occupational therapy for children with cerebral palsy

cerebral palsy occupational therapy interventions

Occupational therapists (OTs) treat a wide range of conditions in children. This post focuses on occupational therapy for children with cerebral palsy and treatment. One of the more common neurological diagnoses that OTs treat is cerebral palsy. This post breaks down what cerebral palsy is, and how an occupational therapist can provide interventions and services to address the functional deficits caused by this condition. Some families may need to start with this post: What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy and cerebral palsy


Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that can affect the body in different ways, depending on the type and severity. According to the CDC, it is the most common motor disorder among children in the United States.

The broad condition is better understood by breaking down the meaning of the words: “cerebral” meaning brain, and “palsy” meaning muscle weakness. In the case of CP, the muscles of the body become weak due to an injury to the brain. 

This injury in the brain can happen during the brain’s development in utero, or early on in an infant’s life. The neural pathways get interrupted or damaged, causing a dysfunction in the way that the brain communicates to the muscles of the body. 

types of cerebral palsy

It’s important to cover the various types of cerebral palsy because each type can involve differing occupational therapy interventions. The most common types are spastic, ataxic, dyskinetic, and mixed cerebral palsy.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy- The most common type of Cerebral palsy is spastic CP. The term”Spastic” refers to the presentation of the musculature affected by the condition. The muscles are spastic, or stiff and tight. The stiffness in the affected muscles, or increased muscle tone, causes difficulties with movement. They may be too “stuck” to move properly. 

Occupational Therapy for Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Occupational therapy for spastic Cerebral Palsy can include:

  • Self care interventions
  • Participation in meaningful activities
  • Education on adaptive tools
  • Build on strengths
  • Manage sensory and emotional regulation needs
  • NDT interventions
  • Splinting
  • Positioning
  • Adaptive equipment
  • Compensatory techniques

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy- Results in balance and coordination deficit. This type of palsy results in abnormal gait patterns, decreased safety in mobility, low muscle tone, tremors, and generally reduced coordination for fine or gross motor activities. 

Occupational Therapy for Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Occupational therapy for Ataxic Cerebral Palsy can include:

  • Environmental modifications
  • Weight Bearing
  • Self-Care
  • Participation in meaningful activities
  • Education on adaptive tools
  • Build on strengths
  • Manage sensory and emotional regulation needs
  • Positioning
  • Adaptive equipment
  • Functional mobility
  • Compensatory techniques

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy– This type of CP describes many different muscle deficits: dyskinetic means uncontrolled muscle movement. Those with dyskinetic CP may have too tight or loose muscles, uncontrollable movements that are fast or slow, or an ever-changing combination of any of these symptoms. In more severe cases, these uncontrollable movements occur often, resulting in requiring more assistance for daily activities. In milder cases, the involuntary movement may be smaller and infrequent, therefore the individual can be more independent. 

Occupational Therapy for Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

Occupational therapy for Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy can include:

  • NDT interventions
  • Self-care interventions
  • Participation in meaningful activities
  • Education on adaptive tools
  • Build on strengths
  • Manage sensory and emotional regulation needs
  • Splinting
  • Positioning for safety and function
  • Adaptive equipment
  • Compensatory techniques

Mixed Cerebral Palsy– There is also a category of “mixed” cerebral palsy, meaning more than one type of palsy is present. The diagnosis of Mixed Cerebral Palsy is given when a child shows symptoms of multiple types of cerebral palsy. When this occurs, there may be differences in different areas of the brain. Mixed cerebral palsy type can present with a wider variety of physical and neurological symptoms.

Occupational Therapy for Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Occupational therapy for Mixed Cerebral Palsy can include:

  • Any of the occupational therapy interventions listed above, depending on the specific needs of the individual and based on symptoms.

No matter the type of CP, every case will be different, because each child comes with their own unique abilities. 

Cerebral palsy occupational therapy interventions

Occupational Therapy for children with Cerebral Palsy

Aspects of the occupational therapy interventions for cerebral palsy are listed below. Because each individual with cerebral palsy diagnosis is so different in the way of tone, musculature, abilities, difficulties, environmental considerations, family environment, and other aspects, there will be no two treatment plans that are exactly alike.

Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT): NDT is a holistic movement based approach, involved in handling and moving the child. In the most serious cases of cerebral palsy, an individual may require total assistance, or be dependent, for the majority of their activities of daily living.

An OT and a PT provides treatment to control the muscles, and reduce the likelihood of joint contractures. If a joint is bent for too long due to high spasticity, the bones of the joint may begin to “fuse” and a joint contracture is formed.

This happens often at the elbows, hips, and knees preventing that joint from moving.

In order to avoid joint contractures, therapists can provide skilled therapy, such as NDT, to correct the spasticity and promote functional movement in the affected muscles.

Splinting for Cerebral Palsy: In milder cases, a child with spastic CP may be able to perform most tasks independently, but benefit from a splint to guide their upper extremity posture.

A commonly used splint is a thumb splint with a supinator strap. Many children with cerebral palsy present with tightly closed fingers, and a pronated forearm.

A thumb splint with a supinator strap can help to position the thumb, wrist, and forearm in a more functional position. This splint is typically prefabricated, made of a soft fabric, attached with velcro. 

Environmental Modifications: Safety is the number one priority. Occupational Therapy and for children with cerebral palsy might involve an environmental assessment for safe mobility in the home.

Recommendations may include: non-slip mats, professional railings installed in bathroom/ hallways/stairs, lighting accommodations, removal of clutter/cords/rugs/other tripping hazards, depending on the unique needs of the child.  

Weight Bearing: Occupational therapy for children with cerebral palsy includes upper extremity weight bearing activities. These can be used on the affected arms to help increase muscle tone in a child with ataxic CP.

Weight bearing can also increase bone density, to reduce the chance of fractures. It can also improve sensory awareness and proprioception that sends information to the brain about where the body is in space.

Effective strength and sensory processing can increases safe, functional movements. To make weight bearing fun and playful, try placing the child prone over a physioball, having them reach for preferred toys with one hand, then the other.

Adaptive Equipment: Feeding tools like the ones in this article on adaptive feeding equipment from the OT Toolbox, may help increase independence, by compensating for shaky movements while feeding.

To increase coordination for handwriting skill, a variety of adaptations can be used (Amazon affiliate links):

It is important to make these activities as client-centered and motivating as possible. Having uncontrollable movement can be very frustrating, especially for small children who don’t understand what his happening to their body. Celebrate the little victories and find out what motivates your client to try, try again! 

Compensatory Techniques: Based on the unique movement needs of the child, occupational therapy for children with cerebral palsy may include alternative methods for the child to complete activities as independently as possible. One example; practice and identify the most functional order to get dressed and undressed.

Teach which arm to thread into a sleeve first, when to pull the shirt over their head, or how to orient the shirt to efficiently motor plan the following step. Create a song, social story, or picture book to help the child and their family learn.

A Final Note on occupational therapy and cerebral palsy

It is important to note that while some children with cerebral palsy may also have cognitive deficits, it is not a trademark of this diagnosis. Many children with CP meet their cognitive milestones.

A cerebral palsy diagnosis does not mean an individual can not learn, see, hear, and communicate as well as their peers. Seizure disorders, communication deficits, feeding, and swallowing disorders are common comorbidities for individuals with cerebral palsy.

Be sure to understand the medical needs of your clients in order to provide the best practice and occupational therapy for children with cerebral palsy.

As with any other patient, once you understand what their barriers and goals are, therapy can be meaningful and fun! 

Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.


blank word search

What better way to work on visual perceptual skills AND handwriting, than by adding this blank word search template to your treatment plans? If you’ve seen some of the other St. Patrick’s Day activities on the site this week, then you can add this activity to your March OT lesson plans.

This blank word search is great for visual perceptual skills and handwriting skills.

The OT Toolbox has a lot of St. Patrick’s Day activities including this blank word search template.

Plus you’ll find more free downloads in our Spring Activities headquarters.


When my girls were young, I was forever searching for ways to make their homework more fun, especially while learning spelling words.  Straight repetition and memorization might work for some learners, but for the rest, there needs to be more engaging ways to improve working memory for retention of information.

How can you use this blank word search worksheet?

What I love about simple worksheets like this blank word search PDF template, is the flexibility and usability it offers. 

By thinking outside of the box, dozens of treatment ideas can be created!  (This type of activity analysis would be a great project for therapy students or new teachers).

  • Use current spelling words on your learner’s list for the clues to the wordsearch
  • Add thematic words to your grid (winter, animals, foods, colors, clothing)
  • Write random letters in the grid and use this as a scanning task (find all the A’s)
  • Have learners create a grid for other students to use. This works on critical thinking skills, as well as promoting neatness and accuracy
  • Use the printable blank template as a grid for working on letter sizing, letter formation, and neatness
  • Work on speed and dexterity by seeing how many letters/dots/numbers they can write in a given amount of time
  • Use dot markers for accuracy either with a blank grid or while searching for letters or words
  • Laminate the page for reusability and eco friendliness
  • Extend the activity by having students write a sentence after finding each word, draw a picture, or define the words
  • Younger learners do not need to be able to read or spell these words, this will be a copying and visual memory task for those who can not read
  • Try presenting this without including a word bank.  See how many words your learners can find without clues, or remember what words are on their spelling list
  • Enlarge this template onto a smart board for group work, encouraging students to come to the board, and write vertically
  • What other ideas can you come up with?

What is your objective using this blank word search?

As always, shift your focus and observations toward the skills you are building.  In this task it could be:

  • Fine motor: letter formation,  handwriting, grasping, copying from a model
  • Visual perception:scanning, figure ground, visual memory
  • Sensory: arousal level, pressure on paper/pencil, seating position
  • Speed and dexterity
  • social/emotional skills, following directions, frustration tolerance
  • Executive function: organizing work, work completion, task analysis
  • Strengthening, bilateral coordination
  • Any combination of the above, or something entirely different

If your main objective is visual perception, check out this huge visual processing bundle offered in the OT Toolbox.

what and how to document session using this blank word search page

Using this blank word search in therapy sessions covers a variety of areas and goals. But how do you document? And what do you look for when using a tool like this in therapy sessions?

Here are a few things to watch for when learners use this resource:

  • Document in real numbers, percentages, and actual data
  • Accuracy of finding the words
  • Timing for finishing the task
  • Amount of physical and/or verbal assistance
  • Grasping pattern 
  • Sensory skills/problems
  • Behavior, social function

The resources available for individuals/members visiting the OT Toolbox, are great for new teachers/therapists who feel overwhelmed, needing an organized direction for making awesome treatment plans.

Don’t forget seasoned professionals who are burned out, or looking for quick and easy printables, PDF templates, and activities.  Whatever category you fit in, whether you are a professional or parent, the OT Toolbox has you covered!  

more ideas for your St. Patrick’s Day themed lesson plan

Sticking with the winter theme and tired of Frozen songs and worksheets? Try our Spring Fine Motor Kit full of flowers, butterflies, rainbows, and Spring fun. These reproducible activity pages include: pencil control strips, scissor skills strips, simple and complex cutting shapes, lacing cards, toothpick precision art, crumble hand strengthening crafts, memory cards, coloring activities, and so much more.

Understanding why you are doing treatment, what goals you are working on, how to assess and grade each task, document the lesson plan, and troubleshoot the activities, are the most difficult (and important) parts of treatment.  Picking a worksheet is easy, knowing how to use it is where skill is involved.  That is why it is so awesome that these tools are readily available.  No need to keep reinventing the wheel.  

Use the resources available to you at the OT Toolbox, or wherever else you search for quality materials, then take a moment of free time to listen to the Spring raindrops. Grab those Spring fine motor printables, then settle in with a book and a cup of cocoa.

Free Blank Word Search

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 Blank Word Search

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

    Victoria Wood, OTR/L is a contributor to The OT Toolbox and has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.

    *The term, “learner” is used throughout this post for consistency. This information is relevant for students, patients, clients, preschool, kids/children of all ages and stages, or whomever could benefit from these resources. The term “they” is used instead of he/she to be inclusive.

    Occupational Therapy for Down Syndrome

    Occupational therapy interventions for down syndrome

    Occupational therapists (OT practitioners) provide skilled services to help many different people, with or without a diagnosis. In this article, we will talk about Down syndrome, more specifically common interventions and strategies when providing occupational therapy for Down syndrome.

    Occupational therapy interventions for children with Down syndrome.

    Occupational Therapy For Down Syndrome

    Occupational therapy practitioners work with many diagnoses. In pediatrics, the diagnosis of Down Syndrome may be seen in early intervention services, in school-based therapy, or in the outpatient setting.

    An occupational therapist will perform an evaluation and develop an individualized plan of action designed to meet specific needs. Occupational therapy interventions may be related to areas such as:

    • Oral motor concerns impacting feeding
    • Positioning and feeding techniques
    • Physical motor skills including gross and fine motor skills
    • Achievement of motor milestones including rolling, sitting, position changes, and use of the arms and legs, etc.
    • Facilitation of self-care skills
    • Refinement of fine motor skills
    • Sensory needs
    • Social or emotional needs
    • Self-regulation needs

    This list may not include every area addressed in occupational therapy. Let’s go into more detail about OT and the individual with Down syndrome.

    First, let’s cover the diagnosis of Down syndrome.


    Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by additional copy of chromosome 21. In regard to functional performance, the typical characteristics of Down syndrome include:

    • Low muscle tone
    • Relatively short limbs, including hands, fingers, and thumbs
    • Mild to moderate intellectual disability
    • Developmental delays

    People with Down syndrome are often active members in their communities, able to participate well in school and social events, and can raise a family. Each case is unique, and health professionals such as occupational therapists are available to help improve functional independence along the way. 

    what is Occupational therapy for Down syndrome?

    In order to fully understand the involvement between the occupational therapist and person with Down syndrome, it is critical to learn the role of the OT.

    During the initial evaluation of a person with Down syndrome, the occupational therapist will assess many different skills to determine the specific needs. They will try to answer broad questions like, “How independent is the person with activities like eating, dressing, and playing?”, and specific questions, such as, “What types of grasps do they use?”.

    Developmentally appropriate assessments will be used to measure fine and gross motor skills, cognition, and sensory regulation. 

    down syndrome: Fine Motor Skills

    The whole body is responsible for strong fine motor skills; starting with core then shoulder strength, moving down toward strength and mobility in the hands and fingers.

    The general decrease in muscle tone and joint stability that is common in those diagnosed with Down syndrome, makes the development of fine motor skills more challenging. 

    Physical features impacting fine motor skills

    The hands of a child with Down syndrome have a typical pattern of development, including shorter hands, fingers, and thumb than the average child, that can further decrease dexterity.

    The palms may also lack the curvature that is required for skills like thumb opposition. We call these the arches of the hand, and they are useful during any skill that requires the hand to move around an object, big such as a water glass, or small like buttons. 

    Because of these physical features, coupled with general muscle weakness and loose joints, occupational therapy for Down syndrome will likely offer activities to increase fine motor skills.

    Gympanzees has a great article on developing fine motor skills for children with Down Syndrome.

    Dexterity and Down Syndrome

    • Use small items, like beads/pompoms/Cheerios/buttons, to pinch, place, string, glue down, or count.
    • You can increase the challenge by encouraging holding onto multiple items in one hand, but only placing one at a time – much like we hold a set of coins and use a singular hand to find and place the correct coin. This is referred to as in-hand manipulation

    Joint Protection and down syndrome

    • Braces or splints may be used to help support the joints in a functional position, while the child continues to build strength. 

    Arm Strength and down syndrome

    • Weight bearing through the arms is a great way to build shoulder strength for fine motor development – try animal walks, wheelbarrow walking, or crawling through tunnels!

    Hand Strength and down syndrome

    • Get those fingers moving by shaping playdough or putty; roll, squeeze, poke, smash, and pinch it! Increase the challenge as the skills develop by selecting firmer putty or by adding additional steps to the activity. 
    • The OT Toolbox has great resources for overall fine motor hand development

    Gross Motor Skills for down syndrome diagnosis

    Just like fine motor skills, the base of gross motor skills is the core. A person needs that proximal stability first, before they can build movement skills.

    Increasing the core strength leads to improved balance, coordination and dynamic movement control. These areas are addressed as they impact functional participation in feeding, self-care, learning in the school setting, and participation in functional tasks.

    Individuals with Down syndrome tend to have a more challenging time with strength and motor planning to move from one posture to the next due to low tone.

    For example, moving from a seated position on the floor to standing. The sequence should be: seated on the bottom, to a 4-point crawl position, to kneeling, to a single leg kneels, then standing. This sequence and combination of movements may pose an extra challenge due to limited mobility, strength, and muscle tone.

    Below are some ways to improve occupational therapy for Down syndrome can improve gross motor skills. 

    Core Strength and down syndrome

    • There are so many play-based activities that strengthen the core. Almost any activity can be done in prone (on the tummy), which can improve core strength and offer some weight-bearing in the arms at the same time
    • When you think core strength, think balance. Use balance beams, one-foot stand, wobbly surfaces, etc. Just make sure to prioritize safety and comfort. 

    Positional Changes and down syndrome

    • The more change, the better. Set up a game or obstacle course that encourages movement up/down, side-to-side, rolling, or scooting.
    • The most important goal is to get that body moving!

    down syndrome and Sensory Regulation 

    Are children with Down syndrome more or less likely to experience sensory differences? Yes. This is the reason occupational therapy for Down syndrome and sensory regulation will be an important part of the treatment process.

    There is one clear reason why people with a diagnosis of Down syndrome may experience more sensory processing difficulties – low muscle tone again. Individuals with low muscle tone may have a harder time processing proprioceptive input. This is the sense that our muscles and joints pick up to tell the body where they are in space. 

    Because of this decreased proprioceptive input, people with Down syndrome frequently need more input in order to grade the force of their movements.

    For example, they may experience difficulties in choosing how hard or how soft their movements should be. They may knock something down by pushing too hard, or drop something by mistake by not holding tight enough. 

    This can also skew how an individual with Down syndrome eats food. They may not feel the food in their mouth very well until it is full, and start over-eating or pocketing food in their cheeks. People diagnosed with Down syndrome often grind their teeth as a way to get more input and stability through the jaw.

    • Increased proprioceptive input
      • Weighted items: vests, lap pads, blankets 
      • Exercise, weight bearing, jumping 

    In addition to low tone, another common comorbidity to Down syndrome is hearing loss. This is important to address as a sensory need because an individual may react strongly or under react to auditory stimuli. Sensory tools should be trialed for a few weeks to see what will work best to regulate the child’s sensory system. These tools should be used intermittently throughout the day, and never forced on a child. In order to be effective, they should be voluntary and not be used as a reward or punishment. 

    • Auditory Processing Strategies 
      • Noise reducing headphones
      • Auditory feedback tube (like this)
      • Assistive technology for hearing loss

    A Sensory Diet is a great treatment option for sensory processing and Down syndrome. The OT Toolbox also has a great resource called the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook to address and understand sensory processing needs.

    For more play-based ideas for early intervention for working with learners with Down syndrome, here is a fun article on outdoor sensory activities.

    If you are a fan of the OT Toolbox, you can access all of these resources much easier by becoming a member. As a member, you will:

    • Be able to download each of them with a single click (No more re-entering your email address and searching through folders!)
    • Receive early access to new printables and activities before they’re added to the website (You’ll find these in the What’s New section.)
    • Receive a 20% discount on all purchases made in the The OT Toolbox shop!

    For all of these skills, the most important part of occupationl therapy for Down Syndrome is to meet the child where they are. An Occupational therapist will make an assessment of their learner’s current level of functioning, providing a “just right” challenge, that is motivating for that particular learner. Because of potential delays in cognitive ability, and the physical difficulties associated with Down syndrome, these new skills may not develop quickly, and may not progress at all. Occupational therapy can help with adaptations to approach these tasks in a different way, or modifications to the environment to increase independence. 

    Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
    background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
    providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
    a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.

    Valentines Fine Motor Worksheet

    Valentines Day Fine Motor Worksheets

    Here is another fun Valentines Fine Motor Worksheet with a sweet treats theme. Add this resource to your Valentine’s Day occupational therapy activities for themed activities that build fine motor skills. This printable bundle is designed to work on in-hand manipulation.  What the heck is that?

    Valentines Day Fine Motor Worksheets for developing precision and in-hand manipulation skills

    Valentines Fine Motor Worksheet

    In the Valentine fine motor activity using the worksheet below, you can promote fine motor skill development, specifically regarding in-hand manipulation skills.

    In-hand manipulation is an essential skill for hand function.  Strengthening the muscles of the palm, or intrinsic muscles helps with basic functions such as picking up and releasing small objects such as coins one at a time. 

    This is how you are able to give something to someone without opening up your whole hand and dumping the contents.  We use these intrinsic muscles during finger isolation, pointing, cutting with scissors, writing, or touching each finger tip to tip to name a few. 

    Motivation, or lack of it, has been addressed several times in previous posts. Some learners are intrinsically motivated, doing their best work because it is important to them. Most people though are externally motivated.  They need some sort of reward, praise, or incentive in order to work (especially at a non preferred task).  While handing out rewards for each task completed is not sustainable, adding incentives is. 

    Worksheets found on the OT Toolbox add themes and pictures to incentivize your learners to complete the task more willingly. Our Valentine theme is no exception.

    Activities in our popular Valentine Fine Motor Kit include fine motor strips that can be used to develop skills in a fun and motivating way.

    Below, you can grab a set of Valentine Fine Motor Strips, whether it be for preschoolers, grade school, or any other entry level learner, are a great bundle of printable worksheets. 

    While this can have a Valentine theme, it can also be a stand alone activity or fit nicely into your in-hand manipulation treatment plan.

    How to use these Valentines fine motor printables:

    The classic method of using these Valentines Treats Printables is to have your learner pick up a designated number of small objects one at a time, transferring from the fingertips to the palm of the hand.  Then your learner will place the objects down on the diagram one at a time, reversing the process of transferring the objects from the palm to the fingertips before placing them on the page.

    What to watch for while using this valentines printable:

    • Is your learner using a raking or pincer grasp to pick up the objects?
    • Do not let your learner slide the objects off of the table
    • Items should be picked up with only ONE hand
    • Items should be dropped one at a time by transferring the objects to the fingertips, not just opening a finger or two to release the objects
    • While the above are considered “cheating”, they are more likely coping strategies for a learner who does not understand, or is unable to do the task correctly.  Modify the task as needed for success.
    • Count how many items your learner can hold without dropping any. Try and aim for ten items.
    • How many times do you need to repeat the directions so your student can follow them?
    • How many reminders does your student need while doing this activity?
    • What is your student’s frustration tolerance when they have to start over?
    • What compensation strategies is your learner using?
    • What is their behavior, social function, and executive skills  during this task? 

    What items can I use for the valentines day treats printable worksheet?

    The small objects for this Valentines Day Fine Motor Worksheet can be anything really. You can make the task easier or more difficult depending on the number and size of the objects. Keep a watchful eye on your learners while they are handling small objects. It is important that they learn to work with small objects, but be vigilant about items going into the mouth.  Here are some suggestions of items to use:

    • Coins
    • Buttons of different sizes
    • Pompoms of different sizes
    • Mini marshmallows
    • Small Legos
    • Cheerios or other small food items (this may help incentivize your learner even more!)
    • Bingo chips
    • Dice
    • Paperclips
    • Erasers
    • Any combination of items you have in your junk drawer

    What else can I do with this Valentines fine motor strips printable pack?

    • Use different size/number/type of objects to change the challenge
    • Use crayons/colored pencils/markers to color the paths or make marks along the way
    • Dot markers can be used to mark the items along the paths
    • Pages can be colored and cut out, glued onto larger sheets and decorated
    • Enlarge or shrink this page to change the level of difficulty
    • Change the type, color, or weight of paper.  Heavier weight is easier to handle, Colored paper might be more motivating, or provide better contrast
    • Make a lesson plan around in-hand manipulation, tasty treats, or  fine motor skills for the day/week
    • Laminate the page for reusability.  This activity can then be done with manipulatives or markers and wipes. 
    • An alternative to lamination is page protector sheets.  These are much more affordable and reusable depending on your current lesson plan. Create a themed binder of worksheets to use with all of your learners.

    Whether your lesson plan is preschool Valentine’s printables, worksheets for fine motor skills, coloring activities, Valentines Sensory Bins, printable Valentines hearts, in-hand manipulation, or a combination of all of these, have fun with them! Use the resources at the OT Toolbox to make a challenging task fun. 

    What if you had themed, NO-PREP activities designed to collect data and can help kids build essential fine motor skills?

    Take back your time and start the year off with a bang with these done-for-you fine motor plans to help kids form stronger hands with our Winter Fine Motor Kit. This print-and-go winter fine motor kit includes no-prep fine motor activities to help kids develop functional grasp, dexterity, strength, and endurance. Use fun, winter-themed, fine motor activities so you can help children develop strong fine motor skills in a digital world. 

    The Winter Fine Motor Kit includes reproducible activity pages include: pencil control strips, scissor skills strips, simple and complex cutting shapes, lacing cards, toothpick precision art, crumble hand strengthening crafts, memory cards, coloring activities, and so much more.

    If you regularly use the printables and activities like the Valentines Fine Motor Printables or Treat Worksheet bundle offered at the OT Toolbox, you might want to consider becoming a Member of the OT Toolbox.  Membership is a more efficient way to get all of your information and resources than entering your email address each time. Save hours of time with an organized collection of high quality, easy-prep occupational therapy resources right at your fingertips!

    In addition to free downloads like this Valentines Day Fine Motor Worksheet, the OT Toolbox also offers themed activities/posts to make treatment planning a breeze. One of them is this the Valentine’s Day Occupational Therapy Activity Post full of activities, crafts, sensory strategies, Valentines Play Dough, resources and products. Included in the OT Toolbox resources is a a great Valentines Day Fine Motor Kit, on special now!

    If you are a new therapist/parent/teacher, you could definitely use some resources!  If you are a seasoned therapist you could definitely use some NEW resources!!

    In preparation for this activity set, I will be scouring my junk drawers looking for miscellaneous objects to put this task to good use.  Does anyone even have coins anymore?

    Free Valentine Fine Motor Worksheet

    Enter your email address below to download this FREE Valentine Fine Motor Strip Worksheet Bundle!

    FREE Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Worksheet

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      Victoria Wood, OTR/L

      Victoria Wood, OTR/L is a contributor to The OT Toolbox and has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.

      *The term, “learner” is used throughout this post for readability, however this information is relevant for students, patients, clients, children of all ages and stages or whomever could benefit from these resources. The term “they” is used instead of he/she to be inclusive.