Summer Occupational Therapy Activities

Summer occupational therapy activities

Looking for summer occupational therapy activities to support skill building or developmental areas with a summer OT theme? Today, we have a spin on our traditional occupational therapy activities to bring you Summer occupational therapy strategies that can be used in summer sessions or in home programs for the summer.

Summer Occupational Therapy Activities

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. In recent years, you may be seeing more pencil grasp needs, self-regulation needs, handwriting issues, and fine motor skill needs.

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!

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 Ideas

Occupational therapy practitioners often use movement and sensory experiences in therapy sessions to challenge motor planning, motor skill development, and incorporate sensory motor activity through the primary occupation of childhood: PLAY.

Because of this, sensory motor rich activity is recommended as supplemental and everyday activity for kids of all ages to support development of skill growth. Many of the OT activity ideas listed below also support executive functioning skills, problem solving, and other cognitive aspects of functional tasks.

Try adding these OT activities to your summer bucket list:

  • Make our 3 ingredient kinetic sand– Making kinetic sand offers heavy work through the hands as a self-regulation tool and offers a tactile sensory experience.
  • Make a kite craft to develop fine motor skills, visual motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and scissor skills.
  • Play TV tag (or one of these tag games)- Tag is a great gross motor activity to develop endurance, motor planning, coordination, balance, and visual motor skills while adding proprioceptive and vestibular input to regulate the system.
  • Make an ice cream craft to support hand strength and fine motor skills. This craft is great for developing scissor skills too.
  • Play sidewalk hopscotch– Use sidewalk chalk to draw a hopscotch board. Then play using rocks or bean bags. Hopscotch is a great tool to add heavy work, vestibular and proprioceptive input, and to challenge motor planning, balance, and other gross motor skills. Hopscotch is a way to teach skipping skills, too.
  • Paint rocks- This sensory experience challenges tactile input and offers a fine motor activity. Use finger paints or a paint brush to incorporate tool use and more fine motor work.
  • Wheelbarrow walk– This exercise is a heavy work exercise that helps kids with motor planning, movement, and endurance through play while adding heavy work. Use wheelbarrow walks in relay races or in obstacle courses.
  • Make a flower craft– Go on a nature walk as a motor and sensory experience. Then use the nature hunt findings to make a fine motor flower craft. There will be no two crafts alike with this fine motor activity.
  • Plant seeds- There are so many sensory benefits to gardening. Read more about sensory gardening with kids.
  • Wrap sticks in string- This simple activity is big on bilateral coordination, fine motor skills, precision, eye-hand coordination, and executive functioning skills. Go out in the yard and gather some small twigs. Then, tie a knot with the string and wrap around the stick. Switch out colors to make colorful designs and patterns. Can you cross different colored strings or yarn together to make a pretty wrapped stick? You can see how we wrapped craft sticks in string here.
  • Make lemonade- Making food with kids is a huge fine motor, sensory motor, and executive functioning tool to develop many skills with kids of all ages. Check out our cooking with kids page for tons more cooking ideas and recipes for kids as well as why each recipe supports development of skills.
  • Make a bug catcher– This fine motor activity is a huge hit with kids, and you can use the materials you have on hand. Just raid the recycle bin or grab some boxes and containers before they go into the trash can. Then, head outside to catch some bugs. This is a challenging activity that supports fine motor, visual motor, and sensory development.
  • Visit a playground- Playing at the playground has many sensory integration benefits and there are so many ways to use regular playground equipment to develop motor and sensory skill sin kids. If self-regulation is a challenge, then the playground is a wonderful summer haven for supporting specific needs.
  • Play tug of war- This heavy work game offers strengthening, balance, motor planning, and proprioceptive input that can be calming to support self-regulation needs.
  • Play in the sprinkler- A hallmark of hot summer days is playing in the hose or sprinkler. Children can practice putting on their swimming suit, applying sunscreen, and work on hopping, jumping, skipping, and moving through the sprinkler. And, don’t forget about involving the child in setting up and removing the sprinkler and hose, too. Pulling a hose is an opportunity for proprioceptive input that can be very calming.
  • Pick flowers- Go on a sensory nature walk with the family along a trail or in a park. Picking flowers supports development of visual perceptual skills, working memory, visual processing, fine motor, and self-regulation skills. Getting outside in nature can be a great overall activity that supports development and is a reset for the whole family.
  • Make lunch for your family- Develop fine motor skills, sensory experiences, executive functioning skills, and functional participation development by making lunch or dinner. Here are all of our cooking with kids recipes where you’ll find specific recipe ideas that support development, all from the perspective of an occupational therapist.
  • Chalk line obstacle course- Work on balance, motor planning, gross motor skill coordination through play using sidewalk chalk to create a driveway obstacle course. Can you hop on lily pads, tiptoe along a bridge, and animal walk on a wavy line?
  • Make DIY musical instruments- Making musical instruments are a fun way to build fine motor skills and address auditory processing skills too. Ideas include:
  • Climb a tree- Climbing on trees and limbs are a wonderful way to offer proprioceptive input, vestibular input, visual processing skills with depth perception, visual scanning, and eye-hand coordination. Holding on to a branch, pulling oneself up and over limbs, crossing midline, and bilateral coordination are developed through play. When finished, this is a powerful confidence booster!
  • Write a letter to a friend- (or a post card or email!)- Work on letter formation and other handwriting skills by writing a short letter or card to a friend this summer. It’s a very functional handwriting task that kids will be proud of!
  • Make a fairy garden- Use materials found around the home to support development of fine motor skills. The pretend play is a fun way to develop social emotional skills, too.
  • Wash the car (or a bike)- Support gross motor development by using a sponge, soapy water, and the hose to add proprioceptive input.
  • Watch and draw birds- Look for birds outdoors, in the yard, or from the windows. Address visual scanning, working memory, and pencil skills.
  • Go on a rainbow nature hunt- Use a piece of contact paper and find items of different colors of the rainbow to make a rainbow nature hunt craft. This is a great activity for fine motor, visual processing, and heavy work input.
  • Trace a friend with chalk on a driveway or sidewalk- Use sidewalk chalk to trace a friend on the driveway or sidewalk. This is a great activity to develop fine motor skills, and can support development of interoception by drawing internal organs and talking about how the body works inside and out!
  • Make bubble wands with pipe cleaners- use pipe cleaners and beads to develop fine motor skills to make a bubble wand. Then support oral motor skill development by blowing bubbles.
  • Play Red Rover- Lawn games like red Rover develop gross motor skills, visual motor skills, and executive functioning as well as adding proprioceptive and vestibular input.
  • Write the alphabet with chalk- Writing letters with sidewalk chalk supports the motor plan to create each letter and offers great proprioceptive feedback through kinesthetic learning. Writing letters with chalk or names and words can be a fun summer activity. Then spray the letters and words off with the hose or a spray bottle for more motor skill development!
  • Find shapes and images in the clouds- Look up to work on visual canning, memory, attention, and visual motor skill by finding shapes and outlines in the clouds.
  • Bake cookies
  • FInger paints
  • Fly a kite
  • Splash pad or water park
  • Write in a journal
  • Call a friend
  • Start a kickball game
  • Make leaf rubbings
  • Play hide and seek
  • Catch fireflies
  • Tie dye
  • Play cards
  • Build a fort
  • Have a sleepover
  • Play with glow bracelets at night in the yard
  • Read a book outside
  • Have a family game night
  • Draw self-portraits
  • Walk a pet

Need even more summer ideas?

~Add these hula hoop activities to therapy sessions.

~Use sidewalk chalk to support fine motor skills.

~ Print off and send home this list of 100 things to do this Summer. It’s a therapist-approved list of Summer activities!

~Print off these Summer Writing Lists to work on handwriting skills.

~Grab some of the materials in The OT Toolbox Member’s Club. There is something for everyone and Summer themed activities to support all skill levels.

~ 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.

One tool to support Summer OT home programs, OT tutoring sessions, or occupational therapy summer camps is our 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:

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

Use these Fine Motor Kits for hands-on activity kits to develop fine motor skills, strength, dexterity, and manipulation. Kids LOVE these fine motor kits for the motivating activities. Therapists love them because it’s fresh, fun ways to work on pinch, grip, manipulation skills, and much more. Try some of these themed therapy kits:

Dinosaur Game Kids Love

dinosaur game

This dinosaur game is a huge hit among kids. It’s a movement-based dinosaur activity that kids of all ages love. If you are looking for creative dinosaur games to use in therapy, at home, or in the classroom, then be sure to add this dinosaur game for kids to your list!

Use the dinosaur game below along with these dinosaur exercises and other dinosaur themed activities in therapy sessions. You can even incorporate handwriting and visual motor skills into dinosaur games with this printable dinosaur visual perception worksheet.

This dinosaur game is great for kids who love dinosaurs!

Dinosaur Game for Kids

This dinosaur game is an older blog post here on the website, but it’s a gross motor activity that is well-loved for many reasons.

There is just something about the stomping and roaring of a dinosaur game that takes me back to my own kids at their preschool ages! This is an older post here on The OT Toolbox, but one that is one of my absolute favorites.

We read the dinosaur book, Dinosaurumpus by Tony Mitton…and created a fun dino game that the kids loved! Our dinosaur movement game inspired tons of giggles and wiggles as we moved our way through this book with a gross motor activity!  

The gross motor coordination tasks and motor planning skills make this dinosaur game the perfect addition to dinosaur physical therapy and dinosaur occupational therapy themes.

When kids play this dinosaur movement game, they build skills in areas such as:

  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Balance
  • Whole body coordination
  • Crossing midline
  • Position changes
  • Heavy work input
  • Proprioceptive input
  • Vestibular input
  • Visual scanning and visual processing skills

The specific activities in the game allow kids to develop skills such as hopping, jumping, twisting, stomping, and other gross motor tasks.

How to Play the Dinosaur Game:

We’ve included affiliate links in this post for the book and items you’ll need to create the DIY Dinosaur game.    

Have you read the book, Dinosaurumpus!?  This is a book that is sure to get the kids moving with it’s loud and active rhymes as the dinosaurs dance an irresistible romp. 

Using this book and the game you’ll find here together is a great dinosaur game for toddlers and preschoolers to address listening skills, comprehension, and regulation through movement and play.

My kids couldn’t help but move and groove as I read them the story.  We had to make a movement gross motor game to go along with the book!  We talked about the fact that dinosaurs have big feet and big bodies that sometimes move too fast in the space around them.

This is a great lesson on body awareness that kids can relate to.

 

Dinosaur movement game for kids. This gross motor game is based on Dinosaurumpus the book and is a great activity for auditory and visual recall in kids.

 Make this game easily using our free printable for the game board.  We listed out the dinosaurs in the book and the actions they did.    

These went onto a game spinner that I made on  card stock.  We used dinosaur figures for part of our movement game.  These ones are a great deal!  

Free dinosaur game printable

Dinosaur Game Printable

To play the dinosaur movement game:

This is a dinosaur movement activity for preschool and older aged kids. Use in in the classroom or home as part of a story and reading activity, or use it as a dinosaur brain break in the classroom. 

First print out the free printable.  You’ll also want the game rules for easy play and the spinner piece.  

  1. Print your printable on card stock OR you can use regular printer paper for the game board, but the arrow won’t spin as well. You may want to print the game spinner on paper and then glue to cardboard for more sturdiness during (active) play. Make your game board and ensure the arrow spins using a brass fastener.
  2. One player hides the dinosaur figures around the room or outdoor play area.  
  3. The first player spins the arrow and reads the action.  He or she then races off to find one of the hidden dinosaurs.  
  4. When she finds a dinosaur, she races back and performs the action.  

Hide dinosaur figurines and use them in the dinosaur game for preschoolers and toddlers to develop motor skills.

There will be shakes, stomps, jumps, and TONS of giggles with this gross motor activity!   

We loved this game activity for it’s gross motor action.  It would be a great activity for rainy day fun or indoor play when the kids need to get the wiggles out.  Racing off and remembering the action they must perform requires a child to recall auditory and visual information necessary for so many functional skills.  

Dinosaur game rules for kids
Kids can spin the wheel on the dinosaur game to build gross motor skills.

  We hid the dinosaurs in all sorts of fun spaces in the house.  

Spin the wheel on the dinosaur game to support fine motor skills.
Spin the wheel on the dinosaur game to support fine motor skill development, too.

The dinosaurs in the book, Dinosaurumpus! move a lot!  Get ready for stomping, shaking, diving, dancing, running, jumping, twisting, and spinning!  

Move like a dinosaur with this dinosaur game for kids

My kids love any kind of scavenger hunt game and this one, with its movement portion, was a HUGE hit!

Dinosaur gross motor movement game based on the book, Dinosaurumpus!

 Gross motor skills are important to develop through play.  It’s essential for attention and focus to build core body strength.    

More Gross Motor Games

Looking for more ways to work on gross motor skills like core strength and proximal stability for improved attention and distal mobility?

Some more of our favorite gross motor activities that you will love:  

.

If you are looking for more dinosaur activities for kids, be sure to check out our Dinosaur Jacks activity to promote more motor skills, and our Dinosaur visual perception worksheet to work on visual perceptual skills.

Dinosaur game for kids that is a great preschool dinosaur activity for gross motor skills.

Free Dinosaur Game Printable

Want to play this dino game with kids you work with in therapy or in the classroom? Print off the game pieces using the free printable. Simply enter your email address into the form below to access.

Want to add this resource to your therapy toolbox so you can help kids thrive? Enter your email into the form below to access this printable tool.

This resource is just one of the many tools available in The OT Toolbox Member’s Club. Each month, members get instant access to downloadable activities, handouts, worksheets, and printable tools to support development. Members can log into their dashboard and access all of our free downloads in one place. Plus, you’ll find exclusive materials and premium level materials.

Level 1 members gain instant access to all of the downloads available on the site, without enter your email each time PLUS exclusive new resources each month.

Level 2 members get access to all of our downloads, exclusive new resources each month, PLUS additional, premium content each month: therapy kits, screening tools, games, therapy packets, and much more. AND, level 2 members get ad-free content across the entire OT Toolbox website.

Join the Member’s Club today!

Free Dinosaur Game

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

    Alphabet Exercises for Kids

    Alphabet exercises for indoor gross motor activities for kids

    Exercise for kids is so important on many levels. Use these alphabet exercises to help build skills, and get the kids moving with an alphabet theme. Add this alphabet for kids activity to your list of gross motor coordination activities.

    Why Use these Alphabet Exercises?

    In therapy, we look to help children build their gross motor skills, core strength and endurance, body awareness, motor planning, and self-regulation skills. It is recognized that regular exercise can help defend against childhood mental health and behavioral disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

    The consistent engagement in physical activity promotes overall health and wellness and provides a more grounded mindset for daily living and participation in life activities.

    These alphabet exercises were actually created as a resource in 2020, when many children were working remotely. With all of the time that children spent completing school work as part of teletherapy activities, or even their increased time engaging with electronics at home, they needed encouragement to exercise or simply participate in physical activity during the day.

    However, there is even more of a need for these alphabet exercise even though most students are back to traditional learning environments. Students are on screens more than ever before. The symptoms of too much screen time is evident. Additionally, therapists are seeing more of a need to address self-regulation challenges in schools and in homes.

    That’s where this movement-based alphabet for kids comes in as a support activity.

    Research tells us that outdoor play is essential. However, even going outside to play or engage in motor skills is a challenge for some children!

    Making exercise a fun playtime activity is the best way to help a child build skills while benefiting their health and wellness and keeping weight in check.  

    Exercise can build confidence and self-esteem, helping a child to feel better about themselves and increasing their overall happiness.

    Alphabet Exercises

    One way to engage children in activity is with a structured therapy band exercise program, however, occupational therapy home programs can be creative and use out-of-the-box ideas like this ABC theme exercise activity.

    For a printable PDF version of this alphabet exercise page, scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email address.

    These letter exercises are also available in an interactive Google slide deck where students can move parts of the slide as they complete each letter activity. Click here to access that ABC exercises slide deck.

    Alphabet exercises for indoor gross motor activities for kids

    Alphabet Gross Motor ACTIVITIES

    Would you like a playful way to engage a child or children in therapy exercises or in a home exercise program?

    How about trying this fun ABC’s of Exercise activity page? There are many ways to use these alphabet exercise letters in learning and occupational therapy activities guided by individual goals.

    • Children can either spell words or even their names to engage in the physical activity which accompanies each letter.
    • Use some homework spelling words and perform the exercises related to them! Wow…homework AND exercise!
    • Another easier way to play is by placing either A through Z foam letters, Bananagrams, or Scrabble tiles into a bag or basket and then have the child pull one letter out at a  time and match it to the corresponding letter on the ABC’s of Exercise chart to perform the exercise listed.
    • Work through the child’s name for an individualized exercise program.
    • Add the letter gross motor activities to a letter of the week learning program.

    Don’t have foam letters or board game letter tiles?  No worries, just grab some puzzle pieces, folded pieces of paper, beans or craft sticks and write the letters on them!

    Toss any of these into a bag or basket and pick one…easy and cheap!  You can also incorporate some handwriting with this activity too by having them write each exercise letter or a word beginning with that letter after they complete the exercise.

    The best part about this activity page is that it is open-ended so you (or they) get to determine how many to perform of each exercise and how many exercise letters to perform.

    In addition to being open-ended, this activity page provides a wonderful opportunity for teaching students exercises which can later be used when the child is feeling heightened and needing some self-regulation intervention tools.

    Use the activity sheet as an inclusion tool for a whole class activity, small group or individual therapy session, or even as a supplement to a motor pathway in the school building! Have the child do the activity that spells their name when using it as part of a motor pathway in school!

    The following list are the exercises and their descriptions which are utilized in the ABC’s of Exercise resource:

    ABC Exercises:

    A is for arm rolls gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Arm rolls – Have child lift arms out from their sides and rotate arms in small circular patterns, first forward and then backward.

    B is for butterfly legs gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Butterfly legs– Have child sit on the floor with legs flexed and bottom of feet touching. Then have them flap their legs up and down to resemble the wings of a butterfly.

    C is for crab walk gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Crab walk – Have child sit on the floor, lean back on their arms and lift their body up with their legs and arms to walk along the floor resembling the walk of a crab.

    D is for duck walk gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Duck walk – Have child squat down and walk on the floor while squatted resembling the walk of a duck. Add having them bend their arms up to make them look like duck wings.

    E is for elephant trunk swing gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Elephant trunk swing – Have child stand up and lean forward with arms extended and fingers linked together. Once this position is achieved, have child sway their arms left and right resembling an elephant’s trunk.

    F is for frog jumps gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Frog hops – Have child squat down on the floor with their arms in front of them and have them leap forward as far as possible resembling a jumping frog. Do this repeatedly.

    G is for giant leaps gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Giant tape lines – Place tape lines on the floor to work on jumping from line to line or complete giant jumps by attempting to jump as far as possible from a standing position.

    H is for high knees gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    High knees – Have child lift alternating knees up to hands for tapping and while marching around the room. Have them lift knees as high as possible.

    I is for incline climb gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Incline climb – Have child climb up a slide, long wedge or hillside or toss the couch cushion or even the bed mattress in the floor and make a ramp. If all else fails, just use the stairs!

    J is for jumping jacks gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

     Jumping jacks – Have child start by standing with arms out to their sides and legs together then have them jump while spreading their legs and feet apart and arms up and over their head. Follow with bringing arms back to sides and legs and feet back together.

    K is for knee squats gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

     Knee squats – Have child start with standing up and then squatting to floor and back up again, repeatedly.

    L is for lunges gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

     Lunges – Have child step forward with one leg and lower their hips until both knees are bent, then push back up to starting position. Alternate legs.

    M is for mega jumps gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

     Mega jumps – Have child jump from a higher level to the floor, either from a chair, sofa, steps, etc. or they could also simply try to jump as far as possible forward and then try to jump farther each time to beat their last distance.

    N is for neck rolls gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

     Neck rolls – Have child stand or sit to roll their neck and head in a circular pattern from left to right and from right to left.

    O is for overhead stretch gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Overhead stretches – Have child reach up overhead, link fingers together and stretch arms up as high as possible. Add standing on tiptoes to make it really high. 

    P is for push ups gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Push-ups – Have child lie on the floor and push their body up with their hands and arms. If a regular push-up is too difficult, complete knee push-ups by simply weight bearing on flexed knees while completing push-ups rather than trying to weight bear on toes.

    Q is for quad stretches gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Quad stretches – Have child perform, sit to stands and stand to sits, while sitting in a chair. Do this repeatedly.

    R is for run in place gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Run in place – Have child run in place for a specific amount of time such as while counting to 20.

    S is for snake slither gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Snake slither – Have child lie on their stomach and move their body forward trying to keep as much of their body in contact with the floor as possible, similar to an army crawl.

    T is for toe touches gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Toe touches – Have child stand and bend over to touch their toes with their fingers and back up to standing. Do this repeatedly.

    U is for under over maze gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Under/over laser maze – Create a laser maze with use of tape, string, or streamers in the hallway and have child go under and over to move through it. Or have them crawl under tables and over furniture to achieve under/over.

    V is for vertical wall taps gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

     Vertical wall taps – Have child stand beside a wall and jump to tap the wall attempting to beat their last height touched with each jump.

    W is for windmills gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Windmills – Have child stand with arms and legs out to the sides. Have them bend over to touch right fingertips to left toes and back up to standing and then bend to touch left fingertips to right toes and back up to standing.

    X is for x marks the spot gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    X-marks the spot exercise – Have child cross over legs and feet and cross over arms and hands while jumping to create X patterns with extremities. Or complete ‘X’ cross crawls to work on cross-lateral activity of extremities.

    Y is for yoga gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Yoga poses – Have child pick a yoga pose to complete, such as cat pose, cobra pose, or shark pose.

    Z is for zig zag run gross motor activity part of an abc exercise for kids

    Zig-zag run – Use small obstacles to create a zig zag course or simply attempt to run a zig zag pattern.

    With home learning, indoor activities, and social distancing upon us, this exercise activity page will help meet the needs of your child so they can get in their daily exercise while also releasing some extra “cooped up” energy!

    Alphabet gross motor exercises for kids

    FREE Alphabet Exercise PDF

    Enter your email address below to access this free ABC PDF to add heavy work, core strength, movement, and gross motor skills with an alphabet theme. Use the printable alphabet exercise PDF as a poster for learning letters through movement.

    Best of all this alphabet for kids activity supports learning through play!

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      Resources:

      Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School. Editors: Harold W. Kohl, III and Heather D. Cook. Authors: Committee on Physical Activity and Physical Education in the School Environment; Food and Nutrition Board; Institute of Medicine. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2013 Oct 30.

      This post was written by contributor author, Regina Parsons-Allen.

      Hula Hoop Activities

      hula hoop activities

      A hula hoop is a great old-school toy and specific hula hoop activities can be used to not only build strength, coordination, balance, and motor planning, but can be used in other areas such as learning, sensory, and visual motor, as well as gross motor coordination. Hula hoops are versatile and inexpensive, while being colorful and attractive, to spark the interest and motivation of children. There are a wide array of hula hoop activities that can be done, in addition to the traditional method.

      hula hoop activities for therapy and gross motor development

      Hula hoop Activities are great!

      Hula hoops can be used indoors or outdoors and with children and adults of all ages. That’s right all ages. In addition to the conventional manner, there are several imaginative and thoughtful hula hoop activities that are fun and safe for all!  

      Hula hoops are cheap and easy to find. If you don’t have, or can’t find a hula hoop that’s okay, you can make your own hula hoop! The directions are included in this post. People can decorate it however they wish, making it a special craft activity too. 

      Take a look at some fun, creative hula hoop activity ideas to get kids up and active, and a little ‘hoopy’ this season! 

      The hula hoop games and activities below are great for outdoor lawn games this summer, but they can be included in indoor therapy obstacle courses or games to get kids moving!

      Gross Motor hula hoop games:

      • The Floor is Lava Games These are fun games for home on a rainy day. Use a hula hoop as a “safe island” when playing is game. They work on jumping, leaping, hopping, rolling, and crashing.
      • Hula Hoop Jumps – provide heavy work input through the core and gross motor muscle groups, to improve regulation, and body awareness. 
      • Rabbit Hole – is a cooperative gross motor group activity that helps to teach the concept of personal space, using a hula hoop, and safety cones.  
      • Hula Hoop Run activities – use several hula hoops positioned out on the ground, or floor to create a “tire run” pathway for kids to hop, jump, or leap through. There are several pattern ideas included, which will address gross motor coordination, balance, and agility while having fun too!
      • Hula Hoop Pass – Grab some friends and a hula hoop! Children hold hands while standing in a line or a circle, while working to move the hula hoop around the group, stepping in and out of it, ducking through it, while holding hands. This works to shift the hoop to the next person, until it makes it from the first, to the last person within the group. This is an incredible coordination and motor planning activity that helps to build group cooperation and teamwork.
      • Don’t Jiggle the Spiders! Much like our spider obstacle maze, you can wrap yarn around a hula hoop and thread spider rings through the string. Then, children can move the hoop as a hand-held obstacle course has a fun way to have children work on balance and body control as they work to move through the spider web, designed on a hula hoop, and try not to ‘jiggle the spiders’ while doing so. 
      • Basket of Toys- Here is a fun twist on the traditional toy scavenger hunt. In this game, you scatter small toys or water balloons and hula hoops on the ground. Children work to move the toys and balloons using their feet to their specific hula hoop. What happens if they pop a balloon while kicking? They must visit the Toy Master (and adult or a specific player) and complete a motor task to earn another balloon. A fun way to work on gross motor skills, motor control, and eye-foot coordination. 
      • Hula Blockers is a fun hula hoop game in which each player stands in their own hoop tossing a bean bag into another player’s hoop, while simultaneously attempting to defend their own hula hoop space, blocking another player’s bean bags from landing in their space.

      Add these Gross Motor Coordination Activities for more fun. Or check out these Gross Motor Toys for some fun games.

      Sensory hula hoop actitivies:

      • Hula Hoop Mobile here is a fun visually stimulating idea for children with visual impairments, or other challenges, that might benefit from a colorful hanging mobile that has texture, sound, weight, and visual appeal. It can be used for individual play, or as a group activity.
      • Sensory Hula Hoop Video – need a fun sensory tool for babies? Then this Sensory Hula Hoop video might be a fun DIY for you! It includes a variety of visually stimulating materials as well, as texture and sound. It can be placed flat on the floor to encourage tummy time, or hung above a baby lying supine, to encourage reach and exploration. Note: Always choose baby-safe materials to prevent injury. 
      • Baby and Toddler Tummy Time Activity- Another spin on the sensory hula hoop activity, is to attach baby rattles and baby toys around the circle, then have babies start with tummy time in the center of the hoop. This is a great tool for adding novel activities to tummy time. The circular positioning of the toys around the hoop encourages babies to reach, visually scan, roll, and pivot on the upper body, as they move and stretch to reach, and engage with different toys. 
      • Hula Hoop Canopy – If you’re feeling really ambitious you can create a Hula Hoop Canopy with lights and sheer curtains. It makes a great addition to a calming corner.
      • Hula Hoop Tunnel Activity – Make a tunnel with several hula hoops and you can even add scarves or longer strips of streamers for children to move through making it a gross motor AND sensory experience in one!

      Eye-Hand Coordination hula hoop games:

      • Hula Hoop Web – use masking tape to create a Hula Hoop Web in the hoop. Have children toss cotton balls or pom-pom balls to stick to the web.

      • Hula Hoop Target – Hang a hula hoop from the ceiling or a tree, and you have an instant target for ball tossing.
      • Hula Hoop Bullseyes- Lay different-sized hula hoops on the ground, creating a bulls-eye target. Place numbers inside the hoop to create targets, to score points when tossing a bean bag.
      • Place safety cones on the ground for children to toss a hoola hoop around the cones, to score points. 
      • Hula Hoop Basketball – Hang a few hula hoops from a basketball goal for young children to have their Hula Hoop Goal for ball play. A great way to have younger kiddos enjoy their own skill level of basketball. 
      • Flight School Create this fun game by having children fold paper airplanes, then try to fly them through hula hoops that are hung from the ceiling. Include children of all ages with this fun activity, as you can hang the hula hoops at different heights to accommodate any skill level.  Another way to play when hanging the hoops at different heights, would be to use a point system, and score points based on the different heights of the hoops.  

      Learning games with a hula hoop: 

      • Around the Clock hula hoop activity is a fun way to work on time with kiddos in the classroom, during therapy, and at home! 
      • Hula Hoop Zones Activity- Use red, yellow, green, and blue hoops to work on the Zones of Regulation™ curriculum in the classroom and during therapy. Read more on this activity.
      • Find and Rhyme game is a great way to work on rhyming with young children! All you need are some hula hoops, and plastic plates. It’s similar to a scavenger hunt for words. Here is an explanation.
      • Personal space – Need to help children understand personal space? The use of a hula hoop is the perfect tool! They can sit or stand inside of it, to help them visualize their own personal space, and the space of others. I’ve seen them used while sitting at a table during snack time to help children understand their personal space.

      make your own hoop

      Here are the instructions for Making a Hula Hoop. They include a brief explanation of the three most common types of tubing people use to create one. If you think you need more detailed instructions for creating a hula hoop, take a look at How to Make Your Own Hula Hoop, and see how they designed their hoop using irrigation tubing. 

      Want another fun idea for creating a hula hoop? I found this Snap Together Hula Hoop that children can work on building before using!  This type of hoop makes it easy to transport and adds another element of motor skills while building and deconstructing.

      more outdoor fun

      There’s only one last thing to say about hula hoops, remember to join in the fun yourself and enjoy some screen-free playtime with kiddos! 

      Want to add this resource to your therapy toolbox so you can help kids thrive? Enter your email into the form below to access this printable tool.

      This resource is just one of the many tools available in The OT Toolbox Member’s Club. Each month, members get instant access to downloadable activities, handouts, worksheets, and printable tools to support development. Members can log into their dashboard and access all of our free downloads in one place. Plus, you’ll find exclusive materials and premium level materials.

      Level 1 members gain instant access to all of the downloads available on the site, without enter your email each time PLUS exclusive new resources each month.

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      Join the Member’s Club today!

      Regina Allen

      Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!

      Powerful Action Rhymes and Nursery Rhymes with Actions

      nursery rhymes with actions

      Kids love finger plays and action rhymes.  You know the ones, right?  Here, we’re sharing nursery rhymes with actions that support development including gross motor coordination, bilateral coordination, and body awareness. These movement and rhyme phrases and songs that fill every childhood, preschool classroom, and library story time are a classic  part of childhood. 

      Rhymes with action movements inspire rhythm and rhyming skills, but there is more than that: They are engaging, fun, and repetitive ways to work on motor development.

      These nursery rhyme actions are great additions to nursery rhyme crafts!

      nursery rhymes with actions


      But, did you know that action rhymes help with childhood development? Childhood development and action rhymes go hand-in-hand so to speak.  Kids learn and grow by moving and repeating and then independently saying and singing rhymes that many kids could sing along to.  

      What are some ways that childhood development and action rhymes help a child grow?

      Action rhymes are a great way to address skills such as:

      Use these creative and powerful nursery rhymes with actions to develop skills in OT sessions.




      This post contains affiliate links.




      Looking for brain break videos for the classroom or home? Here are the best brain break videos on YouTube.

      What are action rhymes?

      Action rhymes are movement songs or nursery rhymes with movement.  

      They might be gross motor activities like “I’m a Little Teapot” or “Duck, Duck, Goose”. Or, they might be a fine motor activity like “Eensy Weensy Spider” or “Where is Thumbkin”.  

      There are so many nursery rhymes with actions out there that preschool classrooms are using or even making up to suit their needs, but one thing is common with all action rhymes; They have sing-song phrases and involve movement.  

      Fine Motor Action Rhymes:

      1. Where is Thumbkin?
      2. Creep Them, Creep Them
      3. Bringing Home a Baby Bumble Bee
      4. 5 in the Bed
      5. Eensy Weensy Spider

      Gross Motor Action Rhymes:

      1. Wheels on the Bus
      2. I’m a Little Teapot
      3. Duck, Duck, Goose
      4. Farmer in the Dell
      5. If You’re Happy and You Know It
      6. Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
      7. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
      8. 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
      9. Grand Old Duke of York

      How to use nursery rhymes with actions to build childhood development?
      Action rhymes and finger plays are perfect for the 18-24 month age range and the preschool years when so much development is occurring.  

      Consider all the ways a toddler or preschooler are developing: fine and gross motor skills, language, cognitive, social-emotional…these years are full of natural progression with development going through the roof!

      Childhood Development and Action Rhymes

      There are so many ways that nursery rhymes with actions help to build childhood development in a healthy way:

      • Fine Motor Skills– Use the fingers and hands to build dexterity, eye-hand coordination, and finger isolation through movement. Encourage kids to follow along with the fine motor action rhymes listed above to improve dexterity and fine motor control.
      • Gross Motor Skills– Using the trunk, legs, and shoulders builds strength in the limbs and core muscle strength needed for attention and focus. Read more developing core strength through movement rhymes here.
      • Social/Emotional Development– Striving for independence, asserting ones independence, engaging with peers, and an emerging awareness of ones own body and a sense of awareness of others is developing and growing in the toddler and preschool years.  Action rhymes in a group setting promote all of these areas. Encourage kids to connect with other children and adults by pairing up kids to perform action rhymes in small groups of kids.
      • Speech and Language Development– The toddler and preschool age sets are flourishing in language skills.  There is a huge opportunity for developing and building skills through repetitive action rhymes.  Children can be encouraged to develop these skills when encouraged to participate in verbal exchanges.  Further promote communication skills by asking questions about the rhymes.
      • Spatial Concepts– Important for awareness of ones self and position in space, as well as in visual motor integration tasks like handwriting, action rhymes allow children to explore position in space through movement. Encourage development and understanding of front/back, over/under, top/bottom, etc. Try this action rhyme trick: when a spatial term is mentioned in an action rhyme, try pointing in the direction instead of saying the words or phrases.
      • Attention Span– Action rhymes allow kids to focus for a period of time on a teacher as well as peers individual and group action rhyme activities. Encourage longer attention by increasing time spent singing action rhymes. Lead into a group activity with action rhymes or use them as a tool to take a break during seated tasks or classroom activities that require focus and attention. 
      • Cognitive Development– Using action rhymes, children are introduced to concepts such as numbers, colors, shapes, sizes, names, letters, and more. Concrete concepts of the toddler and preschool years can be enhanced to more abstract ideas through cognitive development using sensori-motor components of action rhymes.  Movement and learning are very well connected and action rhymes add a sing-song rhyming component as well. Additionally, concepts such as patterning, sequencing, and cause-effect are addressed through action rhymes.
      • Self-Concept– Action rhymes provide an opportunity to learn about body parts. Encourage kids to learn about their body parts with action rhymes like, “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
      • Behavior Development– Action rhymes promote movement and an appropriate opportunity for students to get wiggles and fidgets out in a classroom setting.  Following the rhyme actions, kids can discover how they can move their body in purposeful ways.
      Use these creative and powerful ideas to boost and build childhood development with action rhymes and finger plays with toddler and preschool kids in the classroom, home, or Occupational Therapy clinic.

        What are some favorite action rhymes in your classroom, home, or clinic?  

      More movement and development ideas you will love: 

      The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook walks you through sensory processing information, each step of creating a meaningful and motivating sensory diet, that is guided by the individual’s personal interests and preferences.

      The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is not just about creating a sensory diet to meet sensory processing needs. This handbook is your key to creating an active and thriving lifestyle based on a deep understanding of sensory processing.

      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.

      Beaded Feather Fine Motor Activity

      beaded feathers fine motor activity

      This beaded feather activity is a fine motor task that we created YEARS ago. WE love it because beads and feathers are common craft materials found in many pediatric occupational therapy professionals’ therapy toolbox. In fact OTs love crafts as a fine motor strategy and this feather bead activity is a powerhouse!

      Beaded Feather Activity

      If you need a quick and easy little activity for the kids while you are making dinner, or just something fun for the kids to keep practice a few fine motor skills, then this is a great activity for you.  Simple to set up and easy to clean up, this one will get those little muscles going and moving with fine motor dexterity!
       


      Beading with feathers

      This activity works on several grasps, color awareness, counting, sorting, visual scanning, and eye-hand-coordination.  How can you beat such an easy activity with so many benefits??  

       

       
      Fine motor activity for kids using beads and feathers.
       
       
       
      This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
       
      You’ll need just two craft materials for this fine motor activity:
       

       

       

       
       
      Preschoolers and Toddlers can match beads to feathers to learn colors.
       
      Get your feathers and some coordinating beads and lay them out on the table.  I started a few feathers to show the kids what we were doing and had the invitation to start ready to go. 
       
      They came over to check it out and would bead a bit here and there throughout the day.  It was kind of like a therapeutic little break from bouncing off of couch cushions and each other. 
       
      Their little bodies needed a chance to slow down and re-group before getting back into the routine of regularly scheduled chaos.
       
      But maybe that’s just my kids?
        
      Sorting colored beads to match colored feathers is a fun way to learn colors.

       

      Pincer Grasp Activity With Beads and Feathers

      You could also put out a big old tray of all kinds of beads with different colors, shapes, sizes to work with. 
       
      This slightly makes the activity just a little more difficult as the child has to visually scan for the colors needed and pick out the beads that they want with a neat pincer grasp
       
      Using the tips of the index finger and the thumb in a precision grasp to manipulate beads from a big tray of colors is great for eye-hand coordination
       
      Want more ideas to work on neat pincer grasp or eye hand coordination?  We’ve got plenty!
       
      Threading colored beads on feathers is a great way for prechoolers and toddlers to work on colors and fine motor skills.

       

      Beading Feathers Bilateral Coordination Activity

      Holding the feather and the beads requires two hands to work together in a coordinated way (bilateral hand coordination). 
       
      This is a great way to practice pre-writing skills and those requirements needed for self- care like managing buttons, zippers, shoe-tying, and scissor skills.
       
      Beads and feathers are a fun way to practice colors and fine motor skills with kids.

       

      Bead Feathers to learn colors


      Younger children (Baby Girl is just getting this!)  can learn colors and practice naming colors as they pick out the beads and match to the color of the feather. 

      How many other ways can you think of to make this a learning opportunity? 

      Patterns, sorting, counting…this is a fun learning op and a great way to get those little hands moving!


                                      Kids can work on fine motor skills and color matching awareness while beading feathers.

       

      Fine motor activity for kids using beads and feathers.
       
       
      More Fine Motor activities you will love:
       
       

       

      The beaded feather activity and the other fine motor tasks listed above are a great addition to our popular Fine Motor Kits:

      Use these Fine Motor Kits for hands-on activity kits to develop fine motor skills, strength, dexterity, and manipulation. Kids LOVE these fine motor kits for the motivating activities. Therapists love them because it’s fresh, fun ways to work on pinch, grip, manipulation skills, and much more. Try some of these themed therapy kits:

      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.

      Sensory Blanket Activity

      sensory tortilla blanket

      This sensory blanket activity is a simple home sensory diet activity that offers heavy work input using only a blanket. Did you know you can use a blanket as a calming sensory tool? One way that I love to help regulate and calm down over-responsive sensory systems is through heavy work activities

      Use a tortilla blanket (or any blanket) to make this sensory blanket burrito as a sensory tool for kids.

      Calming Proprioception Activity with a Blanket

      Using a blanket as a sensory tool is one of the easiest ways to offer heavy work , or proprioceptive input, through the whole body as a calming strategy.

      There are a few reasons why using a blanket works to calm the sensory systems.

      Rolling a child up in a blanket is a great way to provide deep input to a child’s whole body. This is calming and organizing.

      Additionally, the warm temperature helps to calm the body.

      A benefit to this sensory strategy is that every home has a blanket of some type. 

      Use this proprioceptive activity to offer calming input to help self-regulate emotions and sensory needs by rolling up in a blanket, either on the floor or with additional heavy work input. Check out all of our proprioception activities here.

      How to use a blanket for calming sensory input:

      1. Grab a blankets and spread it out on the floor.  
      2. Ask the child to lay down on the blanket, near one edge.
      3. Roll your child up like a burrito. Keep rolling until the whole blanket is used. Wrap the blanket tightly.  
      4. Add additional proprioceptive input for calming and regulating by piling pillows on top of your child after they’ve been wrapped up in the blanket.  Press evenly and gently, but firmly, with both hands to provide deep pressure input.

       

      Tortilla Blanket Sensory Activity

      Have you seen the (Amazon affiliate link) tortilla blankets? These are a great, fuzzy blanket to use in this sensory blanket activity! Kids can be the burrito as they are wrapped up in the tortilla blanket. Plus, the warmth from this fleece blanket is extra cozy and calming!

      Use the tortilla blanket to make a kid-sized burrito that adds calming sensory input!

      Another sensory activity using blankets is to use the blanket roll as a balance beam  or to lay on (without the child inside).

      For more heavy work activities using materials already found in the home, check out these low-prep heavy work exercises!

      Heavy Work Exercise Cards
      Heavy Work Exercise Cards- 50% off!

      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.

      Visual Tracking Games

      toys for visual tracking

      Visual Tracking is an important part of everything we do and visual tracking games can be a valuable resource to improving visual tracking skills! For tasks such as reading and writing, however, the ability to track visually across a line of written text is essential for reading and fluency in reading.

      When kids read across a line of text in a book, they are using visual tracking skills to follow the line from word to work. When they follow a finger along lines in a book they are using visual tracking skills. When they shift their vision from one point to another, they use a combination of visual scanning and visual tracking skills. Visual tracking is a multi-faceted topic and you can read more about visual tracking and all that it entails in functional tasks here on the website.

      These visual tracking games will be a useful tool in helping kids with visual tracking needs to read, write, visually scan and complete other visual motor tasks, using fun tracking games and visual tools that kids will love to use in occupational therapy activities or as part of a therapy home program for visual tracking!
       

      Visual Tracking Games and Visual Tracking Activities for Kids

      So when visual tracking is such an important part of function and skills, how do you address this skill area? There are adaptations that can be put into place to help, such as prompting, cues, physical assists, and other tools. One way to work on visual tracking needed for functional tasks is to use visual tracking games in play and activities.

      Visual tracking games and activities can be a valuable asset for increasing this skill area in kids with visual tracking skill deficits or needs.

      Read on to find out more about visual tracking games and activities that may help  kids improve their visual tracking skills.

      But first,

      What does a Visual Tracking Problem Look Like?

      The games and activities listed below are important for kids who struggle with tracking of words and letters when reading, writing, or completing math. Visual Tracking problems may also present as difficulty with sports or coordination. Visual tracking may be evident in learning. There are many ways that a visual tracking concern can become evident. If one of these areas or functional abilities is a problem for your child, student, or client, then a visual screening can be very useful in identifying specific needs.

      Need help addressing visual problems in the classroom? Here are classroom accommodations for visual impairments

      Occupational Therapy Vision Screening Tool

      Occupational Therapists screen for visual problems in order to determine how they may impact functional tasks. Visual screening can occur in the classroom setting, in inpatient settings, in outpatient therapy, and in early intervention or home care.
       
      This visual screening tool was created by an occupational therapist and provides information on visual terms, frequently asked questions regarding visual problems, a variety of visual screening techniques, and other tools that therapists will find valuable in visual screenings.

       

       
      This is a digital file. Upon purchase, you will be able to access the 10 page file and print off to use over and over again in vision screenings and in educating therapists, teachers, parents, and other child advocates or caregivers.
       
       
       

      Visual Tracking Games for Kids

      Kids can play visual tracking games that are free or are fun games out on the market to address this skill area and improve visual tracking skills so that reading and writing are easier.

      Try some of these fun visual tracking games to help kids improve their visual tracking skills and they won’t even know they are “working”!

      Amazon affiliate links are included below.

      Badminton Game – Physical games and gross motor games like this one can help promote visual tracking across all visual fields including peripheral and in all directions (horizontal, vertical, circular, and diagonal).

      Pop and Catch Game – Combining fine motor skills like this Pop and Catch game can bring the target close to the body to challenge convergence in kids with visual tracking needs in a visual tracking activity that the whole family can enjoy.  

      Velcro Ball and Mitt – This visual tracking game combines gross motor and sensory components with resistive work that kids can use to challenge upper body strength while playing. Follow the target ball as it sails toward and away to challenge convergence of the eyes. This activity can easily be modified to meet various needs by using a brightly colored ball or moving closer or farther away. is a game kids can play indoors or outdoors while working on their visual tracking skills.

      Scoop ball -Try to scoop the ball while moving, while seated or while in a variety of positions and planes to add a graded component to this visual tracking game.

      Wham-O Track Ball -This classic visual tracking game is traditionally an outdoor lawn game for kids or adults, but it makes an awesome visual tracking game! When kids struggle with visual tracking skills, they can benefit from watching a moving target and challenges in visual tracking across various fields of vision. Play this visual tracking game indoors or outdoors. Why not add a prone component by playing while crawling or laying on the floor or while on a scooter board?

      Light Up Bouncy Ball – While any ball could potentially be used as a visual tracking tool, this light up ball can be used in a dark room or at night for a visual tracking game that kids can’t resist! Play a slow rolling game of catch or try to invoke spontaneous visual tracking skills by bouncing the ball against a wall in a darkened room. What fun!

      Glow in the Dark Ring Toss – This is another glow in the dark game that kids can play in a darkened space. The room doesn’t need to be completely dark to encourage visual tracking with this glowing game. Just close the blinds or play at night with a low light on and the glowing visual tracking can still happen! Ask the child to watch as the ring is tossed away from them. They child can also position themselves on the sidelines when they are waiting for their turn while others play, allowing for visual tracking across planes.

      Zoom Ball – This is a great therapy tool because the child can control and feel when the moving target is moving toward them and away from them. Zoom ball is a visual tracking tool that requires convergence as the child watches the target move between them and another player.

      Rocket Launch – There are many rocket launch toys on the market and any would work as a visual tracking tool. But this one is nice because it has the ability to change the angle so the rocket can be sent higher or at different angles. Kids can watch the brightly colored rocket as it sails through the air into unpredictable tracks and various fields of vision, including the peripheral.

      Slingshot Creatures – These fun creatures can be sent at targets or at any plane as a visual tracking tool. Kids will love shooting these creatures or watching them sail across the room!

      Parachute Toy – Parachute toys, flying discs, and other flying target toys are great for addressing visual tracking skills. Kids can toss them up or watch as they drop while following the target. This set includes lots of fun extras!

      Glowing Finger Slingshots – Flinger slingshots are a fun tool for targeting visual tracking skills. This visual tracking activity is one kids will love to engage with! Try them in a darkened room to encourage visual tracking as the glowing toy flies across the room!

      Flying slingshot copter – This is another slingshot activity that kids can shoot themselves while visual tracking as the target soars. Play indoors or outdoors. Visual tracking tools like this are motivating and a fun addition to goody bags or as a small gift idea.

      Handheld helicopter drone – This indoor or outdoor drone is a nice visual tracking tool that kids will love to send up and watch as it soars.  

      Need a resource to address visual tracking or need to know where to start with identifying visual tracking concerns?

      The Visual Tracking Screening Tool can help therapists screen for and identify visual problems that interfere with visual tracking, convergence, and other visual skills.