Category Archives: Fine Motor

child playing with blue sticky object

Keeping Skills Sharp All Summer Long: Summer 2022 Edition!

Allyson Locke M.S., OTR/L & Sarah Glovasky M.S., OTR/L

Summer is fast approaching but that doesn’t mean kids need to lose the skills they developed over the last academic year! Last year, we posted a blog filled with summer activity ideas geared toward preventing the “summer slide”.  As therapists, we know summer activities provide numerous opportunities to develop and build skills that will be needed for the upcoming school year in fun and non threatening ways.  So we are bringing back the topic with this new post.  New this year are more activity ideas and contributions from Sarah Glovasky M.S., OTR/L! As always appropriate supervision is recommended!

Get Messy!

Messy play is a great way to develop the sensory skills needed for important school tasks like handwriting and social interactions.  Summer is the best time for these messy activities because they can be done outside leaving the mess outdoors. An added bonus is that it is usually warm enough for a quick wash with the hose before going back inside.  A few ideas to try:

  • Hide objects (like rocks, sticks, or mini animals)  in a pile of mud, shaving cream, or leaves. How fast can you find them? How many can you find in 10 seconds? Not only is this a great sensory activity it helps strengthen the visual perceptual skills needed for academic tasks like reading! 
  • Stomp in rain puddles, roll down a grassy hill, or skip through a soft patch of dirt. These big body movements help develop the vestibular and proprioceptive systems which are so important for self regulation! 

When it is too hot or too rainy to go outside there are still plenty of opportunities for sensory exploration that are a bit less messy! 

  • Make a sensory collage with items found in the recycling bin or use the Sensory Collage Kit! How many different textures can you incorporate? What textures do you like to feel? As a bonus, ripping, crumpling and rolling paper, tissue, and cardboard are all great ways to strengthen the muscle of the hand.  For more ways to use recycled materials check out Second Hand Therapies
plastic container scooping water and dumping it into a yellow bin filled with water
Jug Scoop
From: Second Hand Therapies: Recyclable Strategies & Useful Tools

Make Art!

Art projects afford great opportunities to develop the small muscles in the hand.  This muscle development is critical for academic tasks like writing with a pencil and cutting with scissors. Get creative with your art projects, try:

blue turtle made of playdough with a green shell and colorful dots
  • 3D Art.  Three dimensional art helps kids build form and space concepts.  Building a fairy castle outside is a great way to learn about size concepts.  Inside, building with blocks, clay or even pillow cushions is a great way to explore how these concepts work.  To add a sensory component try using scented dough
  • Tie-Dye Prints: This is a great outdoor activity! First color an old bed sheet or large piece of paper with washable markers. Next use a spray bottle, filled with water, to squirt the drawing. Watch the colors mix and swirl together! Using a spray bottle not only helps build the muscles in the hands it is also great for bilateral coordination! For a smaller scale version, use an eyedropper to wet the paper! 
  • Draw pictures in the dirt or other mediums like pudding (great for kids who like to explore with their mouth!) Use a stick, rocks, or fingers to draw with! We still love the Ed Emberly drawing books when you need drawing inspiration, stencils are another helpful tool! Drawing is so important for early writers and is great for visual perceptual development!

Play With Bubbles!

Many skills can be targeted with simple bubble activities. Eye hand coordination and oral motor development are just a few!  Blowing bubbles is also great for attention and regulation; to learn more about this check out the book M.O.R.E.: Integrating The Mouth With Sensory And Postural Functions. For fun with bubbles, try:

  • Making Bubble Art!  Make bubble paint by putting a small amount of bubbles and a dab or two of food coloring in a bowl (use different bowls for different colors). Use a bubble wand and dip it into your favorite color. Blow the colored bubbles right at plain paper and watch the designs come alive! 
  • Play Catch! Chasing after, stomping on, and catching bubbles are great ways to get some extra energy out. It is also a great way to develop eye-hand coordination and the visual skills needed to complete academic tasks like copying from the board.  To make bubbles easier to catch try using Touchbubbles
  • Make A Mountain of Bubbles! For a fun indoor activity, fill a small dish bin or other similar size, shallow bucket with lots of dish soap and a few inches of water.  Use a straw to slowly blow into the water to make a mountain of bubbles.  To really work the muscles in the mouth try a long straw or one with lots of twists like the Krazy Drinking Straws or Connector Straws

With these fun activity ideas the learning doesn’t have to stop when school is out. Keep skills sharp and be ready for the upcoming school year! 

Raised Line Paper… What Is It?

Sarah Glovasky M.S. OTR/L

Sometimes called tactile paper, Raised Line Paper is used to help individuals stay between the lines when writing. The raised line paper has raised top and bottom lines to provide tactile, proprioceptive and visual feedback to the writer. There are a variety of types of paper to choose from!

Raised Line Learning Sheets

Do you have a beginner writer? The raised line learning sheets are a good place to start from! There are letters, numbers, alphabet coloring sheets and mazes! The tactile input helps the new learners understand where to keep their pencil and crayon marks! 

Raised Line Writing Paper

There are so many options to help more advanced writers be as successful as they can. There are different sized lines (narrow and wide) depending on the level of the writer. If you need more of a visual cue there is the option to have red and blue lines on your paper. Double the input for a higher accuracy when writing. If spacing or sizing is a problem there is boxed raised line paper to provide a space for every letter to fit in. Pro tip: If all this sounds great but you are not sure what will work best the assortment pack is very helpful!

Staged Raised Line Paper

There is a product line that is able to take a writer from beginning stages right through advanced writing. This is a six stage series of handwriting papers that begins with clearly defined writing spaces and perceptual cues that fade in successive stages as the student gains mastery. The thick, colorful dark blue baselines are raised, providing not only visual cues, but also tactile cues.  Pro Tip: Students advance at their own pace so having all the stages on hand is very helpful!

Stage One: For beginning writers. Clearly defined writing spaces.

Stage Two: Writing spaces are less defined as shading is partially removed.

Stage Three: Shading has been completely removed and replaced with a borderline.

Stage Four: Writing spaces are less structured; fewer distractions than typical notebook paper.

Stage Five: The most popular Stage Write paper! Spacing between blue baseline and gray guideline reduced to 1/4″.

Stage Six: Comparable to standard notebook paper. Still incorporates raised dark blue baseline and clearly defined margins.

Another great aspect of all this paper is it can be used with a variety of reading/writing/handwriting programs! Give your writers the tools they need to be successful independent writers.

The Power of a PowerLink in Promoting Access

A PowerLink is a game changer for users who rely on switches to interact with the environment around them.  With a PowerLink users have the ability to take everyday, corded, electrical appliances and make them switch accessible.  The concept is simple; plug a corded appliance into the receiver of a PowerLink, pick your interaction mode on the PowerLink and add a switch. With this set up users can control the on and off function of whatever corded appliance is plugged in.  The PowerLink opens the door for participation in a variety of everyday activities.  

  • Tools commonly used in the classroom or in an office setting are easily made switch accessible using a Powerlink. Try plugging in an electric pencil sharpener, electric stapler, electric hole punch, or paper shredder to allow switch users to become an active participant in vocational training opportunities or classroom jobs.  
  • In woodshop class or in your home garage some simple, corded tools like an electric screwdriver or hand held sander can be made switch accessible with a Powerlink.  
  • In the kitchen, plugging in simple appliances like a blender, hand mixer or can opener to a PowerLink can help users increase their participation in cooking activities.
  • A well positioned hair dryer plugged into a Powerlink can give users more independence with self care tasks like drying their hair after a shower or fingernails after a manicure! 

Looking for fun and creative ways to use your PowerLink? Download these activity ideas:

  1. Accessible Splash Art
  2. Make Music!
  3. Stimulate the Visual Senses!
  4. Switch Adapted Car Wash
  5. Switch Adapted ‘Bowling’