Pinwheel Painting is Sensory Painting

pinwheel painting

This pinwheel painting is a sensory painting art activity is one that we actually did YEARS ago.  It was such a fun messy, creative art activity and a fun one to add to your summer painting ideas, and I wanted to be sure to show you all!  My kids still talk about painting with pinwheels, so we’ll be doing this one again soon, especially now that the weather has warmed and we can get back outside for sensory play with the kids!

Pinwheel Painting

Pinwheel painting is a creative art painting experience with kids!  This is a cute art project for a letter "P" preschool theme and a great sensory painting activity for summer.

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Kids love this painting with pinwheels messy art activity for sensory painting fun.

Painting with pinwheels is such a simple and fun outdoor painting activity for summer.  Or, if you’re looking for a “letter P” theme for preschoolers, painting with pinwheels would be perfect!

You can definitely take this painting activity indoors, with paper spread over the table surface.

To paint with pinwheels, there is just steps to set up this sensory painting activity:

  1. Set the stage- Find a space to work in the grass or on a table which can be wiped down. This is a messy sensory painting activity! Consider using a wipeable plastic table cloth.
  2. Pour a little washable paint into bowls. (Click here for our favorite paint for it’s bright colors that don’t fade as they dry.)
  3. Prepare your paper or canvas. We used a giant roll of paper for big art.
  4. Dip the pin the pinwheels into the paint.
  5. Roll, blow, spin, and tap the pinwheels onto the paper with color mixing. This is such a fun and creative painting activity!  

Sensory Painting Activity

The paint coated pinwheels make the paint spray, especially as kids start getting more into the activity and discover that blowing the pinwheels makes paint spray in super artistic ways!    

Pinwheel painting is a great activity to add to a summer of sensory play!

There are many sensory benefits to this Sensory painting activity:

Oral motor benefits- When children blow out through their mouth with concentrated effort, they are gaining proprioceptive input through their mouth. This is a calming and regulating sensory input that can help to organize and calm down. Read here about the development of oral motor skills. And, check out these oral motor activities for summer play.

Visual Convergence benefits- When we visually track an object as it nears our eyes (such as a pinwheel), and then track it as it moves away from the eyes, visual convergence is occurring. This visual processing skill is needed for functional tasks that we do throughout the day. Here is more information on convergence insufficiency and here are more activities to promote visual convergence skills.

Painting with Pinwheels Art activity for sensory painting.

 Let us know if you do this Pinwheel Painting art with your kids or your class.   More creative sensory painting techniques you may enjoy: 

Working on building skills this summer? The Summer OT Bundle is for you!

Summer occupational therapy activities bundle

Work on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, scissor skills, and much more so that kids can accomplish self-care tasks, learn, and grow through play all summer long.

This bundle is perfect for the pediatric occupational therapist who needs resources and tools to use in summer therapy sessions, home programs, or extended school year therapy plans.

This bundle is perfect for parents, grandparents, and caregivers looking to provide developmental fine motor activities designed to help kids build skills.

  • Send kids back to school in the Fall without worrying about the “Summer Slide”.
  • Use these materials to work on areas like hand strength, fine motor development, scissor skills, handwriting, pencil control, pencil grasp, sensory play experiences, and much more. Just pull out the pages or activities you need for your child, and develop skills through play!

The Summer OT Bundle includes 19 resources that you can print and use over and over again:

Helping children develop and achieve functional skills this summer was never so easy (or fun!)

Be sure to grab the Summer OT Bundle, a HUGE resource of therapy tools and activities for all things building skills this summer.

Grab the Summer OT Bundle here.

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

Summer Occupational Therapy Activities

Summer occupational therapy activities

Working on building skills this summer? The Summer OT Bundle is for you!

Summer occupational therapy activities bundle

Work on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, scissor skills, and much more so that kids can accomplish self-care tasks, learn, and grow through play all summer long.

This bundle is perfect for the pediatric occupational therapist who needs resources and tools to use in summer therapy sessions, home programs, or extended school year therapy plans.

This bundle is perfect for parents, grandparents, and caregivers looking to provide developmental fine motor activities designed to help kids build skills.

  • Send kids back to school in the Fall without worrying about the “Summer Slide”.
  • Use these materials to work on areas like hand strength, fine motor development, scissor skills, handwriting, pencil control, pencil grasp, sensory play experiences, and much more. Just pull out the pages or activities you need for your child, and develop skills through play!

The Summer OT Bundle includes 19 resources that you can print and use over and over again:

Helping children develop and achieve functional skills this summer was never so easy (or fun!)

Be sure to grab the Summer OT Bundle, a HUGE resource of therapy tools and activities for all things building skills this summer.

Grab the Summer OT Bundle here.

Looking for summer occupational therapy activities or ideas to use in home programs for the summer? This year’s summer OT activities may look a little different than previous years. In years past, therapists may have been gearing up for an end of another school year and a break from in-person OT sessions. What hasn’t changed about the end of a school year is the carefree days of summer that are ahead. As an OT, I love the feeling of the start of summer. There is just something about back-to-the-basics play of summer. Running around the backyard, hopping on bikes, sidewalk chalk, sprinklers and water play…summer play is a goldmine of motor and sensory activities that can boost those underlying skills kids NEED.

Because of this, I wanted to put together a resource on summer occupational therapy activities that can be implemented today. These are strategies to use for your own child to boost development and challenge skills. These are ideas to use in teletherapy or in home programs. These are play ideas that help kids with the balance of screens and active play. Use the summer resources for parents, teachers, and therapists to develop underlying skills in very fun ways! These are AWESOME summer occupational therapy activities!

Check the summer activities for kids of all ages listed below!

In the bundle, there is the Summer Occupational Therapy Activities Packet. It’s a collection of 14 items that guide summer programming at home, at school, and in therapy sessions. The summer activities bundle covers handwriting, visual perceptual skills and visual motor skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, regulation, and more.

You’ll find ideas to use in virtual therapy sessions and to send home as home activities that build skills and power development with a fun, summer theme. Kids will love the Summer Spot It! game, the puzzles, handouts, and movement activities. Therapists will love the teletherapy slide deck and the easy, ready-to-go activities to slot into OT sessions. The packet is only $10.00 and can be used over and over again for every student/client!

Grab the Spring Occupational Therapy Activities Packet HERE.

NEW RESOURCE: The Summer Fine Motor Kit– This 90 page packet it specifically designed to build the motor skills kids have been limited in over the past year or so: handwriting, cutting with scissors, small motor manipulation, arch development and hand endurance, strength, pinch, and coloring. The Summer Fine Motor Kit includes different tools and materials than our other fine motor kits, but has some of the most-requested favorites in fun summer themes:

  • Summer Play Dough/Handwriting Mats (3 writing paper styles: single rule, double rule, and highlighted lines)
  • Lacing cards
  • Color and cut sensory bin cards
  • Sea Creature, Summer Play, & Summer Treats Silly Paths (great for pencil control and eye-hand coordination)
  • Tracing mazes/ Fine motor mazes
  • Symmetry drawing page
  • Fine Motor Flip Pages (flip a coin or small object and place them along a path)
  • Glue skills pages
  • Prewriting shapes sheets
  • Toothpick art activities
  • Pencil control worksheets/Fine motor placement paths
  • Scissor skills activities (simple and complex shapes)
  • Sensory bin cards

NEW RESOURCE: The Summer OT Bundle– Want to cover all your bases this summer? This bundle has everything you need for therapy planning, home programs, summer camps, Grandma’s house, or extended school year programs so you can just print and go. The bundle is $20 and includes:

Let’s help kids struggling from a year of mega-screen overload meet the goals they need to thrive. Plus…take more time for you this summer by using done-for-you resources!

Occupational therapists can use these summer occupational therapy activities when planning OT home programs for for summer programs.

Summer Occupational Therapy Activities 

In many areas, schools are winding down for the year. You may have a few weeks or a few days left. The daily countdown of number of remaining school days is dwindling.

You might be wondering how to balance work-from home and making summer days count.

You might be wondering how to keep the kids busy this summer without breaking the bank.

You might be a clinician thinking about summer programming and need a few fresh ideas.

You might be thinking about summer plans and ways to encourage development in fun ways the whole family can enjoy.

You might be a therapist putting together summer home programs.

You might be a teacher who is READY for the final bell to ring this school year 🙂

I wanted to put together a list of resources for summer activities that can boost the skills kids need. The “summer slide” can happen in handwriting and other school-based therapy goal areas, too!

Summer Occupational Therapy Activity Resources

~ Do some or all of the activities listed here in this Sensory Summer Camp at Home plan. All of the activities and ideas are free and use items you probably already have.

~ Sneak in handwriting practice while traveling with these motivating and authentic ideas. HERE are a few MORE natural writing experiences for summer that keep those pencils moving.

~ Try some of the activities in this Summer Activity Guide designed to encourage play and creativity in activities for the whole family.

~ Practice the motor planning and fine motor skills needed for handwriting and with a sensory twist using the ideas outlined in this Sensory Handwriting Backyard Summer Camp.

~ Try these Backyard Vestibular Activities for Summer to encourage movement and sensory experiences right in the backyard.

~ Print off this June Occupational Therapy Calendar for ideas to last the whole month. (It’s from a couple of years back so the dates are off, but the activities still work!)

~ These no-prep, basically free summer activities won’t break the bank and boost the underlying skills kids NEED, in fun ways.

~ Use sidewalk chalk to boost fine motor skills.  

~Make a summer time capsule with the whole family and create memories that can be looked back on years from now.   

~Create a summer kick-off bucket filled with toys and items for months of sensory play.     

~The kids will love these frozen fruit kabob snacks. It’s a great alerting sensory snack that doubles as a healthy summer treat.

The ideas listed above should help you create therapy home programs, and keep the kids loaded up on creative, open-ended, and movement-based PLAY that their little bodies NEED!

Use these summer occupational therapy activities when planning sensory activities, fine motor, and gross motor developmental ideas for kids.

Want to take summer play to the next level? Be sure to grab your copy of the Summer OT Activities Bundle!

Summer activities for kids

St. Patrick’s Day Theme

St. Patrick's Day activities

Looking to work on skills in therapy sessions that use a St. Patrick’s day theme? Here, you’ll find four leaf clover activities, rainbow activities, St. Patrick’s Day crafts, snacks, and more. Use these ideas to foster child development of functional skills using a fun theme.

 
How is it March already?? We’ve got lion-like weather yet again around here, but spring, rainbows, and lamb-weather are on the horizon, Yay for warmer weather! These St. Patrick’s Day theme activities and ideas are great for planning therapy sessions based on four leaf clovers, shamrocks, leprechauns, and pot of gold fun. It’s time to get in a spring-like mood and a fun little themed play date or preschool party sounds like just the thing  Check out the ideas below for green-themed party ideas for the kids.

 

Use a St. Patrick's day theme in planning therapy activities with kids.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Theme in therapy 

Having a weekly theme in your therapy sessions makes planning much easier. Each St Patricks Day activity can be adjusted to meet different levels and functional goal area depending on the kids that therapists are serving.

Check out all of the St. Patrick’s Day theme activities below. You’ll find resources for teletherapy, fine motor, gross motor, crafts, and more. If St. Patrick’s Day ideas for kindergarten, preschool, or specific age groups are what you’re looking for, you are in luck. 

St. Patrick’s Day theme therapy slide decks

Try these St. Patrick’s Day therapy activities in the format of a free Google slide deck. Therapists can go through the slides with the clients on their caseload and foster development of goal areas.

St. Patrick’s Day Write and Sign slide deck– Work on handwriting with these writing prompt activities. Then use ASL to sign the words, building fine motor dexterity, coordination, finger isolation, and motor planning.

Shamrock Visual Perception slide deck– This slide deck includes 7 different visual perception activities. Kids can move the pieces on the slide decks to work on areas such as visual discrimination, visual attention, visual scanning, and much more.

Four Leaf Clover Balance Exercises– Go through the slides and follow the exercises as kids are challenged to balance a pillow or beanbag in different ways (a stuffed animal or roll of socks works too!). Encourage coordination, motor planning, core strength, proprioceptive input, and more.

Rainbow Gross Motor/ Pre-Writing Lines slide deck– Kids can “air write” and copy pre-writing rainbow lines.

Rainbow Emotions Spot It Game slide deck– Work on social emotional skills and visual discrimination and other visual perceptual skills with a matching game.

Rainbow Visual Motor Activities slide deck– Working on handwriting, but the underlying issue of copying forms and visual motor integration is an issue? Kids can copy simple-to-complex rainbow forms and work on pencil control, eye-hand coordination, and more.

St. Patrick’s Day Fine Motor Activities 

Use these St. Patrick’s day theme ideas in working on fine motor skills with kids. Amazon links included below.

6 Fine Motor Activities Using Gold Coins– This printable handout on 6 fine motor activities using coins strengthens those fine motor skills using just a handful of coins. We used plastic gold coins in our activity, but you could use pennies as well.

Shamrock Balance Beam– Cut out shamrocks from paper and use them to make a balance beam to incorporate core strength, coordination, vestibular input, and more.

Finger Isolation Clover Fingerprints Got paint? Use it to make fun fingerprint 4 leaf clovers and work on finger isolation, separation of the sides of the hand, eye-hand coordination, and more. This would be fun with homemade puffy paints, too (just need flour & water).

Bilateral Coordination Clover Activity– Stick a piece of paper to the wall and draw symmetrical clovers to work on bilateral coordination, visual tracking, visual motor integration, and more.

Four Leaf Clover Deep Breathing Exercise & Coloring Page– Take mindful coloring to the next level with this deep breathing exercise. Kids can color and then use the printout as a deep breathing exercise over and over again.

 

More St. Patrick’s day Ideas

St. Patrick’s Day Party Snacks for Kids

Every play date needs some snacks.  3 Boys and a Dog has six St. Patrick’s Day treats that are fun and festive. To really build fine motor skills and executive functioning in kids, have them make these healthy rainbow snacks. There is a lot of skill-building to happen in the kitchen.

St. Patrick’s Day Songs for Kids

Get the party started with some Leprechaun Songs for St. Patrick’s Day from Let’s Play Music.  Wouldn’t these be fun songs to sit the kids in a circle for a preschool sing-a-long?

St. Patrick’s Day Printable Pages for Kids

Set up a little table with some print outs to keep the kids busy and having fun with friends.  These St. Patrick’s Day Coloring Pages from 3 Boys and a Dog would be perfect!  Scatter a box of crayons and a pile of printable sheets on a little picnic table are all you need.

Cutting strips of paper or foam craft sheets are great fine motor work for beginner scissor users. If you are looking for St. Patrick’s Day activities for kindergarten and preschool ages, have kids cut strips of colorful paper like we did in this rainbow window activity.

St. Patrick’s Day Games and Activities for Kids

Kids will love a few St. Patrick’s Day games and activities.  Try this Clover Tic Tac Toe game from The Mamade Diaries. 

If sensory play is your thing, this green rice sensory bin from Little Bins for Little Hands looks like so much fun…throw a sheet down on the floor (or a baby pool set up indoors would work, too!) and let the kids in on the sensory fun with 3 Rainbow Sensory Bins!


 

 

 
Colors Handwriting Kit

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

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

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

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

Valentine’s Day Occupational Therapy Activities

Here, you’ll find Valentine’s Day Occupational Therapy Activities that you can use this time of year to help kids develop skills. This is the time of year that red and pink hearts are everywhere, so why not use the theme of love and friendship in therapy interventions? Add these heart crafts, and love ideas to your therapy toolbox to work on things like fine motor skills, regulation, scissor skills, and more, all with a Valentine’s Day theme!

Use these valentine's day occupational therapy activities in therapy planning, classroom activites, and to work on skills like handwriting, fine motor skills, scissor skills and other developmental areas.

Valentine’s Day Occupational Therapy Activities

There are so many love and heart themed activities here on The OT Toolbox. Over the years, we’ve done a lot of fun activities that double as a skill building strategy. Check out these ideas and pick a few to add to your therapy line up and plans over the next few weeks. Some of these hear crafts and sensory ideas or games would make great additions to a Valentine’s Day party that builds skills, too!

If you are needing occupational therapy teletherapy resources, check out these ideas:

Valentine’s Day Gross Motor Slide Deck

Valentine’s Day Match-Up and Handwriting Slide Deck

Valentine’s Day Sensory Activities

From sensory bottles, to discovery activities, to heart painting and more, these sensory play activities can be a fun way to help kids develop skills through the senses.

Valentines day sensory bottle for self regulation and sensory processing or visual processing

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bottle– Use this sensory bottle activity as a way to build fine motor skills while kids help to create the sensory bottle and add materials. Then use it in self-regulation, sensory processing needs as a calm down bottle. Sensory bottles are fantastic to work on visual processing skills like visual discrimination, figure-ground, and other visual perceptual skills.

Olive You Thumbprint CraftFingerprint art is a great way to work on finger isolation, an essential fine motor skill that kids need to manipulate items and improve pencil grasp. Here is more information on how fingerprint art improves fine motor skills. Add this artwork to a card or Valentine’s Day craft for fine motor fun.

Valentines Day play dough to build fine motor skills

Valentine’s Day Play Dough Activity Use a recycled chocolates box in a play dough activity that builds skills like strengthening of the intrinsic muscles and arches of the hands. This is a fun Valentine’s Day activity that can be used in classroom parties or in the therapy room to build skills.

Bilateral coordination activity for valentines day

Bilateral Coordination Heart Sensory Tray Use sand, rice, or other sensory bin material to create a bilateral coordination and visual motor activity for kids. They can work on eye-hand coordination, motor planning, and other skills. The point of the activity is to establish direction and orientation relative to the child’s body.  The movement activity addresses hand-eye coordination in different visual fields, promotes spatial awareness and visual discrimination, addresses left and right awareness, improves peripheral vision, promotes body awareness and coordination with specialization of the hands and eyes, and works on gross motor movement skills.

Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Activities

Try these Valentine’s Day fine motor activities in your occupational therapy interventions or home programs. The activities here are fun ways to help kids develop hand strength, dexterity, precision, grasp development, and motor control.

Be sure to check out the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit. In the 25 activity printable kit, you’ll fine hands-on activities to build fine motor skills. Activities include coloring and cutting cards, pencil control sheets, heart crafts, Valentine’s Day write the room activities, hole punching exercises, and so much more. Grab the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit here.

Visual perception activity and heart maze for valentines day

DIY Heart Maze- Look out visual motor skills…this heart maze is one you can make and print off for your whole caseload. Adjust the use according to your kiddos. Children can place objects like paper hearts, mini erasers, etc. on the hearts in the maze to double down on fine motor work, or color in the hearts to work on pencil control. This maze is a visual processing powerhouse. Find more information on visual processing here.

Fine motor heart activity

Teeny Tiny Sprinkle Heart Activity– This is a fine motor activity that builds precision and dexterity in the hands. It’s a fine motor workout kids can use to build hand strength and endurance for fine motor tasks. Use it in math centers to work on one-to-one correspondence and counting or sorting.

Heart fine motor and eye hand coordination activity

Heart Eye-Hand Coordination Activity– Work on eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills tongs and heart s cut from cardboard. If you are like me, you have a ton of delivery boxes coming to the house. Use those boxes in a fine motor skills building activity. Write numbers or letters on the hearts to make it a sorting, math, or spelling activity.

heart keychain made with salt dough

Salt Dough Keychain– This is a fun heart craft that goes along with the children’s book, “The Kissing Hand”. Use it to help kids work on fine motor skills, and hand strengthening. This keychain craft makes a great Valentine’s Day gift idea too!

Valentines Day crafts

One Zillion Valentines Book and Craft– Pairing a book with therapy or when working on skills with kids is a fun way to open up conversation, problem solving, and strategizing to create a project or activity based on the book. This Valentine’s Day book for kids is just that. One Zillion Valentines is one children’s book that pairs nicely with a fine motor craft for kids.   Kids can work on fine motor skills, motor lanning, direction following, and executive functioning skills while folding and making paper airplanes, and the cotton clouds in this fun craft idea.

Valentines day handprint art

I Love Ewe Handprint Craft– Use a handprint art activity as a tactile sensory experience. Pair scissor skills, pencil control, direction following, and copying skills to work on various areas needed for handwriting and school tasks. Pls, this makes a great Valentine’s Day craft or addition to a card!

Valentines Day activities to build skills for kids
valentines day color sorting fine motor activity

Valentines Day Color Sorting Fine Motor Activity– Grab a couple of cookie cutters and some beads. This is a fine motor activity that kids can use to build skills like in-hand manipulation, separation of the sides of the hand, finger isolation, open thumb webspace, and more.

love bugs valentines day crafts

Love Bugs Crafts– Work on fine motor skills, scissor skills, direction-following, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, and more with these cute bug crafts for kids.

valentines day sensory bin

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin– There are so many benefits to using a sensory bin in building fine motor skills. Pour, scoop, and stir with the hands for a tactile sensory experience. Using a sensory bin can be a great way to work on visual perceptual skills like figure-ground, visual discrimination, and other essential visual processing areas. Find and ovate objects or add a learning component by writing sight words or math problems on hearts. This is an open-ended activity that can be used in so many ways.

valentines day books

I Love You Books for Kids– These Valentine’s Day books for kids are a fun way to combine books with crafts or love themed activities. Use them to work on copying words or sentences for handwriting practice. The options are limitless. What love and heart themed books would you add to this list?

Valentines day activities to build fine motor skills
heart play dough

Valentine’s Day Crayon Play Dough– Use play dough to work on so many areas: hand strength, arch development, separation of the sides of the hand, endurance, eye-hand coordination…But have you ever had trouble getting a a really vivid red play dough when using food coloring? The answer to the red play dough problem is using vivid crayons! Here is our crayon play dough recipe that gives you the brightest colors, perfect for using in Valentine’s Day play dough activities!

heart craft to work on fine motor skills like scissor skills

Heart Bookmark Craft– This is such a fun and easy Valentine’s Day craft to use when working on scissor skills with kids. The strait lines of the bookmark and curved lines of the heart make it a great activity for kids just working on the basics of scissor skills.

Valentines day craft for kids

Heart Butterfly Craft- Work on scissor skills, handwriting, and fine motor skills to make this fun card. The directions to make this Valentine’s Day craft are over here on a guest post we did for Hands On as We Grow. Use this fun craft with a group. It’s a great Valentine’s Day party idea!

Valentines Day craft for kids to work on fine motor skills and scissor skills

Valentine’s Day Tea Craft– This Valentine’s Day craft is a fun way to work on scissor skills, handwriting, and fine motor skills. Kids can make this craft as a gift for friends or parents and work on skill development, too.

More Valentines’ Day Activities

Try some of these other ideas:

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin with Fine Motor Paper

Valentine’s Day Snacks for Kids

Valentine’s Day Goop Painting

Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Sparkle Craft

Crunchy (Sensory Diet!) Heart Tortilla Snack

Teach Buttoning with Heart Buttons

So, what are your favorite ways to work on skills with a holiday theme? Try some of these heart activities at Valentine’s Day parties, at home when making cards for loved ones, or in therapy planning! Have fun!

Want to add more Valentine’s Day activities and movement tools to your skill-building?

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

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

Valentines Day fine motor kit

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

Tactile Defensiveness

Tactile defensiveness and what you need to know about tactile sensitivities

Today, I have an update on a very old blog post for a specific reason. This fake snow messy sensory play activity is a valuable tool in addressing tactile defensiveness, or tactile sensitivity. In general descriptions, this simply means an over-sensitivity to touch, or over-responsiveness to touch sensations. For kids with sensory issues, this can be a very big deal. Tactile defensiveness can mean poor tolerance to certain clothing, textures, food sensitivities, closeness of others, wearing socks or the feel of seams or clothing. Sensitivity to these touch sensations can look like many different things! Today we are discussing all about tactile sensitivity, what that looks like in children, and a sensory challenge that can be used for tactile sensitivity.

If you are looking for more information on sensory processing, start here with our free sensory processing information booklet.

tactile sensitivity sensory challenge with fake snow

What is Tactile Defensiveness

I briefly explained the meaning of tactile defensiveness above, but let’s break this down further.

The tactile system is one of our 8 sensory systems: touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing, proprioception, vestibular, and interoception. The sense of touch is a very big piece of the whole picture.

The Tactile Sensory System is one of the earliest developed
senses of the body, with studies telling us this sensory system begins to develop at around 8 weeks in utero. The sense of touch completes its development at around 30 weeks in utero when pain, temperature, and pressure sensations are developed.

Types of touch

The skin performs unique duties for the body, based on different types of touch input, and tactile sensitivity can be considered to occur in the various aspects of touch. These types of touch include: light touch, pressure, discrimitive touch, pain, temperature.

Most importantly for our ancient ancestors, especially, the skin protects and alerts us to danger and discriminates sensation with regard to location and identification. This is important because touch sensations alerts us to both discrimination and danger. These two levels of sensation work together yet are distinctively important. And furthermore, the skin is the largest and the most prevalent organ.


Touch discrimination- Discrimination of touch allows us to sense where on our body and what is touching us. With discrimination, we are able to
discern a fly that lands on our arm. We are able to sense and use our fingertips in fine motor tasks. We are able to touch and discern temperatures, vibrations, mount of pressure, and textures and shapes of objects.

Danger perception– The second level of the tactile system alerts us to danger. It allows us to jump in response to the “fight or flight” response
when we perceive a spider crawling on our arm. With this aspect of touch, we are able to discern temperature to ensure skin isn’t too hot or cold. We can quickly identify this temperature or sharpness of an object and quickly move away to avoid burning, freezing, or sharp objects.

When either of these levels of sensation are disrupted, tactile
dysfunction can result. This presents in many ways, including
hypersensitivity to tags in clothing, a dislike of messy play,
difficulty with fine motor tasks, a fear of being touched by
someone without seeing that touch, a high tolerance of pain, or a
need to touch everything and everyone.

Sensitivity to touch can mean over responding to touch input in the form of textures, temperatures, or pressure. Touch sensitivities mean that the body perceives input as “too much” in a dangerous way. The touch receptors that perceive input are prioritized because the brain believes we are in danger. The body moves into a state of defensiveness, or safe-mode in order to stay safe from this perceived danger. This is tactile defensiveness.

What does Tactile Defensiveness looks like?

Hyper-responsiveness of the tactile sense may include a variety of things:

  • Overly sensitivity to temperature including air, food, water, or
  • objects
  • Withdrawing when touched
  • Avoids certain food clothing textures or fabrics
  • Dislikes wearing pants or restrictive clothing around the legs
  • Refusing certain food textures
  • Dislike of having face or hair washed
  • Dislikes hair cuts
  • Dislikes having fingernails cut
  • Dislike seams in clothing
  • Excessively ticklish
  • Avoidance to messy play or getting one’s hands dirty
  • Avoidance of finger painting, dirt, sand, bare feet on grass, etc.
  • Avoids touching certain textures
  • Clothing preferences and avoidances such as resisting shoes
  • Resistance to nail clipping, face washing
  • Resists haircuts, hair brushing
  • Dislikes or resists teeth brushing
  • Overreacts to accidental or surprising light touches from
  • others
  • Avoids affectionate touch such as hugs
  • Dislikes closeness of other people

As a result of this avoidance, development in certain areas can be delayed, in a way that functional performance of daily tasks is impacted. What you see in as a result of a poorly integrated tactile sensory system:

  • Delayed fine motor skills
  • Rigid clothing preferences
  • Behavioral responses to tasks such as putting on shoes or coat
  • Impaired personal boundaries
  • Avoids tactile sensory activities
  • Poor body scheme
  • Difficulty with praxis
  • Poor hand skill development

More information on sensory processing of each of the sensory systems and how that impacts daily life can be found in The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook. You’ll also find practical strategies for integrating sensory diets into each part of every day life, in motivating and meaningful ways. Check out The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook for moving from sensory dysfunction to sensory function!

How to help with tactile sensitivity

There are ways to help address these areas, so that the child is safe and can function and perform tasks in their daily life. While addressing tactile sensitivities doesn’t mean changing the child’s preferences, it can mean understanding what is going on, what the child does and does not prefer in the way of sensory processing, and it can mean providing tools and resources to help the child.

This should involve an occupational therapist who can take a look at sensory processing and integration and make specific recommendations.

Some strategies that can impact tactile sensitivity include:

  • Understanding the child’s sensory systems, and integration in the daily life of the child. Grab the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook to read more on sensory diets that are meaningful and motivating. These are sensory activities that can be integrated right into tasks like baths, tooth brushing, hair brushing, dentist visits, clothing changes, etc.
  • Take a look at clothing sensitivity red flags for areas of sensitivity to clothing that stand out for the individual child.
  • Read more on proprioception and the connection of heavy work input as a calming and regulatory tool for sensitivities.
  • Work on touch discrimination with activities at the level of the child.
  • Provide verbal input to warn the child prior to light touch
  • Provide visual cues and schedules for tasks that must be completed such as tooth brushing or hair brushing.
  • Trial tactile experiences at a graded level, introducing various sensory experiences in a “safe space” at a just right level for the child.

Tactile Defensiveness Sensory Activity

That’s where this messy sensory play activity comes in. By taking out the “messy” part of this sensory experience, children who dislike messy play or touching certain textures can explore the sensory activity and challenge tactile exposure. In this way, they are experiencing a new and novel texture (temperature and squishy, messy experiences), but at a safe level, or “just right” level for them.

This snow sensory play activity has the opportunity for tactile challenges, but it uses a plastic bag to contain the actual mess, allowing for a mess-free sensory experience, at different grades of texture exposure.

Fake snow for sensory play

Fake Snow Recipe

We made fake snow one recent weekend, when we had a big cousin sleep over.  There were six kids aged five and under staying overnight at our house.  I had this activity planned for us to do together, (because I procrastinated ) and had to get it together to take to a Winter Festival at our church the next day.  It was a fun messy play idea for indoor snow.

We’ve made this fake snow before and I have the recipe listed on our Messy Play Day post.  

This fake snow is easy, because it includes only 2 ingredients:

  • Toilet paper
  • Ivory soap

With these two ingredients, there are many opportunities for tactile sensitivity challenges, and each child can experience sensory exploration at a level that suits their preferences. Some children may enjoy experiencing the dry texture of the toilet paper. (See the kids below…they sure enjoyed this texture.)

Other children may prefer (or avoid) the tactile experience of touching and manipulating the squishy, warm soap texture.

Others may tolerate mixing the two textures together.

Still others, may prefer none of these textures. In this case, move to the last level of this tactile experience, which is placing the fake snow into the plastic baggie. Then, they can squeeze and touch the sensory fake snow with a barrier in place. they will still experience the warm temperature and firm, heavy work of squeezing through their hands, but they will experience this sensory input in a “safe” level with that plastic bag barrier.

Fake Snow Dry sensory Bin

Step 1: Tear the toilet paper into shreds. Keep this in a bin or large container. We used an under-the bed storage bin because I was making a large quantity of fake snow for our Winter Festival.

We shredded the toilet paper and the kids had a BLAST! It started out so neat and kind.  Tearing the toilet paper is a fantastic fine motor activity for those hands, too. It offers heavy work input through the hands which can have a regulating, calming impact on the joints of the hands. This can be a nice “warm up” exercise for the tactile challenge of exploring and manipulating the dry toilet paper texture.

For kids with tactile sensitivities, this might be “too much” for them to handle. Try using tongs and ask them to explore the toilet paper shredding sensory bin to find hidden items. Some of the paper cards and winter words in our Winter Fine Motor Kit are great additions to this sensory bin.

How to make fake snow using toilet paper for a fun sensory challenge to the hands.
Kids can make fake snow for a tactile sensory experience.

 And then turned in to this.  

Use toilet paper in a dry sensory bin for tactile sensitivity and fine motor strengthening.

  And this.  

Slightly off-course in our sensory bin, but of course it did.   Why wouldn’t it when you have 6 cousins together?  ((Ok, that part of this post was NOT mess-free…the end result is mess-free. I promise.)) So, then we popped the Ivory soap into the microwave…

Fake Snow Wet Sensory Experience

Step 2 in the tactile sensory experience is the wet fake snow portion. Following the fake snow recipe, we popped a bar of ivory soap into the microwave and ended up with a cloud of sensory material.

Ivory soap in the microwave for a tactile defensiveness sensory challenge and to use in making fake snow.

Children can touch and explore this sensory material for a warm, sensory experience.

Step 3 in the tactile challenge is mixing the dry material with the wet material. This can definitely be a challenge for those with tactile defensiveness or touch sensitivities.

If it is too much of a sensory challenge, invite the child to mix with a large spoon or to touch with a finger tip.

Other children may enjoy this part of making fake snow. The melted soap can be mixed with the toilet paper…to make fake snow!    

How to make fake snow with ivory soap and toilet paper

 

Fake Snow Sensory Play for Tactile Sensitivities

THIS is the mess-free part that many children with tactile defensiveness may enjoy. 🙂

Simply place some of the fake snow material into a zip top plastic bag. You can tape the top shut to keep the material in the bag.

By manipulating the fake snow in a safe sensory manner, kids get exposure to a calming warm temperature. This is one low-level challenge to the tactile system. The warm temperature is a calming, regulating aspect that can be powerful in self-regulation.

Children can also squeeze, manipulate, pound, and spread the fake snow within the plastic baggie. This offers heavy work input through the hands and upper body in a way that is calming and regulating.

By placing the fake snow into a bag for sensory play, kids are exposed to tactile experinces in a way that may help with tactile discrimination by incorporating the proprioceptive sense.

Challenge motor skills further by adding items such as foam snowflake stickers, glass gems, and glitter.  This was so much fun for my crew of kids and nieces/nephews and I hope it’s a tactile experience you get to play with as well!

Make fake snow for a mess free sensory experience that kids with tactile defensiveness will enjoy
Fine motor sensory experience with fake snow.

 

Products mentioned in this post:

The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook

The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is your strategy guide for turning sensory diets and sensory activities into a sensory lifestyle.

A Sensory Diet Strategy Guide The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is a strategy guide for sensory processing needs. With valuable insight to the sensory system and the whole child, the book details how sensory diets can be incorporated into a lifestyle of sensory success. The thoughtful tools in this book provide intervention strategies to support and challenge the sensory systems through meaningful and authentic sensory diet tactics based on the environment, interests, and sensory needs of each individual child.

winter fine motor kit

The Winter Fine Motor Kit Done-for-you fine motor plans to help kids form stronger hands.

This print-and-go winter fine motor kit includes no-prep fine motor activities to help kids develop functional grasp, dexterity, strength, and endurance. This 100 page no-prep packet includes everything you need to guide fine motor skills in face-to-face AND virtual learning. Includes winter themed activities for hand strength, pinch and grip, dexterity, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, endurance, finger isolation, and more. 

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

Bear Brain Breaks

bear brain breaks

These bear brain breaks are perfect for winter time movement, or using in a bear theme in school or in therapy. Sometimes, brain breaks are the perfect tool to can help with movement or sensory needs in the classroom.  We used a favorite childhood book to come up with bear themed brain breaks that can be used alongside the book in a movement and learning activity or in a bear-themed classroom activities.  Not long ago, we shared more brain break ideas that you might like to add to your classroom.



bear brain breaks

Bear Brain Breaks

Looking for brain break videos for the classroom or home? Here are the best brain break videos on YouTube.
 
Bear brain breaks for movement and learning in the classroom setting with a bear theme

This post contains affiliate links.

Have you read the book, “Time for Sleep” by Denise Fleming? My kids loved to hear about all of the animals as they prepared for sleep over the winter.  We decided to try a few bear gross motor moves based on the book.

Bear Theme Brain Breaks

Stretches and whole-body movements that happen in a calm manner are a great way to prepare for sleep, so these activities went along nicely with the bear in the book as well as the getting ready for sleep theme.

If fidgeting, wiggling, or just a break from screens is needed, try these movement breaks to help. 

We created these themed brain breaks to go along with the book, Time to Sleep, but they are perfect for any day (or when paired with other bear books)!

If you are looking for resources for sleep or bedtime stretches, we shared some based on another children’s book.

Time for Sleep by Denise Fleming and bear themed brain breaks for a bear activity.
 
This is such a fun book to read with kids.  It would go along perfectly with a bear theme in your classroom.  Try adding some gross motor movement activities based on the book.
 
Kids can then use the bear themed brain breaks throughout their day when it seems the classroom or individual students need a movement break. 
 
                                        
 
Below, you can enter your email to access the free brain break printable that would go along perfectly for teaching the classroom about these bear brain breaks.  They can be cut up and laminated for the children to pull out of a cup.  Or, add them to a key ring for bear themed movement activities.
  
 
Using these bear brain breaks, kids can stretch, roll, reach, climb, and crawl like a bear.  There are eight bear themed movement activities included that allow kids to move with a bear theme.  
 
Read the book Time for Sleep and try the movement activities!
 
Bear brain break ideas for kids
 

Bear Activities

Looking for more bear themed activities?  Try these hands-on ways to play with a bear theme based on bear books like “Time for Sleep”.

Polar Bear Gross Motor Ideas

Bear Craft

Fun and Therapeutic Polar bear Activities

Polar Bear Therapy Slide Deck– Free! Perfect for virtual therapy sessions

Polar Bear Self-Regulation Deep Breathing Activity

Bear Says Thanks Fine Motor Activity

Bear Oral Motor Exercise

LiTERACY BEAR THEMED ACTIVITIES

NUMERACY BEAR THEMED ACTIVITIES

BEAR THEMED RECIPES

BEAR CRAFTS AND IDEAS FOR PLAY

Get these free bear brain break activities

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    These brain breaks would be a great addition to our Winter Fine Motor Kit, loaded with winter theme and bear activities! It’s got all things fine motor in print-and-go activities. You’ll find lacing cards, modified handwriting sheets, pencil control strips, cutting activities, crafts, coloring exercises, and MUCH MORE!

    Get the Winter Fine Motor Kit HERE.

    winter fine motor kit

    The Many Benefits of Coloring with Crayons

    Fine motor skills with coloring

    There are many benefits of coloring with crayons in occupational therapy interventions. Coloring with crayons is a fine motor skill that builds other skills. Did you know that the act of coloring with a crayon can help children develop fine motor strength, dexterity, grasp, and endurance in their hands? And, coloring skills develop by more coloring. Here’s the thing: occupational therapists use crayons to help children develop fine motor skills, but they also work on the development of coloring skills as a functional task that is part of play, and typical child development. Let’s talk about all of the coloring skills that occupational therapy addresses with a simple box of crayons.

    Benefits of coloring in child development

    You know that smell, right? It’s kind of waxy and flaky (if that’s a smell…) and so distinctive! If you open a box of crayons that have the little marks of each crayon inside the cardboard box, it has an even stronger smell.  Crayons smell like childhood! This post on coloring skills is part of my 31 Days of Occupational Therapy series, where each day is a creative activity using OT treatment materials that are free or almost free.  

    Fine Motor Skills with Crayons

    Crayons are something that most homes have in a pencil box, in an old tin, or in a drawer somewhere.  Did you know those childhood memory sticks (aka Crayons) can be used in SO many skill areas?  

    Consider fine and gross motor strength, tool use, sensory processing, pencil grasp, line awareness, hand-eye coordination, dexterity, endurance, self-confidence, creativity, task completion, and learning objectives like color identification, and color matching.  Crayons develop the very skills needed for pencil grasp and carryover of that pencil grasp. Whew!  No wonder crayons get worn down to nubs with all of those areas that they are working on!  



    Coloring is a fine motor skill and it helps kids develop other areas.

    Benefits of Coloring for Children

    There are so many developmental benefits to coloring! It’s more than creating a colorful preschool work of art.

    Related Read: Read about how we worked on carryover of pencil grasp and strengthened fine motor skills and so many other areas with our 3 Crayon Challenge activity.

    There are so many benefits to coloring for kids: hand strength, visual motor skills, visual perception, tool use, creativity, endurance, creativity, self-confidence, task completion, and learning objectives!  Tips from an Occupational Therapist for working on coloring and handwriting in school and at home.

    Coloring with crayons Improves Tool Use


    Coloring with crayons improves a child’s ability to manipulate tools such as pencils, scissors, utensils, grooming and hygiene tools, and other functional tools with ease. By developing coloring skills, kids have a natural opportunity to explore a writing utensil in a way that is fun and creative.  

    They can use different colors by placing crayons back into the box with a coordinated manner.  To further develop tool use with children, offer a crayon pencil sharpener, a small bin or zippered pouch that needs opening or closing, and a variety of crayon sizes and shapes. All of these can extend fine motor skills with more practice in tool use as well as dexterity.

    Coloring with Crayons improves Bilateral Coordination

    Bilateral Coordination is a fine motor skill needed for so many tasks. Using both hands together in a coordinated manner is a skill needed for handwriting, scissor use, and many functional tasks.  When coloring, a child needs to hold the paper as they color.  Using the assisting, non-dominant hand as a stabilizer allows a child to build strength and dexterity in their dominant hand.  This skill will carry over to writing tasks, and makes coloring a great activity for kids who are switching hands in activities.

    Coloring with Crayons Improves Endurance


    Building on the fine motor skill areas, coloring can deepen a child’s endurance in completing writing tasks.  

    Many times, kids will complain of hand fatigue while coloring.  They can build muscle endurance by coloring with the small muscles of their hands and allow for greater endurance when writing, too. To help a child develop hand strength, use coloring!

    You can help kids improve hand strength with this simple coloring exercise: Instruct a child how to color in small circles to work on the strength and endurance of the intrinsic muscles.  Ask them to fill in the complete circle. To extend the activity, create more circles. This exercise can be extended further by working on a vertical surface such as an easel or by taping the page to a wall. This develops proximal stability at the shoulder girdle as well as core strength, allowing for postural stability in written work.

    If a child needs to work on this area, you can show the student how to color on a slanted surface like a slanted table surface or elevated surface. Here is an easy way to create a DIY slant board.

    Broken Crayons help with hand strength! 

    Fine motor skills with coloring

    Coloring develops Tripod Grasp


    Coloring is a fine motor strengthening tool that many Occupational Therapists recommend and use in treatment sessions.  Coloring is a resistive task that provides the small muscles in the hand to work the waxy crayon onto coloring sheets.  When a child holds a crayon, they are working on the strength of the intrinsic muscles of the hand.  

    Using broken crayons requires more work and is a greater strengthening task for kids who need to work on their tripod grasp. For more strengthening, encourage your child to color more resistive surfaces such as construction paper, cardboard, or even sand paper. 


    Coloring offers sensory input


    Coloring with a crayon can be an opportunity to add heavy work through the hands. This sensory feedback is proprioceptive input that “wakes up” the muscles of the hands and can be calming input.

    Unlike a marker, children can color lightly or very dark by exerting more pressure.  The proprioceptive system comes into play when a child attempts to vary the amount of pressure they are exerting through the crayon.

    Coloring with markers just doesn’t provide that resistive feedback that coloring with a waxy crayon does. Markers are smooth and don’t give kids the sensory input that help with learning letters.  For a fun twist on letter formation activities, grab a box of crayons!  

    To help kids write with heavier or lighter pencil pressure when writing, encourage children to shade and combine colors by being aware of how lightly or darkly they are coloring.  There is also that crayon scent that children are aware of, either consciously or unconsciously.  If you recall the scent of crayons from your childhood, then you know what I’m talking about here!

    Coloring Skills Develop Spatial Awareness


    Coloring skill development progresses as children gain experience in coloring. By developing coloring skills, kids can improve visual perceptual skills. Spatial awareness is an aspect of perceptual skills.

    Visual perception is so important to many functional skills in handwriting: awareness of the body’s position as it moves through space, line awareness, using margins on a page, and writing within a given space.  Coloring is a great tool in working on these areas as children color within lines and given spaces.  

    But sometimes, kids have trouble staying in the lines or coloring in areas without leaving large spaces uncolored.  Verbal prompts, highlighted lines, bold lines, thick coloring lines, and physical prompts like raised lines can improve spatial awareness in coloring.

    There are so many benefits to coloring for kids: hand strength, visual motor skills, visual perception, tool use, creativity, endurance, creativity, self-confidence, task completion, and learning objectives!  Tips from an Occupational Therapist for working on coloring and handwriting in school and at home.

    Coloring Skills and Eye Hand Coordination

    One reason that coloring in occupational therapy sessions is so well-used as an intervention strategy is the development of eye-hand coordination skills. There are benefits of coloring with crayons when it comes to coordinating vision and motor skills. When writing or coloring, children must coordinate their physical movements with information received from their visual system.  

    Controlled movements are essential for handwriting, letter formation, and neatness in handwriting.  Coloring helps with practicing coordination of the visual input with physical movements of the hands in very small spaces or large areas.

    Providing smaller areas of coloring require more controlled movements and dexterity.  For difficulties in this area, consider adding boundaries to coloring areas, with darkened and thicker lines or raised boundaries like using Wikki Stix around the coloring area.

    Coloring Benefits Creativity and Self-Confidence


    Another of the benefits of coloring with crayons involves self-confidence. Coloring inspires creativity in kids.  A blank piece of paper and a box of crayons can inspire stories and pictures.  Being creative allows a child to build their self-confidence in other areas, especially handwriting and pencil tasks. If you’ve ever received a coloring masterpiece from a child, then you know the pure delight they have when giving a creation they have made.  That boost of self-confidence will entice them to complete other paper/pencil tasks.

    Coloring helps with Color Identification and Color Matching


    Crayons are color!  Kids can be encouraged to practice color identification with the bright and vivid colors in a crayon box.  Use a color by number activity to work on color matching skills.

    These visual discrimination skills, visual scanning, visual attention, and visual memory needed to identify and match colors are part of the visual perceptual skills we talked about above. All of these are needed skills for reading, writing, math, and other higher level cognitive skills.

    Coloring with crayons in occupational therapy helps kids develop fine motor skills

    Coloring in occupational therapy teletherapy

    All you need to develop the skills listed above is a simple box of crayons. This makes coloring a powerful tool in occupational therapy teletherapy, because many homes have crayons available.

    Working on fine motor skills in teletherapy can be difficult because so many of an occupational therapist’s favorite fine motor tools might not be available. This is where using crayons to work on a variety of skills can be so powerful.

    Try some of these teletherapy activities using crayons:

    So, now you know the many benefits of coloring with crayons.  How can you use crayons in developmental and functional tasks?  Let’s explore crayons for various ages and stages.

    Toys and tools for kids who love to color and ways to incorporate coloring into kids daily lives to work on so many functional skills like fine motor, grasp, visual perceptual.

    Toys for Coloring Skills

    Here are some creative learning and play ideas that kids will love.  Some of these are more pricey than just a box of crayons, but your crayon fan will enjoy using these toys and games and won’t even realize they are working on so many skills!

    (We’re including affiliate links.)   One of our favorite books is The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Dewalt. This is a book for crayon fans! We grab this book from the library anytime we see it, and it’s got a great message, too. Kids will be inspired to color after reading this book about crayons. 

     It’s no secret that crayons are a fine motor powerhouse when it comes to developing that tripod grasp! You can use larger crayons for smaller kids or children who need to work on other grasps, like a lateral key grasp, or children who need to work on thumb adduction in functional tasks like scissoring. These ALEX Jr. Tots First Crayons are just the thing to try! 

     Work on more fine motor skills, like finger isolation when using Finger Crayons.

    Kids can get creative and explore sensory play while using crayons in the bathtub. 


     These Bath Time Crayons are on my list to try!

    Do you remember rubbing crayons over fashion design kits as a kid? There is a reason to do this play activity with kids! 


    This Fashion Design Activity Kit provides proprioceptive input and strength to little hands in a fun and creative way. 


     With 152 colors, this Crayola Ultimate Crayon Case will give your kiddo a color for every creative whim. This looks so inviting! 


     There is a coloring book out there for everyone! Even adults can get in on the coloring fun with creative coloring like this Art Nouveau Animal Designs Coloring Book . Color alongside your child for calming and relaxing art time. 


     I love the large size and big pictures of the Melissa & Doug Jumbo Coloring Pads. They are perfect for the youngest colorers. 


    For more creative fun, try Dry Erase Crayons right on a dry erase surface. This is a great way to practice spelling words on a resistive surface. 


    Little artists will love to create their own t-shirt designs using Fabric Crayons
    . This is a fun way to work on fine motor strength and bilateral coordination. Holding down that cotton t-shirt is a bilateral coordination workout!

    There are so many benefits to coloring for kids: hand strength, visual motor skills, visual perception, tool use, creativity, endurance, creativity, self-confidence, task completion, and learning objectives!  Tips from an Occupational Therapist for working on coloring and handwriting in school and at home.

    Colors Handwriting Kit

    Working on handwriting skills in occupational therapy sessions?

    Need to help your child with handwriting legibility, letter formation, spacing, and sizing in written work?

    Working on handwriting in the classroom and need a fun colors of the rainbow theme for motivating handwriting tasks?

    The Colors Handwriting Kit has you covered!

    In the 60 page printable kit, you’ll find handwriting worksheets, fine motor activity pages for A-Z, colors “write the room” cards for uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and cursive letters. This kit has evertyhing you need for helpiing kindergarten-2nd grade students with handwriting skills.

    Click here to access the Colors Handwriting Kit.

    Colors Handwriting Kit
    Colors Handwriting Kit for working on handwriting with a colors theme.

    More Crayon activities

    Metallic Crayon Dough

    Shades of red crayon play dough 

    Harold and the Purple Crayon play dough 

    Rainbow Crayon Play Dough

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

    Art Play

    Art Play book

    Today, I have an amazing resource to share with you. Art Play is a new book that has been recently launched, and is a creative art activity book that is also a sensory and fine motor goldmine. Children can use art activities to create while developing skills and making an art project they can be proud of! Art Play is a process art creation book that focuses on developmentally appropriate art projects for kids, using sensory experiences and allows children to explore art materials at a level that is comfortable for them…without expectations for the “perfect” end product.

    Be sure to check out all of the giveaway items in this year’s Therapy Tools and Toys Giveaway series. (Giveaway now closed.)

    Art play combines play and art so children can develop skills through creating art in play.

    Art Play

    This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

    Years ago, I created a children’s activity book with my friend Meredith, an educator and author of the website, Homegrown Friends. Meredith’s new book, Art Play, is my new favorite children’s art and activity book.

    In the book, you will find easy to set-up art projects that focus on the child.

    So often, we see crafts and art activities that are product focused. And, while the end-product focused craft has it’s time and place, especially when working on data collection or achieving specific goals in scissor skills or other areas, there is a place for process art in therapy as well.

    And, this book has got you covered in child-friendly art projects that pull in a very important area: play!

    We know that play is the job of the child. Play is a child’s primary occupation after all! And, it’s through play that these art projects allow a child to participate in creative, making activities. These are activities that allow a child to develop age-appropriate skills…through play!

    This book is beautifully and thoughtfully written and includes step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow. The pages of the book are wipeable and durable, meaning the book can be right there in the play activities and the pages are kid-friendly with thick paper that kids can manipulate.

    Art Play book review

    Just some of the skills that can be developed through the art projects in this book:

    • Pinch and grip strength
    • Eye-hand coordination
    • Motor planning
    • Visual motor skills
    • Direction following
    • Dexterity
    • Visual scanning
    • Visual memory, figure-ground, visual attention, and other visual perceptual skills
    • Tool use
    • Precision
    • Gross motor skills
    • Tactile experiences
    Art play includes sensory painting that builds fine motor skills.

    The art projects in the book focus on play, so there are so many play experiences for children to incorporate into art. Just some of the art play activities include:

    • Dramatic play
    • Pretend play
    • Building with blocks
    • Playing with cars/vehicles
    • Drawing
    • Painting
    • Inventing
    • Creating while upside down
    • Constructing
    • Dancing
    • Picking and collecting nature

    When you combine art with play, you get a lot of movement-based activities that help children develop whole-body skills!

    Process Art Activities

    Would you like a copy of Art Play so you can add these hands-on activities to your therapy practice or home?

    Check out the blog comments below which are loaded with reader’s favorite ways to create art with kids.

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