Occupational Therapy Documentation Tips

soap notes

If you are an occupational therapy practitioner you know all about the dreaded “d” word called documentation. It’s part of the daily life of a therapist, and writing SOAP notes to address the goals of an IEP or 504 accommodations can sometimes seem like it’s all we do. Let’s break down this dreaded task with some occupational therapy documentation tips and look at the positive side of documentation in therapy! You’ll find information on SOAP notes in occupational therapy as well as COAST notes and how to combine SOAP notes with COAST notes for client-centered occupational therapy documentation.

soap notes

Occupational therapy documentation

Daily documentation (along with the dreaded productivity) is not the most fun or anticipated aspect of the occupational therapy profession, but it is a necessary part of it in order to fully appreciate and understand the need for our service and determine if it is making a difference in our client’s life.  Also, we need to do it to get payment for our service and well, let’s face it, make a living!

When it comes to completing all of the daily tasks involved in a therapists’ day, documentation requirements can impact productivity. Here are therapy productivity hacks that can help with getting it all done.

So, with all of that being said, let’s talk about treatment documentation and the necessary components of such to provide evidence for the need of OT services while simultaneously providing a record of client progress and needs. But first, let’s start with taking the negativity out of the process and fill in the blanks with positive ways to view this time-consuming act.

Ok, here we go…

D – Declare OT’s awesomeness

O – Optimistically state potential outcomes

C – Celebrate client’s small successes                                                  

U – Uncover next steps no matter how small

M – Mention “make a difference” engagement

E – Eagerly show client’s need for achievement

N – Narrate your client’s accomplishments

T – Thoughtfully share challenges and how OT can help push through

A – Affirm client’s desires

T – Tactfully explain OT’s unique plan for overcoming obstacles

I – Identify OT as an essential partner in client’s therapy plan

O – Openly communicate earnest client responses

N – Notably inform of client strengths for goal achievement

How’s that for bringing the positivity to occupational therapy documentation?

occupational therapy notes

Treatment documentation needs to be provided to share all about your hard work as a therapist and how you make an impact and a difference in the lives of your client’s and their families. There are many ways a therapy practitioner approaches documentation for treatment sessions.

In the 20+ years I have practiced O.T., I have changed my documentation strategies and approaches in a myriad of ways. Every year I tend to change a little more based on experience and the need for clarification of O.T. as a valuable treatment service in the lives of my clients.

soap notes

Occupational therapy Soap Notes

Occupational therapy SOAP notes cover all aspects of documentation using an easy to remember acronym. Most therapy practitioners utilize the SOAP note format developed by Lawrence Weed, M.D. which originated from his original problem-oriented medical record.

The SOAP note acronym provides the necessary components for treatment documentation that meet the requirements of reimbursement agencies while providing the necessary information to document progress and regression and make a plan for further service.  

Here is a brief review of the S.O.A.P note format:

S is for subjective information which is what the client/family states or presents as relevant to therapy, (think of it as your client’s current status, behavior, or answers to your questions),

O is for objective which is what you and the client did together to address their goals, (think of it as measurable, quantitative, and observable actions during the session)

A is for assessment which is how the client did or how they responded during the treatment, (think of it as adding validity and interpreting the information written in the S and O section), and

P is for plan which is what you intend to do next time to address how the client responded this time such as next steps, revisiting of steps, etc., (think of it as your treatment plan for next time).

Soap notes in occupational therapy documentation

COAST Documentation

A new goal writing method called the C.O.A.S.T. method which was developed by Crystal A. Gateley, PhD, OTR/L and Sherry Borcherding, MA, OTR/L. Coast notes can also provide a solid approach for occupational therapy documentation within the a S.O.A.P. note format.  In the COAST method of note-writing, documentation is client-centered, beginning with the task completed, based on occupations, and includes clear guidelines for documenting levels of assistance, conditions the client performs the tasks within, and time-centric.

When goals are written using the COAST format, it can be easy to stay on target with client-centric goals and interventions. Here is a brief review of the C.O.A.S.T. method for goal-writing:

C is for client. Identify the client being worked with in the treatment session.

O is for occupation. Identify the functional task or goal being addressed in the session.

A is for assist level. What level and type of of assistance is needed for the client to perform the task?

S is for specific condition. What conditions are necessary for the client to achieve the tasks.

T is for time. By when is the goal expected to be achieved?

COAST notes for occupational therapy documentation


Joining these two acronym structures can generate a solid treatment note which can provide reimbursement agencies with the necessary information to justify your service while demonstrating the client’s needs and progress.

Following the SOAP note format while interjecting COAST note components will ensure you look at the whole client and provide client-centered documentation validating your service while pushing forward with the treatment to make sure your client achieves their goals so they may live their best life.

These acronym structures can also help you, as the practitioner, in your future paperwork needs for progress reporting, re-assessment, and goal writing that is specific to each of your clients.

What are definite attributes of writing therapy treatment notes? Let’s take a peek here:

1.  Be client specific

2. Be legible and clear

3. Be consistent and organized

4. Be thorough

5. Be timely

6. Be value-based

7. Think positively about OT documentation (refer to acronym DOCUMENTATION above)

The next time you start to sit down and write your treatment notes, visit the DOCUMENTATION acronym above for achieving a positive frame of mind and remember that this is the time to let your skills shine, demonstrate OT’s value in your client’s life and show your client’s progress and needs for an occupation-based service that can help lead to health, well-being, and quality of life.

The use of SOAP notes in occupational therapy allows for organized and reliable documentation of the patient’s progress and treatment plan, ensuring effective and comprehensive care. Working on efficient SOAP notes for OT session documentation is a great strategy as a professional!

Occupational Therapy Documentation Software

One way to save time with documentation is to use an OT documentation software. There are many therapy documentation software tools out there specifically designed for Pediatric Speech and Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy documentation.

The software is essentially designed specifically for purchase by school districts, contract companies, and pediatric clinics, and it allows for the therapy providers to write their evaluation reports and progress notes quickly.

Therapy documentation software has different formats, including multiple choice, fill in the blank, and short answer responses that are individualized and uses strategies such as templates, word prediction, cutting and pasting.

One such tool is (affiliate link) Double Time Docs.

Double Time Docs is nice because it has various features designed to make life easier and save time for therapy providers:

  • It has a questionnaire feature for caregiver and teacher questionnaires. This can save a significant amount of time because after the person responds, the therapy provider can log in and click the answers. 
  • DTD can be used by a therapy provider even if the clinic or school district uses a different documentation software. DTD generates an evaluation report by answering the questions, download their report, and cutting and pasting it directly into their district software such as IEP Direct, EASY IEP, SESIS, Frontline, etc.
  • Reports done in a fraction of the time.
  • A therapist can be more productive by focusing on planning, treatment, and consultations.
  • Reports are written to the standards of the district.
  • Consistency between therapists – new/old and district/contract
  • Teaching tool for new grads
  • Data collection
  • One template for initials/triennials/observations
  • Reduces common errors such as wrong name, pronouns, etc.

Have questions about trialing and using Double Time Docs to make documentation easier? Just click here.

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!

DIY Light Box for Tracing

DIY light table for tracing

This DIY light box for tracing is an easy light box we put together in minutes. All you need is an under the bed storage container and a string of lights to make a tracing tool that kids will love. There are benefits to tracing and this tool is a fun way to build fine motor skills and visual motor skills as a visual motor skill leading to better handwriting.

DIY light box for tracing

A light box is a fun activity, and one you see in preschool classrooms, as it’s intended for hands-on play and exploring the senses. But did you know there are many benefits to using a light box for tracing (and other exploring play)?

How to Make a DIY Light Table for Tracing

This DIY Light Box was something I’ve seen around Pinterest and have wanted to try for a while…Once we had our Christmas lights outside, I thought we would definitely be doing this project after we pulled all of the lights back in.  So, after we brought the Christmas lights in from the outside bushes, this was easy to put together for a cold evening’s play!

You need just two items to make a DIY light table:

(Amazon affiliate links)

  1. Strand of white Christmas lights
  2. Clear, plastic under-the-bed storage bin

Important: The under the bed storage bin needs to be made of clear plastic or have just a slight opaque color to the plastic. Also, the top should be smooth. Many storage bins have textured surface or a white surface. The flat, smooth lid is important for sensory play as well as tracing with paper on the DIY light table. This brand is a good one to use.

Instructions to make a DIY light box:

  1. Plug in the lights.
  2. Place them into the bin.
  3. Either cut a hole in the base of the bin for the lights to go through or cut a small notch into the lid so the strand of lights can go under the lid.

To make this homemade light box safer and not use plug in lights, you can use battery operated button lights inside the storage bin. Or, there are many battery operated LED lights available now too. These are a great idea because many of them have a color-changing capability and can be operated from an app on your phone.

IMPORTANT: This homemade light box project should always be done under the supervision of an adult. The lights can get warm inside the bin and they should be unplugged periodically.

This is not a project that should be set up and forgotten about. The OT Toolbox is not responsible for any harm, injury, or situation caused by this activity. It is for educational purposes only. Always use caution and consider the environment and individualized situation, including with this activity. Your use of this idea is your acceptance of this disclaimer.

I put all of the (already bundled-up) strands of Christmas lights …seriously, this does not get much easier…into an under-the-bed storage bin, connected the strands, and plugged in!


DIY light box for tracing

A DIY light box made with Christmas lights

Once you put the top on, it is perfect for tracing pictures!
Tracing on a DIY light box

Tracing pictures on a light table

This is so great for new (or seasoned) hand-writers.  They are working on pencil control, line awareness, hand-eye coordination…and end up with a super cool horse picture they can be proud of!
Use printable coloring pages and encourage bilateral coordination to hold the paper down. You can modify the activity by taping the coloring page onto the plastic bin lid. 
Tracing a picture on a DIY light table
 Big Sister LOOOOVED doing this!  And, I have to say, that she was doing the tracing thing for so long, that we had to turn the lights off because the bin was getting warm. 
trace letters on a light table

Other ways to use a DIY Light Table

We went around the house looking for cool things to place on top of the bin.  Magnetic letters looked really neat with the light glowing through…Baby Girl had a lot of fun playing with this.
You can add many different items onto the DIY light table:
  • Magnetic letters (the light shines through them slightly)
  • Sand for a tracing table- We cover how to use a sand writing tray in another blog post and all the benefits of tracing in a sensory medium. With the lights under the tracing area, this adds another multisensory component to the learning.
  • Shapes (Magnatiles would work well)
  • Feathers
  • Coins
  • Blocks
  • A marble run
letters on a light table
What a great learning tool…Shapes:
Letter Identification, spelling words:

 Color and sensory discrimination:
…All in a new and fun manner!  We had a lot of fun with this, but have since put our Christmas lights back up into the attic.  We will be sure to do this one again next year, once the lights come back out again 🙂

Please: if you do make one of these light boxes, keep an adult eye on it, as the box did warm up…not to burning warmth, but I would worry about the lights becoming over heated.  This is NOT something that kids should play with unsupervised!

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Working on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, or scissor skills? Our Fine Motor Kits cover all of these areas and more.

Check out the seasonal Fine Motor Kits that kids love:

Or, grab one of our themed Fine Motor Kits to target skills with fun themes:

Want access to all of these kits…and more being added each month? Join The OT Toolbox Member’s Club!

Occupational Therapy Coloring Pages

occupational therapy coloring pages

In celebration of Occupational Therapy Month, we’ve got a series of free OT PDFs and these occupational therapy coloring pages will get you started with the OT fun. April is Occupational Therapy Month!  Not only is it a month to celebrate the occupational therapists in your life, but to advocate for our profession.  Raise your hand if you have been asked, “what the heck is occupational therapy?”  This question comes from adults as much as children. This spring, in celebration of OT month, the OT Toolbox will be offering a series of resources to help educate young learners about the role of occupational therapy. These therapy coloring pages will make advocating for the profession fun AND engaging as users build motor skills!

You’ll also love our President’s Day coloring pages that are great for all US holiday themes.

Occupational therapy coloring pages for therapy skills

Today’s resource is occupational therapy coloring pages to start the journey towards advocacy and education. 

Therapy Coloring Pages

We wanted to create a set of therapy coloring pages that are as useful as a therapy coloring tool as they are useful for advocating for the profession of occupational therapy. OT professionals know the value of an engaging activity on developing and refining skills in their clients, and these therapy coloring pages do just that! Each therapy coloring sheet includes images of OT equipment which users can color while also learning about the value of OT in supporting client needs.

A therapeutic coloring page is a tool for therapy providers to use with clients because the OT practitioner can target goal areas such as:

  • Fine Motor Skills
  • Hand Strength
  • Visual Motor Skills
  • Eye-Hand Coordination
  • Force Modulation (color this item light red and this other therapy picture dark red)
  • More!

Then, when the therapy coloring sheet is completed, the pictures are great to hang on a bulletin board, door, or hallway and advocate for the powerful nature of occupational therapy!

It is important for people to know who we are and what we do, so they can ask for help when needed, and see that what we do matters. A persons’ occupation is their job.  Also known as functional skills, occupations are the day to day tasks we do all day long. Occupations go beyond the workplace. 

A child’s occupation is to learn to care for themselves, go to school, play, and develop social skills.  An adult’s occupation entails self care skills, social function, caring for others, instrumental activities of daily living (cooking, cleaning, laundry, fixing the car, etc.) along with any work functions they have.

Occupational therapy (OT) helps bridge the gap between where the learner currently is functioning, and independence. For children we might say we bridge the gap between functional and chronological age. 

OT might be restorative, or teach new skills. OTs can be found in schools, hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, daycares, home therapy and many other places.

Add these occupational therapy coloring pages to your OT month awareness packet!

Occupational Therapy Coloring Pages

OTs use some fun toys!

Younger learners, especially in schools, have seen many tools therapists use to help their students. These range from fidgets, swings, trampolines, alternative seating, slant boards, pencil grips, and more.

Some often wonder why our learner gets to play with the OT, and get fidget toys to use in class.

Using these occupational therapy coloring pages will help start the conversation about what these tools are, and how they are used. Share these OT coloring pages both with the learners on your caseload, as well as the other students in the school.

While it is true we use some fun toys in therapy, these are tools for the learners who need them. Occupational Therapy for young learners is play based

This is  because the role of the young learner is to play. You will notice that the learner who NEEDS the fidget or other adaptations will use it appropriately as a tool to help them get organized, while the neurotypical student tends to use it as a toy.

Use these occupational therapy coloring pages to talk about what each piece of therapy equipment does for the learner. 

Beyond educating others about our amazing profession, great skills are being addressed with these coloring worksheets:

  • Hand strength and dexterity – coloring inside the lines builds hand muscles and develops muscle control. 
  • Visual motor skills –Combining what is seen visually and what is written motorically.  It takes coordination to be able to translate information from visual input to motor output. Coloring, drawing, counting, cutting, and tracing are some visual motor skills.
  • Visual Perception – Developing figure ground to see where one item starts and finishes, scanning to find all items to color, and recognizing the border lines while coloring. 
  • Proprioception – pressure on paper, grip on pencil
  • Social/Executive Function – Following directions, turn taking, task completion, orienting to details, neatness, multi-tasking, attending to task, and impulse control can be addressed using these occupational therapy coloring pages PDF.
  • Fine motor strengthening, hand development, and grasping pattern
  • Bilateral coordination – remembering to use their “helper hand” to hold the paper while writing.  Using one hand for a dominant hand instead of switching back and forth is encouraged once a child is in grade school or demonstrates a significant strength in one or the other.
  • Strength – core strength, shoulder and wrist stability, head control, balance, and hand strength are all needed for upright sitting posture and writing tasks.

April is also Disability Awareness month.  This is a great opportunity to talk about different disabilities, while addressing the tools used to help people. How can you incorporate both of these important awareness months into a teachable moment?

While pediatric occupational therapists do have a lot of fun at our jobs, we are also providing an amazing service to the people we work with. Advocacy for our profession is so important.

With the push to integrate young people with special needs into the mainstream classroom, teachers are finding it more difficult to educate everyone at the same time. Our role as an occupational therapist is to help learners become more independent, provide tools and suggestions to classroom teachers to make their job easier, and help them identify which learners might be struggling.

The OT Toolbox is full of amazing resources for therapists, teachers, parents, and learners of all ages. This post shares what occupational therapy is all about and what tools are needed to make life easier.  Stay tuned for more occupational therapy month activities during April.

Free OT Coloring Pages

Want to add these resources to your occupational therapy toolbox? Enter your email address below to grab these printable PDF coloring sheets. These materials are also available in the OT Toolbox Member’s Club!

Level one members will have the opportunity to sign up for and download five different occupational therapy month activities.  Level two members will have access to all of these plus the larger collection of OT themed materials.  

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 Occupational Therapy Coloring Pages

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    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.

    NOTE*The term, “learner” is used throughout this post for readability and inclusion. This information is relevant for students, patients, clients, preschoolers, 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 materials bundle

    NEW RESOURCE: Occupational Therapy Bundle!

    The Occupational Therapy Materials Bundle includes:

    • I Spy OT Dynamic Duos- School Based OT
    • I Spy OT Dynamic Duos- Outpatient OT
    • OT Coloring Pages
    • OT Writing Prompts
    • OT Copy the Words
    • OT Fine Motor Copy Kit
    • OT Fine Motor Game
    • OT Homework Bingo
    • OT Materials Toothpick Art
    • OT Supplies Match It Game
    • OT Supplies-What’s Missing
    • OT Visual Schedule Cards
    • OT Word Search
    • 8 OT articles on professional development

    • Stellaluna Activities

      Today we have several Stellaluna activities that we created many years ago. This Halloween fine motor task doubles down on the skill-building. With one bat craft based on the children’s book, Stellaluna, we’re covering skills like handwriting, scissor skills, math, reading, bilateral coordination, visual scanning, and much more! Stellaluna Activities If you haven’t read the … Read more

    Grab The Occupational Therapy Materials Bundle during OT Month to grab this 21 resource bundle for just $8!

    Occupational Therapy Equipment List Writing Pages

    occupational therapy equipment list handwriting worksheets

    Today, we have another OT PDF, this one is an occupational therapy equipment list. We created this printable list of OT equipment as a writing exercise. It’s another free download that you’ll want to grab for OT month! For occupational therapy month, we’ve been sharing free OT-themed tools and this occupational therapy equipment list handwriting pages is today’s freebie! Pediatric occupational therapists have some cool tools, so why not use those OT equipment items in handwriting practice? It’s a great way to promote the profession during OT month and all year long!

    OT practitioners work with clients on myriad aspects of daily life tasks. Because an OT professional can support their clients in essentially any aspect of living, the equipment used is vast and can be unique to each individual. However, the OT or OTA has a commonly used list of occupational therapy equipment that is found in almost every OT clinic or therapy bag. In today’s blog post, you’ll find an occupational therapy equipment list PDF which providers can print off to use as a handwriting exercise with clients and students. Put those OT items students use each therapy session to greater use!

    occupational therapy equipment list handwriting worksheets

    Occupational Therapy Equipment List

    Occupational therapy (OT) helps people become more independent. Whether it is babies, toddlers, students, people who are disabled or have had an accident, or those being rehabilitated from surgery, OT’s play a vital role. 

    The cool thing is that OT equipment can literally be anything that helps people achieve functional goals, in any aspect of life!

    OT equipment items could be the toys, tools, and games that help to develop skills:

    • Toys
    • Games
    • Scooter boards
    • Theraputty exercises
    • Trampolines
    • Slant boards
    • Swings
    • Ball pit
    • Paper
    • Pencil
    • Weighted materials
    • Puzzles

    This list of OT items are just the beginning of our arsenal of tools!

    When it comes to school-based occupational therapy and outpatient occupational therapy equipment, there can be differences based on the educational modal vs. the medical modal of therapy intervention.

    Having the right equipment and tools is essential for facilitating the development and progress of students. Here’s a list of commonly used occupational therapy equipment for school-based OT:

    1. Fine Motor Therapy Tools:
      • Pencil grips or adaptive writing tools for improved grip and control.
      • Precision toys
      • Tweezers or tongs and small objects to manipulate
      • Coins and slotted containers
      • Scissors with spring-loaded handles or loop scissors to assist with cutting skills.
      • Play dough or thera-putty
      • Paper for coloring drawing, cutting and tearing
      • Manipulative toys like pegboards, lacing cards, and building blocks to enhance fine motor coordination
    2. Sensory Integration/Sensory Processing Tools:
      • Sensory balls or therapy putty for tactile stimulation and hand strengthening.
      • Sensory play materials like sensory bins, shaving cream, writing tray materials, etc.
      • Weighted blankets or vests to provide calming input and promote self-regulation.
      • Therapeutic swings or therapy bands for vestibular and proprioceptive input.
      • Ball pit
      • Fidget toys
      • Tunnels
      • Floor markers, masking tape for obstacle courses
      • Deep breathing exercises
    3. Seating and Positioning Aids:
      • Adaptive seating options like wobble cushions, therapy balls, or stability discs to improve posture and core stability.
      • Adjustable-height desks or tables to accommodate different student needs.
      • Lap trays or angled writing boards to provide a stable surface for writing and activities.
    4. Cognitive Tools:
      • Visual timers or schedules to assist with time management and organization skills.
      • Memory games, puzzles, or matching activities to enhance cognitive skills
      • Cooking activities and materials
      • Games
      • Visual schedules
      • Checklists
      • Scheduling tools and planners
    5. Visual Processing Tools:
      • Visual supports such as visual schedules, picture cards, or visual cueing systems for task completion and transition support.
      • Mazes
      • Puzzles
      • I Spy
      • Word search activities
    6. Gross Motor Equipment:
      • Balance beams
      • therapy balls or therapy mats for improving balance and coordination
      • Scooters, tricycles, or adaptive bikes
      • Cones or targets for obstacle courses
      • Mini trampoline
      • Masking tape for obstacle courses
      • Hula hoops
      • Bean bags for gross motor games
    7. Adaptive Tools for Self-Care:
      • Adaptive utensils, plates, or cups for promoting independence in eating and drinking.
      • Adaptive paper for addressing handwriting skills
      • Dressing aids such as buttonhooks, zipper pulls, or elastic shoelaces for developing self-care skills.
      • Adaptive equipment for toileting, including raised toilet seats or step stools.
    8. Assistive Technology:
      • Alternative keyboards, computer mice, or speech-to-text software for students with fine motor or writing difficulties.
      • OT apps
      • Visual or auditory aids, such as timers or reminders, on tablets or smartphones to support organization and time management.

    While these look like toys (and in some cases are), they are often valuable tools to build independence, strength, focus, and help bridge the gap between functional and chronological age.

    Use this word copying worksheet to talk about what each of these tools are, while building some great skills. 

    Amazon has great occupational therapy equipment and OT tools and we’ve created a bunch of (Amazon affiliate link) OT equipment lists and suggestions for OT toys and tools.

    We serve people from birth to the end of life. Did you know that April is OT Month?  A month-long celebration to advocate for the work we do. The OT Toolbox will be offering several valuable activities to share with your learners to educate them about our role. 

    Occupational Therapy Equipment List Handwriting Worksheets

    Today’s freebies are occupational therapy tools handwriting worksheets.

    These occupational therapy equipment handwriting worksheets PDF highlight just a handful of the tools we use to help learners grow.

    The occupational therapy tools, handwriting activity is presented with two sets of lines, to use with different levels of learners. Each picture is presented in simple black and white to encourage coloring as well as copying the words. 

    How can I modify this task to work with all groups of learners?

    • Lowest level learners can cut and paste the words into the correct rows
    • Middle level learners can copy each word into the lines

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    • Higher level learners can write a sentence using the key words or write how these items can be used in therapy
    • Take away the word bank for higher level learners to sound out the words, or dictate the spelling aloud for a higher level challenge
    • Make this occupational therapy, copy the word sheet part of a larger lesson plan including gross motor, sensory, social, executive function, or other fine motor skills
    • Print in black and white or color for different levels of difficulty
    • Cut the shapes and make a matching activity instead of using a writing tool to copy the words
    • Talk about the equipment, describe their characteristics, and give context clues to help your learner understand why these tools are helpful
    • Enlarging the font may be necessary to beginning handwriting students who need bigger space to write.
    • Project this page onto a smart board for students to come to the board and write in big letters.
    • More or less prompting may be needed to grade the activity to make it easier or harder.
    • More advanced learners can work on social skills by talking to the group about these therapy tools
    • Write a report about occupational therapy, types of equipment, the history of OT, different disabilities, or how the equipment is used
    • Turn it into a gross motor task, sensory activity, following directions, or combination of all of these
    • Work in pairs or in a small group to address problem solving, turn taking, and sharing information with others

    Talk to young learners about the role of occupational therapy

    It is difficult enough to talk to adults about what occupational therapists do.  Now try describing this to a group of first graders!  If you describe it as playing on swings, trampolines, riding scooters, and getting fun fidgets, you will have everyone in the school trying to figure out a way to sign up for OT! 

    Instead talk about the kinds of goals we address, and how we help other students to be more independent using the tools described on the occupational therapy tools, handwriting worksheet.

    Start the conversation to promote the OT Profession

    The conversation about what occupational therapists do might sound like this:

    • OTs might help a student who can not open all their lunch containers by themselves
    • If a student can not use the bathroom independently, put on their coat, wash hands, or eat their lunch with utensils, they might need occupational therapy
    • Not everyone is able to write their letters, cut, and color like the rest of the class.  OTs work on helping students to improve these skills so they can keep up with the class
    • Some students have difficulty making friends, playing with other people, following directions, sharing, taking turns, or standing in line.  Some of these students might need occupational therapy to help them with these skills
    • Have you noticed some students get in trouble at school?  They don’t finish their work, their stuff is a mess, they don’t listen to the teacher very well, and seem to make a lot of mistakes?  These are not bad students, they may need some help to get better.  There is a whole team to help students like these, OTs are one of them.
    • How do you think some of the items on the occupational therapy tools handwriting worksheet help students?

    The month of April is specially dedicated to sharing our knowledge with other people.  Take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back while you are at it!  Keep an eye out for several posts this month dedicated to advocating for the OT profession.

    Free OT Equipment Worksheets

    Grab these OT equipment list handwriting worksheets and get started to open conversations about what we do as occupational therapists! AND work on the functional task of handwriting skills during your conversations.

    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 Occupational Therapy Handwriting PDFs

      We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

      Don’t miss the other OT month freebies! This month the OT Toolbox is highlighting occupational therapy month by providing insight into what occupational therapists do, along with offering FREE resources to add to your lesson plans.  Keep an eye out for more posts from this series, including:

      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.

      Occupational Therapy Word Search

      occupational therapy word search

      Today we have a free printable occupational therapy word search to add to your therapy toolbox, just in time for occupational therapy month! Looking for a fun way to advocate for occupational therapy, celebrate the profession, and share the fun of OT? This OT word search does the job! Plus, you can print it off once and use the therapy word search in so many ways to support various needs of a whole OT caseload. We’ll explain how to use a word search in therapy AND how to document for collecting data! Read on!

      Occupational therapy word search for OT professionals

      Occupational Therapy Word Search

      We wanted to create an occupational therapy word search because word searches are a versatile and supportive tool for targeting a variety of skill areas. Just some of the areas that are practiced or refined while using this word search includes:

      • Visual perception
      • Visual motor skills
      • Pencil control
      • Hand-eye coordination
      • Memory
      • Attention
      • Fine motor skills
      • Posture/positioning
      • More!

      Being that this is a free word search for therapy, it supports the therapy professional AND the client.

      This free OT word search uses words and phrases that come up in the school-based setting or outpatient pediatric setting. While this therapy word search can be used in so many other therapeutic spaces, these seem to be the settings most of our readers are in.

      We know that occupational therapy works on everything else needed to be independent, and as occupational therapy practitioners, we LOVE to support clients, students, and the family or caregivers of those we work with in developing or refining the skills and activities that matter the most to the individual. OT practitioners are so lucky because we get to support the areas that make our clients who they are as human individuals. What an amazing profession OT is!

      That is a big job! 

      Your “occupation” is everything you do. Your occupation is more than just a job. It could be a student, mother, father, firefighter, accountant, child, caregiver, or a combination of several roles.

      Occupational therapy addresses everything it takes to fill your roles. Because we have such a big job, Occupational Therapists have the entire month of April to celebrate and share what we do! 

      Here are easy occupational therapy month ideas to celebrate the profession of OT.

      Plus, add these other OT month ideas to your therapy toolbox:

      Free OT Word search

      One quick way to advocate for the profession and to celebrate all that we do is to use several tools like the occupational therapy word search free PDF to advocate for our profession.

      Students and young learners see the OT coming in and out of classrooms all day.  They probably have no idea what the OT does. 

      They know students like to see the occupational therapist, and sometimes they get to use cool tools and fidgets.  The occupational therapy word search highlights some of the basic ideas about occupational therapy to get the discussion started. 

      An entire conversation can be started about different types of pencils, pencil grips, handwriting, and the importance of good letter formation. Another conversation may revolve around goals for occupational therapy. Use the occupational therapy word search to build a treatment plan.  

      Occupational Therapy Word Search Treatment Plan:

      • Bring all of the items found in the word search to demonstrate what each item is and how it is used
      • Build a hallway obstacle course to work on sensory processing skills for all students
      • Use this Blank Word Search Template to make your own OT month puzzle
      • Make sensory bins, play dough, putty, or slime to demonstrate the sensory effect these have on the body
      • Create a lesson plan using visual perceptual activities to further build on this OT word search
      • Create a slideshow or video about occupational therapy
      • Make students disabled for a day so they can feel what it is like to need help
      • Laminate all of the occupational therapy month activities to create centers in the classroom
      • Incorporate Disability Awareness month into your OT month planning
      • Hand out fidgets to take home, so students can feel part of this special group that gets to see the occupational therapist. Amazon has several (affiliate link) low cost fidgets for handing out in bulk.

      A word about fidgets and other accommodations, and an interesting experiment. 

      There is a lot of misconception about fidgets and other accommodations used by OTs in the classroom.  I can’t tell you how many fidgets have been taken away from deserving students, because the teacher did not understand what they were for.  They just saw them as toys. 

      Educate the students you are working with, along with all other staff members about the importance of these “tools”.  Fidgets that are used as toys are not serving their purpose.  

      Fidgets in the wrong hands become toys. This is the reason fidget spinners got a bad name.  In the wrong hands they became ninja stars, conversation pieces, or distractions. 

      In the right hands they are amazing tools to be used discreetly under a desk to provide input while the student is trying to focus on the lesson being taught, or sit still during an endless circle time. 

      On to the interesting experiment…

      I was working in a private preschool, seeing two young boys in the same class.  The other students were very interested in what I was doing with their friends each week. I brought in deflated beach balls for each of the students to use as wiggle seats. 

      I simultaneously presented a fine motor task.  Within ten minutes, all of the students except the two boys I had been seeing for OT, were playing with the beach balls.  They were throwing them around the room and waving them in the air.  The two boys?  They were sitting very quietly on the beach balls doing the fine motor task. 

      What started out as a teachable moment about the role of OT in the classroom, turned into a real life demonstration about the use of accommodations.

      This added weight to my theory that the children who needed the accommodations would use them properly (perhaps with a little teaching in the beginning), while the other students would see them as toys, because they did not need anything extra to do their work.  

      Whether you celebrate OT month using activities like this occupational therapy word search, or doing your own social experiment on the nature of young children, spreading the word about what OTs do, and dispelling misconceptions is the goal. 

      Talking about OT might spark some questions about how teachers, caregivers, and other team members can help their students. 

      The OT Toolbox has great tools like this OT Materials Bundle to use in therapy sessions to promote the profession and to celebrate the materials that we use every day in therapy. It’s an advocate tool that builds skills…very much the way we as therapy professionals build skills in the very occupations that we are working to develop!

      Free OT Word Search for OT Advocacy

      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 Occupational Therapy 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.

        Occupational therapy materials bundle
        OT Materials Bundle– celebrate the profession with what we use in therapy sessions WHILE developing skills!

        Working with kids in occupational therapy sessions? This set of Occupational Therapy Materials Bundle includes 13 activities and resources to promote the profession using therapy supplies and themes.

        Incorporate OT supplies like sensory tools, adapted materials, and therapy supplies to work on functional skills in school-based OT or outpatient clinical therapy settings.

        As a bonus, you’ll also get 8 articles to help occupational therapy practitioners develop as a professional.

        Occupational Therapy Month

        occupational therapy month ideas

        Happy occupational therapy month! April is OT month and every year, I love to recirculate this blog post because it offers so many OT memes and social media graphics for explaining what we do in occupational therapy. This year, we’ve got a few fun free OT PDFs for OT month, too, so if you are working in school based therapy, in clinics, or in homes and want to celebrate the OT profession WHILE building skills, those resources are for you.

        OT Month Activities

        Below, you’ll find easy ways to celebrate OT month so we can celebrate the profession of occupational therapy and share with others what an amazing thing it is to be an OT professional!

        Below, you’ll find ideas for OT month:

        • OT Month memes (share them on social media!)
        • OT month printable activities. Use the free occupational therapy PDFs in treatment sessions. Grab all of them below.
        • If you are a member in The OT Toolbox membership, log in and head to OT Month resources. You’ll love the grab and go activities!
        • Collaboration ideas

        I’ll update this post each day during the first week of April so you can gather your OT month materials. And, don’t forget to grab some of the memes below to share on your social media (just link back to this page) so you can celebrate occupational therapy along with all of your friends!

        occupational therapy month ideas

        OT Month Activities

        There are a five fun, EASY ways to celebrate OT month. Pick out these activities for the whole month of April:

        But before we get started with the OT month ideas, be sure to check out this Autism acceptance month, during the month of April and all year long.

        1. Share OT memes on social media! Scroll below for a new graphic explaining what we do in therapy sessions (and why!). There are enough for every day in April. You’ll even find inspirational occupational therapy memes, too. Here are more OT memes to share.
        2. Get creative with fun and festive OT month activities. Make OT month even better with an April occupational therapy calendar that is a perfect addition to your therapy lesson plans this year. Let’s make occupational therapy month exciting with fresh OT ideas!
        3. Use some of our OT month worksheets and activities that build skills. Not your typical “worksheet”, these are printable activities that get kids moving and functioning, with an emphasis on FUN. You’ll find 5 new OT month activities that celebrate the profession and use therapy materials for occupational therapy awareness.
        4. Grab the OT Materials Bundle! During the month of April, it’s only $8 and includes 13 OT month resources using supplies that we use every day during OT sessions. You’ll also find 8 bonus articles on ways to grow as a professional.
        5. Collaborate with other OT professionals! April is the perfect time to grow as a professional, celebrate others in the field and chat all things OT. In the OT Materials Bundle, you’ll find articles on how to collaborate with others, how to reflect on OT practice, how to find an OT mentor, and ways to network as a busy OT professional.
        Occupational therapy memes for OT month

        Occupational Therapy Month Memes

        April is Occupational Therapy month!  To celebrate, I’ve created a month of images that can be shared on social media.  Each image is an underlying area that influences development and includes a therapist quick tip.  These are occupational therapy tricks and tips! 

        It’s my hope that each day in April, you’ll share your creative ways to work on these skills. 


        Happy Occupational Therapy Month!


         Kinesthetic learning activities
        DAY 1: Kinesthetic Learning- Try these kinesthetic learning activities.
         Vestibular activities for kids
        DAY 2: Vestibular Activities- Try these vestibular activities.
         Toys and tools to help with attention
         Laterality and hand dominance
        DAY 4: Try these activities to address laterality and hand dominance.
         Proprioception activities
        DAY 5: Try these activities to develop and address proprioception needs. 
         Distal finger control exercises
         Neat pincer grasp activities
         Tactile sensory input activities
        DAY 8: Try these activities to develop tactile discrimination and the tactile sense.
         Bilateral coordination activities
         What is motor planning activities
        DAY 10: Try these activities if you are wondering, “What is motor planning?”

           olfactory sense scented play

        DAY 11: Try these olfactory sense scented play ideas.

         Eye-hand coordination activities
         Visual scanning activity
        DAY 13: This is a fun visual scanning activity.
         In-hand manipulation activities
        DAY 14: Read more about in-hand manipulation activities.
         What is finger isolation
        DAY 15: Read more about finger isolation.
         Precision of grasp activities
         Visual discrimination activity
        DAY 17: Try this activity to build visual discrimination.
         What is visual memory
        DAY 18: Read more about visual memory here.
         Visual closure activity
        DAY 19: Try this activity to develop visual closure.
         Form constancy visual perception activity
        DAY 20: Try this technique to develop form constancy.
        DAY 21: This is a fun way to develop visual figure ground skills.
         Visual tracking tips and tools
         auditory processing activities
         Core strengthening with music
         intrinsic hand strengthening
        DAY 25: Use these strategies to build intrinsic hand strength.
         Task initiation executive functioning strategies
        Wrist extension in occupational therapy month
         How to help kids learn impulse control
        DAY 28: Use these ideas to help kids learn impulse control.
         Use animal crackers  oral motor exercise
        DAY 29: This is a fun way to practice oral motor exercise.
         Visual spatial skills
        DAY 30: Try these activities to help with visual spatial skills.

        More OT Month Graphics

        Use these OT month graphics to promote occupational therapy. The professional of occupational therapy is an incredible profession. Let’s share all that we love about OT and bring awareness of this amazing profession to others!

        Occupational therapy graphic
        OT month graphic
        OT month image
        OT month graphic
        Occupational therapy month graphic
        occupational therapy month
        Occupational therapy month image
        Occupational therapy month images to share
        Occupational therapy month quote
        Happy OT month
        What is occupational therapy quote

        A final note on OT month for OT practioners

        As we step into occupational therapy month again with another April, let’s remember what it is that makes our profession special. Occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) help patients to participate in every day occupations! We help people do the things that occupy others’ time. We help others do the things that matter most to them It’s all of the most meaningful activities a person desires and needs to participate in for daily life.

        For children this may include things like doing cartwheels, riding a bike, getting dressed, writing their name, brushing their hair, or playing with friends. 

        For us as professionals, the most important thing IS to serve and support others. OT is the most encouraging, enlightening, and inspiring profession there is, and YOU are a part of that light!

        YOU make a difference in the world. That difference makes a ripple of impact. Helping one person achieve a small goal effects that person’s family and everyone they are in contact with. Now multiply that wellbeing to your entire caseload.

        Occupational therapists are difference makers!

        Occupational therapy assistants are difference makers!

        We literally do, as occupational therapy professionals, what matters most in this world.

        Happy OT month, fellow occupational therapy professionals!

        Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

        Self Care Strategies for Therapy Providers

        Self care strategies

        Are you taking care of yourself with self care strategies as a busy therapy provider? Changes in routines, uncertainties, new requirements for therapy interventions…all of these transitions are reasons to add self care strategies in order to maintain occupational balance. In this post, I wanted to put together a toolbox for you. Here, you will find tips for self care for therapy providers. These are resources for self-reflection, mindfulness, self-care strategies, and easy ways for you to take care of yourself as a therapy provider.

        Self care strategies for therapy providers

        Take current events, the additional responsibilities of distance learning (and teaching your own kids), social distancing, and the stress of getting through the grocery store. Then add the task of planning and running teletherapy sessions. Add digital communication with kids at extreme needs to regular work challenges (Helloooo billing, documentation, productivity…or even unemployment.)

        All of this together can build to create a tipping point of worries, stress, and anxiety for therapy providers.

        Self care strategies for therapists

        Self Care Strategies for Therapy Providers

        Therapy professionals are no strangers to the need to have a self care plan in place. Occupational therapists, OTAs, speech therapists, and physical therapists, PTAs, are long-time sufferers of therapy burnout.

        Take a look at the caseload requirements, productivity standards, and unpaid tasks that many therapists need to balance. But add in the new challenges with serving clients with increased productivity requirements, in many cases and self care for health professionals is very much-needed now more than ever.

        Being cooped up at a computer means you may not be getting your regular exercise and dose of fresh air. All of that time spent indoors can lead to worries, depression, or a building up of anxiety in your chest. These self-care strategies are ways to heal those overwhelming feelings.

        Use these self-care strategies for emotional self care.

        Self Care Balance

        The thing is that as occupational therapy providers, we KNOW the need for balance. The occupational balance of work/play/rest is very much a service to ourselves and a fine line that must be honored. We recognize the need to set realistic expectations for ourselves.

        We know the power that limitations in self care has when combined with work demands, income concerns, and health and safety of ourselves and those we love. But, HOW is that self care balance and a healthy lifestyle possible during uncertain times?

        Pour yourself a cup of tea or grab yourself a hot mug of coffee. Curl up with a cozy blanket or sit in the outdoors as you read this, friends.

        Here are self care strategies that will serve you well as therapists or health care professionals.

        Self care strategies

        Self Care Strategies

        Using self care methods as a healthcare provider offers an opportunity to promote your own well-being in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle so that you are capable of serving those in need. Sometimes it’s good to turn your well-tuned “OT lens” on yourself, right?

        Try these strategies for emotional self care and physical self care needs. Some ideas may work for some, but not others. Others may find just the coping tool needed to find peace or a sense of occupational balance during uncertain times.

        Mindfulness Strategies– Meditation or mindfulness practice on a regular basis offers a time for respite in daily schedules. Mindfulness is a great tool for boosting mental health. By intentionally being mindfully aware in situations, you can focus on the current situation by being present.

        Sensory Diet– As therapists, creating sensory diets is second nature. But, when the feelings of stress and burnout occur, what if we turned out therapy hat onto ourselves by using those very sensory tools as coping strategies? Here is an explanation of what a sensory diet is to get you started. Think outside of the box when it comes to identifying needs.

        You may not be experiencing the typical signs of sensory distress, but worries, sadness, or emotional fluctuations can be a change from the norm that are impacted by a few sensory tools. Here are tools for creating a sensory diet that works for you.

        Turn off the News (or Facebook!)- We talk a lot about screen time for kids, but adult screen free time is important, too! Giving your brain a rest on what other’s think or see is a way to give your mental health priority.

        When everyone’s got an opinion (and it’s not at all encouraging, hopeful, or helpful…) all of that information can man overload in your brain that builds the stress levels.

        Give yourself permission to social distance from and social media.

        Journaling– Using a journal to self-reflect is a means of taking time to think through thoughts and emotions. By writing out problems, one can reflect on possible solutions and problem solve ways to address concerns. Your journal is a place to be kind to yourself. Use it well!

        This self-reflection journal for therapists is a good way to keep track of your thoughts, progress, and work during this unprecedented time in history.

        Yoga/Exercise- Schedule time in your day for some exercise, whether that be a 10 minute walk, yoga stretches in the morning, or a full exercise routine. Take a walk after work or at the end of the day, or do a quick YouTube video to get the blood moving.

        Physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise has been show to improve regulation, emotions, and mood. For the busy therapist, a treadmill workout that fits into everyday schedules is the way to go.

        This is the time that I love to run along to music, podcasts, and even Netflix when running on the treadmill. Can you pair a HIIT treadmill workout with an OT podcast or fun movie?

        Self-Reflect- Take a good look at this whole situation. When you step back for a moment, it’s pretty darn surreal, right? We are in the middle of a very fascinating yet scary experiment in social awareness, communication, emotions, health, and everything about modern life! We as therapy providers teach kids about self reflection.

        We instruct clients of all ages about tools and strategies to self-reflect for awareness into specific occupations so they can thrive.

        Take just a few minutes to create a self care assessment of how you are responding to current situations. How can you use that information to come up with a plan?

        Can you take a minute for personal self-reflection, and come up with a few coping strategies that will work for your situation? Think about what you would say to a client in the same situation.

        Sleep in- Saturdays used to be full of kids’ sports, running to the market, appointments, events, visiting, errands, and all sorts of tasks, right? Use the slower days to give yourself a dose of rest. Sleep in an hour. Or as late as the kids allow. If sleeping in is a no-go, try an afternoon nap when the kids nap or hit the hay an hour or two earlier.

        Focus on Efficient Sleep- At the very least, aim for effective sleep. Turn off the screens right before bed. Use a fan or white noise. Add light reducing curtains. Open a window for a cooler sleeping environment. Layer on a heavy blanket or weighted blanket for added proprioceptive input. Reduce caffeine in your diet. Sleep is good and good sleep is better.

        Drink Water- Be sure you are drinking enough water. Schedule an alarm on your phone if needed.

        Go Outside- Just sitting outside or being outdoors can make a difference. Breathe the fresh air, notice the birds, chat with the neighbors. Be mindful of your surroundings and notice your senses and how the air smells, the breeze feels, focus on the warmth of the sun, and the sounds around you.

        Read a book- Spending a few minutes in another world can take your mind off things. Don’t have the energy to read? Try a podcast or audio book.

        Turn off Notifications- Constantly being available wears on a person. With working from home, it’s possible that work hours run into the evening. Turn off the message and email notifications to give yourself a break.

        Advocate for Yourself- When things build up, emotions can run deep. This article on AOTA offers some advice for self-advocating to address emotional, physical, or cognitive needs. We teach our clients about self-advocacy. Use those tools on yourself, too!

        Set realistic expectations- Just because you don’t have the regular commute to work and now supposedly now have all of this time on your hands, you don’t need to try a new hobby, learn to cook, keep the house clean, teach the kids, maintain a schedule of 15 teletherapy sessions a day, and start running.

        Give yourself flexibility and maintain realistic expectations for the time that you have during a day. Consider you personal tasks, abilities, and limitations. Give yourself some leeway. You don’t need to get it all done plus take on more.

        Gratitude- Identifying things that you are thankful for has been shown to impact anxiety, depression, and worries. Write down one thing that you are thankful for each day. Use the time right before bed to identify one thing that happened during the day that you are grateful for. That simple thought of positivity can be very impact.

        Deep Breathing- Deep breathing exercises aren’t just for the kids! Deep breathing is a tool for all ages. Deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth activates the regulatory system and offers a means for better for rest and digestion, by impacting the parasympathetic nervous system.

        Phone a Friend- Talking to a friend or family member is one way to work through problems. Practice well-being by talking with someone who cares

        Listen to a Podcast- Try a self-help podcast, a mindfulness podcast,

        Focus on Executive Functioning Skills- As therapy providers, we know the power of tweaking a few executive functioning skill areas. Procrastination, time management, and breaking down tasks can be a game changer in achieving goals and getting things done. When you just don’t feel like moving, a few executive functioning tricks can be the ticket to effective use of time.

        Still need more ideas to cope with difficulties as a therapy provider? Try to add just one or two of these self-care strategies into your daily tasks. Put some tasks aside (like chores that can wait until the weekend) and focusing on the most important items that need accomplished in the day. These tips for attention and focus can help.

        They are the same strategies that we recommend to our clients, so using them for our own lives should be easy, right? We as occupational therapists are masters of adaption!

        Use these self care strategies to cope with challenges in work.

        psychological self care

        An important component of all of the self-care strategies listed in this post is the psychological self care aspect.

        By the term “psychological self care” we are referring to the specific actions and practices that we as therapy providers can engage in as a tool to support our mental and emotional well-being.

        This means that we, as OT professionals, take care of our psychological needs, knowing that stressors impact our ability to manage stress, engage with others with empathy, and function in day to day tasks. When we have the appropriate tools to support mental health, we can be proactive and intentional about setting boundaries.

        Not only is the emotional aspect of self-care a form of self-awareness and self-compassion, but it builds resilience in ourselves. Having coping mechanisms, stress relievers (like taking a minute to do relaxation breathing even during a busy day) supports social, emotional, and mental health needs.

        All of these tools are strategies we have in our therapy toolbox as professionals, but sometimes, pulling out the correct resources for ourselves is more difficult than supporting our clients.

        Taking care of our psychological needs is an important part of therapy self-care and promotes mental health.

        Affiliate links are included in this post, but I only recommend products that I own, and love!

        Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

        Occupational Therapy at Home

        occupational therapy at home

        Occupational therapy at home is an important topic to address. Occupational therapy practitioners tackle supporting daily activities in clients of all ages, and so integrating OT interventions into the home setting is essential. In this blog post, we’re covering how to set up occupational therapy home programs, how to support carryover of OT goals in the home, and home-based OT activities that support goal achievement. Let’s get started! 

        Occupational therapy at home

        Occupational Therapy at Home

        Pediatric occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants work with children of all ages and developmental abilities. In therapy sessions, OTs address the whole lifespan and target goals designed to support the individual and the family so the individual can prosper. Whether in schools, outpatient settings, hospitals, the community, or other environment, there are functional tasks to be done. All aspects of living is a task that occupies one’s time and these are skills that an OT can support. 

        Occupational therapy at home is a continuum of care, and this is because the home is a natural setting for living. It’s the place for self-care, dressing, bathing, toileting, eating, and other activities of daily living (ADLs).

        The home is also a natural setting for other aspects of daily life: instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). The term IADLs refers to tasks such as meal preparation, home management, shopping, paying bills, managing medications, laundry, and other tasks. These daily living activities are part of one’s life but not always a task that is completed each day. These are also covered in occupational therapy interventions, however, because they impact one’s ability to function.

        The occupational therapist working with children, or pediatric occupational therapy professionals support children in the daily tasks that are important to them, and may include aspects such as: 

        • emotional development
        • physical development (fine and gross motor skills)
        • social development
        • cognitive development

        Therapy providers support children and the families they are a part of through interventions based in play, as play is the primary occupation of the child. It’s through play that development of underlying skills are refined and developed so that they can support functional tasks. 

        Likewise, daily activities done in the natural environment require these underlying skill areas. Professionals can work with the child in the therapy setting, but a main role of the OT practitioner is to empower the child and family unit to thrive on their own in their home environment, or the natural setting.

        No matter what the diagnosis, OTs support various goals. Some diagnoses that can be supported in occupational therapy at home include: 

        • Autism
        • Sensory processing disorders and sensory processing challenges
        • Developmental delay
        • Down syndrome and other genetic disorders
        • Cerebral palsy and other physical mobilitydiagnoses
        • Coordination challenges
        • Motor skill delays or developmental disorders

        Occupational therapy services are not limited to these diagnoses. OT at home can support any individual struggling in the home or community to complete daily activities.

        Therapy providers do this through caregiver education, OT home programs, and consultancy including coaching of skills, support services, and checking in on struggles.

        Occupational Therapy at Home and Carryover of Skills

        If there’s one thing that is for certain, it’s that occupational therapists love to see carryover. We love to encourage functioning and independence with personal goals across environments. It’s through occupational therapy home programs that we encourage families, parents, and teachers to get involved with a child’s goals so they can accomplish skills at home, in the classroom, and community.

        I wanted to put together some activities that OTs can add to home programs that build skills. Use these as part of OT recommendations in occupational therapy teletherapy sessions, or in home programming as a result of changes in our current public health situations. Whatever your situation is, here are some activity recommendations that promote movement, learning through play, and help to keep the kids off screens.

        Use these occupational therapy home programs for setting up OT programs at home, for kids on homeschool, teletherapy activities, and occupational therapy recommendations for home. Perfect for carryover of OT activities.

        Occupational therapy home programs for movement

        So…many of us are dealing with the uncertainties of coronavirus and the possibility to be sent home from wor. School based OTs who are contracted into a school district may even be out of work if and when school students are sent home to learn from home. They may see the need to send home activity plans with children who will be stuck indoors. Other therapists are working within the available technology systems that are in place and can work with children remotely or via teletherapy. In each of these cases, there is a need for therapist-recommended activities that require items that are probably in the homes of most parents.

        Use these activities to encourage play and movement. Encourage playing together as families. These activities have therapeutic benefits, but they are also great for family time, too.

        Home Occupational therapy suggestions

        These monthly movement activities use a lot of items found around the home.

        Here are fine motor and coordination activities using a simple deck of playing cards.

        Here are movement, dexterity, and strengthening activities using craft pom poms (or cotton balls work really well, too.)

        Here are activities with paper clips to encourage coordination, visual motor skills, perception, and dexterity.

        Here are sensory diet activities for the backyard.

        Here are 31 ways to learn through movement and play. These strategies are perfect for learning at home or homeschooling.

        Playdough is a powerful tool that can be added to home therapy programs! Here is a giant list of activities using play dough.

        To encourage gross motor movement, core strengthening, and heavy work for sensory needs, try these indoor recess activities. They work at home, too!

        Looking for home programming and OT home activities? These resources are full of ideas:

        Fine Motor Activities

        Visual Motor Activities

        Indoor Play Ideas

        Cooking with Kids

        Sensory Play

        Executive Functioning Activities

        Handwriting Activities

        Calming Heavy Work Activities

        “Push In” Therapy at Home– Combine OT interventions with learning at home using these movement-based, goal oriented activities that can be incorporated into learning, math, reading, etc.

        OT at Home…Play Games!

        A lot of times, families have board games in the home that they haven’t played with in a while. Family time games like the ones in the posts below can build essential skills that might be addressed in therapy, too. Use time spent at home to play games and work on therapy goals at the same time. Here are some game suggestions:

        These Games to Improve strategy and planning are fun to play and better for the brain!

        Here are more games to improve executive functioning skills.

        Games that improve pencil grasp build fine motor skills, but don’t seem like “work”. Do you have any of these fine motor games in your game closet?

        Visual Tracking Games are fun ways to work on an essential visual processing skill…visual tracking! This skill is needed for visual attention, reading, writing, and so much more.

        Raid the game closet and use some items you have around the house to Build Math Skills with Games.

        In fact, there is a lot of learning that happens with board games. Here is how you can learn with games you already own.

        These are games and toys that build skills in reluctant writers.

        Build wrist stability for improved precision and strength in the hands with these games and toys to improve wrist stability.

        Looking for more ways to keep the kids busy at home while working on developing skills? Run a search through the search bar above!

        How can I help my child with occupational therapy at home

        How can I help my child with occupational therapy at home?

        If working on developmental areas is needed, you can do activities to support specific areas, using everyday play. Many times, OT practitioners will work with families to design an individualized home OT program that supports specific needs for each child. 

        Having a specialized OT home program is important because occupational therapists and OTAs can come up with activities that target several areas of development at once, including self-regulation, social emotional development, for example. Or, they may offer ideas to integrate visual motor skills while targeting specific aspects of visual perception. Another example is OT activities that offer calming heavy work input while supporting movement needs (a combination of proprioceptive input and vestibular input) while providing therapy activities that do not over-stimulate the vision and vestibular system. 

        If you want to add activities to the home that do offer motor skill and precision input for strengthening fine motor skills, some play activities can do this. 

        These materials are often found in many homes, and occupational therapy providers use these items because they are so prevalent in homes, making the activities easily carried over at home. Try using these materials in occupational therapy at home interventions:

        • Chalk
        • Beads
        • Swinging on swings or playing at playgrounds
        • Jumping on a trampoline
        • Playing in a sand box
        • Turning coins on a table or dropping coins in a piggy bank
        • Playing with tweezers to pick up beads or crumbled paper or small objects
        • Making a sensory tray with shaving cream
        • Playing with various textures
        • Rolling dice
        • Offering sensory input by jumping on couch cushions or hopping on pillows
        • Making a noodle necklace
        • Coloring
        • Playing with play dough
        • Tearing a piece of paper
        • Talking about emotions
        • Sorting buttons
        • Picking up beans one at a time

        These simple activities can be incorporated into the daily routine to support development through play.

        Occupational Therapy Home Programs

        Occupational therapy home programs are a vital part of the therapeutic process and crucial to a child’s success in therapy. As we know, most children attend therapy sessions once or twice a week, and following through outside of the therapeutic setting is important to both the child and the family. It is essential that you do your best to blend therapy home programs into the already busy schedules and routines of families to ensure compliance and habituate follow-through at home. 

        Most therapists love providing families with targeted activities or exercises to work on at home to continue a child’s progress toward their goals. Providing these in a fun way can be both a unique art and science in creation by a therapist and the family. Yep, it’s true, including the family in the design is both encouraging and allows for unique ownership by both the child and the family, therefore, making it more successful overall. Keep in mind that home programs can vary greatly depending on a child’s specific needs, family design, and the skill development needed. 

        Sometimes families need a sensory diet for home or community use, an exercise program to advance skills in strength and endurance, a chore and/or self-care checklist for skill advancement and attainment, an activity program to facilitate targeted skill development and keep motivation with therapy, or a handwriting home program to give further practice in letter formation and handwriting legibility practice. 

        Let’s take a deeper look at each home program mentioned. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t put in a lot of different choices or activities as this will oftentimes decrease compliance and increase the lack of follow-through in the home setting. Always consider doing fewer activities and/or exercises and change them out more frequently as compliance and success are achieved. Don’t load a family or child up with activities and exercises to keep it all front-end packed as this will become overwhelming and not successful in the back end. Provide a limited number with a specific focus coupled with full, open communication as the program is followed at home. 

        Occupational Therapy Home Programs for Sensory Needs

        Sensory diets by design provide a child-specific activity program that is scheduled into a child’s day to provide sensory activities or approaches that kids perform throughout the day to ensure they are getting the input their bodies need to assist with attention, arousal, soothing, and adaptive responses. The activities are generally chosen to target a child’s needs based on sensory integration theory. 

        The best approach to a sensory diet is to provide a visual schedule for parents and children to follow as well as a worded description of ideas to further facilitate understanding and follow-through. Look at following

        • time-based activities
        • routines
        • interaction recommendations
        • environment suggestions, and
        • targeted sensory needs that include oral sensory, heavy work, and vestibular. 

        Always provide contact information on each sensory diet to ensure families have what they need to consult with you about strategies and activities as well as any questions that may arise during diet implementation.

        Home exercise programs provide guidelines for the overall program and each exercise should have a picture or diagram, the number of safe sets/reps, specific precautions, and a checklist for either daily, weekly, or monthly implementation with the understanding to share this checklist at end of a cycle to ensure compliance by family. 

        As therapists, we often use tools for home exercises that may include therapy putty, theraband, dumbbells, hand and finger exercisers, exercise bikes, or even table-top pedal bikes. Make sure these tools are either provided to the families as part of their programming or that they can afford to purchase them outside of therapy.  A loan program can be established to provide the child with what they need for a limited time.

        Sometimes, we as therapists, need to get creative in how we get the exercises into a home that are needed, so look outside the typical places for items such as in thrift stores, ask families who no longer need items and are willing to donate them to you, utilize a “donate and need” board at your clinic or schools, look on Facebook groups such as OT Trader for items, etc. 

        Chore or self-care checklists are just as they sound, a list of chores or self-care actions for each day or week. Create a simplified checklist or find one online that has everything you need to copy and share. Take a look at Your Therapy Source as they have convenient and time-saving Life Skills activities, checklists and graphs for data collection in the home, school, and community making it easier to target each step and to score and record progress over time.

        A daily to-do list for kids or visual schedule can support this.

        Occupational Therapy at Home Activity Programs

        Activity programs are intended to motivate the child (and the family) while developing essential skills that the child needs as they perform them in the home setting. This program can be completed with siblings to increase the fun and compliance as needed. The child can learn each activity during therapy and then follow through occurs at home after the therapist reviews the program with the parent(s). 

        A fun way to do this is to have the child demonstrate each activity during therapy with a parent present as this builds confidence and full engagement by the child. 

        Other than a written activity program with pictures, you can also create a fine motor toolbox with different activities inside that can be used at home for a few weeks.

        On our blog posts on occupational therapy kits, you’ll find specific ideas and images for how to set up an OT kit at home.

        Here is a picture of some kits, which I share with families and use during therapy sessions:

        Occupational therapy kits for home OT.

        I try to keep them small with 5-6 activities in each box and each box is designed to address a child’s specific needs. This means that I often switch activities around in the boxes so I must maintain a checklist of what each child has already worked on so that I can keep the boxes new and fresh.

        Frankly, I found this design to be more successful than the larger Magic 20 Box that I worked with colleagues to create several years back.

        The 20 items in the box tended to become overwhelming to children and families and more often than not, they ended up wanting to do a select few that they found fun and engaging.  My personal experience has been finding families and children are more compliant with smaller boxes and fewer activities. 

        I also enjoy using my monthly game boards for fine and gross motor activities at home as it triggers high interest and enjoyment for both my clients and their families.

        Occupational Therapy at Home: Handwriting

        Handwriting home programs are designed to have children practice the important skills they have learned during therapy as a carryover into a different setting.  Handwriting is a complex skill and practice in meaningful and natural ways is most useful in developing skills.

        You can also use it as an educational tool for families too.  My handwriting home programs are written in a way that sets the scene for successful handwriting practice in the home easing tension and anxiety for increased follow-through and overall compliance. 

        Some ways to support handwriting interventions for occupational therapy at home include:

        With so many options around for creating and designing a child-specific home program, any child and family can benefit from your skilled OT home program. We all know that without regular practice and intervention, a child can regress in their skills and it can take a very long time to regain the skills they once had. So, go get some quick inspiration here in this blog post and then go and help those kiddos on your caseload build the important skills they need to be successful in their daily lives. Oh, and don’t forget, you’re empowering those families to proceed on and power through to progress for their child, that’s what you do! 

        Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

        The OT Toolbox Fine Motor Kits are a great resource for occupational therapy at home!

        Working on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, or scissor skills? Our Fine Motor Kits cover all of these areas and more.

        Check out the seasonal Fine Motor Kits that kids love:

        Or, grab one of our themed Fine Motor Kits to target skills with fun themes:

        Want access to all of these kits…and more being added each month? Join The OT Toolbox Member’s Club!