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!

Amazon affiliate links are included in this blog post. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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:

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

Use OT equipment writing lists.

  • 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

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    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!

    Amazon affiliate links are included in this blog post. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

    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.

      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 doesn’t need to be difficult. Explore our list of Occupational Therapy Amazon deals for toys and tools to support various needs.

      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!

      Sorting Colors Activities

      sorting colors

      Sorting colors is a big deal. Young learners in the toddler and preschool stage start out by sorting items such as blocks, plastic animals, coins, or colored items.  Later in child development, sorting colors morphs into sorting silverware, matching socks, organizing drawers, or filing papers to name a few life skills. 

      Sorting colors

      Sorting by color is an important skill for organizing items into categories to make sense of them, or for ease of locating them later. It is far easier to find a pair of socks in a drawer when they are matched together rather than in a large multi-colored pile. But what developmental skills are required for sorting colors? How can you support this essential skill?

      Sorting Colors

      First, let’s break down what we mean by sorting colors…

      Sorting by color can refer to anything from colored blocks to silverware does not involve being able to name the item. 

      Developmentally, a young learner does not need to know their colors in order to sort. They are arranging the items according to their properties. You could sort foreign coins into their respective piles without any idea what they are. By participating in sorting color activities, the young child obtains hands-on practice in several areas of development: 

      Hopefully as your learner continues to sort items, they may start recognizing the qualities of each item.  This can include shade, or color, shape, form, number, etc.

      Sorting Colors Development

      As with many skills, there is a hierarchy of learning to sorting tasks. Young children develop these skills through hands-on play and by playing with toys.

      Development of color sorting progresses through these stages:

      1. Grouping items that are exactly the same.  Examples; colored plastic bears, blocks that are all the same size, coins, pompoms
      2. Sorting items that are similar: different brands of socks in similar colors, silverware in varying sizes, towels, a bag of buttons
      3. Sorting items that are similar AND different: sorting items by the color red, that are all different items. Sorting socks that are all different sizes, shapes, weights, and colors. Sorting items by colors that vary (five different shades of red).
      4. Sorting items that have more than one category This stage of development progresses to categorizing objects that can be sorted such as a pile of paper to file. In this case there needs to be one similar quality selected first in order to sort, such as putting all the medical bills together, sorting by date, alphabetizing the papers. The last stage is where we may see challenges impacted by working memory. Those struggling with development of executive functioning skills can be limited in sorting objects in various categories, particularly when a background is busy such as a messy desk, cluttered locker, or home.

      Sorting by color is not the easiest way to sort. When there are multiple items that are similar such as 100 colored plastic balls, your learner may not recognize these as different items.  They see balls first, not colors. Try sorting very different items first.  Example: 5 identical buttons, 3 towels, 4 pencils, and 6 spoons.

      Color Sorting and Visual Perception

      Sorting involves recognizing an item’s properties, but also visual perception.  Through development of these skills, children move from thinking through the sorting of colors to visual efficiency which allows for automaticity in tasks.

      Below are some thought processes that integrate color sorting with visual perceptual skills:

      • Figure ground lets the “perceiver” see the items as part to a whole, 
      • Form constancy recognizes that two balls of different colors are still balls. or two shades of red are still red.  
      • Visual discrimination allows the learner to tell difference between items. 
      • Visual memory is the ability to remember what is seen as the eyes are scanning the items

      Color Sorting Teaches Mental Flexibility

      When teaching sorting, teach mental flexibility.  Sort many different items in many different ways. Sort by, color, size, similarity, quality (4 legged animals), texture, weight, or two qualities.  

      Sort the same items two different ways.  First sort the plastic fruit and veggies (affiliate link) into color, then sort by type.  Later your learner can sort by larger categories such as fruits versus vegetables.

      Color Sorting and Functional Tasks

      Why do some people have difficulty organizing and cleaning up? 

      Sometimes a large task seems very overwhelming, therefore shut down and refusal tends to occur.  The most effective way to combat this is to teach sorting and categorizing. Go into your child’s messy room and look for the categories.  

      • Books all over the floor
      • Dirty clothes everywhere
      • Papers and trash scattered around
      • 9 dishes and plates
      • 29 stuffed animals
      • 84 hair clips
      • 64 crayons

      Now this task seems much more manageable.  I often had to solve this dilemma with my younger daughter.

      What other, more complicated ways could she organize this messy room?

      • Sorting the books into genre, size, type, or alphabetizing
      • Organizing the dirty clothes into whites and colors
      • Determining trash versus recyclables
      • Crayons may be part of the “school supplies” category
      • Hair accessories or toys might be a larger category

      How would you tackle this chore?  

      • Sort into the larger category first such as books, then sort into their subcategories?  
      • Sort into subcategories such as stuffed animals, games, action figures, puzzles, then group into toys?  

      There is no wrong answer depending on how your brain works. Actually the only wrong answer is not getting started or having a meltdown.

      When working on basic sorting colors, and feeling it is futile or pointless, think about the bigger picture.  A person who can put their laundry, silverware, and toys away will be more independent than one who can not.

      Color Sorting Activities

      So, are you wondering about a fun way to build development in this area? We’ve got plenty of ideas.

      The OT Toolbox has a great resource for teaching sorting using everyday items.

      Amazon has tons of toys and games for sorting!  (affiliate link) Don’t limit yourself to store bought items though.  Your kitchen, bathroom, junk drawers, and desk are filled with items that can be grouped and sorted.  

      Color sorting activities can include ideas such as:

      • Sorting colored circles (cut out circles from construction paper)
      • Sort different objects by color and drop them into baskets or bowls
      • Use color sorting activities along with a scavenger hunt. This color scavenger hunt is one fun idea.
      • Cut out cardboard shapes and sort by color or shape. This cardboard tangram activity is an easy way to make shapes in different colors.
      • Sort colored markers or crayons
      • Laminate a piece of construction paper and use it as a play mat. Sort different colored craft pom poms or other objects onto the correct mat.
      • Print out color words and sort them along with small objects. The Colors Handwriting Kit has these color words and other printable activities for playing with color.
      • Make dyed pumpkin seeds and sort by color.

      This color sorting activity is a powerful fine motor activity and a super easy way to learn and play for toddlers and preschoolers.  We’ve done plenty of activities to work on fine motor skills in kids.  This straw activity is the type that is a huge hit in our house…it’s cheap, easy, and fun!  (a bonus for kids and mom!)  

      A handful of straws and a few recycled grated cheese container are all that are needed for tripod grasp, scissor skills, color naming, and sorting.  

      SO much learning is happening with color sorting!

      Fine Motor Color Sorting Activity with Straws

      This color sorting activity is a powerful fine motor activity and a super easy way to learn and play for toddlers and preschoolers.  We’ve done plenty of activities to work on fine motor skills in kids.  This straw activity is the type that is a huge hit in our house…it’s cheap, easy, and fun!  (a bonus for kids and mom!)  A handful of straws and a few recycled grated cheese container are all that are needed for tripod grasp, scissor skills, color naming, and sorting. 

      This color sorting activity is great for toddlers and preschools because it helps to develop many of the fine motor skills that they need for function.

      I had Baby Girl (age 2 and a half) do this activity and she LOVED it.  Now, many toddlers are exploring textures of small objects with their mouths.  If you have a little one who puts things in their mouth during play, this may not be the activity for you.  That’s ok.  If it doesn’t work right now, put it away and pull it out in a few months. 

      Color sorting activity with straws

      Always keep a close eye on your little ones during fine motor play and use your judgment with activities that work best for your child.  Many school teachers read our blog and definitely, if there are rules about choking hazards in your classroom, don’t do this one with the 2 or 3 year olds. 

      You can adjust this color sorting activity to use other materials besides straws, too. Try using whole straws, pipe cleaners, colored craft sticks, or other objects that are safe for larger groups of Toddlers.  

      There are so many fun ways to play and learn with our Occupational Therapy Activities for Toddlers post.

      Kids can work on scissor skills by cutting straws into small pieces.

        color sorting activity using straws

      We started out with a handful of colored straws.  These are a dollar store purchase and we only used a few of the hundred or so in the pack…starting out cheap…this activity is going well so far!  

      Cutting the straws is a neat way to explore the “open-shut” motion of the scissors to cut the straw pieces.  Baby Girl liked the effect of cutting straws.  Flying straw bits= hilarious!  

      If you’re not up for chasing bits and pieces of straws around the room or would rather not dodge flying straw pieces as they are cut, do this in a bin or bag.  Much easier on the eyes 😉  

      Kids love to work on fine motor skills through play!

       Once our straws were cut into little pieces and ready for playing, I pulled out a few recycled grated cheese containers.  (Recycled container= free…activity going well still!)   We started with just one container out on the table and Baby Girl dropped the straw pieces into the holes. 

      Here are more ways to use recycled materials in occupational therapy activities.

      Toddlers and preschoolers can work on their tripod grasp by using small pieces of straws and a recycled grated cheese container.

      Importance of Color sorting for toddlers and preschoolers

      Color sorting activities are a great way to help toddlers and preschoolers develop skills for reading, learning, and math.

      Sorting activities develop visual perceptual skills as children use visual discrimination to notice differences between objects.

      By repeating the task with multiple repetitions, kids develop skills in visual attention and visual memory. These visual processing skills are necessary for reading and math tasks.

      The ability to recall differences in objects builds working memory too, ask kids remember where specific colors go or the place where they should sort them.

      These sorting skills come into play in more advanced learning tasks as they classify objects, numbers, letters, etc.

      And, when children sort items by color, they are building What a great fine motor task this was for little hands!  Sorting straws into a container with small holes, like our activity, requires a tripod grasp to insert the straws into the small holes of the grated cheese container.   

      These grated cheese containers are awesome for fine motor play with small objects!

      Sorting items like cut up straws helps preschoolers and toddlers develop skills such as:

      • Fine motor skills (needed for pencil grasp, scissor use, turning pages, etc.)
      • Hand strength (needed for endurance in coloring, cutting, etc.)
      • Visual discrimination (needed to determine differences in letters, shapes, and numbers)
      • Visual attention
      • Visual discrimination
      • Visual perceptual skills
      • Left Right discrimination (needed for handwriting, fine motor tasks)
      • Counting
      • Patterning
      • Classification skills

      Preschoolers can get a lot of learning (colors, patterns, sorting, counting) from this activity too.  Have them count as they put the pieces in, do a pattern with the colored straws, sort from smallest to biggest pieces and put them in the container in order…the possibilities are endless!

      Cut straw into small pieces and provide three recycled containers to sort and work on fine motor skills with kids.

      Color Sorting Activity with Straws

      Once she got a little tired of the activity, I let it sit out on the table for a while with two  more containers added.  I started dropping in colored straw pieces into the containers and sorted them by color. 

      Use colored straws to sort and work on fine motor skills with recycled containers.

      Baby Girl picked right up on that and got into the activity again.  This lasted for a long time.  We kept this out all day and she even wanted to invite her cousin over to play with us.  So we did!  This was a hit with the toddlers and Little Guy when he came home from preschool.  Easy, cheap, and fun.  I’ll take it!

      Looking for more fun ways to work on color sorting?

      You’ll find more activities to build hand strength, coordination, and dexterity in this resource on Fine Motor Skills.

      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.

      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.

      Digital Content Creation Program: Sell Your Digital Products on The OT Toolbox

      Digital content creation program on The OT Toolbox

      If you have ever thought about using your knowledge and experience in digital content creation, then you are in the right place. While most of the blog posts on this site relate to all things pediatric occupational therapy, this one is a bit different. It’s likely that at one point or another, you’ve accessed one of our printable resources, or purchased a digital product. Did you ever wonder if YOU could create a digital resource for others? Did you know that The OT Toolbox has a team of digital content vendors in our shop marketplace? Those creators started out just like you: wondering how to sell resources online! That’s what we’re talking about in this blog post! Read on for information on how to create a passive income using what you know, experience, and are passionate about!

      We go deep into how to sell what you know on our Digital Product Professionals page.

      Do you LOVE being creative? Do you make resources for the clients on your caseload and know that there are others out there that would benefit as well? Want to make money online but don’t want to deal with customer service, starting a website? Did you know that we love to support other therapy professionals by selling resources on our shop?

      Digital content creation program on The OT Toolbox

      Digital Content Creation

      Do you LOVE being creative? Do you make resources for the clients on your caseload and know that there are others out there that would benefit as well? Want to make money online but don’t want to deal with customer service, starting a website?

      Let’s break down HOW and WHY to sell digital products on The OT Toolbox as a vendor in our marketplace.

      First, you may or may not know about all of the contributing factors that play a role in running a website and selling resources online. Just to quickly cover all the bases, website management includes:

      • Web hosting
      • Building the technical side of a website including plugin management
      • Managing costs of hosting fees, website fees, email list fees, etc.
      • Managing customer service including the email management
      • Content creation
      • Coming up with a content marketing strategy
      • Graphics creation
      • Writing articles
      • Editing and formatting articles
      • Speaking to target audiences (Here on The OT Toolbox, we create content geared toward therapy providers, parents, and educators, as well as other professionals- counselors, administrators, etc.)
      • Publishingblog content
      • Creating and maintaining a digital marketing strategy
      • Brainstorming content ideas
      • Working with a graphic designer
      • Building a following on social media platforms and working on social media engagement on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, and YouTube
      • Writing blog posts geared toward web traffic- Speaking to the search engines, or meeting search engine optimization (SEO) needs. This includes keyword research.
      • Working among trends such as Tiktok, Facebook reels, or Instagram videos, etc. 
      • Creating infographics for social media posts
      • Using publishing tools such as photoshop or Canva
      • Coming up with a publishing schedule for the website and social media platforms
      • Working on different types of content: articles in Google docs, video, digital products, etc.

      That’s a lot to manage! 

      When it comes to running a website and managing all of the working pieces, there is a lot to juggle. 

      Sell digital products on The OT Toolbox website

      Digital Content Creators on The OT Toolbox

      The mission of The OT Toolbox has always been to provide tools to support the healthy development of kids. We initially started out by supported occupational therapy providers with resources and tools to help their clients thrive. That audience has since moved on to other therapy professionals such as physical therapy, speech therapy, and mental health therapy as well as all of the types of readers. We did this by offering tools, tips, and resources that not only support their clients, but themselves as professionals. 

       Over time, we have started to support other therapy providers in additional ways, including offering our shop as a platform to sell digital content.

      Selling digital products on The OT Toolbox as a digital content creator is a great way to not only make money, but also transfer your skills, knowledge, and experience to other professionals. It’s a literal ripple impact that can change lives!

      There are other good things about creating digital content, too! These could be considered the “pros” to digital content creation.

      • Earning money as an online shop
      • Supplementing other income sources (especially true for new digital creators) This is great for the school based therapy provider seeking income over the summer months, or while on school breaks.
      • Passive income. Much about digital content creation as a vendor meaning creators who host products on The OT Toolbox earn money passively.
      • Using your creative resources to support other professionals all over the world to help others thrive

      Plus, when you list your digital products on The OT Toolbox shop, we take care of all the details:

      1. Hosting and listing the digital product- You don’t need to build a website and deal with the tech side of things or pay all of the hosting and plugin fees. We also list the product on our shop. You don’t need to worry about copywriters or target keywords on the product listing. We take care of that for you.

      2. Marketing- we take care of the promotional side of things too. We have a digital content strategy in place so all you have to do is submit your product and sit back to wait for the payments each month. We market on our email newsletter, our social media platforms, and on the blog posts.

      3. Customer service- Dealing with deliverability issues, refunds, and customer questions is a necessary thing when you have a shop and business. However, these service considerations take a LOT of time. We handle all of these aspects of product sales.

      4. Credit card fees and taxes- When you sell on The OT Toolbox marketplace, we take care of the fees and taxes that are related to digital product sales. 

      5. Passive income- You can market products as little or as often as you like on your own social media channels, but there is no obligation to do so. When you list products in The OT Toolbox marketplace as a digital content creator, it can be all passive income. We’ll pay you at the beginning of each month for any sales that your product had during the previous month.

      6. Your products will show up in our shop- If you’ve listed a digital resource on Teachers Pay Teachers or Etsy, then you know the pain of publishing a product only to have it sit somewhere in the depths of the website. There is just SO much content on those sites that it’s hard to get your product in front of eyeballs even with SEO tools or influencer marketing on social media. On The OT Toolbox shop, your product will show up by search and it will get in front of web traffic guided by our monthly search volume on the site.

      7. Start now- If you have a product already created, you can start right away. If you don’t have a product and have no idea where to begin with making digital products, the Digital Product Creation for Professionals Toolkit is for you. 

      How to be a Digital Content Creator and Sell on The OT Toolbox?

      The cool thing is that this opportunity is open to everyone. If you’re slightly interested in selling products online, and you have knowledge, experience, and a passion to create a resource, the creator marketplace is for you. 

      There are two options, depending on where you are in this process: 

      If you already have a digital product… 

      …and you want a place to sell it that has a hot audience:

      This option is great if you sell products on Teacher Pay Teacher, Etsy, or your own website and you want to get it in front of The OT Toolbox.

      Just send us an email at contact@theottoolbox.com with a copy of your product so we can make sure the item is a good fit for our audience. Then, we’ll get back to you with details and a contract to put all of the details onto paper. We’ll create a vendor account for you and list your item. Then, you earn each month depending on the sales of your product. At any time, you can log into your vendor account and see sales on your dashboard.

      One other tip that I would encourage for vendors on The OT Toolbox is to write a blog post on the topic that your product covers. Our vendors that write blog posts promoting their product sell up to 3 times more than the vendors that don’t. Why?

      • Blog posts cover a lot of the “why” behind a product, which is what people are looking for through search
      • A blog post goes deep on how to support a specific need. Readers that arrive at that blog post are looking for answers to a specific question. Your product or resource can be the solution to that problem
      • When a digital content creator covers the many benefits of a product in high-quality content of an article, you can go deep on why specific issues are happening, what the end user might see, red flags that are involved, and then explain in detail how a solution to that problem might be a product that was created by a professional with experience in that area. 
      • You can create different blog articles based on the various topic ideas that a product was intended to solve. For example, most professionals have created products based on years of experience working with a specific issue or problem area. And typically, those resources solve several aspects of the issue at hand. Blog content can go deep on these different issues through a blog series, which targets each aspect of the product. A series of articles related to a single product is an asset to the marketing.

      In exchange for the services listed above (hosting, marketing, product delivery, customer service, etc.) we do take a percentage of the product’s pricing. Marketplace vendors earn 65% of the product price. 

      This percentage is consistent or better than other online marketplaces such as TPT or Etsy, plus you’ll have the additional benefit of reaching a consistent market and audience. 

      Even with that percentage of administration and hosting fees, we have digital vendors earning hundreds of dollars each month, all as passive income. 

      If you might be interested in writing a blog post related to your digital product, please reach out to us at contact@theottoolbox.com. We can walk you through the process and come up with some content creation tools that might help. 

      If you don’t have a digital product yet…

      …and you would like to create one (but don’t know how):

      This option is perfect for anyone wanting to explore their creativity, and use what they know, as well as experience, and zones of genius into a resource that they can sell to toothers. We’ve walked many creatives through the process and decided to put the instructions, the systems, and the step-by-step roadmap into a course. The Digital Product Creation Program is a creator academy of sorts. It’s a toolkit with blueprints, workbooks, and roadmaps to support your journey in getting started as an online creator. 

      Digital Product Creation Program
      All of these resources and more are included in the Digital Product Creation Program.

      In the Digital Product Creation Program, we have several stages of product development with resources, ebooks, and templates to support your journey to creating and selling digital products. It includes 5 stages:

      1. Product Development- This section of the toolkit includes types of digital content that you can make based on your experience, passions, and knowledge. This is a great brainstorming space if you know you want to make something, but don’t know exactly what…or how! You’ll also find tutorials on all of the tech so you don’t hit a stumbling block by not knowing how to manage the technology aspect of digital content creation. One tool that is especially helpful is “How to Write an Ebook in 30 Days”. So often, as professionals, we have amazing experiences and know-how that could be a huge resource to others in ebook format. We walk you through getting your information into a consumable format.
      2. Business Development – This stage of the process takes out the unnecessary tasks and streamlines the things you really need to worry about. We cover how to protect your product legally. We also include workbooks and planning books so you can stay on track to get your digital product completed. This is a huge time saver for the whole content creation process. 
      3. Product Template Library- This section includes hundreds of product templates for everything from ebooks, to courses, to worksheets, to handouts, screening tools, forms, and so much more. You can use these templates and plug in the information you know and love to teach others about. These templates are literally done-for-you product templates.
      4. Sell Your Products- This section of the toolkit offers strategies for selling that supports all levels, whether you’ve sold products before, are already on Teachers Pay Teacher, or if you are just getting started and have no idea where to begin. We have created a blueprint for submitting your products to The OT Toolbox and Your Therapy Source, so you can submit your product once and be done. 
      5. Digital Marketing- In this section of the program, we’ve put together a library of templates to plug your product into so you can start marketing on social media. Social media content creators will love this section because the design is already done for you. Open up the templates and start marketing.
      6. Bonuses- There are several bonuses included with this program, including frames and backgrounds for digital content creation. These include all commercial rights so you can use the materials in products that you sell anywhere. We also have put together a top secret, data-backed list of needed digital products. These are materials that are just not that prevalent out there in the market, but they are much-needed.

      You can find out more about Digital Product Creation for Professionals here

      How to sell Digital Content Creations on The OT Toolbox

      We love to support occupational therapy professionals and supporting professionals by allowing them to create and serve others, while building an income on the side is just one way to do that!

      The process is really simple. Margaret from Your Therapy Source and I walked through this process (and had a great chat!) about how vendors can apply to sell their products on our websites, to our email lists, and on our social media channels. Check out our chat here: 

      Margaret from Your Therapy Source and I talk about how to become a digital content vendor in the shops on our websites.

      Basically, the process to sell your digital content creations on The OT Toolbox is this:

      1. Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com. Include your product name and attach it to the email. Tell me about yourself…I love to hear from other digital content creators out there!
      2. We will review the product to ensure it fits with The OT Toolbox. We’ll get back to you via email.
      3. If the product is accepted as a resource to include on our shop, you’ll get a digital contract. The contract basically says it is your product and you can sell it in other places online or in person, that the product is yours, and The OT Toolbox is only a marketplace to list the product. We also outline the percentage of earnings, and other information we’ve listed in the video above. 
      4. You will return the signed contract along with a product description, a cover images of the product, and any other images that will help the resource sell. 
      5. We will take care of the rest! We’ll list the product on The OT Toolbox shop, create a product listing, market the product in our newsletter, on social media, and in related blog posts.
      6. You will get paid. We pay through Paypal and will send out payments once a month. 

      It’s a great stream of passive income for professionals that love sharing their experiences and knowledge!

      Latest Therapy Vendor Resources

      Want to see the latest digital products that have been created by Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants? Our OT vendors are experts in areas like dyslexia, documentation, handwriting, sensory diets, and more. Check out the latest OT vendor additions to The OT Toolbox shop:


      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.

      Christmas Occupational Therapy Activities

      Christmas occupational therapy activities

      This time of year, it’s all about the Christmas trees, holiday spirit, and festivities, so these Christmas occupational therapy activities are sure to brighten therapy caseloads! Many years ago, we created a free December calendar with OT activities for Christmas, and you’ll want to grab that resource, too. But if you need extra therapy ideas to plan our a whole month of OT sessions, you’ll find tons of ideas here. Below, you’ll find activities and ideas to use in occupational therapy planning during the Christmas season while building skills in fine motor, visual motor, gross motor, and more.

      Christmas occupational therapy activities

      Christmas occupational therapy activities

      I don’t know about you, but I’m getting into the Christmas spirit. Whether you are trying to think up some fun Christmas occupational therapy activities to add to the mix this month, or are looking for Christmas activities that kids and the whole family will love, it’s a fun time of year for adding creative Christmas ideas! 

      That’s why I wanted to put together some therapist-approved Christmas activities for kids. These are ideas that add a motor component to learning and play. Stay tuned, because this week is all about Christmas activities for kids here on The OT Toolbox! 

      First, let’s share some of our favorite free Christmas occupational therapy activities.

      The team behind The OT Toolbox has been BUSY. There are new free resources you can grab:

      These are all fun ways to support specific skills through play.

      These Christmas OT activities would be a great way to get ideas for home programs or holiday break activities, too! 

      These Christmas activities for kids are perfect for using in occupational therapy activities, in home programs, in the OT clinic, or in the classroom. All of the occupational therapy Christmas activities are designed to promote motor development including fine motor, gross motor, visual motor, and sensory, all with a Christmas theme!

      Christmas Activities for Kids

      Each of the Christmas activities below target specific skills such as sensory, fine motor, visual motor, etc. OR, they target age groups like toddler Christmas activities or preschool Christmas activities.

      All of the activities and ideas you’ll find here are perfect for the occupational therapist looking for Christmas themed fine motor activities, sensory challenges, visual motor activities, gross motor ideas, brain breaks, and more!

      I’ll link to all of the posts this week here but be sure to stop back each day to see the activities and ideas that you can use in therapy treatment sessions, in the classroom, and in the home. 

      Start with a Christmas sensory bin to target fine motor, visual motor, tactile, and even olfactory input.

      Christmas Activities for Toddlers– These toddler Christmas activities support development for younger children and support OT goals or the areas of development in toddlers.

      Christmas Craft Ideas for Kids– Use these holiday crafts to build fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, sensory moor skills, visual motor skills. Crafts are a powerful therapy tool and these Christmas OT crafts work on hand strength, scissor skills, and so much more.

      Christmas Activities for Preschoolers– These Christmas OT activities for preschoolers develop skills in kids ages 3-5. These moor skill activities can be used in preschool occupational therapy programming or in occupational therapy early intervention.

      Christmas Party Games for Kids– These holiday activities are great for occupational therapy sessions, but they are prefect for planning Christmas parties in the classroom, from the perspective of an occupational therapist mom! Use these fun holiday ideas at home, for family time too.

      Christmas Sensory Activities– These Christmas sensory bins, Christmas sensory bottles, writing trays, and sensory dough activities support tactile sensory play during the holiday season. Use these sensory activities at home, in the therapy clinic, or at school to support skill building this time of year.

      You’ll also love:

      Christmas Fine Motor activities
      Christmas fine motor activities to build hand strength.

      Christmas Fine Motor Activities– These fine motor activities support eye-hand coordination, hand strength, motor planning skills, separation of the sides of the hand, finger isolation, and much more!

      Christmas calendar

      Be sure to grab our Christmas Occupational Therapy Calendar that is full of therapist-approved Christmas activities for kids this season.

      NOTE-All of the activities and ideas indicated in this article as well as those listed are to be used as ideas to meet the individual needs of each child. All activities should be used according to the child’s individual evaluation and interventions.

      More Christmas Activities

      Working on handwriting with kids this Christmas season? Grab your copy of the Christmas Modified Handwriting Packet. It’s got three types of adapted paper that kids can use to write letters to Santa, Thank You notes, holiday bucket lists and much more…all while working on handwriting skills in a motivating and fun way! Read more about the adapted Christmas Paper here

      The Modified Christmas paper is available inside the Member’s Club, in our Christmas Therapy Theme. Members can log in and grab all of those paper formats there.

      Use these Christmas activities for kids in occupational therapy while working on skills like fine motor skills, gross motor skills, visual motor skills, sensory concerns and other occupational therapy goal areas!

      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.

      Spider Activities

      spider activities

      This time of year, spider activities are a fun way to learn, develop skills through a a weekly occupational therapy theme, and even use in an occupational therapy or classroom Halloween Party ideas! Here, we’ve got you covered on all things spiders…spider crafts, spider fine motor activities, spider gross motor, spider tasks, and even spider themed foods!

      Spider Activities

      Kids love the fall activities and the themes that come with the season. With festivals, trick or treating, and classroom parties, kiddos will soon be into all things fall and Halloween.  In fact, if you are looking for Halloween occupational therapy activities, then these spider activity ideas fit right into the season.

      With this seasonal fun, kids will love engaging in some spider activities galore.

      Whether doing crafts, motor activities, or sensory breaks, children will find these spider activities intriguing and adults will find them exceptionally skill building. So, it’s a win-win for all!  

      We certainly have you covered with all kinds of creepy, crawly activities with this activity round-up. 

      In this post, you’ll find a myriad activity ideas that can help address so many great skills with kids. Do you need fine motor or gross motor activities? We’ve got you covered. Are you looking for skill-building arts and crafts?  We’ve got you covered. Are you needing sensory goodies to work on tactile skills or to provide a sensory break? We’ve got them! Do you want some fun snack ideas for a classroom party?  Check out the ideas below. 

      Spider Fine Motor Activities 

      Use these Spider fine motor activities to build stronger hands, intrinsic hand strength, dexterity to manipulate tools like crayons, glue bottles, scissors, clothespins, and more.

      Spider Gross Motor Activities

      These spider gross motor activities support development of balance, coordination, stability, endurance, position changes, and motor planning with large muscle groups. Include these activities in Halloween obstacle courses and even Halloween parties!

      Spider Crafts

      These spider crafts, spider art activities are fun ways to paint, and craft this time of year. Use the spider crafts to build executive functioning skills, like working memory, organization, direction following, planning, prioritization, and more.

      While making the spider crafts, kids also develop fine motor skills and sensory input through the tactile sense.

      Spider Sensory Activities

      These spider sensory activities are fun ways to challenge the tactile sense, but also add sensory input through the vestibular, proprioceptive sense, and visual sense. Add these activities to a sensory diet this time of year, or use as a brain break with sensory input.

      Spider Snacks

      Kids can help to make these spider snacks as a way to develop executive functioning skills.

      We hope that you have found these ideas perfect to make your October lesson planning a little easier and whole lotta spidery skill-packed fun!

      Spider Activity Clip Cards
      Spider Activity Clip Cards-free download!

      Free Spider Activity Cards

      These spider activity cards are designed to promote additional skills:

      • Bilateral coordination
      • Crossing midline
      • Eye-hand coordination
      • Pinch and grip strength
      • Hand strength
      • Visual perception
      • Scissor skills
      • Coloring skills
      • and more

      Want to get a free set of these spider activity cards? Enter your email address into the form below to access this free download. This printable is also available inside The OT Toolbox Member’s Club. Members can log into their account and access the PDF on our Halloween Therapy Theme page.

      Free Spider Activity Clip Cards

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        More Spider Activities

        With the Halloween Therapy Kit, you’ll find spider activities, but also all kinds of Halloween motor skills, scissor skills tasks, and fine and gross motor activities.

        Get more Halloween therapy tools including spider activities to support development using the Halloween Therapy Kit!

        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!

        High School Occupational Therapy

        occupational therapy for teenagers

        Occupational therapy for teenagers can look a lot different than OT interventions for preschoolers. High school occupational therapy is a niched component of school-based OT, but one that needs it’s own set of resources and tools. High school occupational therapy providers will find this blog post as a helpful resource.

        Middle school occupational therapy and high school occupational therapy sessions focus more on transitional stages as children age into teenagers and beyond.

        occupational therapy for teenagers

        As occupational therapy practitioners, we support functional skills across the lifespan. In high school aged students, that will look very different for the school based OT compared to the preschool student. One thing to consider about the high school age is that we might need to use our creative thinking cap as OT practitioners.

        The high school student may be in an enclosed classroom and we might be supporting very specific areas related to transitioning from middle school to high school and then post-high school. I know I’ve had to support several high school students who had OT goals as a support service, and there was definitely push-back from the students. Check out our strategies and experience on how to engage a resistant child in therapy.

        Occupational Therapy for Teenagers

        In the younger grades, school occupational therapy practitioners go into the school setting armed with playdough, scissors, pencils, crayons, glue, fidgets, and a few games/puzzles. 

        What about the middle school occupational therapy population…and those years following in the high school OT interventions?  These teenagers are not motivated by crayons, Candyland, letter formation exercises, or cut and paste activities.  Nor should they be.  Unless your middle school caseload is in a self contained classroom functioning at a preschool level, these games and activities are not appropriate or practical. This post will explore the tricky transition from elementary to middle school occupational therapy.

        Starting in late elementary school, many therapists transition their caseload from a direct to indirect, or consultative therapy model at this time, especially if they have been working with a particular student for several years.

        Reasons OT for teenagers moves to consultation

        When a student remains on the OT caseload into the middle school setting, therapy typically does transition to consultation. Why? There are several valid reasons for doing so.  There are many reasons why transitioning from direct services to a consultation model is appropriate for teenagers (in middle school and high school). The primary reasons for transitioning to a consultative model are:

        • Teenagers are self conscious and do not care for a therapist coming into their general education classroom to sit by them, observe, or ask questions. A consultative model allows the student to take ownership over their therapy recommendations.
        • Middle school schedules are busy. It can be difficult to ensure carryover of occupational therapy goals when there are many different teachers on the student’s schedule. Therapists make suggestions but then the recommendations may not be carried over to each class. Additionally, pulling a student for individual therapy weekly means they are missing valuable learning time.
        • Handwriting habits are set and unlikely to change at this age. Pencil grasp development and letter formation skills are often formed by the age of eight, making adjustments in middle school difficult. The same is true for Visual perceptual skills.
        • Students do not want adaptations that make them stand out from their peers. They will resist noise cancellation headphones, a scribe for written notes, alternative seating, weighted items, or noticeable fidgets.
        • Executive function – many middle schools already incorporate these skills into their program through schedules, planners, online classrooms, and reminders.
        • Students in the middle school and high school settings are most likely using technology, virtual classrooms, and email to do much of their school work by this point.
        • Students have often been receiving services since early elementary school.  Changes are less likely to happen at this stage, if they have not already.

        Direct interventions Occupational Therapy for teenagers

        High school occupational therapy is not a one size fits all model.

        There are several reasons to keep a student on a direct therapy service model during the high school years. It’s important to realize that moving from direct services to consultation should not occur simply because the student ages out of the elementary buildings.

        Teenagers receiving occupational therapy services may continue on with the direct therapy model for several reasons:

        • Self contained students work at a different pace than their mainstreamed counterparts. They may continue to need more intervention.
        • Lower level learners will need to be transitioning to a life skills or self help model, if they have not already. This means new objectives and goals to address. Some of these areas to address include: life skills cooking tasks, starting at the beginning with cursive name writing, changing clothing for gym or swimming at school, perineal care to address menstruation needs, or other skills.
        • Teenagers are a different breed of people. There are new social expectations, hormonal changes, levels of independence, and increased demands for self help skills or self-regulation skills.
        • It may take time to educate families and caregivers about this change in service model, and expectations. Automatically moving everyone to an indirect model, or discharging them, may be too abrupt for anxious parents or overwhelmed teachers

        The Role of the occupational therapist with teenagers

        The teenage years bring many changes that impact functioning abilities that impact the education in middle school or high school.

        Seruya and Ellen write about the Role of the Middle School Occupational Therapist.  They highlight several important factors or strategies to intervention

        • Involve your learner in decision making about goals and objectives. These will be more meaningful and motivating to your students.
        • Transition away from typical handwriting goals to more functional goals
        • Teach typing and word processing using a typing program
        • Address motor skills use of calculators, rulers, graph paper, etc.
        • Address organization of locker and homework planner.
        • Provide adaptations if your learner is not able to complete work in an effective manner. A scribe to write notes for them, word processing versus written documentation, lessen the workload if writing is too labor intensive, preferential seating to improve attention.
        • Address any lingering or new sensory concerns.  Provide adaptation for these with preferential seating, alternative seating, gum or fidgets for self regulation, ear plugs to reduce incoming sounds, and organizational tools. Specifically, brain breaks for high school can be a great resource for self-regulation, anxiety, attention, and emotional needs.
        • Address important life skills – learners need to know their emergency contact information, effectively groom themselves, take care of feminine hygiene issues, advocate for themselves, and follow a schedule.
        • Some interventions may require private therapy to be more appropriate such as meal preparation, laundry, ordering from a menu, shopping, budgeting, or filling out an application. These would be appropriate goals for students in a self contained classroom.

        how to improve handwriting for teenagers

        There are times when therapists are called to continue to address handwriting in their middle school population.  Intervention needs to be functional, beyond basic letter formation. Functional handwriting can mean learning to write the letters in a name in print or cursive, filling in forms, and essential handwriting life skills.

        Handwriting help for middle schoolers

        One handwriting goal for middle schoolers, or even handwriting in high school may address the letter formation or number formation to write identifying information such as name, address, phone number.

        For example, a handwriting goal for teenagers may be:

        “This student will be able to independently write identifying information (name, address, phone number) without a model with 80% legibility.”

        Another handwriting goal might be:

        “The student will be able to write or access information to fill out a form independently.” 

        The OT Toolbox has a great post about filling out forms. (Coming soon)

        Transition to middle school and high school occupational therapy

        What can you do to help this transition to middle school occupational therapy and high school occupational therapy?

        • Educate – teachers, parents, and other caregivers may not understand the role of the occupational therapist in middle school.  It may be time for a little education on the services provided and the therapeutic model. 
        • Empathy – reducing therapy minutes may feel like the student is not going to improve, or they are being given up on.  It is tough for parents to imagine their learner may never write a sentence, read independently, or live alone.  This is the time to gently begin this conversation.
        • Collaborate – work with educators and families to determine what are appropriate functional goals and needs in the classroom, and how they can be addressed. This blog on collaboration between OT and educators can assist.
        • Continue Direct Intervention– There may be a need for direct therapy intervention. Keep your students motivated with relevant and important treatment activities. 
        • Address life skills.  The OT Toolbox has a series of life skills posts including cooking, laundry, filling out forms, and social stories.

        Working with teenagers in occupational therapy can be challenging. A few final tips for the OT working in middle schools or high schools:

        1. Remember teenagers are suddenly big and somewhat awkward.
        2. Keep goals and objectives focused on relevant and functional skills.
        3. Educate staff and caregivers about the role of the OT in schools.
        4. Provide resources, and make adaptations to the educational environment to help students better access their curriculum. 
        5. Try not to be in the hallways when they are transitioning between classes!  


        School based occupational therapy is drastically different from private or outpatient therapy.  Private therapy follows a medical model with hands on treatment, learning objectives, and goals relating to anything impeding function.  The educational model focuses solely on education related goals.  It aims to adapt and modify curriculum, so students are able to access their education. Because of these different treatment models, High School Occupational Therapy is going to look different at school than at a clinic.  This post will delve into both types of therapy models as learners are being prepared for life after high school.


        In a clinic or outpatient therapy model, learners work on their “occupation”.  Occupation is defined as daily activities that are goal oriented.  It is what you do.  Each person’s occupation looks different.  It might be in the role of parent, child, grandparent, worker, student, housekeeper, engineer, or bricklayer.  Occupation is typically referred to as a job, and in essence being a child is a job.  What are the daily activities involved in being independent as a child?  This is the core of occupational therapy.

        What is the role of a high school student?  

        In occupational therapy, one of the key components impacting functional performance is the environment. For the high school occupational therapy client, this is something that must be considered.

        • Self care – grooming, bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, and eating, and overall life skills.
        • Instrumental Activities of Daily Living – laundry, cooking, cleaning, managing money, transportation, school, doctor appointments and medications, shopping, social function, and communication

        In the medical model, goals function on the above skills that are limiting the learner’s ability to live independently.  That being said, there is a time when certain goals are not appropriate anymore.  If your learner has been working on shoe tying for eight years, it might be time to transition to velcro.  The learner who is never going to live alone might not need to balance a checking account or go to the grocery store.  


        School based therapy services need to be educationally related.  This is often difficult for educators and their families to understand.  While it is true the student may need to learn to cook and do laundry, it is only going to impact their education if it is part of their educational objectives.  A student does not need a buttoning goal if they never wear buttons to school.  The objective of school based therapy is to adapt and modify the curriculum to meet the needs of the student.  It is not to teach laundry, but to determine what the barriers might be to the student learning this skill.  High school occupational therapy goals do not specifically teach handwriting, but functional communication.  Does the student need a name stamp or an ID bracelet to identify themselves?  

        Tips about High School Occupational Therapy in the School

        • Keep goals educationally relevant
        • Goals need to be kept in perspective.  If your learner can not write their phone number by 11th grade, they might need an alternative method of sharing this information.  Some students might never be able to do fasteners independently and need to look toward pull on or adapted clothing.  Tommy Hilfiger makes some stylist (although expensive) adaptive clothing for teens and young adults.  
        • Talk about transition services.  LINK TO TRANSITION ARTICLE What is the student working toward after graduation?  What are the ‘must have’ skills in order to be successful?
        • Talk with the team about what barriers they are hitting when it comes to helping their learners reach goals
        • Consider moving students to an indirect or consultative model.  Teachers are usually on top of their programs and know what goals they are working toward.  Sometimes they need a piece of adaptive equipment or problem solving when they get stuck.  I had a student last month whose goal was rolling cookie dough for the class business.  He was having difficulty making consistent size balls.  He did not need weeks of OT to help him.  He needed a five minute consult and a mini ice cream scoop to make the balls uniform in size.  Another student needed a handful of fidgets to keep his hands out of his mouth
        • Check out this article on Occupational Therapy for Teenagers
        • Advocate and educate about the role of the occupational therapist in schools.  This does not mean we sell ourselves short, but rather allocated our time wisely, giving direct services to those with more pressing needs.

        High School Occupational Therapy Activities

        • Keep goals focused on attainable goals.  There will be a limited time left for pediatric therapy, and goal completion
        • Communicate with caregivers to determine what goals are relevant.  There is little point in working on laundry if the parent states the learner will NEVER do their laundry.  Ask the caregivers what is most important to them
        • Talk with caregivers about plans post graduation.  Many families do not think far ahead and are taken aback when confronted with questions and information. Many agencies have waiting lists that are years long, therefore families need to start planning early
        • Gear goals toward whatever life program the learner will be transitioning into.  These might be vocational, career oriented, or life skills programs

        If you find yourself using a direct therapy model with students, you will need some motivating ideas for them.

        • Work on self regulation and emotional regulation
        • Address executive function skills such as working memory, organization, impulse control, and attention
        • Task boxes – these can teach job readiness skills
        • Simulate job applications
        • Banking tasks including using a debit card
        • Researching their own transition plan
        • Developing their own goals toward transition
        • Alternative methods of self identification
        • Begin and adjust job readiness skills
        • Find resources for students and their caregivers for their transition plan
        • Navigating the cafeteria, opening containers, and paying for lunch
        • Calendar skills to manage their time
        • Social skills to address any difficulties in the classroom

        As a school based therapist, know your role and don’t be afraid to express it.  Take the time to educate others, so you are able to spend your valuable time helping as many learners as possible, in the most effective ways. It is easy to get railroaded by an anxious parent or an advocate, but in the end you are doing what is legally required and most effective for their student.  

        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.

        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.