Therapists, educators, and parents! Are you looking for spooky, fun ways to build fine motor skills with a Halloween twist? But wait, you don’t want to break the bank to do so, right? I’m here for you! In my Frugal OT series, I share all sorts of fine motor skill-building activities using supplies from my favorite go-to, Dollar Tree! You can do these activities with kids during therapy sessions, classroom centers, or at home. So, let’s get to it! Here are my top picks for some Halloween-themed fun!
Handwriting can be difficult for children with fine motor and sensory processing difficulties. For this reason, it may soon become a non-preferred activity. This makes it really tough to get kids to engage in handwriting tasks without seeing undesirable behaviors like whining, defiance, or avoidance altogether. One of the best ways to remedy this problem is to make it fun! A great way to make handwriting fun is by turning it into a game. Kids love to play games. Make handwriting a game by using foam dice from the Dollar Tree. I love these dice because they are so versatile. The sides have a laminated surface that allows you to customize them as you’d like. Use a dry-erase marker to write commands on each side of the die. Each command corresponds to the skill the child or children need to work on. For example, letter placement skills or where to place letters on the line. “4 tall letters, 5 short letters, 3 “diver” or go under letters, etc. The kids are asked to roll the die and write whatever it lands on. You can make it simple or more challenging based on the level the child or children are at. Perfect for doing during therapy sessions, as a class, or at home. All the supplies can be gathered for pennies on the dollar at your local Dollar Tree.
Summer is finally here! Kids have worked hard all school year and it is time for a much-needed break. These pool noodle fish are a fun way to welcome summer vacation and all the excitement that comes along with it. This craft will evoke thoughts of trips to the beach, ocean life and all the fun summer brings. A great way to embrace summer vacation while working on fine motor skills. Perfect to do during therapy sessions, as a class, and/or at home. All the supplies can be gathered for pennies on the dollar at your local Dollar Tree.
As a mom, I know how special it is to receive a handmade Mother’s Day gift from my child. The time and energy spent to make something memorable for Mommy is priceless and preferred over any store-bought gift. I save them for as long as they’ll hold up. Mother’s Day is just around the corner so now is the time to create sweet and unforgettable gifts for moms. This craft is sure to bring a smile to any mom’s face, it’s just so cute. A great way to celebrate Mother’s Day while working on fine motor skills. Perfect to do during therapy sessions, as a class, and/or at home. All the supplies can be gathered for pennies on the dollar at your local Dollar Tree.
Spring is here and Easter is just around the corner. This simple, no-sew craft is just so adorable. It makes for a great spring or Easter decoration, an Easter basket stuffer, or a wonderful gift for parents or grandparents. The sock bunny can also double as a fidget tool. Children can squeeze and squish the rice in the bunny to get the proprioceptive input they need. If you plan to use the sock bunny in this way, I suggest you use extra elastic bands to make it more sturdy. A great way to celebrate spring and/or Easter while working on fine motor skills. Perfect to do during therapy sessions, as a class, and/or at home. All the supplies can be gathered for pennies on the dollar at your local Dollar Tree.
As a child, I marveled at the tale of the leprechaun. According to Irish legend, a leprechaun is a type of fairy that is short in stature, usually bearded, and wears a green suit and hat. They are shoemakers who live in the forest. Leprechauns are thought to be tricky little fellows who are delighted by mischief. The story states that every leprechaun has his very own pot of gold that he hides in the Irish countryside. He must give his fortune to anyone clever enough to capture him. He’s not easy to catch though. As legend has it, the leprechaun is very sneaky and can vanish in the wink of an eye. This fun craft pays homage to the Irish legend. A great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day while working on fine motor skills. Perfect to do during therapy sessions, as a class, and/or at home. All the supplies can be gathered for pennies on the dollar at your local Dollar Tree.
This activity was a hit with the kiddos! It’s a very simple, low prep way to target many skills. For a Valentine’s Day theme, I used a heart as the object to erase. This can be modified to suit any time of year. You can draw a shamrock for St.Patricks Day, an egg for Easter, etc. You can personalize the activity by having the child race to erase their name or initials. Even better, have them write it! In this activity, I simply drew a heart on the chalkboard. Children then raced to erase the heart using a pump spray bottle that I picked up at the Dollar Tree. They come in packages of 2! A fun way to build strength both proximally and distally (from the shoulder girdle down to the fingers).
This craft is super sweet! Hearts that are laced and adorned with pony beads. A great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Once complete, children can write an endearing message to their special family member or friend. All you need is a package of foam hearts (one package goes a long way, containing 12 foam hearts each), a spool of yarn, and a package of pony beads. Many fine motor skills are addressed in this fun Valentine’s Day-themed activity. Perfect to do during therapy sessions, as a class, and/or at home. All the supplies can be gathered for pennies on the dollar at your local Dollar Tree.
This craft is a classic, snowflakes made from craft sticks. They are super simple to make! All you need is 4 craft sticks. Using two craft sticks, make a cross and glue them together in the middle where they meet. Then make an oblique cross (an X) using the other two craft sticks. Glue them together where they meet. Done! The addition of a few Dollar Tree finds creates the perfect fine motor boost. Build fine motor strength and coordination by placing two mini clothespins on the ends of select craft sticks to make the dendrites of the snowflake. Ditch paintbrushes and create a greater fine motor demand by using a pump spray bottle to paint the snowflake. Add another element of design and motor challenge by using an eye dropper to apply glitter. Embellish with buttons, beads or whatever you have handy. I used glass mosaic tiles. So many fine motor skills are addressed in this fun winter themed activity. Perfect to do during therapy sessions, as a class, and/or at home. All the supplies can be gathered for pennies on the dollar at your local Dollar Tree.
Who doesn’t love a sweet homemade holiday momento, made by the precious little ones in your life? I know I absolutely adore taking the ornaments made by my kids out of the box every Christmas. Instant memories are recaptured and experienced again as I examine each one. I love reminiscing about the time when they gave it to me or the time spent making it together. I fondly decorate my tree with the love each ornament represents. Holiday trees feels especially meaningful when adorned by homemade ornaments. Children love making gifts for their family, and feel super proud when they see their contribution hanging on the tree.
The memento presented in this post can be fun for younger and older children. I often feel like older kids are forgotten during the holiday season. You no longer see the cute little crafts coming home in their backpacks. But they still like making festive crafts, just like the littles do. This charming holiday ornament appeals to all ages. Numerous fine motor skills are addressed, both simple and complex, making it an appropriate fine motor feat many. Perfect to do during therapy sessions, as a class, and/or at home with your little one. An of course, all the supplies can be gathered for pennies on the dollar at your local dollar tree.