How to Incorporate OT into your holiday

Hello everyone! Sorry we have not written for so long, but we are back with some OT activities and toy suggestions for the holidays and for the winter break ahead. The best kind of therapy is the kind that is fun, so much fun that the kids don’t even categorize it as therapy! Here are a few of our tried and true activities and toys for this time of year!


Activity Suggestions:

-Paper chains (preschool to elementary age): Have your child cut construction paper into long strips (you can use red and green or blue and white or any color combination that tickles your fancy!) For younger children you may need to draw lines and for older children they can practice drawing the lines themselves. Make interlocking loops and use a stapler to close the loop. Squeezing a stapler (especially a mini stapler) is a great fine motor strengthening activity.


-Sorting bin (preschool to elementary age): Make a bin filled with cotton balls, sparkly pom-poms, and jingle bells. Have 3 different containers or bowls available. Using hands (for younger ones) or tongs (for older ones) sort the different materials into the bowls. Don’t forgot to take a sensory break and let your child feel all the different textures!


-Movement (ALL AGES!): As the colder weather makes its debut (or at least as it is supposed to!) we all tend to be a bit more sedentary. Moving our bodies gives proprioceptive and vestibular input which can be very helpful in producing a calm, alert state. (If you have specific questions about movement and your child ask your child’s OT). Some activity suggestions for getting movement in (and extra energy out) over the holiday break are as follows:

  • Build a fort using couch cushions and blankets
  • Animal Walks (bear, crab, snake, wheelbarrow, log roll, frog jump)
  • Dance Party to favorite music
  • Freeze Dance
  • Simon Says
  • Weighted Ball Catch (3 or 4 pound ball, available at Target or sporting goods store)
  • Get outside and play!


-Baking and Cooking (ALL AGES): Get your kids involved in the holiday preparations. Mixing, measuring, rolling out dough, cookie cutting, and carrying heavy flour or sugar are all great sensory and strengthening activities! If your child needs extra practice manipulating dough make a batch of homemade play dough and practice rolling out and using a cookie cutter here.


            Homemade Play Dough Recipe (from

            -2 cups water

            -Several drops food coloring (about 20 drops)

            -2 cups flour

            -1 tablespoon oil (vegetable or canola)

            -1 teaspoon cream of tartar

            -1 cup salt

  1. In a large pot, mix 2 cups of water and food coloring.
  2. Add in rest of the ingredients- 2 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, 2 cup salt
  3. Cook over medium high heat and stir with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes until consistency is thick like play dough. The longer you cook it the harder it becomes, so keep an eye on it and take it out right before it becomes the consistency you’d like.
  4. Remove from pot and allow to cool. Once it is cool enough to touch you can knead it a bit to get it ready for playing.


-Coloring, Cutting, and Pasting (preschool to elementary age): Pinterest and the internet are full of different holiday color, cut, paste activities. If you are having trouble finding some ask your child’s therapist to send you home with a few varieties for the winter break. To assist with coloring in the lines you can outline the boundaries with Wikki Sticks (slightly raised edge) or draw a think line around the boundary. To assist with cutting you can tape a piece of paper to a desk, have your child sit on the floor and cut in an upwards direction. You can also outline the boundary in a bright colored marker. If helping your child cut hand over hand, it is easiest to sit behind your child and wrap your arms around him/her. When gluing get some extra sensory input and strengthening by using squeeze glue. We know it is a bit messier but that leads into our next suggestion…..


-Messy Play (preschool to elementary age): Shaving cream, rice bins, tactile buckets, and/or sand are all wonderful examples of messy play. Messy play is a wonderful way to provide tactile input and can assist in self regulation skills and developing body awareness. You can add some drops of essential oils or scented extracts to add an “olfactory” or smell element to your sensory play. A nice idea is to make some colored red rice (use a few drops of red food coloring, mix with rice in a Ziploc bag and then lay out flat to dry). Along with the red food coloring add a few drops of peppermint extract. Mix the red rice with some white rice and you have a candy cane rice bin! Throw in some cups and spoons and let the scooping, pouring, and sensing fun begin! You can also practice prewriting symbols and writing letters in any of the messy substances above.


Toy Recommendations:


Feed the Dog Fine Motor Game (

Tunnel (Target, Amazon)

Melissa and Doug Beginner Block Patterns (Amazon,

Lite Brite (Amazon)

Mini Pop Beads (Target,


Elementary Age (Kindergarten to 2nd grade):

Cranium Hullabaloo (Amazon)

Twister (Amazon, Target)

Pop the Pig (Amazon)

Lite Brite (Amazon)

Mini Pop Beads (Target,


Older Elementary Age (3rd grade and older):

Rush Hour (, Amazon)

Uno (Target, Amazon)

Tricky Fingers (Amazon,


Please let us know how these activity suggestions and toy recommendations worked out for you and your family. Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year from everyone at Positive Steps!

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