Bilateral integration is the ability to use both sides of your body together in a coordinated way. You need to have bilateral coordination in all parts of your body, such as your legs for walking, and your eyes for seeing, but when talking about fine motor skills, we focus more on the bilateral upper extremity, or both arms, hands and trunk working together in a coordinated way.
Hand dominance usually begins to show itself early on by a child tending to initiate activities with one hand more than another. It should be completely set by 5 ½ years old. It is usually a good idea to let a child determine his own dominance, and give him time to do it. If, however by 5 years old, a dominance is not set, you may need to give some influence to it so that motor patterns can be perfected on one side slightly more than the other. The child will need to practice on one side more than the other in order to gain the precision and skill and motor memory of tasks.
In the development of smooth bimanual coordination, a child will first start to use both hands together symmetrically such as banging on pots and pans. Next they will hold one hand still while the other moves. You can see this in a child just learning to clap. Finally, a child will learn to coordinate using their hands to work together while both doing different tasks. This can be seen when cutting with scissors. One hand is moving the paper while the other is opening and closing the scissors.
Some activities that work on bimanual skills are listed below.
Any square piece of paper can be made into a Cootie Catcher. Fold two corners together and crease firmly. unfold. Then fold the other two corners together and crease again. Fold each corner point into the center. flip it over and fold all four of these corners into the center. Under the inside flaps, you
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
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
Tinkertoys are a construction toy that uses sticks and wheels. The wheels have holes in them for the sticks to go into. There are multiple holes for multiple sticks and positions. It is almost like doing pegs with a purpose, except that with tinkertoys you use both hands to put the pieces together rather than
When pulling up pants or getting your shirt aligned, or trying to get your socks on, sometimes it is just hard to reach some spots. I am not sure why, but stickers are a big motivator for kids. Some children with tactile hypersensitivity do not like having stickers put on their skin, which of course
These cardboard bricks are a large motor building toy that creates fun during other activities by incorporating the building and knocking down element. The best part about these bricks is that they are so much fun to knock down. When building with these bricks, a young child has to use both hands because the bricks
Wikki Stix, in case you haven’t heard of them, are string that are covered in colored wax. They are bendable, sticky, but easily pulled apart, and can bring hours of entertainment. In fact, I am not sure what category they fit in because they are a handwriting activity, but they are also a craft, and
One of the Kindergarten classes that I visited today was making Christmas Trees out of ice cream cones. First you get a sugar cone, the kind with the pointy tip. Then you spread green frosting all over the cone. You can use red licorice strings as garland, and sprinkle it with colored sugar sprinkles. This
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
Here is a post submitted by a reader: This is a good activity for drawing circles, handwriting, and cutting, as well as pattern recognition. I created a “caterpillar head” print out and have the kids each color and cut out the head. Then, they choose three colors of construction paper to use to make the
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
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
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
Twist (literally) on Puzzles Part #2 from Your Therapy Source – www.YourTherapySource.com by Your Therapy Source Inc Your Therapy Source posted an activity that came from an idea on Pinterest about changing up puzzles. Basically, using any picture or text that you would like, you can create a twisting puzzle. Go visit them to
I saw these Big Mouth Critters on a blog called Whimsical Publishing, and thought that they were so cute, and that it would be a great activity for some of my students to do. Some kids need the challenge of following the folding directions and trying to make the creature themselves, but others have trouble
I loved the activity that I did where the kids had to tie ribbon onto a stick to make a tree. The activity turned out beautiful, and it really targeted the tying skill, which is usually a pretty difficult skill to attain. Since then, I have been thinking about other activities that would target tying,
Occupational Therapists create stuff. It’s what we do. I am thrilled to share products that have been conceived and created by other OTs. Today’s product is Loopers Laces, which was created specifically to help with working on learning to tie shoes. The Loopers Shoelace tying system comes with 2 little mini practice shes that are
I have a client that needs to work on buttoning skills, and I found that I do not have many buttoning activities that are appropriate and fun for older kids. When I heard another therapist mention that the pepperoni pizza buttoning activity is her favorite, I searched the internet and came up blank. I therefore
I love marble runsfor a variety of reasons, and have posted about many different kinds. There are the plastic free standing ones that you put together, there is the fabric marble maze, and there was a wall mounted marble run, and the cardboard marble maze. Needless to say, when I saw this marble run that
This is a guest post, written by: Corey W. Stone, MS, OTR/L; Treating Therapist – UAB Pediatric Neuromotor Clinic When people ask me about constraint therapy I never feel like they truly understand what I am talking about. “You mean to tell me you are putting this kid’s good arm in a cast, and making
Halloween is coming up soon, so I am having the kids make spiders this week. The spider bodies require cutting out circles, and the legs require cutting rectangles. You also have to fold the legs on the marked lines, which is a great activity for visual perception and motor planning. I put a light web
This is a fairly open ended activity that works on fine motor skills, motor planning, visual perception, and planning in general as you try to make creatures and structures that will stand up. I used practice golf balls that have the holes in them and some pipe cleaners. I wish that I had brought some
I love cutting activities that then include other skills, like tearing paper, writing, and q-tip painting. I have done many different cutting activities, and here is a quick and easy fall cutting activity that can be done in different ways to work on different fine motor skills. We have some acorns to cut out, and
I love sharing products that were created by therapists. Last year I did a post about some little practice shoes called Loopers Laces. The practice shoes were not meant to be worn, but just meant to be practiced with and help with the process of learning to tie shoes. Now there are new shoelaces made
Last year I made some really cute heart butterflies, and wanted to increase it by having other bugs to make too. They make cute little valentine love bugs. The bugs are very similar to the heart butterflies with the same template shapes, but changed in order to look more like ladybug type of bugs. You
When working in therapy, we usually have many things to work on and to accomplish in one session. That is why I like to target multiple skills within one activity. It is really quite easy to take almost any activity and build in some whole body movement and strengthening. I use a scooterboard, wheelbarrow walk,
The raindrop clothespin game has a full game with game board, and it also has some simple clothespin matching activities. In both parts, you use clothespins to clip raindrops onto an umbrella. Here is the reversals umbrella free. For the matching part, there is a colorful rainbow umbrella that you match the colored raindrops to.
A fun way to incorporate different sensory experiences, including food experiences, is to make pine cone bird feeders. I have three different types to make that each utilize a slightly different sensory experience. To start with, you attach a pipe cleaner to the top of the pine cone in order to hang the pine cone
To work on a combination of skills, I made some fish with letters on them, added some pipe cleaner to make it metallic, and made some fishing poles out of pipe cleaner and magnets. Fishing is a great way to work on bimanual hand skills, fine motor skills, visual perceptual, and motor planning. I used
Have you made your own squishy stress ball? You use a balloon (actually several) and fill them with different materials to squish and squeeze. You can fill them with flour, play dough, beans, beads, rice, and many other materials. They are great to use as fidgets, stress balls, or play a guessing game to figure
We have a challenge this summer to make things and experiment with making different stuff. We decided to start off our challenge with making ice cream, and the first type of ice cream that we made only needs 3 ingredients, some ziplock baggies, ice, salt, and physical activity. Ingredients: 1/2 cup of heavy cream 1
This is a game that was submitted by a therapist, Marie Logan, OTR/L. It is a simple game that is played on paper, and it is similar to the game Battleship. During the game, you work on eye hand coordination and hand positioning, challenge diffierent grasp, and work on visual motor skills. Set Up: •
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
One of our favorite games is the Ocean Animal Clothespin game, so I made a variation of the game named the Wild Animal Clothespin Game, with some different animals so the kids can enjoy working on finger strengthening using clothespins while having fun. We also have some question cards and action cards to help have
This is a guest post by Marie Logan, OTR/L about teenagers and shaving when they have hemiparesis. As children mature into teenagers there are undoubtedly times of transition that can be a bit awkward for them as well as their parents. As they grow older we expect our teenagers to begin to take care of
Resistance keeps your muscles strong, and the little muscles in the fingers need to work and get strong along with the rest of the muscles of your body. I love having kids get letters randomly in order to practice writing the letters and words, since the randomness is somehow more fun than me giving them
Making Turkeys for Thanksgiving is a great time to incorporate a lot of skills into your therapy session. I love that the feathers are perfect for writing on and being able to create a thankful craft. Cutting with scissors is a skill that works on bimanual skills, motor planning, fine motor, etc. I have created
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
What is a fidget anyway? Fidgeting in itself is synonymous with moving and the inability to stay still. Moving the body keeps the brain awake. Have you ever been driving and you start getting a little sleepy, so you start moving in your seat, wiggling your leg, and do other movements to stay alert? Picture
Easter is almost here so here is an Easter activity. It includes practice writing lines, coloring, cutting, and writing. You can choose a simple grouping of eggs to practice lines on and then color. It also has a place at the bottom of the picture to write some sentences. The second choice is eggs to
I wanted to work on in-hand manipulation along with pushing objects into playdoh to really target those fine motor skills. I made some little prickly animals that I can put playdoh or kinetic sand into in order to make a resistive activity for poking. I made a porcupine, hedgehog, puffer fish, peacock, dinosaur, and lion.
I love working on skills while working on skills, so using letters and buttons together is a perfect combination. We can work on fine motor and motor planning skills while talking about letters and the letters of the child’s name. First you make a strip with buttons about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. The