15 Occupational Therapy Tools and Activities for Kids
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During parent-teacher conferences two days ago there was an issue raised about Punky’s fine motor skills. He’s having a hard time holding a pencil correctly due to his hand strength not being where it’s supposed to be for a child his age. This began my search for occupational therapy tools for kids.
Last night I made Punky a set of 4 sensory balloons in several different resistances. If you’re not familiar with sensory balloons, they’re balloons filled with flour, rice, beans, sometimes play doh, putty, or other tactile objects for children to squeeze to build up their strength.
The balloons I made for Punky are different colors depending on resistance. Light resistance is pink, medium-light is blue, medium is green, and heavy resistance is red. I filled the balloons by using a funnel to scoop flour into a dry Evian water bottle, blew up the balloon to stretch it out, and then stretched the opening over the bottle. Then I just turned it upside down and shook it until all the flour was in the balloon. It did help to have a little bit of air trapped in the water bottle to help push the flour into the balloon easier.
If you need a tutorial on how to fill the balloons yourself you can find it here (this tutorial uses Slippery Spheres, but it will work with any small item).
I’ve also ordered a set of these 6 pencil grips on Amazon for Punky to use to start holding his writing instruments properly. We’re currently testing them all to see which one he prefers using.
Pinterest has been a lifesaver for me in terms of research! It’s a literal smorgasbord of information, and I honestly couldn’t be more grateful that people are sharing their tools. In the post below I’ll be sharing all of the therapy tools that I have found on Pinterest that we will be using to work with Punky. Many of the items on the list are things that you will have at home already!
15 Exercises and Activities to strengthen hand muscles
– Therapy Putty is a tool that works similarly as play doh. It doesn’t stain hands, you can mix it to create a custom resistance, plus it’s non-toxic. Therapy putty can be used by anyone who has issues with the strength in their hands by squeezing, stretching, pinching, or twisting.
– Legos are actually great to use as a strength building tool for intrinsic muscles! The position that hands need to be in to properly use Legos is perfect. It does help that we have a ton of them around the house!
– A tool we use quite a lot in our house is just a basic handheld hole punch. Punky loves creating little bits of confetti with them. We start with one sheet of paper, but when he feels like he needs a bit more of a challenge we keep adding sheets of paper to change resistance.
– These EZ Chop Sticks are quirky but would work great to focus on a tripod pencil hold with your kids. An activity they could do to also work on their fine motor skills is to use them to pick up pony beads or pom-poms and place them in a dish. We’ll use regular chopsticks with Punky because he already knows how to use them, but if he didn’t I’d totally order the EZ chop sticks!
– Punky loved using geo boards in nursery school, so why wouldn’t we continue to use them now? We don’t have any here at home, but it’s definitely something on the list to order for Punky. We can focus on his pincer grasp with the rubber bands, and he’ll have fun with the template inserts of this Melissa and Doug geo board set.
- Pop Toobs These Pop Toobs are kind of interesting. They snap together, and they can stretched and collapsed from 8” to 30”. Apparently when you pull them apart and push them together they have a vibrating sensation! I’m not sure how well Punky would get on with these, but they’re worth a try!
We play with play doh almost constantly. It’s creative, fun, and great for building those important hand muscles!
I try to get Punky involved in chores around the house as much as possible. His favorite thing to do is wash windows, believe it or not. We use spray bottles with a little bit of dish soap mixed in to wash the windows. As well as teaching him to help tidy around the house, it’s forcing him to use his hands in a productive way.
Cutting with Scissors
Every kid needs to practice cutting with scissors! Punky uses card stock, cardboard cereal boxes, and leftover corrugated cardboard boxes to practice with.
Sensory Balls or Balloons
Sensory Balloons are great tools. I’ve outlined our use for them above.
Punky loves to pop bubble wrap, one bubble at a time. It keeps him occupied for at least 45 minutes!
Tweezers are also good for working Punky’s pincer grasp. We like to use curved tip tweezers to pick up seed beads to put into containers sorted by color.
Clips, clothes pins, or bulldog clips
We have a ton of them around the house and they work great! You can even play this game to make it fun!
Juicing Fruit by Hand
It uses the same muscles as squeezing sponges, with more of an incentive to finish the task. Punky loves lemonade, so this works perfectly for us!
Plain old fashioned drawing and coloring
We have a ton of art supplies around our house, and the walls are adorned with Punky’s art. I encourage Punky to draw, color, doodle, and paint as much as possible to get used to holding a writing utensil.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas of Occupational Therapy Tools and Activities to do with your kids. If not, thanks for reading! I’ll most likely write an update post in a few months to let you know how Punky has been progressing. See you around!