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Have you ever noticed that when kids need to work on certain skills in order to improve handwriting or improve their ability to manage zippers or button their own coat, they don’t want to practice?  When kids need a little extra fine motorskill development, it can be a struggle to get them to work on the skills they really need.  Fine motor dexterity, hand strengthening, managing small objects can be difficult for kids with fine motor weakness.  And when something is hard to do, kids just don’t want to do it!

As an Occupational Therapist I can tell you that the trick to helping kids develop fine motor skills (or any area of weakness), is to make it fun.  Improve strength and grasp with creative play ideas in ways that sneak in fine motor work.  

Kids can build intrinsic hand strength, an open thumb web space, thumb IP joint flexion, arch development, and coordination skills through play that interests them.  They can then carry over these skills to using a tripod grasp when writing, managing buttons, zippers, shoe laces, and snaps, and manipulating small items without difficulty.

Recently, I had the chance to review a Kiwi Crate and was wowed at the fine motor tool that was delivered right to our doorstep.  We received a pinball machine project that was brimming with fine motor opportunities. 




Build fine motor skills with a DIY pinball machine activity from Kiwi Crate. Kiwi Crate review for hands-on creativity, learning, and development.

My kids were thrilled to get to build a pinball machine of their own.  There was one comment from my son who said, “Mom. This is my favorite day ever!” He didn’t even realize all of the learning and fine motor development that he conquered while creating his pinball machine project.

Build fine motor skills with a DIY pinball machine activity from Kiwi Crate. Kiwi Crate review for hands-on creativity, learning, and development.

When we opened our Kiwi Crate box, we found everything stacked up in labelled bags along with a great step-by-step packet that helped us build the pinball machine.  I loved that there were practice sheets right in the packet and notes about why certain steps needed to be done in order to complete the project.  The pictures in the direction book were easy to understand so that my 8 year old could easily read them and follow along to build the pinball machine.

Kiwi Crate and Fine Motor Skills


It was easy to notice all of the fine motor skills that were being refined as my son completed the pinball machine.  

He was able to peel the backs off of tiny stickers as he advanced his neat pincer grasp.  He utilized a tripod grasp with intrinsic muscle control in order to push pegs into the holes of the pinball machine base.  He opened up his thumb web space to thread a rubber band into a small hole. He strengthened his gross hand grasp as he stretched rubber bands over the pegs, and he matured the motoric separation ofhis hands in order to manipulate small brads and washers with in-hand manipulation.

And, once the project was completed, just playing with the pinball machine built even more fine motor skills and visual perception skills: 


  • Bilateral hand coordination to hold the machine while pulling back the pin
  • Pincer Grasp to pinch and pull the pin against the resistance of the rubber band
  • Eye-Hand Coordination to arrange and re-arrange the pins, targets, and rubber bands
  • Visual Tracking to watch the ball as it moved around the board

Build fine motor skills with a DIY pinball machine activity from Kiwi Crate. Kiwi Crate review for hands-on creativity, learning, and development.

Build fine motor skills with a DIY pinball machine activity from Kiwi Crate. Kiwi Crate review for hands-on creativity, learning, and development.

Build fine motor skills with a DIY pinball machine activity from Kiwi Crate. Kiwi Crate review for hands-on creativity, learning, and development.

I was astounded at how easily my son performed these fine motor tasks to build the pinball machine.  He eagerly proceeded through the instruction book to complete each step while applying matured fine motor grasps and dexterity in a fun way.


Build fine motor skills with a DIY pinball machine activity from Kiwi Crate. Kiwi Crate review for hands-on creativity, learning, and development.

An activity like building this pinball machine is perfect for those kiddos who balk at typical fine motor tasks.  The child who struggles with handwriting because of an inappropriate pencil grasp or the student who drops coins in the lunch line because they cannot manipulate small items within their hand would love this activity.  They would be building, strengthening, and developing essential skills in a fun way.


Build fine motor skills with a DIY pinball machine activity from Kiwi Crate. Kiwi Crate review for hands-on creativity, learning, and development.

Kiwi Crate is such an amazing tool for building skills.  Each month, a box arrives at your doorstep and children can create projects that help them learn and advance skills in a fun way.  Kiwi Crate strives to develop kids’ creativity through problem solving and exploration.  The monthly subscription boxes are available in four different age ranges and are perfect for kids’ aged 3-16+.
  •  Koala Crate is perfect for inquiry-based learning.  Geared at kids aged 3-4.
  • Kiwi Crate provides creative STEAM projects for ages 5-8.
  • Doodle Crate builds creative confidence and is perfect for kids aged 9-16+.
  • Tinker Crate encourages tinkering through STEM projects and is geared towards kids aged 9-16+.



Kiwi Crates, and any of the monthly project boxes are perfect gift ideas for kids who need to develop skills or just want to build and create while learning and inspiring creative problem solving.  It’s a great way to create as a family and would make an excellent gift for birthdays or holidays from Aunts, Grandparents, Friends, and Parents. 



Inspire hands-on learning and development with a Kiwi Crate box!

Full disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bloggy Moms and Kiwi Crate. All opinions are my own.
Children with attention or behavior difficulties can flounder when they are out in the community.  There are so many unknowns when a child steps out of his front door and into an unpredictable environment that is the community.

A child has typical routines in his home or classroom.  He has predictable and familiar habits in the car or school bus.  But, when it is time to move to unfamiliar locations in his community, it can overwhelm the child with attention or behavior problems.  
Attention and behavior problems in kids and tips and strategies to help them become more independent and safe in the community.

If you've been following along on the blog this month, then you know that I've been sharing a backyard summer sensory series.  You can find oral sensory processing ideas, tactile sensory processing activities,  and proprioception sensory activities to add creative backyard play ideas into sensory diets and sensory lifestyles.  

Auditory processing sensory ideas for backyard summer sensory play, perfect for sensory diet ideas for kids.
Touching toes on the grass can make some kiddos squirm.  The sandbox brings on a mini world of sensory defensiveness when grains of sand stick to skin.  For the child with a hypersensitivity to touch, the backyard can be overwhelming. Other kids seek out tactile sensations and need to touch everything.  Still others find comfort in certain sensations but other textures bring on the tantrums or withdrawal.

There are ways to introduce tactile sensations in the backyard in a controlled way.  Incorporate these with tactile sensory input to involve the whole body into sensory play.  Try adding backyard proprioception input or backyard oral sensory processing activities.  These are super easy ways to play with the senses with items you probably already have in or around the home.

Tactile sensory input in backyard play ideas for kids, perfect for summer and all year with outdoor sensory play at home.
Tangrams are a fun and easy way to work on visual perception and visual motor integration skills through play.  These sponge tangrams are a quick DIY activity that kids will love.  The whole project will cost you $1, making it a creative and frugal way to play while sneaking in therapeutic and developmental skills.  

Tangram activities have a component that builds skills needed for handwriting so this activity is a fun one for working on written work through play. 

There are many ways to use tangrams to help with handwriting, and these sponge tangrams can definitely be used in those activities.  Try adding them to a low container with water for a multi-sensory approach.  

Sponge tangrams are an easy DIY and a fun way to build visual perception and visual motor integration skills with kids.

Sponge Tangrams Activity

This post contains affiliate links. 

This activity uses a pack of rectangular shaped sponges.  We found ours at the dollar store, but you could pick up a few here

Sponge tangrams are an easy DIY and a fun way to build visual perception and visual motor integration skills with kids.
Use a permanent marker to make a cutting template on the sponges.  You will want to draw lines like shown here.  Mark a "K", "L", and "H" on the sponge to create rectangles, triangles, and squares.  


Sponge tangrams are an easy DIY and a fun way to build visual perception and visual motor integration skills with kids.

Next, cut the sponge with a pair of kitchen shears.

Sponge tangrams are an easy DIY and a fun way to build visual perception and visual motor integration skills with kids.

And, just like that, you are ready to play!  

Use the sponge tangrams to build shapes, copy forms, and practice form recognition and form constancy.  This is a great exercise in visual motor integration and visual perceptual skills.  

Be sure to grab our Tangrams and Visual Perception Workbook for more ways to use tangrams in handwriting and other visual perceptual tasks.  

More ways to play with these sponge tangrams:

  • Soak up some water. Squeeze out the excess and stick them to a window.
  • Float them in water.
  • Play with them in a shallow container of water or other sensory material.

Sponge tangrams are an easy DIY and a fun way to build visual perception and visual motor integration skills with kids.

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 Visual Perception, Tangrams, & Handwriting Workbook

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Summertime fun in our house means a lot of nights in the backyard with the family.  We catch fireflies, play basketball in the driveway, play baseball on the lawn as the sun sets, have fires in the fire pit, and play heated games of tag, hide-and-go-seek, and make lots of summer memories.  Most important of all, summer means time with family.

One thing that we love to do as a family is come up with fun games with a lot of running and active play.  This backyard map game for building spatial concepts was a great way to play together as a family at the end of a hot summer day.  

When the sun starts to set and the fireflies start twinkling, it is so much fun to create family adventures right in the backyard.  We used our Energizer headlight and lantern in a family map game that added a directionality learning opportunity to play.

Drawing and creating maps is a great skill for kids to practice.  When kids picture a scene in their mind's eye and use that image to draw a map on paper, they are using higher thinking skills and spatial reasoning.


This map activity is great for building and developing spatial concepts and higher level thinking right in the backyard, using a map and lights to develop spatial relations.

To play an outdoor map game that builds spatial concepts with the family, first ask your kids to picture their backyard.  Tell them to identify landmarks and borders of the lawn.  Is there a swing set off to the side?  Where is the driveway or a large tree and how do these physical features relate to the back of the house?  Imagining a space and where items are in relation to others allow the child to use spatial relations as they draw them onto paper.


This map activity is great for building and developing spatial concepts and higher level thinking right in the backyard, using a map and lights to develop spatial relations.

While drawing, kids can decide how to draw aspects of the backyard.  They might sketch out a tree or a sandbox area or they might use geometric shapes to represent the items.  A circle could become a tree and a square could become a play area.  Kids will have to picture the layout of the backyard and draw the features in relation to one another.  Spatial reasoning is an essential skill needed for tasks such as maneuvering down a crowded hallway, placing words on a line when writing, and understanding spatial concepts such as "left", "right", and "next to".

Once the map is drawn, slip it into a plastic page protector and attach it to a clipboard. Grab your Energizer headlight and lantern and take the whole family outside to play a map game in the backyard.


Map Game for Building Spatial Concepts


To play the game, have one person hide a small toy like a rubber ball somewhere in the backyard.  Then, that person can use a dry erase marker to mark an "X" on the sheet protector to show where the item is hidden.  The kids can then use the map to locate the item by determining where the object is on the map.  Doing this map game in the dark with a headlight or lantern is a great way to build map reading skills and spatial concepts because the child can't just scan around the lawn to find the hidden object.  They must find the "X" on the map and read the map to locate the physical object hidden in the backyard.

Take the learning and spatial concepts a little further by asking your child to verbalize where the object is hidden and ask them to use directionality terms like "to the left", "beside", and "right".  They can describe the routes they would take to get to the hidden object.


This map activity is great for building and developing spatial concepts and higher level thinking right in the backyard, using a map and lights to develop spatial relations.

Using the clipboard to follow a map allows the child to focus on where they are going.  My kids loved having a headlamp on for our backyard map game because it freed their hands to hold the clipboard, find and hide the hidden ball, and use the dry erase marker to draw an "X" for the other people in our family.  We played this game over and over again so the erasable dry erase marker and sheet protector allowed us to keep playing long after the sun went down!

I loved playing this backyard map game with my kids and we were excited to use our Energizer lights to play.  The versatile lanterns can be used for so many memory-making activities with the whole family.  From filling up a homemade jar with fireflies in a lit area to lighting a S'more making tray, Energizer lanterns can help make the summer nights full of family memories.


This map activity is great for building and developing spatial concepts and higher level thinking right in the backyard, using a map and lights to develop spatial relations.

After our backyard map activity, we decided to use our headlamp and hand-held lantern at our new camp.  The Energizer® Fusion LED Folding Lantern has a panel that folds up to provide vibrant and uniform lighting.  The sturdy stand on the back of the lantern allows for hands‐free use making it a great light for making S'mores and other fire-side camping treats.

The Energizer® Vision HD+ Focus LED Headlight is great for when we need two hands to hold camp supplies.  Being the Highest Performing of the Energizer vision headlights, it's got a beam distance of 80M and a 250 lumen output.  The Digital focus feature allows users to customize the light to the desired width, making it a great camp accessory. We'll be using our Energizer lights all summer long!



  • Energizer® EcoAdvanced™ batteries are the world’s first AA and AAA battery made with four percent recycled batteries. 
  • Energizer headlights are lightweight, versatile and water resistant with pivoting functionality to direct light where you need it. 
  • Energizer area lanterns are the safe, reliable way to provide bright 360° light long into the night, at the camp fire, or while weathering a storm.


This map activity is great for building and developing spatial concepts and higher level thinking right in the backyard, using a map and lights to develop spatial relations.

Whether you are planning a backyard map-making activity for the family or are planning a weekend camping trip, don't forget the Energizer batteries!

I have great news for one of you!  You can enter for a chance to win your own Energizer Prize Pack!

One winner will receive:
One Energizer® Fusion LED Folding Lantern
One Energizer® Vision HD + Focus LED Headlight
Two packs of Energizer® EcoAdvanced® AA and AAA Batteries

That's an approximate value of $90! This is a great prize pack for all of your summertime adventures.

Enter here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Full Disclosure: This post is sponsored by The Motherhood and Energizer. All opinions are my own.