5 Occupational Therapy Tools & Activities For Children

Some students don’t mind having occupational therapy sessions. For other kids, therapy is a chore. Either way, providing therapy with the same old tools or activities can get boring. Students who are bored are often unmotivated. Even children who are enthusiastic about therapy, enjoy a change of pace.

Fortunately, school-based occupational therapists have all types of tools and toys to work on certain goals while still making therapy enjoyable.  Some tools are not just useful during therapy sessions. They can be helpful for teachers in the classroom who work with special needs students. Below are five types of occupational therapy tools you may want to consider.

Therapy Putty Exercises

Therapy putty is great for improving hand and finger strength. It can also work well as a fidget tool. Although you can make your own or use Playdough, therapy putty is specifically intended for use by hand therapists, physical, and occupational therapists. Therapy putty is latex-free, non-toxic, and unscented. It can be a playful way to have kids work on sensory skills, coordination, and creativity.  As with other therapy exercise, the key to this practice is consistency. There are various activities one can turn towards when utilizing therapy putty. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Roll putty into a ball. Squeeze it in between two fingers.
  • Roll putty into a ball. Pinch the putty using your thumb and fingertips.
  • Grip the putty by squeezing all your fingers into it.
  • Roll the putty into a long piece. Wrap it around your fingers, forming a circular shape. Spread out your fingers, stretching the putty further out.
  • Rest the putty in the palm of your hand. Press your thumb into the putty until it reaches your palm.
  • Keeping your fingers straight out, use your hand to roll out the putty on a flat surface.
  • With the putty resting on a flat surface, use your fingers to spread out the putty until it’s formed into a flat pancake shape.

Sensory Integration Activities for Kids

Sensory integration disorders or problems make it difficult for students to tolerate sensory stimuli and interpret sensory information.  Processing disorders may involve touch, sound, taste, and sight. Sensory processing disorders can affect participation in daily activities and academic performance. There are many types of sensory integration tools that are helpful. Color changing light balls, squishy sensory gel, and crayon rocks are a few examples of sensory tools for school-age children.  Not only do these tools have the ability to assist with fidgeting, they also serve as a fun and effective activity for kids to practice their occupational therapy. For example, squishy sensory gel encourages the use of touch and learning about objects and environment. Due to its ability to encourage strong focus, this is also a way to help kids cope in anxious situations.

Assistive Technology for Occupational Therapy

If you’re a school-based occupational therapist, there is no shortage of assistive technology tools. You have plenty of devices for use in the classroom including visual timers, weighted vests, and earmuffs for students who need noise reduction tools. Ergonomic seating devices, wiggle seat cushions, and glare reducing light filters may also be useful during your therapy sessions. Incorporating these tools maximizes the level of preparedness that your students require in order to reach optimal success levels.

Seating and Positioning

Not all students can sit at a desk or table during the school day.  Self-regulating devices may help by allowing subtle movements, such as gentle rocking, without a student having to get up out of their seat. The movement may help calm students and help them stay focused during therapy and in the classroom.  Wedge cushions, ball chairs, and fidget sit mats may be good options for some students.

Handwriting Activities

Handwriting is an important skill for students, but it is not always an easy skill to master. It requires a combination of fine motor control, visual perception, and shoulder stability. Handwriting tools can make occupational therapy sessions more productive and fun. Tools which may be helpful include pencil grips, slant boards for writing, and raised line paper. Don’t forget the lefthanders on your caseload. Special devices are available to help lefthanded students develop their handwriting skills.

Although every student is different, some of the tools listed above may help make therapy sessions easier and more productive. Do you have a favorite occupational device or tool?

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