January Calendar: Sensory Integration Activities Turning Therapy into Play

Last month, we created a calendar of Occupational Therapy ideas using a Christmas theme.  It was such a hit among our readers (that’s you!), that I decided to create a monthly version of sensory integration activities.  Be sure to read our blog post on Ayres Sensory Integration for more information on this theory.

What’s better is that these SI activities are geared to turn therapy into play.  Children of all ages can participate in their Occupational Therapy goal areas with themed activities while working on proprioceptive and vestibular input. These activities are designed to address gross motor, fine motor, and visual perceptual skills through January’s winter theme of snow, snowballs, snowflakes, and ice.  

Occupational Therapists are skilled at turning therapy into play in order to make goals of therapy fun.  Kids can work on areas they need to develop with fun and playful winter activities.  You’ll find many recommendations for winter play with a focus on sensory integration.  

Be sure to stop back each month for a calendar of Occupational Therapy and playful activities!

NOTE: These activities are meant to be a resource.  No child is alike and so no therapy regime is alike.  Please contact you physician and Occupational Therapist for individualized evaluation and treatment. These activities are designed to provide creative treatment ideas only.

Sensory Integration with Proprioception and Vestibular activities for turning therapy into play while working on Occupational Therapy goals.  These January calendars have a sensory activity for each day.

I’ve tried to keep many of the vestibular and proprioceptive activities the same or similarly themed for each day.  

The links below will show ways to work on vestibular and proprioceptive activities and has descriptions on how to work on each area with the day’s theme.  Many children have specific proprioception or vestibular needs.  Other children benefit from a combination of these treatment areas.  The activities linked below show ways to hit these areas in a combination or separately.  

I’ve included other resources with each linked activity as well, so be sure to check out each activity for proprioception and vestibular therapy ideas.  Make sensory integration fun by turning therapy into play!

These calendars are meant to provide a general plan for daily vestibular and proprioceptive input.  We all have best intentions when it comes to our day’s schedule and sometimes life challenges our plan for the day.  No problem! You can easily switch activities with another day’s activity and adjust activities according to your family’s needs.

Just a small amount of proprioception and vestibular activity are enough to help with regulating a child’s sensory needs.  

One activity each day should be effective for most children, so add these themed activities to the sensory diets you’ve got in place to turn therapy into play this winter. HOWEVER, all children should be assessed by an Occupational Therapist to assess individual needs and abilities.

January Winter Calendar: Proprioception Activities turning therapy into play

Sensory Integration with Proprioception and Vestibular activities for turning therapy into play while working on Occupational Therapy goals.  These January calendars have a sensory activity for each day.

Proprioception Activities with a Winter Theme:

The proprioceptive system involves receptors in joints and muscles that tell our body how much effort to put into a task. The system allows us to know how to move and use our bodies in response to stimulation from the environment. Children with proprioceptive difficulties may bump into other children, break pencils when writing because they press too hard, show “no fear”, crash into objects, appear uncoordinated, appear lazy, chew clothing/pencils/anything, among other signs.
Proprioceptive input can be achieved through heavy work activities that adjust the child’s level of arousal and “wake up” or calm the body’s system.  Activities that involve pushing, pulling, jumping, blowing, squeezing, pinching, throwing, skipping, crawling, and lifting can be achieved through play.
1. Heavy Work Sled Pull- For a proprioceptive work activity, load a sled up with books (or another child!)  Pulling a loaded sled is a heavy work activity that is calming to the sensory system.  Try pushing the sled with arms or legs, too.  Take the sled outside and pull it on snowy slopes for added resistive work.



4. Snowball Stomp- Stomping with the legs is a great way to incorporate proprioception into the lower extremities.  Make snowballs and STOMP on them for a fun and playful heavy work activity.  Don’t have snow?  Try making baked cotton balls and stomp on them.  Have you ever made baked cotton balls?  It is a super sensory and creative way to work on so many fine motor skills.  Simply coat cotton balls in a flour/water mixture and bake them until hared.  They will have a hard shell that is perfect for pulling, tearing, and stomping on. Read more about making baked cotton balls here
5. Polar Bear Igloo- Get into the polar bear theme and build a polar bear igloo using couch cushions.  Cover your cushion igloo fort with a white blanket to make an igloo.  Pulling heavy couch cushions to build a fort is a great whole body proprioceptive workout.  This heavy work activity is calming, but the warm igloo will be an even more calming area to relax and organize a child’s body.
6. Paint Snowflakes- Create masking tape resist snowflakes with tape and blue paint.  Pinch and peel the tape from the roll and stick it into a snowflake shape on white paper.  Now add a dab of blue paint onto the paper.  Use a heavy cardboard box to smash the paint on the snowflake.  Moving a box full of books is a proprioceptive activity that provides heavy work to the whole body.
7. Build a snowman- Rolling snow into a snowman is a great proprioception activity.  If you don’t have snow, use several blankets to fold and roll into snowman-ish balls.  Lift those blanket balls to build a snowman indoors.  You’ll probably need to prop your blanket snowman against a wall to keep him standing.
8. Blanket Bundle- Lay a blanket out on the floor.  Roll the child up in a blanket, burrito style.  Now roll them back and forth on the floor. This works best on a carpeted floor.  Add extra blanket layers and pillows for more proprioceptive input.
9. Indoor Skiing- Coming soon! (I promise!)
10. Snow Angels- Snow angels are an excellent way to provide proprioceptive input!  Pushing snow or heavy blankets with the arms and legs is a powerful proprioception activity for kids.  You’re providing heavy work input to the legs and arms as they abduct and adduct. Don’t have snow to make snow angels outside? No problem! Incorporate proprioceptive work into this activity by using heavy blankets on a carpeted floor.
11. Snowman Soda Dough- Soda Dough is a fun activity that provides proprioception to the small muscles of the hands as the child rolls small snowmen. You can find the recipe here.
12. Cut Icicles  Cut multiple layers of paper to create indoor icicles while providing proprioception to the hands.
13. Boot Dash {link coming soon!}
14. Snowshoe Walk {link coming soon!}
15. Polar Bear Crawl- Animal walks are a great way to incorporate proprioception into play.  Show your child how to crawl like a polar bear on hands and knees.  This position is a great way to provide proprioceptive input to the shoulder girdle and hips.  Add a heavy blanket or towel over your child’s back for additional deep pressure.
16. Build a Snow Maze- If you’ve got snow in your area, this snow maze activity is a fun way to add heavy work to play.  (My kids are still talking about our snow maze!) If you haven’t had snow in your area, build a maze using rolled an piled blankets, pillows, and couch cushions.  Move the items around to construct a maze right in your living room.
17. Skate on Thin Ice {link coming soon!}
18. Snowy Walk- Just walking around in snow is a proprioception activity in itself!  Enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of a snowy day during an outdoor winter nature walk.
19. Snow Bin- Create a proprioception sensory snow bin with resistive materials like rice or homemade proprioception dough.  Add scoops, cookie cutters, and plastic utensils to work on proprioception to the hands and arms.  Push glass gems, beads, or other small items into the dough for more play.
20. Dance Party- Get the kids moving with a winter dance party! Add a proprioception component to your snowy winter dance party by adding wall push ups, floor push ups, and push-pull movements.
21. Hole Punch Ice Drops- Punching holes with a paper hole punch is an excellent way to provide proprioceptive input to the hands.  Use this activity as a fine motor or handwriting warm up activity to wake up the muscles of the hands. use white paper to punch mini snowflakes and ice droplets.  You can scatter these on blue paper covered in glue to create a snowy scene.
22. Snowman Squash- {link coming soon!}
23. Snowball Roll- For this activity, you’ll need masking tape, cotton balls, and a straw.  Tape out a line across the floor.  Use the straw to blow the snowman snowballs (the cotton balls) along the line while crawling.  Adding the straw provides proprioceptive and oral motor input, too.  Consider more ways to add proprioception to this activity:  Have your child sit on a scooter as the adult pulls the child along with a towel.  Another child can push a child’s back as they scoot along the line.  Have the child sit on a square of cardboard and move their way along the line using their feet.  Roll a weighted ball along the line.  
24. Snowman Says- Play “Simon Says” with a winter theme by calling it “Snowman Says”! Add proprioception directions to the game like calling out: 

  • Animal Walks
  • Wall Push Ups
  • Tug of War with a blanket
  • Jumping
  • Hugs
  • Stomping
25. Shovel Snow- Shoveling snow is a great way to provide proprioception to the whole body.  If you’ve ever shoveled snow, then you know it gets all of the muscles moving…even muscles you didn’t know you had.  And the sore body for the next two days keep reminding you!  Have your child shovel small scoops of snow to clear a sidewalk.  They can help out in the neighborhood by shoveling neighbor’s walks, too.  If you are lacking in the real snow department in your area, take the shovel indoors.  Use a clean shovel to scoop and move piles of towels, small toys, or even shredded paper. 
26. Snow Bucket Brigade-  Fill buckets with snow and create a bucket brigade with neighbor hood kids.  Use all of that snow to build a snow fort.  If you don’t have snow in your area, make an indoor bucket brigade using bean bags, toys, balls, or other small items.  Children can dump the buckets’  contents into an empty laundry basket. Pouring the weighted buckets is a great rhythmic and calming activity.
27. Frozen Writing- You can incorporate proprioception to the hands by writing on Styrofoam sheets like we did here for proprioceptive input or write in frozen snow dough for tactile input.
28. Snow Pile Jump- Use outdoor snow to create a pile of snow.  Jump into the snow with both feet.  Show the child how to try to land on their back or on their side. They can also jump into the snow with one foot or two, or on their knees.  No snow in your area? No problem!  Create a snowy pile using bed pillows, couch pillows, or foam and cover it with a thing blanket or bed sheet.  Jump into the “snow pile” from a trampoline.  Use both feet, one feet, and knees to jump.  
29. Snow Plow Push- For this activity, use a large cardboard box. Play snow plow by turning the box or laundry basket on it’s side and have the child push the basket around the room, pushing on all fours. They can scoop up balls or other items, including heavier items like pillows for heavy proprioceptive work.



31. Snowboard Balance- Create a homemade balance board like this one for proprioceptive and gross motor input. OR, make an ice wobble disc!

January Winter Calendar: Vestibular Activities turning therapy into play

Sensory Integration with Proprioception and Vestibular activities for turning therapy into play while working on Occupational Therapy goals.  These January calendars have a sensory activity for each day.


Vestibular Activities with a Winter Theme:

The vestibular system involves the body’s ability to adjust and move in space based on organs within our inner ears.  Problems with vestibular integration may exhibit by difficulty with balance, or a gravitationally insecure child.  
You may see a child who craves movement, can’t sit still, seeks excessive movements, or is hyperactive. They might have trouble planning movements, crossing midline, or difficulties with reading and writing. Vestibular activities can be completed in therapy goals through play:

1. Sled Rides- Have your child ride a sled while sitting up, laying flat on their belly, an laying on their back.  Pull your child around a yard covered in snow, down gentle slopes, and up small hills.  The changes in grade challenges the vestibular system.  Don’t have snow?  Bring this activity indoors!  A plastic sled works great on carpeted floors.  Pull your child as they sit/lay in all positions.  Add a bit of bumpy terrain by building a “ramp” with couch cushions and a blanket.  Don’t forget to spin the sled for circular spinning motions.

2. Snowflake Toss- Use an inflated balloon to toss and hit from above and the sides. Encourage your child to extend their head and neck back to see a high “snowflake” and down low as they hit the low tosses.  Bending, reaching overhead, and swooping side to side allow vestibular motions with a playful function.

3. Snowball Shot Put

4. Snowball Spin- Curl up like a snowball and get ready to spin! Use a large piece of cardboard for fun break-dancing, snowman-style!  Show your child how to turn and move on the cardboard and slide in all directions and planes.  For a challenge, draw or paint snowflakes on the cardboard.  These are targets for hands and feet and provide a visual motor planning, visual tracking, hand-eye coordination, and crossing midline components!  You can number the snowflakes to incorporate more skills. This is an activity that is sure to inspire smiles!   

5. Polar Bear Roll- Lay on the floor and roll like a polar bear (log roll style).  Use pillows to create obstacles and bumpy targets.  Put items on both sides of the room and transfer the objects by only rolling.  Rolling is an organizing activity for children.

6. Upside Down Snowflake Paint- Place a large sheet of butcher paper or newspaper on the floor.  Have your child hang over a large therapy ball or ottoman to paint on the paper.  You can also push dining room chairs together to create a place to hang.  Try turning the child over so they are laying on their back and painting overhead with an extended head and neck. When your snowflake paintings have dried, hang them on the ceiling to encourage more neck and head extension as you gaze up at your snowy work of art! TIP: Try this snowflake stamping art activity to incorporate fine motor skills.

7. Bounce a Snowman- Bouncing a ball is rhythmic and calming.  Bounce three different sized balls (the snowman’s bottom, middle, and head).  Bounce the balls one at a time, then try to bounce two balls at once to encourage bilateral hand coordination.  Add ping pong balls (the snowman’s eyes and buttons!) for a challenge.  THEN, change the vestibular input by sitting on the balls and bouncing the child or showing them how to bounce up and down.  A large therapy ball works well for this activity but other options include blow up beach balls, rubber balls, and kick balls.

8. Blanket Roll-Roll the child up in a blanket on the floor.  Roll the child back and forth the whole way across the floor.  Be aware of overstimulation and be sure to only do this activity for 10 rolls before taking a break.  Now pull the blanket’s end so that the child is moving in the direction of their feet or head.  Try pulling the child as they lay on their belly and then on their back.

9. Indoor Skiing-Coming Soon (I promise!)

10. Snow Angels– Cover a hard floor with a bed sheet.  Ask the child to lay on the blanket and do snow angels.  The thin sheet on a hard floor will provide little resistive feedback (which is what you want if you are working on proprioception activities!) Do angels while standing and while laying on a large therapy ball or over an ottoman, too.  

11. Snowman Hop Scotch- Draw a snowman on a sidewalk or driveway.  If it has recently snowed, draw a snowman in the snow with a stick.  If the temperatures are too cold to play outdoors, draw a snowman on a large sheet of cardboard or create a snowman on the floor using masking tape.  No matter where you make your snowman hop scotch board, don’t stop at just three circles!  Make your snowman as high as you like!  Play hop scotch with the snowman shape for jumping and hopping vestibular input.  For a challenge, draw buttons on each circle.  Children can count the number of buttons as they play hopscotch.

12. Snowflake Frisbee

13. Boot Spin {link coming soon!}

14. Snowshoe Walk {link coming soon!}

15. Polar Bear Crawl- Crawl on all fours like a polar bear.  Add throw pillows and a body pillow, as well as rolled blankets to add a balance course.  Ask them to hang their head down low as they crawl, then stand up on their knees like a polar bear.  Changes in head position is calming and organizing for the vestibular systems integration of sensory input.

16. Snow Maze Obstacle Course- If you’ve got snow outside, build logs of snow for climbing over, walking along, and rolling over.  Pile up a lump of snow for climbing on and sliding down.  Get creative with building piles of snow and showing your child how to slide, drop, swoop, jump, roll, and crawl around, over, and through.  Kids can position themselves in all planes for a variety of vestibular input. If you haven’t got snow in your area, create an indoor snow maze.  use pillows and blankets to make “snow piles”.

17. Skate on Thin Ice-  {link coming soon!}

18. Snowy Spin

19. Snow Slide- Use a large sheet of cardboard to create a snowy slide on the steps.  You can also pile up a few couch cushions and pillows to create a ramp for sliding.  If you’ve got snow outdoors, cardboard makes a great sled!  Try sliding while sitting, laying, and spinning for more vestibular play.

20. Snow Dance Party- Turn up the music and spin, twirl, shake, stretch, jump, and sway to the music.  Play music listening games like Freeze Dance.  Turn the music off and everyone needs to freeze in the position that they are in.  Try dancing with scarves and hoola hoops for more movements.  

Other Winter Dance ideas: 

  • Spin and twirl around a frozen lake
  • Pick up “ice cube” cotton balls and leap across the room to another “ice cube” as kids collect the ice cubes.
  • Frozen Bottom: dance to music and someone stops the music.  When the music stops, everyone drops to the floor and sits on their bottom.
  • Winter Clothes Dance- Everyone dances until someone stops the music. When the music stops, everyone grabs an article of winter clothing and puts it on.  You can have available a sweater, scarf, mittens, hat, earmuffs, coats, etc.  

21. Snowflake Pillow Pull- Cut snowflakes from a small square of felt.  Pin these to a body pillow.  Children must lay on the body pillow, holding onto the snowflakes.  An adult can pull the body pillow around the room as the child hugs the pillow.  An alternate activity is to have the child sit on a a snowflake on the pillow as they hold on to the sides. Being pulled around on a moving seat is a calming vestibular activity for kids.

22. Snowman Squash- {link coming soon!}

23. Snowman Roll- Do somersaults along the floor. Tape a line of masking tape on the floor and have your child somersault along the line.  Use the line to roll balls across the room, using ping pong balls and larger balls.  Use a wheeled scooter to roll along the line.  Scoot along the tape with the scooter while blowing a cotton ball “snowman” with a straw.  

24. “Snowman Says”- Simon says with a snowman theme is a fun way to incorporate vestibular and proprioceptive input and adding the components of your child’s needs into a playful game.  

Try some of these Snowman Says movements:
Vestibular: Twirl your arms.
Bend at the waist and reach between your legs.

25. Shovel Tumbles- Use a sandbox shovel to toss a ping pong ball “snowball” into a target such as a bucket or an empty laundry basket.  For added vestibular input, add a tumbling movement to the activity as the child tries to keep the ball in the shovel while they tumble.

26. Snowy Wobble Jump- You can up the vestibular input by placing a mini trampoline on the wobbly cushion base.  Jump on the trampoline or jump off of the trampoline.  Put a cushion or pillow on the trampoline and jump on that.  

27. Upside Down Frozen Writing- Encourage head tilt and alternate planes by writing while hanging over a chair or stack of couch cushions.  Writing in the prone position puts the hands at a more optimal writing position than hanging from supine.  

28. Snow Pile Jump- Use outdoor snow to create a pile of snow.  Jump into the snow with both feet.  Show the child how to try to land on their back or on their side. They can also jump into the snow with one foot or two, or on their knees.  No snow in your area? No problem!  Create a snowy pile using bed pillows, couch pillows, or foam and cover it with a thing blanket or bed sheet.  Jump into the “snow pile” from a trampoline.  Use both feet, one feet, and knees to jump.  

29. Snow Plow Push- For this vestibular activity, use a large cardboard box.  The child can climb into the box and an adult can pull them around.  Take the cardboard outside on a snowy hill.  If you don’t have a cardboard box large enough to hold your child, use a laundry basket.  Play snow plow by turning the box or laundry basket on it’s side and have the child push the basket around the room, pushing on all fours. 

30. Ice Cube Jump

31. Snowflake Balance 

Hopefully these activities will help with Vestibular activities.  Be sure to visit each activity for more vestibular ideas.

Sensory Integration with Proprioception and Vestibular activities for turning therapy into play while working on Occupational Therapy goals.  These January calendars have a sensory activity for each day.

DIY Cardboard Car Childhood Must-do

Everyone has those childhood memories that just stick with you for a lifetime.  Simple outside play are some of our best memories that us Aunts laugh about anytime we think about our childhood.  Getting messy in dirt, playing with sticks, and cardboard on a hill are just a few of the simple ways that we played as kids.  Recently we brought a little bit of simple outdoor fun to this childhood must-do activity with our own kids.

Add these resources to the ones you can find here under sensory diet vestibular activities to meet the sensory needs of all kids. 

Make your own Cardboard Car:

You might have seen this fun on our Instagram feed.  Are on IG?  Stop by and follow along with us.  We would love to catch up with you there!
All kids should do this in their childhood! Make a cardboard car and "drive" down a cardboard hill.

Cardboard and a hill are ingredients for instant outdoor fun.  Anytime we have spare cardboard in our house, the kids immediately ask to take it to the hill in our backyard.  Recently we had a big old sheet of cardboard and a few small boxes ready for the recycle bin.  Before any recycling happened, we had to play!

make a car for pretend play and outside fun.
We grabbed up a few pieces of sidewalk chalk and start decorating the cardboard boxes.

Use chalk to draw on cardboard.
Little Guy needed a lot of buttons on his “race car”.  Drawing with the chalk on cardboard is a GREAT way to work on handwriting and drawing skills.  The texture of chalk on cardboard is resistive and so requires a bit more strength to motor plan and execute the formation of shapes and letters.  Little Guy practiced his circle formation in a fun way, and didn’t realize he was actually practicing pencil control.
Now to work on that grasp of his 😉

Outside play with a cardboard box.
Baby Girl was really into this.  Anything that big brother likes, she likes.  Plus, cardboard cars are just FUN!  Of course, her buttons and steering wheel had to be “girl colors”.  Her request.

Make a cardboard car for outside fun.
We made numbers, headlights, and wheels on the outside of our cardboard cars.  Soon we were ready to drive!

We had to check for all functioning parts of the cars.

Childhood memories with simple outdoor play.

We took our cars to the hill and put down a big sheet of cardboard.  Usually, the kids love to slide down the hill on their bottoms.  The cardboard makes them slide down and is a great slide.  With the cardboard cars, they SAILED!  Check out the action here.

These two had races until the cars fell apart!

It was SUCH a fun way to play outside and re-use some cardboard!  Have you ever played with cardboard on a hill?  Let us know on our Facebook page.

Word Scavenger Hunt

Sight words written in chalk on bricks of a sidewalk. Text reads Multisensory word scavenger hunt

This word scavenger hunt is a hands-on play activity to work on sight words, spelling words, or common words. Use this creative sight word activities for kindergarten and active learning. While we used this activity many years ago to practice sight words, you can definitely use the idea to practice reading words and spelling words. Kids love these sensory word ideas to practice reading words with multisensory learning and gross motor play.

word scavenger hunt

We started practicing sight words.  One day we took them outside for a little movement and learning. 

Word Scavenger Hunt

Setting up a word scavenger hunt is easy. We used bright yellow cards to write the words to make it easier to spot the letter cards, but you could use any type of paper, or even letter rocks to spell out sight words. 

Another idea is to use clothes pins in the scavenger hunt. This is a great adaptation to the activity because you can foster hand strength, too.

I wrote our sight words on the sidewalk and had the kids match them up with our cards. 
They jumped on the word as I called it out and then could put the card on top.  This was a good gross motor coordination warm-up for our Scavenger Hunt.


Sight Word Scavenger Hunt

Big Sister went off and closed her eyes so she couldn’t see (with a little peeking…) and I hid the cards in different places in our yard.
Sight Word Scavenger Hunt
When all of the cards were hidden, I had her come back to the sidewalk and I would say one of the words.  She ran off and tried to find the word.
We had sight words hidden all over!  The kids had so much fun with this.  Even Little Guy, who hasn’t been practicing the sight words, got in to the action.  He loved helping Big Sister hide the words for me to find too.
When it was my turn to find the words, Big Sister would read one of the words on the sidewalk and I had to go find it.  I would ask her, “is this pan…?”  So she could read the word on the card, too.
After the Sidewalk Sight Words and Scavenger Hunt, we put the cards in the water bin with some bird seed for fun sensory play.
We’ve been doing a bunch of different activities with our sight words.
Looking for more ways to practice building words and spelling using letter cards or manipulatives? Grab our Letters Fine Motor Kit.

Want printable handwriting and sensory motor activities to target the visual motor skills needed for letter writing? Grab a copy of our Letters! Fine Motor Kit. The printable PDF contains 100 pages of hands-on letter writing practice for multisensory handwriting!

Letters Fine Motor Kit

Inside the Letters Fine Motor Kit, you’ll find:

  • A-Z Multisensory Writing Pages: Roll a ball of dough letters, ASL sign language letters, gross motor movement, small-scale letter box writing task, finger isolation letter trace, and writing practice area
  • Alphabet Fine Motor Clip Cards– Clip clothespins or paper clips to match letters with various fonts to strengthen the hands and focusing on eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, visual processing skills, and more.
  • Cut and place Fine Motor Mazes– Cut out the letter pieces and trace the maze with a finger to work on eye-hand coordination and finger isolation. Place a small letter on the letter spots to address in-hand manipulation and dexterity skills.
  • A-Z Cotton Swab Cards– Includes upper case and lower case letters. Dot the cards using a cotton swab or laminate the cards and use them over and over again.
  • A-Z Pattern Block Cards– These cards include a section for tracing with a finger tip for separation of the sides of the hand, eye-hand coordination, and finger isolation during letter formation. There is also a space to “finger write” the letter using the fingertip. This multisensory letter formation activity can be a great brain break during handwriting or literacy tasks. Learners can then form the letter using parquetry blocks.
  • Fine Motor Letter Geo-Cards– These geo board cards include A-Z in upper case forms. Users can copy the letter forms in a variety of multi-sensory strategies.
  • A-Z Color and Cut Letter Memory Cards– These upper case and lower case letter cards can be used to color for letter formation. Then use them in fine motor matching tasks or in sensory bins.
  • Color By Size Sheets– Help learners discriminate between tall letters, small letters, and tail letters. This visual perception activity invites learners to color small areas, using hand muscles for strengthening and handwriting endurance.
  • A-Z Building Block Cards– These LEGO block cards invite users to copy the cards to form letters using small building blocks. Users can place the blocks on the cards or copy the letter to address visual shift and visual memory. This activity set comes in upper case and lowercase letter forms.
  • A-Z Play Dough Letter Formation Cards– Print off these cards and laminate them to create play dough mats. Learners can form the letters using the arrows to correctly form letters with play dough while strengthening their hands and visual motor skills. Each card includes a space for practicing the letter formation, using a dry erase marker if the cards are laminated.
  • Graded Lines Box Writing Sheets– Users can trace and form letters in boxes to work on formation of letters, line awareness, starting points, and letter size.
  • Alphabet Roll and Write Sheets– Roll a dice and form the letter associated with the number of dots on the dice. This is a great way to work on letter formation skills using motivation. Which letter will reach the top first? This activity is easily integrated with a rainbow writing task to increase number or repetitions for letter practice.
  • Pencil Control Letter Scan– Use the letter bubble tracks to scan for letters. Users can fill in the letters of the alphabet to work on pencil control skills.
  • Color and Cut Puzzles– Color the pictures to work on hand strength and letter formation skills. Then cut out the puzzles and build visual perceptual skills.

Get your copy of the Letters Fine Motor Kit today!

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

Driveway Sensory Drawing: Wet Chalk!

wet chalk

Drawing with wet chalk on a driveway is such a fun sensory experience for outdoor play and one that develops so many areas of gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and visual motor skills through sensory play. Drawing milestones like coloring with chalk is part of childhood but this driveway chalk activity builds many skills!

Wet chalk

Wet Chalk

We played outside one cool morning and discovered something really fun…We had left a couple of pieces of chalk outside during an overnight rainstorm. 

The texture of wet chalk is so cool! It smears on the driveway so easily and is the neatest texture. For children struggling with tactile defensiveness wet chalk is a great sensory experience because you can grade the dryness or the wetness of the chalk texture.

There was only red and blue that were soaked through, but they combined to make a pretty nice rainbow!

How to make wet chalk

There are several ways to make wet chalk to use on a driveway.

  1. Soak driveway chalk in a bucket of water overight or for a few hours.
  2. Draw with chalk on a wet driveway. After a rain works or spray the driveway with water from the hose.
  3. Crush chalk into a powder and mix water into the chalk dust to create a messy, thick chalk paint. This liquid chalk paint recipe explains more on this strategy.

You can select the wet chalk method that works best for you!

Once you have your wet chalk created, you can get started with the chalk art.

Wet Chalk Activities

We’ve created a list of chalk activities here on the website before so any of those ideas would work. But if you want to explore development of other skills, try these wet chalk activities:

  • Make a chalk rainbow
  • Make a driveway obstacle course
  • Create letters and use a wet-dry-try method of writing the letters
  • Mix colors
  • Use the wet chalk for body painting
  • Paint rocks
  • Write names or words


Wet chalk
We played with this for a while…the chalk drawing even started to dry on the driveway.
I LOVE this picture!
Use wet chalk on the driveway
Baby Girl loved this messy play.  She got her hands right in there and covered them with the chalky mess.

Outdoor Sensory Play

What a great sensory experience!  Check out how Baby Girl is on her hands and knees…She’s putting weight through her upper body and down to the hands, and strengthening her shoulder girdle which is so important for fine motor dexterity.  All this while exploring the texture of the chalk, manipulating little pieces of chalk, and having fun with her sister!
Wet chalk activity for kids
We kept tracing over the rainbow lines until the chalk became so small…great for working on that tripod grasp
Big Sister was really aware of the lines of the rainbow when she was tracing.  This is fun for a new hand writer who is learning to place letters on the lines of paper ((line awareness)).
Tracing the big arch of the rainbow allowed her to cross midline on a fun activity.   Why do kids need to cross midline?? One reason is so that hand writers efficiently allow the dominant hand to do the work during handwriting while moving left to right across the page in a smooth manner.
Play with wet chalk to make a driveway rainbow
And of course, you MUST add raindrops to the rainbow 😉
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.

Magnetic Letters on the Garage Door

We have a bin of magnetic letters that we’ve been playing with for years.  Packs of these magnetic alphabets are everywhere; You can find them at the dollar store and so many other stores.  I have pulled this bin out so many times for play.  Each child has loved to sort, dump the bin out, place all over the fridge, and more.  The big kids are spelling their name and words.  We’ve used these letters in all kinds of sensory bins…even molded into Jello for messy sensory play!
Last week, we took the bin of letters outside and found the BIGGEST magnetic board EVER!

Big Sister is learning to spell and read some words and found the letters for a few words she knows.  Little Guy is a big fan of spelling “stop” at every stop sign we come to on the road.  So, he found the letters to that word.
((He also has the recent …funny…habit of spelling “YES” or “NO” instead of saying the actual word when you ask him a yes/no question.))  SO funny, and SO him!

Movement and Learning in Letter Identification and Spelling

There is a lot of research out there showing that incorporating movement into learning helps with so many aspects of cognition.  Kathryn at Movement and Learning shares a great collection of research.
We played a little game to sort out the letters to a word that both of them knew really well.  I wanted to encourage self-confidence by starting with a word they know.  I put one of each of the letters of “stop” in different areas of the garage.  Little Guy (who is learning letter identification) looked in the pile of letters on the ground and found an “S” and put it with the rest of the “S’s”.  Then he found a “T” and put it with the rest of the “T’s”.  He found each of the letters in order and went through the word “stop” three times.
Big Sister is learning to read beginner words.  I wrote some “-ar” words on the driveway in chalk (car, jar, far, star) and she would walk from the word to copy the words in magnets on the garage.

Cross Lateral Movement and Learning

I had them try another game to put the letters back into the bin.  I asked them to put the letters away one by one, using alternating hands to reach across their midline to grab the letter.
What is the midline?? Imagine a line going down the middle of your body from the middle of your forehead, and strait down, dividing your body into two symmetrical halves.  Your right and left sides are divided by your midline.
The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body.  Crossing midline forces the two halves of the brain to work together.
It was a little difficult to get them to reach for letters with their non-dominant hand.  It required more verbal cues, physical prompts, and visual cues.  Why was this so tricky?  Because the brain was being asked to do something novel.  Both Big Sister and Little Guy needed the extra prompts and cues to reach across their midline, all the while recalling the letter in order to spell the word.
Pretty Cool!
So, is crossing midline difficult for your child?  Try these play activities:
Crawling in a tunnel, finger painting with both hands, digging in sand to find objects, Pat-a-Cake hand and rhythm games, Simon Says games, playing with ribbon wands or scarves.