Free Halloween Visual Scanning Worksheet

Halloween find and color worksheets

Today I have a free Halloween visual scanning worksheet. This one is a find and color activity that develops visual processing skills. Just print off this visual scanning worksheet and have fun with this Halloween theme! If you’re looking for a low-prep Halloween printable that builds skills, this freebie is the way to go!

Halloween find and color worksheets are a great Halloween visual scanning worksheet activity for visual perception and fine motor skills.

Halloween Visual Scanning Worksheet

Therapists will love this Halloween visual scanning worksheet for the visual perceptual skills and visual scanning skills that it develops. Just print off this worksheet and grab some crayons to work on visual scanning skills with kids.

The free Halloween worksheet set comes in two sizes. One is a very small set of coloring images. This can be used with colored pencils to work on pencil control and precision of the small muscles of the hands. For kids that are working on small motor movements of the fingers, this is a great page to use.

You’ll also see a larger set of Halloween images in the PDF. These larger images can be used with crayons or markers to color within the lines while working on hand strength using crayons or accuracy of line awareness when using markers.

This not-so-spooky activity goes well with our Halloween I Spy activity and all of the Halloween Occupational Therapy activities.

To better understand what is visual scanning, you can read more here on the website.

Visual scanning is a visual processing skill needed for so many functional tasks! Check out this resource on visual motor skills to read more.

For more visual scanning fun, try this DIY visual scanning worksheet activity.

Find and Color Activities

When kids complete find and color activities like in this printable Halloween coloring page, they are developing many areas needed for functional tasks:

  • Visual scanning
  • Visual discrimination
  • Form constancy
  • Visual figure ground
  • Visual attention
  • Visual memory

Plus, when asking children to color in a small area like the mini pumpkins, ghosts, spiders, and bats on this Halloween worksheet, they are working on pencil control, eye-hand coordination, and fine motor skills.

More ways to use this Halloween Visual Scanning Worksheet

I love to offer creative materials that can be used in a variety of ways to develop many skills. Try using the Halloween find and color worksheet in these ways:

Fine Motor Play

Cover the items on the coloring page with a small object like a coin, beads, or craft pom poms. This encourages fine motor control, eye-hand coordination, motor planning, in-hand manipulation, and more.

Work on eye-hand coordination

Use a BINGO dabber to add a dot of paint on each of the objects as the child finds them.

Handwriting Activity

Work on visual perceptual skills and handwriting- Ask the child to count the number of other Halloween objects on the page and write out each word and number to work on handwriting skills.

How would you use this Halloween visual scanning worksheet in your therapy toolbox?

Print off this free Halloween worksheet and use it in your therapy practice or classroom during the weeks leading up to Halloween. Or, print off a bunch and use it as a fine motor and visual perceptual activity during Halloween parties this year. However you use this free worksheet, it’s sure to be a hit!

More Halloween Ideas

Add this Halloween find and color pages to these ideas:

Halloween Visual Scanning Worksheets

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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.

    Grab the Pumpkin Fine Motor Kit for more coloring, cutting, and eye-hand coordination activities with a Pumpkin theme! It includes:

    • 7 digital products that can be used any time of year- has a “pumpkins” theme
    • 5 pumpkin scissor skills cutting strips
    • Pumpkin scissor skills shapes- use in sensory bins, math, sorting, pattern activities
    • 2 pumpkin visual perception mazes with writing activity
    • Pumpkin “I Spy” sheet – color in the outline shapes to build pencil control and fine motor strength
    • Pumpkin Lacing cards – print, color, and hole punch to build bilateral coordination skills
    • 2 Pumpkin theme handwriting pages – single and double rule bold lined paper for handwriting practice

    Work on underlying fine motor and visual motor integration skills so you can help students excel in handwriting, learning, and motor skill development.

    You can grab this Pumpkin Fine Motor kit for just $6!

    Coin Activities for Kids

    Coin Activities

    These coin activities are fun ways to develop fine motor skills AND functional money skills. The fact is that coin sorting activities and counting coins activities are functional…they are tasks kids need to develop for daily living skills. But, did you ever stop to think about the fine motor benefits of playing with coins? There are a handful! So, grab a handful of coins and use these coin activities to help kids with fine motor skill development!

    Coin activities for counting coins and sorting coins as an occupational therapy tool and a functional task for kids as they use money in IADLs.

    Coin Activities

    This is an older blog post on the website, but one that has so many fine motor activities using just coins. You’ll find coin sorting activities, coin rubbing art, money counting skills, and counting coin activities that build math and money skills as well as fine motor skills.

    But, I also wanted to go into detail on the various ways kids can use a stack of coins to develop skills needed for fine motor tasks.

    You may have seen a previous blog post detailing the use of plastic gold coins to develop fine motor skills…today’s article covers real coins you have in your purse or pocket, and can be used for teaching money to kindergarten or first grade students.

    Coin Sorting Activity

    A warm-up activity with sorting coins is a nice start to the therapy session because it can help to connect with the child and that they are engaged in the process, using a functional task that is needed for IADLs.

    Coin Sorting Activity #1

    A nice warm-up to an occupational therapy session is this coin sorting activity: Once we’ve said hello and I have checked in with how my client is doing its time to ‘show me the money’. Place a pile of coins on the desk, and spend some time sorting coins into piles. I ask the child to show me the coins that match and we discuss what pictures we can see on the coins, what numbers we can see and how much the coins are worth. Sorting coins is a great task to work on a variety of skills:

    • Visual discrimination
    • Form constancy
    • Size awareness
    • Visual closure
    • Visual figure-ground
    • Visual memory

    Coin Sorting Activity #2

    Once we have looked through all our coins I ask the children to place the coins in a pile in front of them and close their eyes. With their eyes closed they must pick a coin and show me which one they have collected.

    I have a list of corresponding whole body, gross motor exercises that they must perform depending on the coin they have selected. These exercises will target specific gross motor goals that we are working on.

    The gross motor skills addressed with these coin sorting exercises include:

    • Core stability
    • Shoulder stability
    • Balance
    • Bilateral coordination
    • Posture and positioning changes
    • Vestibular input
    • Proprioceptive input
    • Eye-hand coordination 

    Grab this handout by entering your email address into the form at the bottom of this blog post.

    Coin Activities for Fine Motor Skills

    Once we are all warmed up and feeling focused and attentive, we are ready to work on our fine motor skills. One aspect of money counting skills that can be difficult for children is the fine motor component. These coin activities take into consideration, all of the fine motor skills needed for counting and sorting coins.

    In-hand manipulation activities are a great way to boost fine motor skills needed for tasks like managing clothing fasteners, using a pencil when writing, manipulating items like coins or beads, and more. 

    The dexterity that is worked on when picking up coins from a flat surface is huge!  You need to pick up the edges with a tip-to-tip grasp and perform in-hand manipulation to “squirrel away” the coin into the palm of the hand.  In-hand manipulation is moving an object within the hand, without help from the other hand. This resource explains ways to work on in-hand manipulation with coins.

    Stacking coins is another great exercise.  We put the quarters into piles and counted out dollars.  But at the same time, we were working on translation of the coin from the palm of the hand to the tips of the fingers.   Translation is a type of in-hand manipulation that you use when moving an object from the finger tips to the palm and vice versa.  Stacking requires a lot of controlled dexterity!  

    Stack coins for a fine motor workout and to improve coin sorting skills.

    Why are these skills important? Kids need to refine their fine motor skills and in-hand manipulation in order to manipulate the pencil with slight movements while writing, erasing, and coloring.  They need the small motor control to manage fasteners like zippers, snaps, buttons, and shoe ties. 

    Using coins is a wonderful way to work on so many fine motor skills. You can target selective finger movements, tactile discrimination, in hand manipulation and finger strengthening. 

    For these fine motor coin counting activities, ask the children to count out a certain number of coins. I have been working with the number range between 10 and 20 depending on the child’s age. 

    1. Use plastic coins to build fine motor skills– This blog post includes a free printable handout detailing coin activities. This is a great home exercise program for parents.
    2. Count coins. Use these ideas to work on counting money and building fine motor skills.
    3. Use coins to work on patterns and skip counting, but also finger isolation skills. This blog post includes a free handout to use in skip counting with coins.
    4. Coin road – line the coins up in a row as quickly as you can using only your right hand. The children enjoy competing with me during this task. Once completed ask them to perform this activity again using their left hand. 
    5. Coin flip – line the coins up in a row. Using only one hand flip each coin over starting at one end and flipping each coin until you reach the end of the row. Work from left to right to reinforce directionality. Repeat with the other hand.
    6. Coin stack – see how high you can stack your coins. Keeping going (and counting) until your stack falls over.
    7. Coin grab – using one hand see how many coins you can pick up and keep safe in your hand. Don’t drop any coins while you are collecting. 
    8. Coin counting – this requires a piggy bank or a parent to assist with making a simple money counting receptacle from a cardboard box or recycled container. See you many coins you can count within a time limit. 
    9. Playdough and coins – this activity requires the addition of playdough. Where this is available encourage children to make impressions of their coins with playdough, roll small balls of playdough and build coin sandwiches or roll snakes of playdough and stand coins in the roll to represent the scales. 
    10. Dice and coins – If your child has a dice available try the following activities. Roll the dice and see if you can pick up the number of coins the dice lands on. Roll the dice and set out your coins in the same position as the dots on the dice (re-create the dice number pattern).
    Make coin rubbing art to work on learning coins, and building fine motor skills in kids.

    Coin rubbing art

    Coin rubbing art is a fine motor activity with huge benefits that you can add to your math art ideas. Rubbing the textures of coins onto paper builds so many fine motor skills: precision, bilateral coordination, pinch and grip strength, and eye-hand coordination skills.

    To make a coin rubbing, you’ll need a few materials:

    • A handful of coins
    • Paper
    • Crayons
    1. First place the coins on a table. Be sure to place some coins heads side up, and others tails side up. This helps children to identify both sides of the coin.
    2. Place a piece of paper over the coins.
    3. Use the side of a crayon to rub the texture of the coin through the paper. The image of the coin will show up on the paper.

    Work on holding the coin below the paper without moving the coin (bilateral coordination.

    Work on rubbing the crayon at the “just right” level of pressure (proprioceptive input)

    Read more about the benefits of coin rubbing art projects in this sight word crayon rubbing activity that we did.

    Coin Activities for Visual Perception

    An important part of money lesson plans is identifying different images on the coins, to enable counting and money use. But, visually discriminating between coin size and images can be very difficult for some children. Then consider that each coin has a different “heads” side and a different “tails” side. Then, consider that there are different versions of each coin. In the U.S. for example, each state has it’s own version of the quarter. This can make coin counting very difficult for children with visual perceptual skill challenges.

    Visual perception Coin sorting – this is a great way to work on visual discrimination. I ask my children to draw four or five circles on a piece of paper depending on the different denominations of the coins. Then we sort out pile of coins into the different denominations. Each circle is home to a certain denomination of coin.

    The coin whole body movement exercises listed in the form below is a fantastic way to work on discriminating between coin differences. Sometimes adding movement to learning is a game changer, and this multi-sensory learning activity is sure to be a hit.

    Coin activities for kids to improve fine motor skills, gross motor skills, pencil control, and visual discrimination.

    Teaching Money to Children and Pencil control  

    Finally, the following money activities incorporate the skill of pencil control. Right around kindergarten and first grade level, students are gaining more precision and dexterity with pencil control. Why not work on both coin sorting and coin identification AND pencil control for a doubled functional task?

    Coin decorating – Ask your child to write their name in large letters and then place coins over each letter to decorate their name. This can be done with individual letters or numbers if you are working on number formation or letter formations

    Coin race track – encourage your child to draw a race track. Use the coin as a car and demonstrate how to drive the car along the track using an individual finger. Each finger can have a turn to drive the car. 

    Coin rubbings – place a few coins on the table and place a piece of paper over the coins. Rub over the coin with a crayon or pencil to produce the impression of the coin on the page.

    Free coin exercises or learning money with multisensory learning.

    More Activities for a Money Lesson Plan

    Occupational therapists know the value of multisensory learning and this list of coin counting and sorting activities are sure to build knowledge and functional skills in children. For a whole-body, movement based resource on learning coins, grab this coin exercise handout.

    Free Coin Sorting Exercises

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      Be sure to wash hands after manipulating coins!  And as always, keep a close eye on your child when coins are part of fine motor play to ensure safety.

      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.

      Sun Visual Perception Activity

      sun visual perception activities

      Working on visual perceptual skills with kids this summer? This sun visual perception activity is a fun way to build skills needed for handwriting and reading! It’s a free therapy slide deck that builds skills like visual discrimination, form constancy, and visual figure-ground.

      Sun visual perception activity and free slide deck

      Sun Visual Perception Activity

      Summertime doesn’t have to mean not working on specific skills that help kids to improve functional hand writing and learning tasks. It also doesn’t mean building visual perceptual skills requires boring worksheets either.

      This free visual perceptual activity has a sun and sunshine theme for summer days.

      The visual perception sun activities include visual discrimination, form constancy, visual attention, and visual memory tasks.

      Kids can work on form constancy as they recognize differences in the various sun images and activities.

      You’ll love adding this these other visual perceptual activities too:

      Sunshine Visual perceptual activities

      There are several visual perceptual activities with the sun theme on the slide decks.

      This is also great if kids are heading off to vacation or taking a break from therapy for a while. They can use the activity as a fun way to work on specific visual perceptual skills.

      Want to access this free therapy slide deck? Enter your email address into the form below and to receive this activity.

      FREE Sun Visual Perception Activity Slide Deck

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        Working on building skills this summer? The Summer OT Bundle is for you!

        Summer occupational therapy activities bundle

        Work on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, scissor skills, and much more so that kids can accomplish self-care tasks, learn, and grow through play all summer long.

        This bundle is perfect for the pediatric occupational therapist who needs resources and tools to use in summer therapy sessions, home programs, or extended school year therapy plans.

        This bundle is perfect for parents, grandparents, and caregivers looking to provide developmental fine motor activities designed to help kids build skills.

        • Send kids back to school in the Fall without worrying about the “Summer Slide”.
        • Use these materials to work on areas like hand strength, fine motor development, scissor skills, handwriting, pencil control, pencil grasp, sensory play experiences, and much more. Just pull out the pages or activities you need for your child, and develop skills through play!

        The Summer OT Bundle includes 19 resources that you can print and use over and over again:

        Helping children develop and achieve functional skills this summer was never so easy (or fun!)

        Be sure to grab the Summer OT Bundle, a HUGE resource of therapy tools and activities for all things building skills this summer.

        Grab the Summer OT Bundle 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.

        How to Teach Coloring Skills

        How to teach coloring skills to kids

        Today I have another exciting resource…all about how to teach coloring skills to kids. So often, children do not have the exposure to crayons and paper that is needed for development of fine motor skills or visual motor skills. Teaching coloring skills is just not something parents think about in many cases! Let’s break down coloring skills by age and address specific tips to teach coloring to children.

        Tips for how to teach coloring skills to kids based on child development.

        Coloring is such an important part of childhood and growing up. There are many benefits to coloring as a tool for building skills. Coloring develops hand strength, visual perceptual skills, and precision of grasp. It’s the first time many of us express creativity and produce something we are proud of. It boosts confidence, develops understanding of cause and effect, and increases attention spans.

        Coloring is also an important stage of child development, too.

        Did you know that drawing is also an integral part of many early childhood skills like pre-writing development, fine motor skills, and spatial reasoning?

        Let’s go into age-appropriate specifics on how to teach coloring skills at each age and stage, from babies, to toddlers, to preschool, to Pre-K, to elementary aged children.

        How to teach coloring skills

        Coloring can be hard for kids. Many times, you see kids that refuse to color. Other times you come across kids that prefer markers over crayons. There are reasons for these difficulties, that make sense developmentally. Let’s take a look at the reasons why kids hate to color.

        • Coloring is HARD!
        • It hurts the child’s hands to color
        • Coloring makes the child’s hands tired
        • Child prefers markers over crayons
        • Coloring in the lines is hard
        • It’s hard to finish a coloring page

        All of these reasons why kids hate to color are related…and many times, it comes back to a need for developing hand strength and underlying skills.

        Coloring is hard for kids for many reasons. Here are underlying skills needed for coloring.

        Skills needed for coloring

        There are several areas, or underlying skills that play an important role in coloring:

        • Arch development (for endurance to color in the object)
        • Hand strength to move the crayon against a resistive surface
        • Pinch and grip
        • Precision to move the crayon with the fingers instead of the whole arm/wrist
        • Line awareness/visual perceptual skills
        • Eye-hand coordination
        • Pencil grasp (to hold the crayon)
        • Previous experience with fine motor activities/fine motor skill development

        Fine motor skills and coloring- In order to hold a crayon, children need to develop fine motor skills. In order to color in a shape, hand strength is needed. In order to color within the lines, visual motor skills are needed. In order to color a whole shape or figure, distal mobility is needed.

        Activities to develop these skills include fine motor play, beading, tweezer use, working on a vertical surface can develop these skills.

        Line awareness and coloring– Another aspect of coloring is the line awareness to color within the lines. And, before a child can form letters with ease and fluency, they need to achieve pre-writing lines such as strait lines, squares, triangles, X and diagonals. This resource on line awareness can be a great starting point on this visual perceptual skills needed to color within the lines. Also try these tips to work on line awareness needed for coloring.

        Pencil grasp and coloring– In order to teach coloring skills, it is important to progress through the stages listed below, whether at age level or not. Just like the underlying skills needed for pencil grasp development or handwriting, the basic levels need to be achieved. Before a child can hold a pencil with a functional grasp, they need to progress through more primitive grasp patterns such as a pincer grasp, palmer supinate grasp, digital pronate grasp, and quadrupod or static tripod grasp.

        All of these underlying skills play an important role in how to teach coloring skills to kids!

        How to teach coloring skills at each age depends on child development. These tips for teaching kids to color can help.

        Coloring Skills By Age

        In this post we will break down the coloring skills you can expect a child to do dependent on age. You will see that we break them down into age ranges – for good reason, too. Every child will develop different skills and different times. Generally, though, there is a developmental path that the majority of children will follow.

        If you believe that your child is lagging behind in these skills, talk to your child’s health care team and let them know what you see in your child. They will direct you towards occupational therapy if it is right for your family! 

        Coloring Skills at BIRTH – 6 MONTHS

        Not much coloring going on in this time frame, as you may imagine! Instead, your little one is prepping those little fingers to hold and manipulate objects, that will one day lead to purposeful scribbling

        I always recommend allowing your child to explore coloring as soon as they are able to hold a crayon in their hand and sit up safely in a high chair. Be sure to stay with your baby the whole time you are offering coloring opportunities, as they will likely put their crayons in their mouth. 

        Support the development of Coloring Skills during infancy:

        Babies under six months will typically grasp a small object in the middle or pinky-side of their palm. This grasp pattern is strengthening the building blocks for more refined grasps down the road. Tummy time is a great tool for lengthening the ulnar side of the hand for strengthening so that endurance in fine motor tasks is achievable at older ages. Tummy time also supports arch development even at this young age.

        While most parents of new babies will not be thinking of coloring, these activities support the development of MANY motor and cognitive skills, and not just coloring!

        Coloring Skills before 1 year

        From 6 months to 12 months, babies are certainly not coloring. However, they ARE developing motor and visual skills needed for holding and marking with a crayon in the later years.

        Grasping patterns grow a lot during this time! Your baby will start to use their thumbs a little bit more while stacking blocks, be able to pick up their Cheerios with only their thumb and pointer finger (pincer grasp), and can point to objects with one finger. By 12 months old, we should see a pincer grasp while holding small objects. This grasp prepares little fingers for sustained coloring!

        Support the development of Coloring Skills during In babies:

        Around a year old, your little one may show more interest in scribbling. They will likely make large marks across the paper (and hopefully not the walls!) by using their whole arm to move their crayon. As they develop, you will see that those big movements will get smaller and smaller as fine motor skills are refined.  

        Grasp: On a coloring utensil, they will use a gross grasp that looks like a fist. 

        Resources and information on how to teach toddlers to color.

        Coloring Skills for Toddlers

        The toddler years, for from 12 months to 2 years, is a great window to introduce coloring. It’s during this age that toddlers show interest in coloring and develop skills needed for motor development. This is a great time to explore how to teach coloring skills at an impressionable age!

        During the 12 month to two year range, toddlers are building proficiency in coloring skills…and this is a great time to teach coloring!

        In this time frame, your toddler will begin to recognize colors and shapes in their environment, and may purposefully choose colors while they are scribbling on paper. They will start to hold their crayon or marker a little more gently, with their pinky down towards the paper, and all fingers wrapped around. 

        Teach Toddlers to Color:

        During the toddler years, exposure is key! You can present many activities and coloring opportunities to color with crayons. Different types of crayons and coloring activities are great exposure, too. Here are tips to teach toddlers to color:

        • Offer just one crayon at first. Offering too many options can overwhelm the young child.
        • Try different crayon types. There are different crayon molds that are great for toddlers including egg shaped crayons, rock shaped crayons, or even bath crayons.
        • Try coloring materials that require less hand strength or resistance, to make a mark. Kwik Stick tempera paints are a great option.
        • Show toddlers how to color. Color alongside young children for an opportunity to connect with the child and interact. Toddlers love to mimic others and can learn a lot by watching their parent color alongside them.
        • Offer toddler-friendly coloring pages. A big coloring book with many details can overwhelm a child. Try a printed page with simple shapes in smaller sizes.
        • Don’t expect perfection. Just putting crayons to the page is a great learning experience that builds hand strength, eye-hand coordination, and coloring experience.
        • Expect whole-arm movements. Toddlers color with their shoulder and elbow movements, or the proximal movements and won’t color with precise movements of the fingers until an older age. This is normal and to be expected. Coloring for toddlers looks like scribbling and that’s OK!
        • Encourage coloring and mark-making with coloring games and toys. This post has games and toys for coloring that Toddlers will love.
        • Work on fine motor hand skills through games involving tweezers, games on the floor, gross motor play, and whole body play activities.
        • Encourage play with age-appropriate puzzles and blocks.

        Your child may start to show more interest in coloring just like you do, trying to copy your marks and paying closer attention to where they are placing their pen to paper. They should be able to copy a vertical line by around age two – this is a key marker for pre-writing skills. Usually around this time they also choose a preferred hand dominance while coloring! 

        The typical grasp pattern used by toddlers is the Palmar supinate grasp. This is a normal part of development. 

        Tips and strategies to teach preschoolers to color. Includes information for younger preschoolers and Pre-K.

        Coloring Skills for Preschool (2-3 years)

        The early preschool years, or 2- 3 years of age are a prime range for developing beginning coloring skills.

        Your young preschool child will start to shift their fingers towards the paper while they hold their coloring utensil by age three. Some children hold their pencil towards the top near the eraser during this stage of development. They should naturally work their fingers down the utensil, closer to the paper, as they get used to this new grasp. 

        Use these strategies to teach young preschoolers to color:

        During the 2-3 year period, you can expect your child to start drawing meaningful images. They will point to a drawing that may look like nothing to you, but then they will tell you that it’s their dog! By age three, your child should be able to do the next pre-writing task: copy a horizontal line and a circle. 

        Teach Preschoolers to Color (2-3 years old):

        For young preschoolers, continued exposure to coloring is necessary. So often, young children skip the needed PLAY that builds fine and gross motor skills. With more and more young children playing primarily on screens versus free play, independent play, and creative fine motor play that builds the necessary hand strength, mobility, dexterity needed for precision, endurance, and progression through typical grasp patterns. Children at the preschool stages need fine motor play, much less screen time exposure, and play experiences.

        Another pet peeve of pediatric occupational therapists is the tendency to hand a young child a pencil or pen during the preschool years.

        • Continue with the suggestions listed above for the baby stage.
        • Use a variety of crayon types and sizes: regular crayons, finger crayons, egg-shaped crayons, rock crayons, jumbo crayons, bath crayons,
        • Don’t be afraid to use broken crayons. Sounds strange, right? Sometimes a whole crayon is too big for small hands. A broken crayon can be the “just right” size and can be used as a strengthening tool for fine motor skills as well.
        • Don’t expect perfection. Crayon lines will go over the border of the coloring area and that’s ok!
        • Offer small coloring spaces with wider borders.
        • Provide simple shapes for coloring opportunities.
        • Offer physical boundaries if needed: Use wikki sticks around the coloring area, use your hands to create a small coloring space.
        • Color small areas on an easel to engage the core as a stabilizer, work against gravity, to place the wrist into extension, to pull the fingers into a tripod type of grasp for dexterity.
        • Continue easel work and play with lite brite, painting on easels, sticking and peeling tape to the wall, sticking foam pieces to a wet easel surface.
        • Play with foam sheets on a window. Try this rainbow play activity where preschoolers can stick foam sheets to a wet window. Encourage use of a spray bottle to wet the window and then wipe with a towel to clean up any drips. (It’s a great way to teach colors to preschoolers, too!)
        • Draw with chalk on a vertical chalk board or on a driveway/side walk.
        • Try window paints.
        • Try coloring materials that require less hand strength or resistance, to make a mark. Kwik Stick tempera paints are a great option.
        • Show toddlers how to color. Color alongside young children for an opportunity to connect with the child and interact. Toddlers love to mimic others and can learn a lot by watching their parent color alongside them.

        The typical grasp pattern used by young preschool children in the 2-3 year age range is the Digital pronate grasp. Use of this grasp pattern is a typical stage of grasp development.

        Coloring Skills in Preschool (4-5 years)

        During the later preschool years, at four and five years of age, preschoolers are developing more refined coloring skills as their motor and visual develop integrate.

        Around age four is when you can start to see recognizable images appear more regularly in your child’s artwork. Four-year-olds will usually draw people with two, three, or four body parts. For example, the person may have a circle for a head, a rectangle for the body, and two circles for feet.

        By the time they are five, they will likely be drawing people with six or more body parts! You will see their drawings becoming more and more life-like, by adding details like fingers, eye color, and buttons on clothing. 

        By age four, we expect a child to be able to copy a cross – a very tricky visual motor skill! Around age five, we would expect a child to be able to copy a square and color inside the lines fairly well. 

        Teach Preschoolers to Color (4-5 years old):

        For older preschoolers, especially those in Pre-K, it can be common to see preschools and pre-K classrooms where young children are expected to write letters, write their name, or trace letters. This is potentially damaging for the young child and not recommended by pediatric occupational therapists. This premature exposure to writing with pencils, tracing letters, and writing letters isn’t based on child development of motor skills.

        It will result in forming letters incorrectly and establishing poor motor plans for letters. It will result in poor pencil grasps that are difficult to change. It will result in forming letters from the bottom or in “chunks”. It is a detriment to children, especially because there is little time in the kindergarten classroom for working on letter formation, pencil grasp instruction beyond the regular curriculum. So changing motor plans and muscle memory that has been poorly established is detrimental for the young child.

        What preschool and Pre-K children at 4 and 5 years of age need is play and the opportunity to develop and refine fine motor skills, hand strength, eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills. These skills are strengthened through play.

        Try these strategies to teach older preschoolers/Pre-K children to color:

        • Use all of the strategies previously listed above.
        • Encourage coloring with interest-based coloring pages (run a Google search for coloring pages, i.e. “unicorn coloring pages”, “superhero coloring pages”, etc. You can generally find free printable coloring pages in most themes.)
        • Show off art work! Create a space in the home or clinic where coloring projects can be displayed. This is a great motivator for many children.
        • Encourage smaller coloring areas to improve eye-hand coordination with line use. A smaller coloring space enables children to use their fingers to move the crayon rather than the wrist, elbow, or shoulder.
        • Use a smaller or broken crayon to promote a developmentally appropriate quadripod or static tripod grasp.
        • Use simple shapes with curved lines like circles and ovals to promote smooth coloring lines with minimal direction changes and angles to the coloring picture.
        • If children are complaining of tired hands or tend to switch crayon colors a lot, it can be a sign of weakness in the hands. To strengthen the hands, encourage play with tweezers, tongs, spray bottles, pinch and grip activities, LEGO blocks, play dough, beading activities, peg boards, etc.
        • If you have a box of crayons with a crayon sharpener on the back, encourage the child to use it to sharpen crayons. The built-in sharpener is great for not only sharpening dull crayons, but also as a hand strengthening device!

        The typical grasp pattern in preschool years for 4-5 year olds is the quadrupod or static tripod grasp. Use of either of these grasps is part of typical grasp development.  

        Information and tools to teach elementary kids to color.

        Coloring Skills at 5-6 years old

        Somewhere between ages five and six, we would expect a child to be able to copy multiple shapes, including the ones they would have mastered in the past (i.e. vertical, horizontal, and crossed lines).

        Around age five we would like to see what is called a dynamic tripod grasp when a child is writing or coloring. They should have their pencil between their pointer finger and thumb, with the middle finger supporting and the ring and pinky fingers tucked away into the palm. This grasp is “dynamic” if the fingers can move separately from the palm and wrist, allowing for good control of the writing utensil. This growing strength and control is why we see handwriting and coloring skills develop!

        By age six, they should be able to copy more complex shapes, like triangles and rhombuses. You could expect them to independently draw some of the more simple shapes as well, like circles and squares. 

        The dynamic tripod grasp is the most advanced pencil grasp and should continue throughout their life. Typically, whatever grasp a child has habituated by age 6 is the grasp they will likely continue to have. 

        Teach kids to color at 5-6 years:

        Try these strategies to teach children aged 5-6 years old children to color:

        • Use all of the strategies listed above under preschool, older preschool, etc.
        • Color using a variety of surfaces and mediums.
        • Color using squeeze paints to work on hand strength.
        • If hand strength is a challenge and the 5-6 year old complains of hand fatigue, try a less resistive coloring tool such as twist crayons.
        • Work on coloring larger areas for longer periods of time.
        • Use raised line borders if needed, including Wikki Stix or dry glue to border the coloring area.
        • Try a 3 crayon challenge.
        • Highlight the line with a marker.  A bright color can be a visual cue of where to write.  Letters should rest on the line.  You can start with a nice thick and brightly colored highlighter like this one and move to a thinner pen like these ones. Sometimes the visual cue of that bright line is enough to keep letters placed correctly.
        • Another strategy to work on line awareness in coloring is to add bolder coloring shape lines with more contrast by darkening the borders with a black marker. Simply outline the shape with a black marker for a visual prompt.
        • For kids that show a great deal of difficulty with coloring in a given space, use a stencil made from a thing cardboard like a recycled cereal box.  Cut out a rectangle and place it over the given writing space.  This will help to remove distractions of the rest of the page and proved a designated space to color within.
        • Use glue to trace along the outside border of the coloring space. Let the glue dry and then use that tactile border as a physical prompt for coloring lines.

        The typical grasp pattern for 5-6 year olds is a tripod/dynamic tripod grasp.

        Coloring Skills at SIX YEARS OLD AND BEYOND

        Older children can sometimes struggle with coloring and see their peers who seem to have little trouble at all. This can be a stab at their confidence and self-esteem. For older children, coloring often-times is a “sometimes” task in the classroom, so there are limited opportunities for a hands-on fine motor task. Still older students use primarily colored pencils to color in the classroom. Coloring with colored pencils requires even more hand strength, precision, and mobility with the pencil, so this can be a challenge.

        Try these strategies for teaching older kids coloring skills:

        • To teach coloring skills to older children, use all of the methods mentioned under each age level above.
        • Your elementary-aged child will continue to develop fine motor skills for writing and coloring, as well as manipulating other craft media like clay, papier mache, etc. Creating things with their hands will not only strengthen their muscles but will also benefit their social development, self-esteem, and problem solving skills.
        • Work on coloring with a variety of crayon types, markers, or paint pens.
        • Use a variety of coloring surfaces.
        • If crayon pressure or colored pencil pressure is a problem, try these strategies to address pressure on the writing utensil.
        • Use a coloring journal or a drawing journal.
        • Use interest-based coloring books or coloring pages.

        A final note on teaching coloring skills

        If wondering exactly how to teach coloring skills to children at various ages is something you are looking for developmentally appropriate strategies, this comprehensive resource is for you. Coloring is a child occupation needed for learning, interactive play, and creative play.

        Encourage your kids at all stages of development to explore their creativity and the fine motor, visual motor, cognitive and socioemotional skills will follow. 

        References

        Dosman, C. F., Andrews, D., & Goulden, K. J. (2012). Evidence-based milestone ages as a framework for developmental surveillance. Paediatrics & Child Health,17(10), 561–568. https://doi.org/10.1093/pch/17.10.561

        Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. (n.d.). Milestone moments: Learn the signs. Act early. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/pdf/parents_pdfs/milestonemomentseng508.pdf 

        How to Teach Coloring Skills is a collaborative article by Colleen Beck, OTR/L and Sydney Rearick, OTS.

        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.

        Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
        background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
        providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
        a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.

        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.

        Ocean Animals Matching Game

        ocean animals matching game

        Matching games are such a great way to work on visual perceptual skills that are needed for hand writing and reading. This ocean animals matching game is a therapy activity that helps kids to work on several visual perceptual skills including visual discrimination form constancy visual scanning and other skills. Add this idea to your summer occupational therapy line-up!

        Ocean animals matching game to work on visual perceptual skills

        Ocean animals Matching Game

        This is a great activity for an ocean theme this summer.

        Kids that love ocean animals like fish seahorses seahorses octopus and see turtles will get love working on this spotting game.

        To play children can look at the two circles on the slide deck. They can visually scan to locate the identical ocean animal that is the same on each part of the slide. Then the interactive piece of this game is a movable seaweed option. They can click and drag on the seaweed icon and drag it over to cover up the matching animals. By doing this interactive piece kids can improve eye hand coordination and visual tracking skills as well.

        Ocean animals writing prompts

        Then after the students find the matching ocean animal there is a slide that is a self-checking exercise. The slide asks “did you find the missing item?” and then offers an ocean animals writing prompt.

        On the handwriting portion of this ocean animals activity kids can copy the ocean animals word from the slide.

        They can work on letter formation and copying skills from a near point or a distance point.

        There’s also an open ended writing prompt where kids can copy a full sentence.

        You can then expand the activity to an open ended writing prompt by asking that student to expand on that topic or ocean animal.

        For example kids can copy the word octopus and work on letter formation letter size and spacing between letters. Then they can copy the octopus sentence. They can work on spacing between letters and words, letter formation, line use, punctuation, capitalization, and overall legibility.

        Then finally expand on the activity and ask students to continue to write about an octopus they can either write a silly sentence or another fact if they know one. This slide deck includes many ocean animals that kids will have fun finding and writing about. Other ocean animals included in this slide deck include:

        • seahorse
        • sea turtle
        • crab
        • puffer fish
        • octopus
        • jellyfish
        • whale
        • shark
        • conch shell
        • school of fish

        Sometimes kids will have difficulties copying or reading without losing their place on the paper. Convergence insufficiency can be one cause for this. Other reasons can be visual scanning or visual attention skills. This slide deck is one way to work on these skills.

        Copying from a near point is a great way to work on visual shift visual attention and visual memory skills that are needed for kids to copy words from a workbook onto paper or from some other source like a book into a notebook.

        By shifting the slides to an overhead screen such as a SmartBoard that is positioned across the room children can work on distance copying. This visual motor skill can be a challenge for some kids who struggle with visual attention and visual memory. In order to copy from a source children need to visually recall where they left off and then shift their vision while holding the visual information in there our minds eye and then realizing where to go back to on the board to copy from. That shift can be difficult for kids so this open ended and fun activity can help with visual motor skills and copying from near and far points.

        This matching game is similar to others that we have here on the website so if a spotting and matching game is an interest and helpful for you and the children that you serve check out these other spotting and matching activities:

        Want more ways to play and build skills with a beach or ocean theme? Check out these fun ideas:

        Want more ways to play and build skills with a beach or ocean theme? Check out these fun ideas:

        Free Ocean Animals Matching Slide Deck

        Would you like to access this free ocean animals activity to work on visual perceptual skills, eye-hand coordination, and handwriting? Enter your email into that form below and you can access this resource to use in teletherapy sessions in home programming in face-to-face therapy sessions or in homeschooling activities. Another option is to also use for hand writing prompts in the classroom.

        FREE Ocean Animals Matching Game

          We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

          Working on building skills this summer? The Summer OT Bundle is for you!

          Summer occupational therapy activities bundle

          Work on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, scissor skills, and much more so that kids can accomplish self-care tasks, learn, and grow through play all summer long.

          This bundle is perfect for the pediatric occupational therapist who needs resources and tools to use in summer therapy sessions, home programs, or extended school year therapy plans.

          This bundle is perfect for parents, grandparents, and caregivers looking to provide developmental fine motor activities designed to help kids build skills.

          • Send kids back to school in the Fall without worrying about the “Summer Slide”.
          • Use these materials to work on areas like hand strength, fine motor development, scissor skills, handwriting, pencil control, pencil grasp, sensory play experiences, and much more. Just pull out the pages or activities you need for your child, and develop skills through play!

          The Summer OT Bundle includes 19 resources that you can print and use over and over again:

          Helping children develop and achieve functional skills this summer was never so easy (or fun!)

          Be sure to grab the Summer OT Bundle, a HUGE resource of therapy tools and activities for all things building skills this summer.

          Grab the Summer OT Bundle 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.

          Kindergarten Learning and Play Activities

          kindergarten activities

          Below are kindergarten activities that promote development of skills needed during the kindergarten year. These are great activities to use for kindergarten readiness and to help preschool and Pre-K children build the motor skills in order to succeed in their kindergarten year. You’ll find kindergarten letter activities, Kinder math, fine motor skills to build stronger pencil grasps when kindergarteners start to write with a pencil and cut with scissors. You’ll also find kindergarten sight word activities for when that time of the Kinder year comes around. Let’s have some fun with 5-6 year old activities!

          Kindergarten activities and kindergarten readiness activities

          Kindergarten Activities

           What you’ll notice is missing from this massive list of Kindergarten activities, is handwriting, writing letters, and even writing names. (And writing letters in a sensory bin falls into this category too! Before kindergarten, children should not be copying letters into a sensory bin. You’ll see letters formed incorrectly, letters formed from bottom to top, and letters formed in “chunks”. The same rule applies to tracing letters and words and even “multisensory strategies” for writing. It’s just too early. Unfortunately, we see a lot of preschools and standards doing the exact opposite. You’ll even find online sites sharing preschool and Pre-K writing that is just in poor advice.
           
          Here’s why: prior to kindergarten age, kids are not developmentally ready for holding a pencil, writing with a pencil, and writing words. Their muscles are not developed, and asking them to write letters, copy words, and trace with a pencil is setting them up for improper letter formation, poor pencil grasp, and weak hands. 
           
          What children aged 5 and under DO need is play! They need exposure to sensory experiences, sensory play, coloring, cutting with scissors (even if it’s just snipping), puzzles, games, beads, blocks, stamps…there are SO many ways to help pre-K kids and preschool children develop the skills they need for kindergarten and beyond.
           
          Kindergarten is such a fun age.  Kids in kindergarten strive when they are given the chance to learn through play and hands-on activities.  These are our favorite Kindergarten activities that we’ve shared on the site, with Kindergarten math, reading and letter awareness, Kindergarten Crafts, and Kindergarten Play.   
           
           

           

          Kindergarten Functional Tasks

          Kindergarten is the stage when children go off to school for perhaps the first time. That’s why prior to kindergarten, it’s great to “practice” a lot of the functional tasks that children will need to do once they go to kindergarten. Some of these may include:

          Now…not all of these functional skills will be established for every kindergarten child…and that’s OK! Kindergarten can be the year to practice these tasks in the school environment. 

          Kindergarten Letter Activities

          Kindergarten is all about letters, upper case and lower case letters, and sounds.  They learn how letters go with sounds and work on decodable reading.  These letter learning activities will help your kindergarten student with identification, sounds, and beginning reading skills.

          Kindergarten Letter activities for letter learning
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           


          Kindergarten Math Activities

          Kindergarten students work with manipulating items to discover and explore numbers and patterns.  They solve simple addition and subtraction problems, more or less, comparing amounts, and shapes.
           
          These Kindergarten math ideas will be a fun way to discover math ideas with playful learning.
          Kindergarten Math ideas

           

           
           
           
           
           
               
           




             
           
           
             
           
           
            
           
           
              
           

          Kindergarten Sight Words and Reading:

          Kindergarten students learn sight words throughout the school year. These sight word activities are fun ways to learn with play while reinforcing sight word skills.
            
           
             
           
           
             
           
           

          Sight Words Manipulatives | Outdoor Pre-Reading Letter Hunt

          Kindergarten Books and Activities

          Extending book ideas with crafts and activities are a fun way for Kindergarten students to become engaged with reading.  Listening to an adult read is a powerful tool for pre-readers.  They learn language, speech, articulation, volume, and tone of voice.  These book related activities will extend popular stories and engage your Kindergartner.

          Book ideas activities for Kindergarten
           
           
           
            
           
           
           

           
           
           

           

           

          Kindergarten Fine Motor Play

          Fine motor skills in Kindergarten students are essential for effective pencil control and handwriting, scissor use, and clothing and tool manipulation.  Kindergartners may have little experience with tools like scissors, pencils, hole punches, staplers, and pencil sharpeners. In fact, there are MANY fine motor skills needed at school. All of these items require dexterity and strength.  
           
          In-Hand manipulation play for fine motor skills: We had so much fun with water beads.  This post shares two ideas for improving in-hand manipulation skills which are so important for dexterity in self-care, handwriting, coin manipulation…and so much more!
           
          Finger isolation, tripod grasp, eye-hand coordination, bilateral hand coordination…Fine Motor Play with Crafting Pom Poms has got it all!  We even worked on color identification and sorting with this easy fine motor play activity.
           

          What play ideas can you come up with using common tools? These items are GREAT ways to build hand strength and dexterity that will be needed in kindergarten for pencil grasp development and endurance in handwriting. 

          • tweezers
          • tongs
          • beads
          • toothpicks
          • hole puncher
          • peg boards
          • lacing cards

           

          These fine motor activities will engage your student in fine motor skills for effective hand use in functional school tasks.
           
          Kindergarten Fine Motor activities
           
           
           
             
           
           
             
           
           
             
           
           
           
           
           
            
           
           

          Kindergarten Play:

          Play in Kindergarten is essential for so many areas.  Kindergartners are young students who need brain breaks from desk work.  Not only for that reason, but for turn-taking, language, social interaction, self-confidence, problem-solving, and interaction, play is an important part of your Kindergarten student’s daily lives.  

          Play builds skills! Check out this post on the incredible power of play. Play helps kids learn and develop cognitive experiences and the neural connections that impact their educational career, beginning right now! Occupational therapists know that play is the primary occupation of children, but what’s more is that play builds the very skills that kids need to learn and develop.

          Kindergarteners can gain valuable input through play:

          • Cognition
          • Problem Solving
          • Executive Functioning Skills
          • Attention
          • Strength
          • Balance
          • Visual Motor Integration
          • Visual Processing
          • Sensory Integration
          • Self Regulation
          • Language Development
          • Self-Confidence
          • Fine Motor Skills
          • Gross Motor Skills
          • Social Emotional Development
          • Stress Relief
          • Behavior
          • Imagination
          • Creativity

          Try these play ideas in the classroom or at home for fun learning (through play)!

             
           
           
           
           
             
           

          Kindergarten Crafts

          Crafts in Kindergarten are a great tool for so many areas.  Students can work on direction following, order, patterns, task completion, scissor skills, fine motor dexterity, tool use, and more by completing crafts in Kindergarten.  

          Kindergarten crafts can have one or more of the areas listed here to help and build skills:

          • Scissor practice (placing on hand and opening/closing the scissors)
          • Exposure to different textures and art supplies
          • Practice with using a glue stick and bottle of squeeze glue
          • Practice cutting strait lines and stopping at point
          • Practice cutting simple shapes
          • Practice cutting complex shapes
          • Coloring
          • Painting with finger paints and paint brushes
          • Experience washing hands after crafting
          • Opportunities for creative expression
          • Opportunities for rule-following and direction following
          • Multi-step directions
          • Experience copying a model for visual motor benefits

          Try a few (or all!) of these Kindergarten crafts for fun arts and play with your student. 

          Kindergarten Craft ideas
           
           
           
           

           

          Grand Old Duke of York Craft | Process Art Monster Cupcake Liner craft | Shoe Charm craft | Caterpillar Math Craft

           
           
           
          We’ll be adding more to this resource soon, so stop back to find more Kindergarten learning ideas.  

          Tangram Activities

          Tangram activities

          These tangram activities are designed to develop visual perceptual skills, visual motor skills, and fine motor skills in kids. Tangrams make a great addition to any occupational therapy treatment bag!

          Tangram Activities

          Tangram activities for occupational therapy interventions

          Tangrams are a great tool for learning and development.  The colorful shapes are perfect for building images and working on math skills such as shape identification and patterning.  

          Tangrams are also an easy way to incorporate visual perceptual skills, fine motor skills, and visual motor integration into play.  

          Development of visual perceptual skills is essential for tasks like reading, writing, math, movement, self-care, and many other functional tasks. These tangram activities are perfect to improve visual perception in a playful way.  You can use tangrams to address visual perception in many more ways, including ideas to help with handwriting.


          Try DIY Sponge Tangrams for another version of these activities.

          And check out these cardboard tangrams for developing visual motor integration skills.

          How to use tangrams to improve visual perception skills needed for reading, writing, and functional skills.

          This post contains affiliate links. 


          Visual perception allows us to take in visual information, process it, and use it to interpret information from our environment.  There are many parts of visual perception, but today, I’ve got three visual perceptual skills that can be developed using tangrams.  

          How to use tangrams to improve visual perception skills needed for reading, writing, and functional skills.

           

          Visual Percepetion and Tangrams

          1. Visual Discrimination allows us to determine similarities and differences based on color, shape, etch. This skill allows us to know that a 6 and a 9 are different and that a p and a q are not the same letter. 

          Use tangrams to work on visual discrimination:

          • Place tangram shapes on a piece of paper.  Ask the child to locate all of the triangles, all of the squares, etc. 
          • Ask the child to find shapes that are the same even if they are different sizes.  This tangram set has several different sizes of triangles, making it a great tool for form constancy. 
          • Use two different shapes to discuss what makes the shapes similar and different.

          2. Visual Memory allows us to retain visual information.  We need visual memory in order to copy written work.

          Use tangrams to work on visual memory:

          Use the tangrams for a hands-on game of “Simon”.  Place shapes on a piece of paper, taking turns to add one new shape at a time.  Each player should recall the previous round before adding a new tangram shape.

          Place several tangram shapes on a piece of paper.  Allow the child to stare at the shapes for a period of time.  Then, cover the shapes with a second piece of paper.  Ask the child to recall the shapes that they saw.

          3. Form Constancy is the ability to recognize shapes and forms no matter what position they are in. 
           

          Use tangrams to work on form constancy:

          • Use tangrams to build form constancy by positioning shapes in different positions.  Ask the child to locate all of the squares, quadrilaterals, etc. 
          • Position shapes on one side of a piece of paper.  On the other side of the paper, position shapes that can be combined to make the shape on the first side of the paper.  Ask the child to match up the two sides.
          • Position shapes along one side of a piece of paper.  Position matching shapes along the right side of the paper, with the shapes slightly rotated.  Ask the child to match up the shapes.   
          How to use tangrams to improve visual perception skills needed for reading, writing, and functional skills.
           
          How to use tangrams to improve visual perception skills needed for reading, writing, and functional skills.
           
           
           

          Looking for more ways to build visual perceptual skills?  Try these:

          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.

          What are Visual Spatial Relations

          spatial relations activities

          Visual Spatial Relations is an important visual perceptual skill that is important for many functional tasks.  Spatial relations allows the organization of the body in relation to objects or spatial awareness.  This is an important part of spatial awareness in handwriting and many other movement-based activities.  An important part of visual spatial relations includes laterality and directionality. In general, these spatial relationship terms refer to left-right body awareness and the ability to perceive left/right relationship of objects. 

          Spatial Relations is being aware of oneself in space. It involves positioning items in relation to oneself, such as reaching for items without overshooting or missing the object. Most of us realize as we walk through a doorway that we need to space ourselves through the middle of the door.

          Some with poor visual spatial skills may walk to closely to the sides and bump the wall. It also involves the fine motor tasks of coordinating handwriting with writing in spaces allowed on paper, placing letters within an area (lines), and forming letters in the correct direction.

          What are spatial relations?

          Spatial relations, or visual spatial awareness, refers to an organization of visual information and an awareness of position in space so the body can move and perform tasks. Spatial relations are needed for completing physical actions, moving in a crowded space, and even handwriting.

          More examples of spatial relations

          Knowing which shoe to put on which foot.  Understanding that a “b” has a bump on the right side.  Putting homework on the left side of the take home folder before putting books into a locker beside the gym bag.  Visual spatial relations are everywhere!

          Here are more everyday examples of spatial relations at work:

          • Letter formation and number formation
          • Writing letters without reversal
          • Reading letters without reversal
          • Sports
          • Completing puzzles
          • Walking in a crowded hallway without running into others
          • Standing in line without bumping into others
          • Left/right awareness
          • Understanding spatial reasoning concepts such as beside/under/next to/etc
          • Reading without losing one’s place
          • Copying written work with appropriate spatial awareness
          • Reading maps  

          Visual spatial skills in occupational therapy activities are an important skill.  

          Visual Spatial Skills and Handwriting

          Spatial relations, and the ability to organize physical movements related to visual information impacts handwriting.

          You might be thinking: “Movement and handwriting!? What?? I want my kiddo to sit still and copy his homework into his planner without wiggling all over the desk!”

          Ok, ok. Here is the thing: We are asking our kids to write way to early. Preschoolers are being given paper with lines and are asked to write their name with correct letter formation. Kids are being thrown into the classroom environment with expectations for legible written work an they are missing the necessary basics.

          When kids are not developing the skills they need to hold a pencil, establish visual perceptual skills, and organize themselves, they are going to have struggles in handwriting.

          NOTE: There are a few other baseline tools that kids need in order to establish a base for better handwriting. Fine motor experiences, positioning, attention are just a few of these areas.

          Here are a few easy hands-on strategies to help with spatial relations in written work:

          1. Read this resource on hand dominance and laterality.
          2. Then check out this post on what you need to know about writing with both hands.
          3. Finally, check out this movement activity for direction following that involves spatial relations.

          These resources are all connected and can impact spatial relations skills!

          Another resource is this post on Hand Aerobics and Fine Motor Skills Needed in the Classroom

          You can find all of our handwriting posts here.

          Spatial Relations Quick Tip:
          Write a letter on the student’s back using a finger or a pencil eraser. Ask the student guess what letter it is. Then, ask the child to air write the letter. (While holding a pencil, with large motion, whole arm motions AND very small with just the fingers!) Finally have him write the letter on paper.

          • These activities all require the ability to perceive an object in space.  The way they interpret position in space to their body and to other objects in the environment impacts motor skills.    
          • Spacing pieces of a puzzle amongst the others and writing in relation to the lines is one way to work on this skill.

          Fine Motor Quick Tip:
          Encourage pinching activities. So many kids are exposed to screen technology from a young age. Screen interaction uses the pointer finger in isolation or just the thumb. These digits become strong and a dynamic pencil grasp is limited. Promote strengthening of the intrinsic muscles by pinching clay or tearing and crumbling small bits of paper. Read more about intrinsic muscle strengthening here.

          What are visual spatial relations and how are visual relationships and visual concepts needed for functional tasks?

          Spatial Relations Activities

          Try these movement-based spatial relations activities to work on the visual spatial skills needed for writing and completing everyday tasks:

          • Create a paper obstacle course. Draw obstacles on paper and have your child make his /her pencil go through the obstacles.
          • Draw circles, holes, mud pits, and mountains for them to draw lines as their pencil “climbs”, “jumps”, “rolls”, and even erases!
          • Create an obstacle course using couch cushions, chairs, blankets, pillows to teach left/right/over/under.
          • Write words and letters on graph paper. The lines will work as a guide and also a good spacing activity.
          • Use stickers placed along the right margin of to cue the student that they are nearing the edge of paper when writing.
          • Highlight writing lines on worksheets.
          • Draw boxes for words on worksheets for them to write within.
          • Play Simon Says.
          • Practice directions. Draw arrows on a paper pointing up, down, left, and right. Ask your child to point to the direction the arrow is pointing. The child can say the direction the arrows are pointing. Then create actions for each arrow. Up may be jumping. Down may be squatting. The Left arrow might be side sliding to the left, and the Right arrow might be a right high kick. Next, draw more rows of arrows in random order. Ask your child to go through the motions and try to go faster and faster.
           
           
          This map activity is great for building and developing spatial concepts and higher level thinking right in the backyard, using a map and lights to develop spatial relations. Teaching Spatial Concepts to Preschoolers and Toddlers through play. Over, under, around, and through and their need in functional tasks like shoe tying and handwriting. Visual Perception and spatial awareness in kids.  What is Spatial awareness and why do kids have trouble with spacing between letters and words, reversing letters, and all things vision.  Great tips here from an Occupational Therapist, including tips and tools to help kids with spacing in handwriting. What is spatial awareness?  Tips and tools for handwriting, reading, scissors, and all functional skills in kids and adults, from an Occupational Therapist.
           
           

          Other activities to incorporate spatial relations include:

          Try these other activities that challenge visual spatial relations:

          Movement and spatial relations worksheet to improve spatial awareness in kids

          Free Movement and Handwriting Worksheet

          Today’s free printable shares movement based activities to help kids improve their spatial relations. These are the skills kids need to write legibly. It includes tips and activities to improve spatial relations, that were mentioned above. This free handout is a great resource to add to your occupational therapy toolbox.

          You will receive this handout when you join the Handwriting Tips and Tricks series. Each day over the course of 5 days, you’ll receive a free handwriting worksheet to use in addressing common handwriting issues.

          Join the free handwriting series!

          handwriting handouts

          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.