Community Helpers Slide Deck

Community helper activity with a themed slide deck for occupational therapy virtual therapy sessions.

Today, I’ve got another virtual OT slide deck coming your way, featuring community helpers! These interactive activities are perfect for occupational teletherapy teletherapy or virtual lesson plans. This community helpers theme includes fine and gross motor based activities, handwriting prompts, a visual perception activity, mindfulness activities, a self-regulation check-in, and an eye-hand coordination activity.

This is a fun addition to our weekly therapy themes for themed occupational therapy sessions.

Activity to teach kids about community helpers in a themed interactive slide deck for occupational therapy.

Community Helpers

Community worker themes are popular in lesson plans in schools and homeschooling. Occupational therapists can compliment educational studies with this community helper lesson plan that offers movement and functional tasks that go along with the theme.

Community helpers might include:

  • Firefighters
  • Police officers
  • Postal workers
  • Transportation employees
  • Trash collectors
  • Nurses
  • Doctors
  • Teachers
  • Occupational therapists!
  • Physical therapists
  • Speech therapists
  • Construction workers
  • Any worker in the community!

Use this list and the community helper writing prompts in the slide deck to come up with the neighborhood helpers kids strive to be when they grow up!

Community Helpers Slide Deck

If you’ve been following The OT Toolbox, then you may have seen a few of our other interactive slide decks. Therapists are LOVING these therapy slide decks for their themed activities that help kids build skills, while in virtual or hybrid environments.

Community helpers activity for occupational therapy.

You can grab the other free slide decks here on our teletherapy and free resources page.

Today’s slide deck includes several community helpers activities:

This community helper activity fosters mindfulness and deep breathing for a coping strategy.

Community Helpers Warm-Up Activity- Use the firefighter’s firehoses to work on deep breathing as a mindfulness and coping tool to warm-up for this activity. Kids can move the interactive portion of the slide along the firehose to work on eye-hand coordination and visual tracking, too.

Community helpers writing prompts for working on handwriting.

Community Helpers Writing Prompts– Use the community workers writing prompts for creative writing and handwriting practice. Kids can use the self-check writing list to check their written work for accuracy with letter formation, line use, spacing, and size.

Community helper theme slide deck with a fine motor activity using sign language.

Community Helpers Sign Language– This fine motor workout is pretty fun! Click through the links to learn sign language for some community workers. This activity works on fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, finger isolation, motor planning, and eye-hand coordination.

A fun visual perception activity with a community helper theme.

Community Helpers Visual Perception Activity– Count the different helpers on the community workers puzzle page and type the number in the text box. This activity works on visual perceptual skills such as form constancy, visual discrimination, and figure ground, visual scanning.

Gross motor activity for the community helper theme slide deck.

Community Helpers Gross Motor Activity– Use the deep breathing and movement prompts to integrate mindfulness with gross motor as kids gain a big breath in with extended lung and rib cage/shoulder girdle expansion. Then, reach far down to push out that deep breath. This slide uses a community worker theme with common trucks found in the community.

Self regulation activity for the community helper theme slide decks.

Community Helper Activity for Self-Regulation– The final slide in this activity deck is a self-regulation check-in that can be used to close the session. Check in on how your child’s body feels and acts, as well as their emotions. This is a good time to work on some coping tools or strategies that can carry out of the session, too.

Does this looks like a fun way to spend a therapy session while working on skills?

You can grab a copy of this Google slide deck and use it to work on specific skills.

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

Get this Community Helpers Slide Deck

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    Mask Social Story Slide Deck

    wear a mask social story for sensory issues

    Here, you can get a mask social story for kids with sensory needs. Trying to help kids with the task of wearing a mask? In our area, schools are moving from full virtual to hybrid learning, so that means kids that have been out of the classroom since March are now going to be back in the physical school location. And, getting kids to wear masks…and keep those masks on…can be a real concern, especially for kids with sensory needs! Today, I’ve got a free teletherapy slide deck to help kids learn the importance of wearing a mask and it covers the sensory concerns that might come up with mask wearing. This slide deck is a social story for mask wearing with sensory issues, so it adds a story component while allowing kids to understand why they need to wear a mask when it feels itchy or scratchy. This slide deck is free, so grab it below.

    Get this free mask social story to help kids with sensory needs tolerate and accommodate for mask wearing.

    Wearing a mask with sensory needs

    For kids with sensory needs, wearing a mask can be a big problem. But some schools, businesses, and situations require a mask for entry. So how does the child with sensory needs deal with this situation? For some, the softest of face masks can feel scratchy or itchy. It can make others feel like they are contained. Still others are frustrated wtih the feel of mask straps behind their ears.

    Kids with sensory needs and masks don’t mix!

    That’s why I wanted to put this social story together and get it into your hands. Because some kids are truly struggling with wearing a mask and don’t understand why they need to have this itchy, scratchy fabric attached to their face!

    Help kids wear a mask when they have sensory preferences due to sensory processing disorder.

    Wearing a Mask Social Story

    Some kids respond really well to social stories, so this slide deck should be a good way to teach this concept. I’ve made the slide deck interactive, so kids can read through the slide, and move the checkmark to the “finished” square once they understand the concept on each slide.

    Kids with sensory needs can struggle with wearing a mask. This mask social story can help if the mask feels too tight.

    The slides cover various aspects of masks for kids with sensory needs, including how masks feel on the skin, or how they may make a person feel hot.

    I’ve also included slides in this social story that tell the reader they can ask for help if they need it when wearing a mask.

    Some children may chew on their face mask to meet oral sensory needs as calming input when they attempt to self-regulate. However, another sensory tool could be used in place of the mask. This sensory social story helps kids to understand that by reading the words of the story and by matching those words to the image.

    Kids with sensory needs can feel a mask as too tight or scratchy. This mask social story can help.

    Kids with sensory needs or those with sensory processing disorder may feel the temperature difference between having a mask on or off. This mask sensory story covers those issues.

    You’ll find slides for kids that feel that mask move in and out with their breath, as well. All of these sensory sensitivities can be very apparent with the use of a face mask!

    use this free mask social story in teletherapy or to help kids with sensory needs adjust to wearing a mask by offering other alternatives that meet their sensory needs.

    Free slide deck for wearing a mask with sensory needs

    To get this slide deck, enter your email address below. By doing this, I am able to deliver the slides to your email inbox.

    Be sure to log into your Google drive first. You will get a pdf that you can save and use over and over again. Click the document to make a copy of the slide onto your drive.

    Use the slide deck in “edit” mode to allow students to move the check marks on each slide as the individual slide is read. You can also use this slide deck in “present” mode, but the movable piece won’t work.

    Get this Free “Wearing a Mask” Social Story slide deck

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

      Back to School Activities

      back to school activities

      This year, back to school looks a little different than ever before. I’ve been busy behind the scenes here at The OT Toolbox building tools that you can use during the first weeks of school that will make your life easier. Here, you will find first day of school activities, first day of school printables, and back to school baseline screening activities, back to school crafts, and ideas to use in therapy or the classroom this week (and coming weeks).

      Back to school activities for kids of all ages, including first day of school activities, first day of school printables, back to school crafts, icebreaker activities, and more.

      Back to School Activities

      These activities should keep your students (virtual or in-person) busy the first few weeks of school. Some of these activities are great for online icebreaker activities and others are wonderful ways to build rapport while assessing baseline status in areas like pencil grasp, handwriting, math, scissor skills, or other learning/school tasks.

      Back to School Slide Deck- This interactive back to school slide deck works with Google slides. Enter your email address and log into your Google account. You will receive an email with a prompt to access a file for your personal use. Click the button on that pdf and the interactive slide can be copied right into your Google drive. Then, make a copy for each student and they can work through the slides in edit mode. These slides are designed to address visual perceptual skills. Kids will enjoy the back to school supply activities and won’t even know they are building skills that will help them thrive in learning.

      Back to school activities for kindergarten- (and first grade, second grade, etc.) These back to school fine motor activities are fun ways to quickly screen for fine motor skills needed at school while building rapport with the students. First day of school activities for kindergarten can involved fine motor activities that are fun and get children excited about their time in therapy sessions.

      Visual Schedules- There is something about having a visual schedule that makes things easier when it comes to transitions. We made these back to school story stones a while back and used them to adjust to the new routine that back to school time brings. Visual schedules can be effective in virtual sessions or hybrid learning. Why not use a visual schedule as a tool to move students between group online activities?

      Online Icebreaker Activity

      Back to School Writing and I Spy Slide Deck- Another interactive slide deck for back to school writing, this slide deck covers a variety of areas. Use the school supplies I Spy slide as a fun activity to get started with the school year. The icebreaker slide can be used to get to know students as they fill out an All About Me activity. The slides include handwriting tasks so students can write words and sentences while teachers or therapists assess baseline levels for each student.

      Separation Anxiety Activity- After being out of the classroom for a much longer period of time this year, kids might have some worries or separation anxiety that leaves them anxious. Try this separation anxiety activity that uses a popular children’s book. Reading a book and doing a book-related activity a great icebreaker activity for kids.

      Icebreaker Questions- Go through some icebreaker questions for kids. This is fun in person or in virtual settings. Use these questions as a writing prompt to work on handwriting, too.

      Icebreaker questions for kids for the first day of school or therapy.

      Effective online learning

      Heading back to the classroom means switching gears back to online learning. Having a productive and effective online learning experience can be hard for some kids, and the same is true for virual therapy sessions. Here are tips for parents to make the most of teletherapy and online learning sessions.

      Having a toolbox of coping strategies for kids can make a big difference, too. Be sure to offer brain breaks, movement activities, and have a set of rules in place to make the most of online learning and virtual therapy sessions.

      These back to school sensory activities can be effective movement strategies for kids to stay alert to online learning and pay attention during virtual classroom sessions.

      Staying organized- Using organization strategies is more important than ever this school year. Here are organization strategies for the school-based OT, and here are organization strategies for students.

      This free editable therapy planner will keep you organized with themes and planning activities this school year.

      This therapy planning interactive bulletin board might be just the thing you need to prepare virtual therapy sessions, home programs, and keeping track of therapy plans.

      Back to School Crafts

      School Bus Craft- This school bus craft is a simple one to set up and can be done as a group online activity or in person. Record the activity for a recorded session, too. With the simple shapes, the bus craft is great for working on scissor skills, visual motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and problem solving.

      The Kissing Hand Craft- You’ve read the book The Kissing Hand, right? The book is a helpful tool to help kids with the transition to school. We made a The Kissing Hand craft that involved salt dough key chains (fine motor fun!) and be sure to check out the four other Kissing Hand crafts in the blog post, too.

      Pencil Fidget Tool Craft- This pencil topper fidget is a fun craft for kids but it can double as a fidget tool, too. Making this DIY fidget tool builds fine motor skills with sensory-related benefits.

      Handwriting Spacing Tools Craft- These spacing tools can be a fun way to get kids invested in spacing between letters and words. Make this spacing tool craft that kids can add to their pencil box and pull out for handwriting tasks. The best news is that making the craft builds fine motor skills too! Try this button spacing tool, this easy craft stick spacing tool, this pipe cleaner spacing tool, this clothes pin spacing tool, and this space martian spacing tool craft.

      First Day of School Printables

      The first day of school is exciting! Having a set of printables ready for kids of different ages makes the teacher or therapist feel a little more organized and ready for back-to-school, too. Try these first day of school printables:

      Back to school printable toolkit- This set of back to school printable activities is fun for the first day of school or the first weeks of school! There are book themed hole punch cards, school supplies I Spy printable page, school materials handwriting paper, an exclusive school supplies “spot it” matching game, and a printable PDF version of the school materials match-up game. Grab the toolkit here OR, get the free back to school writing slide deck listed for a special discount price 🙂

      Emotions and Feelings Printable- Talking about feelings on the first day of school (or first weeks of school) is important, especially this year. Grab this social emotional learning worksheet to cover facial expressions and emotions with kids.

      More first day of school activities

      What are your favorite ways to get kids excited about the first weeks of school or therapy?

      Add this set of back to school activities to your therapy or classroom toolkit…on sale now!

      Back to school toolkit– school materials and activities for kids.

      Back to school activities for occupational therapy or the classroom

      Free Classroom Sensory Strategies Toolkit

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

        Therapy Planning Bulletin Board Slide Deck

        Therapy planning slide deck for OT teletherapy

        Back to school looks a lot different this year, than any other year that you or I may have experienced. If there is one thing for certain it’s that occupational therapy professionals are experts at resilience and problem solving. That’s why I wanted to offer a few tools to make your pivot to hybrid schooling or distance interventions easy. Coming up with practical OT teletherapy activities may be new to you, but therapy planning is not. Today, I’ve got an interactive slide deck for you to make therapy planning easy, using an interactive bulletin board slide deck.

        Therapy planning for teletherapy with an interactive slide deck and therapy bulletin board.

        Therapy Planning Bulletin Board

        Ok…you might have seen some of my other interactive slide decks. But this one is pretty cool in it’s interactive features, and a little different than the others here on the site. Teletherapy resources include slide decks that offer kids a chance to move pieces, follow directions, and participate in virtual therapy.

        Here are some of those interactive slide decks that I’ve already shared with you:

        Back-to-School Activity Slide Deck (visual perceptual skills)

        Teach Letters Alphabet Move and Write Slide Deck

        Space Theme Slide Deck

        Movement Activities Monster Theme Slide Deck

        Letter Formation Slide Deck of Teletherapy

        Animal Theme Visual Perception Slide Deck

        Strait Line Letters Teletherapy Slide Deck

        Self-Awareness Activities Slide Deck

        Therapy Planning Slide Deck

        Today’s free slide deck is a little different, because it can be used by the treating occupational therapy practitioner to plan out a therapy session or to lead a session. Therapy professionals can create a slide deck for each client and share that single link that leads them through teletherapy sessions.

        This slide deck uses creative commons fonts and images and can be shared and modified. The deck has been modified from SlidesPPT to meet the needs of occupational therapists.

        Use the slide deck to explain activities, by adding step by step images or a video.

        Use the slide deck for writing prompts and self-check handwriting rule lists. The slide deck can be edited for different students to meet their needs.

        Include step by step images for activities for better understanding and participation in teletherapy sessions.

        I’ve tried to include various options in the slide deck to use in different scenarios:

        • Therapy activity lists
        • Writing prompts
        • Visual schedule
        • Step-by-step activity plan
        • Activity lists
        • Announcement slides
        • Written instruction slides
        • Visual instruction slides
        • More!

        The bulletin board slide deck is great because the slides can be edited by the practitioner based on their needs for that week or for each child. Slides can be deleted or duplicated.

        How to use this slide deck:

        You can use this interactive slide deck in Google classroom or on your Google Slides account. To use the slide deck, you will need to first open the slide using one of the following methods:

        • Click on the Gear Icon in the Google Slides Viewer, and select “Open in Editor”.
        • Click on the link below the Google Slides Presentation Viewer -> “Open slide”.

        Do not “request access” to use these slides. Instead, be sure you are logged into your Google account and then click on the link to “make a copy”.

        1) How to edit the slide deck in Google Slides

        Go to the File menu in your Google Slides interface and select “Make a copy”. You have to be logged into your Google Account.

        You will get a fresh copy of the presentation on your Google Drive and then you will be able to edit, add or delete slides.

        2) Edit the presentation in Microsoft PowerPoint®, OSX Keynote or other software

        Go to the File menu in the Google Slides user interface and select “As Microsoft PowerPoint”.

        Digital Therapy BULLETIN Board

        Enter your email address in the form below. Check your email and click on the button to grab your resource. Save that PDF so you can access these slide decks again.

        Sign into your Google account. Click on the big button in that PDF that you just accessed. It will prompt you to make a copy of the slide deck. That will be your master copy of this slide deck.

        Now the slide deck is on your Google account.

        Get a free OT Bulletin Board Planner Slide Deck

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          Grab these other interactive slide decks:

          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.

          Back to School Slide Deck

          Back to school activities with a free occupational therapy slide deck.

          If you are like many OT professionals, you are looking for back-to-school activities for occupational therapy. That’s why I wanted to get this back to school slide deck into your hands! It’s a slide deck activity for addressing visual perceptual skills and fun for occupational therapy activities that may be occurring via teletherapy this year. Use this OT slide deck to work on visual perception with a first day of school theme!

          Back to school activities with occupational therapy teletherapy slide deck to work on visual perception with a back to school theme.

          Slide Deck for Back to School Activities

          Below, you’ll find a form to enter your email to grab this free interactive slide. But first, I wanted to explain how this slide deck works.

          Grab this free interactive back to school slide deck activity to work on visual perceptual skills with kids.

          Kids can work through the interactive slides and move the movable parts of the slides to practice visual perceptual skills. The slides are designed to build skills in the following visual perceptual areas:

          Form constancy

          Visual discrimination

          Visual memory

          You can help kids improve their visual perceptual skills with interactive, free, back-to-school activities.

          The slides include school materials for a back-to-school theme.

          Children can use the slides to practice these specific skills while strengthening visual processing skills including visual scanning, visual fixation, and visual attention.

          Use a back to school activity to help kids with visual perceptual skills in occupational therapy.

          Finally, eye-hand coordination is needed to manipulate the interactive portion of these slides to move the outline to select certain images.

          This blog post on visual motor skills really explains these areas of visual processing and offers tons of hands-on activities to help kids build these skill areas so that they can read and write at a functional level.

          Back to school activities with a free interactive slide deck for occupational therapy.

          Why use a slide deck to work on visual perceptual skills?

          There are many functional skills that are impacted by visual perceptual difficulties. Some examples include:

          • Letter reversal
          • Poor line awareness in handwriting
          • Poor margin use in written work
          • Difficulty copying written work
          • Trouble recognizing patterns and completing hands-on math problems
          • Difficulty catching or kicking a ball
          • Trouble with movement games like hopscotch.
          • Clumsiness
          • Difficulty with sports
          • Difficulty drawing and copying pictures or shapes

          Working on the underlying visual processing skills in puzzles and activities like the ones in this back to school slide deck can be one way to build these areas.

          FREE back to school SLIDE DECK

          Here’s how you can get the interactive slide deck to work on letters:

          Enter your email address in the form below. Check your email and click on the button to grab your resource. Save that page so you can access these slide decks again.

          Sign into your Google account. Click on the big button in that PDF that you just accessed. It will prompt you to make a copy of the slide deck. That will be your master copy of this slide deck.

          Now the slide deck is on your Google account.

          Share the slide deck with students. You can make a copy for each student and upload it to their Google classroom or use it in Zoom. Here is a post on FAQ for troubleshooting any issues you might run across with using or accessing the slide deck.

          Be sure to sign up for other slide decks that we have to offer. You will have to enter your email address for each one so you can get the resource and make a copy of each slide deck.

          Get a free interactive Back-to-School slide deck

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            Be sure to check out these other slide decks to use in OT teletherapy sessions, distance learning, or homeschooling:

            This Alphabet Exercise Slide Deck is very popular.

            Here is a Space Theme Therapy Slide Deck.

            Here is a Strait Line Letters Slide Deck.

            Here is a “Scribble theme” Handwriting Slide Deck.

            Teach Letters with an interactive Letter Formation Slide Deck.

            You will also want to see all of our teletherapy activities 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.

            Occupational Therapy in Schools

            Make inexpensive occupational therapy tips for school based OT, and other suggestions for heading back to school during the pandemic.

            Occupational therapy in schools looks a lot different than it has in the past. With social distancing requirements, sanitizing needs, and changes to school schedules, therapists are looking for ways to meet the needs of their students. This year, school-based OT looks different than any other year, and occupational therapy activities will reflect those changes. Here, you will find strategies that school-based OT practitioners can use in the classroom as part of push-in services, in small groups, or in an individual, pull-out model.

            School occupational therapy sessions might look a lot different this school year. Here are activities to use in school based OT.

            Group Occupational Therapy

            Many OTs need to move from a push-in model to pulling each one of their students out of the classroom for therapy intervention. Other therapists will focus on pushing into the classroom for a small group activity with a couple of students who are in the same classroom.

            Regardless of the model, occupational therapy activities will need to have social distancing practice in place and thoughtful use of supplies. Looking for group occupational therapy activities that can be completed with a small group?

            How to address social distancing in small groups in school occupational therapy this year.

            Some recommendations for group OT can include:

            Arranging the occupational therapy room so that students are well-spaced out. Using painters tape to create marked stations for each student can be used for social distancing, but also to help kids work on personal space, body awareness, and spatial awareness. Students can carry this skills over to functional tasks such as standing in lines in the hallway or getting on/off the school bus, or in the community.

            Sensory coping strategies in the classroom can be adjusted to address social distancing requirements while meeting the child’s needs. Think about Simon Says, wall push-ups, I Spy games, etc.

            Brain breaks can be used on an individual basis, in small groups, or in the whole classroom.

            Mindfulness activities can be implemented in therapy sessions or in small groups.

            Pushing into the classroom to work with a small group might be something that some therapists have to do per school recommendations and wishes. When pushing in to the classroom, precautions can be taken to try a group activity without close interaction like “I Spy” or “What’s missing?” visual perception games. Add handwriting to these group activities to work on specific skills, too.

            There are points for both push-in service and pull out model of school occupational therapy during a pandemic. For example, pushing into the classroom or using a consultation model can mean less equipment that needs to be sanitized between sessions.

            School Occupational Therapy Suggestions

            These suggestions can be used by school-based OT professionals in pull-out sessions or in push-in therapy in the classroom.

            Plan ahead. Use this interactive school-based OT planner to plan out activities based on themes and come up with a plan for each week. This can help with accessing materials and using what student’s have in their desks to work on certain skills. (See below for how to use what the student has in their desk.)

            Organize the OT space so that items can not be accessed by students. Keeping items out of reach of students will allow for less sanitation time between sessions.

            Pull out items that will only be used during that session and place each used item into a designated bin or “sanitize zone”. These items can be sanitized after each session and allowed to dry after the use of sanitizer.

            Washing hands before/after each session. When children come into the occupational therapy space as a small group, or when a small group is seen in push-in services, therapists can have each child wash and dry their hands or use hand sanitizer both before and after each session. Make it part of functional goals, if it is something that can be used to meet the goals of the child. Hand-washing offers opportunities to work on eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, tactile sensory experience, attention, organization, motor planning, and more…all part of a functional activity of daily living. Add in the clean-up portion (throwing away paper towels) and you’ve got aspects of IADL work as well.

            Allow time for washing hands/sanitizing. we know that as therapists, we have a FULL schedule. Some OT professionals juggle 60+ students and many different school districts. But, allowing time for sanitizing and hygiene is a must. It’s not going to be easy, but like everything else, we are going to be forced to slow down and take that necessary time. Try to add that cleaning/sanitizing time right into sessions. The student can do their last activity while the therapist sanitizes materials.

            Incorporate outdoor recess as a therapy session. So many goal areas can be addressed through play and social interaction in outdoor recess. While this “down time” might look different than it has in years past, games and small group activities can be incorporated into occupational therapy sessions, in a “push-in” model that occurs outdoors. Here are sensory diet activities for outdoor recess.

            Outdoor occupational therapy sessions. Sensory processing activities on the playground is an excellent way to work on sensory needs and regulation. What’s more, is that the outdoors offer the perfect environment to work on so many OT goal areas. Take students to the playground for sensory and motor work. Use a blacktop surface for fine motor and core strength activities. Use a shading lawn area to work on various coping strategies. Here are sensory diet activities for the playground.

            Use teletherapy slide decks- Even though OT professionals may be in the schools (or virtual depending on the district and state), there are many free teletherapy resources like OT slide decks available that can be used in person, too. Try these teletherapy activities, specifically this alphabet slide deck that teaches letters with a handwriting, letter formation, and gross motor brain break activity.

            These occupational therapy teletherapy activities can be helpful for remote learning, hybrid models, or even in the classroom.

            School based occupational therapy will have trouble using shared materials and equipment. OTs can create inexpensive school based OT kits for students.

            School-Based OT Kits

            With social distance needs and the sheer inability to sanitize materials all day long, using an inexpensive kit for each student can be accomplished. Here, you will find suggestions on how to create a kit for each student. Small occupational therapy kits can be created at a low cost. Here are some OT kits that we’ve covered:

            Fine Motor Kit

            Craft kit for occupational therapy

            Themed occupational therapy kits

            DIY handwriting fine motor kit

            A small kit for each student may be necessary. I tried to come up with a list of LOW cost materials and ones that can be spread across a caseload. For example, a $1 deck of cards can be split up among man students as they each get 5-6 cards. A pack of pipe cleaners or a pack of straws can be distributed among many students, especially if the pipe cleaners are cut into smaller sizes.

            These kits can be organized into a plastic zip-lock baggie for each student. Write the child’s name on the bag and make sanitizing the outside of the bag part of the child’s session. Kids can participate in this aspect, too…an essential self-care ADL of hygiene!

            Some items to include in individual kits include:

            Use these school occupational therapy suggestions to address social distancing, small groups, and changes to school OT this year.

            School Occupational Therapy Activities

            Use the items students have in their desks. This year, they will be using more individual items that come from home and are separated from other students, so use those materials. Some items and occupational therapy activities include:

            Markers- Use regular markers in occupational therapy activities like the ones we have listed.

            Scissors- Students will likely have their own set of scissors in their desk. Work through this scissor crash course to work on precision and dexterity.

            Colored Pencils- If students have colored pencils, use them to work on handwriting, visual motor skills, and fine motor work. Here are colored pencil activities.

            Pencil box- If students have a pencil box to hold their materials, use that pencil box in OT activities!

            Crayons- Crayons are always on the back-to-school list. There is a reason why crayons are so effective in building skills…Use those power tools in school occupational therapy sessions. Here is just one way to work on distal finger control with crayons. And, kids will love this 3 crayon challenge!

            Ruler- If kids have a personal ruler in their desk, use that to work on bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, pencil control. Here is one way to use a ruler to help with cursive writing.

            Small pencil sharpener- This is a school supply item that is often times on the back to school supply list. But this year, it will be even more important for students to have their own pencil sharpener. Why not use it to work on arch strength, bilateral coordination, pinch and hand grasp, and endurance? Using a small pencil is effective in tripod grasp and hand strength, but kids can sharpen those pencils and work on skills, too.

            Books- Books and workbooks can be used for proprioceptive input and heavy work.

            Folders and papers- Kids can work on organization and executive functioning skills with the materials they have in their desks. Folders, papers, and all of the “stuff” can get overwhelming fast, especially for the child struggling with impulse control, focus, attention, and other executive functioning skills. Work on those areas with strategies.

            Getting kids RE-ACCLIMATED

            Kids have been out of the school setting since around March. That is three months longer than the typical summer break. We all know that kids experience the “summer slide” on a typical year. This year will be different in the way that kids re-enter the school setting.

            Some children may have been completely isolated over the course of the last months. They’ve seen a drastic change in social settings, shopping in stores, and cancellation of activities or sports. Heading back into a group setting (even if it is smaller in the way of less children in the classrooms or more space between settings) may throw some kids off.

            Kiddos that previously had difficulty with coping in the classroom, attention or behavior concerns, meltdowns, trouble listening or focusing on their lessons…they may struggle even more than before.

            Even students that weren’t previously on caseload may struggle. Teachers may have questions for you or more children to “take a look at” as the entire school population re-acclimates back into the classroom setting.

            AOTA has suggestions for working with clients in the midst of COVID-19. In the case of increased stress or anxiety in kids, therapists can work with families, teachers, and students to adjust so that the student can perform functional tasks that impact their education. This might look like addressing coping needs, emotional regulation, or self-awareness.

            In other cases, it might look like recommendations for a routine or wellness. This wellness wheel can be helpful in addressing the balance of kids at home and at school.

            As therapists, maybe we can offer movement-based activities or brain breaks that can be done as a whole group. Perhaps a consult with a teacher on one student leads to a deep breathing session for the whole class.

            Educating parents, teachers, administrators, and even the students themselves on the connection between movement, coping tools, behavior, and cognitive processes will become more necessary.

            Try some of these mindfulness and coping tools that can be used in school occupational therapy sessions or consultation:

            Brain breaks can be used on an individual basis, in small groups, or in the whole classroom.

            Mindfulness activities can be implemented in therapy sessions or in small groups.

            This easy coping strategy requires no materials or items, making it sanitizing-friendly.

            These anxiety and sensory coping strategies can be helpful with re-acclimation to the classroom and learning.

            Working on social emotional skills can be helpful in identifying emotions as a result of reentering the classroom…and help kids come up with coping tools.

            Final note on school based OT

            This year is going to be a doozy! Occupational therapists, however are just the professionals to adapt to whatever changes come our way. Remember to take time for self-care as a therapist and address the burnout with coping strategies and balance. Rest. Use these tips for occupational therapists to stay organized yourself. You’ve got this!

            Free OT Slide Decks:

            Here is a free Space Theme Therapy Slide Deck.

            Here is a free Strait Line Letters Slide Deck.

            Here is a free â€śScribble theme” Handwriting Slide Deck.

            Teach Letters with a free interactive Letter Formation Slide Deck.

            Try this free interactive letter writing/brain break slide deck.

            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.

            Slide Deck to Teach Letters

            interactive slide deck to teach letters

            If you’ve been following along with the site over the past few months, you may have seen some of my free interactive slide decks and teletherapy resources. Today, I’m adding to those virtual therapy activities with this alphabet move and write slide deck that makes a nice addition to occupational therapy teletherapy activities. The letter slide deck is great for using in either virtual occupational therapy sessions or as a part of distance learning. With the uncertainty of the upcoming school year, I wanted to fill your therapy toolbox with digital resources like this one. Therapists can use the slide deck for teaching letter formation and handwriting with a fine and gross movement component.

            interactive slide deck to teach letters

            Slide Deck for Teaching Letters

            Therapists know the power of combining fine motor work, gross motor work…any movement…with learning. When teaching letters, that is no different!

            Recently, I created this alphabet exercise printable that went pretty wild among The OT Toolbox readers. There’s a reason why…kids need movement! And, combining activity with learning letters makes it a win-win for therapy, the classroom, or the home.

            That’s why I wanted to turn the worksheet into a letter-themed slide deck that can be used to teach kids letter formation, combining motor planning with gross motor activities, AND handwriting.

            Alphabet interactive slide deck to use in occupational therapy teletherapy sessions or to teach letters.

            Below, you’ll find a form to enter your email to grab this free interactive slide. But first, I wanted to explain how this slide deck works.

            Kids can work through the interactive slides and move the circle to form letters. I paired the letters with the exact same ones found on our alphabet exercise activity for consistency. (Upper case letters in this slide deck).

            Teach letters with an interactive slide deck.

            They can click on the yellow dot and move their mouse or finger to form the letter. They will trace along the lines of the letter on the slide, so they are gaining fine motor work, including finger isolation, separation of the sides of the hand, eye-hand coordination, and motor planning.

            Next, students (and a teacher if used in a live class) can complete the gross motor exercise that pairs with the letter. The exercises match the same ones on our letter exercise program. You can read more about each exercises on the Alphabet Exercise Activity page.

            The gross motor activity offers a brain break opportunity, while building strength, core stability, motor planning, and whole body motions like crossing midline, inversion, and a sensory break with proprioceptive and vestibular input.

            Finally, children can work on handwriting. I left this portion of the slide activity open-ended so that younger children can work only on writing the upper case letter. Older students can write a word or a sentence that contains a word starting with that letter.

            Free interactive slide deck

            Here’s how you can get the interactive slide deck to work on letters:

            Enter your email address in the form below. Check your email and click on the button to grab your resource. Save that worksheet so you can access these slide decks again.

            Sign into your Google account. Click on the big button in that PDF that you just accessed. It will prompt you to make a copy of the slide deck. That will be your master copy of this slide deck.

            Now the slide deck is on your Google account.

            Share the slide deck with students. You can make a copy for each student and upload it to their Google classroom or use it in Zoom. Here is a post on FAQ for troubleshooting any issues you might run across with using or accessing the slide deck.

            Be sure to sign up for other slide decks that we have to offer. You will have to enter your email address for each one so you can get the resource and make a copy of each slide deck.

            Get a free interactive slide deck: Alphabet Move & Write Cards

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              Be sure to check out these other slide decks to use in OT teletherapy sessions, distance learning, or homeschooling:

              Here is a Space Theme Therapy Slide Deck.

              Here is a Strait Line Letters Slide Deck.

              Here is a â€śScribble theme” Handwriting Slide Deck.

              Teach Letters with an interactive Letter Formation Slide Deck.

              You will also want to see all of our teletherapy activities 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.