Plastic Egg Boats with Oral Motor Sensory Input

These plastic Easter egg boats was an activity that we did last year around this time.  I never got around to sharing it with you, but I can tell you that my kids have been talking about them all year long!  They have been waiting anxiously until we get the plastic Easter eggs out of the attic so we can build another fleet of egg boats and set them sail in a tub of wavy water!  This is a fun STEM activity to see how much base you need to allow the boat to float, while making sure the balance is correct to keep the boats steadily upright.  We added a bit of wind power to bring in some oral motor sensorimotor input and got our boats moving, sensory style!  

Hey now, there's an idea: There's STEM for science, technology, engineering, and math, right?  And there's STEAM with the added component of art...what if we added a sensory component to the STEM/STEAM mix?? It could be called STEMS or STEAMS!  I think it's what the world needs: bring the science/math/art/technology, etc full circle with whole body movements and the underlying systems of sensory processing for integrated learning through the senses.  Genius I tell ya!

STEMS: Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and SENSORY 
STEAMS: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and SENSORY

You heard it here first!

Back to our world-changing egg boats.

Plastic egg boats with an oral sensory motor component for proprioception input to the mouth.

Plastic Easter Egg Boats

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

This is an easy activity to throw together:  Grab some plastic eggs, straws (every childhood needs brightly colored straws), card stock, tape, and play dough.  Fill one half of the plastic egg with play dough.  Stick a piece of straw into the play dough.  Tape a triangle of card stock to the straw.  Done.

Plastic egg boats with an oral sensory motor component for proprioception input to the mouth.

NOW:  Here's the fun part.  Fill a bin with water and see if they will float.  If you and the kids have filled the plastic eggs to the brim with play dough, they will not. Alas, you've got some capsized eggs.  However, with some help from your STEM noggin, you can remove some of the play dough so it's just a bit at the bottom of the egg.  See how they float now.  

Move the play dough up the sides of the egg a bit more and see if you can get the boats to stay upright.  Now we're talkin'!

Plastic egg boats with an oral sensory motor component for proprioception input to the mouth.

Oral Motor Sensory Activity Wind Boats

So.  You're wondering how this might be a state-of-the-art sensory-tastic STEMS activity (see, it just rolls off the tounge, right??!!)

Here's what we did to add a sensory oral motor component to this activity.  Use one of those bright and colorful straws to add a bit of wind power to your egg boats.  See how much breath it takes to move the boats across the water while providing proprioception to the mouth.  The heavy work of the lips is an effort that is calming to kiddos who seek out sensory input through chewing or biting.  

Have a few boat races with friends as you both blow the boats across a large bin of water. 

Looking for more propriocetive input to the mouth?  Try a smaller straw or this top-secret Occupational Therapist trick:  pinch the straw so it's flat the whole length of the straw.  Now you've got a power proprioception tool for oral sensory motor input! 

Plastic egg boats with an oral sensory motor component for proprioception input to the mouth.

Plastic egg boats with an oral sensory motor component for proprioception input to the mouth.

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What are your favorite ways to address oral motor sensory needs?  Let us know if you try these WORLD-CHANGING plastic Easter egg boats!  
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Bone Identification Movement Activity

Learning human anatomy has a special place in my heart. I mean, those semesters in Human Anatomy, Anatomy lab, and clinical kinesiology bring back fond memories.  So, when my kids ask questions like how their arm can pick up a sandwich, I have a little fun telling them about bones, joints, and muscles. 

(Moving a sandwich is a big deal in our house!)

We've done a body part identification activity before, using band-aides, but these labels were a big hit with my kids.  We used them to practice for a test for my big kids.  My Kindergartner and Second grader had a bones theme in their gym class, we had fun talking about the bones in our body, and made this Bone Identification and movement activity.

This bones anatomy movement and learning activity is perfect for kids or anyone learning human anatomy and bones or musculature. Add this to a health or gym curriculum to learn body parts with kids.

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Fine Motor Development with Building Blocks

As an Occupational Therapist, I've used wooden building blocks in fine motor development many, many, (MANY) times.  Wooden blocks are a tool that are used for development of goal progression in treatment activities and in assessment of fine motor developmental level.  They are used in visual perceptual skills, and are the perfect open-ended play item. 

As a Mom and OT, I've made sure my kids have a lot of wooden blocks (and a couple of varieties of foam and plastic blocks, too!)

Today, I'm sharing how to use wooden blocks in fine motor skill development with kids...all while they play and don't even realize their fine motor skills are being assessed or worked on! This is a great way to address skills for children and adults...anyone who needs to work on fine motor skill development.

                                Work on fine motor skills with wooden blocks

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Clay Fine Motor Strengthening Exercises

As an Occupational Therapist, I LOVE using clay with my kids in fine motor work.  Clay uses a resistance that works the small muscles of the hands and builds arch development on the hands, increasing endurance for activities like coloring and writing for longer periods of time.  Kids will often times complain of their hands being tired when they color.  They will press very lightly or switch colors overly-often, allowing themselves to sneak in breaks from coloring.  A strengthening activity like using clay is a great way to build the strength of the intrinsic muscles.

Clay fine motor activities to improve strength, scissor skills, and pencil grasp.

Hand Strengthening Exercises with Clay

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

There are many ways to work on hand strength with clay:
  • Pinch small pieces from a large piece of Clay .
  • Pinch the clay between the thumb and pointer finger.
  • Roll the clay into a long snake.
  • Use a Plastic Clay Tool to carve in the clay, pressing and drawing with the tools.
  • Poke the clay with the pointer finger to work on finger isolation.
  • Press small items like beads or rocks into the Clay like we did with play dough.
  • Press alphabet stamps into clay like we did here.
  • Add water to make the clay softer or allow the clay to dry out for a more resistive texture.
READ MORE about Fine Motor Skills HERE.

Work on Scissor Skills with clay:
  • Roll a long "snake". Use scissors to cut the clay into chunks.
  • Roll a long "snake" of Clay . Use a pencil to mark lines. Cut on the lines.
  • Roll a long "snake" of clay.  Use the side of a plastic knife to mark lines in the clay.  Cut on the lines.
  • Smash the clay into flat disk.  Use scissors to cut across the clay.  Then, mark lines with a pencil and plastic knife to cut along the lines.
READ MORE about Scissor Skills HERE.

Use Clay to work on Pencil Manipulation:
  • Create a flat disk with the clay.  Use a pencil to write in the clay.  Practice letter formation.
  • Roll the Clay into a "snake".  Poke a pencil into the clay, encouraging a tripod grasp on the pencil.
  • Roll small balls of clay between the thumb and pointer finger and ring finger.
  • Create a thick "stick" with the clay.  Show your child how to rotate the clay and twirl it between the thumb and fingers.
  • Use Clay Cleaning Tool Set for utensil use while providing verbal cues for appropriate grasp. NOTE: Using utensils like these may not encourage tripod grasp due to the nature of the tools. They will improve intrinsic strength and open web space.
  • Press a pencil eraser into the clay.
  • Create a flat disk from the clay.  Place a piece of paper on top of the paper.  Practice writing on the paper, encouraging your child to write lightly enough to not poke the pencil point through the paper.  This is an exercise in proprioception for the hands.
READ MORE about Handwriting HERE.

Fine motor activities with clay

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How will you practice fine motor skills with clay? Practicing pencil grasp, scissor skills, and hand strengthening?  Let us know!

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Fine Motor Alphabet Play Dough

Sometimes, you need play dough in your day.  Other times, you need to turn up the play dough fun notch just a bit.  (That's a thing, right?  The play dough fun scale?  I think so.) This Fine Motor Play Dough Alphabet activity combined a couple of our favorite things: Creative Play Dough ideas and Fine Motor Skills.  We used a handful of foam alphabet stickers that we had in the house and store bought play dough to make letters that we used in spelling words, letter identification, and alphabetical ordering.  And our play dough fun rating was 26 letters long!

Try this fine motor activity with letters to practice so many hands-on learning activities with kids of all ages: spelling words, sight words, and letter identification while working on fine motor skills like intrinsic muscle strength.
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Organization and Attention Challenges Related to Sensory Processing Disorders

Kids with sensory needs often times have organization difficulties.  They are distracted by their body's need for sensory integration and are challenged to focus on tasks at hand due difficulties with inattention.

While sensory kids might have attention problems, typically developing kids are also learning to work with the distractions of multi-sensorial input to focus on tasks.  You might see visual inattention that causes a child to skip words when copying from a book.  You might see them forget to put their homework folder in their backpack at the end of the school day. It's kind of like a jumble of beads in where all of the colors are so distracting that it's hard to pull out the ones that are most important.  Then the beads spill and you've got a disorganized mess to deal with on top of everything else that needs to happen in your day. 

Sensory Processing components and considerations for the disorganized and inattentive child.  This site contains lots of attention and organization strategies for kids with sensory processing disorders from an Occupational Therapist.

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February Occupational Therapy Activities

It's been a lot of fun coming up with creative activities for Occupational Therapy treatment ideas for the past couple of months.  Since sharing our December and January calendars, I've had a lot of great feedback from Occupational Therapists who are using the calendars in treating clients, parents who are looking for creative activities to do with their kids at home, and teachers who are applying the ideas to the needs of the kids in their classroom.  These OT activity calendars are fun (for me!) to make, and I'm loving that they are being used to help so many kids with creative Occupational Therapy goals.

This calendar is meant to be a resource and not treatment.  All activities should be applied and modified to fit the needs and goals of your particular child or student.  Please contact an Occupational Therapist for assessment and evaluation of your child, as all kids are different and what works for one child will not necessarily work for another.

Occupational Therapy ideas

February themed Occupational Therapy Treatment Ideas

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This calendar is available as a free download for our newsletter subscribers.  Join us today to get this and all of our subscriber freebies.

Activities for Occupational Therapy Students in February:

1. Smash Peanuts Proprioception- Work on hand-eye coordination, proprioceptive input, and strengthening with this Valentine's Day activity.  Modify the fun for a non-holiday activity.  Read about it here.

2. Heart Eye-Hand Coordination-  Use DIY cardboard hearts to work on fine motor skills like tripod grasp, intrinsic muscle strength, and an open thumb web space while addressing eye-hand coordination, visual scanning, and figure ground skills. Read about it here.

3. Heart Wall Push-Ups- These are a great warm-up for fine motor tasks. They can also be used as a brain break, or proprioception heavy work activity.  You'll need two foam hearts .  Tape them to a wall at chest level for your child.  Show them how to place their hands on the foam hearts and do wall-push ups.  For the child who is working on left-right discrimination, write left/right on the hearts.

4. Valentine's Day Sensory Bin-  A sensory bin provides textural sensory play in a container or bin and can be modified in so many ways to address tactile defensiveness and sensory exploration.  Try this sensory bin to work on eye-hand coordination and motor control with scoops.  Other ways a sensory bin helps kids are: language development, self-confidence, motor planning, visual tracking, and figure ground skills.  Read more here.

5. Heart Flashlight Game-  Use the same idea that we did here and use a flashlight to work on visual scanning, and visual tracking.  Add movement into the activity with spinning, jumping, and skipping to provide vestibular sensory input to the activity.  Write numbers or letters on hearts like these.  Then, simply tape foam hearts to the wall and turn down the lights.  If you are using movement in your activity, you will want low lights instead of having the lights off completely.  Call out letters on the hearts and have the child use the flashlight to scan for the correct heart and "tag" it with the light.

6. Valentine's Day Sensory Goop Painting- Explore tactile sensory play with homemade sensory goop.  Create heart valentines with the goop painting.  You can re-create this activity another time with white goop and snowflake cookie cutters on blue paper.

7. Valentine's Day Sensory Bottle-  Create a sensory bottle for a calm down visual sensory tool. Kids can help to make the bottle, working on fine motor skills.

8. Heart Bead Fine Motor Sort-  Work on eye-hand coordination, tripod grasp, and in-hand manipulation with this bead color sorting activity.

9. Fine Motor Sprinkle Art-  This fine motor craft works on tripod grasp and gross motor strength while providing a olfactory sensory input.  Work on scissor skills and handwriting to create Valentines' Day cards for loved ones.

10. Heart Therapy Ball Activities-  Use something you've got in your home to improve core muscle strength and proprioceptive input to address attention issues.  

11. Snowflake Trace- Work on handwriting and proprioception to the hands with resistive handwriting.  Tape paper to a window and trace snowflakes as they shine through the paper.  You can draw snowflakes on one side of the paper and trace the other side of the sheet.  Work on line awareness and pencil control for use in handwriting like we did here.

12. Heart Balance Beam- Place foam hearts on the floor to create a balance beam like we did with snowflakes.  Address vestibular sensory needs, core muscle strength, and motor planning with an indoor balance beam.

13. Heart Buttoning Skill Activity- Work on self-care skills with homemade heart buttons to work on buttoning and fine motor skills.

14. Heart Lacing Activity-   Lacing activities are powerful way to work on many skills.  Address eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, tripod grasp, visual scanning, motor planning, tool use, direction following, extended wrist, and more with lacing cards.  Make a heart shaped DIY lacing card like we did here.  Read more about all things lacing cards.

15. Fine Motor Snowman Craft-  This craft works on precision and tripod garsp to build a snowman with stickers.  You can also address task completion, direction following, and problem solving with this OT craft.

16.  Snowman Smoothie- Make an icy treat with milk or ice cream and add snowman details to the glass like we did here.  Add a straw for proprioceptive oral sensory input.  Sucking a straw is calming and organizing for a child.  Try this activity during or right before a task that requires attention and focus like homework.  

17. Snowman Hopscotch- Draw a snowman on the sidewalk or on a large sheet of cardboard.  Add more circles for the snowman's body and show your child how to hop along the snowman.  Activities like hopscotch provide vestibular and proprioceptive input.  Trowing a rock is a functional hand-eye coordination task that also addresses visual scanning, tracking, and motor planning.

18.  Play the Snow-key Pokey-  This is a fun game for indoor play.  Sing the hokey pokey song with a snow theme by substituting "hokey" with "snow-key".  Add other winter themed details like putting your right mitten in and putting your boots out.  How creative can you get with the snow-key pokey?
Movement games like this provide vestibular input.  This game, in particular is a great listening skills and attention task.  Kids need to listen to follow directions and not miss instructions.  The Snow-key Pokey works on range of motion, too.

19. Snow Hop- This activity works on many skill areas:  handwriting, motor planning, gross motor skills, balance and coordination, direction following, listening skills, and proprioception.  Create a map of a snowy land using couch pillows and blankets.  A white sheet works well for this activity.  Pile pillows up in some areas and cover them with a blanket. This is your "snowy land" with hills and valleys. Drawing a map addresses handwriting skills while using visual perceptual skills and spatial reasoning skills.  The child can hide a toy in the snowy land and draw an "X" on their map to show where they've hidden the toy.  Then, take turns navigating the land to find the toy.  This is a heavy work activity as the child moves cushions and pillows.  Walking on an unstable surface is a good balance and coordination activity, as well as a way to incorporate the vestibuar sense.

20. Snow-barrow Races-  Do a wheelbarrow race with a snow theme.  Ask the child to put on winter clothing like boots, scarves, and gloves.  They then have to do a wheelbarrow (or SNOW-barrow) race across the room.  This activity is a fun one to do with several kids, but works well as an individual activity with an adult.  Wheelbarrow races provide propriocetion sensroy input and is a great upper body activity.  Quickly dressing with the snow items is an exercise in motor planning and self-care.

21. Frozen Snow Dough- Make a batch of snow dough for sensory tactile input.  This is a great activity for kids who are tactile defensive.  Add scoops and other utnesils to work on eye-hand coordination and tool use.  

22. Build a Snowman- This activity provides proprioception while working on strengthening and motor planning, problem solving, bilateral hand coordianion, crossing midline, and more.  Grab three pillow cases and towels and small blankets.  Use the blankets to stuff the pillow cases until they are mostly full. Try to get the pillow cases into a circular-ish shape. Build a living room snowman with the stuffed pillow cases.  Use pillows to prop up the snowman.  

23. Paint Snow-  Work on tool use to paint snow like we did here. Don't have snow?  Use a wet paper towel for creative painting.  Add a hand strengthening and power grasp component by using squeeze bottles to paint, like we did here.

24. Salt Truck Craft- Work on scissor skills when making this snow truck craft.  Use scissor skills modifications to work on goal areas like accuracy and positioning of scissors when cutting.

25. Soda Dough Snowmen- Cook up a batch of baking soda dough and use it to work on fine motor skills like strengthening, tripod grasp, intrinsic strength, and in-hand manipulation like digital rotation while creating snowmen using this resistive, yet soft dough. 

26. Winter What's Missing Tray-  Work on visual memory with a winter-themed tray.  Grab many winter-objects: gloves, tinsel, fake snow, cotton balls, to work on visual memory.  Ask the child to stare at the tray for 3 minutes, remembering as many items as they can.  Then, take the tray away and remove 3-5 items.  See if the child can recall the missing objects.

27. Paper Icicles- Practice scissor skills with this paper icicle craft.  Use thicker paper for proprioceptive input.

28. Snowman Fine Motor- Fill a large bin with cotton balls.  Use tweezers to pick up and transfer the cotton balls to bowls.  Add other small pieces like a snowman hat, scarf (use foam crafting sheets to make these parts), and toothpicks for snowman arms.  Transfer the pieces to work on tripod grasp, open thumb web space, intrinsic muscle strength, and extended wrist.

29. Motor Planning Snow Maze- Create an indoor maze using yarn like we did here.  Use white yarn to wrap around chairs.   Try to transfer winter items like scarves and gloves through the maze without dropping any items or bumping into the yarn maze.  This is a great exercise for motor planing while working on core muscle strength and the vestibular sense as the child bends over and around the yarn.

Use these ideas all month long to add Occupational Therapy into creative play while working on so many areas! 

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Even MORE great pages you where you will find tons of Occupational Therapy treatment ideas and info that can be incorporated into simple play at home, using frugal (mostly free) items that you already have:

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How to Help Kids Pay Attention with Sensory Movement Exercises

Do you know a little one who can't focus on school work?  Someone who is always distracted or forgets details of a task?  A little one who starts a project but easily gives up, never to return to the activity?  A student who is always daydreaming or wiggling in their seat and misses key information?
Many children have trouble with paying attention and it can seem like it is only getting worse.

Paying attention is hard for some kids.  There are a few different reasons for inattention during school work or homework, or when just participating in listening activities like conversations or reading.  Learning disabilities, distratibility, poor core body strength, an overload of visual stimulation, poor working memory, ineffective executive functioning skills,  and even temperament can contribute to poor attention (among other reasons).

Numerous diagnoses like ADHD, Autism spectrum, sensory processing disorders, and more also have symptoms aligned with inattention.  But sometimes, attention problems can be confused with diagnoses typically associated with poor attention.  Sometimes, the reason for trouble paying attention is something else.

Whatever the reason, there are easy ways to help your child pay attention. Today, I've got a simple way to play and work on core muscle strength and proprioceptive input through a sensory movement activity.  This super easy movement activity is so much fun that your kids will want to play again every day.  And, that's a good thing, because the movement, proprioceptive input, and core strengthening involved will help them work toward improved attention.

Try these sensory movement activites and exercises for helping kids learn to pay attention.  Easy ball therapy exercises using proprioception and core muscle strengthening with a frugal and easy alternative to a therapy ball.  Occupational Therapy tips for kids.

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

RELATED READ: Visit our Attention in Kids Pinterest board for more information.

Sensory Ball Activities for Proprioception

One technique that is often recommended by Occupational Therapists for some children is the use of a large therapy ball for sitting and movement.  The therapist can guide the child in specific activities and exercises.  For our activity, we used a large and partially deflated Playground Ball similar to this one for a simple sensory movement.

Proprioceptive input adds deep pressure to the body's muscles and joints for a calming and organizing input.  Using a large ball like this one can help some children with inattention issues by promoting a postural reaction to a moving surface and heavy work input.

Sensory Ball Activity for Core Body Strengthening

Inattention can be a result of core weakness of the body.  The core is the child's trunk and midsection and is needed for support and ongoing positioning in functional tasks.  With a weak core, a child may slump in their seat, or have trouble maintaining and changing positions.  Exercises like these with a ball can help work on the core muscle strength to help the child focus and attend while writing, cutting, and learning.

Super Easy and Fun Movement Exercises

Try these sensory movement activites and exercises for helping kids learn to pay attention.  Easy ball therapy exercises using proprioception and core muscle strengthening with a frugal and easy alternative to a therapy ball.  Occupational Therapy tips for kids.

All you need for this activity is a large ball. You could use a Balance Ball or just grab a bouncy playground ball like this one from your child's outdoor play equipment.  We partially deflated our ball and drew a heart on one side using a dry erase marker.   The heart provided a visual prompt for where to sit or push.  It made a fun activity even better as we tried to squish the heart!

Use the ball to sit, bounce, and squash for proprioceptive input and strengthening.  A few exercises that you can try:

  • Sit on the ball and bounce.
  • Sit on the ball near a wall and have your child pick up their feet.  Use the wall to stabilize.
  • Lay belly down and roll side to side.
  • Lay belly down and roll the ball front to back.
  • Lay belly down on the ball and bounce.
  • Squash the ball against the wall with the child's chest.
  • Squash the ball against the wall with the child's back.
  • Stand on the ball against a wall, using the wall for support (use close adult supervision and contact for this one.)
Have fun playing!

Looking for more core strengthening activities that can help kids learn to pay attention?  Get your copy of  The Core Strengthening Handbook! Get it here.

Try these sensory movement activites and exercises for helping kids learn to pay attention.  Easy ball therapy exercises using proprioception and core muscle strengthening with a frugal and easy alternative to a therapy ball.  Occupational Therapy tips for kids.

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Scissor Skills Crash Course (with Gift Wrap!)

Teaching kids how to use scissors and exploring scissor skills is one of my favorite things to work on as a school-based Occupational Therapist.  There are so many creative ways to address the skills needed for accuracy in cutting with a pair of scissors.  Today, I'm sharing everything you need to know about cutting with scissors.  I've got all of the skills a child need in order to be successful.  I've got great ways to practice teaching your child to cut on lines.  

AND, I've got a top secret to share about teaching kids to cut with scissors; Something that will make practicing cutting with scissors frugal and fun.  My secret weapon in teaching kids to cut on the lines?  It's wrapping paper!  Gift wrap makes the best scissor practice tool because you can get a huge roll for an inexpensive price.  Hit up dollar stores and grab the after season and get ready to snip, snip, snip your way to cutting shapes on lines.  This is your creative Crash Course on teaching kids to cut with scissors!

Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.

Teach Kids to Cut with Scissors (A Crash Course)

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

There are many components that go into cutting with scissors.  These are the skill that kids need to master or be developing as they pick up a pair of scissors and can cut a shape.  Using scissors to cut is a developmental progression of skill.  And by that, I mean that as children progress in their development, they achieve more skill and accuracy.  Kids need to gain better control of fine motor and visual perceptual skills as they grow and develop and with that development, comes better use of scissors.  A child with deficits in any of the skill areas needed for using scissors will have difficulty with progression of typical scissor use development.

In this crash course, I'm going to share the skill components that a child needs to cut with scissors and various steps of cutting accuracy.  Not included in this crash course are the developmental ages and stages of scissor use.  That blog post will come at another time!

Skills a child needs to cut with scissors

These are the skill areas that a child needs in order to initiate scissor use and develop their progression toward successfully cutting multiple angled shapes:
Fine Motor Skills Needed for Scissor Use: From dexterity to graded precision, using scissors requires fine motor use skills for scissor use.

  • Prerequisite skills: Before a child can effectively use scissors in a functional manner, prerequisite skills are essential.  These are the functional skills that babies, toddlers, and preschoolers practice and achieve to learn graded muscle movements.  Read more about prerequisite skills here.
  • Open Thumb Web Space: Opening and closing the thumb against the fingers positions the thumb in abduction.  Abduction and adduction are required to open and close the scissor's blades.  If a child is not able to open and close their thumb due to physical defecits or weakness, they will not be able to cut with typical scissors.  There are many modified versions of scissors out there to assist with this area.  Read more about open thumb web space here.
  • Hand Strength: Cutting with scissors requires strength.  Children may complain of hand fatigue, not be able to cut thick paper such as construction paper, or may cut paper with short snips of the scissors.  A gross hand grasp is needed for endurance in scissor use. Looking for ways to build hand strength?  Try these creative activities.
  • Visual Motor Skills:  Also called hand-eye coordination, visual motor skills are our ability to position and use our hands in activities that are guided by our vision.  Read more about visual motor skills here.
  • Visual Tracking:  In order to follow a line with scissors, a person must use visual tracking as they move their scissors along the line.  Without this skill, a child will show poor line accuracy and may cut through shapes or across lines multiple times. Read more about visual tracking here.
  • Bilateral Hand Coordination:  This is a skill that is required for so many self-care and functional tasks.  Using scissors to cut a shape is a functional task that requires both hands working together in a fluid manner.  The hands are doing different tasks during the activity of cutting with scissors but both know what the other is doing without the child looking at either hand constantly.  This manner of fluid activity is a mechanism of the brain as both hemispheres communicate in an efficient manner. In scissor skill activities, one hand must hold the scissors as the non-dominant hand holds and rotates the paper. Read more about bilateral coordination here.
  • Hand Dominance: Related to bilateral hand coordination, is hand dominance in scissor use.  A child need an established hand dominance in order to develop fine motor skills that are needed for accuracy with scissor use.  If a child continues to switch hands, there are scissors that can be used with either hand on the market, however, the child will not develop accuracy and fluid scissor cuts as easily with out an established dominant hand.  Read more about hand dominance here.
  • Try THESE scissors for kids who have a left-right confusion or undefined hand dominance.

Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.

NOTE: THESE are my favorite scissor for kids.

Line Accuracy with Scissor Skills: Teaching Kids to cut on the Lines

Line accuracy when cutting with scissors is greatly dependent on position of the hand on the scissors, as well as all of the areas described above.  Hand positioning and scissor grasp is a developmental progression and typical tearing of paper happens with certain positions.  Typically, a child will developmentally go through certain stages in their scissor skills and as they progress, their accuracy will improve.  

Help Kids Cut with Scissors on the Lines

Now is the time to pull out the wrapping paper that I told you about.  Grab a roll of gift wrap and work on cutting with graded difficulty.

Try these scissor practice ideas to work on cutting on the lines.  These ideas progress (mostly) from easiest to most difficult.

Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.

Providing kids with kid-friendly scissors and paper will help with practice.  Kids can practice cutting with scissors as early as you feel comfortable.  It's important to remember that all children develop differently.  Hand over a pair of scissors and show the child how to snip into the edge of the paper, without lines or shapes.  At this point, the child is only working on the skill areas described above.  This is when wrapping paper makes a great cutting medium.  No more will you go through the piles of construction paper that just get snipped and cut all over the floor.  Use the wrapping paper and let the kids snip away!

A strip of wrapping paper (or paper) is a great starting point for practicing line awareness with scissors.  Make the paper strip tin enough that one snip across will cut the paper.  

Next, practice cutting into the paper and along a line.  A black dot will provide a visual cue to stop at the end of the line. 

Next, provide a strip of paper that is wider and requires several cuts across the page to cut through the line.  This activity works on the child's ability to open and shut the scissors without choppy cuts for several snips.  (NOTE: Provide a wider strip of paper than is shown in the above picture for more practice of continued cutting!)

Finally, provide a strip of paper with lines without stopping dots.  The child must cut along the lines and stop at the end of the line.  These lines are drawn very dark to provide a thicker cutting line, to ensure more accuracy.  

Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.

When moving on to cutting shapes, start with squares.  You can draw the square along the edge of the paper to allow the child to cut into the corners from each side.  Then practice cutting a square inside the paper.  Cutting shapes requires the paper to be rotated and turned accurately.  Practice cutting other strait line shapes like triangles and rectangles. 

After practicing strait line shapes, introduce cutting curved shapes. 

Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.

Another way to practice line awareness with scissors is to cut curved and multiple angled lines across a strip of paper.  Add in more complex shapes like stars and hearts.

Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.

When starting on more anlged or wavier shapes, provide stopping points with black dots.  These will act as a visual cue and an indication to turn or rotate the page and move the scissors.

Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.

Finally, practice cutting multiple-angular and curved line shapes.  To start, try drawing a thick black line around the shape to provide a thicker cutting line.  Then, remove the visual cue of the line and cut directly on the lines of the shape.

I hope that these scissor skill tips are helpful for you and your little scissor user!

Looking for more ways to use wrapping paper in crafts and activities?  
Find some more awesome ideas on how to recycle and create with gift wrapping paper!

Stick Puzzles by Teach me Mommy 
Gift Wrap Flowers by Peakle Pie 
Gift Paper Frogs by Nemscok Farms 
Coiled Paper Heart Craft by The Gingerbread House 
Paper Beads from Wrapping Paper by Mum in the Madhouse 
Scissors Skills Crash Course by Sugar Aunts 
DIY Magnetic Bookmarks by Kidz Activities
Recycled Wrapping Paper Card by Our Whimsical Days
Paper Collage with Flower Punch by Words n Needles

Scissor skills activities for kids.  These are developmental ways to practice scissor skills and teaching kids to cut on the lines.  Also, all of the skill areas needed in order for kids to accurately cut lines and shapes.

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