Playground Balance Activities

playground balance activities

Today I have a fun activity for kids…playground balance activities! This virtual playground activity has various movement and coordination tasks that challenge kids to work on posture, position changes, coordination, core strength, and much more. While playing at the playground is the way to go to develop gross motor skills, sometimes getting outdoors is just not possible. That’s where this playground therapy slide deck comes in!

Playground balance activities for sensory play and coordination when going to the playground isn't possible. Use these in a playground theme in therapy activities.

Playground Balance Activities

When you think about playing at the playground, you think climbing, stooping, sliding, and balancing, right? There are so many ways that playing on playground equipment is such a powerful way to develop gross motor skills, balance, coordination, and overall strength.

But, sometimes it’s just not possible to get out to the playground. Things like weather can impact playground use. Other times, limitations in using public spaces impacts use of the playground in the school setting. And, for therapists running therapy sessions, sometimes you want to incorporate all of the fun of a playground setting in the therapy clinic!

When you access this playground balance activity slide deck, you get to pretend you are at the playground no matter what setting you are in. Then, by following the commands on each slide, children can get all of the benefits of stooping, crawling, balancing, and changing postures.

Each slide on this free slide deck asks kids to follow the visual cue. There are visuals for different playground task. Things like:

  • Balancing on one leg by monkey bars
  • Stooping to pick up a ball
  • Kicking a ball
  • Squatting to play in the sandbox
  • Climbing on playground equiptment
  • Throwing a ball
  • Climbing on a merry-go-round
  • Jumping rope
  • Reaching up for monkey bars.

Playground theme therapy

By going through the playground exercises, kids work on a variety of areas:

  • Bilateral coordination
  • Motor planning
  • Core strength
  • Stabiliyt
  • Position changes
  • Sequencing
  • Motor control
  • Graded positioning
  • Posture
  • Balance
  • Direction-following

These skills impact daily functioning in kids! Why not use a playground theme to work on these skill areas?

When kids follow the directions on each slide, they are also gaining whole-body movements and heavy work input that can be calming as a regulation tool.

If creating a weekly therapy theme works for your plans, then this playground theme is one you’ll want to add to your line up of occupational therapy activities and PT activities. You can use these playground balance exercises in therapy sessions to incorporate a therapy theme.

  1. Try using these visual playground strategies in between other tasks in a therapy session. Work on handwriting, scissor skills, and other functional tasks. And then come back to the balance activity. Then do another task and come back to the balance activity.
  2. Kids can work through the slides and try to remember all of the movements.
  3. Call out a piece of playground equipment and the child can recall the specific balance exercise. This is a great way to work on working memory and attention to detail.
  4. Incorporate handwriting: Ask students to list out all of the playground equipment. Work on letter formation, legibility, spacing, and line use. Then they can go through the slides and do the balance exercises.
  5. Add these activities to a sensory diet that helps kids regulate sensory input. Our outdoor sensory diet cards are the perfect combination to a playground theme!

Free Playground Balance Activities Slide Deck

Want to access this free therapy resource? It’s just one of the many free slides here on the website. All you need to do is enter your email address into the form below. You’ll receive a PDF containing a link to a Google slide deck. Copy it onto your drive and you are good to go! Start playing on the playground no matter where you are!

Playground Balance Activities

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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

    Tear Paper for Fine Motor Skills

    Tear paper fine motor activity

    Did you know you can tear paper to improve fine motor skills using materials you already have in your home? I have an incredibly easy fine motor activity to share: tearing paper! When kids tear paper, they are developing fine motor skills like grasp, hand strength, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, and more. So often, parents are looking for easy ways to help kids develop fine motor skills, and the very material that can improve all of these areas is found right in the home. Let’s break down tearing paper as an amazing fine motor activity for kids.

    Tear paper to build fine motor skills and to use in occupational therapy activities like improving coordination, visual motor skills, and more.

    Tear Paper for Fine Motor Skills

    Tearing paper a simple fine motor activity that requires only scrap paper and your hands. In fact, tearing paper actually helps children develop so many essential skills: hand strength, hand eye coordination, precision, refined movements, bilateral coordination…

    When a child tears a piece of paper, they improve hand strength and endurance in the small muscles in the hand.  These intrinsic muscles are important in so many fine motor skills, including those important to handwriting and coloring, managing buttons and zippers, manipulating pegs, and more.  

    When paper is torn, the hands assume a great tripod grasp which is effective and a mature grasp for writing and coloring.  The non-dominant hand is assisting in the tearing and encourages appropriate assistance for tasks like holding the paper while writing, and managing paper while cutting with scissors.  

    Just look at the skills kids develop with a tear paper activity:

    • Hand eye coordination
    • Bilateral coordination
    • Pinch strength
    • Arch development
    • Intrinsic hand strength
    • Separation of the sides of the hand
    • Open thumb web space
    • Shoulder and forearm stability
    • Precision and refined grasp
    • Proprioceptive input
    • Motor planning
    Tearing paper is an amazing fine motor activity for kids to build coordination and hand strength.

    Paper Tearing Activity

    In this paper tearing activity, we use recycled artwork to create Torn Paper Art that would look great on any gallery (or family dining room) wall!

    Tearing strips of paper is especially a great fine motor task.  To work those fine motor skills, start with some junk mail or recycled paper materials and practice tearing.

    Tear paper into strips- To tear a long sheet of paper, you need to grasp the paper with an effective, yet not too strong grasp.  Tear too fast, and the paper is torn diagonally and not into strips.

    Make slow tears in the paper- Tearing the paper slowly while focusing on strait torn lines really encourages a workout of those intrinsic muscles.  

    Tear different weights of paper- Paper comes in different thicknesses, or weights. Practicing tearing different thicknesses really hones in on precision skills. We tore an 9×11 piece of painted printer paper into long strips, lengthwise.  The thin paper isn’t too difficult to tear, but requires motor control. Thicker paper like cardstock or cardboard requires more strength to grip the paper. The thicker paper also requires a bit more strength to tear with accuracy and precision. Tearing paper that is thicker like cardstock, index cards, or construction paper adds heavy input through the hands. This proprioceptive input can be very calming and allow kids to regulate or focus while adding the sensory input they need.

    Tear paper into shapes– Use the paper to create simple shapes like a circle, square, etc. You can make this task easier by drawing pencil lines and ripping along the lines. This is a fantastic way to build motor planning skills. Or, work on visual perceptual skills and try ripping paper into shapes without a template.

    Vary the texture of the paper– You can add a sensory component and use different textures of paper. Try painted or colored paper. Try printed paper or a rough paper like last year’s paper calendar. Try ripping cardstock or textured crepe paper.

    Work on tearing paper fringes- Tearing into the edge of the page, and stopping at a certain point requires refined motor work. It’s easy to tear right across the page, but requires precision and coordination to stop tearing at a certain point. To grade this activity easier, try marking the stopping point with a pencil mark.

    tearing paper is a fine motor skills workout for kids.

    Types of paper to use in tearing paper activities

    There are many benefits to using different textures and types of paper. Let’s take a look at some of the possible types of paper. These are materials that you may already have in your home. Varying the paper type in torn paper activities can help to grade an activity, or make it easier or more difficult. These are great ways to vary the amount of fine motor strength and precision needed, thereby improving fine motor skills and visual motor skills.

    Types of paper to use in tearing paper activities:

    • Junk mail
    • Old phone books
    • Recycled newspapers
    • Magazines
    • Flyers from school or the community
    • Printer paper
    • Notebook paper
    • Cardboard
    • Recycled food boxes (cereal boxes, tissue boxes, etc.)
    • Paper bags
    • Tissue paper
    • Crepe paper
    • Toilet paper
    • Paper towels
    • Napkins
    • Paper plates
    • Recycled artwork
    • Used coloring books
    • Cardboard tubes (toilet paper tubes, paper towel rolls)
    • Old calendars
    This torn paper art is a paper tearing activity for kids that uses recycled artwork to build fine motor skills and motor control while tearing paper.

    Torn paper art  

    This ripped paper art is a craft that is so simple, yet such a fun way to create art while working on fine motor skills.  

    Tear paper into strips to work on fine motor skills with kids.

    You’ll need just a few materials for ripped paper art:

    • Paper (Any type or texture will do…old crafts, kids artwork, or paper that has been painted)
    • Glue
    • Paper to cardstock to use as a base
    • Your hands!

    We all have piles of kids’ artwork that is gorgeous…yet abundant.  You keep the ones that mean the most, but what do you do with those piles of painted paper, scribbled sheets, and crafty pages?  You sure can’t keep it all or your house will become covered in paper, paint, and glitter.  We used a great blue page to make our torn paper art.

    Making the torn paper art is very simple. It’s a process art activity that will look different no matter how many times you do the activity.

    How to create torn paper art:

    1. Select a variety of paper colors, materials, and textures.
    2. Tear a sheet into long strips.  This will become the sky of our artwork.
    3. Use white paper to create cloud shapes. Tear the paper into shapes.
    4. Use green cardstock or other material to create grass. Tear small strips into the paper but not through to the edge. Create a fringe with the paper.
    5. Glue the torn paper onto the base page in layers.
    6. Use your imagination and have fun!

    A few tips for creating torn paper art

    Have a variety of paper types, colors, and textures available. Some ideas include using junk mail, recycled artwork, cardstock, construction paper, printer paper, crepe paper, cardboard, cereal boxes, etc.

    Use your imagination. You can start with an idea to create or you can go with the flow of the art creation and start without an idea.

    If you have trouble coming up with an idea for your torn paper art, try some of these:

    • Create a torn paper landscape
    • Create an object from ripped paper textures
    • Make a torn paper abstract artwork
    • Copy real life objects and make representational art
    • Create a ripped paper still life
    • Use all one color of paper in different textures to make a monochromatic artwork
    • Make abstract portraits
    • Tear the paper into shapes to make geometric artwork
    • Explore art concepts such as size, shape, color, lines, form, space, texture
    • Explore multimedia: Incorporate printed paper, painted paper, glossy paper, cardboard in different textures, crayon colored paper, etc.
    Tear paper into strips of ripped paper to work on eye-hand coordination in an occupational therapy activity with recycled materials.
    Tearing paper builds fine motor skills and endurance in fine motor precision, making it a fine motor workout!
    Ripping paper is a fine motor activity for kids in occupational therapy or working on fine motor skills at home.

     More paper activities

    Tear and paste activity with blue paper and green cardstock to create a torn paper collage.

    We used one of the long strips of green cardstock to create grass by making small tears.  Be careful not to tear the whole way across the strip!  What a workout this is for those hand muscles.  

    Use recycled art like painted paper to create torn art collage while building fine motor skills in kids.

     Next glue the blue strips onto a background piece of paper.  Tear white scrap paper into cloud shapes.  They can be any shape, just like clouds in the sky!

    Tear paper to help kids strengthen fine motor skills.

     Grab a piece of yellow cardstock and create a sun.  This is another fabulous fine motor workout.  Tearing a circle-ish shape and creating small tears really works those muscles in the hands.

    Tearing paper activity for kids

     Glue the sun onto the sky and enjoy the art.  

    More paper activities that build skills:

    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

    Superhero Gross Motor Activities

    superhero gross motor activities slide deck

    Today, I have a fun therapy slide deck to share: Superhero Gross Motor Activities! These superhero exercises are movement activities that challenge motor planning, balance, core strength, and crossing midline. When kids move through the superhero movement activities, they can build and develop many areas. Grab this gross motor activity set and start building those motor skills!

    Superhero Gross motor activities for kids

    Superhero Gross Motor Activities

    I wanted to create a gross motor activity set to go along with our superhero writing activity deck, so be sure to grab that free resource as well. This is just one of the free teletherapy slides for OT and PT that are available on the site.

    The gross motor activity set includes 24 different slides and superhero exercises that challenges users to complete different movement patterns. Users can go through the exercises in order and work on various gross motor skills that can be a challenge to incorporate into teletherapy sessions, sometimes.

    By following along with the different superhero gross motor positions, kids can challenge and build:

    These various gross motor skills can help children with self-regulation, attention, and other areas.

    Add these other superhero activities for more skill-building:

    Free Superhero Gross Motor Slide Deck

    Want to add this slide deck to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email address below and you will receive a PDF containing a link to copy the slide deck onto your Google drive. Save that PDF file, because you can come back to it again and again and send it to the kids on your caseload (or classroom) so they can make their own copy on their Google drive.

    Note- You many need to use a personal email address in this form due to increased difficulties with sending deliverables to school district emails, organizations, and those with high security networks.

    Free Superhero Gross Motor Therapy Slide Deck!

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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

      Unicorn Yoga

      Unicorn Yoga

      If you’ve got a little one who is a big fan of unicorns, than this Unicorn Yoga is a sure win. I’ve had this unicorn craft on the site for years and wanted to add a few other unicorn activities to go with the craft. That’s where these stretches and gross motor exercises come into play.

      Unicorn Yoga

      Unicorn Yoga

      Just in time for Unicorn Day (yep, that’s actually a thing! Unicorn Day is on April 9th), these unicorn yoga exercises are a great addition to your therapy toolbox.

      The exercises are a free slide deck that can be used in teletherapy, or as a brain break activity to incorporate into a functional sensory diet or self-regulation strategy.

      Kids that love all things unicorns will find these unicorn yoga poses a fun way to incorporate their interests into a meaningful and motivating sensory and gross motor exercise.

      In each slide deck, kids can follow along with the unicorn yoga pose to challenge core strength, stability, strengthening, motor planning, crossing midline.

      Other benefits of yoga exercises for kids include:

      • mindfulness
      • proprioceptive input
      • vestibular input
      • calming input
      • self-regulation.

      Unicorn fitness was never so much fun…or cute!

      Also included in this slide deck is a deep breathing activity. The unicorn image shows children how to take in deep breaths for the sensory and regulating benefits. Kids can use these deep breathing strategies while completing each unicorn yoga pose throughout the slide deck.

      Unicorn Yoga Slide Deck

      To incorporate these slides into your therapy practice, you’ll access the slides via the form below. Then, you can pull up the slide deck onto your Google drive. Go through each yoga pose with children in your virtual therapy sessions, at home, or in the classroom. Kids can copy the positioning with your verbal cues, and correct any body positioning, depending on spatial awareness and body awareness needs.

      Parents, teachers, and therapists may want to follow along with the cute unicorns on each slide, too!

      Want to add this free therapy slide deck to your toolbox? Enter your email address below and the exercises will be delivered to your inbox.

      NOTE: Please consider using a personal email address rather than a work or school district email. Due to recent changes with network security measures, the email delivering the resource may be blocked by your work institution.

      FREE Unicorn Yoga Slide Deck

        We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

        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

        Four Leaf Clover Balance Exercises

        four leaf clover teletherapy exercises

        This free teletherapy slide deck is a fun one; It’s a visual guide of four leaf clover activities for kids to work on balance and strength. The balance exercises are set up so kids can balance with a bean bag to work on core strength, coordination, stability, and motor planning skills. These balance exercises will get kids moving with St. Patrick’s Day therapy ideas!

        Try this four leaf clover exercises to challenge kids balance or use it as a brain break activity for St. Patrick's Day.

        Four Leaf Clover Activities

        If you need some activities to incorporated into virtual therapy sessions, or a fun brain break in time for St. Patrick’s Day, this four leaf clover activity is it.

        Like all of our free virtual therapy slide decks, this gross motor workout encourages kids to move and develop skills, with a fun theme.

        4 leaf clover activity includes a deep breathing activity and balance exercises.

        Kids can start with the deep breathing warm up activity, using the clover image. Kids can start by taking deep breaths in and out and following the directions on the 4 leaf clover image.

        Deep breathing exercises are a powerful way to achieve a calm-alert state, so that children are ready to learn and participate in therapy. This self-regulation benefit, along with the mindfulness and relaxation benefits makes this four leaf clover breathing exercise a great way to start any therapy session.

        You can get a printable version of this four leaf clover deep breathing exercise here on our site. It includes a coloring page, too, so if that would add to your therapy session, be sure to print that off as well.

        Use these four leaf clover exercises for balance and sensory input.

        Next, kids can move onto the balance exercises. Kids can use a bean bag or a pillow with each exercise to really challenge balance and coordination.

        For kids in virtual therapy, a bean bag may not be available. In that case, kids can balance with a pillow in the place of the clover images. Other ideas include using rolled up socks or a stuffed animal.

        Each slide deck moves kids through a set of exercises to incorporate core strength and stability, movement changes, inverted positioning, and motor planning challenges. By completing the 4 leaf clover exercises, kids are also gaining vestibular, and proprioceptive sensory input.

        Free 4 Leaf Clover Slide Deck

        Want a copy of this free therapy slide deck?

        Enter your email address into the form below and this slide deck will be sent to your email. You can make a copy onto your Google drive and then use it in teletherapy sessions, in home programming, or as a classroom brain break activity.

        Four Leaf Clover Balance Exercises!

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          Colors Handwriting Kit

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

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

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

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

          Valentines Day Busy Bag

          Fine motor activity using cookie cutters

          Busy Bag Activities are a great way to learn and play during quiet time or down time.  There’s a lot of learning that happens during activities with kids.  We put together this Valentine’s Day busy bag activity as a way to practice fine motor skills and color sorting.  It’s another Valentines Day occupational therapy activity that builds essential skills.

          Valentine's Day busy bag with fine motor heart activity using cookie cutters and beads.

          Heart Busy Bag Activity

          This sorting heart busy bag is a powerful way to improve in-hand manipulation skills.   In-hand manipulation  is a fine motor dexterity skill needed for tasks like managing clothing fasteners, using a pencil when writing, manipulating items like coins or beads, and more.

          Valentine's Day busy bag color sorting activity with beads for fine motor work and color identification.

          Valentine’s Day Busy Bag Activity

          This post contains affiliate links.

          Work on fine motor skills with this Valentine's Day fine motor activity

          We started with a big bin of  beads and a few heart cookie cutters.  I showed Little Sister (age 3) how to sort the beads by color into the hearts.  She had a blast examining each bead and saying “Oh, this one looks pinkish!  Oh this one looks purple-ish!”  

          Valentine's Day busy bag and fine motor activity for skills like in-hand manipulation.
          Use heart shaped cookie cutters and beads to work on fine motor skills.
          Work on fine motor skills with a Valentine's Day fine motor activity

          Fine Motor Valentine’s Day Activity

          Manipulating the beads in the big bin to grab certain colors works on some great fine motor skills.  You need to pick up the beads with a pincer grasp (tips of the pointer finger and thumb) with fine dexterity.  

          Once she grasped a bead, Little Sister would “squirrel away” the colors into the palm of the hand.  This transfer of beads from the tips of the fingers into the palm of the hand is in-hand manipulation(fingers to palm translation).  

          Manipulating small items like beads in this way works on the muscles of the hands and is a great way to work on pre-handwriting or handwriting skills.  A child needs strength of the intrinsic muscles (the muscles within the hand) to manipulate the pencil and maintain endurance for writing and coloring.

          Work on fine motor skills with this heart Valentine's Day occupational therapy activity.

          More Fine Motor Heart Activities

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

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

          Click here to grab your copy of the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit.

          Valentines Day fine motor kit
          15 Must-Try Valentine Busy Bags

          Find even more amazing Valentine busy bags


          Arrow Addition Matching Game // Mama.Papa.Bubba.

          Felt Heart Garden // Powerful Mothering

          LEGO Valentine’s Day Puzzle // Lemon Lime Adventures

          Letter Match Memory Game // The Educators’ Spin On It

          Printable Valentine’s Day Mix and Match Puzzles // Itsy Bitsy Fun

          Printable Conversation Heart Number Book // Playdough to Plato

          Conversation Heart Color Match // Preschool Inspirations

          Valentine’s Day Math Busy Bag // Still Playing School

          3 Low Prep Busy Bags // Lalymom

          Plant Heart Garden // Best Toys 4 Toddlers

          Tic Tac Toe // Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

          Valentine’s Day Number Matching // Coffee Cups and Crayons  

          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

          Gross Motor Toys

          Gross motor toys

          Kids need gross motor movement for so many skills. Today, I have gross motor toys to share! Here, you’ll find the best whole body toys and ideas to help kids with balance, core strength, stability, coordination, and endurance. Scroll on to check out some therapist-approved toys that help gross motor skill development!

          Gross motor toys to help kids develop skills in running, hopping, jumping, skipping, crawling, and more.

          Gross Motor Toys

          This list of toys for gross motor skills pairs well with our recent list of Fine Motor Toys. Today however, you’ll find toys that develop a few areas that are essential to areas of child development:

          Bilateral Coordination– Kids need bilateral coordination in whole body movements to move their body in a coordinated way. These whole body movements can include coordination of the upper and lower body, or both arms, or both feet, and all of the above! Here are bilateral coordination toys to address this specific area.

          Motor Planning– Motor planning with the whole body allows children to move in a room without crashing into objects or other people. Gross motor motor planning allows children to climb steps, navigate obstacles, or any movement-based task. Here is more information on motor planning and motor planning toys to address this specific sub-area.

          Gross motor coordinationCoordination of gross motor skills is needed for tasks such as kicking or catching a ball, riding a bike, getting dressed, or any task that uses the entire body. Here are hand eye coordination toys to address this particular sub-area.

          Proprioception– Integration of proprioceptive input allows children to know where their body is in space. It tells the body how much effort is needed to pick up and move objects. Proprioception allows us to understand the body’s position as it moves in a coordinated manner.

          Vestibular input- Integration of vestibular input allows children to navigate the world around them as they move. Going up or down steps or bleachers is an example of this. Moving into different positions during tasks is another example of vestibular integration. Movement through different planes requires integration of vestibular input.

          All of these areas work together in functional tasks and all are rooted in gross motor skills.

          Related: This dinosaur gross motor game is a skill builder, as well.

          Toys for Gross Motor Skill Development

          So often, therapists and teachers purchase items to use in their work using their own money. This giveaway offers a chance for you to win an item that will be useful in helping kids thrive.

          And, given that kids are on screens more than ever before with all of the virtual learning and hybrid learning models being incorporated all over the world, therapists are seeing more need for active, physical play.

          These are gross motor toys that you will find in therapy clinics. There is a reason why…because they are gross motor powerhouses! So, if you are looking for toy recommendations that build whole body motor skills, this is it!

          Amazon affiliate links are included below. You can read more about these items by checking out the links.

          Zoom ball is a great gross motor toy for kids.

          Zoom Ball– This classic toy is such a great way to work on many skills. A zoom ball can be used in different positions to challenge balance and vestibular input: Try using the zoom ball in sitting, standing, kneeling, standing on couch cushions, a slant…again, the options are limitless! Address skills such as:

          • Bilateral coordination
          • Core strength
          • Shoulder stability
          • Visual convergence
          • Motor planning
          • Coordination
          Pop and catch toys can help kids develop gross motor skills.

          Pop and Catch- Use this coordination toy indoors or outdoors to get kids moving. This toy can be played with while the child is standing, sitting, kneeling, or in a half-sit to challenge the core and eye-hand coordination in a variety of planes. Try playing on all fours on the floor for a shoulder girdle stability activity. Another use for this toy is by playing by standing at a table while the child shoots the ball across the table surface as they play like a ping-pong type of game. There are many uses for this pop and catch activity:

          • Eye-hand coordination
          • Motor planning
          • Vestibular input
          • Core strength
          • Stability of core
          • Stability of shoulder girdle
          use bucket stilts to help kids develop gross motor skills.

          Bucket Stilts– These bucket stilts are perfect for helping kids develop gross motor skills. I love this set because there are 6 colored buckets that make a great gross motor obstacle course tool, too. You could use them as stepping stones to challenge balance and coordination, too. Here are gross motor skills that you can work on using these bucket stilts toys:

          • Core strength
          • Vestibular input
          • Motor planning
          • Coordination
          • Balance
          • Endurance
          • Stabilizing
          use agility cones to help kids build gross motor skills in obstacle courses and more.

          Agility Cones– Sports cones are such an open-ended gross motor toy that can be used to develop so many skills: hopping, jumping, skipping, running, climbing, crawling…the options are endless. Use these agility cones in obstacle courses, challenges, drills, and more. I chose these particular cones because they can go very nicely with a Zones of Regulation activity! Use cones to support these areas:

          • Motor planning
          • Vestibular input
          • Coordination
          • Core strength
          • Endurance
          Use carpet markers to build gross motor skills with gross motor obstacle courses, motor planning, and more.

          Carpet Markers– These carpet markers are an occupational therapist’s dream toy! Use the colored marker spots to help kids work on so many movement skills in obstacle courses, visual perceptual skill activities, direction following, sensory movement breaks, positioning guides, and so much more. The arrows are perfect for addressing directionality. Use them to work on crawling, hopping, jumping, stopping on a point. Just some of the areas that these carpet spots support:

          • Core strength
          • Shoulder stability
          • Motor planning
          • Coordination
          • Endurance
          • Proprioception
          A parachute is a great gross motor toy for kids.

          Parachute– A parachute is another open-ended gross motor toy that the kids just LOVE. This one is small enough for small groups, but builds motor skills in a big way. Use the parachute to help kids develop:

          • Core stability
          • Arm strength
          • Motor planning
          • Endurance
          • Bilateral coordination
          • Proprioceptive input

          Gross Motor Toys

          Want to add these toys to your home, classroom, or therapy practice? I am SO happy to fill your toolbox so you can help kids thrive and build and develop the skills they need!

          Check out the blog comments below to see tips and ideas from readers telling us which gross motor toys they would love to use with the kids they work with and love. Have other gross motor favorites that aren’t listed here? Tell us about them!

          Be sure to check out the winners from this giveaway in our annual Therapy Tools and Toys Giveaway series!

          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

          Bilateral Coordination Toys

          Bilateral coordination toys

          Bilateral coordination toys are an occupational therapy intervention that helps children develop essential skills in bilateral integration. Toys that use both hands in a coordinated manner help children with bilateral coordination, crossing midline, and using both hands in tasks. These are essential skills that allow for an integration of both sides of the body, but more than that, bilateral coordination tells us that the brain is communicating effectively and sharing information between sides of the brain.

          Today, I’m excited to share bilateral coordination toys and games to help support this essential skill.

          Bilateral coordination toys for kids to develop coordination of both sides of the body.

          Bilateral Coordination in Play

          Using both sides of the body together is a skill needed for many tasks: writing with a pencil with one hand while stabilizing paper with the other hand is one such activity.

          Another bilateral coordination task is cutting with scissors with one hand while holding and manipulating paper with the other hand.

          Bilateral coordination in functional tasks makes up much of our day! Think of all of the other areas where you are using both hands or both sides of the body at the same time: getting dressed, tying shoes, cooking, typing, holding a book while reading, pouring a glass of water…the list could go on and on!

          For children with difficulty in crossing midline, or using integrated bilateral skills, using toys in play is an effective way to work on and nurture this skill.

          Looking for a toy to work on bilateral coordination to add to your gift giving this holiday season? Today we are covering ways to build bilateral coordination skills using toys and everyday items. We also have another giveaway to share today. This time it’s a fine motor toy that promotes a variety of sills, bilateral integration being one of them. I wanted to highlight this as a toy for building bilateral coordination because as we know, promoting this skill is a valuable building block to other tasks such as handwriting, cutting with scissors, self-care tasks, and more.

          Working on bilateral coordination in play is a means and a strategy for building this essential skill. So, why is bilateral coordination so important? And what exactly does bilateral coordination mean?

          DIY Bilateral Coordination Toys

          We’ve shared quite a few bilateral coordination toys and DIY activities here on this site in the past.

          A bilateral coordination lacing plate is a DIY toy and activity that can be used to work on coordinated use of both hands with a variety of themes.

          Using puzzles and games that you already have with an extra special addition can be a great way to work on bilateral coordination with puzzles.

          Play dough and sensory doughs are fun ways to play while working on skills like bilateral coordination and other motor skills.

          Stickers are an easy way to work on bilateral coordination and can be used in the classroom, clinic, or home and in combination with obstacle courses and other motor activities.

          Pegboards (both DIY and store-bought versions), are a fantastic way to work on bilateral coordination in play and in developing visual motor skills and coordination.

          DIY pick-up sticks are a fun way to address bilateral integration and coordinated use of both hands together.

          Making DIY lacing cards are a fun way to work on bilateral coordination. Making the lacing cards is part of the fun.

          Miniature rhythm sticks can be a musical and creative way to encourage bilateral coordination.

          Lock and keys games like with this DIY lock and key activity makes fine motor development an out of the box way to work on skills kids need for independence and instrumental activities of daily living.

          Bilateral Coordination Toys

          There are many bilateral coordination toys on the market as well. Let’s take a look at some toys and games that you can add to your therapy toolbox.

          Amazon affiliate links are included below.

          Bilateral coordination toy for use in bilateral coordination obstacle courses and other occupational therapy interventions.

          TruBalance Bilateral Coordination Toy This toy requires both hands as well as the eyes to challenge balance, coordination, and bimanual skills. Kids can work with this toy while sitting, standing, or in more challenging positions. Try incorporating couch cushions for a balance activity. Use this toy in a bilateral coordination obstacle course. Kids can use the pieces in a scavenger hunt type of activity where the parts are scattered at various levels and positioning, allowing the child to crawl, climb, walk, or squat while balancing the toy. The options go on and on!

          Use nuts and bolts activities to help kids develop bilateral coordination.

          Nuts and Bolts Bilateral Coordination Toy– This nuts and bolts activity is great for developing fine motor skills as well as bilateral coordination by requiring the child to use one hand to manipulate the parts while the other hand acts as a stabilizer. This is a nice way to develop skills needed for tasks like handwriting, pouring, stabilizing, cooking, etc.

          Zoom ball in therapy can be used to work on bilateral coordination, visual convergence, core strength, shoulder stability, and motor planning.

          Zoom Ball– This classic toy is such a great way to work on many skills: bilateral coordination, core strength, shoulder stability, visual convergence, motor planning, and coordination. Just like the TruBalance toy, a zoom ball can be used in different positions to challenge balance and vestibular input: Try using the zoom ball in sitting, standing, kneeling, standing on couch cushions, a slant…again, the options are limitless!

          Thumbs up is a bilateral coordination game for kids.

          Thumbs Up Game– This bilateral coordination game requires players to place rings on their thumb in a “thumbs up” position while they race to scoop and find the correct combination of colored rings to add to their thumb. It’s a fun racing game that builds visual perceptual skills too: figure ground, visual discrimination, visual memory, as well as the visual processing skill of scanning.

          Lacing cards help kids develop bilateral coordination skills.

          Lacing Buttons– There is no doubt about the power of lacing cards when it comes to developing bilateral coordination skills. However, this lacing buttons activity takes it up a notch with the eye-hand coordination and visual processing skills. Kids can lace buttons onto wooden shirt pieces while building bilateral skills, fine motor skills, and eye-hand coordination. However, the set also includes puzzle cards that ask the child to lace on colored buttons in specific order so it matches the cards. What a workout in visual processing skills, too!

          use lacing beads to help kids with coordination, fine motor skills, and bimanual skills.

          Animal Lacing Beads– These lacing beads are chunky wooden animals that help kids develop bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, and visual perceptual skills. As an occupational therapist, I am drawn to this toy because of the different animals that could be used in sequencing activities, sensory bins, pretend play, stacking activities, and so much more.

          Apple lacing activity for bilateral skills.

          Wooden Lacing Apple– This lacing puzzle challenges bilateral coordination skills and can be used to work on eye-hand coordination, tripod grasp, and motor planning. Use this activity to help with stabilization as well.

          Press blocks offer a sensory feedback opportunity for building bilateral coordination.

          Press and Stay Blocks– These building blocks require bilateral coordination with a press so they stay, helping kids to develop bilateral coordination and get proprioceptive input to push them together and then take them apart. Building blocks are a great way to build fine motor skills and visual perceptual skills, and these are a great addition to your therapy toolbox collection.

          Labyrinth Game This maze game is a favorite in our house, and a tool for building bilateral coordination and visual perceptual skills too. Kids need to manipulate two knobs at the same time and coordinate visual information with one hand or the other…or both. It’s a brain building challenge that involves both sides of the body. Challenge kids to do this activity in a kneel or while standing on their knees at a low table to challenge balance and offer proprioceptive input as well.

          fine motor toy for kids

          Octi Buckle Plush Toy with Hook and Loop Straps– This play toy is a strategy to encourage development of fine motor skills, problem solving, color matching, coordination, and more. This stuffed play buddy is a toy that promotes development of many skills, bilateral coordination being one of them.

          Using toys that double as quiet time activities, busy bags, or travel toys…all while working on skills is what makes toys like the buckle plush toy a therapist-approved toy. Octi’s bright colors, shapes, straps, and zipper pouch will provide countless hours of recognition activities, brain building games and development puzzles. Your little one will stay busy counting the number of straps, connecting them together, pulling them apart, and starting over again. Kids can hide small items and treasures in the zip pouch, then unzip it later and get excited over their discovery!

          More Bilateral coordination activities

          Some of the smartest and most creative folks I know are the readers of The OT Toolbox. I asked readers to tell me sensory strategies they personally love and use to address sensory modulation. Scroll through the comments…you might just find some new sensory strategies that will work for you! Hopefully we can learn from one another!