Thursday, December 9, 2021

More Motor Planning Activities for Kids!

In my last post, I shared about motor planning, which is the ability to plan, organize, sequence, and carry out actions. Below you will find some more kid-friendly motor planning activities!


Kick Ball: You and your child get in a crab walking position facing each other with a balloon in the middle. Kick the balloon up in the air with one foot and take turns trying to keep the ball in the air by kicking it.


Bean Bag Toss: Tape different shapes on the floor and give the child several beanbags. Tell the child to toss a bag on the square first, then on the circle, then on the triangle. If you have various colors, say “toss the blue bag inside the green square, etc.”  Increase the complexity of the directions as needed.


Cereal Stacking: Stick a toothpick into a piece of foam or a small ball of clay/putty and have child place fruit loops or cheerios on the toothpick using the tongs. If they squeeze to hard, they’ll crush the cereal, so this is great for increasing control and dexterity.


Sticky Note Targets: Write letters or draw shapes on yellow sticky notes and stick them to the wall. Give the child a small ball (ping pong or Nerf ball and have them throw it at the target “letter or shape” that you call out.


Net Toss: Get a net (butterfly) from the dollar store and have the child catch a nerf ball with the net when you throw it to different sides of his body.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

5 Fun Motor Planning Activities for Kids!

Motor planning is the ability to plan, organize, sequence, and carry out actions, and it is involved in most every task we complete! Motor planning is sometimes called praxis, and when someone has difficulty with motor planning, it is called dyspraxia. Below you will find 5 fun kid-friendly motor planning activities!

Photo Credit: Virginia State Parks Staff
Wheelbarrow Walking: Wheelbarrow walk the child to a spot and have two bowls (i.e. one yellow, one blue) there.  Instruct the child place the yellow items in the yellow bowl and blue items in the blue bowl.  Wheelbarrow walk to a 2nd designated area where you’ve taped a small circle, square, and triangle on the floor. Give instructions: “Touch the square then the circle.” Increase the complexity: “Trace the circle with your finger then touch the triangle.” Take a break. Child may need to rest between activities.

Sidewalk Chalk Fun: Write numbers and letters on the sidewalk. Give the child a playground sized ball and tell him to “bounce the ball on the 5 then on the B.” Increase the complexity of the directions as needed.

Sidewalk chalk or tape out something similar to a hopscotch pattern.  Fill each square with a color/shape/letter, then give the child various instructions. “Hop with one foot on to the square with the letter C, then hop on both feet to the square with the number 4.” Increase the complexity of the directions as needed.

Balloon Game: Suspend a balloon from the ceiling or a door frame using a long piece of string. Have the child hit the ball while saying or singing the A-B-C’s or while counting. For example, A- hit the balloon, B- hit the balloon, etc. You can also make this more difficult by removing the string, and having him keep the balloon in the air as long as possible by hitting it while saying the A-B-C’s. Can she get all the way through the alphabet and keep the balloon in the air? This is also a fun activity for practicing spelling words!

Suspended balloon: Call out instructions and have the child follow them: “hit the balloon with your elbow! Hit it with your nose, etc.”

Bubble Fun: Have the child hop on one foot in place while you blow bubbles in her direction. Have them “clap” the bubbles to pop them while hopping.

Monday, November 8, 2021

What is Auditory Defensiveness?


When a child is over-sensitivity to sounds in the environment, this is called auditory defensiveness. Children with auditory defensiveness may present with some or all of the following symptoms:

* Seems unsettled or distressed in loud environments
* Frequently cover their ears to sounds that other children tolerate
* Bothered by noises made by things like the vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, etc.
* Avoid activities that have loud environments such as parties, ballgames, and movies.
* Possible language difficulties

The following strategies may help children with auditory processing issues. 

* Modify the environment (such as in a school) by considering the acoustics in the classroom. Changing seating arrangements may be beneficial and limiting extraneous noise from the hallway by closing the door or windows is also helpful. It may be necessary to cover the loud speaker with material to tone down the volume.
* Having rugs or carpet on the floor will decrease echo and extraneous noises.
* When possible, children should be forewarned about bells, announcements, fire drills, etc.
* Have the child wear headphones or earmuffs that that cover the entire ear to filter out extraneous background noises.
* Play calming music such as Mozart in the headphones or as background music.
* If concentration is an issue, the child should chew gum, suck on sour candies, and/or eat fruit roll ups, or crunchy snacks.

Photo Credit: Gemma Ryles

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Sensory Activities to Carry Out at Home!

When a child gets the sensory input that their body needs throughout the day, it helps them stay calm and focus. Typically, I recommend that a child carry out two to three of the sensory activities included in this home program approximately every two hours throughout the day. Please consult with your child's occupational therapist for recommendations that are appropriate for your child's sensory needs.

Photo Credit:

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Home Exercises to Improve Hand Skills

 I am often asked to provide exercises or activities that children can carry out in the home setting to improve hand skills, so I thought I would share some of the tasks that I usually recommend. Please keep in mind that these may need to be adapted to meet the skill level of the child. Also, it is important to make the activities enticing and fun. You can incorporate them into games or time the child completing them so that they can try and improve their time on the next attempt!

Click on the worksheet below for a PDF copy of the worksheet!

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Paint by Numbers DIY Activity: Great for Fine Motor Skills!

Painting by the numbers is an awesome art activity that is good for a child's eye hand coordination and fine motor skills! It is also good for recognizing numbers and colors because the child has to match the number on the color key and then paint that color in the correct space.

Anyone can create this DIY activity! All you need is a basic water color set that can by found at your local craft shop or dollar store. You'll also need some construction paper and a sharpie and possibly some puff paint. Label each color with a number, and then create some simple drawings such as a house, person, tree, car, flower, etc. Next you will need to add numbers to the different parts of the drawings. If the child has difficulty staying in the lines when painting, you can outline the drawings with puff paint! Now it's time to paint. This activity is also a fun way to work on following directions and attending to task!

This project was completed by a Master of Occupational Therapy student at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and posted with permission.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Whatever It Takes: Solutions Discovered During My 35 Years of Living with MS is a Must-Read!


“Whatever It Takes: Solutions Discovered During My 35 Years of Living with MS” is an informative book that everyone must read, especially occupational therapists! In this wonderful resource, Barbara shares how she overcomes many of the barriers that she faces as she lives with Multiple Sclerosis by using creative solutions to maximize her independence. She shares how she uses voice controls, commercially available adaptive devices, a homemade sandwich gripper, and even zip ties to adapt to the demands of everyday life and carry out her activities of daily living. Barbara’s unique perspective, fun sense of humor, determination, and positive attitude are evident throughout the book. This valuable resource includes videos, photographs, and detailed descriptions of Barbara’s experiences using home modifications. I have no doubt that this book will inspire students and practicing therapists to think creatively so that they can help their clients who have similar struggles. Available on Apple Books or Google Play!

Sunday, May 9, 2021

DIY Pom Pom Counting Game!

This DIY pom pom counting game is fun and easy to make. It's great for learning colors, counting, and improving fine motor skills!  
Materials Needed: 
Pom poms of various colors
Small boxes to make the 2 dice
Cover the small boxes with paper and glue the paper in place. Put dots (1 - 6) each side of the die and color each side of the other die the different colors of the pom poms.
Now it's time to play! Roll the dice. The color of the side facing up is the color of the pom poms that the child will remove from the box using the chip clip or tongs. The number of the die showing is how many of the pom poms to remove. Be sure everyone gets a turn, and have fun!!!

This project was completed by a Master of Occupational Therapy student at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and posted with permission.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

See Occupational Therapists Run!

Are you an occupational therapy (OT) practitioner who is stressed out? Do you deal with limited resources, a large caseload, and feel overcome by physical and emotional fatigue? If so, then I have the resource for you! “See Occupational Therapists Run” is a book that includes a variety of straightforward strategies that you can use to take care of yourself so that you can be the best you can be for your clients. This valuable book is written by AimeeKetchum, an OT with 24 years in the field, and I highly recommend it. Click HERE and place your order now. Thank you Aimee for this wonderful resource!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Magnificent Motor Planning Game!

You've got to try this "Magnificent Motor Planning Game" to address motor planning and gross motor skills, including balance, and coordination! It's also great to promote attention and help with following directions.

Items Needed
Typing Paper
Instructions: Make the "key" as seen above by typing a motor skill activity next to a certain color of circle. Examples of activities are "jump in place 5 times," "spin in a circle," "complete two jumping jacks," and "hop on one foot 3 times." Create strips of paper that have different combinations of colored circles on each one. Some can have two different colored circles, others can have three, etc. Laminate the "key" and "circle strips." Have the child close her eyes and pick one of the strips, then she can practice carrying out the activities in the correct order by following the "key!"

This project was completed by a Master of Occupational Therapy student at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and posted with permission.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Pom Pom Paper Doll: Fine Motor Skill Fun!

This is a cute activity that addresses fine motor skills and motor control!

Items Needed:
Pom poms of various colors
Construction paper
Colored pencils or crayons

Draw the figure of a girl wearing a dress on the construction paper. See the photo above. Cut out the figure and snip several pieces of yarn to use as hair. Draw a face and the small circles on the doll’s dress. Color the dress…as seen above. Glue the hair in place.

Once the doll is finished, it’s time to play! The object of this activity is to pick up the pom poms with the tongs, and place the colored pom-pom accordingly on the doll in order to “dress her”.  If the child has difficulty using tongs, have her pick them up using her fingers. This therapeutic activity can be graded up or down in a few ways. You could use smaller tweezers or tongs, which will create a greater challenge.  Different sized pom poms are also an option. Have fun!

This project was completed by a Master of Occupational Therapy student at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and posted with permission.