Hi! My name is Alvin Pineda, I’m a pediatric occupational therapist based in the Northern CA Bay Area. I work in a variety of settings from schools to clinics to outdoor OT. Within the online and social media space, I am the brain behind OT Outside The Box. As an OT, I use my creativity as a tool to facilitate many skills with my clients in a fun and meaningful way. I strive to inspire and foster others’ creativity and out of the box thinking within their interventions and activities.
OT Outside the Box Challenge Items
Painter’s tape is a great way to take things from the table to a vertical surface without damaging the walls. You can tape worksheets on walls, snip small pieces, practice writing letters or words within a small space, or even create a balance beam on the floor!
Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty is a great tool to work on skills like fine motor strength, dexterity, bilateral coordination, and hand manipulation skills. Activities can include manipulating the putty by rolling, molding, and squeezing it, cutting the putty (added resistance to assist in strengthening), or creating letters through a multi-sensory approach to writing.
3. Tennis Ball
Tennis balls are an easy way to promote gross motor skills and eye-hand coordination. You can practice dribbling the ball with one or two hands, after creating a pathway with the painter’s tape roll the ball through the path, as well as practicing catching/throwing in the air. To make it harder, challenge the child to clap between the catch and throw.
4. Dot Stickers
Stickers naturally target fine motor skills. Did you ever realize how much precision and pressure is required to peel off a sticker? Peeling stickers can also work on frustration tolerance and self-regulation. Additionally, these stickers act as a great visual cue to maintain small letter sizing while writing.
Aside from taping objects together, my favorite way to use clear masking tape is as a clear laminate. There’s no need to have a fancy laminator with families when you can use clear masking tape. Take a cardboard piece, draw lines for writing, and tape up that side. And can also easily create a DIY dry erase board!
6. Rock Crayons
You always hear how OTs are trying to promote a functional grasp pattern. By design, Rock Crayons strengthen the tripod grasp and its muscles in young children to improve fine motor coordination. Take any coloring activity and make it a little more therapeutic with these rock crayons.
7. Mini Erasers
Who doesn’t love the Dollar Section at Target? Well, these erasers are great for fine motor skills and visual perceptual skills! You can use a pincer grasp as well as in-hand manipulation to use these erasers in a variety of ways. Try having your kiddos sort or match patterns.
Pipe cleaners are a great tool to promote a handful of fine motor and visual perceptual skills. You can use pipe-cleaners in multi-sensory writing activity to encourage proper letter formation. Have clients recreate a specific design you have made. You can also practice shoe tying with a thicker/flexible material like pipe cleaners.
Beads are a simple way to work on fine motor skills from pincer grasp to finger/palm translation. There are many skills you can target by sorting colors, beading them on pipe cleaners, and counting. If you have letter beads, you can instruct them to scan specific letters or colors.
These are a great way to work on graded fine motor pressure. It takes a lot of patience and a light touch to accurately squeeze the right amount of liquid during a structured project. You can also use these to promote fine motor skills during wet sensory free play.
11. Water Color Set
Watercolors are a fun way to mix up a coloring craft. It’s always good to use a multi-modality approach to make things fun and different. If you have some extra water droplets on your paper, you can promote deep breathing in a fun craft by blowing them across the paper.
Use clothespins to facilitate a pincer grasp plus fine motor strengthening. Pick up small objects like erasers, pom poms, cotton balls or try sorting them into containers.
Stencils are a great way to promote bilateral hand use. It forces use of a helper hand to stabilize the paper. These spiral stencils also encourage dynamic fine motor movements required for handwriting.
14. Alphabet Cards
These cards make activities low prep and easy. You can place them across the room and have kids perform gross motor movements to retrieve an instructed letter. You can use the clear masking tape to cover the letter side and have kids trace it with a dry erase marker. These cards also act as a great visual cue to promote proper letter formation.
15. Wikki Stix
Wikki Stix are a fun moldable material that can be used in many craft projects. They also provide a great tactile/visual border to work on line adherence and sizing. You can place them on your writing paper and have kids bump the line. Additionally, you can create a small box and stick it to your paper to prevent kids from creating large letters.
As you can see, with these simple materials there are so many activities you can do to get OT outside the box!