Let's revisit- Play dough

Here are some fun activities for play dough or putty

Simply roll it into a ball or snake, flatten it into a pancake, or make a picnic lunch. You can use a plastic knife to cut the food and fork or spoon to practice picking up their food. Flatten the play dough into a pizza, pinch and roll play dough into toppings (flatten small circles for pepperoni), then cut into triangle slices.

-Roll out your play dough and form letters or numbers; If your child needs a model you can have the letters/numbers written on a large piece of paper or try to form them without a visual cue. Or when the play dough is rolled out stick pegs into the play dough (snake) and make snake skin.

-Flatten out the play dough and use cookie cutters to form different shapes; if you have animal cookie cutters make a far

- Need to practice cutting? Roll your play dough into a hot dog and cut into pieces with scissors.

- Hide pegs or popbeads inside the play dough and have your child find them. You can flatten out play dough to about ½ inch thick and with a pincer grasp push pegs into it to make a chocolate chip cookie.

Try to make your own Play Dough!

Here is what you will need: 2 cups of flour, I cup of salt, and 1 cup of cold water. Mix all ingredients until smooth. If you want some different colors add food coloring to the mix.

Messy Play Idea- Apple Painting

Apple Painting

Getting Ready
2-3 apples
Washable paint

Large pieces of paperFirst cut two to three apples in various directions- cut one in half vertically, another horizontally, and you can also cut one into pieces. Then one piece at a time, dip the apple in paint and press it to the paper. You can make all kinds of apple designs- make a pattern border with different colors or apple shapes, use the smaller apple pieces to make people, flowers, or large shapes. If you don’t’ have apples, cut up a few different fruits and compare shapes and sizes. This activity allows you to introduce new foods to a picky eater or get your kid's hands dirty, all while learning about shapes, colors, sizes and having FUN!!!!


PFOT Low Profile Slant Boards -->Ideal for classroom and home use. Low profile spring clip holds paper tight. Made from high quality, lightweight, easy to care for plastic, with smooth finished edges for safety. Will not shatter like plexi-glass if dropped. Features nonslip pads on the bottom and convenient "cut - out" carry handle. The 20 degree angle is ideal for writing and reading, offering positioning benefits for the eyes, neck, shoulders, trunk, arm and hand. Optional overlay provides a more pleasing, proprioceptive writing surface which can improve handwriting by diminishing pen/pencil slippage. Slantboards now available in black (without overlay); blue with overlay or mini size in black with overlay. Overlays are also available to add to your current slantboard.

Chalk Activities

1. Hopscotch: Remember when you used to play? Find a larger area on concrete and draw a hopscotch board. Have your children jump with two feet throughout the entire board. To make the game more difficult, jump with two feet then alternate to hopping on one foot. Now add a rock to the game- have your child toss a rock onto one of the squares, this is the square you now have to jump over, on the way back remember to pick up the rock. You can also try to jump in order. So have your child throw the rock onto the first square, jump through the board, then toss onto the second square, and so on. If you put your foot down or jump on the square with the rock, you are “out” and it is the next player’s turn.

2. Mazes: Find a large area of concrete, with chalk draw a maze. You can draw a simple straight line, curved line, circle, or other shape for your child to follow. Need a more difficult maze, draw twists and turns, angles and curves. They can walk, jump or crawl through it. You can ride a scooter board through the maze. Follow the maze, pretending it is a forest and walk like an animal. You can walk through the beach maze, picking up shells along the way while walking like a crab.

3. Drawing and writing: Draw shapes on the floor and have your children make a picture out of them. Make people or animals out of the shapes. Use your imagination and have your child make a city out of the shapes you drew. Practice writing letters. After you write the alphabet you can play jump and spell. Give your child a word to spell and they have to jump to each letter in order to spell the word.

Messy Play- Jell-o

What can we do with Jell-o?

One box of Jell-o can go a long way. Here are a few activities you can do with one child or a group!!

1. You will need a box of jell-o, glue, and paper. On the paper, draw a shape, write a letter or number. Have your child trace it with glue. Sprinkle Jell-o powder over the glue. When the jell-o touches the glue the color becomes very bright. (blue and red work the best). You can make pictures, write your name, or design a pattern.

2. Use Jell-o as part of a sensory bucket. In a large bowl make the jell-o according to the package and refrigerate for about two hours, it doesn’t completely harden making it a little more like slime. Hide objects in the jell-o and have your children pull them out. Hide plastic letters and spell a word or match the letters to the ones you have written down.

3. Jell-o Playdough- you will need 1 cup white flour, 1/2 cup salt, 2 T. cream of tartar, 2 T. Vegetable oil, 1 c. warm water, 1 three oz. pkg. jello (any flavor). A medium sized pot- Combine all the ingredients and cook over medium heat until it thickens, keep stirring. It will pull away from the sides of the pot. Make sure the oven isn’t on too high, it will burn easily. When thickens turn off burner and mold dough until cool to touch. You can store it in a plastic bag.

Counting Ball

The Counting Ball is the wonderfully useful pairing of electronics with the classic, low tech, plaything…a ball. Slightly larger than a softball, this foam sided ball actually keeps track of the number of hits up to100 it takes. Try bouncing off of knees, rackets, paddles, hands or walls. Provides great motivation for players to try and “beat” their last score. Item # Q3480

Let's Play Ball!

A ball can be a fun toy for a child of any age. Throwing and catching skills start to emerge around three years old. More refined ball skills by four to five years old. Here are some activities that you can do with a group of children or just one!!

Play Basketball!
For your younger children, place a hula hoop on the floor and practice throwing the basketball or bouncy rubber ball at the target. Have two children stand across from each other and bounce it back and forth. Have more then 2 children, make a circle around the hula hoop and bounce the ball back and forth but make sure it goes in the hoop!!!

If you are lucky enough to have a basketball net but it is too high- grab 3 hula hoops and tie them together. Hang one of the hoops over the basketball net and let the three hula hoops hang towards the ground. Your children can practice aiming at each target, make the higher one worth more points than the bottom and keep score. Don’t have access to a basketball net? Use a garbage can or larger bucket to practice making baskets.

Need to make the game a little harder? Have your children play scooter basketball. Each one has to sit on the scooter board and pass and shoot from there.

Play Backwards Dodgeball!

This can be a great OT group game. Have your children stand in a circle about arms length apart. Practice first by rolling the ball back and forth to each other. Once one child catches it, they can call out a name and roll to that person. When they get the hang of it you can start playing backwards. The child with the ball turns around, bends at the waist (with knees straight) and rolls the ball to whomever they call. The game can be played two ways- either the child who’s name was called has to catch the ball and the roller is “out” or they have to move out of the way and if they get hit, they are “out” Keep playing until only one child is standing or just play and don’t have a winner!!


Mix together the best qualities of games like Scrabble® Dominoes® and Set® and you’ve got Qwirkle! The 108 attractive wood tiles come in 6 colors and 6 shapes and players work at creating rows and columns of matching shapes or colors. Helps to improve visual perception, strategy, visual processing and analysis, concentration and other critical thinking skills. The simple level of play even lets younger players take on their older siblings or parents. For 2 to 4 players.

Accordion Pipes

Here are some fun activities you can do with our accordion pipe set. They come in sets of twelve- colored or clear and are great for hand and arm strengthening, bilateral coordination, and motor planning. They also make a great sound when pulled apart.

Accordion pipes are a great upper body warm up for children. Have your child hold each side of the accordion pipe and pull it apart and push together. Have them sit on a t-stool while pulling and pushing the tubes. This will require trunk control and upper body strength. When asking your child to sit on a t-stool, stay behind them and guard them in case they lose their balance.

You can place marbles or small popbeads in one side and have your child move the objects inside through the maze of accordion pipe. When the small popbeads reach the other side, have your child push them together. Push two or three accordion pipes together and make the maze longer and more difficult to move through.

You can use accordion pipes as a visual or auditory attending task as well. Pretend you are a pirate. Have your child use the accordion pipe as a telescope, search the room for “treasure” as you ride around on a scooterboard. You can give them directions through an accordion pipe as they hold it to their ear.

Use the accordion pipes as a gross motor activity. Pull the pipe apart all the way and join the ends, making a circle. You can use them as part of an obstacle course, jumping in and out of the circles. If you have ten accordion pipes, use all of them to form circles and place them on the floor as hopscotch board.

Messy Play

Do you have a child who refuses to participate in messy play?

Grab a Ziploc bag and some hair gel. Place about ¼ cup of hair gel inside the bag, seal it and have them trace a path through the gel. You can also place a little more hair gel in the bag and some confetti or small toys and have the child move them around.

As your child gets comfortable with touching the closed bag- put a small hole in the side of the bag and let a little gel leak out. This may be tolerated the first time you try it but it also may take awhile. Keep trying though. The only way your child is going to start tolerating textured is to expose them to different ones in a fun way.


$64.95 Q5027 Inspired by the stepping stones found naturally in brooks and streams, each side of these textured triangles vary in steepness. Highly textured for better traction and the rubber studs on the bottom prevent slipping. Use indoor or out to get kids moving. Have children travel around the room jumping or “giant stepping” from one stone to another without touching the floor. Use them in obstacle courses or build auditory memory as players must step on stones in the color sequence given. You receive a total of six different colored stones, three large and three small stones. *(Sorry this item does not qualify for free shipping) Item # q5027 $64.95

Great addition to your obstacle course!

Winter Fun

Carpet Square Ice Skating: You will need at least four carpet squares (about 12 inch x 6 inch) so two children can go at once. Have your children practice first by just sliding their feet along the floor. Then one at a time, they can take turns using the carpet squares, make sure the square is carpet side down. When standing on the carpet squares, they have to apply pressure and slide at the same time. Make an obstacle course or throw snowballs (cotton balls) on the floor for them to pick up. If you don’t have carpet squares this will also work with felt squares. Once your children have mastered singles skating switch to skating in pairs, have one of them make up a routine for the other to copy as they skate around. Don’t want to skate? Give each child a pair of dowels or strips of cardboard and pretend they are ski poles. They can cross country ski around the gym.

Shaving Cream Ice Skating: When you are ready to make a mess! Cover a large gym mat with plastic spread shaving cream in the center of the mat. After your children have taken off their socks and shoes and rolled up their pan legs- Go Ice Skating!!! Start with one child at a time until they get used to it. This can get really messy make sure you have towels to wipe their feet off when finished.

Mitten Match: This is great for preschool groups, especially now that it is cold outside. Collect a few pairs of gloves and mittens. First have the children identify the different colors or patterns. Taking turns have them ride a scooter board or crawl through a tunnel to find the match you ask them for. Once they find them, they can practice putting them on then folding them together. You can also do this with socks.

It’s Cold Outside Relay: Practice those dressing skills. Set up a short obstacle course, where your children have to stop and put on an article of outerwear at each station. For example, start with scooterboarding six feet to a hat, where they stop and put it on, then walk across a balance beam to their jacket, they have to put it on and zip it up, then hop over to their mittens, put them on and jump into the snow pile (crash mat) or you can scooter back and pretend they are on a sleigh.

Product Highlight - Play With Your Food

If you like our previous post but aren't in a kitchen, try this fun game. This is a perfect way to play with your food in a classroom or therapy session.

This clever idea may be "The Answer" to the "picky eater" problem. Colorful, divided melamine plate has a different animal graphic in each of the 4 food wells. The spinner will point to a picture of one or more animals and give an instruction such as "take one bite" or "one bit each". The child becomes engaged in the game process rather than in battle of wills with their caregiver. When starting, try putting favorite items in biggest sections and least liked in smallest. Comes with one plate, matching mug and spinner. Dishwasher safe, not for microwaves. Item # O8355 $19.95

Fine Motor FUN in the Kitchen

Inside a lot lately? Let’s raid the kitchen. What is in those cabinets that you can use for kid friendly projects? Here are some ideas from my own cabinets.

Pasta- Use elbow or penne pasta and some string to make a necklace. You can also use pipe cleaners and twist the ends together. Paint the pasta first and let it dry for a more colorful piece of jewelry. You can decorate a frame with the pasta or make a work of art.

Popcorn- Make a popcorn picture. Simply glue the popcorn to a piece of construction paper, you can make a popcorn snowman- trace three different circles on the paper then glue popcorn on the paper. If you feel like getting messy- you can melt marshmellows and mix them with the popcorn form three different sized balls and make an actual snowman. You can give the snowman a face with raisins and buttons with cheerios.

Cereal- You can string cheerios or glue them onto construction paper. Make letter cards and have your children copy them in cereal. Maybe you have a cereal with different colors, you can sort and match colors or shapes.

If you don’t want to use foods you can always make a game out of utensils and other kitchen supplies. Use chop sticks to pick up game pieces. Don’t throw away your egg cartons- mark each section with a color, number or letter, you can use it as a sorting activity with magnetic letters or puzzle pieces. Use a turkey baster and cotton balls and have a race- who can move the cotton ball across the table fastest?

Pop, Pop, Popbeads

There are so many activities you can do with one small bag of popbeads.

1. Hide the popbeads in putty or play dough and have your child dig through to find them. It is a great fine motor strengthening activity. If they are having difficulty, have them roll the putty into a snake and the popbeads will start
popping out.

2. Put your popbeads in the center of the table or floor. Playing a game with dice, take turns rolling dice to see how many popbeads you have to push together. Great counting activity. If you have dice with colors on each side, you can play a color matching game.

3. Use your popbeads as game pieces in checkers or tic tac toe. You will probably need more then one bag. For checkers, have each player use a different color and move them across the board, when you jump over your opponent pop your popbead to the extras, when you have to make someone ‘king” pop two together for your king. Playing tic tac toe, you will need the same color or same shape, play to the rules of tic tac toe but instead of using x’s and o’s you can use your popbeads, when you win pop them together and play another game.

4. Pattern play and copy- make a pattern with your set of popbeads and have your child copy it. You can draw a pattern on a piece of paper or verbally give them a pattern to copy. Ask them to make a pattern and then you copy it.

Puzzles, Puzzles, Puzzles

Take out some old puzzles. There are so many ways to play with a puzzle besides just sitting at a table.

1. When you and your child are completing a puzzle, don’t just sit at a table and put it together. Sit on the floor with the puzzle pieces spread out around you. Have your child lay on their stomach on the floor and place the pieces in the puzzle. You can work on trunk and upper body strength while concentrating on the puzzle.

2. Another fun way to complete your puzzle. If you have fun tack or strong tape, put some on the back of each puzzle piece and place the pieces on the wall about one to two feet from the floor. Have your child lay on their stomach on the floor and for each piece, they have to lift up their upper body to reach a piece.

3. Make your puzzle part of an obstacle course. You can put all the pieces on the floor near a balance beam and with each walk across to beam squat down to pick one piece up, or place them in front of a tunnel and with each trip through the tunnel pick one piece.

4. Place the puzzle pieces around the floor and use different animal walks to pick up pieces. Walk like a bear to pick up one piece and put it in the puzzle board. Then walk like a crab to another and so on. If you have enough room, use a scooterboard to pick up pieces, as your child lays on their stomachs moving the scooter with their hands, have them pick up one piece, place it under themselves on the board and then scooter back to the board.

Solitaire Card Games

Although we want our children to be social, sometimes there is just no one around. A deck of playing cards is perfect for these times. Here are some 1 player games. It should be explained to the child that many solitaire games are based on just luck.

1. Suits and Numbers: The object of the game is to be left with as few cards as possible. 4 cards are dealt face up. If all 4 are of the same suit- they all can be removed. If not, look at the card in position 1 and 4. If they match number OR suit the two middle cards may be discarded. A new card is then laid down. Again look at the card in last position, then counting back wards 3 cards, the 1st position. If they match suit or number, the middle 2 cards may be discarded. Also if all 4 cards are the same suit or number,they all may be discarded. (4 cards are always needed, so if after discarding there are less than 4, deal out the additional ones needed.) Continue until all cards have been played then the game is over. Count how many cards remain and try to better this number next time.

2. King's Circle: Deal the cards face down following a circle shape. Make 12 piles around the circle (like a clock face), and an additional pile in the middle. Continue dealing all cards onto the piles face down except the last card. Turn this one over and look at the number. Each pile around the circle represents a number with jacks being 11, queens 12 and the king is in the middle. The card determines which pile the card goes under or next too. If, for example, it is a seven, it will be placed face up underneath the seven pile and the top card of that pile is turned over and is placed next. This continues until the fourth king is turned up, when it is placed under the king pile and there are no cards left in that pile to turn over and place. If all 52 cards are face up at that point, the game is won. If not it is lost.

Do you have a favorite card game to share?

Fun Ways to Practice Writing without a crayon or Pencil

There are so many activities that you can do without making it look like school work.
Write in shaving cream , pudding, or finger paint. Yes it is messy but so much fun! Use shaving cream on the bath tub walls while your children are taking a bath.
Aqua doodles and magna doodles are a great way to practice and can even be used in the car.
Flatten play dough and write letters, numbers, and shapes in it with the back of a paintbrush or straw. Roll your play dough and form letters, shapes, and numbers.

Sets: A special deck of cards & a great game!

Looking for an alternative to regular playing cards? Take a look at the Sets Game. A very versatile and unusual deck of cards and a must for every classroom and therapy bag. The deck includes 81 cards. Each has either 1, 2, or 3 symbols on it. The symbols are either ovals, squiggles, or diamonds; either red, green, or purple, and either solid, striped, or open outlined. The original game calls for players to find SETS - 3 cards that have 3 attributes in common (i.e. all open, red, or go in number sequence). But these cards can also be used for sorting by 1, or more attributes.

The uses are unlimited!

Sort by color; (ie Red)
By shape; (ie diamond)
By shape AND color (ie red diamond, green ovals)
By number of shapes (ie 1, 2, 3)
Play domino's or UNO by matching 1 of the attributes
Or play the game!

What can I do with a deck of cards?

Using playing cards is a great tool for working on bilateral skills as well as hand-finger coordination and manipulation skills. They are versatile and adapted easily for almost every age child through adult. They can also go a long way, in a waiting room, on a rainy day, with or without a partner or during a treatment session. There are so many games and activities you can do with just one deck of cards. (Visit www.pfot.com for mini cards, and Sets a different kind of card game)- Some simpler activities (especially for younger players): Sort them by: color, shape, number, shape and number. Memory or concentration with as few or as many pairs is appropriate for the specific players.
- Remember the game of “war”? Use it work on numbers or the concepts of more/less, bigger/smaller or before/after. You can flip over two cards or divide the deck and each have a stack and turn over 1 card each. Ask the child which card that is more than the other. In the classic game of “War” the player with the larger number gets the set. The player with the most cards wins.
- Variation of “war”: Players take turns revealing a card and putting them on their discard pile or other players discard pile. If your newly revealed card is the next number or the previous number to the card on your opponents pile, you may place your card on his pile and go again. Cards may be taken from your hand or the top card of your discard pile. Winner is first to be without any cards.
- Teach a simple solitaire game. (Visit the pocket full of therapy Blog for variations and directions)
- A fun variation of memory: Split your deck of cards into red and black. Spread out the black cards face down and deal the red ones evenly among players. Flip over one black card and see if you have the number match in your hand. The first person to match all their red cards is the winner. You will have two of each number so you have to pay attention because another player might beat you to the match. Match shapes if you need a simpler version.- Work on math skills: Separate the cards, so you only have one set of number cards and your child has a second set. Have your child put them in order. Now place two cards on the table and ask your child to add them together, place the answer next to your two cards. You can do the same with subtraction and multiplication. It may be helpful to have a +, -, x and an = written on cards to place next to the numbers. If this is too difficult, you may want to place a card face up on the table and have your childcount out the matching number of small objects (coins, buttons, blocks, or pom poms). - Use in gross motor activities: Number cards are face value, jacks equal 11, queens equal 12, kings equal 13, and aces equal 15. Pull a card and that equals the number of push ups your child has to do. Have them write the number on a piece of paper or write and wipe board so they can keep track. You can use this for sit ups, jumping jacks, squats, or whatever you may be working on. You can even incorporate the cards into an obstacle course. Pick a card, jump that many times, pick another card and balance for that many seconds, pick a third card and throw the ball at a target that many times.

Fun Toy Fact

· The yo-yo originated from the Phillippines where it is used as a weapon for hunting.

Toy Fun Fact

Toy makers discover that in the US, when the divorce rate goes up so do the sales of toys. This may be due to the increasing number of single parents who may feel guilty about the divorce and having to leave their children with baby-sitters while they go out to work and therefore to compensate, they buy more toys for their children.

How do I hold this crayon??

Is your child having a hard time holding a crayon or pencil?
Do they switch grasps while writing? Or switch hands?
Here are a few tips to help them figure out how to handle their writing tool?
1. When handing a child a crayon place it in the middle of their body. For example, while they are sitting at the table, place the crayon on the table even with their nose. Notice which hand they pick up the crayon with because that is the hand you want them to continue to color/write with. You can also take note of which hand they use to brush their teeth or pick up a fork. Before the age of five this is considered their hand preference, around five years old your child will have a hand dominance.
2. Smaller hands should have smaller writing tools. So don’t throw away broken crayons! If you go miniature golfing- save the golf pencil. Small or broken crayons are a great way to start promoting a mature tripod grasp (thumb, index and third fingers). For your older children that are still having a difficult time with a mature grasp give them a golf pencil or sharpen a pencil to about half it’s size.
3. Don’t just write at the table. Tape large pieces of construction paper to the wall or if you have a chalkboard or write and wipe board practice writing on there. This will promote the proper wrist extension position necessary for writing. Some other positions to write in: place paper on the floor and have your child lay on their stomachs or you can use a slantboard or binder.