Holiday Fun: Occupational Therapy Activities

As the holidays are approaching the excitement of winter break definitely begins to build! I find that creating holiday-based activities really boosts student motivation and engagement before the much-anticipated winter break. 

The following activities will focus on promoting fine/visual motor skills and sensory play with students. Here are some ideas for holiday-focused winter activities to address fine/visual motor skills and sensory play:

Extreme Paper Snowflakes

This activity encourages students to work on mature grasp patterns, tool use, hand strengthening, bilateral coordination, visual motor skills, and more!  

  • What you will need
    • Must haves: scissors, paper
    • Extras for more fun: glue, glitter, stickers, hole punch, stamps, string, paint, markers, dot markers

  • Activity
    • Provide your student with a square piece of paper. Encourage the student to fold the paper in a variety of ways. Provide scissors for the student to cut out designs. Unfold the paper and reveal the complex snowflake design! Hang the snowflakes in your office for a fun winter wonderland display from all of your students!

  • Upgrade/Downgrade
    • Upgrade: To make the activity more challenging, provide thicker paper to cut through (construction). Encourage the student to utilize a variety of tools to complete the activity such as dot markers, glue, hole punch stamps, etc.

    • Downgrade: To make the activity easier, provide thinner paper to cut through (e.g., printer paper, tissue paper) or modify with adapted scissors (e.g., spring back scissors, snip scissors).  

Sensory Snowman Craft

This activity encourages your students to engage in tactile play while also encouraging fine motor skills such as hand strengthening, bilateral coordination, and tool use skills!

  • What you will need
    • Must haves: paper, cotton balls, glue, scissors, markers, paint

    • Extras for more fun: glitter, string, buttons, puffy paint, twigs

  • Activity
    • Provide your student with a piece of paper and encourage them to draw circles to create the outline of a snowman. Have the student use the cotton balls to fill in the circles by gluing them to form the snowman’s body. Use scissors and markers to draw or cut out additional pieces to make a nose, mouth, eyes, arms, etc. For more sensory engagement, encourage students to use finger painting to make snowflakes on their paper around the snowman!

  • Upgrade/Downgrade
    • Upgrade: To increase the challenge, have your student pick up and gather cotton balls using tongs rather than their fingers. Encourage students to pull apart cotton balls into multiple pieces to incorporate hand strengthening and the use of a pincer grasp. 
        
    • Downgrade: To make this activity easier, pre-draw the snowman on the paper for your student. Provide your student with pre-cut pieces for arms and faces.  

Author: Stefhanie Rodriguez, MOT, OTR/L

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