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

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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

    Polar Bear Gross Motor Activities

    polar bear gross motor activities

     We are continuing with our Polar Bear Theme with all kinds of play ideas.  Check out the polar bear gross motor activities listed here and challenge kids to move, and develop coordination, balance, direction changes, movement patterns, core strength, stability, and more. These polar bear activities go well with our polar bear gross motor virtual therapy slide deck, too, so you’ll want to check that out as well. Add gross motor play to your winter line-up!

    polar bear gross motor activities

    Polar Bear Gross Motor Activity

    For this gross motor activity, you’ll need masking tape, some couch cushions, and other small items (cotton batting, polar bear figures, or other materials can be used).

    Start by creating a path with the masking tape. We made a zig zag path across the room, but the options are limitless here.

    The masking tape path is perfect for polar bear crawls, toe walking, walking backwards, and knee walking. 

    indoor obstacle course ideas with masking tape obstacle course

    Masking Tape Balance Beam Ideas

    Once the masking tape is positioned on the floor, there are so many ways to use this in therapy in a classroom, hallway, clinic, or therapy at home activity.

    I put a couple of pillows at the end to make a “snow pile” for the polar bears.  Your kids can jump or hop into the pillows, or use them as balance challenges.

    We put some cotton batting along the path that the kids had to bend and stoop to grasp using one hand or the other. Then, they had to transport the “snow” to the other end of the path.

    Polar bear gross motor obstacle course

    A balance beam is so great for gross motor skills including coordination and balance.  You can start with normal toe to heel steps, and then increase the balance and coordination needed by asking your child to take bigger steps, side steps, backward steps, tip toe, go fast/slow.

    Polar bear gross motor activity for therapy at home or in a clinic.

    Kids can hold an object and transport it from one end of the path to the other. Ask them to hold the item in their hands, on their head, on their toes, or on their back as they bear walk. Objects can be large or small, heavy or light.

    Use couch pillows as pretend ice blocks for the polar bears.

    Use tongs and a small plastic ice cube to incorporate fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination skills. You can place buckets or bins along the path for obstacles to place the small objects in while challenging core strength, motor planning, and movement changes.

    Add buckets or cones along the path for children to step over or hop over. If cones aren’t available, just use couch throw cushions as an obstacle.

    Add a big duvet blanket or other large blanket at one end or both ends as a DIY crash pad for heavy work and proprioceptive input. Crawling into and under the heavy blanket offers heavy work, and that blanket makes a great “igloo” for your little polar bear.

    Advance the motor planning and core development by asking kids to stand along the path as they try to catch/toss a ball, navigate turns, curves, hop…There is so much you can do with the masking tape balance beam!  Add more fine motor skill work by using paper snowflakes along the balance beam.

    Challenge kids in a masking tape obstacle course with a polar bear theme.

    Use a polar bear sensory bin along the path to challenge kids to transport items from one end of the path and to place them into the sensory bin. This is a fantastic occupational therapy or physical therapy intervention that challenges so many skills.

    Use masking tape to make an obstacle course in the living room, with a polar bear theme or other animal walks.
     

     

    For more polar bear gross motor activities, (and fine motor work), grab the Winter Fine Motor Kit, with 100 pages of done-for-you therapy activities, including polar bear themes. There are sensory bin materials, crafts, and activities designed to boost fine motor skills. These would be great additions to a polar bear gross motor theme in therapy sessions.

    Grab it now before January 9th and you get a bonus of 3 fine motor slide deck activities.

    CLICK HERE TO GET THE WINTER FINE MOTOR KIT.

    winter 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.

    Indoor Recess Ideas

    indoor recess ideas

    Looking for indoor recess ideas? Below, you’ll find winter indoor games and activities to add to the recess line up when it’s too cold to go outdoors for recess. We’ve tried to come up with indoor recess games for older kids AND indoor recess ideas for kindergarten and the younger grades. Some of these ideas work well with traditional indoor recess group activities, and others are better suited for socially distancing during indoor recess, while still allowing kids to move! All of the inside recess ideas can be used to add activity and movement when it’s raining or too cold for outdoor recess!

    During the winter months, kids can have trouble staying active! These indoor recess ideas will help with adding movement, bilateral coordination, motor planning, and development through indoor games.



    Indoor Recess Winter Activities for Kids

    Here are more ways to get the kids moving this time of year:

    MONDAY- INDOOR RECESS IDEAS

    TUESDAY- 
    WINTER BRAIN BREAK IDEAS

    WEDNESDAY- 
    WINTER BILATERAL COORDINATION ACTIVITIES

    THURSDAY-
    WINTER MINDFULNESS ACTIVITIES

    FRIDAY- 
    WINTER FINE MOTOR ACTIVITIES


    Indoor Recess Ideas

    This time of year can be a real struggle for kids. They’ve got a long school day, where it’s too cold to go outside for recess. Many are on screens during much of that day, especially if schooling is done virtually or at home with distance learning.

    After school brings continued cold temps and an  followed by coming home to an early sunset. Not to mention, many kids have after-school activities scheduled. It’s no wonder that kids are less active than ever before.

    Because of this, I wanted to share these indoor recess ideas that can be used to add activity, motor planning, visual motor skills, midline crossing, and general movement!

    1. Turn on the music and have a Crossing Gross Motor March. Crossing Midline is a developmental ability that is important for so many gross motor tasks.  When a child has difficulty with crossing midline, they may demonstrate inefficiency with other areas like fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, hand dominance, self-care, reading, handwriting, and so many other areas. This can be done in a socially distanced format in a well-spaced out area such as a gym or hallway. And, for our virtual learners, this activity is fun for the whole family.


    2. Add proprioceptive and vestibular input with an Indoor Skating activity! All you need for this activity is a pile of paper plates or old tissue boxes. If you have a carpeted area in the classroom, this can be a great way to identify a space for indoor ice skating during indoor recess. Add specific moves and have kids copy the ice skating moves to really incorporate motor planning and direction following.


    3. Do the Hokey Pokey. Need some fresh ideas when it comes to the classic hokey pokey? Try playing “Snow-key Pokey” with a snowman theme. Just label the various body parts a snowman would have. For example: Snow cap, stick arms, boots, snow bottom, etc.


    4. Animal Races- Gather a group of kids and have relay races in the hallway or gymnasium area. Kids can split into two teams and race against one another. Each child will need to come up with an animal walk as they race back to tag another person on their team. Some animal walk ideas include: donkey kicks, penguin waddles, bear walks, crab walks, frog jumps, elephant walks, snake slithers, etc.


    5. Arctic Animal Yoga- Add animal walks with an artic theme. These would go perfectly with an animal theme and add the bonus of calming stretches. They are a great movement break during the day, use at circle time, morning meeting, free time or for use during stations. These cards are fun for use during physical education or in group/individual physical and occupational therapy. They are a great way to add simple movement into the day which we know is essential for learning and concentration. Use them with an arctic unit! These polar bear gross motor therapy activities can be used as a winter brain break or recess activity.


    6. Freeze Dance- Turn on YouTube and dance to the music. When the music stops, everyone needs to FREEZE!


    7. Charades- Ask each student to write on a slip of paper a character, animal, or object. Combine themes from the curriculum, favorite books, or movies. Students can act out the people or objects on the cards while the rest of the class guesses what the student is describing with movement.


    8. Indoor Balance Beam- Try some of these indoor balance beams using everyday items or a roll of painters tape. There are so many benefits to using balance beams. It’s a fun way to break up indoor recess into centers, too.


    9. Ribbon Wand Dance- Make a handful of DIY ribbon wands and sneak in some gross motor skills and movement by dancing to music.


    10. Indoor Gross Motor Game- Get the whole class involved in gross motor play with jumping, hopping, and more with this Dinosaur Gross Motor Game uses mini dinosaur figures. Grab the free printable game spinner and activity here


    11. Bean Bag Games- This group gross motor core strengthening activity is a fun way to get the whole class involved in a group game! Make it a winter theme with these snowflake bean bags.


    12. Play the Four Corners Classroom Game Add movement and sneak in some auditory processing work with this fun game shared over on The Game Gal.


    13. Who Am I Game- The kids can write down book and movie characters on a sticky note and stick it to their forehead. They can ask other students questions as they move around the room, trying to figure out who they “are”!

    11. Winter Toothpick Art– Use the Winter Fine Motor Kit materials to get kids moving with the toothpick art activities. These can be used on cardboard or a carpeted area to help kids build fine motor strength and tripod grasp.

    12. Winter Crumble Art- This is another fun fine motor activity for indoor recess. Use bits of tissue paper or crumbled up construction paper to create a winter picture. These sheets are in the Winter Fine Motor Kit, too.

    I hope these ideas are helpful in creating opportunities for movement and activity during these indoor recess months at school! 

    winter fine motor kit

    The Winter Fine Motor Kit has materials to print-and-go, including arctic animal finger puppets to develop finger isolation, toothpick art activities with winter themes, crumble art pages, coloring and pencil control activities for building strength and endurance in the hands. All of these materials are included in a 100 page packet with winter themes: snowmen, mittens, snowflakes, penguins, polar bears, arctic animals, and more.

     

    Add gross motor play and activities to the classroom with indoor recess ideas that get the kids moving.
     

    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.