Back to School Slide Deck

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

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

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

Slide Deck for Back to School Activities

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

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

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

Form constancy

Visual discrimination

Visual memory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FREE back to school SLIDE DECK

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

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

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

Now the slide deck is on your Google account.

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

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

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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.

    Easter Egg Game- Color Scavenger Hunt

    Easter egg game that kids will love while working on color matching, color identification, visual perception.

    If you are looking for a fun Easter egg game that the kids will love, then you are in luck. Add this activity to your Easter activities and use up a few of those plastic eggs. This color scavenger hunt uses plastic Easter eggs, and it’s a very fun way to play and learn! Use those plastic eggs to encourage gross motor skills, visual perception, and color learning in a way that kids won’t forget. While the kiddos are playing this Easter game, they are building cognitive skills AND underlying skill areas like visual scanning and other visual perceptual skills.

    Easter egg game that kids will love while working on color matching, color identification, visual perception.

    We set this Easter activity up years and years ago. (2013 to be exact!) However, it’s one of those activities that stands the test of time. If you’ve got plastic Easter eggs on hand, use them to build skills like the ones we worked on here!

    This Easter egg activity helps kids learn colors and learning with a color scavenger hunt gross motor activity

    COLOR SCAVENGER HUNT

    This color scavenger hunt is so easy to set up…and so much fun. Kids can work on identifying color names, and color matching. I wrote different colors on slips of paper and put them into plastic eggs.  The kids got to pick an egg from the bowl and “sound out” the color on the slip of paper.  Ok, my 5 year old sounded out the color with help.  The other two said the first letter of the word and guessed the color.  They were pretty excited to “read” the color on their slip of paper!  

    Kids will love this Easter egg game using plastic Easter eggs in a color scavenger hunt activity.
    Use this color scavenger hunt with easter eggs to work on color matching and color identification with kids.

    An Easter Game Kids will Love

    Now for the egg game…So then, they had to run off and find something that was the color of the written word on their slip of paper…and it had to FIT inside the egg.    I sat and waited for them to run back and show me what they found while they tried to fit it in their egg.   (completely genius way for this mom to finish a cup of coffee!)  

    Kids can look for objects that match plastic Easter eggs in a color scavenger hunt that allows them them move and play with learning, too.

     They had a little trouble with some things, but this was a fun and different way to work on visual perceptual skills.  Will that little doll fit in the egg?  We weren’t sure by looking at it, but with a little fiddling, she did!   Fitting the eggs together with the little objects inside was a great fine motor exercise.

    Kids can look for matching colors in this plastic Easter egg game that helps them with color matching and visual scanning.

      They found something for each color!  

    Kids can play this color scavenger hunt game with plastic Easter eggs for a fun Easter game that can be played indoors or outdoors.
    Kids can learn color names and work on learning skills like visual scanning, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills with this Easter game.

     This Easter themed play activity could be modified in so many ways for learning words, colors…have fun with it 🙂

    Want more ways to play and learn this time of year?

    This time of year, one of our more popular products here on The OT Toolbox is our Spring Occupational Therapy packet. The best news is that, this packet has had a major upgrade from it’s previous collection of spring sensory activities.

    In the Spring OT packet, you’ll now find:

    • Spring Proprioceptive Activities
    • Spring Vestibular Activities
    • Spring Visual Processing Activities
    • Spring Tactile Processing Activities
    • Spring Olfactory Activities
    • Spring Auditory Processing Activities
    • Spring Oral Motor Activities
    • Spring Fine Motor Activities
    • Spring Gross Motor Activities
    • Spring Handwriting Practice Prompts
    • Spring Themed Brain Breaks
    • Occupational Therapy Homework Page
    • Client-Centered Worksheet
    • 5 pages of Visual Perceptual Skill Activities

    All of the Spring activities include ideas to promote the various areas of sensory processing with a Spring-theme. There are ways to upgrade and downgrade the activities and each activities includes strategies to incorporate eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, body scheme, oculomotor control, visual perception, fine and gross motor skills, and more.

    THE BEST THING ABOUT THE SPRING ACTIVITY PACKET:

    One of my favorite parts of the Spring Occupational Therapy Packet is the therapist tool section:

    • Occupational Therapy Homework Page
    • Client-Centered Worksheet

    These two sheets are perfect for the therapist looking to incorporate carryover of skills. Use the homework page to provide specific OT recommended activities to be completed at home. This is great for those sills that parents strive to see success in but need more practice time for achieving certain skill levels.
    This activity packet is 26 pages long and has everything you need to work on the skills kids are struggling with…with a Spring theme!

    Here’s the link again to grab that packet.

    Use this Spring Occupational Therapy Activities Packet to work on occupational therapy goals and functional skills with a spring theme.

    Fun Activities to Improve Visual Saccades

    visual saccade activities

    We’ve shared much information on visual processing over the last few months. You’ve seen tips for addressing convergence insufficiency, visual tracking concerns, and other visual skill areas. Today we are talking about saccades and activities to improve saccades. These are the eye movements that allow the tracking skills necessary for reading comprehension, handwriting, and so many other areas. The saccade activities listed below are eye exercises that can help enhance visual processing skills. These visual tracking exercises can help with smooth pursuit of vision, in order to improve learning problems and other visual therapy concerns.

    Use these visual saccades activities to help kids with visual tracking skills needed for reading and writing, and other learning skills.

    Visual Saccades Activities


    You’ve identified impaired saccadic movements, the child has seen a developmental optometrist and maybe has corrective lenses, but is still struggling. Now what? Check out the activities below to incorporate into therapy and home programs that address poor saccadic movements directly.


    Related Read: Check out this article to learn more about how saccades impact learning skills.

    Activities to Improve Saccades

    Here are Saccade Exercises presented in fun ways:


    Wall Ball Visual Saccade Activity

    This activity addresses saccadic movements on a large scale and challenges the child to stretch their eye muscles into the peripherals and back again. The objective is to hit the first target, catch the ball and hit the second target while moving only your eyes. This pattern is completed for as many times in row the kiddo can without dropping the ball or missing the target.


    The larger the distance between the targets, the harder the challenge is. Wall Ball also doubles as a dissociation activity of the eyes from head movements.


    All you need for Wall Ball is a ball, two targets and a wall or solid structure to bounce the ball off of. The ball can be any size as long as it bounces back directly to the child. Tennis balls and kick balls work the best. The smaller the ball, the more challenging the task is. Grade the activity to meet the kiddo’s needs and abilities as he/she progresses.


    How to Play Wall BallBegin with the target approximately four feet apart at eye level on the wall. Start with a horizontal line progressing to vertical, and then diagonal.


    The kiddo should be standing approximately 3 feet from the wall so that they can see both targets without having to turn their head. This part is important as we want to work only the eye muscles. If the child cannot see both targets without moving their head, adjust the distance of the targets first and then the position of the child as needed.


    Increase the challenge by adding paired colored targets and calling out what pair to hit one at a time or in a sequence. As the kiddo’s saccadic patterns become better and smoother, the time needed to complete the task will be shorter.

    This activity to improve visual saccades uses a word search to help kids with visual tracking skills.


    Read Word Searches to work on Saccades 



    Reading requires very precise and accurate eye movements. When these patterns and muscle movements are not natural, they have to be taught and can be a significant challenge for children with impaired saccadic movements.


    The objective of Word Search Reading is to have the kiddo read the letters or symbols of the word search out loud without deviating from the line, or skipping a line once back at the beginning of the pattern.


    Word Search Reading Directions: Begin with a simple word search to establish the child’s abilities. A 4×4 line word search is usually a good place to start. As the child’s skills increase or this is too easy, increase the size of the word search. The larger the word search, the harder the child has to work to move their eyes in a smooth movement across the page and back to the next line.


    Word search reading can be completed as a table top task, or a vertical surface. It is good to practice both skills as saccadic movements are needed in a variety of settings, not just for reading and writing.


    Word Search Reading patterns can be left to right/top to bottom, or top to bottom/ left to right. There should be an emphasis on left to right patterns initially as this is the way that we read and write. As the child’s skills increase, patterns can be reversed right to left/top to bottom and top to bottom/right to left. The more patterns that the child’s eyes are exposed to, the easier fluid movements between any given set of points will become.


    While I have listed very set patterns for this activity, it is important to remember that saccades is the fluid, coordinated movement of both eyes between ANY given set of points in ANY plane or position.


    Modifications for Word Search Reading to Address Visual Tracking Needs



    Word Search Reading activities can be very difficult and result in the kiddo being frustrated as it is making their eyes work in ways that they are not used to. However, there are a few modifications outside of the size of the word search that you can utilize to develop the just right challenge for each kiddo.


    The first modification is blocking out lines they are not supposed to be looking at. A ruler or a sheet of paper is a great place to start with this modification. If this is still not enough support and they are skipping letters in the line or reversing letters, try having them track with their finger or a special “tracking tool” (pencil with topper, fun pen, etc.).


    Here is a DIY Visual Tracking Tool that can be used as an exercise, too.


    Sometimes, even utilizing a finger or tracking tool is not enough and there is still too much visual input and their eyes are trying to jump ahead. In this case, an index card with a slot cut to fit one to five letters at a time can help keep their eyes moving in a nice line.


    While word searches are great, if you have a child that is struggling with letter recognition, this task can be completed with numbers or symbols. The main premise is that whatever items you use, are in a grid pattern.


    Adjust the challenge and supports as the kiddo gets better at reading the letters in the given pattern to create the just right challenge.


    Saccade Activity with Timed Copying Tasks



    One of the best activities to work on saccades is to complete table top activities. This simulates what kids do in school the best, and allows you to find where the breakdown is, and provide supports as needed.


    Start with a small activity like a spelling list or site words on table next to the child and have them copy the words onto a piece of paper. Once they are able to do this in a reasonable amount of time increase the challenge to 3-4 words in sequence or short sentences, and then eventually a whole paragraph or short story. This set of activities is referred to as near point copying and is the foundation block for other copying tasks.


    When they have mastered near point copying, it is time to move onto far point copying. This is when the items that are being copied are more than 18 inches from the child. Examples include copying from a SmartBoard or whiteboard, or off posters around the classroom. Eventually, this translates into taking notes in higher level education.


    The same premise of starting small and building into larger tasks applies to far point copying as well. Utilize a timer to challenge the child to beat their best time and also to track progress. As they become stronger at looking between the two points without losing their spot, the faster the activity will go.


    Visual Saccade Exercise: Speed Popsicle Sticks



    Like Word Search Reading, this activity challenges the precise movements needed for efficient saccadic movements. Speed Popsicle Sticks is more exercise based then the other activities presented in this post and should be monitored for fatigue and strain like other exercise based activities. This activity is challenging and should be done with children who are able to follow directions and verbalize feelings of discomfort in their eye muscles.


    The premise of this activity is to have the child look as quickly as they can between two points without losing focus or deviating from the path in a given amount of time. Popsicle sticks with stickers at the end of them work great at points to focus on.


    Begin with the child sitting in front of you with their feet grounded. Hold the popsicle sticks approximately 12-15 inches apart, and 15-18 inches away from the child’s face. Then instruct them to look at first one sticker, bring it into focus, and look at the next sticker bringing it into focus before moving back to the first sticker.


    Start with a short amount of time, such as 10 seconds to begin, and 2-3 repetitions with a break in between each repetition. Increase the amount of time to complete the activity as the kiddo’s eyes get stronger and they are not complaining of fatigue. Set a cap on time around 45 seconds for this exercise, and keep repetitions low.


    Be sure that you listen to the child if they are complaining or are requesting a break. You do not want to cause eye fatigue or strain accidently.

    Working on visual tracking skills? These visual saccades activities will help.


    Games to Encourage Saccades

    There are some great ready-made games on the market these days that challenge saccadic movements. Below is a list of a few of my favorites to utilize in therapy or for gift ideas for parents and home programs.


    Amazon affiliate links are included in this list:


    ·         Crossword puzzles with word banks
    ·         Traffic Jam or Rush Hour Board Game
    ·         Geoboards—Pegs or rubber bands with pattern cards
    ·         Tangrams
    ·         Snap blocks with pattern cards
    ·         Lite Brite (Place the pattern cards on the side)
    ·         Battle Ship


    Final Note on Activities to Improve Saccades


    Practice, practice, practice! That is one of the biggest parts in helping a child develop motor patterns, and saccades are no different. With the just right challenge in place and encouragement, the kiddo’s saccadic patterns should become stronger and more fluid leading to increased success with visual tasks.


    Looking for more information on vision deficits? Check out my OT Vision Screening Packet for useful handouts, checklists and a screener tool.


    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. 
    Click here to read more about the Visual Screening Packet.   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.  

    More visual Processing Articles you will love: 

     
    How do vision problems affect learning in kids and underlying visual processing problems that impact learning in kids. Saccades and learning, read more to find out what are saccades, how to screen for visual saccades, and what saccadic impairments look like. Visual processing, visual efficiency, and learning including how vision is related to reading and writing.
     
    Wondering about convergence insufficiency? This article explains what is convergence insufficiency, the definition of convergence, how convergence is used in vision tasks like handwriting, reading, catching a ball, and learning as well as red flags for convergence and visual processing skills and screening tools for convergence insufficiency.  Use a visual screening tool like this occupational therapy screening tool to address visual processing skills like visual convergence and to guide visual convergence activities in therapy. These visual tracking games are a helpful tool in addressig visual tracking goals that kids may have interfering with handwriting, reading, and learning.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    ___________________________________________________________________________________
     
    This article was written by The OT Toolbox Contributor, Kaylee:
     
     
    A little about Kaylee: 
    Hi Everyone! I am originally from Upstate N.Y., but now live in Texas, and am the Lead OTR in a pediatric clinic. I have a bachelors in Health Science from Syracuse University at Utica College, and a Masters in Occupational Therapy from Utica College. I have been working with children with special needs for 8 years, and practicing occupational therapy for 4 years. I practice primarily in a private clinic, but have experience with Medicaid and home health settings also. Feeding is a skill that I learned by default in my current position and have come to love and be knowledgeable in. Visual development and motor integration is another area of practice that I frequently address and see with my current population. Looking forward to sharing my knowledge with you all! ~Kaylee Goodrich, OTR


    These activities to help with visual saccades are fun ways to work on visual tracking with kids.

    Free Visual Perception Worksheet- FLowers Theme

    This flower theme free visual perception worksheet is one of many free visual perception worksheets here on The OT Toolbox.  Kids need to work on visual perceptual skills for many reasons. Skills like handwriting and scissor use are oftentimes, a result of difficulties with visual perceptual skills. This visual perception worksheet can be part of a set of activities that help address those needs.  In fact, this flower themed Visual Perception sheet helps kids develop and build skills such as visual discrimination, spatial reasoning, visual motor skills, and motor planning.  Add this printable activity to your Spring visual perception activities during the Spring months, or any time of year.

     

    Flower theme free visual perception worksheet to help kids work on visual perceptual skills like visual discrimination, visual memory, visual attention, and pencil control needed for handwriting.
     
    To get a copy of this flower visual perception printable page, grab the entire free visual perception packet, which contains 25 pages of visual discrimination, visual closure activities, and visual perceptual skills tasks.
     
     

    Free Visual perception worksheet

    This free printable sheet is much like our space theme visual perception puzzle which is also a freebie for you!

    In a visual discrimination worksheet like this one, kids can work on pencil control and motor planning to connect matching flowers by making their pencil go around the other flowers that are in their path. Visual perceptual worksheets that challenge discrimination between space, object features, and coordination of the pencil in motor operations allows kids to foster eye-hand coordination for use in functional handwriting tasks. 

    Activities like writing on a given space in a page require similar visual discrimination and visual spatial awareness. 


    Visual perceptual skills are needed for so many functional skills. You’ll find easy and fun ways to work on visual perceptual skills through play here. 

    Benefits of this Visual Discrimination Worksheet:

    Visual Discrimination– Noticing and identifying subtle differences in shapes, colors, direction, and forms is a necessary skill for functional tasks like matching socks or silverware.  Visual discrimination is a skill that is essential for handwriting, reading, and math.  Children who struggle with visual discrimination may not notice small details or may confuse letters or numbers that are similar like b, d, 2, and 5. 

    Spatial Reasoning– This skill is what allows us to walk around objects in our path with enough space.  Spatial reasoning is needed for handwriting when determining if a word will fit in a given space or if we need to write smaller or move to the next line at the end of the right margin.  

    Encourage kids to draw pencil strokes around the planets so they don’t touch the other planets with their pencil.  Visual spatial relations is a spatial reasoning skill. 

    Visual Motor Skills– Coordinating visual information with movements of the hands is a skill that is needed for handwriting.  Use a writing utensil to connect the matching planets and moons while working on visual motor skills needed for written work. 

    Visual Memory–  Children need visual memory for handwriting, reading, math, and many tasks during the school day.  Visual memory is a skill that allows us to store a visual piece of information or a form in our mind and recall the characteristics of that form.  

    More Visual Discrimination Activities

    Spring Fine Motor Kit

    Score Fine Motor Tools and resources and help kids build the skills they need to thrive!

    Developing hand strength, dexterity, dexterity, precision skills, and eye-hand coordination skills that kids need for holding and writing with a pencil, coloring, and manipulating small objects in every day task doesn’t need to be difficult. The Spring Fine Motor Kit includes 100 pages of fine motor activities, worksheets, crafts, and more:

    Spring fine motor kit set of printable fine motor skills worksheets for kids.
    • Lacing cards
    • Sensory bin cards
    • Hole punch activities
    • Pencil control worksheets
    • Play dough mats
    • Write the Room cards
    • Modified paper
    • Sticker activities
    • MUCH MORE

    Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

    Spring Fine Motor Kit
    Spring Fine Motor Kit: TONS of resources and tools to build stronger hands.

    Grab your copy of the Spring Fine Motor Kit and build coordination, strength, and endurance in fun and creative activities. Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

    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.

    Fall Visual Processing Sensory Activities

    Use fall activities to work on visual processing needs with fall visual processing sensory activities.

    Visual Processing can result in overactive sensitivity to sights or an under-responsiveness to all that the eye sees.  During Fall, there are many more colors and visual sights that can be a sense of interest to children with sensory processing disorders.  A simple walk in the yard is much different during the Fall months when leaves are changing or there are more sticks and acorns to navigate on the lawn.  For the child who has sensory processing concerns, using the sense of sight can be a calming or alerting tool.  Try these fall visual processing sensory activities this Fall.

    Check out our free Fall Sensory Activities booklet. It’s full of family-friendly sensory activities that celebrate the season through sensory experiences covering all of the senses. The activities in this free booklet are a fun way to encourage motor movement and development through fall activities. Scroll to the bottom of this blog post to grab your copy!


    Fall Visual Processing Sensory Activities with a fall or harvest theme.

     

     

    Adding visual sensory activities to vestibular or proprioception activities can have a great affect on children with sensory processing disorders.  Check out our Fall Proprioception Activities and Fall Vestibular Activities or find all of the ideas in one place in our Fall Harvest Sensory calendar.

    Fall Visual Processing Sensory Activities

    1.     Leaf Lay– Head outdoors on a bright and sunny fall day.  Look for trees with brightly colored leaves and lay down on the ground under the tree.  Kids can look up at the leaves as the sun shines through the colored leaves.  Ask kids to notice branches in the leaves.  Address deep breathing and slow counting for a calming sensory experience.  Use this opportunity to discuss events that lead up to feelings of fear or anxiety related to the senses.

    2.     Color Assessment– Use a magnifying glass to explore the colors of leaves, tree trunks, and nature finds while out on a nature hunt.  Kids can look for each color of the rainbow in a scavenger hunt type of activity.  This fall activity builds visual scanning needed for reading and writing.
     
    3.     Pumpkin Seed Colors– Use dry seeds from a pumpkin to create colorful seeds using liquid food coloring or liquid water colors.  While these seeds won’t be edible, they are great for creative play!  Use the seeds to sort, manipulate, and create in Fall themed learning and play or artwork.
     
     
    4.     Fall Maze– Many farms or community events host a corn or hay maze this time of year.  Walking through a maze is a visual processing experience that kids can use to develop directionality needs.  You can create your own backyard version of a fall maze using fallen leaves or a trail of sticks from trees.


     

    Fall Visual Processing Sensory Activities with a fall or harvest theme.

    Fall Sensory Activities

    Work on visual processing skills this Fall AND address all areas of sensory needs while experiencing all that the Fall season has to offer! Grab your free copy of the Fall Sensory Experiences Booklet to create sensory diet activities that meet the needs of individuals in a Fall-themed way! Enter your email address below and you will find the Fall Sensory Experiences Booklet delivered right to your inbox. Enjoy!

    Baked Cotton Balls Ten Apples Up On Top

    Did you ever do an activity with the kids that was such a hit, that the kids ask to re-do the activity over and over and over again?  This one is it for us.  There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t hear about our smashing apples activity. Especially if we happen to see a hammer.  Oh, this baked cotton ball activity was a fun one for us! 
     
    We’ve never made baked cotton balls before, but have had the idea bubbling for a while.  When we heard that the Preschool Book Club‘s book for this week would be Ten Apples Up on Top, we knew it would have to be an apple themed baked cotton ball activity.  We even made these waaaay before all of the other book activities in the second series of books.  Like back in June.  If you’ve never made baked cotton balls before, this is a MUST-DO activity!
    This post contains affiliate links.  


    How to make Baked Cotton Balls:

    First read Ten Apples Up On Top! by Dr. Seuss.  This is such a fun book for counting and playing along with the story.
    Begin by mixing together one cup of flour and one cup of water.  This is a great activity for the kids.  Scooping, stirring, direction following, sneak tasting (my kids aren’t the only ones who go crazy for flour, right!??)
     
    Pour in a bunch of red food coloring.  We typically go with Wilton gel colors for all of our dying activities, but I knew I wanted a really deep red color.  It seems like red coloring requires SO much dye to get a good shade of red.  I ended up using a bottle from the dollar store and used about half of the bottle of food dye.  This was maybe 20 drops?  Add enough to get a nice red color.
     
    Mix in the food coloring.
    Now is the cotton ball part.  Grab up your stash of cotton balls.
    Mix them around to coat all of the cotton balls.  
    Place a layer of aluminum foil on a baking tray and place the cotton balls on the tray for baking.  I used two forks to pick up the coated cotton balls and was able to let excess flour coating drip off before placing the cotton balls onto the foil. You’ll want to let as much excess drip off before putting them on the sheet to avoid the sharp edges and flat bottom once the cotton balls bake.
     
    Pop the baking sheet into the oven for around 60 minutes at 300 degrees F.
     
    While the cotton balls are baking, snip up the leaves and stems for the apples.  We used brown pipe cleaners and green crafting foam that we received from www.craftprojectideas.com.
    When the apples are done, pull them out of the oven and let them cool for a bit. They will be nice and hard.  You’ll need to snip the bottom edges of the apples to remove any sharp edges that dripped to the base before baking.
     
    To attach the leaves and stems, lay the leaves on the apple top and poke the pipe cleaner through the foam sheet and into the cotton ball.  The kids were able to help with this part, but assisting with stem attachment did not allow this mama to take any pictures 😉
     
    Our crop of apples were ready for playing with!
     
    We followed along with the book as we read to stack up apples one by one.  What a great way to learn and play with math facts, counting, number order, and simple adding.  Little Guy LOVED this activity.
    We got to hammering the cotton balls and this was the really fun part!  The baked cotton balls have a hard outer edge that allow for a satisfying crunch when smashed, and a squishy, cottony center.  What a fun way to explore and play.
     
    We used a plastic hammer, but any hammer would do.
    In fact, fists work just as well for smashing.
    We had a smashing afternoon.

     

    The remains of our cotton ball smashing reminded us of this page in the book.  Be sure to let us know if you make baked cotton balls!  We would love to hear about your experience with this sensory and fine motor activity!
     
    Stop by the other Preschool Book Club bloggers to see their takes on Ten Apples Up On Top!
     

    DIY castle cardboard blocks

    We love planning parties.  Recently, we had a Princess Party for my little princess.  One of the activities we had planned for the kids were these giant castle blocks made from diaper boxes.  These were fun for the cousins to play with, imagine with, build, knock down, and build again! 



    DIY Giant Building Bocks

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    I started by gathering up a bunch of cardboard boxes.  Between a couple of sisters and sisters-in-law, I had enough diaper boxes to make this giant stack.  (There are a lot of cousins in diapers around these parts).


    I used left over white wall paint to cover all of the diapers.  This was a quick job with a paint roller brush.  Lay the boxes out on a large tarp
    in the yard and paint the top and two sides.  When the paint has dried, rotate the boxes and paint the other three sides.  The neighbors won’t think you’ve lost your marbles, promise.  Maybe.


    Once the white paint has dried, use a large bone sponge dipped in a tray of silver paint.  Dab the sponge shape onto the white boxes to make “bricks” of the castle walls.  Our silver paint dripped a TON at first.  Once I got the hang of how much paint to use on the sponge, it went much better.  Too much paint, and you’ll have lots of drips.


    These castle blocks were used at the party for princesses and knights.  We’ve been using them ever since in daily play in our basement.  We even have a booby trap set up by Little Guy right now. 

    Looking for more ways to play and imagine?  Follow along on our imagination and pretend play Pinterest board.