In Hand Manipulation

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In-hand manipulation is the ability to move objects around in your hand, and there are three components. 

  • Translation:  The ability to move an object from the palm of the hand to the finger tips and back to the palm.
  • Shift:  The linear movement of an object between the fingers such as moving your fingers up and down the shaft of a pencil. 
  • Rotation:  The movement of an object with the finger around one or more of it’s axis, such as when you spin a pencil around with your fingers.

Activities that work specifically on in-hand manipulation:

Balancing Balls on Golf Tees

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I have a new activity for my bouncy balls to participate in. I stuck five golf tees into a piece of rigid Styrofoam, and then had kids balance the bouncy balls onto the tees. You can increase the challenge by holding multiple balls in one hand, and putting the balls on the tee at the […]

Balancing Bugs on a Leaf for Fine Motor

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Here is a cute little activity that combines in hand manipulation with fine motor control to place objects in just the right place. I made some leaves, printed them on cardstock, and laminated them to give them more strength. Then I balanced the leaf on a little cube. It is like the leaf is floating […]

Battleship to work on fine motor skills

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The mini travel games really challenge fine motor skills because the pieces are much smaller than the full size games. I love the connect 4 to go game, so I had to try out the tiny Battleship Travel Game as well. The little pegs are very, very tiny, so they can be great for someone […]

Big mouth creature for feeding pom poms to

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I saw this cute little creature on Pinterest, but it originally came from a blog called The Preschool Experiment.  He was so easy to make, and adds some fun to placing objects into a container.  He is made out of a clean parmesan cheese container, and all he needs is pom pom eyes with googly […]

Bouncy Ball Hand Skills

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Bouncy balls. Gotta love em. They come in all sizes, and as their name suggests, boy are they bouncy. I love this activity because you can be so concrete with your directions. Hold the blue ball with your finger and thumb. Now put the blue ball back in your hand and hold the red ball […]

Bouncy Balls are Great for Therapy

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I love using bouncy balls in therapy, and use the small balls for in-hand manipulation as well as catching them in cups when they roll off of the table.  I use the balls in cups when I evaluate a child as it gives me a good idea of the student’s motor coordination as well as […]

Build Me a Castle

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No therapy gym should be complete without some legos and duplos. They are the quintessential fine motor activity. If you follow a pattern or design, they are good for developing visual perceptual skills as well. Even without making something specific, it is fun to see how tall you can build before it gets wobbly. As […]

Button Push Ins

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When working on buttoning skills, there is a progression of skill mastery. Pushing buttons or coins into a container is the first step. Putting coins into a piggy bank slot is the easiest, and then pushing buttons or coins into a recycled butter tub is the next. One reason using the butter container is good […]

Car Mat

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Young pre-school kids love playing with cars. Follow the road. Find the ice-cream store. Let’s go to the lake. Following the roads on the car mat is a pre-cursor to tracing and writing letters. Looking for the right building and place on the mat develops visual-perceptual skills. Materials: Car mat Cars Skills: Pre-writing Arm movement/ […]

Chopsticks

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Mature and refined grasp patterns, as well as in hand manipulation, require use of the small finger muscles. Similar movements are used with chopsticks as are used in writing with a mature dynamic grasp. Many therapists recommend using tongs or tweezers to work on fine motor skills, and this is good if the person is […]

Coloring and Cutting Shapes for a Picture

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For this activity, we are incorporating very simple coloring and cutting of easy shapes. Then you can put those shapes together to make a pretty picture to take home. Two simple designs to choose from are a flower or a butterfly. With the flower, you have a circle for the center and ovals for the […]

Connect 4

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An Occupational Therapy clinic can not function without this game. That may be an over statement, but Connect 4 certainly does work on a lot of OT skills. You have to pick up the checker-like pieces and reach up and slide them into the slots at the top of the game. The goal is to get […]

Connecta Straws for Fine Motor and Visual Perception

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I had heard years ago about using straws and connectors, and I think that someone had mentioned using regular straws and the connectors for drip tubing from home depot. Well I tried the drip tubing connectors, and they don’t work with regular straws. They are too small for regular straws, and they are very hard […]

cute fine motor toy via Karen at Days of Our OT Lives

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Thanks Karen for making me spend money.  This cute little Stretchy Mice and Cheese looked like such a great fine motor toy that I had to buy it.  It is truly adorable, and great for working on those fine motor finger skills.  The little mice go inside the cheese, and it is a challenge, and […]

Digital Piggy Bank

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I love using money in therapy, since it provides lots of opportunity to work on fine motor skills and visual perceptual skills. I had a little client that had a great time putting coins into this digital piggy bank. The benefit of this bank compared to a regular bank, is that in order for the […]

Dominos

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When playing dominos in therapy, we don’t usually play the game of dominos . Instead we line them up to knock them over. Lining the dominos up on end requires fine motor precision in getting them to stay in place. It also takes eye hand coordination and visual perceptual skills to get the dominos lined […]

Dreidel Games

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The blog at Pediastaff was looking for some therapy games that have a connection to Hanukkah, and I have been making a bunch of games lately. My son was thrilled to help me create a board game using a dreidel to determine the spaces you move. I made a game board that would fit with […]

Feature Friday: Puzzle Board

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I really love the activities that they come up with at the adaptions 4 kidz blog.  Here is another one.  It is for a vertical puzzle board.  Basically, you put flannel over a piece of foam core, and small pieces of velcro on the back of puzzle pieces.  That way you can put the puzzle […]

Felt Christmas Tree

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Here is a fun little Christmas activity of decorating a Christmas tree with felt ornaments. I got a styrofoam cone from the craft store and wrapped green felt around it. I then cut out some ornament shapes from different colored felt. You could glue the green felt onto the cone, but it actually stays well […]

Foam Mosaic Pictures

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I have been brainstorming to come up with fun activities that work on strengthening the fingers for fine pinch and tripod grasp. Using pinch clips with craft foam pieces was a natural direction to go as they worked well with the sentence copying activity. I started to cut ½ inch cubes of the thicker craft […]

Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses

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When I used to work in an outpatient clinic environment, I used to have the kids make these gingerbread type of houses out of graham crackers.  It was a fun, christmasy activity that was good therapy at the same time.  It was also out of the ordinary, and the kids loved it.  You use graham […]

In hand manipulation skills using broken crayons

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I wanted to work on in-hand manipulation skills with some kids, and decided to use little pieces of broken off crayon.  I had them hold two crayons at the same time, one in their palm, and one in their fingers.  Then I had them draw a shape (I had circles and rainbows) with one color, […]

Mancala

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Where has this game been all my life.  Actually, I played this game as a kid, and I have played it as therapy in the past, but I just re-discovered it as a therapy activity.  It is a perfect game for in hand manipulation skills or for fine motor in general.  You could also work […]

Marble Maze

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Keep in mind that marbles are a choking hazard so you have to watch little ones around them. That said, little ones love watching the marbles go down the ramp. There are some ramps with larger balls that are safe for the younger set. There are multiple levels of therapeutic value with a Marble Maze. Starting […]

Marshmallow Men

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We made some men out of marshmallows and toothpicks, and they were delicious.  We used multiple sizes of marshmallows for the different parts, and connected the parts with toothpicks. Some of these men were looking very funny, but they all tasted good in the end.  This is a fun food play activity to combine food […]

Mr. Potato Head

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I’m a married spud, I’m a married spud. Sorry, quote from Toy Story. Mr. Potato Head has many levels of therapy. It helps a child learn body parts. Visual Perception and motor control are worked on when trying to get the pieces into the holes. Strength in hands and arms are worked on when pulling his […]

Munchy Ball Motor Game

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I have officially named my tennis ball head Munchy Ball, and I guess he is like a frog because he likes to eat little bugs. I made a little game to incorporate visual motor skills, motor planning, fine motor strength, and writing. I duct taped four little plastic tubs together and put a number in […]

My new favorite fine motor toy: connect 4 on the run

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I was picking up some sidewalk chalk at the store the other day and just happened to look at this little Connect Four Fun On the Run Game.  It is connect 4, which is already a great fine motor game as I discussed in another post, but this new one is smaller, with smaller pieces […]

Paper folded flowers

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I like to work on many skills within the same activity, and these folded flowers definitely do that.  I discovered these via pinterest, and they are originally on Whimsical World of Laura Bird.  I often have kids that need to work on writing small enough to fit into a specified space, such as writing answers […]

Paper Rainbow Mosaic

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A simple activity that I did a few weeks ago is making a paper rainbow mosaic. I drew the rainbow template and cut it out. I then had my student trace around the curved rainbow lines and cut them out of colored construction paper. We then glued the rainbow onto a sheet of white paper, […]

Paper Toys Website

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With higher level kids, I look for activities that will challenge them mentally as well as physically.  Paper folding can be challenging visual-perceptually as well as the difficulty with fine motor and manipulating the paper in the right way.  A cute website that has different toy patterns to print, cut, and fold out of paper […]

Piggy Bank

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Money money money money. MONEY. Sorry, got distracted by a song in my head. You don’t have to be limited by access to a piggy bank. Money is great for in-hand manipulation, and you can just reach into your pocket and use the coins that you have. I carry around a little bank with fake […]

Play Doh Cake With Candles for Fine Motor

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Of course, playdoh is a great toy for strengthening, but if you add candles, it can be good for in hand manipulation too. Make a cake out of playdoh, model magic, or any clay of your choice. Put some candles in the cake. They can be real or fake. Toothpicks would work in place of […]

Quick Tip; handwriting

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Good in-hand manipulation skills can be an indicator of how good handwriting will be.

Ribbon Christmas Tree

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This ribbon Christmas tree activity is the most awesome therapy activity ever. It incorporates practicing tying into a nice craft that looks beautiful when it is done. The kids all loved it, and they were all very proud of what they had accomplished. Most of the kids started the activity by saying that they didn’t […]

Scatterpillar Scramble: A Fun Game for fine motor skills

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It is always fun to find a fine motor games that work on so many great Occupational Therapy skills, and Scatterpillar Scramble is one of those games.  The Caterpillar is standing up tall, and each of his legs has a little cup at the end of them to hold a little ball.  You use tongs […]

Scissor cutting designs — car

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I have created more scissor cutting designs.  Have the client color it in, cut out the shapes and glue it all together.  Here is a car design. Here is the link to the PDF finished sample. here is the PDF for the cut out template.

Scissor Cutting Turkey Template

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Cutting with scissors is a skill that works on bimanual skills, motor planning, fine motor, etc. I have created some templates to practice cutting, coloring, and then paste them together to create the picture. Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, here is a Turkey template to work on with your kids in therapy. You […]

Stringing cheerios onto pipe cleaners

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I work with a child that needs to improve her fine motor skills, but she puts everything in her mouth. She enjoys the marble run, but I am nervous about using it with her. I decided to try stringing cheerios as a good edible fine motor activity. My client is not ready to string the […]

Styrofoam and tissue paper flower

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I found this craft kit at Joann’s, but it would be so easy to do it from just things you have around your house.  It is a piece of styrofoam with a picture of a flower drawn on it.  I am definitely going to keep styrofoam packaging now instead of throwing it away.  You then […]

Tissue Tree

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Start with drawing a tree trunk and some bare branches.  You can do this beforehand, or you can have the client do this. You then need to have little squares of tissue paper cut.  We used green, but you could use fall colors, or be creative with colors.  The next step is to roll or […]

Using pom poms and cups for in hand manipulation

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When working on in-hand manipulation, you need to hold small objects in your hand, so what better object to use than pom poms.  In this activity I had two different colors of silicone muffin cups, and the same colors of pom poms.  Instead of just sorting the colors, You have to pick up a hand […]

Using tiny toys (Zinkies) as fine motor manipulatives

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I love tiny toys to use when working on fine motor skills, and the cuter the better. Even better is when they come with little places to put the toys. For example, this little train play set , which are smaller than Squinkies, came with a little train to put the little animals into. It […]

What’s In Ned’s Head?

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Many people who benefit from therapy have trouble with stereognosis. Stereognosis is the ability to know what an object is just by feeling it. We do this on a daily basis, reaching into a backpack or purse and pulling out exactly what we had been trying to get, because we could feel it.  Many people […]

Wheelbarrow walk

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The wheelbarrow walk is a great upper extremity strengthening activity. You can make it easier or harder depending on where you put your hands that are holding their legs. Holding at the hips is the easiest position for the client, and at the ankles is the hardest. You can then hold anywhere in between to […]

Writing Charms

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Many of the kids that I see for therapy have trouble with handwriting. Handwriting trouble stems from other problems such as fine motor problems, hand weakness, visual motor/visual perceptual problems, in-hand manipulation, and motor planning problems. One small thing that can help with handwriting is to get the hand in the right position to write […]

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