Tag Archives: visual motor

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

-praxis

Materials/Equipment Needed:

-cardstock

-marker

-single hole punch

-yarn

-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

-pom-poms

-straws

-scissors

-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

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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.

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Pool Noodle Spelling

I made this activity quite a while ago after being inspired by Your Therapy Source’s blog post (http://yourtherapysource.blogspot.com/2011/11/visual-tracking-and-bilateral). Since I am a school therapist, I put letters on everything! I had a little video of this activity, but it was too large to download into this post.

Pool Noodle Spelling

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OT Skills this Activity Targets:

-bilateral motor coordination

-visual motor skills

Materials/Equipment Needed:

-pool noodle

-sharp serrated knife (I found this type of knife works best to cut a pool noodle)

-duct tape

-Permanent Marker

-marble

Instructions to Make the Activity:

Cut the pool noodle lengthwise with knife. Use duct tape to attach the ends of the noodle to form a circle. Make sure the tape does not go in the groove on the inside of the noodle. Write the alphabet with the permanent marker in order with even spaces between letters.

How to Play:

Place the marble inside the groove of the pool noodle circle. The student holds the pool noodle with both hands and slowly turns the noodle for the marble to stop on each desired letter. If the student does not hold the noodle level, the marble will fall.

How to Grade the Challenge

-Hang a list of spelling words on the wall so the student has to use eye convergence and divergence (focusing between near and far objects).

-Set a timer to increase the speed of the bilateral movements.

-Have the student stand on a balance board or other unstable surface while completing the task.

-Verbally state a list of random letters to find in order to address working memory.

I’m back to the OT blogging world!

My old hosting site no longer exists, so I have been forced to start from scratch.  For those of you who are interested, since my last post I have become an almost full-time school therapist. I now work four days at school and one day doing early intervention home health. I’m very excited to share all my new OT ideas!

Spell It, the Bilateral Block Tower

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Students use 2 wooden dowels to pick up letter blocks to spell a block tower.

OT Skills this Activity Targets:

-bilateral motor coordination

-fine motor skills

-tripod grasp

-visual motor skills

-sequencing

-praxis

Materials/Equipment Needed:

-small wooden blocks

-2 inch wooden dowels (one set for each student), if you cut them any longer the student may use a fisted grasp rather than the desired tripod grasp

-letter stickers (from scrapbooking section at craft store)

Instructions to Make the Activity:

Adhere one letter sticker to each block. I made several full sets of the alphabet, plus extras of the most commonly used letters. I asked the school woodworking teacher to cut down the dowels for me and made sure the ends were sanded smooth. I keep my blocks and dowels in a hard plastic pencil case.

How to Play:

Scatter the blocks on the table and have the student hold one dowel in each hand to pick up a block. The student stacks blocks into word towers. It takes a little practice to regulate how much force to use with the dowels to keep the blocks from slipping or popping away.

How to Grade the Challenge

-To lower the visual demand, I have used simple stickers cut in half or thirds with each piece on one block.

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-For students who cannot read or spell yet, I have a also made a set of pattern cards with colored blocks.

-Placement and orientation of the blocks can alter the challenge. Line blocks in a row with blocks all of same orientation (as you would read letters). To increase the challenge scatter the blocks so the student needs to also motor-plan how to use the dowels to turn the blocks around before stacking.

-Students can work in pairs, each holding only 1 dowel. The students must work as team to pick up and stack the blocks.