Vision 101 Course

Vision 101 course for occupational therapists

You might know that there is a lot of vision information and resources on visual processing here on the website. Today, I’m excited to bring you all of those vision resources in one place and to to share information on Vision 101, a new vision course that you will find useful.

The Vision 101 course is a giveaway item today in the Therapy Tools and Toys Giveaway series. (Giveaway now closed)

Vision 101 for vision resources, visual efficiency, and occupational therapy resources and OT interventions for visual processing in kids.

Vision 101

Vision problems are very common in children that receive occupational therapy.

If you are looking for information on visual processing and vision in kids, then you are in the right place. Check out the various resources and tools available here on The OT Toolbox:

Free Visual Perception Packet– Print and go! These free visual perceptual skills worksheets cover a variety of topics and themes. Work on visual closure, visual scanning, visual discrimination, and more.

Vison Screening Packet– Use this vision screening packet to screen for vision issues that impact occupational performance and education in learning and school tasks.

Vision Information– Check out all of the vision blog posts here on the website.

Vision Activities– Let’s break down vision! These vision activities address specific skills in fun and creative ways. You’ll find information on vision definitions and activities to work on each aspect of visual processing.

Free Visual Processing Lab– This free email course covers tons of information on visual processing and breaks down this massive topic into visual motor integration, visual perception, and visual efficiency…and then explains each aspect.

Visual Processing Checklist– This printable checklist is perfect for screening visual needs in the school setting.

Vision’s Impact on Learning– The fact is that children with vision issues are impacted in their learning. Here’s what you need to know.

Visual Motor Skills– Let’s face it. Much of what we do on a daily basis involves visual motor integration. Here is all of the info and resources to address visual motor skills in kids.

Visual Processing Bundle– This resource is a must-have for all things vision. It includes 17 products that you can use in therapy sessions to work on vision needs impacting occupational performance.

Want to gain continuing education credits while you learn how to apply vision interventions into your school-based practice? Vision 101 is your resource!

Vision 101 course for occupational therapy practioners

Vision 101 Course for School-Based OTs

Vision 101 is a course created by my friend Jaime at Miss. Jaime OT. She’s created this AOTA-approved course as a tool to help you improve your skills as a school-based occupational therapist. In the course, you can learn how to detect, screen for, and treat the visual difficulties that impact students’ learning

Vision 101 for School-based Occupational Therapy Practitioners is a tool to help you understand how vision deficits impact a child’s ability to learn and participate in school work.

The course offers resources on how to help students learn and participate in school tasks.

Included in the Vision course is information on:

  • Vision and the school-based therapist
  • Recognizing possible visual impediments to learning
  • Understanding visual diagnoses
  • Assessing and documenting eye movements
  • Visual characteristics of common pediatric diagnosis
  • Treatment Ideas
  • Vision and telehealth

Vision in the school setting

Check out the blog comments below for common questions about vision in the school setting.

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.

Cookies Activities for Therapy

Cookies activities for occupational therapy intervention

I am excited to share another free slide deck for virtual occupational therapy! This cookies activities slide deck includes cookie themed activities for building skills in therapy. The virtual slide deck goes nicely with our recent gingerbread man virtual activity slide deck. It’s a free slide deck that is interactive AND addresses areas such as working memory, eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills, visual attention, and other areas.

Cookie activities for occupational therapy with a virtual therapy slide deck.

Cookies Activities

This is the time of year for holiday baking. Because perhaps this year needs a little more of the comfort that holiday cookies bring, I thought that a Christmas cookies theme would be appropriate.

These cookies activities are meant to be motivating and an encouraging way to work on specific therapy skills.

This year, especially, it’s all about getting creative with motivating strategies to work on the skills kids need support with.

These Cookies Activities are therapy activities that work on the following therapy areas:

  • Working Memory
  • Visual Attention
  • Visual Memory
  • Visual Perception (visual figure ground, visual discrimination, form constancy, visual spatial relations, form constancy, visual closure)
  • Visual Efficiency (visual scanning)
  • Visual Motor Skills
  • Handwriting
use this holiday cookies activities for therapy planning using a cookie theme in teletherapy.

Cookie Theme for Therapy

This therapy slide deck is an outline of therapy activities for this time of year and addresses different areas that can be worked on in occupational therapy sessions, and even speech therapy!

Cookie activities for working on working memory, visual perception, handwriting and more.

Working Memory Activity with a Cookie Theme

The first several slides include “I Spy” cookies activities, with a direction to locate specific cookies in the kitchen. Students can follow that direction and move the interactive cookie pieces to drag that specific cookie onto the baking sheet.

The directions are text boxes, so that therapists using this slide deck can adjust the directions as needed. You can make the directions more complex or easier, depending on the needs of your client, student, or child. Add 2 or multi-step directions or work on positional terms, too.

The cookies are in the same place on each slide so that children can work on working memory as they look for specific details according to each slide’s directions.

TIP: After your child’s therapy session, click on history at the top of Google slides and reset the slide to it’s original state so that all of the cookies are positioned at the original placement.

Visual Perception Cookie Activities

There are many visual perceptual skills that children can work on with this slide deck:

Visual figure ground– Scanning the image and identifying and locating items hidden in a busy background. This is a skill needed for reading, finding items in a drawer, locating a paper in a homework folder, and other similar tasks.

Visual discrimination– Students can visually scan the kitchen slide deck and identify differences and similarities between the cookies to locate the correct item. Visual discrimination is a skill needed for handwriting, reading, math and other skills.

Form constancy– This visual perceptual skill allows us to recognize similarities and differences between forms and images. This skill is needed for reading, writing, math, and functional tasks.

Visual spatial relations– Understanding positional terms is an important skill. This slide deck works on this area by moving the cookies to different places on the slide. Therapists can make this part of the activity more or less difficult to grade the activity to meet the needs of the child by adding additional directions to the slide to work on positional concepts. Try adding directions that ask the child to move a specific cookie to a different place in the kitchen on the slide.

Form constancy– Students that need more work with this visual perception skill can have several of the cookies duplicated and added to the slide. Then, work on size differences and positional concepts by moving the cookies to different places. You can adjust the directions to ask the child to find all of the same cookie.

Visual closure– Students can work on this visual perception skill by moving some of the cookies to partially hide behind other items on the slide.

Cookie activity for handwriting with kids.

Handwriting Cookie Activity

The next part of the slide deck is handwriting prompts in a write the room style of handwriting practice. Students can copy the word in print or cursive, depending on their needs. They can write a sentence using the word, if writing sentences is something they need to work on. Work on letter formation, legibility, and copying skills.

Use this cookie activity for visual motor skills in kids.

Visual Motor Cookie Activity

The last part of the cookie activity slide deck includes figure copying tasks. The slides include basic cookie forms that students can copy while working on visual motor skills. This is a nice activity to help children with the visual motor skills needed for forming letters and numbers.

This cookie slide deck should be a motivating a fun way to work on so many areas!

Free Cookie theme Slide Deck for therapy

Want to add this cookie slide deck to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email address into the form below and a PDF will be sent to your inbox. Save that PDF, because you can use this slide deck each year to work on therapy goals with a holiday cookie theme.

When you click the link in the PDF, you will be prompted to make a copy of the slide deck onto your Google drive. Make a copy for each student on your caseload so they have their own slide deck and you can adjust the slides according to their needs.

Get this Holiday Cookie Theme Therapy Activities Slide Deck

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

    Enjoy!

    Want more VIRTUAL LEARNING SLIDE DECKS?

    Don’t miss this Gingerbread Man Slide Deck.

    Here is a Community Helpers Theme Slide Deck.

    Here is a Football Theme Slide Deck.

    Here is a slide deck for a Social Story for Wearing a Mask.

    Here is a Space Theme Therapy Slide Deck.

    Here is a Therapy Planning Interactive Slide Deck.

    Here is a Back to School Writing Activity Slide Deck.

    Here is an Alphabet Exercises Slide Deck.

    Here is a Self-Awareness Activities 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.

    Here is a Community Helpers Theme Slide Deck.

    Here is a Football Theme Slide Deck.

    Here is a slide deck for a Social Story for Wearing a Mask.

    Here is a Space Theme Therapy Slide Deck.

    Here is a Therapy Planning Interactive Slide Deck.

    Here is a Back to School Writing Activity Slide Deck.

    Here is an Alphabet Exercises Slide Deck.

    Here is a Self-Awareness Activities 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.

    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.

    Vision Problems or Attention

    Vision problems or attention issues

    Visual deficits and occupational therapy interventions go hand in hand. And, the connection between vision problems or attention issues impacts children when it comes to ADD and ADHD. In fact, the connection between visual deficits and attention is especially a factor in OT treatment. Trouble paying attention, difficulty with reading, finishing work on time and staying on task can be signs of both attention issues or a vision issue. So, how do you tell the difference, and what do you do about it? Knowing if a visual impairment is present can mean the difference between accommodating for vision difficulties and a different diagnosis, such as attention deficit disorder. 

    Vision problems or attention issues

    Vision or Attention Deficit Disorder

    Children with vision deficits work twice as hard, and use more “brain” power to make their eyes work correctly as compared to peers without vision deficits. 

    Children with vision deficits may also experience fatigue more quickly, have frequent headaches, or blurry vision.

    When they begin to experience the above symptoms, it is easier for the child to look away, leading them to appear to be “staring off into space” or lose focus. These behaviors are often mistaken for ADD in the classroom setting. Vision deficits that may be behind these symptoms and actions include: 

    • Poor tracking 
    • Poor teaming
    • Poor convergence and divergence
    • Eye muscle imbalances 

    All of these issues can impact learning.

    Vision and Social Skills

    Like kids with ADD, kids with vision deficits often appear to have poor social skills. Behaviors include a lack of response to their name, missing social cues or facial expressions, and not attending to others in the room. 

    This apparent “lack” of social skills is also related to how hard they are working on using their eyes. When this happens, the level of executive function left for other tasks significantly decreases. 

    This may also make the child appear “scatter brained” or disorganized. 

    Attention Deficit Disorder Symptoms

    Vision concerns outside of acuity are FREQUENTLY missed due to limited vision screening protocols and the desire to quickly remediate behavior.

     In addition to limited vision screening, vision deficits are not widely recognized as a potential reason for distracted or inattentive behavior. 

    Attention issues and vision Problems

    If you have concerns, or concerns have been brought to your attention, regarding your child and ADD, rule out vision deficits first. A trip to a developmental ophthalmologist may help better explain your child’s behavior concerns and provide them the help they truly need.

    WHAT IF YOU SUSPECT VISION PROBLEMS?

    Now what?  When vision problems are suspected after a screening by the OT, it is best practice to refer the family to a developmental optometrist.

    A developmental optometrist will complete a full evaluation and determine the need for corrective lenses, vision therapy or a home program to address vision concerns.

    As occupational therapists, it is imperative that we rule out vision problems before treating handwriting or delays in visual motor integration, to ensure the best possible trajectory of development and success for the child.

    OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY VISION SCREENING TOOL

    Occupational Therapists screen for visual problems in order to determine how they may impact functional tasks. Our newest Visual Screening Tool is a useful resource or identifying visual impairments. Visual screening can occur in the classroom setting, in inpatient settings, in outpatient therapy, and in early intervention or home care.

    This visual screening tool was created by an occupational therapist and provides information on visual terms, frequently asked questions regarding visual problems, a variety of visual screening techniques, and other tools that therapists will find valuable in visual screenings.

    This is a digital file. Upon purchase, you will be able to download the 10 page file and print off to use over and over again in vision screenings and in educating therapists, teachers, parents, and other child advocates or caregivers.

    Click here to read more about the Visual Screening Tool 

    Visual screening tool for vision problems in kids

    Christmas Suncatcher Craft

    Christmas suncatcher craft

    This Christmas Suncatcher craft has been something we’ve been thinking about for a while.  This Christmas craft for kids is a fun one to add to your holiday line-up. With the sun streaming in through the dining room window, it’s the perfect place for sun catchers.  And this Christmas themed craft is the perfect addition to our big dining room window.  We went a little crazy with the sequins on this craft.  Our Christmas suncatcher craft is very sparkly, and just right for the season!   Big Sister loved making this project and the fine motor work involved was just right for her age.   

    Christmas suncatcher is a great fine motor Christmas activity for kids. They can make the Christmas tree sun catcher and hang it in the window.

    Christmas Tree Sun Catcher

    This Christmas fine motor activity is a fun craft for working on specific fine motor skills such as pincer grasp, in-hand manipulation, and precision, including distal mobility. While we used sequins for our Christmas tree suncatcher, you could use practically any crafting material, from tissue paper, to foam stickers, to pressed flowers or pine needles. Use your imagination and make it an open-ended craft for the kids.

    Kids can make this Christmas suncatcher craft with paper and sequins.

    {Note: This post contains affiliate links.}    

    This craft started with some major Sequins, and two triangles cut from green Construction Paper.

    Make a Christmas suncatcher craft with kids.
    Such a cute Christmas suncatcher craft for kids.

    How pretty are these sequins?? LOVE the colors and sparkles in this Christmas craft!

    Love this Christmas suncatcher craft for a Christmas tree craft that kids can make.

      I cut two triangles of  Clear Contact Paper, just slightly smaller than the green triangles.  Big Sister started placing the sequins on the contact paper.

    Work on fine motor skills with kids with this Christmas tree suncatcher craft.

    This was such a great fine motor activity for that Neat Pincer Grasp.  To pick up the sequins from the table surface and place them onto the contact paper requires tip to tip grasp of the index finger and thumb.  All of those sequins was a great workout!  She did a ton of them, but we ended up sprinkling even more sequins on to the contact paper to give our sun catcher a REALLY sparkly look.

    Cute Christmas craft for kids that makes a beautiful suncatcher craft.

       Next came Big Sister’s favorite part.  Do all Kindergarteners love tape as much as she does?  This girl loooooooves tape!  We stuck the two pieces of contact paper together to sandwich the sequins in the middle.  Then we taped the contact paper onto on of the green triangles.  

    Kid craft for Christmas activities that builds fine motor skills.

    A little glue held the top triangle in place and our sun catcher was complete!  Let us know if you do this craft.  We love to see our projects come to life with your kids! 

    Christmas modified paper for holiday handwriting for kids

    SALE! Save 25% on Modified Christmas Paper NOW THROUGH CYBER MONDAY.

    Coupon code is HOLIDAY25

    Use the Christmas modified paper handwriting pack to work on handwriting, letter size, letter formation, and legibility with meaningful and motivating activities:

    • Letters to Santa
    • Wish List
    • Holiday To-Do List
    • Shopping List
    • Thank You Notes
    • Recipe Sharing
    • Winter Writing Prompts

    Click here to get your packet.

    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.

    Vision Activities for Kids

    Vision activities

    Skipping words when reading or copying written work, noticing details about things, reversing letters and numbers, poor eye-hand coordination or being a little clumsy, difficulty with reading comprehension…these are just SOME of the ways that vision impacts functional tasks in kids. Here you will find specific strategies and vision activities that help kids build and develop the underlying areas that impact independence.

    Vision activities for kids to improve visual perception, visual efficiency, visual motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and more.

    These vision activities are outlined by area that they improve, or those underlying skills that therapists work on so that kids can be independent in thins like catching a ball, writing on the lines, building puzzles, and so many other tasks.

    We’ve recently put together a huge resource in our Visual Motor Skills section of the blog, which you can find under the tab at the top of the blog. Be sure to stop by and see all of the fun ways to play and develop visual perceptual skills, visual motor integration, visual figure ground, hand-eye coordination, visual discrimination, visual spatial relations, and more by checking out the vision activities for kids that we’ll be updating regularly.

    Why Vision Activities?

    Vision activities can sometimes be the missing piece to vision problems that we see in kids. Therapists often times working with kids with known or suspected visual perceptual or visual motor concerns, visual acuity issues, or other visual processing needs.

    Teachers often have students that struggle with reading, copying, handwriitng, comprehension, attention, or focus.

    Parents may have a child with a known vision issue or have a gut feeling about visual processing concerns.

    Here is more information on visual processing and handwriting.

    therapist Concerns

    There are many concerns therapists have when it comes to vision needs in kids. Therapists need a quick screen to help identify the visual difficulties Rather than taking the extended time to work through several lengthy assessments, there is a time for evaluation, but a quick screening can pinpoint which strategy to take next.

    Having quick activities to either do before or after an OT session, or to hand off to parents for home occupational therapy activities is a need for OTs. Similarly, quick vison activities that build on those underlying areas and are not disruptive to the class are sometimes needed.

    Teacher Concerns

    One of the main difficulties in the classroom is the impact vision has on learning. Kids struggle with visual stimulation and the inability to stay focused for any length of time due to visually processing so much information around us.  Students may visually dart their eyes from not only reading scripts but anything visually available, and they are unable to filter what isn’t required for the task at hand. When this happens, the eyes don’t know where to focus, therefore tasks take longer or don’t get completed, and it’s a real challenge for the child to focus. 

    Handwriting is another reason to take a look at vision. Many kiddos have difficulties keeping letters aligned on a baseline, or even knowing where to place letters on a blank sheet of paper. 

    So many kids cannot visually attend to an object to even assess tracking.  They will look past the tracking object and say they are looking at it or look at it for 1-2 seconds and their eyes dart in another direction.  How many children have you seen that have not had the capability to maintain visual contact with an object for a sustained amount of time? When this occurs, reading and handwriting can be a real problem?  

    Vision Therapy

    There is an overlap in interventions between vision therapy and occupational therapy. Much of the vision therapy research covers the vary skill areas that occupational therapy addresses in it’s OT activities.

    So often, these two professions intervene in those vision activities that address the very areas kids struggle in:

    -More and more kids who can not visually track- leading to trouble with reading and learning…

    -Kids of various levels and abilities who struggle with interventions to address visual motor deficits…

    -Students with real difficulties with reading and need strategies that make a difference in the classroom…

    -Kids challenged by limited exposure to motor activities that translate to visual motor difficulties…

    Kids struggle with orthographic memory (spelling patterns and knowing if a word looks right), but they have high levels of visual acuity.

    -Many students have difficulty with visual memory and visual attention which makes it difficult for them to copy words or sentences. They require visual and verbal cues to refer back to the sample and often can only recall and copy one letter at a time.  

    Vision Definitions

    Before we cover various vision activities, we will go over the vision definitions for terms that relate to all things vision. This guide to vision can help you better understand what’s happening in those eyes.

    Under each section are links to activities to build each skill area.

    Visual Motor Integration- Visual motor integration includes the overarching umbrella that contains several areas, including visual perception, visual processing skills, and eye-hand coordination. The integration of these areas enables the eyes to perceive information through the vision functions (described in further below) and process information, resulting coordinated hand (and body) motor actions in order to complete a task. Visual motor integration includes a perceptual component that allows for copying of letters and positioning of objects based on perceptual input.

    Here are visual motor skills activities.

    Eye-Hand Coordination- This eye and hand skill allows an individual to catch a ball, hit a target, or complete other motor actions based on visual information. Development of eye-hand coordination occurs from birth and continues as kids develop more physical skills.

    Here is an easy eye-hand coordination activity.

    – work on hand eye coordination using an everyday item…something you have in your therapy bag right now!

    Jumbo Fine Motor Threading Activity– Threading and lacing is a great way to work on hand eye coordination.

    Eye-hand coordination activity with letters– Sorting, manipulating, and organizing small items can be a way to boost skills with coordination exercises.

    Feather Beading– Threading beads onto feathers is a creative and fun way to improve eye hand coordination skills.

    Vision Functions- This includes the actions and abilities of the eyes that allow information to be perceived. Visual functions include visual tracking, visual convergence, divergence, saccadic eye movements, depth perception, nystagmus, disassociated eye movements, eye positioning, teaming, and eye dominance. Here are visual scanning activities.

    • Visual Tracking- The eyes ability to follow a moving target through all fields of vision with smooth, coordinated movements in dissociation; it is also referred to as a pursuit. Here are activities to work on smooth pursuits.

    Here are games for visual tracking.

    • Visual Convergence- The eyes ability to follow a moving target from a distance into the midline with smooth, coordinated movements. Convergence is the technical term for “crossing your eyes”. Convergence should be easily maintained for up to 5 seconds. Here are activities to improve visual convergence.
    • Divergence- The eyes ability to follow a moving target from convergence, or near point, out to a far point with smooth, coordinated movements.

    Here is more information on convergence efficiency.

    • Saccadic Eye Movements- The ability to move one’s eyes simultaneously between two points of fixation with smooth movements. This skill is utilized for near and far point copying without losing your place. Here are activities for visual saccades.
    • Teaming- Fluid, smooth coordinated movements of both eyes in synchrony. Difficulties with teaming can lead to eye strain and fatigue, headaches, and blurred vision. Visual teaming is a big part of visual efficiency. Here are activities and more information on visual efficiency.
    • Disassociated Eye Movements- The ability to move your eyes separately from your head while it is stabilized. Lack of dissociation can indicate under developed motor patterns and eye muscle imbalances. 
    • Eye Positioning- This refers to the position of the eyes when resting. Both eyes should be in neutral, equal position. However, it is possible that one, or both eyes demonstrates deviation in an outward or inward deviation. This can indicate an eye muscle imbalance.
    • Nystagmus- Nystagmus refers to the reflexive lateral movement of the eyes post rotary stimulation. This should be present only after rotary stimulation. If it is present at rest it is considered abnormal. If it is NOT present or limited post rotary stimulation, it is considered abnormal and may indicate a vestibular disorder.
    • Eye Dominance- This indicates the eye that is the stronger of the two. This eye is typically the same eye as our dominant side for motor tasks.  However, mixed dominance does happen and can cause difficulties. 
    • Depth Perception- Allows us to perceive visual input in multiple dimensions (including length, width and depth), and to judge how far away an object is. Here is information and activities for depth perception.

    Visual perception is our ability to make sense of what we see. Visual perceptual skills are essential for everything from navigating our world to reading, writing, and manipulating items. Visual perception is made up of a complex combination of various skills and systems, including sensory processing, visual attention. These visual perceptual skills are necessary together and in coordination with one another in order for use to see information and use that visual information to create responses or react with functional abilities like movement or processing. When visual perceptual skills are delayed or impaired, other areas can suffer, including: learning, social, emotional, self-regulation, behavior, attention, organization, concentration, self-esteem, etc.

    Visual Perceptual Skills make up an important component of visual motor skills. For children, these abilities are necessary for so many things…from self-care to fine motor skills, to gross motor skills…all parts of a child’s development require visual perception. There are many pieces to the giant term of “visual perception”. Sub-components include: visual memory, form constancy, visual spatial relationships, visual attention, visual sequential memory, visual figure-ground, and visual closure.

    Here are strategies for visual perception and handwriting.

    Here are toys and games to improve visual perception.

    Visual Memory– This is one’s ability to store visual information in short term memory.  This skill allows us to recall visual information.  When completing hidden picture puzzles, kids visually store images of items they are looking for when scanning to locate a specific shape or image.  This skill is necessary for handwriting tasks when copying information from a source, such as lists of words, homework lists, and copying sentences. which direction we see them. Here is more information and activities for visual memory.

    Form Constancy– This skill allows us to visually recognize objects no matter their orientation.  When completing a hidden picture puzzle, children can recognize the missing object whether it is upside down or sideways.  In handwriting skills, we use this ability to read and know letters and numbers no matter the position of the letters/numbers. Here are fun ways to work on form constancy.

    Visual Figure Ground is the ability to locate objects within a cluttered area (think “I Spy”).  Finding a red square among the pile of foam pieces is one fun way to work on this area of visual perception.

    Try some of these figure ground activities:

    Baby Ice and Bath

    Bottle cap letters

    Letter Bin

    Sight word sensory bin

    Rainbow sensory bins

    I Spy sight word sensory bottle

    Real toy I Spy game

    Finger dexterity exercise

    Figure ground sight word hunt

    Visual Spatial Relationships- This visual perceptual skill allows us to recognize and understand the relationships of objects within the environment and how they relate to one another. Here are activities to improve spatial relations.


    Visual Attention- This visual perceptual skill allows us to focus on the important pieces or parts of what we see. When we “take in” a scene or image in front of us, we are able to filter out the unimportant information. In this way, a student is able to focus our eyes on the teacher when she teaches. Driving down a road requires visual attention to take in the road so we can drive safely. Visual attention is important in copy work as students copy information from a Smart Board or book onto a piece of paper. As they visually scan from one point to another, they attend to the place they left off. Visual attention is also important and very needed in reading. Here is more information on visual attention.

    Visual Sequential Memory- This visual perceptual skill is the ability to visually take in and then later recall the sequence or order of items in the correct order. This skill is important in reading and writing. Visual sequential memory is important in spelling words correctly and recognizing that words are not spelled correctly.

    Visual Discrimination– This visual perception skill enables us to determine slight differences in objects.  In hidden picture activities, this skill is needed to determine and locate different hidden objects.  When writing and reading, visual discrimination allows us to perceive the difference between “p” and “d”. Here is a visual discrimination worksheet.

    More visual discrimiation activities:

    Color matching Elmer Activity

    Finger dexterity exercise

    Practice “b” and “d” with sensory writing

    Color shape discrimination Sort

    Coin discrimination

    Real toy I Spy game

    Visual Closure– This visual perceptual skill allows us to see part of an object and visualize in our “mind’s eye” to determine the whole object.  When we see part of an item, we use visual closure to know what the whole item is.  This skill requires the cognitive process of problem solving to identify items.  Visual Closure is used to locate and recognize items in a hidden picture puzzle.  In written work, we use visual closure to recognize parts of words and letters when reading and copying work. Here is a visual closure activity.

    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 download. Save that download so you can access these slide decks again.

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    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.

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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.

      Elmer the Elephant Activities

      Elmer the Elephant activities

      Elmer the patchwork elephant looks different than his friends. Through stories and colorful pictures that depict everyday elephant life, Elmer the elephant teaches us about diversity and differences. Elmer teaches us about acceptance, friendship, and empathy. Check out the Elmer the Elephant activity below that builds a baseline for these important skills, but also helps kids with fine motor skills, visual perceptual skills, and visual motor skills.

      If you love the Elmer books as much as we do, then you will adore this Elmer the Elephant activity. We LOVE Elmer the Elephant…and all of the Elmer books. Every time we go to the library, we are sure to check the shelf for a new Elmer book that we may have missed. This week’s book activity was so much fun to do with the kids, because it involved one of our favorite books (ever) and a great visual perception activity. Add this book activity to your list of crafts based on children’s books that build skills through reading.

      Elmer the Elephant Activity

      This fine motor craft is a powerful one because it not only builds essential visual perceptual, visual motor, and fine motor skills, but it teaches as well. This Elmer the elephant activity can be used to illustrate differences, empathy, and friendship. Here are more books that teach empathy and friendship that can be used in therapy sessions or in the classroom or home.

      They loved creating and building our very own Elmer craft. Elmer’s colors made for a great way to help kids build fine motor skills and visual motor skills, too. I loved throwing in the scissor work portion of the activity and working on a few important skills. My youngest daughter worked on her color identification and sorting.  The colors in Elmer’s patchwork skin are perfect for Toddlers to practice naming colors.  Little Guy was loving the puzzle-building portion of our activity.  The lines were a great way to work on a few visual perceptual skills needed for handwriting.  

      Elmer the elephant activity that uses the Elmer children's book as a guide and activity to help kids understand acceptance, differences, and diversity while building fine motor skills.

      Elmer the Patchwork Elephant Activity

      This post contains affiliate links.  

      If you haven’t read Elmer by David McKee, this is definitely a book you need to check out.  Elmer is a patchwork elephant with many colors.  He sticks out from the crowd of gray elephants. By exploring and interacting with his community of elephants, Elmer and the other elephants learn to accept and value his unique characteristics. Elmer is not only a colorful patchwork elephant. He is funny, smart, caring, and an individual. The book teaches us to accept differences because those differences are what make us who we are.

      Elmer teaches us about diversity. He teaches us about identity and tolerance. We all have different colors, shapes, interests, abilities, talents, and ideas. Those differences are what make us special. Let’s see those differences, accept them, and celebrate them!

      We made our own patchwork elephant with lots of colors and had a great time building and creating while talking about color names.  This was such a great activity for both Little Guy and Baby Girl.

      Try this Elmer the Elephant activity to teach children skills like scissor use and fine motor development with a wonderful children's book.


      We started with Foam Sheets in lots of different colors.  You might have seen our color sorting scissor activity post where we practiced our scissor skills.  These squares came in handy for this Elmer activity.

      Create an Elmer the Elephant activity using foam pieces to teach children about empathy and acceptance of differences in others while building fine motor and visual motor skills.

       I found a picture frame at the Dollar Store that has an acrylic front, instead of glass.  This is a great writing surface using a white board marker.  I drew an outline of Elmer with the marker.  We had a little bowl of water and started sticking the foam squares onto the surface to build our Elmer.  When the foam pieces are dunked into water, they stick really well to the picture frame surface.  We did a version of this way back when our blog began with our rainbow building activity.

      Fine motor activity for the book, Elmer the Elephant.

      Visual Perception Activity for Kids

      There were fingers everywhere, adding patchwork squares!  Little Guy and I quizzed Baby Girl on her colors as we worked.  It was a fun puzzle to get the squares fitting into the outline.  What a great way to work on visual perceptual skills, fine motor precision, dexterity, and line awareness!

      Visual perceptual skills in kids are necessary for so many things…from self-care to fine motor skills, to gross motor skills…all parts of a child’s development require visual perception.  There are many pieces to the giant term of “visual perception”.  This Elmer building activity works on quite a few of these areas:

      Visual Discrimination is determining differences in color, form, size, shape…Finding different sized squares to fit into the outline of our Elmer, discriminating the different colors, and shapes are a great way to work on this area. 

      Visual Closure is the ability to fill in parts of a form in the mind’s eye to determine shape or a whole object.  Filling in the missing parts of our Elmer works on this area.

      Visual Spatial Relations is organizing the body in relation to objects or spatial awareness.  This is an important part of handwriting.  Spacing those pieces amongst the others and in relation to the lines is one way to work on this skill.

      Visual Figure Ground is the ability to locate objects within a cluttered area (think “I Spy”).  Finding a red square among the pile of foam pieces is one fun way to work on this area of visual perception.

      Use this fine motor activity with the book Elmer the Elephant to help kids learn abstract concepts while building visual perception.

        Little Guy was really into this activity.  He loved lining up the squares to make our Elmer.

      Elmer the Elephant puzzle that kids can do to build skills in occupational therapy sessions or in the classroom or home.

      We loved how our Elmer turned out!  We’ll be using our frame again, soon.  I can think of so many fun ways to learn and play with this dollar store frame and a marker!

      Elmer the Elephant book and Elmer activity for kids

      More Elmer the Elephant Activities

      Elmer the elephant activities for kids based on the children's book, Elmer the Elephant


      Check out some of these Elmer the Elephant activities for kids. They are powerful ways to build awareness, acceptance, and friendship through the book and activity.

      Elmer the Elephant activity with facepaint

      Use face paint to celebrate friendship with a face painting party based on the Elmer the Elephant book.

      Elmer the elephant craft

      Make an Elmer craft using puppets to celebrate differences, diversity, and uniqueness in a great lesson for kids, while building fine motor skills.

      Create an Elmer craft using stamp painting.

      Create an Elmer the patchwork elephant craft using paint to make a paint stamped elephant craft. What a great way to build fine motor skills!

      Elmer the elephant preschool craft

      Kids can trace their bodies with large pieces of paper and then fill the space with colorful paper squares to celebrate uniqueness in this Elmer the Elephant preschool activity.

      Teach Acceptance, Differences, and Diversity

      Want to take complex and abstract concepts like empathy, acceptance, uniqueness, and diversity to the next level with kids? This digital, E-BOOK, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities Based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance and Empathy is filled with hands-on activities rooted in interactive, hands-on, sensory play that focus on creating a well-rounded early childhood education supporting growth in literacy, mathematics, science, emotional and social development, artistic expression, sensory exploration, gross motor development and fine motor skills.

      Kids can explore books while building specific skills in therapy sessions, as part of home programs, or in the home. is an amazing resource for anyone helping kids learn about acceptance, empathy, compassion, and friendship.

      In this book, you’ll find therapist-approved resources, activities, crafts, projects, and play ideas based on 10 popular children’s books. Each book covered contains activities designed to develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills, sensory exploration, handwriting, and more. Help kids understand complex topics of social/emotional skills, empathy, compassion, and friendship through books and hands-on play.

      Click here to get the book and add children’s books based on social emotional learning to your therapy practice, home activities, or classroom.

      Exploring books through play is a guide to using children's books in therapy and while building developmental skills.

      More books to teach social emotional skills

      Check out our other posts in the Preschool Book Club Series for activities based on favorite books:

      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.

      Free Apps for Occupational Therapy

      These free apps for occupational therapy build handwriting, executive functioning, visual memory, fine motor skills, and more.

      Normally at this time of year in therapy, it can be hard to keep the kids attention spans on track. Having a free app that builds skills can be one way to stay on track with addressing specific skills. Here, you will find free apps for occupational therapy that can be used as a supplemental activity or as a quick activity in between other occupational therapy activities. Add them to your line-up of occupational therapy teletherapy activities. Others may want to use these apps for therapy breaks or as a reward at the end of the session. Still others may find the occupational therapy apps perfect for home occupational therapy programs or ways to keep kids busy while parents are working from home. Whatever your need, these educational games and special education supports can be a powerful tool in distance learning and learning at home.

      These free apps for occupational therapy build handwriting, executive functioning, visual memory, fine motor skills, and more.

      Free Apps for Occupational Therapy

      The free apps below are broken down into targeted skill area. I’m adding apps for handwriting and letter formation, visual motor skills, executive functioning skills, and other areas. Some of these apps are IOS apps and others are Android apps. The apps that are available for Android on Google Play may be accessed through a Google account on a desktop and then accessed through the Google play app or via a Google account on an Apple device. Here is more information on how to access Google Play apps on an Apple device.

      I tried to locate only free apps in this resource. There are many great apps for occupational therapy out there, but I wanted to cover all the bases when it comes to OT interventions with free apps that can meet the needs for free!

      Another great idea for using free technology in occupational therapy includes using these Alexa skills in occupational therapy.

      Free Apps for Visual Motor Skills

      All About Shapes- This free app is available on IOS and is a shape drawing app. Users can draw and identify shapes.

      Vision Tap- This free IOS app is a great one for addressing visual processing and visual efficiency skills. Visual tracking, visual scanning, and oculo-motor skills are challenged with this one!


      Broom, Broom- This free IOS app allows children to draw paths for the vehicles in the game to drive on, building eye-hand coordination, motor planning, visual memory, and precision of fine motor skills.

      Visual Memory is a free app available on Google Play. The game is designed to develop visual memory and improve attention. Users can find the image that appears at each level.

      Piko’s Blocks- this free IOS app really challenges the visual spatial skills for older kids.

      Memory Game is another free app on Google Play. The game is just like the classic concentration game, helping users to build visual memory skills.

      Learning with Wally is an Android app available on Google Play. The visual discrimination app challenges users to discriminate between differences, recognize, and attend to details in visual forms, including pictures, letters, words and sentences.

      Sorting and Learning Game 4 Kids- This app is available on Google Play and challenges users to categorize and match themed objects while helping to build visual attention, visual memory, and focus with a concentration on visual perception.

      Visual Attention Therapy Life is an app available on Google Play. The free app allows users to address and build visual scanning, visual memory, and visual attention. It also helps rehab professionals to assess for neglect and provide more efficient and effective therapy for attention deficits.


      Sensory Baby Toddler Learning- This Google Play app is great for younger kids as they work on cause and effect and develop hand eye coordination skills.


      Connecting Dots is Fun- This free IOS app allows users to work on visual perceptual skills such as visual discrimination, form constancy, figure-ground and visual processing skills of tracking and scanning. Users create dot-to-dot activities in the app.

      Alphabet Puzzles For Toddlers- This Google Play app helps younger children work on letter identification and letter recognition. The letter learning app is a great app for preschoolers or toddlers. The visual perceptual app allows children to address form constancy, visual discrimination, figure ground, and other visual perceptual skills.

      iMazing- In this free IOS app, users can complete maze activities while challenging visual perception and visual motor skills.
      Skill Game- This free app is available on Android. The game allows users to draw lines to connect numbers while building eye-hand cordination, precision, motor planning, visual memory, and more.

      On the Line- This IOS app is great for working on visual motor skills using a stylus.


      Squiggles- This free app is a great one to work on pre-writing skills. Users can draw lines and figures and watch as they become animated.

      Use these free handwriting apps to work on letter formation, number formation, letter recognition, and more.

      Handwriting Free Apps

      ITrace is a handwriting app that does have a price for the main version, however, there is a free version available with some activities. Users can trace letters, numbers, words, and shapes while working on visual motor skills and letter formation.


      Writing Wizard- This app is available on Google Play and allows users to trace letters along a visual guide. There are various fonts available and size can be adjusted for different ages.

      Writing Wizard-Cursive- This handwriting app is created by the makers of the regualar, print version of Writing Wizard. Users can practice letter formation in cursive.

      Start Dot- This app addresses letter formation using visual, auditory, and movement cues. These prompts fade to address accuracy and independence.

      Ollie’s Handwriting and Phonics- This free app allows users to trace and copy individual letters and words on the app’s chalkboard wall.

      Write ABC – Learn Alphabets Games for Kids- This handwriting app is available on Google Play. The app helps younger children work on letter formation using visual cues for starting points and ending points.

      Sand Draw- This free Google Play app provides a sandy beach for kids to practice writing letters, words, or phrases in. Use it to practice spelling words for a fun twist.

      Snap Type- While this app has a paid version, the free version also allows users to create digital versions of worksheets. Students can take a picture of their worksheets, or import worksheets from anywhere on their device. They can then use their Android device keyboard to add text to these documents. When complete, students can print, email.

      Fine Motor Free Apps

      Dot to dot Game – Connect the dots ABC Kids Games- This free app is great for toddlers, preschoolers, or young children working on precision, dexterity, and fine motor work. the app addresses letter and number formation.

      Tiny Roads- This free app allows children to connect objects while working on precision and finger isolation.

      Montessori Fine Motor Skills Game School Numbers- This fine motor app helps users work on eye-hand coordination, precision, and finger isolation while working on numbers, letters, and shapes.

      Use these free executive functioning apps in occupational therapy sessions to build skills like working memory, attention, and focus.

      Free Apps for Executive Functioning Skills

      CogniFit Brain Fitness- This Google Play app uses memory games, puzzles, reasoning games, educational games, and learning games to train memory, attention, concentration, executive functions, reasoning, planning, mental agility, coordination and many other essential mental skills.

      Lumosity: Brain Training- This free executive functioning skills app uses games to exercise memory, attention, speed, flexibility and problem-solving.

      Memory Games: Brain Training- This executive functioning skills app uses memory and logic games  to improve memory, attention and concentration. 

      Alarmy- This free alarm app allows users to set alarms for attention building, and scheduling.

      The Google Tasks app- This free app creates checklists and sublists and allows users to add details about the areas that users need need to focus on in order to accomplish tasks. The app helps users to stay on track with due dates and notifications.

      The 30/30 app- This free app helps with executive functioning skills such as starting tasks, staying organized, and prioritization in tasks. This app is useful to address procrastination and motivation on bigger tasks or projects.

      Forest- This app helps with procrastination, productivity, and motivation.

      Study Bunny- This free productivity app helps students pay attention and focus on studying and larger school projects or tasks.

      Habitica- This task completion app allows users to track habits, and add gamification to tasks to build motivation and help with productivity.

      HabitNow- This free habit tracker app helps users to track habits and build habits to improve productivity and time management. This is a great app for scheduled activities or daily tasks such as chores or morning/evening routines.

      Brain N-Back- This working memory app helps to train working memory.

      Clockwork Brain Training- This memory training app helps with working memory and concentration through games and puzzles.

      Use these free self-regulation apps to help kids identify emotions, and feelings and help with coping tools.

      Self-regulation Free Apps


      Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame- This self-regulation app uses a fun Sesame Street monster to help little ones calm down and solve everyday challenges. Available in English and Spanish, the coping tools app helps your child learn Sesame’s “Breathe, Think, Do” strategy for problem-solving.

      Trigger Stop: Sensory and Emotional Check-In- This free self-regulation app is available on Google Play so they can identify and communicate sensations and emotions or feelings in the body so they can express them in a healthy way.

      EmoPaint – Paint your emotions! is a free self-regulation app available for IOS in the Apple Store or Google Play. The paint app allows users to represent emotions or bodily sensations through art, by painting them interactively on the screen.

      Moodflow: Self-care made easy!- keeps track of your emotions, moods, thoughts and general well-being with a self-rating system, emotional language, and a system that allows for identification of how coping strategies help with emotional regulation.

      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.