Occupational Therapy and Educational Tips

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💥Now providing 1:1 general purpose pediatric education/consultation sessions (ages 3-17years) to parents, educators, care givers, therapy practitioners. etc. Topics include sensory, fine motor, and/or self-care skills. Virtual sessions available. Experience: 20 years as an occupational therapist. Contact to set up a free consultation and more details. 

E-mail: LegiGuide@yahoo 

Call/text/WhatsApp: 210-289-7100

Note: These strategies are to be taken as a general  informational resource and not as a medical or therapy service. Please follow the recommendations of your medical and/or occupational therapy practitioner. 

""I use Legi-Guide paper with my kiddos who struggle with horizontal alignment, spacing, and letter size consistency in handwriting. The paper is super easy to use--- no distracting visuals or confusion about where to place the letters. And the choice of rule (wide, medium, or narrow) lets me tailor the paper to the child's grade level and fine motor coordination ability. The best tool I've had in my handwriting intervention bag in a long while, both with general ed. and special ed. students. Thanks!"    - Debra Groves, OT/L (Occupational Therapist)

LegiGuide handwriting paper: Targets letter formation, sizing, spacing, and placement of letters on the line. 3 sizes available: Wide (Kinder), Medium (1st grade), Narrow (2nd grade +).  

Available through 7 Senses Therapy and  eSpecialNeeds

Recommended in the book, "The Special Needs School Survival Guide: Handbook For Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD,  Learning Disabilities, & More!", by  Cara Koscinski, MOT, OTR/L ( "The Pocket Occupational Therapist").

_________________________________________________   Fine motor fun in the shower with Crayola dry-erase crayons. Erases easily with water and cloth (more difficult without). You can address pre-writing shapes, writing, free drawing, etc. Activity works on getting wrist into extension and with shoulder strengthening/stabilization (if working at or above eye level).  Have child erase own work for added shoulder work. Teachers and therapists may consider giving this as “homework”, in addition to dry erase board work at school. May be used on windows. Air dry crayons if they get wet.

_________________________________________________                   Matching colors/working on pincer grasp with colored toothpicks and modeling clay (I mixed the clay). Call out the color and child has to match toothpick with correct clay segment. Consider using play doh if you want the younger kids to work on strengthening (clay is difficult to work with).

_________________________________________________               Imitation is developmentally easier than copying.

The Clatter-Pillar for proprioceptive and bilateral hand skills.


Mini Fidget Balls | Sensory Toys for Autism & ADHD from Fun and Function

___________________________________________________    Paint with cut pen cap/cotton swab for grasp (tripod) development. Have extra cut cotton swabs for different colors.  I used a Bic pen cap. 

_________________________________________________ Aloha Feet: The Fidget For Your Feet



Establishing a Tripod Grasp with Rhyming.pdf Establishing a Tripod Grasp with Rhyming.pdf
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Try this adapted tripod (3 fingered grasp ) instead of the traditional grasp for students who may lack stability and awareness in their hands. This adapted grasp has 5 points of tactile sensory input: tips of first three fingers and between the top of the inside index and middle fingers . This increases pressure/ tactile input between the two upper fingers that may give added awareness as well as stability/control.

__________________________________________________     Teaching prepositions (inside, outside, between, above, below, aside/next to) along with pincer grasp (pads of thumb and index finger to pick up).

__________________________________________________  Use piece of cardboard to increase hand strength and to increase hand awareness (proprioception) with scissors. If child has difficulty cutting on the line, have them cut between 2 lines. The greater the distance between the lines, the easier it is cut within boundaries.

______________________________________________________  Use blank sheets of paper when tracing. Lined paper may cause visual distraction/confusion.

_________________________________________________        Activity for alphabet matching, finger strengthening, motor control, and learning prepositions (inside, outside, beside, between). Grasp erasers with clothespin and place into container.

__________________________________________________ An open web space (area between thumb and index finger) gives increased  mobility and control of fingers. Turn the  Kushy grip inside out. Push the pencil through the Kushy side. Place  fingers on the pencil under the grip. This will open the web space. Idea adapted from Jan McCleskey, MA, OTR.

____________________________________________________    Simple Sensory Sticks : Do-it-yourself sensory exploration, matching, and finger strengthening activity. Provides proprioceptive (joint awareness) input to fingers from the resistance of the clothespins.

Items used : sponge, rice, rubber band pieces, foil, pink Himalayan rock salt, flexible straw, medical/athletic tape, white Gorilla Glue, Gorilla Super Glue.

____________________________________________________     Tactile number match, finger strengthening, and development of pincer grasp (thumb and index finger) with clothespins. Raised dots purchased at Dollar Tree and reinforced with super glue.

____________________________________________________     Work on 1) pincer (pad of thumb and index finger) and/or tripod (thumb, index, and middle finger) grasp 2) regulation of pressure and 3) motor control during snack time with Cheerios and pretzel sticks. Note: stick does not entirely fit through hole, but will pick the Cheerio up with enough pressure into the opening. I used the same stick to pick up and eat them all

__________________________________________________  Work against a vertical surface to increase strength/stability to the shoulder which is needed for fine motor control.

_________________________________________________    Pom pom activity for matching, counting, and fine motor skill development (pincer grasp): Use thumb and index finger to push pom pom into shake straw. Can also use a hole puncher to make holes in straw and push different colored pom poms for multi-colored creativity.

_________________________________________________         This activity addresses motor planning and proprioception (awareness of finger positioning) which are needed for finger dexterity/fine motor skills. Place stickers on each finger and call out the color that the child has to touch with their thumb.  Make it more challenging by calling out a sequential order of colors that they need to touch.  I believe I originally got the idea from the Dexteria - Fine Motor Skill Development app.

Developmental Resources (Affiliate Links).               *Note: When affiliate links are used, I will be compensated with a percentage of the purchase price. 

The Handwriting Book – Digital Download/PDF

Basics of Fine Motor Skills

Home-Based Development Activities Packet

Fine Motor Skills Activity Packet

Sensory Processing Explained: A Handbook for Parents and Educators

Scissor Skills Printable Pack

Scissor Skills Book 


Difference between Imitation vs Copying. Imitaion is developmentally easier.

No ✏️ in PreK. Use small pieces of crayons & chalk to develop finger control, strength, awareness, and grasp. The resistance of the crayons and chalk helps with strength and awareness. Use short (golf) pencils in Kinder and First grade. Refer to the “Handwriting Without Tears” program.

Trace Cut Color.pdf Trace Cut Color.pdf
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Calming and Attention Strategies.pdf Calming and Attention Strategies.pdf
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Pre-Writing with Rhyming.pdf Pre-Writing with Rhyming.pdf
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HWT Help Me Hold the Crayon.pdf HWT Help Me Hold the Crayon.pdf
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Keeping Calm in The Classroom.pdf Keeping Calm in The Classroom.pdf
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HWT Teaching Children Their Name.pdf HWT Teaching Children Their Name.pdf
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Pencil control coloring shapes.pdf Pencil control coloring shapes.pdf
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Drum Lines- Tracing & Matching Activity.pdf Drum Lines- Tracing & Matching Activity.pdf
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Dryer ball/elastic hair band fine motor strengthening and sensory (tactile) activity.

Odd Ballz DNA Ball by PlayVisions.com. Can be used for: Stress relief - Fidget for attention/focus support - Pincer grasp practice/development - Pre-scissor skills (open/close hand movement) - Proprioceptive input (hand awareness) - Hand/finger strengthening - Bilateral hand skills

Operation: Great for fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, focus.

Handii can be used as a fidget, to “wake up” the fingers before a fine motor task, strengthening, and pre-scissor skill activity (open/close hand movements). For all ages. Assortment pack of various resistances available: extra light, light, medium, heavy. Handiiproducts.com

Kids should be monitored when expected to trace. If not, you will will not know if they are learning the correct stroke sequence (top to bottom, left to right). Are they really learning how to make a "K" in the video?

_________________________________________________       Pre-scissor and strengthening activity: (open/close hand movements): Draw lines/shapes. Punch holes while following the outline.Trace over shape with marker, crayon, etc. Tactile sensory input is provided  to fingers when tracing over holes. This provides increased awareness to fingers. Lack of awareness contributes to poor fine motor skills. 

 __________________________________________________ Scissor positioning (learned this from a teacher): place a sticker on the thumbnail and remind child that sticker needs to face up (towards sky, ceiling).  This will help keep the scissors in a vertical position while cutting. 

________________________________________________   DIY Fidget to help with focus/attention and finger strengthening for good fine motor skills. Pull rubber bands back and forth at knot and/or slide cut eraser pieces from side to side. Can also be used as a warm up before fine motor activity (drawing/coloring/writing/threading beads). Resistive exercises help with proprioception (joint/finger awareness). (May need double knot on each side to keep eraser pieces in).

_____________________________________________________  Finger strengthening and color matching with binder and paper  clips.

___________________________________________________  Work on finger strengthening with clothespin Tic-Tac-Toe using cardboard. Increase resistance by wrapping a rubber around the end.

____________________________________________________  Work on grasping, shoulder/finger strengthening, pincer grasp, counting/matching, crossing midline, and positional concepts. 1) Hold hanger in front of body at midline with the left hand and use the right hand to match/clip numbers. Then switch hands. 2) Teach "top" and "bottom" concepts by moving clip. Teach "middle" with 5 & 6.

____________________________________________________   Matching/pincer grasp/ hand strengthening activity: 1) Child rolls out the modeling clay (or Play-Doh for younger hands). 2) Have them push the straws into the clay. 3) Place toothpick into matching color straw.

____________________________________________________   Pre-writing foam sheet templates (with tactile borders) : design/cut your shapes, place inside sheet protectors, finger trace first, then use a dry erase marker. Follow developmental order: vertical line, horizontal line, circle, cross, square, triangle
(Reference: Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration, Sixth Edition, The

_________________________________________________ Work on matching, bilateral hand skills/coordination, pincer grasp. Materials: shake straws, pipe cleaners, tape (to hold straws together)

____________________________________________________     Visual-motor tactile activity. Draw different designs with markers. Outline design with 3-D/puffy paint with dots or lines. Once dry, place the paper in a sheet protector. Trace the dots with the index finger and then trace the colored lines with a dry erase marker (left to right). Dots or lines also help with visual-tactile boundary awareness. Note: The dots provide more intense tactile input than straight lines when finger tracing.