comes to catching fish for penguin food! Use these ideas for a polar bear theme, too.

We used sheets of scrapbook paper and construction paper to make fish shapes. Kids can cut these out to work on scissor skills.

Make a fish learning activity and kids can fish for words or fish for math problems. Great for kinesthetic learning.

Next, we drew a pond on a large sheet of crafting paper.  I wrote words, letters, or numbers on the fish. On some, I attached a paperclip or clip. We used a net (from a Bug Net toy) or a fishing pole from a puzzle set
to scoop up the fish like a penguin would. 

fish learning activities for math, sight words, numbers, or letter identification.

You could also use a magnetic fishing pole from a puzzle set to catch the fish with clips on them. We scooped them in numerical order or in alphabetical order and then in random order too. 

How fun would this be to read a few fun penguin books and then do some fishy counting to continue the penguin theme?

 

 

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.

Bear Brain Breaks

bear brain breaks

These bear brain breaks are perfect for winter time movement, or using in a bear theme in school or in therapy. Sometimes, brain breaks are the perfect tool to can help with movement or sensory needs in the classroom.  We used a favorite childhood book to come up with bear themed brain breaks that can be used alongside the book in a movement and learning activity or in a bear-themed classroom activities.  Not long ago, we shared more brain break ideas that you might like to add to your classroom.



bear brain breaks

Bear Brain Breaks

Looking for brain break videos for the classroom or home? Here are the best brain break videos on YouTube.
 
Bear brain breaks for movement and learning in the classroom setting with a bear theme

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Have you read the book, “Time for Sleep” by Denise Fleming? My kids loved to hear about all of the animals as they prepared for sleep over the winter.  We decided to try a few bear gross motor moves based on the book.

Bear Theme Brain Breaks

Stretches and whole-body movements that happen in a calm manner are a great way to prepare for sleep, so these activities went along nicely with the bear in the book as well as the getting ready for sleep theme.

If fidgeting, wiggling, or just a break from screens is needed, try these movement breaks to help. 

We created these themed brain breaks to go along with the book, Time to Sleep, but they are perfect for any day (or when paired with other bear books)!

If you are looking for resources for sleep or bedtime stretches, we shared some based on another children’s book.

Time for Sleep by Denise Fleming and bear themed brain breaks for a bear activity.
 
This is such a fun book to read with kids.  It would go along perfectly with a bear theme in your classroom.  Try adding some gross motor movement activities based on the book.
 
Kids can then use the bear themed brain breaks throughout their day when it seems the classroom or individual students need a movement break. 
 
                                        
 
Below, you can enter your email to access the free brain break printable that would go along perfectly for teaching the classroom about these bear brain breaks.  They can be cut up and laminated for the children to pull out of a cup.  Or, add them to a key ring for bear themed movement activities.
  
 
Using these bear brain breaks, kids can stretch, roll, reach, climb, and crawl like a bear.  There are eight bear themed movement activities included that allow kids to move with a bear theme.  
 
Read the book Time for Sleep and try the movement activities!
 
Bear brain break ideas for kids
 

Bear Activities

Looking for more bear themed activities?  Try these hands-on ways to play with a bear theme based on bear books like “Time for Sleep”.

Polar Bear Gross Motor Ideas

Bear Craft

Fun and Therapeutic Polar bear Activities

Polar Bear Therapy Slide Deck– Free! Perfect for virtual therapy sessions

Polar Bear Self-Regulation Deep Breathing Activity

Bear Says Thanks Fine Motor Activity

Bear Oral Motor Exercise

LiTERACY BEAR THEMED ACTIVITIES

NUMERACY BEAR THEMED ACTIVITIES

BEAR THEMED RECIPES

BEAR CRAFTS AND IDEAS FOR PLAY

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    These brain breaks would be a great addition to our Winter Fine Motor Kit, loaded with winter theme and bear activities! It’s got all things fine motor in print-and-go activities. You’ll find lacing cards, modified handwriting sheets, pencil control strips, cutting activities, crafts, coloring exercises, and MUCH MORE!

    Get the Winter Fine Motor Kit HERE.

    winter fine motor kit