Category Archives: OT Activities

Bingo Chip Spelling

How Do Blowing and Sucking Relate To Vision?

 Blowing and sucking activities can have an impact on your child’s visual-motor skills, handwriting, and ability to focus. Sucking encourages eye convergence, the ability to focus the eyes at a close distance, and bringing one’s attention towards the body and away from environmental distractions. Coordinated convergence is necessary for reading, handwriting, and catching moving objects. Blowing encourages eye divergence, the ability to focus the eyes at distance, and focusing one’s attention away from the body. Coordinated divergence is necessary for copying from the board, reading signs, throwing at a target, and many sports. The following activities are simple ways to incorporate blowing and sucking into everyday tasks. Be sure to immediately follow with the appropriate functional vision task.


 Buy a bag of jumbo straws (cut in half) and cotton balls or craft pom-poms.

  1. Replace board game pieces with cotton ball to blow around the board.
  2. Have a cotton ball blowing race while crawling. Make obstacles to go around (i.e. cut off bottom of paper cup and lay on its side).
  3. Play cotton ball hockey.
  4. Try blowing cotton ball as close to the edge of a tabletop without falling off.
  5. Refer to previous Huff and Puff Spelling post


Buy a bag of jumbo straws (cut in half) and plastic bingo chips from a party store. Use the straw to suck up the bingo chip to stick to the end of the straw to complete these activities.

  1. Replace board game pieces with bingo chips to move around the board.
  2. Draw circles on paper (random, straight lines, diagonals) and write one letters of the alphabet in each one. Use bingo chips to locate letters or spell out spelling/ word study words.
  3. Draw circles on paper (random, straight lines, diagonals) and write one number in each one. Give child a math equation and use bingo chip to answer.
  4. Use a dry erase marker to write letters on the bingo chips for spelling.
  5. See how many bingo chips can be stacked into a tower.


Bingo Chip Spelling

This activity has proved to be so fun and effective at school for both improved attention and academics. I once tried this with a 2nd grade student and after I returned him to his classroom, the assistant teacher came to find me later to ask what I did that day in OT. For the 1st time ever this student was happily using manipulatives for math and remaining focused at the same time!

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OT Skills this Activity Targets:


-visual tracking

-breath support


-attention to task


Materials/Equipment Needed:

-jumbo straws

-bingo chips

-pre-drawn pictures

-laminator or page protectors

Instructions to Make the Activity:

Trace a bingo chip 26 times on a sheet of paper. Write one letter in each circle. I laminated the sheets of paper, but you can also use a page protector sleeve. It is a good idea to protect the paper because there is often saliva from the straw and this makes it easy to clean up.

How to Play:

The student is asked to find a letter or word by sucking through the straw to pick up the bingo chip. While maintaing the vacuum seal with the straw the student visually scans and releases the bingo chip onto the target letter.

How to Grade the Challenge:

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-letters in straight lines alphabetically are easier to track than random placement

-instead of letters you can use numbers to complete math problems

-for students who do not yet recognize letters, color matching with a gum ball machine is fun

-use plastic coins instead of bingo chips for coin value

-laminated paper also works well to pick up with the straw, cut up a sentence and have the student place in the correct order

-use laminated words for word sorts

Tying a Word

I frequently get requests from teachers and parents to help students learn to tie their shoes. However, these students typically come to school in velcro or slip on shoes for more independence and I don’t always have an extra shoe available. This activity is a fun and academically related way to practice tying a bow.

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OT Skills this Activity Targets:

-bilateral motor coordination

-visual motor skills

-fine motor skills


Materials/Equipment Needed:



-single hole punch


-transparent tape

Instructions to Make the Activity:

Cut out rectangles of cardstock, mine are about 3×2 inches. Write one letter per card (make extra of commonly used letters) and punch a hole on either side. I also laminated my cards for durability. Cut yarn into 6 inch pieces.

How to Play:

Spread the cards on the table or the floor. Have the student scan for the letters of a designated word, collect the cards, and tie together using a bow. One word will require multiple pieces of string. Many students often need to see a sample of a completed tied word to motor-plan this novel task the first time.

How to Grade the Challenge

-Random letter card placement makes visual scanning more difficult while placing the cards in straight rows decreases the challenge. Also pay attention to letter orientation (i.e. upside down or turned on its side).

-If tying a bow is too challenging, a simple overhand knot can be taught.

-Add tape to end of yarn for ease of threading.

Huff and Puff Spelling

I absolutely love this activity I created in a pinch one day and it has since become a favorite of my students. This activity has the added benefit of potentially helping students to calm down. Many times I hear an adult tell a child to take a deep breath to calm down but often a child can’t stay focused enough for this deep breathing. I have found using activities with sustained blowing and a functional goal is much more effective and fun.

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OT Skills this Activity Targets:

-sustained breath support

-visual motor skills

-visual tracking

-convergence and divergence with eyes

-prone extension position for core strength

Materials/Equipment Needed:

 -26 foam or paper cups




-colored permanent markers

Instructions to Make the Activity:

Cut an opening in top of cup larger than the pom-pom. Label each cup with 1 letter of the alphabet, I like to use several colors of markers to match the colors of pom-poms.

How to Play:

Line the cups up in a straight row turned upside down, against a wall is ideal to prevent the cups from blowing over. Create a starting line, painter’s tape work well. The student blows the pom-pom with the straw across the floor to go inside the cup opening.

How to Grade the Challenge:

-When placing the cups in a line, alphabetical order is easier than a random order.

-Increase or decrease the distance from the starting line to the cups.

-Have the student spell their class spelling words or create a sentence. After blowing the word or sentence,  have the student write it on a clipboard or dry erase lap board.

-Only allow the student to blow a pom-pom of the same color as the letter that is their target.

-Rather than crawling like a snake, offer a scooter board.

-When there are 2 or more students, body awareness and praxis become more of a challenge in order to plan your route around another body in the way.

Tennis Ball Monster

I have seen several versions of the tennis ball monster on Pinterest lately. Of course my version includes letters!

Tennis Ball Monster


OT Skills this Activity Targets:

-bilateral motor coordination

-visual motor skills

-hand strength

-pincer grasp

Materials/Equipment Needed:

-tennis ball

-googly eyes

-flat glass gems

-Modge Podge

-sharp knife

-glue gun

Instructions to Make the Activity:

Use knife to cut a slit in the tennis ball to create a mouth. Glue on googly eyes with hot glue.  Type or write letters on small pieces of paper that fit on the flat glass gems. Use Modge Podge to glue letter to bottom of gem, let dry, and put another coat on top of paper letter. Let dry completely or gems will stick together in the container you store them in.

How to Play:

Student squeezes open tennis ball with non-dominant and “feeds” it with dominant hand. I often have the student feed the monster their spelling words. When task is complete ask the student to get the gems back out, it is more tricky to get them back out.

How to Grade the Challenge

-Random letter placement makes visual scanning more difficult while placing the gems in straight rows decreases the challenge. Also pay attention to letter orientation (i.e. upside down or turned on its side).

-Feed the monster letters in alphabetical order or start at z and work backwards.

-For students who struggle with reversals, I made a set of b,d,p, and q. At a fast pace I will call out one of these letters and the student verbally repeats the letter while putting it in the mouth.