Rainbow Ladder Visual Motor Activity

Rainbow ladder visual motor integration activity
This rainbow ladder activity is a rainbow themed visual motor activity that is perfect for building visual motor integration skills needed in handwriting and reading.  Visual motor integration activities like this one help kids to work on the skills needed to form letters and numbers correctly, to write on lines, and to copy words and sentences from a model, and make a great addition to rainbow activities that promote child development of essential skills.  Kids will love to create a rainbow ladder with this scented marker activity as they work on skills they need in a creative and fun way!
Kids will love this rainbow visual motor activity to address the skills needed for handwriting.

Rainbow Ladder Activity

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You’ll need just a couple of materials for this visual motor integration activity:


To prepare this activity, you’ll need to draw dots in a vertical column down the left side of the paper and matching dots in a column down the right side of the paper.  Then, use a black magic marker to make vertical lines for the sides of the “ladder”.
Try this rainbow visual motor activity to help kids work on handwriting in a creative way.

Visual Motor Integration Activity

When doing this activity, be sure to ensure the child is connecting the dots from the left to the right.  Try these tips to make sure the child is building those visual motor skills:
Ask the child to start the marker on the left dot.  If they miss the dot, use verbal or visual cues to help them with the remaining dots.
Use this rainbow visual motor activity to work on handwriting skills.
Watch the child’s horizontal lines across the page.  If the line goes up or down below 1/4″-1/2″ from an imaginary strait line, use verbal and visual cues for the remaining trials.  
Ask the child to stop at the right dot.  If the line stops before the dot or extends beyond the dot, use verbal or visual cues for the remaining trials.
Use the black vertical lines as a visual cue to slow down the marker stroke for improved accuracy. 
Work on visual motor integration with this rainbow visual motor activity.

More ways to extend this activity to address visual motor development:

Use large paper (easel paper or butcher paper) hanging on the wall.
Stand at an easel or dry erase board.
Try making diagonal lines or arched lines like in this occupational therapy slide deck for working on prewriting skills and line formation in a visual motor letter rainbow.
Kids will love to make this rainbow ladder while working on visual motor skills.
Try these visual motor activities for more fun ways to build skills needed for handwriting:
 Visual motor integration activities using paper visual processing and visual efficiency problems


Colors Handwriting Kit

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

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

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

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

Rainbow Drawing Slide Deck

rainbow drawing

This rainbow art drawing help kids with visual motor skills of copying images and figures. When kids demonstrate the ability to copy shapes and forms, they are building the skills needed for copying words, letters, and sentences. This rainbow slide deck is a teletherapy activity that helps with visual motor skills needed for handwriting. Add this free Google slide deck to your occupational therapy teletherapy services (or home programs) and start building skills in visual motor integration.

Rainbow Drawing Art

If you take a scroll on YouTube, you’ll find a lot of directed drawing videos that walk kids through “how to draw a rainbow”… or how to draw hundreds of other images, cartoons, and drawing art ideas.

But, one thing that I have been looking for is simple forms that help kids with visual motor skills like copying simple and complex shapes…that are FUN and motivating.

Here’s the thing: when kids copy shapes, they are developing so many visual motor integration skills that translated to forming letters and numbers, copying sentences, and the eye-hand coordination needed to move a pencil in the way it needs to move so that letters and numbers are placed on lines. It’s all connected!

Copying simple lines and shapes are part of pre-writing skills. By the way, be sure to grab this rainbow pre-writing lines Google slide deck. It’s a freebie that you’ll want for your younger or lower level kiddos.

AND, when kids progress to copying more complex shapes, drawings, and forms, they are developing stronger skills in moving the pencil accuracy, spatial awareness, line awareness, and position in space. All of these skill sets are so necessary for handwriting.

Rainbow visual motor skills slide deck

Draw a Rainbow Activity

Kids can copy the different basic rainbow forms and develop these skills using our free rainbow drawing slide deck.

Copy a rainbow visual motor activity

Each slide includes simple or more complex rainbow drawings that challenge kids to copy forms, making this a fun Spring activity that helps to build visual motor skills.

Draw a rainbow activity for kids

You can ask kids to copy the rainbows onto paper in different ways to extend this activity:

  • Ask kids to copy the shape in a specific space.
  • Ask kids to fold their paper into columns and rows. They can copy a rainbow form into each space on the paper.
  • Ask the child to copy the rainbow in a very large size on a dry erase board or large chalk board to use whole body movements and crossing midline. Air writing is another option.
  • Copy the forms with different sensory materials: chalk, water colors, paint, rainbow writing, writing on sandpaper, etc.
  • Copy the rainbow form from memory.
  • Copy the forms in a very small size.
  • Copy the forms into a sensory writing tray. Here are ideas for sensory writing trays.

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Rainbow Art Drawing Visual Motor Skills Slide Deck!

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

    Activities for Teaching Colors

    teaching colors

    There are so many ways to include multisensory play in teaching colors to children. Here, you’ll find hands-on, creative ways to teach colors of the rainbow using play that helps kids develop skills, move, and grow. Use these color activities in preschool or to teach toddlers colors. It’s a fun way to develop visual discrimination skills in young children.

    Multisensory activities to teach colors to toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners.

    I’m including color activities for kindergarten and school-aged children, as well, because this color themes can be used in therapy activities or to help kids develop handwriting, or visual motor skills in the older grades. There is a lot of fun, hands-on activities listed here that help children learn colors and explore through play!

    Activities to teach colors to toddlers

    Teaching Colors to Toddlers

    Toddler play and development is all about the hands-on exploration of the world. We have a lot of toddler activities designed to develop motor skills and learning here on the website that you’ll want to check out.

    To teach colors to toddlers, it’s all about making things fun. These toddler activities will get you started with hands-on development activities.

    So many color activities in the toddler years involve sorting colors, identifying colors, and pointing out colors. All of these activities lay the building blocks for visual discrimination that kids will use in reading and writing down the road.

    Try these activities for teaching colors to toddlers:

    Toddler Color Sorting with Toys– This activity uses toys and items that are found around the home, making the color identification part of every day life. You can use items that the child uses and sees every day.

    Teach Color Sorting Activity– This simple color sorting activity is great for families that have a preschooler and a toddler. The preschooler can cut foam sheets and work on scissor skills and then both the preschooler and toddler can sort the paper scraps by color. This is a nice activity that allows siblings to work together to learn concepts and grow skills together.

    Color Sort Busy Bag– Toddlers love to drop items into containers, and put things into buckets, bins, and bags…and then take them back out again. It’s all part of the learning process! This color sorting busy bag gives toddlers colored craft sticks or dyed lollipop sticks and has them sort by color. It’s a great activity for developing fine motor skills and coordination, too.

    Cup Sorting for Toddlers– This color sorting activity uses items in the home, like plastic toddler cups! There is just something about toddlers playing in the kitchen with baby-safe items…and this one builds pre-literacy and pre-math skills that they will use long down the road…through play!

    Talk about colors– Pointing out colors during play, conversation, in reading books, and going for walks…there are so many ways to teach colors to babies and toddlers through everyday conversation. It’s as simple as saying, “look at that blue flower” to add descriptive terms to kids.

    Color with painting– Incorporate all of the colors of the rainbow in multisensory activities from a young age. These art play activities incorporates colors into play and learning through art with toddlers.

    Teach colors with a ball pit– Use ball pit balls in a baby pool. You can bring a baby pool indoors as a baby ball pit to teach colors.

    Teaching colors to preschoolers with multisensory learning activities

    Teaching Colors in Preschool

    In the preschool stage, learning occurs through play! These color learning activities are designed to promote learning through hands-on exploration, because those are the ways that learning “sticks”…when hands are busy and developing motor skills that they will later need for holding and writing with a pencil. Let’s look at some ways to teach colors in the preschool years:

    Teaching Shapes and Colors with Rainbow Rocks by Fun-A-Day- This activity is fun because it uses the heavy weight of rocks to teach colors and shapes. But, kids are also strengthening their hands and gaining motor feedback about objects as they explore colors and other discriminating factors like weight and size.

    Color and shape sorting– This preschool color sorting activity gives kids fine motor experiences with wikki stix. Ask preschoolers to copy the shapes, too for extra fine motor skill building and visual motor integration.

    Fine Motor Color Sort– Grab an old spice container or cheese container, and some straws. This color sorting activity lays the groundwork for fine motor skill development and math skills. Kids can count the straws as they drop into the container and work on sorting colors while developing open thumb web space, separation of the sides of the hand and arch strength.

    Color Matching Water Bin– This color learning activity is a sensory motor activity that also teaches letters. It’s perfect for preschool and kindergarten or even older grades as kids are immersed in multi- sensory learning with letters and pre-reading skills.

    Clothespin Color Match– Children will love this fine motor activity that builds hand strength in a big way.

    Bear Sees Colors Book and Activity– We used a snack to explore colors with a beloved preschool book. This is multisensory learning at its finest.

    Gross Motor Color Games– There are many ways to explore and teach colors using games. Try some of these to add movement and play into learning colors at the preschool level:

    • Color I Spy- Call out a color and kids can run to touch something that is that color. Add variations of movement by asking kids to skip, hop, leap, crawl, or bear walk to touch the colors.
    • Color Simon Says- Call out directions based on clothing colors that kids are wearing. Add as many variations of movement and auditory challenges. This is a great activity for building working memory skills in preschoolers.
    • Color Tag- Kids can play tag and when they tag another player, they need to say a color for that person to go to. Another variation is having the players who are tagged run to a color that the tagger calls out.
    Teaching colors to kindergarten children with multisensory learning activities.

    Teach Colors in Kindergarten and older grades

    Once children are school-aged, teaching colors doesn’t end. In the school years, children explore color mixing, learning about primary colors, and more. Look at all of these color experiences that kids learn during the school years:

    • Spelling color names
    • Learning Primary Colors
    • Learning secondary colors
    • Color mixing
    • Color theory
    • Color wheel
    • Complimentary colors

    Try some of these color activities for older children:

    Color I Spy free therapy slide deck- This color themed scavenger hunt will get kids up and moving, using the items they have in their home as they work on visual perceptual skills, handwriting, and more. Kids can visually scan around their home to match the colors on the slide deck. Then, there is a handwriting component. This is a great slide deck for anyone working on handwriting skills with kids, virtually.

    Color Exercises– Use gross motor exercises and stretches as well as fine motor exercises to get kids moving while working on SO many skill areas: bilateral coordination, motor planning, strengthening, core strength, precision, dexterity, visual motor skills…

    Rainbow Deep Breathing Exercise– This free printable PDF is super popular. There’s a reason why: kids love the deep breathing activity and We love the mindfulness, coping skills, calming, and regulation benefits. Great for all ages.

    Rainbow Binoculars Craft– Kids can use paper towel tubes in a craft that helps them look for and identify colors. Use these rainbow binoculars in visual scanning, visual discrimination, visual figure-ground, and other perceptual skills.

    Colored pencils activities All you need is a couple of colored pencils (or substitute with a regular pencil if that’s all you’ve got on hand) to work on pencil control, line awareness, pencil pressure, and letter formation.

    Benefits of coloring with crayons Just grab a box of crayons and build so many fine motor and visual motor skills.

    Make crayon play dough– Explore colors with heavy work input through the hands and arms using all the colors of the rainbow. This crayon play dough recipe is a popular sensory recipe here on the website.

    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 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

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      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.


      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 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 print 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! 

      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.