Visual Tracking Tips and Tools for Treatment

Here we are covering all things visual tracking, including what visual tracking means, how to improve visual tracking skills, and visual tracking toys to support development of this visual processing skill.

Visual Tracking toys and tools to improve visual fixation, visual tracking, visual saccades, in handwriting, reading, and so many functional daily tasks and skills in kids.

What is Visual Tracking

Visual tracking is typically defined as the ability to efficiently move the eyes from left to right (or right to left, up and down, and circular motions) OR focusing on an object as it moves across a person’s visual field.

This skill is important for almost all daily activities, including reading, writing, cutting with scissors, drawing, and playing.  According to typical development of visual processing, the ability to visually track objects emerges in children around the age of five.  

Reading a paragraph without losing their place, copying a list of homework from the chalkboard, misalignment of vertical and horizontal numbers in math problems, confusion in interpreting written direction, mixing up left/right, persistent letter reversals…Does any of this sound familiar? It’s all visual tracking!  

Vision and visual tracking are tasks that happen without us even realizing.  The brain and it’s jobs is an amazing thing and our eyes are moving, tracking, scanning, focusing, pursuing, and accommodating without us even realizing.     There are many ways to work on visual perception in playful and creative ways.  

visual tracking exercises

Visual Tracking Exercises

Using visual tracking exercises like the one described below can be a powerful way to use eye exercises to improve vision in kids. These are the visual skills needed not for visual acuity, but rather, those unseen visual problems that impact visual processing skills.

Visual tracking exercises can include vision therapy activities that improve areas such as visual saccades or smooth visual pursuit.

Difficulties in Visual Tracking

You might see problems with these tasks if a child has difficulty with visual tracking:

  • Losing place when reading.  Re-reads or skips words or lines.  
  • Omits, substitutes, repeats, or confuses similar words when reading.
  • Must use finger to keep place when reading.
  • Poor reading comprehension.
  • Short attention span.
  • Difficulty comprehending or remembering what is read.
  • Confusion with interpreting or following written directions.
  • Writing on a slat, up or down hill, spacing letters and words irregularly.
  • Confusion with left/right directions.
  • Persistent reversals of letters (b, d, p, q) when naming letters.
  • Reverses letters when writing (persistent reversals after 2nd grade.)
  • Errors when copying from a chalkboard or book to paper.
  • Misalignment of horizontal and vertical series’ of numbers in math problems.

Also related to visual tracking and very similar while being involved in many of these problem areas, is visual scanning.  

It is important to note that not all of these difficulties indicate a true visual tracking and or visual scanning problem.  For example, many children demonstrate poor reading comprehension and may show a short attention span while not having visual scanning problems.  

All children should be evaluated by a pediatric physician, behavioral optometrist, and occupational therapist to determine true visual processing and visual tracking or visual scanning deficits.  These recommendations are meant to be a resource.    

Visual Tracking toys and tools to improve visual fixation, visual tracking, visual saccades, in handwriting, reading, and so many functional daily tasks and skills in kids.

Visual Tracking Activities

Today, I’m sharing an easy visual tracking activity that will help kids with many functional difficulties.  This post is part of our new series where we are sharing 31 days of Occupational Therapy using mostly free or inexpensive materials.

Today’s activity should cost you at most $2 unless you already have these items in your craft cupboard or office supplies.  Add this activity to your treatment bag for multiple activities.  Read on:

Amazon affiliate links below.

This Visual tracking activity is easy to set up.  Gather recycled bottle caps.  I used round dot labels from our office supplies to color the inside of each cap.  You could also use a marker or paint to color the bottle caps.  Use what you’ve got on hand to make this treatment activity free or almost free!   Next, gather matching crafting pom poms.  These can be found at the dollar store for and inexpensive treatment item.    

visual tracking activities

Skills Related to Visual Tracking

It’s important to mention that there are several skills related to visual tracking. These sub-areas should be identified as a piece of the overall puzzle. Areas related to visual tracking play a role in the eyes ability to fixate on an object and follow it as it moves. These skills include:

  • Visual fixation
  • Peripheral tracking
  • Visual pursuit

Visual Fixation Activity: (Maintaining vision on an item in the visual field) Work one eye at a time.  

  1. Have your child close one eye and place a colored crafting pom pom onto a matching bottle cap.  They need to use one hand to place the pom pom into the corresponding bottle cap and not move bottle caps around on the table.
  2. After the child has filled all of the bottle caps using one eye, repeat the task with the other eye.  
  3. Then complete the activity using both eyes.    
  4. You can also do this activity by placing the label dots on a paper. Match the bottle caps onto the dots. 

Visual Stare Activity (the amount of time the eyes can fixate on an object without eye movements)

  1. Hold up one bottle cap on your nose.
  2. Ask your child to sit about 18 inches from you and stare at the bottle cap.  Note their eye movements as they stare.  
  3. Keep track of time that the child can stare at the target without visual saccades (eye movements).

Peripheral Tracking Activity (visually tracking from the peripheral visual fields)

  1. Arrange the bottle caps on the table.  
  2. Place a pom pom in the center of the table, with the bottle caps all around it.  
  3. Ask your child to stare at the pom pom. While keeping their head still and only moving their eyes, ask them to quickly find a bottle cap with the same color.  
  4. Ask them to scan to another bottle cap of the same color until they’ve found all of the caps with that color.  
  5. You can add a level to this task by writing letters or numbers in the bottle caps and asking the child to find letters in order or numbers in order.

Visual Tracking Pursuit Activity (watching and tracking a moving object)

  1. Set one bottle cap on the right side of the table.  
  2. Place another at the left side.  
  3. The adult should blow a crafting pom pom from the right to the left and ask the child to follow the pom with his eyes, without moving their head.
  4. Repeat by blowing the pom pom from the left to the right, front to back, and back to front in front of the child.

Visual Tracking Tracing Lines (Watching a pencil line as it is formed, and following the line with eye-hand coordination to trace with a pencil or marker)

  1. Set one vertical row of bottle cap on the left side of the child.  
  2. Place another vertical row on the right side.
  3. The adult should draw a line from one bottle cap on the left side to a matching bottle cap on the right side.  
  4. Instruct the child to follow the pencil as you draw.  Nest, trace the line with your finger.  
  5. Ask the child to trace the line with their finger.  
  6. They can then trace the lines with a pencil or marker.
Visual Tracking toys and tools to improve visual fixation, visual tracking, visual saccades, in handwriting, reading, and so many functional daily tasks and skills in kids.

Mor eye tracking Strategies

  • Complete mazes
  • Do puzzles.
  • Use a newspaper or magazine article.  Ask your child to highlight all of the letter “a’s”.
  • Draw or paint pictures.
  • Place a marble in a pie pan.  Rotate the pan around and watch the ball as it rolls. Don’t move your head, only your eyes!
  • Find as many things shaped like a a square in the room.  Repeat the activity, finding all of the circular shaped items in the room.
  • Play “I Spy.”
  • Dot-to-dot pictures.
  • Play balloon toss.
  • Use tracing paper to trace and color pictures.
  • Trace letters with chalk.
  • Play flashlight tag on walls and ceilings. The adult an child each holds a flashlight. As the adult shines the light on walls, the child keeps their light superimposed on top of yours. Start with simple strait lines.  Then add curved lines, then a circle.  Tell them what you are drawing next.  Advance the activity by drawing shapes without telling them what you are doing next.
  • Play with wind-up cars.
  • Create a race track on the floor. Follow cars with your eyes.
  • Roll a ball between you and the child.  Roll from left-right, right-left, front-back, back-front, and toss the ball.

Visual Tracking toys and tools to improve visual fixation, visual tracking, visual saccades, in handwriting, reading, and so many functional daily tasks and skills in kids.

Visual tracking Toys

Looking for more tools to improve visual tracking?  The toys below are great for improving visual tracking and visual scanning in fun ways.  These toys, games, and ideas may be a great gift idea for little ones who have visual perceptual difficulties or problems with visual tracking and handwriting, body awareness in space, letter reversals, detail awareness, or maintaining place while reading.  

SO, save these ideas for grandparents and friends who might ask for gift ideas for birthdays and holidays.  These are some powerhouse visual tracking ideas!

Use Pattern Blocks and Boards to work on visual fixation of shapes and sizes of shapes. 

This Wooden Tangram Puzzle has many different shapes and forms that can be copied from instructions. Copying from a diagram is a great way to practice visual tracking.

For younger kids, this Wooden Stacking Toy encourages tracking for color sorting.  Try some of our pom pom activities that we discussed above!

Mazes are excellent for fostering and building on visual tracking skills. Particularly those that involve a moving ball such as a Marble Run
or a labrynth.

Watching a ball or moving object that is thrown around a room (like a balloon) is a great way to work on tracking in a big area. These Sportime Sensory Balls SloMo Balls are lightweight and move more slowly than a typical ball, allowing kids to visually track the bright color. These are very cool for games of toss and rolling in all planes and directions. Use them to address peripheral tracking as well. 


A flashlight can be used in so many visual tracking activities. Shine the light on words or letters taped to walls. Play “I Spy” in a dark room, shine shapes like this flashlight can for visual tracking and form tracking.

More visual Tracking Toys

Also check out these other top occupational therapy toys:

  1. Fine Motor Toys 
  2. Gross Motor Toys 
  3. Pencil Grasp Toys 
  4. Toys for Reluctant Writers 
  5. Toys for Spatial Awareness 
  6. Toys for Visual Tracking 
  7. Toys for Sensory Play 
  8. Bilateral Coordination Toys 
  9. Games for Executive Functioning Skills 
  10. Toys and Tools to Improve Visual Perception 
  11. Toys to Help with Scissors Skills 
  12. Toys for Attention and Focus 
Visual Tracking toys and tools to improve visual fixation, visual tracking, visual saccades, in handwriting, reading, and so many functional daily tasks and skills in kids.

Spatial Awareness Toys and Activities

spatial awareness toys

For kids that struggle with body awareness, position-in-space, and overall spatial understanding, spatial awareness toys are fun ways to develop a specific set of skills that impact function of every day tasks. Want to help kids become more aware of their body position, the space that they need to function, write, and perform tasks through play? Here we are talking spatial awareness toys!

Let’s talk toys to support spatial awareness skills.

Spatial awareness toys and spatial awareness games to develop visual spatial skills.

Spatial Awareness Toys

In this post, we’ll cover a few different things:

  • Spatial Awareness Definition
  • Spatial awareness activities
  • An easy spatial awareness tool for handwriting
  • Spatial awareness toys

Kids are often motivated by play as a means to support development of skills. When games and toys develop skills in which they struggle, it can be meaningful and engaging for the child. They may not even realize they are developing those skill areas through play. Before we get to the toy ideas, let’s go over spatial awareness in more detail.

Spatial Awareness Definition

First, let’s cover the definition of spatial awareness. You might be thinking…ok, I know a child who might be having issues with awareness of space during functional tasks… But exactly what is spatial awareness?

The definition of Spatial Awareness is being aware of oneself in space. Incorporating body awareness, visual spatial skills, and orientation, spatial awareness involves positioning oneself and/or functional items (pencil, a ball, a bag of groceries, etc.) in relation to oneself and the world around.

Spatial awareness means several things:

  • Awareness of spatial concepts can look like reaching for items without overshooting or missing the object.
  • It can mean use of a map to navigate streets or a new middle school.
  • It can incorporate spacing between letters and words in handwriting.
  • It can mean navigating a crowded hallway while carrying a backpack and a stack of papers.

Being able to reason about the space around us, and how to manipulate objects in space, is a critical part of everyday life and everyday functional tasks. This specific skill allows us to safely cross a street, fold clothing, load the dishwasher, place objects in a locker, put together a piece of “some assembly required” furniture, and other functional cognitive tasks. And these skills are especially important for educational success in particular handwriting tasks, math, STEM, and science.

Most of us realize as we walk through a doorway that we need to space ourselves through the middle of the door.  Those with poor visual spatial skills may walk to closely to the sides and bump the wall.

Visual-spatial skills are used when a middle school or high school student uses a map to navigate a new school. Orienting yourself on the map and then relating that to the real world to make turns, movements in a large space takes a complex set of skills guided by visual spatial relations.

Spatial awareness skills also involve 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.  

So what is spatial awareness? Let’s break it down even further…

Spatial awareness and spatial perception

Spatial Awareness can be broken into three areas, specifically related to spatial perception: position in space, depth perception, and topographical orientation.

  1. Position in Space– where an object is in space in relation to yourself and others. This skill includes awareness of the way an object is oriented or turned.  It is an important concept in directional language such as in, out, up, down, in front of, behind, between, left, and right. Children with problems with this skill area will demonstrate difficulty planning actions in relation to objects around them.  They may write letter reversals after second grade.  They typically show problems with spacing letters and words on a paper.  
  2. Depth Perception– Distances between a person and objects.  This ability helps us move in space. Grasping for a ball requires realizing where the ball is in relation to ourselves.  Kids with deficits in this area may have trouble catching a ball or walking/running/jumping over an obstacle. Copying words from a vertical plane onto a horizontal plane may be difficult and they will have trouble copying from a blackboard. 
  3. Topographical Orientation– Location of objects in an environment, including obstacles and execution of travel in an area.  Kids with difficulties in this area may become lost easily or have difficulties finding their classroom after a bathroom break.

Visual Spatial Skills develop from an awareness of movements of the body.  If a child has true visual spatial skills, they will likely demonstrate difficulties with athletic performance, coordination, and balance.  They may appear clumsy, reverse letters and numbers in handwriting, and may tend to write from right to left across a page.  They will have difficulty placing letters on lines, forming letters correctly, and forming letters with appropriate size.   

When kids struggle with the ability to perceive where they are in space…when children are challenged to identify how much room they need to navigate the world around them…These are all examples of spatial awareness skills.

What is spatial awareness and how does it relate to 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.
Letter size and use of margins also fall under the term “spatial awareness”. Use these spacing tool ideas to support spatial awareness 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.
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.
You can use a spacing tool to support spatial awareness skills in kids.

visual spatial relations activities

Addressing spatial awareness can occur with a handwriting spacing tool like the one we made, but other spacing activities can help with visual spatial relations, too. Try some of these activities:

  • Create an obstacle course using couch cushions, chairs, blankets, pillows, and other items in the house.
  • Try this activity for teaching over, under, around, and through with pretend play.
  • 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!
  • 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.  Then have them 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.

spatial awareness Activities  

For more multisensory learning and hands-on play incorporating the development of spatial awareness skills, visit these blog posts:

Spatial Awareness Toys

This post contains affiliate links.

Looking for more tools to improve visual spatial awareness?  The toy ideas below are great for improving visual tracking and visual scanning in fun ways.  These toys, games, and ideas may be a great gift idea for little ones who have visual perceptual difficulties or problems with spacing and handwriting, body awareness in space, letter reversals, detail awareness, or maintaining place while reading.  

SO, save these ideas for grandparents and friends who might ask for gift ideas for birthdays and holidays.  These are some powerhouse spatial awareness ideas!

Spatial awareness toys and spatial awareness games for kids

Practice spatial awareness with this Pull The String Board Game
threading toy. Kids can use a unique pen to create lined designs and come away with a project they made on their own…while working on spacing. 

  When working on spatial awareness in handwriting, kids can count the number of holes in the pegboard in this Quercetti Tecno Building Toy. Copy instructions to build 3D structures while working on spacing of pieces and awareness of details in this fun engineering toy. 

Mini erasers as a spacing tool. Kids can write while keeping the small eraser on their desk. When they space out words, use the eraser as a measuring tool, just like our button buddy. You can also encourage them to finish their writing task and then go back and check over their work for spatial concepts with the eraser. 

Practice spatial awareness of the edges of the page by using a Clear Rulers. Kids can place the ruler along the edge of the paper to know when to stop writing and to use as a visual cue. Sometimes kids try to squish a word in at the end of a line when there is not enough room. Line the ruler up along the edge and as they write, they can see that they are nearing the edge of the paper.     

Use a highlighter to draw dots between each word, to provide a visual cue for spacing between words. You can also draw a line along the edge of the paper for a visual cue that the child is nearing the edge of the paper. 

Wooden Building Blocks Sets are powerful ways to support spatial awareness development.

Spatial Awareness Games

One study found that children who play frequently with puzzles, construction, and board games tend to have better spatial reasoning ability. 

To get the whole family in on a spatial reasoning game while working on placement of pieces, try IQ Twist for a game of logic as you place pieces in this puzzle.

This related IQ Arrows game develops spatial relations but is great for adding to an occupational therapy bag. Use the arrows in play dough to work on directionality with heavy work through the hands. Make mini fine motor obstacle courses and other spatial relations activities on a smaller scale.

Kanoodle works on pattern recognition, spatial reasoning, and is a great way to practice spacing needed in handwriting.   

A toy like a geoboard allows a child to copy forms while counting out spaces of pegs. Try these Geoboards.

Here are more spatial awareness games and specifically spatial reasoning games:

Toys for Body in Space Awareness

These toys specifically address body awareness and directional awareness to help with overall spatial awareness development. Position in space impacts functioning in daily tasks at home and in the community. This plays a part in social emotional development and overall confidence as well. When a child feels confident in their body in space awareness, they can navigate the world around them with ease.

And, in regards to handwriting, sometimes, spacing problems on paper have to do with difficulties with directional awareness.

Use Arrows to start at the basics and practice naming left/write/top/bottom. Use them in whole-body movement activities where the child copies motions based on the arrow placement. Watch to make sure kids are not over stepping their allotted space. 

Use Wikki Stix for spacing on paper with physical cues for margins and spacing. Use the wikki sticks to space between words and a “ball” of the wikki stick to space between words.

Position in Space Toys

What is spatial awareness? Use these activity suggestions from an occupational therapist.

More Occupational Therapy Toys

  1. Fine Motor Toys 
  2. Gross Motor Toys 
  3. Pencil Grasp Toys 
  4. Toys for Reluctant Writers 
  5. Toys for Spatial Awareness 
  6. Toys for Visual Tracking 
  7. Toys for Sensory Play 
  8. Bilateral Coordination Toys 
  9. Games for Executive Functioning Skills 
  10. Toys and Tools to Improve Visual Perception 
  11. Toys to Help with Scissors Skills 
  12. Toys for Attention and Focus

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.

Printable Santa Emotion Worksheet

Printable Santa Emotion Worksheet

Want a printable Santa emotion worksheet designed to support facial expression identification? This Santa emotion PDF is just that! And even better yet, if you are looking for ways to address visual discrimination using visual scanning activities with your students, this Santa Claus Emotions I Spy will check all the boxes!  Not only will you be able to address visual discrimination and visual scanning skills with this fun printable, but you can easily incorporate many other skills addressed in occupational therapy including fine motor control and emotional regulation.  Not to mention, this feelings worksheet is an easy way to have some fun this Christmas season in your treatment sessions with your students!

Kids will love this printable Santa emotion worksheet to work on emotion identification and visual discrimination skills.

Visual discrimination is one skill that makes up our visual perception. Visual discrimination is an essential skill for students to participate in school in both their roles as a student for tasks such as reading and writing, as well as their role as a friend.  We use our visual discrimination skills to read others emotions or changes in the environment.   As you can see, it is so important to address visual discrimination skills using scanning activities. This printable Santa Emotion worksheet I Spy activity will make it easy!

What is visual discrimination?

Visual discrimintation is the ability to recognize similarities and differences between visual images or objects.  Visual discrimintation is an important skill for students in school because of its link to reading and writing.  When looking at words on the page, readers need to be able to discriminate between subtle differences in letters like “b” and “d” or “5” and “S”.  Providing opportunities to build visual perceptual skills helps students engage in their occupations as a student! 

Why is visual scanning important?

Visual discrimination is a component of visual perception, but in order for students to use visual discrimination skills effectively, they also need to use their visual scanning skills.  Visual scanning sends the visual information to the brain, visual discrimination tells us why that visual information is important.  In order for the visual system to work, we need both!  Visual scanning is an important component of visual perception and there are so many fun ways to address scanning in your treatment sessions.  Try marble painting, using a flashlight, or looking at a Christmas I Spy book to address visual scanning.

As mentioned before, students also need to rely on visual discrimination skills when reading other’s emotions.  When you begin this activity with your students, start by reviewing the pictures of Santa at the bottom of the page.  Talk about the similarities in the pictures, then talk about the differences.  Have the students select a color to match with each emotion.  This would be a great place to include Zones of Regulation colors and terminology if you use that program.  Emotional regulation is essential for social participation and this is a great way to hit on that skill with your students.  

identifying emotions worksheet with a Santa Theme!

Once you have reviewed the visual information and the emotions and filled in the coordinating colors, now it’s time to start coding or coloring in the Santa faces!  As the student scans and discriminates each Santa, watch to see that their visual system is working to support their performance.  There are many ways you could adapt or modify this activity to meet the needs of your students. 

Here are some ideas to support visual scanning:

  • Use another paper to cover some of the visual information
  • Teach a strategy to help scan by making a mark on the page to indicate which row they are working on
  • Use a ruler to help students keep their place as they are working

More ways to use this feelings worksheets pdf

  • Use bingo daubers for students who have not yet developed fine motor precision skills
  • Use tape or sticky tack to secure the printable Santa emotion worksheet to a vertical or inclined surface to address shoulder strength
  • Set up a container of markers on one side of the room and put the worksheet on the other side.  Have the students use a scooter board back and forth to retrieve the markers they need.
  • Use tongs and pom poms or beads to work on fine motor skills at the same time

If your focus is on emotional regulation, you can easily extend this activity to target the student’s ability to identify their emotions.  When discussing Santa’s emotions, ask your students to think of a time when they felt happy, sad, excited, or mad.  It may also be fun for students to think about the self regulation tools Santa might use to help him regulate his emotions throughout the Christmas season!

Free Printable Santa Emotion Worksheet

Do you know a kiddo that would love this printable Santa emotion worksheet? You can download this emotions PDF and start working on skills like visual discrimination, scanning, coloring, feelings identification, and more!

Free Santa Emotions I Spy Worksheet

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    Katherine Cook is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience primarily working in schools with students from preschool through Grade 12.  Katherine graduated from Boston University in 2001 and completed her Master’s degree and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study at Tufts University in 2010.  Katherine’s school based experience includes working in integrated preschool programs, supporting students in the inclusion setting, as well as program development and providing consultation to students in substantially separate programs.  Katherine has a passion for fostering the play skills of children and supporting their occupations in school. 

    Christmas Worksheet PDF- Hidden Picture Worksheet

    Christmas hidden picture worksheet

    Are you looking for a Christmas hidden picture worksheet that doubles as a visual figure ground activity? This Christmas worksheet PDF can be used with students to also address fine motor skills and coloring?  Christmas Color and Count is a printable hidden picture printable PDF 2 page resource that will help you address these skills with your students. 

    This Christmas worksheet PDF is a printable hidden pictures activity for the Christmas season.

    Christmas Worksheet PDF: Hidden Pictures

    This Christmas hidden picture resource includes 2 printable PDF pages to use with your students during the holidays.  The first page has Christmas lights and stars and the second page has 2 different types of gifts. 

    These printable hidden picture PDFs work on several areas over the holiday season…when kids might not want to work on difficult skill areas. A festive and fun themed activity can help address the underlying areas that impact handwriting, reading, and other visual processing tasks.

    How do Hidden Picture Worksheets Help?

    Hidden picture worksheets can address many areas that impact function. Let’s take look at all the ways to use this free hidden picture puzzle in therapy”

    These worksheets target the visual perceptual skill of visual figure ground.  You will also be able to use these worksheets to work on fine motor skills at the same time while finding and coloring the Christmas stars and holiday lights.

    Visual Figure Ground Skills- First, let’s look at the visual perceptual skill of visual figure ground.  Visual figure ground is the ability to differentiate or pick out an object from a busy background.  This skill is essential for supporting the occupations of students in school, from reading text to finding an item in a cluttered desk. 

    Students use their visual figure ground skills to be able to differentiate words in a book, when copying information from the board, or when looking for something in their backpack.  

    You could easily use these Christmas Color and Count worksheets paired with other therapy activities to support visual figure ground skills.  An important function of visual figure ground is the ability to scan the environment and find the important visual information. 

    More ideas using the Christmas Hidden Picture

    There are more ways to use this Christmas Printable PDF in a variety of therapy activities to incorporate gross motor skills, fine motor skills, coordination, and more…

    Use the Christmas Hidden Picture Printable PDF in an I Spy Game- It would be fun to extend this activity to include a scavenger hunt or I Spy Game in your therapy space, either as a warm up activity or as a game to end your session. 

    1. Hide stars or an image of Christmas lights around your space. 
    2. You could ask your students to collect the stars or play I Spy with the images of colored Christmas lights. 

    Other fun games to address visual figure ground include (Amazon affiliate links) Spot It or I Spy Board Game.

    Visual Discrimination Activity- Once you have completed a scavenger hunt or other warm up activity and your students are ready to move on, you can begin by having them look at the pictures at the top of the page. 

    1. Ask them to identify and describe the key features of the objects they will count.  For example, the star has angles and the Christmas lights are rounded. 
    2. Ask them to describe the differences between how the 2 gifts look on the second page. 

    Executive Function Activity- Next, ask your students how they plan to start this activity. 

    This helps with executive functioning and organization. 

    1. Will they find all of one item and then move to the next? 
    2. Will they start at the top and scan in a left to right manner? 
    3. Asking your students to verbalize their plan will help you understand their organizational strategies and how you may best support their executive functioning.

    Visual Scanning Activity- Now, your students are ready to scan and color each shape. 

    Coloring is a great way to develop fine motor strength and endurance.  Coloring is a skill that needs to be taught to support the fine motor development of students. Coloring is a skill that requires hand strength. 

    Often children with decreased hand strength dislike coloring because they do not have the endurance to complete the task.  If you have students who struggle with coloring try offering alternatives to crayons, and then work your way up using crayons or colored pencils. 

    Often students who have difficulty with the fine motor components of coloring prefer using markers.  Markers provide less resistance and for many students they provide more visual interest.  Using markers to increase visual attention and motivation for coloring is a great tool for students struggling to build fine motor and visual skills.

    For students who may struggle with coloring, think of ways to make it more fun and interesting for them.  Here are some ideas:

    Christmas Hidden Picture and Strengthening Activity- For students who need additional strengthening opportunities, think about how you can challenge their postural strength and upper body stability. 

    Other ways to incorporate strengthening into this activity:

    • Tape the worksheets to the wall at eye level which will address shoulder strength and stability
    • You could also tape the worksheets under the table and have your students work while lying on their back.  This a fun and different way to work on fine motor strengthening!
    • Find some floor space and have the students lie prone, propped up on elbows while coloring.  This position will help strengthen their postural muscles and increase shoulder stability.
    • Use a large therapy ball instead of a chair to challenge postural strength while coloring at the table.  

    For students who avoid or dislike coloring, incorporating different positions into your session may help them start and stay engaged, building not only their fine motor skills, but also strengthening their visual attention. 

    Free Christmas Hidden Picture Worksheet PDF

    Christmas Color and Count is a great activity for building important visual figure ground skills and strengthening fine motor endurance at the same time!

    FREE Christmas Hidden Picture Worksheet

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      Katherine Cook is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience primarily working in schools with students from preschool through Grade 12.  Katherine graduated from Boston University in 2001 and completed her Master’s degree and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study at Tufts University in 2010.  Katherine’s school based experience includes working in integrated preschool programs, supporting students in the inclusion setting, as well as program development and providing consultation to students in substantially separate programs.  Katherine has a passion for fostering the play skills of children and supporting their occupations in school. 

      Forest Animals Worksheets for Skills

      free forest animal worksheets

      In this blog post, you can grab a fee set of forest animals worksheets for building skills in several fine motor and visual motor areas. Develop cutting, coloring, and visual perceptual skills all in one task! The forest animal activities include bear, fox, and even a forest mushroom to work on scissor skills, coloring, and visual perception.

      Free forest animal worksheets to address coloring, scissor skills, and visual perception with a woodland animal theme.

      Forest Animals Worksheets for Therapy

      Children have the attention span roughly equal to their age x 3-4 minutes. According to this site, a five year old can hold his/her attention for about 15 minutes before wanting to change tasks.

      As a practicing therapist, working with non-typical students, I find this is a stretch. In my experience, children can attend for about ONE minute for every year they age. This being said, finding activities that build multiple skills at once, such as cutting and coloring in one task is key. 

      The free download below, is just such an activity. When kids complete the forest animals coloring and cutting pages, they develop many skill areas:

      • Hand strength (coloring and cutting)
      • Scissor skills
      • Bilateral coordination
      • Pencil control
      • Line awareness
      • Spatial awareness
      • Visual perceptual skills
      • Attention
      • Visual memory

      With electronics taking over classrooms, it is especially important to take time to work on building foundation skills such as cutting, coloring, pasting, and visual perception using hands-on activities such as these Scissor Skills Puzzles.

      Too many young children do not have the right fine motor skill development, creating maladaptive pencil grasp, poor handwriting, or inability to manipulate fasteners. 

      It is often difficult to motivate children to work on cutting and coloring. Because it is a challenging task with many opportunities for failure, it is often avoided by children. Math, while presenting many challenges itself, is predictable and steady, thus a more preferred task for those who struggle with visual motor development.

      Free Forest Animals Worksheets

      The Forest Friends Scissor Skills Puzzles are great worksheets to build fine motor skills such as cutting and coloring, while also developing visual perceptual skills. 

      You will find ways to make tasks such as Forest Friends Scissor Skills Puzzles engaging, interesting, and motivating to each individual learner. A few colored markers, some glitter, and a theme your child enjoys, can make the difference between a positive and negative task.

      These worksheets can be adapted and modified to meet the needs of several types of learners. Consider these ideas to grade this activity: 

      Change the Scissors to address various skill areas: 

      ● Change the scissor size or tool: small toddler scissors are just right for tiny hands. 

      ● Self opening or loop scissors are another way to make cutting easier for those learning to cut, or lacking the intrinsic hand muscles to open and close scissors. 

      ● Did you know left handed people cut in a clockwise direction while their right handed friends cut counter-clockwise? This allows the helper hand to support the paper adequately while cutting. 

      ● See this article on developing scissor skills for more ways to develop cutting skills using this free download.

      Change the Paper to address various skill areas:

      ● lightweight paper is much more difficult to stabilize than heavy weight construction or cardstock paper. 

      ● Colored paper may be easier or more difficult for children to work with because of color contrasts. 

      ● The page can be laminated first, using wipe off markers to color in the design. This is a great way to make this page reusable. Cutting the pieces before coloring it may be necessary. Although this takes away the cutting task, it may be a great adaptation for children who are not able to cut yet. 

      Use various Writing utensils with these forest animal worksheets:

      ● There are endless possibilities for coloring. Markers, crayons, colored pencils, paints, watercolor, chalk, or dry erase pens all provide different input, and require different levels of fine motor skill to manipulate. 

      ● Small one inch crayons are excellent for developing those tiny hand muscles. 

      ● Chalk, with its grainy texture, provides sensory feedback and can be a positive (or negative) experience 

      ● Markers glide easily, requiring less precision and grip strength ● Change writing utensils to appeal to different students and improve their level of motivation. 

      Use the Forest animal worksheets to address Visual perception: 

      ● Puzzles are a great way to work on visual perception.

      ● Figure ground, parts to whole, and visual closure are important to academic development. 

      ● Many adults are unable to complete puzzles or find missing objects because they can not perceive parts to a whole. They only see the forest, not the individual trees. 

      For more cut, paste and color activities, check out this Animal Alphabet workbook

      To improve cutting skills, this scissor skills workbook is also available.

      With children’s limited attention span, and increasing demands on therapy time, an all in one activity that develops cutting, coloring and visual perceptual skills at the same time is an efficient and fun way to build the fine motor foundation.

      Download the free forest animals worksheets

      To use these forest animal color and cut puzzles, enter your email address into the form below. Start working on fine motor and visual perceptual skills in man different ways!

      Free Forest Animals Worksheets

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        Victoria Wood

        Victoria Wood, OTR/L has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.

        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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              Use these Fine Motor Kits for hands-on activity kits to develop fine motor skills, strength, dexterity, and manipulation. Kids LOVE these fine motor kits for the motivating activities. Therapists love them because it’s fresh, fun ways to work on pinch, grip, manipulation skills, and much more. Try some of these themed therapy kits:

              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.