Category Archives: Fine Motor

Saturday Seminar: OT Rubrics for Fine Motor, Visual Motor and Handwriting Skills

Valorie_ToddWhen a group of OTs get together to brainstorm, there’s bound to be some exciting “stuff” that is the outcome. Valorie Todd, MA, OTR/L and her school-based practice colleagues in the New York and New Jersey vicinity had a goal in mind. They wanted to devise a way to monitor quarterly progress in performance skills they identified as “OT goals” or “Areas of Need” on the IEP that was based on normative data. Valorie discussed the rubrics her group developed during her Therapro Saturday Seminar Series workshop on August 22, 2015 entitled:  OT Rubrics for Fine Motor, Visual Motor and Handwriting Skills.

This seminar was the kick-off for the Fall Saturday Seminar Series and attracted about 60 attendees who listened closely, commented freely, and shared thoughts. Valorie and her colleagues were determined to conceive a way to assess a student’s performance against predetermined criteria, in which a student is measured against his own performance.

Valorie’s group identified 7 areas for assessment including:

  • Postural Control
  • Sensory Modulation
  • Ocular Motor Skills
  • Object Manipulation: Fine Motor/Hand Skills
  • Controlled Tool Use: Color, Trace, Cut
  • Design Copy: Graphics/Objects, and
  • Handwriting.

In her seminar, Valorie discussed Object Manipulation, Controlled Tool Use, Design Copy, and Handwriting. Rubrics for Kindergarten and Grade 1 were identified.

Valorie offered a thoroughly researched plan on how to assess function and address the skill through worksheets that acknowledged how a student was expected to progress sequentially in each area.  She made clear distinctions in skills expected of a kindergartner versus a first grader.  For example, when assessing “Tracing,” specifically Pencil Control:

kindergartner would receive a score of 4 if he:

  • “Controls lines with min. errors 90-100%”
  • “Stops/turns at corners (angles/arcs)”

A first grader would receive a score of 4 if he

  • “Has good control within/on lines in all directions (90-100%)”
  • “Starts/stops on dots with 1-2 errors”

Valorie’s rubrics were well-defined and can be easily replicated. She was very enthused about sharing her work, including worksheets, and encouraged therapists to use her rubrics and provide her with feedback so that the rubrics can further be developed with input and use over time. As a result, a meaningful assessment of quarterly progress can be obtained and insufficient areas can be addressed systematically and meaningfully before the student is due for the next standardized evaluation.

Attendees comments were very positive and encouraging:

“It was excellent! So much info, well related to school based OTs. This will be helpful in writing goals, tracking progress, presenting at meetings, and for my Teachpoint eval.”  Amanda B., Occupational Therapist

“It helps so much to have these rubrics to support our clinical observations when IEPs are moving toward data driven/measurable goals and objectives. It will help with tracking and also guide thinking when working on skills.”  Anonymous, Occupational Therapist

“Love the practicality of the Rubrics.  Anything we can take away & use is terrific!”  Amanda H., Occupational Therapist

“Looks at detail of task performance and observation of foundational skills which students have or need to build on.”  Anonymous,  Occupational Therapist

“I would recommend this seminar to a colleague because it was well researched and the information was very comprehensive.  The material is very current and I can readily apply this information.”  Anonymous, Occupational Therapist

Thank you, Val!

Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L

Therapro’s Free Activity of the Month: Marble Painting

Marble Painting – Abstract Art and Bilateral Coordination: a winning combination!
By: Diana V. Mendez-Hohmann

Bilateral coordination refers to the action of using the right and left sides of your body together in a smooth and efficient manner. Babies develop bilateral coordination first by stabilizing an object such as a pail while filing it with sand. (From Rattles To Writing; A Parent’s Guide to Hand Skills by Barbara A. Smith, MS, OTR/L)

When someone has difficulty with bilateral coordination, they can have difficulty with daily tasks. Think of everything you do using both sides of your body together; Dressing, tying shoes, buttoning, drawing, writing, catching and throwing even crawling and walking.

This month’s activity is Marble Painting will get you to practice bilateral coordination. See below for all the steps.

You will need:

  1. Finger-paints
  2. Paper
  3. Marbles
  4. Card Board Box top, Large Shoe Box, or back of frame.


  1. Tape the paper to the inside of the box, or frame.
  2. Place a dollop of paint on either side of the paper. I used 4 colors.
  3. Place a marble on each dollop of paint.
  4. Using both hand hold the box and move the marbles over the paper.
  5. Continue to move the marbles until the paper is covered with paint or you are satisfied with the design.
  6. Remove paper and set aside to dry.
  7. Start all over again- See how many marbles you can use.

Other Ideas

  1. This is a great activity for anyone who does not like to get messy as they really don’t have to finger paint. They are just moving marbles around in a box.
  2. Have 2 children do the activity, each child holds one side of the box.
  3. Use different sized marbles.
  4. Use more or fewer colors.
  5. Change the placement of the paint.


Send us a picture of your Marble Painting, or post it on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter with the hashtag #Therapro

Therapro’s Free Activity of the Month: Have a Hoot with Fine Motor Skills

By: Diana V. Mendez-Hohmann

Enhance fine motor skills and have fun learning about owls while you make this simple craft. With this easy craft your child will:

  • Practice scissor skills
  • Trace different shapes
  • Use both hands (bilateral coordination)
  • Cross the midline


  • 2 Sticky Back Foam Sheets or Felt
  • 2 Buttons
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • White Paper for the pattern
  • Markers

Step 1

Draw the pattern on white paper.

Cut the pattern shapes.

Place the shapes on the sticky back foam sheets. Use at least 2 different colors.

Step 2

Cut the foam shapes

Step 3

Peel the back of the wings and place wings on the belly.

Step 4

Peel the back of the behind the eyes area and place on the top part of the belly.

Step 5

Peel the back of the large eyes and center on the top.

Step 6

Peel the back of the small eyes and center on the top.

Step 7

Peel the back of the nose and place under the eyes.

Step 8

Glue the buttons to the center of the eyes.

Step 9

Decorate using the markers.

Don’t forget to make it a multi-sensory experience.

  • What sound does the owl make?
  • Sing songs about owls or birds.
  • Have your child feel a feather.
  • Use different textures; combine foam and felt, or decorate with glitter.

Here is a felt owl we made using a heart for a nose. Send us a picture of your owl, or post it on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #Therapro