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This time of year, the hustle and bustle of the season can make all of us feel a little out of sorts.  For the child with sensory issues, the holiday season can be a real challenge!  Try adding Christmas Proprioception Activities into your child's day for calming strategies to meet sensory needs.  

For more ideas, grab this December Occupational Therapy calendar.

Christmas proprioception activities for children with sensory needs

Christmas Proprioception Activities



Occupational Therapists can add these proprioception activities to your therapy plans this month.  They are great Christmas activities for sending home to parents for a home program over the holiday break. 

Parents and teachers can use these activities as part of an individualized plan that meets the child’s needs. 

The calendar’s activities are outlined in an easy to follow therapy plan, however as parents and therapists know, a day that involves children does not always go as planned.  The activities can be shifted around to suit the needs of the child and the family.  An activity can be completed on a different day or used in combination with another day’s therapeutic activities. 

Try adding these activities into the child’s day to challenge sensory issues or as a way to help kids focus during overstimulating times that the holidays bring.

Incorporate these Christmas Proprioception sensory activities into your child's day to add heavy work input.


1. Shovel activity- Use a small child’s sized snow shovel or sand shovel to scoop couch cushions.

2. Mitten Toss- Fill a plastic sandwich bag with dry beans.  Push the filled bag into a mitten.  Close the opening of the mitten by rolling the top over on itself like you would roll socks together.  Use the mitten as a DIY bean bag in tossing target games.

3. Gift Push- Load cardboard boxes with heavy objects like books.  Ask the child to push the boxes across a room.  For less resistance, do this activity on a carpeted floor.  For more heavy work, do this activity outside on the driveway or sidewalk.

4. Reindeer Kick- Promote proprioceptive input through the upper body with wheel barrow race type movements.  Kids can also stand on their arms and legs in a quadruped position and kick their legs up.

5. Sleigh Push- Load a wheelbarrow, sled, or wagon with objects.  (Try the weighted boxes from number 3.) Ask kids to push, pull, and tug on the “sleigh” through the yard.

6. Peppermint Candy Stick Oral Motor Activity- Did you know you can make a peppermint candy stick into a straw?  It’s a great oral motor activity for kids.  Cut an orange in half and then stick the peppermint stick into the orange.  Next, suck the peppermint stick.  The juices from the orange will begin to work their way up through the peppermint stick.

7. Cocoa Temperature Taste- Make a batch of hot cocoa. Pour it into an ice cube tray and let it freeze.  Next, make another batch of hot cocoa. Divide it out into several mugs. Add a cocoa ice cube to the first mug, two ice cubes to the second mug, and so on. Mix the mugs up on a table.  Place a straw into each mug.  Children can position the mugs in order of coolest to hottest or vice versa.  If doing this activity with several children, use small paper cups so that each child gets their own set of cups. 

8. Christmas Chewy and Crunchy Food Breaks- A calming sensory snack can be just the thing that children need to organize their sensory system during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  Try these calming Christmas foods:  Peppermint Snack mix with peppermint chocolate candies mixed with dry cereal and raisins, Toffee, Rice Crispy Wreath cookies, pretzel sticks, homemade fruit leather.

Christmas proprioception activities for kids with sensory needs

Looking for modified paper to help kids with handwriting issues?  Try this modified Christmas paper packet!

Use this modified paper Christmas Handwriting Pack to work on legibility and handwriting struggles with kids.



Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by KORXX.  All opinions are my own.

We love our KORXX cork building blocks.  They are right there in the bin of blocks and have quickly become a favorite go-to toy.  I love them for all of the open-ended play ideas that my kids have been creating with them.  Using them to boost developmental skills through play is super easy, too.  (See how we used them to work on visual motor integration development recently.)  When I saw my kids using the Cork Sphere Stacking Tower to make some pretend ice cream cones, I was inspired to encourage fine motor skills like cylindrical and spherical grasp development.  If you are looking for creative ways to encourage development of grasp, then read on!

Spherical and cylindrical grasp development with KORXX cork building blocks

Cylindrical Grasp Development with KORXX cork building blocks


Help kids develp their Spherical and cylindrical grasp with KORXX cork building blocks

This post contains affiliate links.

The spheres in the Limbo var C KORXX cork building blocks set are perfect for helping kids develop fine motor skills.  Building and stacking with regular blocks is an exercise in fine motor development.  However, typical building blocks do not provide the unique grasp development of the cylindrical grasp of the hand. 

A cylindrical grasp is one in which the whole hand is in contact with an object, and curved with thumb opposition.  A common term for this grasp is gross grasp.  You can find more information on gross grasp development and strengthening with objects that we've done in the past.  

A cylindrical grasp requires use and strength of the extrinsic muscles and intrinsic muscles of the hand in order to flex the fingers around curved objects.  The thumb is positioned in flexion and abduction.  A cylindrical grasp is needed in order to hold a broom handle, baseball bat, and ice cream cone.

Typically, the cylindrical grasp develops early in childhood, beginning with the palmer grasp at around 12 months of age.  This grasp is precursor to fine motor development and is an early pre-writing grasp.  This grasp pattern evolves into the cylindrical grasp with thumb abduction and fluctuations in finger abduction. 

Spherical and cylindrical grasp development with KORXX cork building blocks

The KORXX cork building block set that we have has small cylindar shapes and we were able to encourage promotion of this grasp pattern by using them AND by creating paper tubes.  This is a perfect extension of my kids' imagination as we used them to make colorful ice cream cones with the KORXX spheres.  
Holding the paper tubes allows further development of the cylindrical grasp from a power grip to one of precision.  In order to hold the paper tube, one can not squeeze with all of their strength.  Otherwise, the paper will crush in their hands.  The same is true when holding a cake-type ice cream cone or a paper cup.  If precision of the cylindrical grasp is not developed, the cone or cup will crush in a child's hands.  

NOTE: There is a difference between holding a cake type ice cream cone which is a tube shape and a sugar ice cream cone which would be conical in shape.  These are different grasp patterns.

We used the paper tubes to stack, build, and create lots of ice cream cones of various sizes.

To make the paper cones, simply use colored cardstock and tape.  Cut the cardstock into different sizes and then roll it into a tube.  We found that packing tape worked well to maintain the shape of the tube. 


Spherical Grasp Development with KORXX cork building blocks

Spherical and cylindrical grasp development with KORXX cork building blocks

A spherical grasp is one in which the hand curves to hold a round or sphere-shaped object.  The intrinsic muscles of the hands play a big part in this grasp.  In order for the hand to curve, the metacarpal phalangeal joints need to abduct.  Involved in this action are the interossei muscles and the hypothenar eminence.  The interossei include the palmer interossei and the dorsal interossei.  These allow the fingers to abduct and adduct in order to grasp smaller and larger sphere shaped objects. The hypothenar eminence includes three intrinsic muscles that allows the pinkie side of the hand to flex, rotate to oppose the thumb, and create the bulk of the pinkie side of the palm when curving around shapes like spheres. 


Spherical and cylindrical grasp development with KORXX cork building blocks


Spherical grasp develops beginning at around 18 months.  Smaller objects require a smaller curved palm with opposition and larger objects such as an apple require increased adduction of the metacarpal phalangeal joints.  

We used our KORXX cork building blocks to practice various grasp and release of the spheres.  This block set is unique in it's varying sphere sizes.  Placing the spheres on the paper cones allowed for precision of this grasp pattern.

How fun is this building activity.  The spheres and cups of the Limbo var C KORXX cork building set inspires stacking to new heights with balance.  Building and creaating towers of various size is such a powerful way to encourage precision, grasp, and control of small motor movements of the hands.


More about KORXX cork building blocks:

  • KORXX building blocks are made from natural cork harvested without harming the trees.
  • They are soft and silent, stable and safe, and light cork blocks.
  • KORXX's blocks are a natural material free of any harmful contaminants. The cork material provides excellent stability without slippage. Unlike typical cork used for other products, it is also safe for even the smallest of children.
  • KORXX pressed Cork contains no harmful substances (phthalates, dioxins, formaldehyde) and has no other sensory emissions. The product adheres to the guidelines for children's toys (under 3 years) and the harmonized standard DIN EN 71.


Check out the different ways that the KORXX blogging team are playing and learning with KORXX cork building blocks:




Playing with Circumference from How Wee Learn


Mirror Book Play with KORXX Blocks from Fireflies and Mud Pies

Supporting Toddlers in Block Play from Preschool Inspirations

Cylindrical and spherical grasp development and KORXX blocks


How would you use KORXX cork building blocks to address cylindrical grasp and spherical grasp development?


If you have kids, you probably have read one of the Bear Books by Karma Wilson.  Books from the bear series are often on our library haul, so when we decided to make a Christmas tree ornament based on a childhood book, we knew that we had to make a bear craft Christmas ornament based on Bear Stays Up for Christmas.  We do love to come up with crafts and activities based on children's books and this Christmas book themed Christmas ornament craft was no exception.
Bear craft Christmas ornament based on the book Bear Stays Up for Christmas.

Bear Craft Christmas Ornament


This post contains affiliate links.

When we came up with this bear craft, we knew we wanted to create a cute bear that matched the bear in Karma Wilson's Bear Stays Up for Christmas.  The bear books are such a fun series to read and we loved to see Bear's friends help him stay up to celebrate Christmas.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas is the perfect book to add to your reading list this Christmas season.  It shows us how bear discovers the best gift of all is giving.  How fun would it be to read this book, make the cute bear craft Christmas ornament, and then give it to a friend?

You'll need just a few materials to make this bear craft:

Cardboard

Brown twine

Peel and Stick Googly Eyes

Black crafting pom pom (We received ours from our friends at www.craftprojectideas.com

Glue Tacky crafting glue works well.  Another idea is glue dots.

Tape

This is such an easy bear craft.  It would be perfect for preschool aged kids or grade school children. To start, you'll need to cut a bear face shape from the cardboard.

Bear craft that kids will love to make while working on fine motor skills.

Then, use the brown twine to wrap all around the cardboard face shape. Tape the twine to the back of the bear to keep it in place.

Fine motor tip: This activity is a great way to address bilateral coordination skills. Wrapping the twine around the cardboard shape allows kids to coordinate both hands together with a working hand and a non-dominant, assisting hand.  This type of activity requires a child to work at midline while looking down toward their hands.  It is a good activity for kids to seem to switch hands when writing or require prompts to hold the paper when writing and other tasks that utilize an assisting hand and precision work with the dominant hand.
Read here for more information on creative ways to address bilateral coordination
Help kids work on fine motor skills with a bear craft that is perfect for a Christmas ornament.

Continue to wrap the twine around the cardboard until most of the cardboard is not showing, including around the bear's ears.

Add a small piece of tape to the back of the bear craft to hold the end of the twine down.

Next, stick the peel and stick googly eyes on the bear's face.

Kids love to make crafts like this bear craft based on a popular childrens book.

Use a dab of glue or a glue dot to stick the crafting pom pom onto the bear craft.

Finally, use a small piece of twine on the back of the bear craft to create a loop in order to hang the bear craft Christmas ornament onto the Christmas tree.

While this bear craft was based on a popular children's Christmas book, it would be a great accompaniment for any bear themed preschool book or children's book.

Make this bear craft Christmas ornament based on Bear Stays Up for Christmas childrens book.

Looking for more Book themed Christmas ornaments?  


These are the bloggers participating today in the 10 days of book themed Christmas ornaments:

Nativity Tree Decorations from Rainy Day Mum

Spice Jar Lid Star Ornaments from Fireflies and Mudpies

Dog Ornament from Books and Giggles

Pine Tree Ornament from Mom Inspired Life

You can find all of the Christmas ornaments in the 10 day series here.


Looking for more kid-created Christmas ornaments?  Here are some of our favorites:

Make this bottle caps holly craft using recycled bottle caps for a fun Christmas tree holly ornament, a gift topper, or a holiday wreath.  Little fingerprint Christmas tree ornament memento based on the book, little tree by e.e. cummings.  This kid-made Christmas ornament is a fine motor workout for intrinsic muscle strength, arch development, and finger isolation. Antlers ornament to go with the book Olive The Other Reindeer




Cutest ever bear craft Christmas ornament for kids.

Every Christmas tree needs this kid-made Christmas tree bear craft ornament!





Handwriting can be a tough struggle to overcome.  You might work with a child on line awareness or spatial recognition but the child still neglects these areas. 

You might see letters that are formed poorly so that legibility is greatly impacted.

You might help a child on their written work and they seem to do well when one-on-one, but they simply can not carry the skills over into the classroom setting.

You might see struggles with letter and number reversals no matter how much you practice letter formation and perceptual skills.

All of these difficulties are challenges that YOU have mentioned to me.

Chances are, there are many, MANY more others who are facing the very same handwriting challenges with their child, student, or therapy client.

All of these concerns were voiced to me as a response to my Handwriting Help email series.  Did you get the free printables and 6 days of themed handwriting help?  Sign up here.

The thing is, every child struggles in different ways.  There are differences in attention, focus, sensory needs, fine motor skills, pencil grasp, visual processing, cognition, and many more factors. What works for one child may not work for another.

However, there are common techniques that can help children who face specific handwriting challenges.

To help work on these areas, I wanted to share with you some handwriting resources that can help.  These are activities and ideas that might be just the thing that clicks for your child.

These are workbooks, handwriting practice sheets, and creative strategies that can help kids who struggle with handwriting.  

Handwriting resources for parents, teachers, therapists, and professionals who work with children with handwriting legibility challenges and sloppy writing.

Handwriting Resources for Sloppy Handwriting


Affiliate links are included in this post. 

 handwriting strategies resources
When Your Child Hates Handwriting provides handwriting instruction through 50+ fun and easy activities that can be incorporated into handwriting practice .  Appropriate for use with children from ages 3 to 12, this book offers a new approach to teaching the struggling child how to write.



Rewiring the Brain Handbook is a printable handwriting workbook that is designed for parents, teachers, therapists, and professionals as a guide for providing cognitive development, fine motor skills, and emotional grounding.  The exercises in the book are intended to support emotional stability, attention, reading, fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and visual perception. The workbook contains 42 pages of exercises and activities with lines, shapes, letters, mazes, and fine motor games to enhance learning development.  




This Handwriting Bundle printable packet is designed to help with prewriting skills, letter formation and handwriting practice.  When you purchase all the titles together you receive a 30% discount.  
This handwriting bundle includes the titles below (click on each title for more information):
  1. Lines, Lines and More Lines ($3.99)
  2. Fading Lines and Shapes ($3.99)
  3. Fading Alphabet ($4.50)
  4. Handwriting Stations ($6.99)
  5. Animal Action Alphabet ($4.99)
  6. Visual Perceptual and Handwriting Practice Pages ($4.99)
  7. Handwriting Templates with Alphabet Guides ($4.99)
Regularly, these titles would be priced at $34.44 but when you purchase all 7 together you get a 30% discount sale price of $24.10!  This discount code was created specifically based on the interests of my readers (that's you!)



This Visual Perception, Tangrams, & Handwriting Workbook activity workbook has information on all of the visual perceptual areas necessary for written work: 
  • Visual Spatial Relations
  • Visual Discrimination
  • Figure Ground
  • Form Constancy
  • Visual Memory
  • Eye-Hand Coordination
  • Sequential Memory
  • Visual Closure
The printable workbook shares creative puzzles, drawing activities, and building challenges that will work on all of the skills needed for improving line awareness, letter formation, and neatness in written work.  Read more about this Visual Perception workbook and ways to use the activities in a playful way.



MORE handwriting resources you will love:


Be sure to join the Sweet Ideas for Handwriting Help Facebook Group for daily handwriting tips, strategies, and practice techniques in an engaging community of parents, teachers, and therapists.

Handwriting resources for parents, teachers, therapists, and professionals who work with children with handwriting legibility challenges and sloppy writing.

Looking for modified paper to help kids with handwriting issues?  Try this modified Christmas paper packet!

Use this modified paper Christmas Handwriting Pack to work on legibility and handwriting struggles with kids.


Fine motor development is essential for so many tasks.  Kids begin their fine motor development as soon as they are placed in tummy time as an infant.  While the manipulation of small motor muscles in activities like lacing cards and handwriting doesn't come until much later, the building blocks for success in tool manipulation and dexterity is established within days of birth.

Because fine motor skills are used in so many of our daily functions, it can be frustrating for kids (and their parents or teachers!) when manipulation and dexterity of the hands and fingers are a struggle.

Today, I'm sharing in inside scoop on how lacing cards boost fine motor skills and creative ways to further develop those skills through creation of DIY lacing cards, in unique process art ways!

Use lacing cards to address fine motor skills with kids in the classroom, home, or therapy clinic.

Lacing Cards and Fine Motor Skills


When kids thread a string through a lacing card, they are doing much more than establishing a baseline of sewing skills.  The motor movements required to perform this activity are powerful.  In fact, it shouldn't come as a surprise to know that many Occupational Therapists use lacing cards as a power tool, i.e. a therapy treatment tool that addresses many common goal areas in kids.


Lacing cards and fine motor skills are great for building skills needed in tasks.

Let's talk about the skills needed to manage and lace up a lacing card:

Bilateral Coordination-  In order to hold the lacing card and the string or ribbon, kids need to be able to manipulate and coordinate both hands together in a functional way.  They need to bring both hands to midline and work with one hand moving as a manipulating hand to move and thread the string.  The other hand, typically the non-dominant hand works as an assisting hand to hold the lacing card.  Both hands, wrists, and shoulders need to work together to position the card and string in a coordinated fashion.  

Read more about bilateral coordination activities.

Tripod grasp or Pincer grasp-  Depending on the size of the lacing card holes and the thickness of the string, different types of pinching grasps can be used with the dominant hand.  it is common for these grasps to vary during and throughout the task of lacing a single card.  One thing is consistent though and that is the fact that the fingers are working in a functional way that is beneficial for pencil grasp and manipulation of small items such as needles, beads, and clothing fasteners.  

Here is more information about a pincer grasp and activities to address this skill.

Separation of the two sides of the hand- When holding the string, it is useful for the ring and pinkie fingers to bend into a fist in order to stabilize the hand.  This positioning is effective for a functional grasp on the pencil when writing. In this way, lacing cards boost fine motor skills as a pre-writing tool. 

Check out these easy ideas to address motoric separation of the hand.

Visual Motor Skills- Coordinating visual information with motor movements of the hands is essential for handwriting, cutting with scissors, and many other tasks.  Manipulating lacing cards is an excellent way to address these needs. 

Read more about visual motor skills.

Motor Planning- A motor plan is functional execution of a task which is viewed with the eyes and carried out with the hands in order to complete tasks, such as mazes, walking around obstacles, cutting along a line, and writing within a space on a form.  Visual motor skills can be difficult for children with visual processing difficulties.  Identifying and organizing information is in a motor plan works on problem solving skills.  

Read more about motor planning activities for kids.


Process Art DIY Lacing Cards 

This post contains affiliate links.

While there are many lacing cards available on the market, it can be a lot of fun (and quite beneficial) to make your own lacing cards.  We had a blast making a big set of lacing cards recently, using inspiration from Barbara Rucci's new book, Art Workshop for Children.  

We were lucky to receive a book to check out and WOW! What a resource for developing creativity and inspiration in kids.  I loved flipping through every page with my kids as we picked out project after project to complete.  

One of the art projects that stood out to me, is the watercolor lacing cards activity.  As an Occupational Therapist, I was drawn to the fine motor goldmine with this activity.

We were inspired by the watercolor lacing cards in the book and HAD to make our own.  Just like the extended activity ideas that are included with every art activity in Art Workshop for Children, I had to get my kids creating by making their own colorful and creative lacing cards.

So often you see printable lacing cards that are very cookie cutter.  There are so many on the market that are simple shapes and single colors or images.  These are fun and completely perfect for boosting the fine motor skills needed for functional tasks.


Use art supplies to make your own lacing cards and address fine motor skills.


However, when we saw the creative opportunity in Art Workshop for Children, we had to get busy with the fine motor development!

Creative DIY Lacing Cards and Fine Motor Skills

I set up our dining room table with a bunch of supplies:

Paper plates


I didn't have to do much in the way of instruction with this creative activity.  My kids were drawn to the paints and paint brushes like kids to candy.  They got busy painting, dripping, splotting, and dumping.  It was fun to hear the comments about glitter and paint mixing and I laughed because it reminded me of the "Overheard" sidebar comments in the Art Workshops for Children book.


Glitter and watercolors are all you need for creative lacing cards and fine motor skills development in kids.


Use glitter glue to make creative lacing cards and fine motor skills development.

Just making the watercolors were a fine motor goldmine.  Squeezing glitter glue tubes, sprinkling glitter, and painting with paint brushes of all sizes worked those intrinsic muscles of the hands. 


Use watercolor cakes to paint lacing cards and address fine motor skills.



Kids can make lacing cards for fine motor skills.


One surprising way that we worked on fine motor skills was using old water color cakes.  I pulled the cakes right from the water color set and showed my kids how to dip them into water and then draw on the paper.  Pinching the wet and messy watercolor cake was a great sensory experience that promoted a tripod grasp.  This is a great way to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the hand and promote arch development needed for endurance in tasks such as coloring and writing.

Once our paintings were dry, my oldest daughter and I cut them into large shapes and used a hole punch to create lacing cards.  We used yarn to thread around the holes.  I showed my kids how to stitch the holes in two different ways, going up and down through the holes and also around the edge of the lacing card.  Both techniques great for addressing the fine motor skills described above.


Kids love to make their own lacing cards for addressing fine motor skills.


Lacing cards and fine motor skills go hand in hand with creative activities.

These gorgeous watercolor lacing cards are perfect for developing fine motor skills in kids and are great addition to any home, classroom, or therapy clinic...from start to finish!  We'll save our lacing cards and use them again and again!



I am so excited to be on the Art Workshop for Children blogging team.  You can read more about the book here and read more about the creative activities in the book. 

Consider adding Art Workshop for Children to your holiday shopping list!  Pair the book with art supplies for a creative and unique gift idea that kids of all ages will love.  Teachers and therapists will find this book beneficial for the classroom or clinic, too. 

Grab the Art Workshop for Children book for creative art ideas.

Who do you know that would love a creating art gift like this?


Grab these supplies for the art-loving child, teacher, or therapist on your gift list this year:


Lacing cards and fine motor skills are great for developing the strength in the hands for handwriting and pencil grasp.

Working on Handwriting?